USA / Alpine Race
date of birth
July 14, 1988
Reindeers and Russian coal mines
Daily life was surreal and hard to explain. Skinning up a new unskied valley we would startle a few reindeer who would bolt up and across the couloir we were eyeing (hence the newly dubbed ‘Double Reindeer Couloir’).
One day we stumbled across an old Russian coal-mining outpost with larger than life statues of Stalin and the Hammer and Cicle ever present. For a while we got trapped in this abandoned ghost town when a Polar Bear mom and her cubs decided to take a nap between us and the boat.
Another afternoon (or morning or whenever) the wind stopped and the icy fjord turned to glass, so I went out for a paddle board from the boat. It was terrifying being alone and away from the safety of the boat, knowing if I fell I would have minutes to survive in the below freezing water. Extreme no-fall-zone paddle boarding! It didn’t take long for a huge bearded seal to get curious and start chasing me around. Did that really happen? Was that real?
Scratching the itch
Of course, before and after all these magical experiences was a lot of skiing. Arctic pow is pretty darn good. Arctic corn is even better. And even when we were skiing down an icy 500+ couloir with nothing but blue water in the fall zone and gnarly rocks towering above on both sides, the ice skied better than any sketchy slick ice I’ve skied before! Skiing in Svalbard is the real deal.
It’s hard to sum up what happened in Svalbard. This was the most rejuvenating and wild ski trip I have ever experienced. It for sure satisfied my itch to get some late season turns in before the long hot summer. It was good for the soul to remove myself from the world and remember why I love to ski! And it fired me up to continue chasing my dream next season.
Then who knows, back to Svalbard next summer? There’s a lot more perfect snow to be skied.