Splitboarding in the Lofoten

Saturday, April 09, 2016
Unstad, Nordland, Norway
It is technically not part of our travels, more of a holiday, but because of its exceptional character more then worth mentioning. After a short return to Amsterdam I fly to the north of Norway, an end-of-the season attempt to experience some snow of the winter that we have skipped. A long planned split boarding trip to the Lofoten, located above the polar circle (which is defined by having at least one 24 hour night and a 24 hour day). The days are already getting longer and the locals have the spring in mind and are removing the snow poles next to the road. But don't expect a solid summer here, the average temperature in the summer is 12 degrees, in 2015 the warmest day was in August with 22 degrees. So no need to complain in Holland. 

I was told before this trip of the beauty of the Lofoten, but it didn't really sink in, being to single track minded and only interested in deep powder and trying something new, namely split boarding. On our first drive in the area to the lodge, we do get to see some. The Lofoten are basically a few Islands that steeply rise out of the Norwegian sea, connected through tunnels and bridges. Most of the roads are coastal, providing impressive scenery. But we are really impressed after our first hike, standing on top and having the sea on both sides. We are incredibly lucky with the weather, which tends to be highly variable with lots of clouds, mist and precipitation, but in our case we have 5 out of 6 days stable weather with loads of sunshine. I cannot stop shooting pictures of the scenery. Per day we have about 2 to 3 down hills, which is not a lot, but like Jeremy Jones says, "The journey is the reward, not the descent".

Our first lodge is a treat. It has been converted from a fishing complex with small bungalows for the employees to a very atmospheric ski lodge. A sumptuous breakfast- and dinner buffet, and after boarding you can make your own waffles and drink ginger tea at the wood fire.  Or visit the sauna overlooking the fjord and have a dip in the sea of 4 degrees. We even eat whale, at first thinking they said veal, but after tasting discover it is something completely different. In shock, we ask the staff and google some about this Minke whale, which gives some comfort: it is the smallest whale (1000 kg), not threatened (there are at least 500.000) and they are only caught and consumed in Norway as a tradition. So the next day we have another one, Minke whale BBQ. The second evening we have another treat: the Nordic light in all its beauty, dancing before our eyes from the balcony of our bungalow. The next accommodation is an even more special place, Unstad Arctic Surf, the most northerly surf school. Looking at the swell predictions, Friday is the day with a solid 2 meter swell and a 16s period with no wind. And indeed on the day itself it is sunny again and nice lines are rolling in, so we put on our 8mm wetsuites, hoodies, boots and gloves and jump in. It is a completely different story then three weeks ago in Bali where the temperature (outside & water) was 25 degrees higher, but then again it is also the same, waves are waves and these have a similar cleanliness, especially the second session at the end of the day. Sitting on your board, viewing the mountains with snow around you, duck diving through this Arctic water, these are things you will not easy forget...


Erik Draijer

Great pictures Frans, astonishing beauty there in the Lofoten!