Postcards From Lofoten

Just before leaving the Nordic world to embark on my Alaska adventure, I had the good fortune to take a two-week “pre-trip” to the Lofoten Islands of nortwestern Norway. Having drawn poor luck with the weather during my  previous visit to the area, my partner and I headed back again with hopes of completing some unfinished business. For two weeks we sparred with the weather; overall, we held our own. Mostly good strategizing allowed us to rest when it rained, strike out during the too-brief climbing windows, and take full advantage of the midnight sun. While we climbed many pitches and nearly all of our goals, the major objective, Storpillaren, remained unclimbed. Even when the rest of the area was basking in the sun, clouds hung low over the pillar, keeping it wet for the duration of our stay. Being that the route’s difficultly was at the upper end of what we dared to attempt, anything less than perfect conditions meant that it would have to wait for another year. While frustrating, my father summed it up nicely when he said, “I can think of some worse places to have to visit three times.”

Below is a series of photographs from the trip accompanied by short stories, brief moments and memories from my two weeks in the Lofotens. The photos have not been edited or photoshopped in any way, which is much more a testament to the beauty of Norway than the skills of the photographer. Enjoy.

​Tero, preparing to step into the void on the last pitch of the route, Silmarillion. The route was an intense and interesting mix of challenges. The payoff, the position, is well worth the cost of admission.

​After seeing the feature, Pillaren (above left), while hiking into climb Bare Blåbær, both Tero and I had desires to climb it. The route we chose, Celebrian, promised 12 pitches of mountain-route style adventure on this feature at a moderate grade. Below, Tero leads one of the opening pitches under uncertain sky.

​Upon reaching the summit, we could not locate the rappel anchors marked in the topo. We spent hours moving up and down the ropes in a futile effort to locate them. Never appearing, the search was called off and we spent the next 14 hours slowly working our way down and off the mountain. Twenty-four hours after leaving, we reached the car once again.

​Home sweet home. I prepared a late dinner outside of our basecamp, an old ambulance that Tero converted into the ultimate climber vehicle. Photo by Tero Marttila.

​During this trip I did have aspirations of climbing a new route. On my last visit to the area I had scoped a potential new line, though after only one attempt I knew it was too difficult for me. Thanks to the rainy days though, I had  plenty of time to pour over the guidebook and look for other promising locations. One evening I ventured out to one of these choice areas with an old friend from the United States. Through the night, with help from the midnight sun, we established a short, three-pitch route on an obscure crag. With plenty more potential for other new routes in the area, I convinced two friends from Tampere to join me there for what would be my last day in the area. Above, Liisa makes the third ascent of the new route, Rally English. After that, all that remained of my trip was a long and pleasant car ride home under clear, blue skies.

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