Searching for Valhalla: A Boat-to-Ski Mission in Norway

Searching for Valhalla: A Boat-to-Ski Mission in Norway

We split into two groups, to keep travel more efficient, communication easier, and everyone safer. Our group of five went northwest, toward a cirque with three different skiable aspects. The goal, if the snow gods allowed it, was to test the snow stability, sun and wind effect on all of them, providing insights on what would be best and safest to ski for the rest of the week.

Three hours later, after skiing a couloir and big face, we started the trek back to the boat. Closer to the ocean, the snow changes from playful and light to full on mashed potatoes. Skiing tight trees in this thick morass was a fun challenge to wrap up the day, even if we did have a few surprise falls. With tired legs and shit-eating grins on our faces, we knew how much fun was around the corner.

Skier heads down a slope of powder in Northern Norway with coastal waters in the far background.
Andy Cochrane

Lessons Learned From Our Mistakes

By Wednesday, the days started to blur, each one blissfully similar to the last. The only difference was where we set anchor each night. Crawl out of our bunks, put on the same clothes, eat a generous breakfast, pack our touring gear, and take the skiff to shore. When we were ready to return to our floating home base, we radioed to the boat and got picked up with our personal Uber driver with an 8 horsepower outboard.

The problem with falling into a pattern is that you start making assumptions that tomorrow will be the same as yesterday. For the first five days, we had stable snow and avoided slopes deemed dangerous. By Saturday, we hadn’t seen any signs of risk, even if it was lurking below us. With this positive feedback loop, most of us had started to get confident—and consequently, naive. The day before, we’d lapped a steep, 42-degree couloir that ran a few thousand feet. No issues, perfect powder.

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