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Ski tours in the land of the fjords | Lyngen Alps

Off to the north - to the Lyngen Alps

by Christian Skala 12/05/2014
The whole world is talking about ski tours in Norway: Beautiful shots and lots of rave reviews - or is it all just a commercial trend that shouldn't be followed blindly just because it no longer seems spectacular enough in the local mountains? We decided to see for ourselves and packed our bags for 10 days of ski touring in the Lyngen Alps...

After a below-average northern winter, we left the harbingers of spring behind us and landed back in a white landscape, in Tromsø. At the airport, we were already faced with our first challenge: fitting six pairs of skis and luggage for six people into two vans. Stuffed to the ceiling, however, we arrived at our accommodation in Svensby and thus also at our second challenge: Accommodating six people in what felt like 30 square meters. That's how small our accommodation looked from the outside - from the inside, however, it offered cozy, nice comfort, even with its own sauna, so that we could nestle in comfortably by the fjord for the coming time - and plan our first tour full of anticipation.

First day: open your eyes - it's raining and not exactly lightly. Will the bad winter continue here now? No, we were not discouraged by such thoughts. According to the weather radar, it was supposed to get sunny during the day, so we set off as planned. At the starting point, the rain was already getting lighter and after a few meters of ascent we were rewarded with bright blue skies and sunshine.

On reaching the summit, the view over the surrounding fjords and the beautiful snow-covered mountains could not have been better depicted in any Norway travel guide. The south-facing descent offered wonderful spring conditions with firn, so we hadn't had enough for the day and tackled the neighboring summit - after all, the days are already long in April, so we didn't have any time problems. With a final powder run, it was an almost perfect start to our Lyngentrip.

But as it is with the weather: you can't book it in advance. Unfortunately, the rest of our trip was characterized by unstable weather conditions. Sometimes sun, sometimes rain and then again snowstorms - it remained exciting.

This meant that we had to plan all the more precisely and search meticulously for windows of good weather. At this point, a big thank you to the perfect Wi-Fi in our accommodation in no man's land: the precipitation radar was on almost around the clock.

The biggest challenge, however, was the snow and avalanche conditions: On the one hand, there was a frequent change between rain and snow. On the other hand, the wind direction and strength changed constantly, so that the west side snow from the previous day could be found on the east side the next day. The snowpack build-up and consequently the very tense avalanche situation made the search for perfect conditions even more difficult.

We therefore spent a large part of each evening planning the tour for the following day in order to find a daily compromise between good snow conditions, a sufficient time window and taking into account the tense avalanche situation.

However, our efforts to prepare for the tour paid off: of the 10 days we spent in the Lyngen Alps, we only had two down days.

We used these to explore the area a little. Who would have thought, for example, that there is actually a "café" in deserted Svensby and that it is run by German expats? We waited in vain for an aurora borealis (yes, we could have known that, after all it's almost always light), but at least a reindeer ran in front of our car (don't worry, it's still alive and didn't even get a red nose...). Admittedly, we spent most of the time pressing our noses against the window so as not to miss the neighboring fisherman who supplied us with freshly caught fish.

In the evenings, we always had a good time in culinary terms: we didn't skimp on the food and so there was always enough energy for the next day in our cosy cabin, from fresh fish to waffles. Only when it came to alcohol did the impressively high prices cause a significant reduction in consumption: the expensive Norwegian beer was shared fraternally and the duty-free drinks were well managed...

But back to the main reason for our trip: The touring terrain in the Lyngen Alps is very varied: from beautiful cruising slopes with sea views to challenging alpine undertakings, almost everything is possible there. Unfortunately, we had to limit ourselves somewhat and tackle the more relaxed and leisurely variations. Nevertheless, we found beautiful runs with mostly good snow conditions and, above all, almost always with a sea view. It was sometimes amusing to observe the approach of the guided groups, which you inevitably come across in the course of the ski touring boom in Norway (and yet not nearly as often as initially expected): even in pouring rain and the thickest fog (not even the dog or moose will go outside in this weather), the groups are pushed up the mountain, after all, you have paid for it. Anyone who assumes that a boat tour in the Lyngenfjord only takes you to individual destinations that are otherwise inaccessible is also mistaken in some cases! The boat is anchored in the fjord, then steered to the shore with the dinghy and, after crossing the fjord, started at the road like everyone else. This starting point would certainly have been easier and quicker to reach without a boat. But it's certainly still nice on the boat...

During our tours, the topic of the avalanche situation remained omnipresent. Almost every day, we were able to observe self-releases and releases by skiers, even in not too steep terrain. The size of the slides ranged from potential entrainment to burial size. Some slides were predictable, others took us by surprise. Although there is an avalanche situation report for the Lyngen Alps, it is compiled by a few individuals who therefore do not cover the entire area, which is made even more difficult by the frequent changes in weather, including maritime weather. In our area, warning level two (moderate) was issued, which in our experience was not appropriate. We therefore informed the responsible avalanche warning service by email and immediately received a thankful reply and our observations were included directly online. The avalanche warning service is happy about every single observation and feedback.

Conclusion of our trip

The winter of 2013/2014 also brought below-average snowfall in northern Norway. Ski tours in the Lyngen Alps require precise preparation of the tours and exact consideration of the respective conditions. Beginners are better off joining a guided group - with or without a boat - it's up to you. But the effort of planning is worth it: the Lyngen Alps offer unique, varied touring terrain in a beautiful setting that is second to none! And one thing is certain: once you've been there, you'll want to go again! And the alpine destinations are still waiting...

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This article has been automatically translated by DeepL with subsequent editing. If you notice any spelling or grammatical errors or if the translation has lost its meaning, please write an e-mail to the editors.

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