As we first reported on the Born Out There Blog, First Ascent kayakers and world travelers Ben Stookesbery and Chris Korbulic are currently on an expedition to Greenland and Norway. They’ve again teamed up with Brazilian Waterfall Extremist Pedro Oliva for the fourth season of KAIAK but this time they’ve skipped the rainforest waterfalls and African cultural experiences to head north and brave the chilling 37-degree Arctic flows of Norway and Greenland in locations such as the Svalbard Archipelago and Southern Greenland. But the inspiration behind their quest lies in the myth and the mystery of lands that lie at the edge of the grid and the edge of our awareness. The crew has been in and out of wifi range, but before they left for Svalbard, Korbulic checked in with this gallery of images from the Norwegian North Country. -EB Editor
Images by Chris Korbulic and Ale Socci, Captions by Chris Korbulic
Shopping for the essentials before leaving Voss. Leg of lamb, check.
Full cart, check. Loading the cart for the next few days of driving and paddling. Our car(t) was packed to the max, so we had to go pretty light on food. Not a problem though, as markets are abundant in and between most towns, except Sunday. Everything is closed Sunday, as we found out one rainy morning while trying to get breakfast.
Pedro hiking around an alpine creek in the headwaters of the Sjoa river.
Another beauty around Voss! The Raundalselva is considered by many to be the classic river of Voss, the river that makes paddling so good there. This falls is on a tributary, just one of the many runnable sections on and into the Raundal.
Up the Otta valley to the Tora River, way too high for us to paddle due to rain and warm weather letting loose on remaining snowpack.
Back on the Sjoa, this is a quintessential Norwegian drop; lots of water, must make moves, and enough vertical to …….
Many rivers in the Sjoa/Otta region flow between lakes and reservoirs before dropping into the Norwegian sea. Here, Ben waits to continue paddling across a lake on the upper Otta river.
Ben, Pedro, and Marcio paddling across said lake with the thunderstorm we had been watching build all afternoon finally let loose and start coming up the valley toward us. Summer in Norway!
Trees in the mist on the upper Otta, after a huge rain decimated our hopes of returning to the already too high Tora River.
So, we left again for greener pastures over another pass and set of alpine lakes, creeks, and sledding hills?. I didn’t come here to go kayak sledding, but this was fun. Seriously.
Up the Kardal Valley and one very popular fjord for cruise ships and tourists, we ran in to this amazing waterfall. We weren’t the first ones apparently, as an unknown Russian had, against the earnest warnings of landowners, mastered the falls a few weeks before. Somehow slightly less cause for concern, this is Ben pulling off a nice line.
Ben from another angle.
Where would you rather sleep? Check the straps keeping the house from falling further down the cliff! Yep, place can get a little stormy.
Next stop was near a finger of the Jostelbreen Glacier complex where we hiked up and paddled out from where the river flows out from under the glacier. Crazy to hear the glacier creeping along, cracking, and dripping away on our first truly summer day with full sun and blue sky.
Austerdalsbreen scenery, “the finest ice scenery in Europe” - W.C. Slingsby
Lower down the Kardal Valley, hidden in the roadside Canyon and only one hour from the paddling mecca of Voss, the first descent of this falls was the highlight of Norway for me. Fast, rowdy lead-in, plenty of water, and 22 meters of free fall! My impact in the apparently highly aerated and soft landing was also the biggest surprise of the trip, as even with my ideal body position, it felt like belly-flopping into a flat swimming pool. Helmet, paddle, elbow pads, and earplugs RIPPED away from me in the most violent impact I’ve felt on the river! Earplugs, how does that happen?!
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