Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunnmørsalpene

Just in from an incredibly good week skitouring in the Sunnmøre alps region of Norway. We were 13 people altogether and we stayed in cabins right on the Hjørundfjord in a tiny and extremely scenic village called Sæbø. It was mostly stormy weather and avalanche city while we were there, but we got out skiing every day except one and managed to get to the top of several peaks and find some enjoyable skiing on the way down. Some highlights:

The Company: a really fun mix of people, only one of which I knew from before. My brain is a little tired after the mix of languages, accents and dialects that were flying around. We had several extremes of the Norwegian dialects represented with Tommy from the South, Marianne from the far North, the Oslo people, and the spicy local dialect. And then we had the Swedish girl, the Icelandic guy who understood Norwegian but spoke mostly New York English, Andrew the South African/Norwegian, Glen the Englishman/Norwegian and of course me. Kind of cool that with such a mix everyone still understood (almost) everything.

Our failed attempt at a timed, group, jump shot...

The Avalanches: There were a lot of them. Several times a day there would be loud rumbling as they crashed down the mountains. I witnessed three large ones, including two that plunged over a 1000ft cliff above our cabins. Really incredible to witness from safe places!

We didn't see this one go but the aftermath was pretty cool when we got to the summit.

We were very careful about where we skied. By sticking to the right aspects, not skiing under large cornices or avy-prone slopes, and even staying off certain (really cool, damnit) mountains altogether, I feel like we skied with very low avalanche risk the whole time. We had to laugh on the second to last day though, because while we were digging a pit test on our mountain a huge avalanche crashed down to the valley floor from the mountain just across from us. It was on a completely different aspect though--the one that had been windloaded--and we knew to avoid slopes of that aspect anyway.

The most Norwegian day ever: We spent the day skiing to and from the summit of a very nice mountain jutting right out of the fjord. Afterward we were stretched out on the porch of one of the cabins with beers when Marianne asked if anyone wanted to go on a boat/fishing tour in the fjord. I was a bit skeptical as she disappeared down to the dock, but half an hour later she came back and non-chalantly announced that she had found a nice older couple with a boat that would take us out and show us around. I guess that North-Norwegian dialect really works for charming one's way onto boats. What a little sjark-hore.

Another half hour and were were standing on the deck of a fishing boat in the rain, surrounded by crazy sweet mountains and fishing for cod. Hallvard caught two (the smug bastard) and we took them home to make 'Mølja', which sounded maybe a little too Norwegian but turned out to be pretty good once I got over my prejudices about eating boiled liver sauce and fish eggs.

Tommy enjoying the rainy boat/fishing tour

Birthday tour: My birthday was on Wednesday. It turned out to be sunny weather, and we set out for what would definitely be my favorite tour of the trip. The views were shit-your-pants-amazing in all directions, and from the top we stood straight above the fjord and could see out to the Atlantic. Well, that's what I'm told anyway--I could hardly be bothered to turn and look that way with all of the sexy, pointy, glaciated mountains to be gawked at in the other directions.

The happy birthday song was sung enthusiastically at me in Norwegian and English on the top before being treated to a really fun and fast line 3500 ft down to the car. Later the sneaky devils busted out cake and Norwegian moonshine and more singing and general merriment ensued. A damn satisfying birthday for sure :-)

Ålesund: Thursday was bad weather and I went with three of the guys to check out the city of Ålesund. It was an hour and a half and a ferry ride away from Sæbø, but is by no means far from its share of sexy mountains. It's also one of the coolest looking cities I have ever been to, with nice buildings, pedestrian streets and restaurants all surrounded by beautiful, snowy mountains that stick right out of the fjords. So, uh, why don't I live in Ålesund??

And if you turn around you see a fjord and snow-capped spikes :-)

Bygdafest! Our social little North-Norwegian came to the rescue again with the tip that there would be a special, once a year 'after ski' for easter ski tourers. It was across and up the fjord where there were no roads, but a boat had been arranged to get skiers there and back for the party. So at 9:30 we shuffled down to the dock and hopped on. I didn't really know what to expect, but it turned out to be a blast! There was one large building with tables, and people had come by boat from all around for the once-a-year party. All of the smiling faces we had seen skiing down the mountains earlier in the week were there, plus a good crowd of locals of all ages. Oh, and lots of beer, singing/accordian/guitar and dancing.

Here are a few more pics and I'll put the rest on facebook.
Hege approaching the summit.

Nice weather eh?

Fjord og Fjell :-)


5 comments:

Little Yeti said...

Jealous!

Scott Pendleton said...

Glad you're being safe out there. And glad you're having fun! That looks awesome.

SCANDAVID said...

hey thanks! it was definitely kind of a bummer to skip out on some of the cooler lines and mountains... tried to focus on what we were skiing more than what we weren't though...

Scott Pendleton said...

And hey, no matter how good the line is, it ain't worth dying for.

Carie said...

Happy Birthday David! Sounds like you're still having a great time in the magical land of snow-capped fjordal peakies!