STEEP AND SKETCHY - Jacob Wester Adventures #3

The Swift couloir is a massive clawmark into the north wall of Nordre Jægervasstind on the Lyngen peninsula, deep beyond the Norwegian Arctic circle. It has been skied several times, although never without using a rope through the tricky chokes towards the top. While looking for skiable snow after a mid-May high pressure with high winds, my eyes fell on a thin but skiable ramp two thirds up the massive black wall, and the thought of skiing it started to form. Approaching the mountain it reminded me strongly of the Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix. Steep black rock, deep couloirs with snow and ice barely holding on to the cliff. Not a friendly environment, I thought to myself as I started the long hike to the top.

My initial plan was to keep hiking until I ran out of skiable snow, not knowing for sure what the conditions were going to be like higher up through the thin channels connecting the upper snowfields. The hard part about climbing your line is knowing your limits when it comes to steepness and snow quality. With a pair of crampons on your boots and ice axes in your hands, you soon become blind to the seriousness of the terrain you're in. Clicking into my skis up top, I knew it was going to be steep, and I knew the snow was going to be marginal at best. With less energy I had probably made the decision to downclimb, but my legs felt great, the edges of my skis were razor-sharp and I had memorized every patch of skiable snow on the way down. When it gets really steep and no mistakes are allowed, instinct takes over, and you put all your trust in your ski technique developed over 2 decades of skiing. Like diving into an underwater cave, knowing your only exit is on the other side of the mountain, you know you are not safe until you see the light again. Despite the bad conditions, it was a memorable descent and reaching the bottom of such a classic without any ropework made the day worth it.

Drone filming by Sofia Sjöberg
Editing by Jacob Wester

Thanks to
Wearcolour, Rossignol, Look Bindings, Oakley, Gopro, Polar Pro
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