Thursday 5 April 2012

Russelvfjellet west couloir 816 m – Awesome powder skiing with an adventurous climb

Today I went on another bad weather mission with the Sahlén brothers. The weather was even worse than yesterday when we woke up, but we still wanted to go out there trying. And this time we got rewarded for our work.

Morgan enjoying our reward

Our mission for the day was to do the central couloir on the west face of Russelvfjellet – an esthetic little line close to the road. We took of late after a very relaxed morning, took the ten min drive to the end of the road at the most northern tip of Lyngen and then started climbing toward our objective – straight from the road.

We where quickly at the base of the couloir that started with a short icefall that we could have passed on the side, but we felt like we wanted to do the line in good style so we went for the climb. 
When I was almost past the vertical section I put my ski pole on the side in the snow to have both hands free, like many times before on semi-easy terrain, my pole just went through the snow and disappeared.

After the first surprise I got irritated that my pole was gone (and the skiing for the day ruined) so I started to hit on the icefall with my ice axe. After just a few hits the thin ice broke and I was looking in to a cave behind the icefall. After some work I had made a big enough hole for me to climb in to the darkness where I found a room big enough for maybe 15 people. There was also a tunnel going down five meters where I climbed down to finally find my pole. Morgan and Bjarne soon joined me and we had a really cool start of the day. Whatever would happen with the day we still had found a cave!

From above the icefall we kept the rope on to manage the kind of slabby snow and half way up the couloir we chose to go left in to a smaller couloir system to avoid exposure. Easy and spectacular climbing awaited us all the way to the top from here.

And then came the skiing. We had been climbing the whole day in a snowstorm and when we had only just started down the couloir the sun came out from the clouds, the snow was just perfect (we where charging in between safe spots) and we had a wonderful ski.

At the bottom Bjarne decided to jump the icefall, but lost a ski in the landing  (it was a good try). Morgan and me skied down on a ramp on the side.

At the car we clipped on the rope on the car and Bjarne and myself skied untracked powder all the way back to the house. We had an awesome time! It was probably one of the longest powder runs I have had in my life. And damn it’s a cool feeling skiing pow at 70 kph… 

Russelvfjellet's west face. The couloir in the center of the photo is the one we skied

Bjarne on his way in to the cave

Bjarne on the ice

The Sahlén brothers

The finns at the parking 

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