Spring Freeride Shred - part 3
THE BEST FREERIDE OF THE YEAR
Ape had seen this couloir in the backside of Postadsfjellet that might still be in a good condition. It faces northeast and gets the early sunlight. We started at 2 o’clock in the night for two reasons. Firstly, to catch the best light and secondly, for safety reason if snow started warming up too fast. The sunrise and the light were especially beautiful and our couloir looked seductive. So we raised the pace. We reached the bottom around the same time the sun started slowly rising over the horizon at 4.30. We discovered that the snow was still dry and amazing, tougher to hike up but rewarding to ride down. The sun was coming up fast and we were trying to beat it almost running up the couloir as fast as possible. I didn’t feel too comfortable hiking under big wind-lips and tried to keep my pace fast. We reached the top of 600 meters vertical couloir before 6 a.m. and were soon ready to drop in. Snow and conditions were awesome and riding was easy besides my burning legs from that fast hike. We succeeded on the first ascent and descent and the couloir got the name Pötsi (paunch). One of the best missions of the season for me.
Approaching Pötsi at 4 am. photo: Mikko Lampinen
Appe and Mikko careless and cheerful in spite of the huge windlip lurking behind them
Ape ripping the first turns. May Pow!
FROM BEST TO WORST
Few days after one of the best missions of the year, I did one of the worst. I hiked up solo this long, almost 1000 m vertical couloir at Otertinden: Norway peaks of 1356 m. In similar aspects of Pötsi, I still hoped for good snow conditions or at least soft spring snow when the sun heats it up. I trusted the forecast and concentrated on the hike so much that I neglected the conditions. I was few meters from the very top of the narrow, partly 45-50 degrees steep and icy couloir when I realized that the sun was still hiding behind the clouds not actually warming up the icy surface at all. I was too eager to reach the top and had nobody but myself to blame. After swearing for a while and waiting for a miracle clearing the sky, I had to admit my mistake and make my way down somehow.
My friend Teemu was filming from the road below but due to the low clouds circling between us he could not see me all the time. I started turning down the slippery chute with an ice axe in my hand in case of slipping. It was one of the worst runs of my life and little sketchy too but in the end I had no trouble to make it down safe. Teemu said that he could hear my turns and sliding from kilometers away – that’s how good the snow was! Lesson learned! Anyway, one experience richer, I did see a wolverine and a snow weasel on the way up crossing the snowfield.
Ominous Otertinden couloir. Almost 1000 m vertical peak of slippery ice.
Scratching and side slipping my way down.
MAY POW – WINTER AND SPRING CONTINUES
Snow was not really going anywhere. It still stayed reasonably cold the following week and we found dry snow on higher altitudes. It even snowed a little every now and then which gave us a hope for the next day scoring some really good, May pow in sheltered places. But you also have to be an early bird to catch the worm otherwise you might get flushed by the slough. May is still awesome time to spend in northern mountains even when the snow starts changing quickly as the sun circles the sky endlessly. The weather is usually better and you get almost 24 hours in the day to spend outdoor. As the sun begins to heat the northern world round the clock, the sea starts to look more and more tempting to surf…
An early bird.
Sea view from the top.
Source: www.splitlines.com, video credit: Tero Ainonen, photo credit: Jonas Hagström and Mikko Lampinen, text: Miikka Hast