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I have made a discovery. My own selfishness tells me to keep quiet about it so make sure you don't tell anyone. It can be our little secret: Norway...sshhhhh

The Norway Diaries are my mini guide/diary to a selection of great mountaineering days out on skis in the mountains of Lyngen, Kvaløya and Lofoten; alpine playgrounds right up in the Arctic Circle. Think of the Isle of Skye on steroids with snow down to the sea, full of tall, beautiful blonde people with Viking names. The light is pale silver one minute and dark gunmetal the next and there is contentment amongst the people which I guess is what happens when you have 24 hour daylight, a fat pair of skis and a few thousand acres of untracked powder on your doorstep.

Why Norway? Well, if I had a coin for every time I thought "I am never going to the Alps again" I would be a rich woman. There are many things about Alpine winter and spring that I can't stand such as the expense, the lift and route queues, the mad dog powder frenzies of Chamonix and the sleepless nights spent in mountain huts wanting to put a pillow over the head of the walrus in the next bunk. I am full of idle threats to give it up but I just keep going back. This is because it's so good, of course, but in the past couple of years Norway has toppled the Alps from its pedestal.

Part 1: Lyngen

Part one of The Norway Diaries is Lyngen, a peninsula, which is home to some of the region's highest mountains and is almost as far north as you can go without falling into the Arctic Ocean. The snow can linger into early summer and we took our skis in May to see what it was like.

Hilda, (my tall, Dutch, ultra-running endurance athlete, friend, bridesmaid and mother of two, with legs up to her chin) and I have a ski mountaineering adventure together each spring. It's the highlight of the year. We normally rough it in winter refuges and carry all our food for 10 days but the Scandinavians have their own way of doing things: feather duvets, white linen, fresh salmon, duck eggs, waffles, under floor heating and hot tubs in the snow. So when we tell our husbands we are going to be 'roughing it' in Norway this is not strictly true. We stayed at a fully catered skiers hostel in Lyngseidet called Magic Mountain Lodge, which gives a very central base and a warm hearty welcome.

Route 1: Holmbukttinden - Jiehkkevárri

'Park the car by the beach and put your skis on'. (This is the generic opening line for pretty much all of the ascents!)

The route up Jiehkkevárri goes via its steep sided little sister, Holmbukttinden. The 1600m initial ascent follows a huge avalanche prone couloir to a hanging valley with amazing views. From the hanging valley we booted up a short steep snow face and continued on skis to the summit ridge. The final steep steps are quicker and easier on foot, and feel quite exposed. To reach Jiehkkevárri you drop over the summit cornice of Holmbukttinden on the east side and ski down a steep little face where you have a long steady glacial plateau climb to reach the summit dome. We will have to return another day to tick the summit as thick cloud came in so we escaped back down the route of ascent, which gave 1600m vertical of delicious creamy powder.

Route 2: Tafeltinden

'Park by the beach and put your skis on' (Are you are getting the idea?) This is one of the most popular ski tours in Lyngen; it is a gorgeous summit with options for a straightforward, safe approach, albeit quite long. If you have an appetite for a more technical climb you can follow couloirs on the east and south side to the summit ridge but this softens early in the day as the sun strengthens so you might need to be on the summit slopes before most locals have even got out of the car.

Which brings me to my next point: the locals. What a laid back bunch! They have a slightly unconventional approach to ski touring if you come from an alpine perspective. It is normal to see them dragging massive fat skis with huge carpet-like skins stuck to the bases and it's definitely not cool to leave the car before 10am. They love 'onesie' baggy ski suits, bright colours and lazing around nattering and drinking beer on the summit. They don't need to bother with kick turns and zig-zags on the steep ascents: they have so much surface area they can just point their skins in a straight line up the snow. You will probably struggle to catch them on the descent too; their degree of ninja free-ride awesomeness is directly proportional to the quantity of facial hair and the brightness and bagginess of the onesie.

Route 3: Russelvfjellet / Rainbow day

We met up with Ali Coulshaw, James Thacker and Ben Bardsley; some skiing/ climbing mates from back home who were staying not far away. They brought a lot of weather with them, but in Lyngen there is no such thing as bad weather, there is only the wrong clothes. (Actually I pinched this lovely observation from Billy Connolly.)

Lyngen becomes even more beautiful when the clouds are dark and sombre and beams of sunlight burst through. It's definitely the first time I have skied amongst rainbows, but to appreciate rainbows you also have to love the rain...

Luckily for us this lovely little peak has great skiing for a bad weather day as the summit is neither too high nor too far from the start. It is the most northerly ski peak of the Lyngen peninsula and is surrounded by the sea on 3 sides. The route starts, of course, with "park by the beach and put your skis on" :-)). We skinned around the southern flanks of the peak and into a corrie then up the corniced east ridge to a wind-sculpted summit. Ali and James braved wild conditions to try and locate a rocky drop-in to a steep west facing couloir. The rest of us got the waterproof cameras out and headed for the rainbows on the east.

Route 4: Fastdalstinden

Another stormy day left us waiting for a gap in the clouds which, luckily, arrived after breakfast but before tea and cake! Fastdalstinden is a good choice for weather windows. It's fairly high at 1275m but when the sun pops out you only have a 5 minute drive up the east coast from Lyngseidet to the start of the route. This meant we could have a stab at making it up and down before the return of the horizontal frozen sleet, leaving only the small issue of the storm force winds!

Leanne Callaghan

(Photos ©Leanne Callaghan & Hilda Grooters)

I have made a discovery. My own selfishness tells me to keep quiet about it so make sure you don't tell anyone. It can be our little secret: Norway...sshhhhh

The Norway Diaries are my mini guide/diary to a selection of great mountaineering days out on skis in the mountains of Lyngen, Kvaløya and Lofoten; alpine playgrounds right up in the Arctic Circle. Think of the Isle of Skye on steroids with snow down to the sea, full of tall, beautiful blonde people with Viking names. The light is pale silver one minute and dark gunmetal the next and there is contentment amongst the people which I guess is what happens when you have 24 hour daylight, a fat pair of skis and a few thousand acres of untracked powder on your doorstep.

Why Norway? Well, if I had a coin for every time I thought "I am never going to the Alps again" I would be a rich woman. There are many things about Alpine winter and spring that I can't stand such as the expense, the lift and route queues, the mad dog powder frenzies of Chamonix and the sleepless nights spent in mountain huts wanting to put a pillow over the head of the walrus in the next bunk. I am full of idle threats to give it up but I just keep going back. This is because it's so good, of course, but in the past couple of years Norway has toppled the Alps from its pedestal.

Part 1: Lyngen

Part one of The Norway Diaries is Lyngen, a peninsula, which is home to some of the region's highest mountains and is almost as far north as you can go without falling into the Arctic Ocean. The snow can linger into early summer and we took our skis in May to see what it was like.

Hilda, (my tall, Dutch, ultra-running endurance athlete, friend, bridesmaid and mother of two, with legs up to her chin) and I have a ski mountaineering adventure together each spring. It's the highlight of the year. We normally rough it in winter refuges and carry all our food for 10 days but the Scandinavians have their own way of doing things: feather duvets, white linen, fresh salmon, duck eggs, waffles, under floor heating and hot tubs in the snow. So when we tell our husbands we are going to be 'roughing it' in Norway this is not strictly true. We stayed at a fully catered skiers hostel in Lyngseidet called Magic Mountain Lodge, which gives a very central base and a warm hearty welcome.

Route 1: Holmbukttinden - Jiehkkevárri

'Park the car by the beach and put your skis on'. (This is the generic opening line for pretty much all of the ascents!)

The route up Jiehkkevárri goes via its steep sided little sister, Holmbukttinden. The 1600m initial ascent follows a huge avalanche prone couloir to a hanging valley with amazing views. From the hanging valley we booted up a short steep snow face and continued on skis to the summit ridge. The final steep steps are quicker and easier on foot, and feel quite exposed. To reach Jiehkkevárri you drop over the summit cornice of Holmbukttinden on the east side and ski down a steep little face where you have a long steady glacial plateau climb to reach the summit dome. We will have to return another day to tick the summit as thick cloud came in so we escaped back down the route of ascent, which gave 1600m vertical of delicious creamy powder.

Route 2: Tafeltinden

'Park by the beach and put your skis on' (Are you are getting the idea?) This is one of the most popular ski tours in Lyngen; it is a gorgeous summit with options for a straightforward, safe approach, albeit quite long. If you have an appetite for a more technical climb you can follow couloirs on the east and south side to the summit ridge but this softens early in the day as the sun strengthens so you might need to be on the summit slopes before most locals have even got out of the car.

Which brings me to my next point: the locals. What a laid back bunch! They have a slightly unconventional approach to ski touring if you come from an alpine perspective. It is normal to see them dragging massive fat skis with huge carpet-like skins stuck to the bases and it's definitely not cool to leave the car before 10am. They love 'onesie' baggy ski suits, bright colours and lazing around nattering and drinking beer on the summit. They don't need to bother with kick turns and zig-zags on the steep ascents: they have so much surface area they can just point their skins in a straight line up the snow. You will probably struggle to catch them on the descent too; their degree of ninja free-ride awesomeness is directly proportional to the quantity of facial hair and the brightness and bagginess of the onesie.

Route 3: Russelvfjellet / Rainbow day

We met up with Ali Coulshaw, James Thacker and Ben Bardsley; some skiing/ climbing mates from back home who were staying not far away. They brought a lot of weather with them, but in Lyngen there is no such thing as bad weather, there is only the wrong clothes. (Actually I pinched this lovely observation from Billy Connolly.)

Lyngen becomes even more beautiful when the clouds are dark and sombre and beams of sunlight burst through. It's definitely the first time I have skied amongst rainbows, but to appreciate rainbows you also have to love the rain...

Luckily for us this lovely little peak has great skiing for a bad weather day as the summit is neither too high nor too far from the start. It is the most northerly ski peak of the Lyngen peninsula and is surrounded by the sea on 3 sides. The route starts, of course, with "park by the beach and put your skis on" :-)). We skinned around the southern flanks of the peak and into a corrie then up the corniced east ridge to a wind-sculpted summit. Ali and James braved wild conditions to try and locate a rocky drop-in to a steep west facing couloir. The rest of us got the waterproof cameras out and headed for the rainbows on the east.

Route 4: Fastdalstinden

Another stormy day left us waiting for a gap in the clouds which, luckily, arrived after breakfast but before tea and cake! Fastdalstinden is a good choice for weather windows. It's fairly high at 1275m but when the sun pops out you only have a 5 minute drive up the east coast from Lyngseidet to the start of the route. This meant we could have a stab at making it up and down before the return of the horizontal frozen sleet, leaving only the small issue of the storm force winds!

Leanne Callaghan

(Photos ©Leanne Callaghan & Hilda Grooters)

I have made a discovery. My own selfishness tells me to keep quiet about it so make sure you don't tell anyone. It can be our little secret: Norway...sshhhhh

The Norway Diaries are my mini guide/diary to a selection of great mountaineering days out on skis in the mountains of Lyngen, Kvaløya and Lofoten; alpine playgrounds right up in the Arctic Circle. Think of the Isle of Skye on steroids with snow down to the sea, full of tall, beautiful blonde people with Viking names. The light is pale silver one minute and dark gunmetal the next and there is contentment amongst the people which I guess is what happens when you have 24 hour daylight, a fat pair of skis and a few thousand acres of untracked powder on your doorstep.

Why Norway? Well, if I had a coin for every time I thought "I am never going to the Alps again" I would be a rich woman. There are many things about Alpine winter and spring that I can't stand such as the expense, the lift and route queues, the mad dog powder frenzies of Chamonix and the sleepless nights spent in mountain huts wanting to put a pillow over the head of the walrus in the next bunk. I am full of idle threats to give it up but I just keep going back. This is because it's so good, of course, but in the past couple of years Norway has toppled the Alps from its pedestal.

Part 1: Lyngen

Part one of The Norway Diaries is Lyngen, a peninsula, which is home to some of the region's highest mountains and is almost as far north as you can go without falling into the Arctic Ocean. The snow can linger into early summer and we took our skis in May to see what it was like.

Hilda, (my tall, Dutch, ultra-running endurance athlete, friend, bridesmaid and mother of two, with legs up to her chin) and I have a ski mountaineering adventure together each spring. It's the highlight of the year. We normally rough it in winter refuges and carry all our food for 10 days but the Scandinavians have their own way of doing things: feather duvets, white linen, fresh salmon, duck eggs, waffles, under floor heating and hot tubs in the snow. So when we tell our husbands we are going to be 'roughing it' in Norway this is not strictly true. We stayed at a fully catered skiers hostel in Lyngseidet called Magic Mountain Lodge, which gives a very central base and a warm hearty welcome.

Route 1: Holmbukttinden - Jiehkkevárri

'Park the car by the beach and put your skis on'. (This is the generic opening line for pretty much all of the ascents!)

The route up Jiehkkevárri goes via its steep sided little sister, Holmbukttinden. The 1600m initial ascent follows a huge avalanche prone couloir to a hanging valley with amazing views. From the hanging valley we booted up a short steep snow face and continued on skis to the summit ridge. The final steep steps are quicker and easier on foot, and feel quite exposed. To reach Jiehkkevárri you drop over the summit cornice of Holmbukttinden on the east side and ski down a steep little face where you have a long steady glacial plateau climb to reach the summit dome. We will have to return another day to tick the summit as thick cloud came in so we escaped back down the route of ascent, which gave 1600m vertical of delicious creamy powder.

Route 2: Tafeltinden

'Park by the beach and put your skis on' (Are you are getting the idea?) This is one of the most popular ski tours in Lyngen; it is a gorgeous summit with options for a straightforward, safe approach, albeit quite long. If you have an appetite for a more technical climb you can follow couloirs on the east and south side to the summit ridge but this softens early in the day as the sun strengthens so you might need to be on the summit slopes before most locals have even got out of the car.

Which brings me to my next point: the locals. What a laid back bunch! They have a slightly unconventional approach to ski touring if you come from an alpine perspective. It is normal to see them dragging massive fat skis with huge carpet-like skins stuck to the bases and it's definitely not cool to leave the car before 10am. They love 'onesie' baggy ski suits, bright colours and lazing around nattering and drinking beer on the summit. They don't need to bother with kick turns and zig-zags on the steep ascents: they have so much surface area they can just point their skins in a straight line up the snow. You will probably struggle to catch them on the descent too; their degree of ninja free-ride awesomeness is directly proportional to the quantity of facial hair and the brightness and bagginess of the onesie.

Route 3: Russelvfjellet / Rainbow day

We met up with Ali Coulshaw, James Thacker and Ben Bardsley; some skiing/ climbing mates from back home who were staying not far away. They brought a lot of weather with them, but in Lyngen there is no such thing as bad weather, there is only the wrong clothes. (Actually I pinched this lovely observation from Billy Connolly.)

Lyngen becomes even more beautiful when the clouds are dark and sombre and beams of sunlight burst through. It's definitely the first time I have skied amongst rainbows, but to appreciate rainbows you also have to love the rain...

Luckily for us this lovely little peak has great skiing for a bad weather day as the summit is neither too high nor too far from the start. It is the most northerly ski peak of the Lyngen peninsula and is surrounded by the sea on 3 sides. The route starts, of course, with "park by the beach and put your skis on" :-)). We skinned around the southern flanks of the peak and into a corrie then up the corniced east ridge to a wind-sculpted summit. Ali and James braved wild conditions to try and locate a rocky drop-in to a steep west facing couloir. The rest of us got the waterproof cameras out and headed for the rainbows on the east.

Route 4: Fastdalstinden

Another stormy day left us waiting for a gap in the clouds which, luckily, arrived after breakfast but before tea and cake! Fastdalstinden is a good choice for weather windows. It's fairly high at 1275m but when the sun pops out you only have a 5 minute drive up the east coast from Lyngseidet to the start of the route. This meant we could have a stab at making it up and down before the return of the horizontal frozen sleet, leaving only the small issue of the storm force winds!

Leanne Callaghan

(Photos ©Leanne Callaghan & Hilda Grooters)