Jacob Wester
Jacob Wester
Jacob Wester
Jacob Wester
Jacob Wester

Blog

Chamonix life pt. 2

Solid wifi in the apartment ghetto of Chamonix Sud is not the most reliable, hence part 2 of the last photo post has been tough to get online. Our wifi works just fine for a day or two, then it can easily pass a week before someone is called to turn the router on and off… Anyways, better late than never, I’m back on the blog!

Finally, after a high pressure that left the Alps feeling like early May, with temps in the t-shirt range some afternoons, the fluffy white stuff we all live for is falling outside my window. The precipitation started early this morning and since then it has been coming pretty much non-stop, with a freezing-line that’s steadily falling, by now way below our 1035m above sea level. I drove to Grands-Montets in the pouring rain this morning and got two fun tree runs with a friend, but you could still tell there was a nasty crust under the fresh snow. At least it was good to see the forests white again, and with this tempo I’m pretty certain we’ll have ourselves a very deep weekend!

A bunch of photos and some descriptions to go with them, hope you like!

 

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Aiguille du Chardonnet and Aiguille d’Argentiere, just before the first high-pressure day cooked the fresh snow to a crisp.

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My dad came down for a weekend to visit us and see some real mountains. He got a couple perfect piste days and some pretty amazing scenery. Here he is with Sofia at Le Tour.

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The remains of our jump spot zones, seen from Le Tour. We worked this zone for almost a weeks, but the last few days definitely put an end to it, with rain all the way up to 3000 meters! I can’t wait to see it fully reset after the dump thats currently going on outside, as I have a few spots that I want to re-hit…

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Sofia enjoying the morning light at Brevent.

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No Cham trip is complete without seeing the Vallée Blanche. Two days ago we got a beautiful run down the Grand Envers with no other tracks. The boys were stoked to be out in some bigger terrain! Here’s Emil and I having a look at the north face. Not this time around…

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Standing on the top of the Aiguille du Midi, with the Mt Blanc in the background and Chamonix town 3000 meters below us.

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Emil and Morten ready for the scariest part of the run, the ridgewalk.

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If you want to ski the Vallée Blanche, which itself is a blue to red run, down a gentle glacier, you first have to walk a ridge only a few meters wide and with a kilometer of darkness on your left side. Falling right isn’t really an option either. The walk isn’t bad but it’s always tough on your balance when you know what the consequences a fall could have!

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Zoomed out view of the crew slowly making our way to the starting zone. The tram didn’t open until noon so there weren’t really any other skiers on the mountain, most seemed to have gone to Grands-Montets for the fresh snow that had fallen overnight. Score!

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Ready to drop into some fast but fun pow!

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Airy vibes on the Midi ridge.

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On top of the first steep section, from here the snow was perfect for the next 700 vertical meters.

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Simon Ericson with Morten behind.

Alright, time to spend another afternoon drinking coffee and eating croissants, waiting for this snow to pile up even higher! The next week is going to be pretty wild! Also, make sure to keep an eye out for some gopro footage from January, dropping soon…

Jacob

Chamonix life pt.1

Hey everyone, sorry for the long wait in between posts! This quaint town tucked into a corner below the tallest mountain in Europe takes ones attention away from computer screens…

Anyways, It’s been a month since Sofia and I moved to Chamonix for the winter, and it’s also been the snowiest January for me since forever, with the first 14 days of the year being powder days, and the remaining half has kept us busy with a cold and clear high pressure, making for some perfect jump building. Right now we are on the grind, getting out in the mountains every day looking for a photo or film clip to capture. Last week, Simon Ericson came visiting with a friend crew (Morten Grape, Noa Gadelius and Emil Granöö), so we are leaving no bowl untracked in our mission to make the most of all the snow! I can’t say too much but after a year of no jumping I’m pretty pumped on how some of the shots are coming out!

To try to summarize January for you all, I’ll make this into a series of post, this one being part 1. Photos by Sofia:

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Building jumps with the crew is the best foggy day activity!

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Pow turns from the lift in Flegere.

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Can’t take too many photos of these mountains. Ever present, ever changing.

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Aiguille du Midi, seen from the west.

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Roadtripping to Tignes for the Linecatcher, that unfortunately got cancelled due to sketchy snow conditions, with natural slides happening everywhere.

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There were of course plenty of man-made ones as well. Sofia got this photo of a snowboarder in a tight spot, luckily he was never caught. Hopefully his friends in the top right didn’t drop in behind him, as their line looks about as wind-affected.

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Back in Chamonix!

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A few days after the snowfall it was time to get the skins on. There’s always some powder around the corner here waiting to be found.

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Sofia’s first touring experience, I think she’s hooked!

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Sketchy traverse on the morning ice.

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On top of another perfect stepdown.

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Simon shredding pow.

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Mandatory bird friend photo.

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Noa stomping.

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The whole crew in the jump zone.

Too many photos to choose from, but that was all for now, part 2 dropping soon, as long as I can find some better wifi!

Jacob

Chamonized!

Chamonized, chamified, stuck in paradise. The first week of 2016 definitely did not disappoint as the snow started falling on new years eve, just as predicted. The high pressure over the Alps finally diminished and gave way to a strong low that swept in from the North Atlantic Ocean, dumping over 2 meters of snow on us in just a few days. We had a day or two of sunny spells and amazing conditions in the few zones that managed to open, with high winds making the higher alpine terrain dangerous and unpredictable. That pattern is continuing at the moment with another meter and a half of snow forecasted in the next 6 days. This is definitely what the Alps needed after the extremely dry pre-season!

Right now my focus has been on skiing as much as I can, without too much filming or photographing, as I have made the mistake previous years to focus too hard on filming too early, when I really should just ski and try to get as much vert in my legs as possible, hopefully getting stronger and better for february-april which is the best months for creating content considering the light and snow conditions during that time. Been trying to find good skiing every day, and 2016 will be my first year of logging vertical meters skied! So far I’m at 30 000 meters, most of which has been epic powder…these numbers will of course change dramatically as soon as conditions allow us to explore higher parts of the Mont Blanc. So far most of the skiing has been in the trees or lower areas of Grands-Montets and Flegere. Not complaining, this past week has truly been amazing!

Photo time!

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Before the snow arrived we used a few days of sunshine to shoot Encore clothing’s fall 2016 lookbook. Also a great time to check out a lot of lines without snow on them, that way you know where the worst rocks are when it’s go time!

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And then when it started snowing, it just wouldn’t stop…silly face.

 

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Pow turn in front of Sofia’s lens in Grands-Montets. The terrain you can access from these lifts is mind-blowing!

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Another Grands-Montets shot.

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More mountains photos by Sofia:

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Aiguille du Blaitiere

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The backside of Grands-Montets, Pas de Chevre is looking like it’s going to be a blast, very soon!

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The craziest ski lift in the world, the Aiguille du Midi cable car on its way up the north face.

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This is what I look like 90% of the time walking around this town. I can’t seem to take my eyes off these peaks. So many things to do, so little time!

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Just one more Midi photo.

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The amazingly exciting terrain of Flegere, all accessed by chairlift. This day was the highlight of the season so far!

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And then another storm cycle hit, Flegere getting another half meter of snow in a day.

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Sofia trying to stay dry.

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Powder action!

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Sofia finding her way to the bottom in the storm.

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Snow in the village means way more snow up high!

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Bonus video from some of the days I’ve taken out the gopro:

See you soon!

Today turned out to be an off day, as yet another mega dump is closing in on the valley. Here’s the forecast for the next 6 days:

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number 1 on the map!

Check back soon for more, in 2 days Sofia and I will steer the van towards Tignes, for the 2016 Redbull Linecatcher! It’s going to be a blast hitting some jumps!

Jacob

Chamonix season, take 2 – Revenge time!

After visiting Chamonix twice in 2013, I fell in love with the dramatic backdrops, the easy access to some absolutely breathtaking terrain, and the general ambience of the town, its locals and its culture. Everything here revolves around the tallest mountain in Europe, the Mont Blanc, and the chamoniards enjoy it in every way possible – on skis, in a climbing harness, on a bike, or blasting through the air in a wingsuit or with a parachute. I was hooked, and decided to spend the season here last year, to see what Chamonix had to offer me. Unfortunately, I quickly learned the hard way that the terrain here is demanding, and very dangerous if not approached with caution, and only 5 days into January I hit a rock and broke my leg. After two long months of rehab, I got back for the end of the season and still managed to get some amazing ski days here, further solidifying my fascination for these young mountains, their intricate glaciers, legendary steepskiing routes and the town’s rich extreme sports culture. Leaving at the end of April, I knew I was coming back soon, and I had already started to make new plans in my head. It’s time for revenge!

Two days after Christmas, Sofia and I filled up the van with our camera gear, skis and surfboards, and hit the road south. 2200 kilometers later we were back in Chamonix, rolling into a town sprawling with British tourists, holiday decorations and not a single parking lot to be found. The snow is still absent, as with most of Europe which has been suffering from a stubborn high pressure system lasting for almost two months, but as I am writing this, the last snowflakes of 2015 are starting to fall outside our window. Over the course of next week, the forecast charts are predicting a whole lot more to come, so it looks like our timing is on point. Once again, Chamonix will be our base, this time hopefully for more than a week!

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Somewhere on the Autobahn, in very slow traffic.

 

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Marching on in our trusty score-mobile, which easily handles 130 km/h without sounding too awful. I was pleasantly surprised to discover our fuel mileage was only at around 1 liter/100km, packed to maximum load.

 

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Sofia in her brand new van-boots, loving life.

 

 

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Leg-stretcher on our second day of driving. We didn’t want to spend too long behind the wheel at once so we actually stopped for two nights, one in Denmark and one in Switzerland. The fact that you can pull over and sleep anywhere, without expensive hotel nights makes our life so much easier!


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Sofia enjoying the morning view over beautiful Lake Geneva.

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Almost up the Grands-Montets pass, close to the French border. So happy to see snow-capped peaks again, even if the depth is pretty disappointing for end of December.

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Back in town! Mont Blanc in the background.

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On our first day we decided to head up the Aiguille du Midi to check out the snow situation. No skis of course, as the glacier is still very open and I wouldn’t head out here without a guide or a local friend just yet. It was nice to get up high and take in the scenery again though, it always blows my mind how this is all lift-accessed from my backyard!

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Mountaineers, alpinists and hikers make the way down the northwest ridge from the exit of the cablecar at 3842 meters. To their left is the north face of the Midi, that ends in enormous cliffs above the mid-station. Not a good place to lose your balance.

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Feeling the presence of the mountains after a long summer and fall is the best!

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The view of the town, and the ski areas of Brevent and Flegere. It looks pretty depressing without snow but that will change fast these next few days.

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Sofia taking in the view for her first time on the Midi.

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Went up to Grands-Montets yesterday for some turns in the marginal conditions, so we didn’t shoot any photos for obvious reasons. Here’s a quick one of Sofia back on skis after a 2 year off-period!

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The slackcountry zone of Flegere, with Aiguille du Belvedere in the middle, it’s impressive southeast ramp cut diagonally through the face. Below is a zone I can’t wait to start working as soon as the snow fills in the many bowls, cornices and cliffs.

Happy New Year everyone, and thanks for checking the blog again! Hopefully as content piles up I will post here more often, so hold your thumbs for some heavy precipitation!

See you in 2016,

Jacob

 

Building a rolling home

The past two summers, Sofia and I have been spending a lot of time in campervans around the world, both the US, and in Australia. We have slowly come to realize that it really is the best way to see a place, to understand cultures, and to get as much out of a vacation as possible. Not to even mention the fact that sleeping in a car, alone at the ocean or by a lake, under a sky filled with stars is about as good as it gets! This fall, we finally decided this would be a dream worth pursuing, to spend way more time living in a mobile home, being able to go wherever we want on a whim. We were getting a campervan!

Just one problem…there were none. At least not in our price range. Scouring the web for possible secondhand purchases made us realize how expensive proper RVs are, and how few the DIY options out there really are. We ended up looking at delivery trucks and mini buses, and it seemed like our only option was to build from scratch. Another problem. My carpentry skills were limited to having carved some butter knives out of wood 20 years ago, and I am certainly not an electrician or a mechanic. At this point, we knew the possibilities were endless but all I could see were problems. My brief history with car ownership begun and ended with the same abused Audi A3, and I was afraid to buy something that would end up costing me too much in the long run.

Winter was closing in on us and we had to make a decision, but none of us wanted to wait another year. It was time to buy. After another week of looking up every make and model of sufficiently large delivery trucks, we finally found a fairly priced and well-kept Renault Master with 15 years and 200 000 km’s under her belt. She had previously been a motocross transporter and already had some of the things we were looking for, like the gas stove and fridge, although we quickly realized we had to start over from scratch if we wanted to make the end result look halfway decent. When we first set out building, we decided to document the whole process but somewhere around the 50% completion mark we got lazy and forgot the camera. Here’s the 6-week birth story of the ultimate stoke van, the score mobile and our new rolling home. Enjoy!


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The day after buying the car and right before digging in with power tools to clean out the interior. Game time!

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The first 3 days consisted of nothing but breaking things apart. The whole room was covered in metal, with a huge metal frame for a loft bed and motocross garage. I have never been this angry at pop rivets before, as a few hundred or so of the things kept everything in place.

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Completely exhausted after getting the last few pieces of metal out. I don’t think I’ve ever been this sore before!

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Sofia covering the floor in recycled plywood, since we needed a flat surface for the flooring. Making sense of the old 12V electrics proved to be a confusing task as well. Luckily, we were thinking ahead and made sure to put in fresh cables for all our appliances under the plywood. I can’t repeat this enough, know what cables go where before putting in the floor, you do not want to start over later!

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Sofia measuring up the vinyl floor planks. Fun and easy part right here! To the right you can see some of the cables from the fridge and water pump, that need to go under the floor to the battery bank, that we kept on the right side of the van for correct balancing.

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Fresh floor in place! On the walls you can see the styrofoam used for insulation, we added another inch or two of insulation wool on top of this to keep us toasty all year round.

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Taking on this project in November means most of the day is dark, so we had to make the most of every day. Finishing up some cladding for the walls with the help of Sofia and a flashlight.

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Putting in the wood on the walls was easy and pretty fun, and only took about two days in total. In this photo I’m stuffing the gap between the wood and the styrofoam with insulation wool. The plastic tube is for putting in lamp cables at a later stage instead of having to remove planks. The blue plastic sheeting is the moisture barrier, since we spend so much time in humid and cold regions we figured it’s better to stay on the safe side.

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Sofia, giving the storage units a new coat of paint.

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Almost done with all the wood!

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Sofia and the paintbrush.

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More paint in place

And then…we for some reason decided it was time to put the camera away. It’s funny, the last photo makes it look barely half-finished, but after it was taken it only took us about a week to build a huge bed, storage units and a fully functioning 12V electrics setup controlling 4 LED lamps, a fridge, 220V inverter, water pump and battery charger. Let’s fast forward to now:

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The finished (actually not finished, I hope the day never comes) product! It was an amazing feeling to take her out to a secluded place in the Stockholm archipelago, spend a night under the stars, and wake up to the sunrise.

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Sofia having a morning cup of coffee.

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Last but not least, never again do I have to change into a wetsuit in the cold rain! The surf-mobile will change our lives in so many ways!

So by now you hopefully understand where my focus has been the last month and a half. It’s been such a fun adventure figuring out every detail on this beast, learning by trial and error, making up solutions, and I’m sure hundreds of new ideas will form over the next few years of traveling in it. In just 3 weeks it will be rolling towards the Mt Blanc, waiting to be filled with epic memories.

Stay tuned!

Jacob

Unfiltered Skiing – LAPLANDIA

Soooo…. video time! Since I was injured most of last season, I didn’t really get enough footage together to drop anything during the spring, but instead I decided to hold on to the material we gathered during the Riksgränsen trip and save it for fall. At the end of the annual trip north of the Arctic Circle, I managed to pull my brother Oscar out of his busy contest schedule to come visit, and try out his game on some bigger terrain than he’s used to. My ankle feeling almost a 100%, it was perfect timing to finish off the season in some of the most beautiful conditions I’ve ever had the pleasure of skiing in. Here it is, Unfiltered Skiing’s 2015 release: Laplandia. Enjoy!

Now back to my semi-secret project that Sofia and I are working on…I’ve decided to not drop any photos from it until it’s finished, but I will give you some hints soon…it’s going to be a wild ride!

 

Jacob

Fall

I love and hate fall in equal measure. Summer is over, which means good times in the sun, quality surf, and long days of light are over. On the other hand, the months of september-november is a good time to get back in shape, look over equipment, and make new exciting plans for winter. Spending a lot of time looking at footage accumulated during the season is also a good way to get yourself excited for the year to come, even though I haven’t exactly collected too much of it this year since the ankle injury. Even if I was back on snow as early as march, it wasn’t until the end of april I could really start committing to big stuff, and then the issue of finding good snow and weather slowed us down considerably. I still managed to get a few amazing days back in Riksgränsen at the end of the year, something you will see a full project come out of very soon, I promise:

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Oscar and I standing on top of a beauty northern Sweden face last may.

Other than editing video for your viewing pleasure, I’ve been using my alleged writing talent in other places than this blog, so hopefully you’ll understand the absence of daily updates. If you read Swedish, you may have seen some of my texts in the Freeride newsfeed, as well as various ski magazines. It’s a good way of making the long Stockholm autumn days pass.

What else is going on? Working out of course, my least favorite activity. Loving the feeling after, but can’t shake the fact that skiing, surfing or skateboarding is a hundred times better. But I know from experience that without a good basic strength I won’t last long doing either of those sports, so I make sure to drag myself to the gym at least 4 times a week during the pre-season.

Going to finish off this post with some photos from Sofia and I’s trip to Lofoten, northern Norway a few weeks back, got the opportunity to come with Swedish pro surfer Tim Latte to write a story on his adventures up north. Some photos by me, most by Sofia:

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Drive-by shot snapped while driving through the north of Sweden at the end of september. This is just before Riksgränsen where I’ve been spending much of my spring the past two years.

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Lapporten, or the Port to Laplandia, sans snow.

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Quick stop after driving for a solid 14 hours, another 8 to go.

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Norway greeting us with some pretty breathtaking scenery!

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Fully packed Mazda, Tim having a last snack before setting up camp.

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At night, the Aurora Borealis comes out in full effect. I had never really seen the phenomenon before this trip, so I was very excited getting some photos of it.

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Morning coffees before long surf sessions are the best.

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Spraying down the line at a secret spot

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Getting in and out of the wetsuit is the hardest part about surfing in the Arctic Circle!

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After 3 hours in the water I was still toasty in my winter suit. Turns out the water temp up here doesnt really go below 10°C in the fall so I was a bit over-clothed with 6 mms of rubber!

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Tim and I being greeted by the locals.

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Sofia, exploring the perimeter after setting up camp in Unstad, a famous Lofoten surf spot.

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Pre-surf rituals with Tim

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Unstad lineup, empty and pumping!

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Barrel photo by Mats Grimseth, local photographer. So stoked to see him swimming out right as I got this little tube!

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The most scenic place I’ve ever spent a night, what a show!

So Lofoten suddenly went right to the top of planned camping destinations for Sofia and I, and will definitely be part of the itinerary next spring. We even went so far that we are planning some new travel/camping arrangements, but I won’t spoil this one just yet. The next few days though…keep an eye out!

Alright, back to work, I have another story to write, this time about Oscar and I’s heliskiing trip in the Swedish mountains last spring, for a european ski magazine. Any ideas of an angle? Always fun documenting someone’s very first experience doing something as life-changing as skiing big mountains out of a helicopter, as much fun as it is to do the same yourself, especially with your brother. Daniel’s photos are amazing so I think it will be a good read!

Stay tuned for more content soon!

Jacob

Blog or no?

Hey everyone, I know what you’re thinking – This blog is dead, he hasn’t posted in a month, another victim to Instagram!, etc. And yes, you just might be onto something there, I haven’t really been thinking too much about documenting and announcing my life as of late, as I feel like it can be a bit exploitative at times. In Bali for example, your day-to-day life would, in a way, feel unnecessarily well-organized, if someone was there to capture every move, other than just trusting your memory. Bali is many things, well-organized is not one of them!

Anyways, being back in Stockholm, as the summer turns into fall, I am reminded of the fact that you’re out there, in a much more honest corner of the internet, pushed aside by the ever-growing stimuli-monster that is instant micro-updates about everything, condensed to 140 characters or 1200 pixels, and I realize it’s not such a bad idea to keep this blog alive for a little longer – it represents what I think social media should be about.

So there, it’s back on. Or something. Think of this as less of a daily blog, but rather spontaneous yet well-timed, mindful updates from my life, sometimes often, sometimes more sporadic. I will not let it drown in the ether.

To kick it back into life, what’s better than moving images from the last ARtrip I was on, exactly a year ago in Australia. I just got home from surfing every day for 3 months, and this is the first ski video I watched. Somehow it completely turned the year around and in my mind it’s now getting close to winter, I can’t wait to do this again!

See you soon,

Jacob

Bali life

Hi, and welcome back to the slow summer time blog. You guessed it, we are relaxing in Bali and posting stuff on here hasn’t really been top priority for me lately. We are spending most of our time hanging out with the cats at SurfLodge Limasan, driving around on the countryside photographing, and getting some waves. It’s been good!

Most photos by Sofia:

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Daily chill sessions with the cats, Sofia approves!

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If you get off the beaten path, the Bali of old is still out there. Sofia exploring some rice terraces.

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Hunting for waves.

 

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On flat days we have been exploring for some waterfalls. It’s incredible how lush the mountains of Bali are.

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Sofia in the jungle.

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Surfed out. The last couple of days we have been blessed with a perfect swell for some of the lesser known spots on the island.

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My finnish friend Niko getting a very un-finnish wave.

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Deep in the tube on that single fin!

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Locked in the pocket with the gopro in my mouth. Such a good way of capturing surfing!

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The view from the tube.

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Two frames from one of the best tube rides I’ve ever gotten!

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Heavy closeout.

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Sharing the lineup with some local pros makes a session even more fun. Here’s Adam Bennetts getting a deep one.

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Lee Wilson on a bomb.

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Marlon Gerber

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Volleyball game back at the lodge.

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Yes, this is a photo of ME, partaking in a sport that involves hitting a ball around. This is a very rare occurrence.

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Pool party mischief.

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Sofia chillaxing.

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Big shout-out to Ketut at the lodge, making some insane dinners for us! These tuna skewers were out of this world!

Rainy day today, time to rest up the arms and watch some movies. We’re heading up to the mountains this week to try and find some cool things to photograph, so stay tuned for more of Bali life!

Jacob

 

West Australia part III

Hello from Bali, where every day looks the same and isn’t too blog worthy (you know what happens here by now anyways). Been surfing, eating, partying, the usual schedule. Right now we are staying at my good friends at Xtravel‘s beautiful surf camp, Surf Lodge Limasan. More from this little oasis will come soon!

In the mean time, here’s the third and final installment of mine and Sofia’s Australia roadtrip! Towards the end of the trip we camped out at the coast for a few days where I finally had the chance to get some surf. I’ve always wanted to surf Australia, especially after reading about all the famous pointbreaks up the northwest coast. We stayed at the absolutely stunning Red Bluff, literally in the middle of nowhere, far from wifi, cell service and even the most basic amenities. Alone with a campfire, beers, and the marine wildlife including turtles, sharks and humpback whales, it felt like time stood still. I have to go back here soon, easily one of the most beautiful corners of the earth I have visited so far!

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Can’t really think of a better setup than this; you pull up at the beach far out in the middle of nowhere, and a perfect lefthander is reeling down the point, with very few people on it.

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The view from our camping spot. I could get used to waking up to this.

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There’s a story behind every sign. Supposedly, really big waves come out of nowhere here sometimes, and one time one cleaned up an entire parking lot of cars and people. Better not park too close to the water.

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Pretty crazy sharing the line-up with some of nature’s biggest creatures. Humpback whales playing outside the surf.

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The surf itself was pretty all-time during our 4 days at Red Bluff. Fun sized lefts, pumping all day, and always an offshore wind.

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A little cover-up in the afternoon sun.

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Pretty beautiful spot for a hairwash!

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The Blowhole close to Quobba station.

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The sky we slept under, every single night.

That’s it for the West Australia trip! Next post will be about our second home, Bali!

Jacob