Eighty degrees north, not 80 degrees in steepness, although you never know…
One of the most influential things I’ve ever read was a fortune cookie which said “Practice Saying Yes.” It wasn’t even my fortune, but I adopted the philosophy and it has served as a starting point for many, many expeditions. Trips take on a life of their own, but the first step is to commit to it and then hope some of your skier buddies have read the same fortune and are also willing to say “yes.” From there, you never know what will happen.
My upcoming trip is to Svalbard, which is a chain of islands to the NW of Norway. I first heard of this area through Doug Stoup, then again through Kris Erickson and also through Kip Garre. This trip was originally going to be a trio, but with Kip’s passing, it is now Noah Howell and myself for the first two parts of the journey. To begin with, we are going to use kites to move around in an area named Dicksonland where we hope to find some nice couloirs which you can glean a hint of from the topo maps of the area. This trip has been on and off and only recently came together, so I won’t be doing any web updates or call ins.
After this ten day stint, we will return to the main town, Longyearbyen, where we are meeting up with Doug Stoup and about six other people to board a 65′ boat which will act as our floating basecamp while we scout for skiable lines from the sea. This is the maiden voyage of Ice Axe Expeditions (Doug’s company) Norwegian Ski Cruise, which if all goes well will be an annual offering.
The third and final segment of the trip is a second week on the boat with a new group. The idea with this trip is to push further north on Svalbard and potentially ski above the 80th parallel, which would be a fantastically unique experience in a dances with Polar Bears kind of way.
Even after doing lots of trips, they don’t seem to get much easier to prepare for and there is always a ton of little details to take care of. So far, this trip has been nice as I’m already geared up with 96% of what I need (kites, skis, camping stuff, etc.) and hardly needed to get anything new. As always, I am deeply grateful for all of the assistance I get from companies like Mountain Hardwear, K2, Scarpa and Backcountry.com for helping feed my habit. Not only do they make and sell great gear, but they help to make sure it is thoroughly tested in wild places. Thanks!
And of course, my ultimate thanks goes out to my wife, Polly, who makes it possible to have my cake and eat it too. If I had to choose between trips and family, I’d take family in a heartbeat, but so far I haven’t had to make the choice.
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