Meanwhile in Tromsø …

While I’m looking through the photos I’ve been taken on our ski tour and writing blog articles live goes on. I’ve been in Tromsø for a week now and since it snowed a lot this weekend (18 cm of snow until know) I took on my skis and went out for a small tour on the island. I could start right in front of my apartment.

Sometimes the weather was cloudy but calm …

… but at least half of the time if snowed, sometimes quite heavily.

On this ski tour I learned something new about the island Tromsøya: There are banana trees here, even in winter.

A nightly snowwalk

I woke up at 4:20 and since it still snowed I decided to to go out to take a photo. Or two. Taking a photo – or two – became a longer promenade in the snowy neighbourhood.

Just some photos before I continue sleeping. My sleeping room is behind the window behind the bush on the second photo. You see it?

For the stats: Last Saturday 90 of snow were measured at the meteorological station Tromsø PLU. Now it’s 128.4 cm.

Almost like a ski tour

When I look at these photos it looks like I’ve been on a multi-day ski tour. Deep snow, packed pulka, white mountains, snowy forests, a snowed in cabin, a cosy fire in the oven. And more snow.

But these photos do not come from a long ski tour but from five different locations nearby. Some are on Tromsøya, some on Kvaløya and the photos were taken within the last two weeks.

1. A short ski tour near Håkøybotn, Kvaløya.

I was tired, I was lazy, I was in a couch potato mood. Anyhow I managed to take the car to the Håkøybotn graveyard to do a little ski promenade up the hills. The snow was fluffy and when I was almost back at the car I realised, that it was quite deep too in some places, when I put off my skis …

2. Sunrise

Last Saturday I could see how the sun slowly started to illuminate the snowy mountains on the island Kvaløya in the morning. What’s special about this is that I took these photos from the balcony of my new flat. Yes, it’s a 600mm telephoto shot and the photos are slightly blurry but that doesn’t reduce the experience standing there and watching the daylight appear.

3. Pulka test tour

The last ski tour I did was with Annika in 2020. In 2021 Covid prevented a tour. In 2022 I was on my first arctic cruise instead. In 2023 I worked on Svalbard for a week and we had vacation there.

But our next ski tour is just a week away. So the question was – does my pulka sledge still work? So I tested it last Sunday and everything seems to be ok. Nice!

4. A cozy fire in the oven

Back home I changed clothes and fired the oven in my cozy new flat. I don’t use it for heating, but for hygge.

5. Today’s ski tour

It has snowed quite a lot and last night the official snow depth exceeded 100 cm for the first time this winter. I put on my skis already on my parking place and skied up to the forest, where I first followed the tracks and then went “off-piste” though the forest. The snow was so fluffy that I couldn’t see my skis anymore. There were somewhere under 30 cm of snow.

Now the days are getting longer and longer and when I’m back from our ski tour I guess I can just do such shorter ski trips right after work.

Bonus

There are three holes in the photo grid shown at the beginning of the article. Time for three more photos. Why I didn’t put them into the grid? Because they do not look like ski tour photos. I made them on different shore locations on the island Kvaløya on my way back from the ski tour two weeks ago. Here they come:

Wind and weather

Friday, 26 January

I took this photo at two o’clock in the afternoon just after I had walked home from work. I enjoyed my new apartment and the view from the balcony.

But I knew, that this beautiful weather wouldn’t last. The forecast predicted rain and storm.

Saturday, 27 January

In the evening the weather already had changed. It good warmer, rain clouds covered the moon and the speed of the hardest gust was wind was 24 m/s¹.

28 January

On Sunday the wind calmed down a bit but the forecast for the next day showed wind gusts of 36 m/s in the afternoon. That’s Beaufort 12 – “hurricane-force”. I wasn’t the only one who decided to work from home the next day.

29 January

And the weather became really nasty, although not as bad as expected. I was glad to be able to stay inside anyhow.

Let’s not forget, that Tromsø lies sheltered on the island Tromsøya surrounded by mountain chains. There are other places that are much more exposed to the elements. For example Torsvåg lies on a small island west of Vannøya. There the strongest wind gusts were round 41 m/s².

1 February

After two calmer yet warmer and very rainy days another storm had arrived, this time with gusts up to 30.8 m/s in Tromsø³.

Laughable the people in Kvaløyfjellet på Sømna probably would say. There the average wind speed between 1 and 2 in the night was 54.4 m/s (196 km/h)! That’s a new wind record for whole Norway⁴. And the gusts exceeded 60 m/s.

The nice thing: After all that rain in Tromsø it snowed again. When I arrived home the wind has already calmed down but the entry of my flat was caked in snow.

2 February

And the next morning it still snowed.

When I walked home today I crossed the cemetery. And there everything was snowed in and many tombstones were completely hidden under the snow. As if rain and storm never happened.

___
¹ https://www.yr.no/nb/historikk/graf/1-305409/Norge/Troms/Troms%C3%B8/Troms%C3%B8?q=2024-01-27
² https://www.yr.no/nb/historikk/graf/5-90800/Norge/Troms/Karls%C3%B8y/Torsv%C3%A5g%20fyr?q=2024-01-29
³ https://www.yr.no/nb/historikk/graf/5-90490/Norge/Troms/Troms%C3%B8/Troms%C3%B8%20LH?q=2024-02-01
https://www.nrk.no/nyheter/ny-vindrekord-i-norge-1.16744736

The first winter day

This week it has become gradually colder. You could see it on the mountains, where the snow line dropped lower and lower. More and more the rain became slush and wet snow and yesterday evening it had become so cold, that the snow didn’t melt away immediately. This morning I had to remove some snow from my car before I could make a car trip.

I took the car to the island Kvaløya where it often is a bit colder than directly in Tromsø. The conditions were quite wintry although not all trees seemed ready for that.

Soon I arrived at the lake Finnvikvatnet where I parked the car. No ice on the lake yet so both the huge mountains and the tiny islets were reflected from the calm water surface.

This lakes lies on 230 metres and here the snow was much deeper, perhaps between 10 and 20 cm. Temperature was -2°C. Some flowers peeked out, while others probably were buried completely in the snow.

I was unsure how far I would come but packed my backpack with camera, water, chocolate and a warm jacket and started walking through the snow. I was the first one today and the snow was untouched beside of some animal tracks.

I spotted a pile of stones on a small mountain summit nearby. Maybe I could hike there? Well, let’s try – and make some photos on my way.

It was an interesting hike, because nothing is frozen yet. I was glad to have chosen rubber boots, otherwise I would have got very wet feet. Since I could not find the way under the snow I decided to choose a quite direct way up. That took a while, because it was steeper than expected and sometimes it was more like crawling through knee deep snow than hiking. But I arrived at the summit where I had a view on the higher mountains around and the sea in the west.

Now the terrain was flatter. Time to take some more photos.

A ruin caught my eye. I went there and tried to make photos but could not find a perspective I liked. But I had another option: I had my drone with me. So I could not only take a photo from a higher perspective but also one looking straight down and even one from within without touching the snow drift inside. A practical tool that I still have to become more familiar with.

Time to descend. This time I checked the map in my mobile phone and found the hiking trail. Much easier! In summer this is an easy hike for families.

The lower parts in the west are wooded and many trees still have colourful leaves. But above them the mountains are snowy although you can see, that the snow cover is not very deep yet.

That tour was not very long but I got my very first winter day and the first snow since 27 May. Yay!

Some photos from my short car trip back:

I want to thank my colleague D from work. It was him who offered himself on changing my tyres. Therefore I have studded winter tyres on my car since yesterday afternoon. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to do this tour. Thank you, D. !

Snowy intermezzo

Last week it felt like spring is finally coming. Flowers were blooming in the forest, the snow had melted away rapidly and even the birch trees finally had become green.

Since then it had been raining a lot. Yesterday it got quite cold and the rain turned into wet snow.

There were snow showers the whole night and this morning, too with temperatures round 0–1 °C. Is this what spring looks like? And we’re talking about the end of May.

Alas it was only a short intermezzo and while the mountains still look whiter than before snow has melted away throughout the day.

 

 

My first Thursday paddling 2023

Today I was joining the “Thursday paddling” of the Tromsø Sea Kayakers Club. They started the season two weeks ago, I joined today for the first time this year.

At 18:00 a group of 13 kayakers left the shore by the boat houses and headed to Telegrafbukta, the small bay near my apartment. In the dull weather the kayaks and the paddlers in their drysuits always look quite colourful.

Although I’ve already been paddling in Sweden several times this winter it took me some time to find a rhythm. When I’m alone, I use to paddle slower.

At Telegrafbukta we decided to continue to Sydspissen, the southern tip of the island Tromsøya. There we turned back, paddling through snow showers.

We already saw it on the way there – there was very low water at Telegrafbukta, or just “Bukta” as the locals say. We took a break there but only a short one. The weather was too chilly to be comfortable.

We talked about the weather and came to the conclusion, that summer probably already was on first of May and now summer season is over. I’m not completely sure, if this theory will prove true, but on the way back spring or summer seemed to be far away.

It reminded me at last years first Thursday paddling. It was on 28 April and the weather was as snowy as today. Let’s see how the weather is next week.

Moon, Venus, Aurora

I’m sitting in the train travelling home to in Obbola where I’ll stay for some weeks. First vacation, then work. It’s the first time since Christmas. Time to post some photos I shot in Tromsø last week.

While I was in Longyearbyen it snowed quite a lot in Tromsø. The official snow depths last week were round 130–140 cm.

That ended a period of slush, rain and icy roads and my walks to work had become much more pleasant. I love snow!

Then it cleared up. In the evening of the 23 March I could see the young waxing Moon and the planet Venus. And then the polar light came out. Perhaps nothing new but still beautiful.

#escapism – microvacation

Two days ago Annika took the train from Umeå to Narvik to visit me in Tromsø. But what do you do when there is no bus connection to Tromsø the same day? Normally you’d take a hotel and continue the next day.

This time we made it slightly different. I took the car to Narvik as well – a very stormy ride – and fetched Annika from the train station.

Then we took the car to Harstad and stayed over night there. The next day we went up early and waited for our transportation to arrive. The Hurtigruten ship MS Nordnorge.

We left Harstad round 7:45 and passed the ship Havila Castor. Havila Kystruten serves the same route as Hurtigruten.

Then we took an extensive breakfast that we had booked with our 6½ hour cruise back to Tromsø. After that we listened to a lecture about the Arctic and the Antarctic. Then one of the main attractions followed: the hot tubs at the stern of the ship.

To my delight the weather forecast was wrong. It didn’t rain the whole journey, it snowed. That’s much nicer when you travel in February – even in the hot tub. Sometimes snow fall was intense enough to hide most of the scenic mountains we passed. A pity for the tourists.

At the Norwegian Polar Institute I often hear the tooting of the arriving Hurtigruten ship in the early afternoon. Now we heard it while we were standing on the top deck, passing the southern part of Tromsøya, where I live and then the Framsenteret, the building where I work. When we arrived I went to the car deck and fetched my car.

After arriving in my small apartment we were quite tired but decided not to take a nap but a walk to the bay Telegrafbukta. The reason: 15–20 cm fresh snow had fallen in Tromsø and it was still snowing. Just beautiful. The forecast however predicted warmer weather and a lot of rain for the next day.

This time the weather forecast unfortunately was correct. Today it really has been raining most of the day and the snow transformed into large puddles of ice and brown slush. Well, we will have snow and cold temperatures the day after tomorrow, when we travel to Svalbard for a week.

 

A short ski tour to the cabin Trollvassbu

Prelude

What do you need to go skiing? (A) snow? Or (B) a shopping cart?

This week started warm, rainy and very windy. On the Norwegian sea a full storm was raging. Boat traffic was cancelled, bridges and schools closed. Here’s a Norwegian article: Uværet stopper fergetrafikk og skoler stengt – NRK Nordland.

Tromsø however is quite protected by the surrounding mountains. I saw this shopping card was thrown on the empty parking lot, nothing more. The ice was probably more dangerous but I have good spikes for my boots.

Two days ago the temperatures had dropped and snow was falling gently when I went to work. Yesterday it was still snowing, but less gently as you can see on the second image.

Skiing

Since then round 30 cm of snow had fallen. I packed ski and other stuff into my car and drove to a parking place on the mainland. It took a while to go there. First it’s 40 km and then there were some heavy snow showers. Sometimes it was hard to follow the road and I almost went through a red traffic light because it was snowed in.

Then I reached the parking place. Is it cleared? Well, I don’t know, I only see white. Let’s try …

I tried to back but it was obvious, that the car got stuck in a snow drift. The problem was not only the packed snow under the car, but also a layer of ice under the snow. The tyres just were spinning. So I had to dig out my car and decided to do it before skiing. 15 minutes warm-up with my snow spade, then the car was free.

There was another car, otherwise I was alone. I dressed for the tour and started. Plan for today: the cabin Trollvassbo, just 4 km away. It started snowing and wind increased. Mountains and other features were invisible. The snow was loose and my skis sank 15 cm with each step. But I was lucky. The pale spot in the distance turned out to be three women, that had stayed overnight in Trollvassbu. Following their ski track was of course not much less exhausting and I hadn’t to care much about navigation. Nice!

After two kilometres the track was lost in nothing. Snow and wind had filled the track. Sometimes it cleared up a bit and I could see the mountains, sometimes a new snow shower approached.

But then, after 3½ km I spotted it – the cabin. Somewhere behind the drifting snow.

Another 800 metres and I arrived. The cabins of the Norwegian tourist association DNT are locked, but luckily all with the same key – which I had with me today. So I could take a rest inside.

Oh, lovely! The cabin was cosy and still warm. I took a frugal lunch – water and crisp bread. I regretted, that I didn’t took some real lunch with me, here where I could use the gas stove. Anyhow I stayed there for almost an hour.

I took a photo of the snow drift behind the cabin and then started my way back to the car. Just while I took out the camera to take a picture of a mountain a snow cloud approached. Half a minute later the mountains was gone. Another half a minute later I skied through a heavy snow shower.

I put off my backpack to firmly tie up my snow spade and continued. Anyhow this was last stormy shower. Then it cleared up a bit and I could see the mountains again. I was more easterly than on the way there. Here the terrain was more sheltered from the wind. This means less wind but also deeper snow. Since there was no track left I skied through 20 cm of loose snow. So although I skied down a bit I was hardly any faster than on the way there. But that doesn’t matter, it’s not a competition.

The whole ski tour took less than 3½ hours including the break. Plus 15 minutes of shovelling. Plus 1½ hours of car driving. It’s near to impossible to reach all these great places round Tromsø by public transport, especially on weekends.

Warmly recommended if you have a car and want to have an easy tour without steep slopes. Perhaps you’ll get more friendly weather.