70°02’23’’N 22°15’28’’E Ski Origin

The crow Mathieu Portefaix and Sylvain Rechu went into the Finnmark region, the most northerly and easterly part of Norway. A journey to where the seas are only separated from the sky by mountains of delectable snow, the exact place where an artist a long-time passed drew the image of an expressive skier onto a rock.

Montée à Klubbnesviktinden

April 2018. It’s the end of the winter guiding season here in the French Alps. This winter was the best in many years, with a record amount of snow and amazing conditions! The skiing was unbelievably good! We’re all very happy to have witnessed such an excellent winter in our mountains.

Nonetheless, the need to take a break from our familiar environment and the need to discover new skiing horizons both came up at some point.
Sylvain offered me to join him on a trip to Norway in the Finmark region, away from the crowds of the Lyngen Alps and Lofoten. I’ve been wanting to go there for quite some time, so I immediately agreed!

This scandinavian country and Rodoy island are where the first ski tracks were found… well, I mean there are old paintings of skiing being used as a mean of transport, and this was thousands of years B.C.

Couleurs norvégiennes

Our base camp was located west of Alta, a place called Langfjordbotn. Our little cottage was right on the fjord. The fjord still bears its winter coat, most of it still frozen deep. Basic comfort and answering only to our primary needs, this heartwarming home was even more enjoyable with the fireplace on. From there, we would go to different fjords in the area. The terrain is different everywhere, sometimes round like beautiful domes, sometimes peeled clean by the tough weather. And sometimes, really steep faces with couloirs diving straight into the fjord.

 

We got the feeling of immensity, there aren’t many inhabitants per square mile, especially in the north (30 times lower than England) but that’s a big part of travelling to ski. We feel like Vikings but physically small next to Norwegian countrymen that we come across. And there is this overwhelming spirit of keeping in with traditions and protecting the environment.

Norwegians are close to nature, and care for it. We met Randy, cook and boss of the only restaurant in the area. The place is warm and everyone meets there before going home. Randy loves Norwegian nature, the region is her passion and she is politically engaged, fighting for the protection of the environment, the mountains and the seas. She always keeps in mind the human values that are close to her heart. We spent a couple of evenings listening to her, talking about nordic culture, Viking stories and what is at stake for the modern world and the threats that mankind has brought onto itself.

Skiing-wise, we are spoilt for choice. Hundreds of itineraries, some more accessible than others. In some cases, we don’t have an option other than to use fishermen’s boats to reach the stone beach on the other side of the fjord. The nicest ones to ski are protected by tortuous ridges, far away. We are so used to being spoilt rotten by the lifts that this time we make a point of skiing further away, closer to nature. A soft approach, kayaking, allows us to contemplate the beautiful immensity of what is around us.

While ski touring, time takes on a different speed. We don’t really know if minutes become hours or vice versa , hours transform into minutes. The slow way up, contemplating in peace under the heat of the sun, gives way to speed, focus and adrenaline!

As always, finding out about local customs is rewarding. Sylvain and I have tried to fish in fjords but even with our friend Toré’s advice, we only caught seaweed and ended up empty-handed!

Beyond a “friends trip”, where sharing is key, what we will most remember are the vast territories where nature dominates mankind. The atmosphere, the contrast and the mix of elements: ocean, sea, snow, mountains. Those last turns skiing only a few meters away from the ocean along with a strong smell of seaweed and sea sprays.

Where is the next stop?

Matth & Sylvain

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