May 1, 2013

Arctic Honeymoon McQuade Style - Toppturer i Troms

It appears the McQuade's are fond of the colder months. After being wed in December at the old mining town resort, Dunton Hot Springs, which rests among Colorado's majestic San Juan mountains at a modest 8700'.

Kristin and Chuck McQuade - Dunton Wedding - December 8th  21012
click above DUNTON photo for more wedding pictures

We then honeymooned 200 miles north of the arctic circle, spending three weeks touring the famous Lyngen Alps and other sectors within the Troms region of northern Norway.

We spent roughly two years putting the trip together and waiting for author and guide for Midnight Sun Mountain Guides Espen Nordahl to finish the publication of his freshly English translated guidebook to the area. Not only was Espen key to the planning and execution of this once in a lifetime adventure, he also wrote in my opinion the best ski touring guidebook I've ever used. If your thinking of putting together a ski touring guidebook, I highly suggest a format similar to Espen's book.

Ski Touring in Troms    Freshly translated this winter to English

The Key Ingredients to 3 Weeks in Troms

1- Espen's fabulous guidebook, also the only guide to date for the area.
  • Toppturer i Troms (Norwegian for Top Tours in Troms)
2- Beer
  • Pictured here is Wagner Olut, Brewed by Olvi   Iisalmi, Finland 
3- Trucker hat and knee length base layer for spring time touring

4- Cant leave out Google Translate : an instrumental part in trip planning and converting entire Norwegian
          websites to English

So just where did we take this "exotic" honeymoon, where is the Troms region, where are the Lyngen Alps???  The interactive map below highlights the different sectors and peaks we toured during our stay in the Troms region of Norway.  Zoom out to see the relative location compared to other arctic locations, or zoom in to see the peaks and areas we toured in.  


 The "10-10-20 crew" - Drew, Sara Beth, Kristin, Me

On the summit of Fastdalstinden (North Lyngen Alps Sector)  with the Istinden and Store Kjostinden (store is Norwegian for large) massive in the background.  The following day we attempted Kjostinden (peak above our heads), but were turned around by bad low viability on the couloir above Kristin's head. Later in the trip Kristin and I go back yet again and summit on what turned out to be a beautiful day after hanging out for an hour or so below the couloir on the Rottenvikbreen (breen is Norwegian for glacier) waiting for a break in the sky

All Smiles on the Approach

Hard to not be smiling on a day as clear as this one.  Here we were on the long yet beautiful approach across the Rottenvikvatnet (vatnet is Norwegian for lake) giving access to Fastdalstinden (right edge of photo) and the Store Kjostinden and Istinden peaks in the background.  If you click on pic and zoom in an exposed piece of the Rottenvik glacier can be seen

Genesis 65 - Our mobile abode for the 3 weeks

After this trip we are big fans of the Bobil (norwegian for motorhome).  What a perfect way to tour the Troms region of time, eat sleep and then drive your home right underneath the peak and ski!  Jan Børre of iCaravan runs an awesome business out of the town Fagernes and has several sized bobil's for rent.

    Cucumber Infused Vodka - Bobil Style

Because of the high prices of alcohol in Norway as well as the difficulty of finding anything other then beer in the small towns, we found it important to buy your liquor at the duty free shops in the airports:)  A little pearl for traveling to Norway.

 Barn in the tiny village of Susannajorda

After getting shutdown halfway up Buren peak  (Kvaloya Sector) due to insanely high winds we decided to walk along the Kaldfjorden (fjorden is Norwegian for fjord).  Kind of odd walking along the water in ski gear:)

Caribou on Buren peak or is it Reindeer?

Can anyone answer this question Caribou vs Reindeer? (In Norwegian villrein vs reinsdyr)

Fastdalstinden Summit Shenanigans - Already getting the Boot from the Wife

 Bobil Disco - SB and Drew Dawg

Akinz Kid - Guerrilla Marketing

Sporting an Akinz (Fort Collins CO) trucker hat as he arrives into the upper basin below Store Russetinden (Balsfjord Sector) with Balsfjorden behind.

A Ones Board?... ahh JONES

Drew showing his splitty off as we play along the Buktelva (Bukt Norweigian for Bay and Telva Norwegian for River) after coming down from Store Russetinden

A-Frame Em - Store Kjostinden Summit Push

Istinden's summit is seen in the background with the Rottenvikbreen below.  An hour earlier we were sitting down on the glacier eating lunch wondering if the snow would stop and the skies would clear :)

Istinden and Brevasstinden looming in the background

Taken from the summit of Store Kjostinden (North Lyngen Alps Sector) with near perfect views after a short snow storm while crossing the Rottenvikbreen glacier earlier.  This ones for you Drew and SB, since we all got shut down on a previous attempt on Store Kjostinden.

Sun Hole on  Storhaugen Peak

Kristin soaking up the sun before the clouds over the north Lyngen Alps intrude on our climb up Storhaugen Peak (Kafjord Alps Sector).   The small town below the peak is Djupvik and Spakenes.  We camped here in the RV a few nights on the very tip of the Spakenesmyra (myra is Norwegian for marsh) to be greeted by the beautiful 0300 sunrise.

  0300 Sunrise looking beyond Uloya from our Bobil camp at Spakenesmyra

 Tragedy on Storhaugen - Women Falls 700 Meters from Summit

Upon finishing Storhaugen peak and returning to the trail head a newspaper reporter asked if we were involved in the tragic accident in anyway.  We had seen a rescue helicopter fly overhead in the direction of Tromso many hours before as we started our tour.  We learned from the reporter and a local the next day showed us the newspaper article, that the women was on day one of a several day guided trip with Lyngen Lodge , reports say she instinctively lunged for a ski while transitioning near the summits east face cornice, which broke sending here over the near vertical east face of Storhaugen Peak.   

Lutefisk - Local Nordnes Fisherman

During our travels to the Kafjord Alps we passed through the small village of ten or so houses, Nordnes, here we spotted a fish drying structure that actually had fish hanging and drying.  We had spotted these drying huts all over the coastline during our trip, but most were unused.  The drying huts are used by northern Norwegian fisherman to make Lutefisk, a traditional dish of the Nordic countries. It is made from aged whitefish, usually cod.  Lut (Norwegian for lye) is used as a preservative in the air-drying process, and has an extremely strong, pungent odor.  We did not try any Lutefisk on the trip :(

Perspective - They Made em Big in Norway

Kristin on the western ridge of Sorbmegaisa peak (Kafjord Alps Sector) with the impressive views of north Lyngen Alps across the fjord.  Across the way is Store Vaggastinden 

Summit Smoked Salmon

Brought all the way to Norway from Alaska by Sara Beth, who caught and smoked em.  What a treat this was, no more PBJ for me.  Behind me are the Kafjord Alps

The Crew After Store Lakselvtinden (seen in the background)

Such Docile Creatures - The Caribou

We stumbled across this guy as we skinned through the small village of Tomasnes on our approach to Store Lakselvtindane (south Lyngen Alps Sector).  His antlers at one time were made of rebar.

The Very Popular - Store Kjostinden and Istinden

 From the summit of Fastdalstinden (North Lyngen Alps Sector), these three peaks are a popular playground for the nearby famous Lyngen town of Lyngseidet.  This town is popular launching point for many skiers during the Lyngen Alps high season March-May.  There are a few lodging options here if you don't take the Bobil method of lodging.  The Magic Mountain Lodge and Camp Kviteberg.  Kristin and I checked out both places as we had been communicating with both owners while planning our trip.  David the owner of Camp Kviteberg, was gracious enough to invite us in for beers and a chat with himself his wife and their three kiddos.  What a nice family, and David is a wealth of knowledge regarding ski info for the area, he also guides if needed. 

 Sunset & Reflections - With the Moon Over Manfjellet

A view from our Bobil at 2300, still plenty of daylight to be had at almost midnight.  Kristin and I make dinner taking in the perfect mirror image of Mannfjellet (fjellet is Norwegian for mountain) reflected in the Storfjorden fjord.

   Summit Yoga - Karltinden

Who doesn't want to do some summit yoga when the conditions and views are this amazing!  Behind us is the western side of the north Lyngen Alps.  All taken in from Karltinden (Mainland Troms Sector) which provided jaw dropping views of both north and south Lyngen sectors.


Taken from below treeline along the Vargedalen (Norwegian for valley) on our ascent to Karltinden (Mainland Troms Sector).

Climbing Tomasrenna Couloir - Store Lakselvtinden

This mega classic line climbs the impressive Tomasrenna couloir of Store Lakselvtinden (south Lyngen Alps Sector) for some 600 vertical meters before reaching the Den himmelske freds plass (Norwegian for Gate of Heavenly Peace) glacier.  What a breath taking area.

The Epitome of Accomplishment

What beats a nice brew and a hand warm after a long day on Store Lakselvtinden.

 Two Story Barn - Kafjord Alps

The barns around Troms always seemed to catch my eye, this one we came across after our tour of Sorbmegaisa peak (Kafjord Alps Sector) during our decent back to the road.  Behind the barn is yet another tireless view of the north Lyngen Alps.  

 Summit Pleasures - Middagstinden 

Another bright glorious day, here Kristin preps for the ride down from Middagstinden (south Lyngen Alps Sector) The splendid peaks rising an additional 300 meters in the background are Piggtinden and Storvasstinden. 

 Old Breivikeidet Ferry Dock

Taken as Kristin and I watch the weather clear before a tour up Karltinden (Mainland Troms Sector).  Across the Ullsfjorden fjord to views of Storttinden and Isskardtindane (North Lyngen Alps Sector)

Midway Point Chair - Middagstinden

When the weather a bit on the cooler side we would take our time summiting to allow the snowpack time to warm up and soften to allow for corn riding.  We got pretty crafty at digging rather comfortable ski and pack assisted chairs while enjoying the sun and lunch.  

 Taking our time seemed to pay off on this peak, once we hit the summit we hung out for an hour or so drinking Pat's backcountry beer and taking in the views.

Pat's Backcountry - Beta Testing Beer

This stuff rocks!  Yep that's right beer concentrate in a Gu sized package, just add carbonation via the special patented carbonator and its salt citric acid packages.  The beer is still being tweaked check out the website for updates!

Cod De-header?

Hobbit Home? or TorvTaket?

We came across this yurt as we crossed through the small village of Tomasnes.  The "sod roof" is somewhat popular in the Scandinavian countries. The term "sod roof" is however  misleading, as the active, water-tight element of the roof is birch bark. The main purpose of the sod is to hold the birch bark in place. The roof might just as well have been called a "birch bark roof", but its grassy outward appearance is the reason for its name torvtaket (Norwegian for turf roof)

       The Bootpack'n Babe - Store Lakselvtinden

Kristin did most of the work breaking the bootpack in for the four of us.  The rest of us just wore out too quickly:)

 OOPS - Eyes on the Road.....Drew
If it wasnt for this nice lad and his mother we still may be in Norway trying to get the Bobil out of the snowbank and back on the road.  She saw us all armed with our avalanche shovels trying to dig away the snowbank, then cruised down from her house with her tractor and yanked us right out.  Thank goodness for her quick assistance, we even toured Blatinden (Mainland Troms Sector)  peak shortly after the rescue.  Blatinden peak was the proposed venue for the downhill races in the 2018 Winter Olympics, however Tromso was not chosen

Lutefisk - The Drying Process

Storttinden Peak above the Village of Svensby

Traffic Director

 Mack Brygger (Norwegian for Brewery) - Tromso City

Founded in 1877 and claims to be the northern most brewery in the world.  We drank our fair share of Mack brews, not bad, even coming from a couple of hop heads. 

  Piggtinden and Storvasstinden - from Middagstinden Summit

Thanks Troms , Norway!  What a Honeymoon!  - From The "10-10-20 crew"