After spending a week in Kvaløya, Rami and I continued to Lofoten. A crazy thing happened while we were strolling down the streets of Henningsvær looking for a shower. We run into Morgan who I met in the Needles in California about a year ago. It was fun to catch up!

The weather in Lofoten was not looking good so we decided to continue South to the Stetind mountain. Stetind was still covered in snow. We hiked in almost all the way up to the base of Normalveien but decided to save the climbing for later.

Stetind is the National mountain of Norway. Photo by me!
We hiked in to see if we could climb the easiest route Normalveien (4+). We bailed 300ft from the base.
Cooling off. Photo by Rami Valonen

We drove to Jotunheimen and went skiing instead. The photos make it look like we had the perfect weather. In reality we were being chased by rain every day.

Rami has cooler spandex than I do.

Unless you did not know, cross country skiing is a national sport in Finland. I grew up skiing and later snowboarding. Then I turned 15 and decided that I don’t like it anymore. Ten years later I went skiing again in Oregon. In Finland I go cross-country skiing every now and then (read: twice in the past three years). I’ve been wanting to try touring knowing I’d love it. Norway offered the perfect beginner venue. The terrain was friendly and Rami was a patient ski guide.

Rami and Liisa skinning somewhere in Kvaløya. I went for a run.

Ski touring is a new game for me so I learned a lot. The boots adjust so it is possible to cross-country ski surprisingly easily. The term skinning comes from the skins. Skins are hairy pieces of cloth, which are shaped to fit the skis and placed at the bottom of the skis. The skins add friction to the skis so it is easy to ski uphill.

The competence in assessing terrain, weather, and navigation are very important in touring. Rami thought me the basics: how to test the snow and how to use the beeper, probe, and shovel.

Rami is digging a hole in the snow pack so that we can asses the layers.
Why is Rami so far away?
Just like cross-country skiing. Photo by Rami Valonen

The weather didn’t look promising for the next couple days so we continued driving South towards Nissedal.

Zoom in to see (one of the many reasons) why my photos are not as good as Rami’s.  Photo by Rami Valonen

Ski touring was super fun! What actually fascinates me the most about skiing in the mountains is that it is much faster than hiking or running. Skis would be sweet for the approaches! Yes, I just got it.

Percs of driving 5000 km in two weeks in Norway over the summer; many, many beautiful sunsets by the sea.
Perks of driving 5000 km in two weeks in Norway over the summer; many beautiful sunsets.

Nissedal is a cool place and the climbing on the famous slab face of Hægefjell is definitely worth traveling for from Finland. Especially if you want to climb long (350-500 meters), relatively easy trad/mixed routes.

Rami climbing the second actual pitch of Hægar (6+). I bailed halfway because I couldn’t do the moves and place decent pro.
The fourth pitch of Hægar is amazing. If only there were more of these!

Now I’m off to Kvaløya with my lovely friend Liisa. See you in a week!

The Magical Kvaløya Island

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The Norway tour was everything I had hoped for. I left home with a three day notice, expecting to spend two weeks in Northern Norway. I was traveling with Rami and Liisa. We brought gear for climbing and ski touring. Two weeks later, I found myself in Nissedal in Southern Norway. First we drove from Tampere to Kvaløya.

Kvaløya is an island right next to Trømso, Norway. Kvaløya provides a great playground for activities such as ski touring, climbing, bouldering, hiking, running, fishing and mountain biking. If you link well, you can do it all in one day.

Norway takes my breath away.
The clear blue sky was greeting us in Norway. This is a beach somewhere between Trømso and Kvaløya.
Ersfjorden is one of the coolest crags I’ve been to! Photo by Rami Valonen
Ersfjordbotn, Kvaløya. Heading back to the car after clipping bolts at Ersfjorden. Photo by Rami Valonen

I’ve wanted to go to Kvaløya since last summer. I went climbing in Lofoten while Rami and Lauri went to Baugen and Blåmannen. After hearing their stories and seeing their photos I realized Baugen is where I want to go next.

Our main goal was to climb in Baugen. Baugen is a part of the Hollenderan mountain range, the historical epicenter of the Kvaløya climbing, as the Kvaløya – Selected climbs describes it. Baugen is the alpine climbing venue in Scandinavia. The wall consists of about 20 sustained 250-350 meter routes, in the 5.10 to 5.12 range. Plus the variations.

For anyone who seeks beautiful views, Kvaløya offers many established trails and top tours. Photo by Rami Valonen
For anyone who seeks beautiful views, I recommend Kvaløya. Me and Liisa filling our bottles. Photo by Rami Valonen
The approach to the Baugen hut.
The approach to the Baugen hut. Photo by Rami Valonen
The view from the saddle. The Baugen hut is located a ten minute hike away from the hut.
The view from the approach. The Baugen hut is conveniently located a ten minute hike, or a two minute ski away from the climbing.

The Baugen hut is run by the Trømso climbing club. It is the cutest and best equipped hut I have stayed in. Wine glasses and slippers are included! First day we hiked in (3 hours) and went climbing in the evening (more hours than I care to admit). We were back at the hut around 3am.

The Baugen hut is very cosy. Bring your binoculars and check which routes are dry. There is also a lot of interesting things to read and topos you can borrow.
Hanging out in the Baugen hut. The in-house library offers a lot of interesting reads, including topos. Photo by Rami Valonen
Liisa is enchanted by the view of Baugen. I am sleeping. Surprise! Photo by Rami Valonen

The climbing was excellent, just as promised. We climbed Baugsprydet (6-/6) and Vårrusen (5-).

Belaying Liisa on Vårrusen. Photo by Rami Valonen
Belaying Liisa on Vårrusen. Photo by Rami Valonen
Me and Liisa at the top after climbing Baugsprydet, which is the first route at Baugen! Photo by Rami Valonen
A bolted rappel line is always nice. Photo by Rami Valonen
The bolted rappel line can be tricky to follow, unless you know exactly where to go. Photo by Rami Valonen

As much as I love climbing in the mountains, I don’t feel shame in admitting, that the climbing is scary up there. Even if I say I enjoyed climbing a route, I most certainly experienced moments of discomfort during the day. I remember a time, not long ago, when I was blissfully unaware of things that can go wrong. The North is s great place to practice, because during the summer months, the sun never goes down. Say no for getting benighted, hurray!

The steep…ish snow traverse is not my favorite. It felt steeper than it looks. Photo by Rami Valonen

For me, alpine climbing is the most empowering and exciting form of climbing. Someone asked me why. Why do you do this? Aren’t there challenges here, somewhere closer to home?

The very fact that someone asks me this question, tells me, that there is no point in trying to explain why.

Mountaineering is as meaningless as life itself – that’s why its magic will never die.  – Peter Wessel Zapffe


A week spent in the Kvaløya island gave me just a tiny a glimpse of what it has to offer. I can’t wait to go back!