New Year at Jœgervasshytta

Another celebration, another hut trip, this time to Jœgervasshytta in the Lyngen Alps, my current favorite of the Troms Turlag huts, partly because its beautiful and partly because it was the first I visited & that trip was the start of a series of good things & new friends for me.
How many people can say they saw the northern lights at the turn of the year & went skiing on a frozen lake on new years day? We now can! And we were treated to an even more amazing northern lights display on the evening of the 1st… pink and ‘dancing’ lights. Heres some piccies from the trip:

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Birthday Topptur

Topptur is a very Norwegian thing… its the act of going up a mountain on skis, then skiing down again, hopefully making some nice turns on the way. Topptur is a misnomer in a couple of ways… for one thing you often don’t reach the top, for another I think a tour ought to go from a to b, but these mostly go out & back the same way…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Anyhow,  having got myself some quite lovely skis I was determined that there should be a topptur on my birthday! A gentle topptur, given my husbands somewhat limited skiing experience, but a topptur nonetheless.
We skied up to Nonsbu, one of the TT huts, on Dec 25th with a friend & her dog, bringing with us an enormous pot of curry, a giant fruit cake that doubled as Christmas & Birthday cake (the icing suffered slightly on the trip up!), several tons of chocolate/sweets & crisps, and some Jule-Øl (thats christmas beer).
Unfortunately the weather was not in favour of my toppturing plans, being windy & cloudy and disgustingly warm! We took a trip up to the 653 spot height on Blånova in some terrible visibility on the 26th – heres the summit shot!


Of course Richard is a superhero for coping with all of this (especially the descent back from Nonsbu to the car in super icy conditons) on the cross country skis we rented him & not resorting to the snowshows we brought along just in case. Sometimes I wonder why the man puts up with me & my crazy escapades! Best husbeast ever!


Well, until today we still had snow – beautiful and wonderful and exciting! It is now raining.

Ive been out to Skulsfjord again, this time with my skis, and proved just how much quicker it is to travel in snow on ski than on foot, as we reached the same point up the track in half the time. Ok, so this may be partly due to the skiing being husky assisted; apparently the only thing that make a husky happier than pulling one person around is pulling two!

I am pleased to report all falling down on skis so far this season has been dog related, none under my own steam 🙂

Last weekend I was at the Fjellsportgruppa Julebord (thats a Christmas party), which was held in one of the TT huts, Trollvassbu. We had the most amazing weather for the ski in on Friday night, around -12, completely calm, no wind at all. It was so bright with the snow sparkling in the moonlight, northern lights & so many stars that we didn’t need our head-torches turned on to ski.

Lovely weekend.


Snow, snow & more snow (early november)

ooops, entirely forgot to post this at the time.

Tromsø is having a record autumn where snow is concerned, we’ve had loads! Its so pretty:
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I’ve had a stinking cold for a couple of weeks & been very busy househunting. Ive moved into a basement flat of my own (basement flats are such a Tromsø thing, everyone has one). This is until May so I still have to deal with Tromsø’s ridiculous housing market all over again, but at least I have respite for now.

Richard visited again mid November, we went out to Skulsfjord, a village on the western side of Kvaløya (Kvaløya is the much larger island that lies to the north west of Tromsø) to stay with a friend & went for a very snowy walk into the hills there ‘discovering’ a cabin.IMG_2753

FSG & Styrmannstinden

If there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes, then there were a lot of bad clothes in this group! We arrived at the Klatrehytta (climbing club hut) soaked to the skin, after a gruelling, relentless, never ending scramble over first an interesting array of boulders, and then the snow covered granite ledges that lead up to the col. We set out hoping that we would reach the snow-line & the rain would turn to snow, a much nicer form of precipitation to walk through because it does not penetrate in the same way, but luck was not with us; even when we were sliding in the snow it was raining down on us. Only the knowledge that we would be spending the night indoors and the possibility of drying out and getting a nice warm cup of tea kept me from crying out ‘stop this madness & lets go back into town!’.

Just when I began to wonder how much more scrambling and slipping around I could put up with, we came through the col (~760m) and suddenly the hut was right there, only a few hundred meters away. Never has the sight of shelter been more welcome. In bad weather one really comes to appreciate the simple beauty of solid walls, a good roof, and heating. With the paraffin heater going full blast, the hut was soon warm & cozy & full of washing lines laden with wet things, while we raced into dry clothes and snuggled into sleeping bags to warm up.

The main focus of the evening was on preparing a really good meal together, so a frenzy of chopping began. Chicken & vegetable curry was the main dish, followed by homemade apple cake & cream, & jolly good it was too. After dinner Harald explained some interesting things about Fjellsportgruppa, & we all explained some things about our backgrounds & interests, to get to know each other better. The evening continued with an epic game of ‘Uno!’, before we retired to bed to listen to the wind howling, & the rain beating on the windows.

Awakening, I became aware that there was light in the windows where there had been only black. Sitting up to peer out, I was greeted by a huge surprise, row upon row of mountains where the previous evening there had been only boiling cloud & rain. This is why we battled against the wind & the rain, this is why we head for the hills, for the privilege of awakening to something such as this:


Breakfast eaten, bags packed, hut cleaned, group photo taken, and we were off! Our objective was to reach the top of Styrmannstinden (955m). A fairly easy angled slope leads up from the col to summit. Our way lay over icy boulders with snow banked up between. The snow was definitely the surface to trust! The summit was a properly pointy one, allowing us to enjoy the view in all directions. To the south-east the graceful curve of Tromsdalstinen stood out on the horizon. To the north-east we could admire the steep face of Hollendaren and to the west the small glaciers that adorn Revbergtinden and the other Hollendaren (yes, why are there two mountains with the same name within a few km of each other?).
But we could not linger on the summit forever. Down down down down down, any direction so long as it is down. We made steady progress with a couple of break stops, following the line of cairns through the maze of granite ledges, back past the boulder field and down alongside slabs that yesterday were running with torrents of water, today partly frozen. Going was much easier without the pouring rain to contend with!

We arrived back to the cars with the satisfaction of a hard won summit under our belts; and new friendships forged and plans made. This is the other reason we seek out the mountains: to find that sense of community, that camaraderie, that comes from working together with like minded people to achieve the objectives of a trip.

I had a fantastic outing despite some problems with pain in my back where it hadn’t quite recovered from going ‘out’ in a horrible fashion last week. Again I was really touched by how much effort people made to include me and I hope I have made some friends that I will see again, including people to go to the climbing wall with, Yippeee! ! 🙂 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

News in brief

(playing catch up already)

I’m kind of in shock at how fast my first month in Norway went by. After all the wonderful sunny weather in September; October came in with some properly autumnal rainstorms & the first snow on the tops of the mountains.

Richard was here last weekend. The uninspiring weather confined us mainly to pottering around town. On Saturday we went to the polar museum, which is very interesting, and we celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary with hot chocolate & waffles on a trip up Fløya.


Last weekend I went on a trip with the hiking club, Troms Turlag. The trip was a working party or ‘dugnad’ to clean and prepare one of their huts, Jægervasshytta in the Lyngen Alps, for winter. This was a real mystery adventure for me because I had no real idea where I was going until I got there. My downstairs neighbour convinced me to come along, so I did, and I’m glad I did as the weather was amazing, the location is beautiful, and the company fantastic. I was really touched by how much effort the group made to include me given my very limited Norwegian skills.


The only other thing of note outside work was that my landlady & I went mushrooming and berry picking the other week. I was thoroughly sick of mushrooms by the end of that week, but the Lingonberry jam is lovely!



Last weekend I went hiking again, with another friend, Geli. Our objective was Tromsdalstinden- the really big mountain in all last weeks pictures. The weather was a little bit less than ideal, there was a persistent low flying band of cloud hanging around but it looked like the top of Tromsdalstinden was above the cloud and we were slightly hopeful that the cloud would burn off, so away we went. The route sets off up the track in Tromsdalen for not quite 3 km, then a signposted footpath leads down to a bridge over the stream and up through the trees the other side. This brought us into the cloud. We emerged from the cloud at the place were the path goes over a col towards Skarvassbu with the flanks of Tromsdalstinden rising on the right.


The path soon becomes very steep, until you gain the ridge proper. From here on in the way is rocky, but less steep, and well waymarked with red paint. We were really lucky in that it stopped drizzling when we were part way up that first steep part, and remained dry until we were on the top. We were super lucky to arrive at a cloud free summit, although we could see a lot of cloud all around. Unfortunately it did start drizzling again, and the cloud rolled in, as we got our sandwiches out.

We continued along the ridge from the summit, towards the southwest, admiring more rocks & clouds. The route we took turned back on itself after reaching the col between Tromsdalstinden and the much lower Salen, traversing along a ledge above the meadow in the head of the valley. Eventually we were in the meadow, then fording the stream, and so returned on the track.


Elsewhere everything is going well. This morning I had my interview with the police & got the paper documenting that I am legally resident in Norway. Then I was able to register at the tax office, who will send me a personal number – without which you cant really do anything in Norway. I filled out the forms at the post office that will allow me to receive post. My landlady returned and we do now have a hob to cook on. Work is interesting. Oh and I have (second or third hand) furniture – massive thanks to Geli for helping me move it across town – no more sleeping on the floor. I’m still in my sleeping bag, of course, but that is nice & cosy. 🙂

Sunday 8th September 2013 – more hiking

Some of you may be spotting a theme to these blog posts! I promise I have been doing something other than hiking – work for example. Work has actually been super exciting, last week we had the kick-off meeting for the project I will be working with, which Justin blogged about so I don’t have to! This week I have been getting stuck into trying to understand satellite radar altimetry, and having my first little look at some data from CryoSat a satellite mission that provides (or will provide, its actually still in calibration/ validation at the mo) sea ice freeboard (the bit sticking up above the water) for the Antarctic and Arctic Oceans as well as lots of other cool data for people studying land ice (glaciers & ice sheets & so on).

Anyway, back to last sundays hike: I first of all had to move some things from one house to another so I was fairly late starting, so decided not to attempt anything too ambitious. I took a stroll into Tromsdalen, a big wide valley the leads south east away from Tromsø. Tromsdalen is dominated by Tromsdalstinden, a high peak at the head of the valley, but thats an objective for another day. Instead I followed a wide track that leads around up a spur on the west near the head of the valley, to a pair of lakes. From these lakes I made my way back to town via Bønntuva and Fløya, and down the steep path below the cable car. My legs were pretty sore by the time I was making my way back up the hill to the B&B near Prestvannet!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    The approach up Tromsdalen, with Tromsdalstinden on the skyline… & emerging into the meadows


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI need a better zoom! I saw a really big herd of deer grazing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis cairns got horns! Bønntuva.

Just gorgeous


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI zoomed in on the top of the island to show you the lake near to the B&B I was staying in.


Hiking & fishing

Tromsø is particularly good for all kinds of being outdoors. There is tons of hiking in the area, there are mountains, there is climbing, biking, canoeing, horseback riding, and in the winter all kinds of skiing of course. And there is fishing. Fishing in salt water in Norway is a common right, open to everyone, with some limits on the size of the fish you should take out vs those you should put back to grow bigger.

Sunday 1st September I was lucky enough to go hiking AND fishing with some friends/ colleagues of mine. The hike was one from the book ‘TipåTopp’ a collection of hikes in the Tromsø area with geocaches at their end points, there are prizes for finishing the season with 5, 10, or 15 of the codes from the geocaches.


The hike was a short 2 km to Rismålhøgda (283m), a beautiful location with views of Kvalsundet and surrounding mountains. There were some short pauses on the way up for blueberry munching! At the top we found the geocache…


We then embarked on an extension of the walk around a lake, Tennvatnet. The lake was just beautiful.

There were mushrooms and more blueberries.


And so to the fishing part. It was so peaceful down by the shore and so warm in the sun that Gabi & I actually nodded off while the boys were fishing! I tried my hand & found that the casting thing is much easier then it looks. I caught 5 fish but put them all back for being small. Fish are surprisingly slimy and surprisingly strong! Gabi & Justin each got one large enough to keep. Yum!


We left as the light took on that gorgeous evening quality. Sorry for posting tons of pics, but its SO gorgeous around here!


What is it like in Tromsø?

Now that I have something interesting going on, I might start using my blog as a blog, especially aimed at those dear to me who don’t use the evil book of faces so miss all my updates on there!  This has been a very exciting summer for me. I was interviewed in June for what just might be my dream job – working on a project that aims to answer some of the really big questions in sea-ice research at the moment. I really didn’t think I’d interviewed well or that I would get the job; but in July I got the call inviting me to start work in Tromsø in September!

Summer passed in a whirl of packing, trying to decide what to do with various things, what to keep, what to re-home… Suddenly September is here, I flew out on August 28th with two 60l bags and am now living a very Spartan existence indeed. But, what is Tromsø really like, you ask? Well, to start to answer that question here are some photos from a walk I took from one end of the island (Tromsøya) to the other on the first Saturday I was here (31st August):

First, a couple of pictures of the old harbour front down in town. Tromsø has a lot of these big wooden houses and two very similar looking bridges. This is the one leading east, to the mainland.

At the south of the island, Telegrafbukta, is a small park with picnic spots and some lovely views.

Leaving Telegrafbukta and beginning to climb up towards the spine of the island, you soon find yourself following what will be the lit ski trail in winter. This trail runs 11.6 km the length along the long axis of the island.


About one third of the way along the trail passes Prestvannet, the lake in the top of the island, and then the domes of K-sat (The lovely people who sponsored my phd).
And so the trail goes on… past Hamna… and descending towards the northern shore. The north (Nordspissen) doesn’t have a park, just rocky shore.
It seemed a very long way back!