Susie Theis


The Beginning.

When I decided to join the Arctic Monkey, I began looking at flights. I was searching all major cities in Europe when an inexpensive one way ticket to Trondheim came up. I booked the ticket and made it official, this would be the first stop on my adventure. Time flew and before I knew it I was packing my bags and saying my goodbyes in Park City.

Following an overnight flight with less than an hour of sleep (note to self, the rows surrounding the exit aisle on Icelandair don't recline!) I arrived in Norway. My first impression of the country was the coastal town of Bergen. Small islands covered with trees and quaint houses dotted the coastline. Soon after we were descending into Trondheim where I took the bus into town to meet my friend Conor. Although I was traveling in a place far away from home I felt a sense of relaxation set in now that I was finally starting my journey. We spent a low key Friday strolling through Trondheim. In between spells of rainy drizzle we popped into pubs and tried Norwegian brews. 

Always the adventure seeker, Conor had asked if I would be interested in a ski trip while I was visiting. My obvious answer was absolutely! So, on Saturday morning we packed the car and set off for the mountains. We made our way to the smaller town of Oppdal where Conor's adopted "Norwegian family" lives. The Slinds were kind enough to lend me their ski equipment for the weekend. Upon arrival we were invited in for some coffee and food and what was meant to be a quick stop turned into an afternoon of warm conversation. We probably could have stayed all night but with many kilometers left to drive we continued on. A couple hours later we found ourselves in the town of Kristiansund.

There are hundreds of places in Norway I would like to see but since I knew I would only be there for four days I decided not to put pressure on myself to squeeze in too much. But one place I had always dreamed of seeing was the Atlantic Ocean Road. You know, It's one of those places that every twenty something female has seen and probably pinned on pinterest. Not ever thinking that it would be feasible for this trip I was completely caught off guard when Conor pulled up to the tollway and I realized just where we were. I can't remember the last time I was so surprised! There's nothing quite like seeing a place you've only imagined from photos.

It was starting to get late so we decided to grab dinner in Molde. We had aspirations of finding seafood by the coast but surprisingly, our options were limited so we settled for Italian. We then hopped on the ferry that took us across the fjord.

From there we picked our destination for the night. Tresfjorden was the town closest to where we would attempt to ski from in the morning. We drove to a farm where we stopped to place money in a box. In Norway, you are legally allowed to camp anywhere. This meant that as long as we paid the farmer to drive on the dirt road he maintained we were good to go. We drove up as far as we could before reaching snow and found a flat place to park.

It was a cold and rainy night so we opted to camp in the car rather than pitch a tent. This meant we had to maneuver all of our belongings from the back to the front.

Somehow we managed to organize our things and get a good night sleep. In the morning we woke up to the most stunning view. The mountains surrounded us on three sides while the fourth side provided a view down the valley and the farm from which we’d come. After observing in the daylight we came to the conclusion that the original route would be impassable. The terrain was not favorable for what we wanted to do.

With that we decided we would shoot into town for a coffee and head to another nearby peak just fifteen minutes away.

The mountains in Norway are the kind of mountains I’ve always dreamed of skiing. Wide open bowls of untouched snow. Complete solitude as you rip down the slope. But unlike the U.S. you are never far from water. Reaching the summit means you are rewarded with a view of the fjords that leads your eye all the way out to the North Atlantic. It is truly spectacular.

When the first ridge was within reach the wind picked up considerably. We pushed through and made it up to a small outlook under a cliff.

I found myself standing on one of the most incredible vantage points I’ve ever experienced. I hadn’t prepared myself for the immense beauty. Seeing pictures is one thing, but I don't believe you can fully capture the landscapes of Norway. You need to see it with your own eyes. The wind whipped snow flurries by us while the sun peaked through the clouds. Below laid the royal blue Romsdalfjord with red and yellow houses along the banks. To top things off Conor pulled out a kvikk lunsj (Norway’s version of the kit kat bar). for some sustenance.

From there we were only about twenty-ish minutes from the summit. We pushed on even though the wind continued to escalate. Thisprovided an increased sense of intensity. Once at the summit we quickly popped into our skis. Conor went first down the slope, unfazed by the weather conditions. Backcountry skiing is still somewhat new to me. I was tentative down the first pitch, intimidated by the conditions. However, the sense of accomplishment was totally gratifying as made our way to the bottom.

We skied down as far as we could and hiked to the car. With achy legs and happy smiles we cracked open a Norwegian IPA and pulled off our boots. I think aprés beer is a universal enjoyment.

Since we were so close to the Arctic Circle the sun didn’t set until about 10:30 pm. We drove around the fjord to our next location and the mountains grew even more dramatic. The town we were in, Isfjorden, was so perfect I felt that I could of stayed there forever.

Once we arrived at our next location, Conor began making a fire while I prepared dinner.  We ate salmon, peppers and potatoes seasoned with a mixture we bought at the store called “Scandinavian forest”. Why is it that food tastes better when you’re camping?

The next morning we set off to ski a peak called Smørbottfjellet. It was a gorgeous bluebird day and while the sun is always appreciated (especially in Scandinavia), that meant it was exceptionally warm. I didn’t anticipate being quite as tired as I was and during the first hour of the climb I doubted myself more than once but I kept pushing on. I couldn’t quit; I knew I’d be happy once I’d made it to the top.

Once we got to the steeper part of the slope things got a little better. Conversation made the time pass and soon we were within reach of the summit. However, there was one minor hang up. When we were leaving the Slinds we had declined their offer to take crampons. Feelings of regret came crashing down as Conor and I found ourselves slipping all over the place in what felt like an ice field on the side of the mountain. Exhausted by this point (and maybe a little hangry) I had a tough time masking my frustration (sorry, Conor!!). But by carefully dodging ice patches we finally made it to the top and as Conor says “the juice was worth the squeeze!”.

The ski down was a storybook run, one you think of often and remember forever. I felt the most perfect corn snow under my skis as I carved methodical turns. When you get those turns it makes you forget everything you’ve just endured. I recently heard someone say “it gives me my greatest sense of self” which is the perfect way to describe that kind of skiing. The only downside of the afternoon was the bittersweet feeling I was left with knowing I had just enjoyed my last spring turns for the season.

Exhausted and a bit slap happy, we made the long drive back to Trondheim. When we arrived we found that Conor’s friends, Martin and Oda, had so kindly made dinner and keptsome warm for us. The rest of the night consisted of laundry and preparations for the next stop on my trip.

I don’t think I could have dreamt up a better introduction to Norway. I’m so thankful that I had such a generous and adventurous host to show me around. It's safe to say that I'm slightly obsessed with Scandinavia and I know I will be back.