Snow paradise! Norway’s Lofoten Islands

Looking for the most scenic view in wintersports? One of the world’s main contenders must surely be the majestic nordic landscapes of Lofoten; located at the 68th and 69th parallels north of the Arctic Circle in North Norway – an untrammelled landscape of majestic mountains, deep fjords, squawking seabird colonies and long, surf-swept beaches. Take a quick tour above through the eyes of Russia’s “Ride The Planet” project.

Interview: Konstantin Galat on the trip to the Lofoten Islands

The founder of Russia’s RideThePlanet project shares his impressions of their trip to the archipelago beyond the Arctic Circle.

How did the idea of going to this place originate – on the Lofoten Islands?

I had already been to Norway many times – both in winter and summer in different regions, and objectively, this is one of the most beautiful natural places on the planet. The combination of mountains, water, fjords … About Lofoten as a unique place for freeride and backcountry, I first heard many years ago from my Norwegian friends-skiers. And now we were able to visit there for the first time – to ride and travel.

Are Lofoten from continental Norway different?

Norway is a fairly large and diverse country in terms of landscape and climate. The northern and north-eastern regions of Norway are beyond the Arctic Circle, and the nature there is radically different from the south-west of the country. I think the Lofoten archipelago is more correctly compared with the central mountain regions of Norway, where the highest mountain ranges, glaciers and abundance of fjords from the north side are located. Lofotenians are somewhat similar to this part of Norway, the same combination of mountains and water in all forms – fjords, lakes, open sea areas. But the Lofoten is more compact. The islands of the archipelago are connected by excellent roads, usually along the coast, a complex system of tunnels and bridges, and therefore, when traveling by car, the picture and landscapes change very quickly.

I would like to separately note the complexity and diversity of mountain reliefs in Lofoten. It is very difficult to find two identical gorges or massifs – all the mountains, bays and fjords have completely different shapes. Severe rock bastions can coexist with gentle valleys or plateaus. But in my opinion, on the whole, the archipelago is dominated by rather steep slopes, with many rocky outcrops, corridors. While the absolute height of the mountain massifs in Lofoten is not great and rarely exceeds 1000 m above sea level. – because the mountains “grow up” straight that the absolute height of the mountain massifs in Lofoten is not great and rarely exceeds 1000 m above sea level. – because the mountains “grow up” straight that the absolute height of the mountain massifs in Lofoten is not great and rarely exceeds 1000 m above sea level. – because the mountains “grow up” straightfrom the sea, the bay or the fjord, it is often quite difficult at a glance to appreciate the scale and relief of these massifs. Since the maritime climate prevails in the archipelago, the weather changes rather sharply, and sometimes radically – for some half an hour a blizzard with a strong wind and snow can be replaced by the sun and calm. A couple of times during our stay in Lofoten we changed the skiing areas for one day because of the weather. Somewhere there may be leaden skies and snow, and literally in 20 minutes by car, through a couple of tunnels and a couple of bridges, the sun shines.

What are the features of riding on Lofoten?

The mountainous reliefs on the Lofoten are quite complex and diverse: almost everything can be found here: steep couloirs with a drop of up to 800 meters, falling from the top to the foot, snow fields with a lot of microrelief, forest zones in the lower part of the slopes. And our whole team noted that these mountains do not look like anything where we managed to visit before. It’s very cool that to most routes for skiing a very simple and short approach. Often to the liked slope it is possible to approach by the car, it is literally vestegnutsya in skitur or snowshoes and to begin lifting directly from a parking on road. Areas and routes for skiing can be viewed by simply rummaging along the roads by car.

Due to the proximity of the sea and the Gulf Stream, the Lofoten archipelago has a mild climate for polar latitudes. Frequent local cyclones bring a lot of rain, so fresh snow in the spring is the norm here, as local riders and guides assured us. The structure of the snow here is also slightly different from the continental mountain areas due to small diurnal temperature changes. And the snow here is often changeable, even on one route. The farther the array from the sea or fjord deep into the island, the drier, and the more humid near the coast. Naturally, like the weather, snow formation and avalanche conditions in the mountains of the Lofoten Islands are slightly different from the Caucasus or the Alps. Because of the polar latitudes, in the spring on Lofoten a fairly long light day and in March-April-May you can make rises and descents from 7 am to 7 pm. Naturally, like in any new mountains, to understand the reliefs, snow, slope exposures and much more, one needs to spend quite a lot of time here. Therefore, for riding on the islands at first it is better to resort to the help of local guides, who are well aware of the areas and their features. The mountains here are not the most simple and quite wild, fact.

The problem on Lofoten is one – to make a choice, the eyes run. I think, on this archipelago it is possible to spend, being engaged in backcountry, all life and not to repeat with routes. The archipelago is covered with mountains, and it is not small: it takes 5-6 hours to drive it from west to east by car without stops … And you want to stop here all the time. At some point you say to yourself: “Everything, I do not stop and I do not get the camera. Simply go ahead! We also planned to get to point A today! ”

What, besides skating, you can do in the snow on the islands?

If you do not ride, then on Lofoten simply travel to different parts of the archipelago by car captures – the pictures are constantly changing and fascinating. You can surf, from the Norwegian Sea there are several good surf spots and stations. According to local surfers, the waves are almost all year round. Naturally, we must make a correction for the polar latitudes, the water temperature and the snow mountains rising directly from the sandy sea beaches. To surf at an air temperature of 0 degrees and a water temperature of +7 it is necessary to be morally ready. Local surfers looked quite pleased, probilty havshis in the waves with us for at least an hour under the snow falling from the sky. We did not dare to climb into the water …

In the north of the archipelago there is a place where people come from all over the world to look at the whales. Whales in the Lofoten almost all year round go to the fjords, and they can often be observed even from the shore. In the evening, you can go to the seashore with wide sandy beaches, and in case of luck observe the aurora borealis. Local people can often be found on cross-country skiing, on the islands in the valleys a lot of routes are rolled. In general, I would like to note that in the islands, as in other areas of Norway, sports, outdoor and healthy lifestyles are in high esteem. Unlike neighboring Sweden, and most countries, snowmobiles and helicopters are prohibited for skating, because, according to local, they are violating the ecology. And in general, it seemed to us that people, their homes, villages and way of life somehow very harmoniously entered into these severe northern landscapes.

This is an english transcription of an interview that originally ran on the website.