22nd Jun 2016
Lofoten, Lygngen and the Norwegian fjords- I bet you've heard of those places. You've probably seen strikingly beautiful photos on jealousy-book showing great snow all over easy-access epic terrain above the arctic water lapping at the narrow bays. Tamokdalen (Norwegian for The Tamok Valley)- I bet you haven't heard of that place. You probably haven't seen photos of it, at least knowingly, because it's a valley or two inland from Lyngen and the aesthetic fjords. So why would anyone go there?
Neil Williman with Tamokdalen in the backdrop
It seems that news of this place travels only by word of mouth, in the hushed tones of those who are unsure whether they want to share their joy or keep their secret. For a brief time Tamok attracted attention to itself by hosting what is probably the only ever heli-access 1* FWQ competition. Where other 1* Freeride World Qualifiers are often hosted within resort boundaries on skied out faces that lack features this one boasted a heli ride for all competitors to steep untracked gnar, where one snowboarder even bagged a first decent without leaving the competition zoning boundaries. A Swedish friend of mine Ivar Svartholm took part in the competition a few years ago. He placed 4th, but more importantly discovered the potential of the place and it was number 1 on his list of suggestions when we collectively planned a touring trip to the far north with my boyfriend Neil Williman in mid-May. Ivar had introduced Neil and I when we were all doing our first winter in Chamonix in 2010, and the reunion was joyful though unfortunately without our friend and photographer Filip Alfvag also from those days, due to freshly broken ribs.
The man, the myth, Ivar Svartholm dropping in to his run
Turning up with a car-full of camping and skiing accessories we were welcomed by super-local Aadne Olsrud, whose last name you can enter into Google Maps to get directions to Tamok and his guiding business. Guiding season had just finished for him and he was off to Spain the next day, so it was lucky that he was there long enough to welcome us to camp on his land, lend us a well-loved map and give some tips that turned out to be very helpful.
Me and my dream house
The next few days rolled smoothly into an easy routine of a late breakfast at the picnic table by our tent, picking our summit for the day from a combination of rubber-necking, the guidebook and the borrowed map, putting the gear in the car or straight onto our backs and setting off for the days adventure. Since the sun only briefly dipped below the horizon around midnight we were never under time pressure, which made it easier to pick the weather windows, and we often found ourselves arriving back at camp in the late evening sun. Tired and satisfied we cooked, talked, laughed, played cards and looked at the photos from the day until tucking our weary bodies into our sleeping bags at a 'late' hour by mountain time, causing the repeat late breakfast the next morning.
Toothbrushing to buy some decision making time
Blarbarsfjellet were probably my favourite tour, if only because it was the most scenic and could be accessed close to where we were camped at 'Olsrud Adventure', but every tour we did there had a certain magic feel about it. The fact we never saw a single soul up the mountains for those days brought me a spiritual feeling about mountains and skiing. The smiles that was drawn on our faces where so great that they would last until we return to Tamok.
Hiking to the top of Blabersfjellet
Earn your turns
So now I feel like I've become one of those that talks about Tamok in hushed tones. The only decision I've come to is that if you're going to go there then get some guiding from Aadne's 'Olsrud Adventure', he'll show you a good time whatever your level.
Me and my squad, Neil Williman and Ivar Svartholm