Norway – A Trip Through Ullr’s Playground

Spread the love
DAY 4

We wake up early, step out back of the RV to climb Blabearfjellet in full sunshine and as we reach the peak I’m struck by how many peaks and steep options there are in the Tamok area as well. We top out and a quick traverse leads us to the top of the chute. We hope. A mostly flat ridgeline with giant cornices await our inspection. I make an anchor and rope up to find the entrance. There’s no way to see into the chute, the snow patch seems fairly stiff and our ropes a bit short. hmmm. We agree to send Jonas down (least experienced with ropes and anchors), so hopefully (with rope stretch) he can see down the ramp and if we need some extra rigging Miika and I will be able to move things around.

Jonas rappels down on his snowboard and we hear “I need 10 more meters”. ouch, we’re really short. We dig a closer t slot anchor and transfer the load and lower Jonas some more. “The ramp is quite steep and not that awesome! But the chute looks pretty good. Can you get me down another 5m lower? I can probably make the drop into the chute from there” A few moments later the rope goes slack and we hear Jonas making turns down the chute. A minute or so later he pops out of the chute and we hear over the radio “Well that was an EXPERIENCE!”

Miikka and I are now left up top wondering how we’re going to all make it down this line. The upper section to get into the chute seems quite sketchy and I’m not willing to skip the rope. Miikka is willing to possibly give it a go, but he wants more beta on the snow. I rappel in checking the snow and giving lots of feedback to Miikka. ‘This ramp is quite sketcy, but possibly doable’ Shortly after I’m partway down the ramp and off the rope down climbing/sideslipping with my ice axe thinking maybe it’s not such a good idea for Miikka.

Dropping the last little bit into the couloir, I’m hoping the snow is good. It’s decent but I wouldn’t want to come in here full speed off that ramp. Turns out the sun did indeed get into the chute so some sections are good and others are quite icy.

“Mandatory right turn over the cliffs, dodge the slough then I’m flying out onto the steep lower face.”

Catching up to Jonas, we discuss the possibility of Miikka making the drop sans rope. Neither of us think it’s a good idea, especially with the couloir itself being hit and miss in the snow condition department. Miika bails to another line and we back to the RV to celebrate an interesting day.

DAY 5

Miikka shows us a photo from last winter of another couloir on nearby Istinden that is quite likely a first descent. We decide to head up and check it out. However, the weather has other plans for us. Despite being all sun in the forecast with light winds, we end up in a solid whiteout with howling winds on our mountain. We were forced to turn around 100m from the top. The clouds never left the peak the rest of the day.

DAY 6

ullr14

Jonas was heading home, so we dropped him in town on our way up to Lyngen to go scope some lines.

We didn’t really have a plan, just pick a good looking valley and start skinning. We toured into a dead end glacial valley below Jiehkkevarri (the highest peak in the area). Surrounded by a thousand meters of cliff, capped with hanging glaciers and with couloirs splitting the walls all around us, impressive would not be descriptive enough. The main problem was most of the chutes were getting full sunlight or threatened by huge overhanging seracs. However, we did find a nice dark corner to come back to tomorrow.

DAY 7

We’re heading up to Holmbuktin by the normal route to find an entrance to the line we scoped yesterday. As we near the upper reaches of the mountain a steep north face looms above us. It looks like a wall with snow plastered to it. Committing and exposed, we keep staring at as we make our ascent. It’s looks so steep we’re not even sure it’s rideable.

We decide to climb the peak to try and get around to the north face to have a closer look. Easily getting to the peak , we quickly slide over to the ridge leading to the face. It narrows to a few feet wide and drops to oblivion on each side. Miikka goes out to a lookout for the initial scope and says it looks positive. However, between us and the entrance to the line there’s a bit of billy goating involved. While somewhat easy, a slip would be not be good as we down climb above gigantic cliffs to the entrance. The snow looks perfect and the line is ultra steep. It’s Miikka’s turn to drop first so he slides in a touch to line up the tight entrance.

3, 2, 1 dropping. Miikka drops through the channel and onto the face. A cloud of snow drifts from his first turn and he disappears around the corner. I catch a quick flash of his jacket then only see a huge cloud of slough chasing him. Thankfully the snow is as glorious as we thought and Miikka is able to ride the line at full speed and I see him rocket out the bottom as a yell of joy echos up the mountain.

My turn. I slide into position and ‘dropping!’ My board digs for purchase in the steep slope as I accelerate to full speed. The upper section is really steep and there’s an even steeper section ahead. Mandatory right turn over the cliffs, dodge the slough then I’m flying out onto the steep lower face.

This face turns into the line of the trip (and my season!). We’re both beyond stoked and if the snow on that line is any indication, our next one will be awesome as well. We climb back up to our intended ridgeline and start our traverse to find the entrance. We carefully find our way as a misplaced step up here would put us onto the huge overhanging cornices and seracs perched above the valley.

Locating our entrance, the steep slope below looks casual after our last run. 1000m of vertical powder await below in a variety of lines. Miikka reminds me that it’s my turn to go first. Hell yes! A quick ski cut on the entrance and I’m dropping around the upper rocks. This face has multiple options so the day spent scoping this line rewards itself with being able to ride the line at full speed. It’s some of the best turns of the season and seems to be never ending.

We collect ourselves down at the lake and thank Ullr for an amazing day in his home. 2 epic descents in glorious snow in May. We couldn’t be happier. To top the day off we’re able to ride right down to the ocean. Now, we just had to get back to our car, which was many kms away and the roads aren’t exactly busy around here. Thankfully after an hour of walking (with 2 cars passing us), a local splitboarder came home across the street from us. He was super friendly and willing to give Miikka a lift back to the car. He was rather shocked and stoked to hear I was the designer of his splitboard.

DAY 8

Another day of sunshine and we head back to Istinden to try our luck again with the chute. The day is absolutely perfect as we make our way to the top. Miikka points to the east and mentions that where the mountains end, his home country of Finland begins.

Due to the flat and convex nature of the mountain top it takes us a few minutes to find the chute we’re looking for. It’s much steeper and tighter than anticipated. We also can’t fully see down the couloir. None of us have really scoped this line and we’re just going off a year old photo taken from far away. We discuss the possibilities. The chute looks like it chokes into a rock band from our vantage point. There’s a lot of waterfall ice above it, which leads us to believe that the chute might be quite icy. Also, anticipating a fairly ‘easy’ access to the chute we didn’t bring ropes or crampons. The final nail is that the snow looks horrid. The wind from the previous days has created a very stiff slab through the couloir. We decide to abort and enjoy some south facing corn snow turns back down to the valley.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.