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From seaweed to summit

Blog post   •   Feb 27, 2019 09:00 UTC

Photos: Birthe Hegerlund Lunde and Jan Fasting / Text: Birte Hegerlund Lunde

There’s something magical about stepping off the boat in your ski boots, standing in seaweed to put on your skis and, several hours later, reaching the top of white, alpine mountains with the fjord immediately below. Somehow, you feel entitled to a descent on untouched powder snow.

“Look, you can tell they’re not Norwegians: they’re using so little of the snow,” says Jan Fasting, tour guide and captain of the 47-foot S/Y Gazellen anchored in the fjord beneath Helligtinden (948 MASL).

I watch as the group descends the mountainside with tight, rapid turns. They’re the first we’ve met so far, apart from a group of locals we passed at a lavvo tent much further down.

Jan stops and draws in the snow with his pole to illustrate Norwegians skiing.

“We Norwegians use up all the fresh snow. We’re boastful and take up a lot of room.”

Alongside, he draws small parallel curves to show the polite off-piste skiing of the French.

Jan has been running ski and randonnée tours since the 80s. He’s always looking for new routes.

“You don’t take many ski trails?”

“No, never,” says Jan, who has experts and beginners alike on his tours.

Shush–shush–shush... The rhythmic sound of ski skins being pushed up the snow-covered mountainside is the only sound to be heard.

“We won’t get to the top today,” says Jan, and I’m a little relieved that we won’t have to drag ourselves up the final peak with ice axes and skis on our backs. Almost to the top is good enough for me. In any case, 700 metres up means 700 metres down.

We’re ready to make our descent. While the sun starts to set behind the Lofoten mountains to the west, my adrenaline is on the up.

We get down to the boat as the light fades. With red cheeks, stiff thighs and beaming smiles we enjoy après-ski and a sauna on board the Gazelle. Maybe we’ll see the Northern Lights tonight?

First though, it’s time to eat.

Afterwards, the boat sails on to the next fjord. While we’re being rocked to sleep, a new mountain of powder snow lies in wait for tomorrow’s tour.

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