Kyle Miller has been on a mission this spring. But rather than exploring his usual haunts of the Cascades, Kyle booked a ticket to the Nordic countries, stopping first in Iceland for a seven-day splitboard exploration of the northern fjords, then moving on to the Lofoten Islands and the Lyngen Alps. In the next installment of this Nordic splitboard saga, Kyle describes the excitement of learning to sea kayak with his gear, the visuals of trolling deep into the fjords, and the challenge of trying to predict the weather in the Lofoten Islands. —LYA Editor
In a life dedicated to climbing, hiking and snowboarding in mountainous environments, weather dictates everything. When booking a ticket to a foreign country, you are always at the mercy of the weather and what conditions will be like, hoping to get perfect sunshine but fearing getting skunked by the dreaded R word—rain. When we arrived in Norway, we heard the infamous report, “You should have been here last week. It was amazing powder perfection with glorious sunshine, but sadly the weather has now turned.” The sky had turned gray and sunshine had been replaced by rain. True to our Live Your Adventure ethos, we had prepared for the unknown and we prepared to make it work, so that’s what we did. In exchange, it turned out to be a great story salvaged from bad weather.
Throughout my life, I have always dreamed of visiting the homeland of my ancestors. Stories of the beauty of Scandinavia have rung in my ears for as far back as I could remember, and when invited to take part in a trip to the Lofoten Islands of Norway, I was both intrigued and hopeful that my dream would become a reality. I was invited to Norway by my friend Bret Shandro, who has made Lofoten his home for two years. He had big dreams of sea kayaking in gorgeous fjords with mountains jutting right out of the Atlantic Ocean, a place that is unique and considered to be the gem of Norway. After sending a few emails out to friends around the globe, we had a multinational ski team put together, with Jason Hummel and myself from the Cascades, Bret Shandro from Canada, and my friends Lea Hartl and Lorenzo Rieg from Austria.
We were fortunate to be provided with shelter and sea kayaks from a guiding company called XXLofoten. We decided to make the best out of limiting weather windows, but there was one issue: I am like a cat in the fact that I dislike water; in fact, I can’t swim. I had never been in a sea kayak before, but with a little bit of encouragement from the group, I tried this human-powered method of transportation. We tested our kayaking skills in open water and tested the capacity of the boats to see if we could get all of our gear in, patiently waiting for the weather to improve. It all came together with a 3-day weather window where we were able to get out, kayak into beautiful mountain cirques, and climb into majestic mountains for the next 3 days. The highlight was the Trollfjord, a place stacked to the brim with people during the summer months, but lying abandoned during the winter. On the last day, we kayaked back to the mainland and wondered what to do next with the not-so-promising forecast.
The forecast called for rain, and since the Lofoten Islands are situated right on the Atlantic Ocean, we made the call to head inland in hopes of the rain shadow effect on the mainland. We rented a car, played pack Tetris to fit all our gear inside, and headed east to a town called Narvik, which like all of Norway was covered in big mountains. Our hopes of sunshine fell apart as we were tracking to the extended forecast. We made the best of it, attempting line after line but being pushed back by whiteout conditions, day after day. We kept our morale high for the next week with humor and attempting to learn such a complex language, including trying to decipher the lines and directions in our Swedish language backcountry guidebook. It wasn’t until the final two days that the forecast finally improved, so we decided to head back to Lofoten and ride a line that Bret had set his sights on the previous year, and packed the kayaks the night before in preparation for sunshine.
The final morning dawned clear and we were sea kayaking in the early-morning sun, arriving on a boulder-strewn shore. We switched from dry suit attire into our ski gear, as we had an awesome couloir to slide down. We went from being in the Atlantic Ocean to cramponing up a steep couloir in a little over an hour, happy to find favorable conditions for once on the trip. Once we arrived at the top of the couloir, the views we had been hoping for finally opened up, and one at a time we made our descents, looking directly down at the ocean and scattered islands that make Lofoten such a special place. Once back at the sea kayaks, we decided to celebrate by kayaking into a small town called Henningslvær (referred to as the Venice of the north), where we enjoyed some fine Norwegian waffles before heading back to the house so others could pack their bags for an early-morning departure.
Everyone said their goodbyes, and there I was alone with two weeks and no plans. What would I do and where would I go? Here I was with no real plans, but all signs were pointing at heading north to the Lyngen Alps. Big peaks and endless touring potential…. I like what I am hearing, but who would I tour with and how would I get there? It sounded like an adventure I couldn’t pass up, so before long I was sitting alone at a bus station, putting together this blog post and preparing myself for the unknown.
Kyle wished to send out a huge thanks to Bret, Jason, Lea and Lorenzo for being great touring partners and XXLofoten for making all of this possible.
Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.