When we finally arrived in Oslo, the city welcomed us with a radiating early May sun, and crisp blue skies. It was two days before the official start of High Camp Turtagrø, a multi-day ski touring event which takes place in the Jotunheimen Nasional Park, which Altitude Sports had been invited by Norrøna to take part in.
Our group spent Wednesday evening sharing stories and getting to know one another over some fine wine and a savoury bowl of Fiskesupp (fish soup) as the Norwegian sunset. We laughed, we smiled, and it was hard to believe we were all strangers merely a few hours earlier. We finished our drinks, ignored the temptation to discover Oslo’s nightlife and enjoyed a scenic, waterfront walk back to the hotel which was located in the heart of the city. We were only minutes from the high-end retail district and situated amongst popular tourist sites such as Oslo Harbor and Opera House.
Oslo is a beautiful city. Its architecture is mostly a modern minimalistic twist on the classic Nordic designs found across Northern Europe and Scandinavia. After a brief stint there it was evident that Norwegians truly value their natural environment and simplistic designs, while Oslo locals prefer the looks of technically functional high-fashion.
Thursday began with a tour of the Norrøna headquarters in Oslo. We were welcomed with smiling faces and clean white walls decorated with epic mountain scenes. Once inside, it was clear that a passion for the mountains grew within these walls.
Norrøna is a brand dedicated to comfort, technical detail and most of all, ensuring memorable experiences in nature. Their products are designed for the outdoor enthusiast who doesn’t wait for a bluebird day to get out and enjoy nature’s playground.
Each collection is inspired by the famous mountain peaks where freeride fanatics run amok, and breathtaking mountains views tempt outdoor enthusiasts year-round. Whether you’re skiing the rugged, big-mountain lines of Lofoten or ski-touring the peaks in Lyngen, Norrøna products are designed to inspire you to play outside.
“Welcome to nature means that we help/inspire everyone to have a fantastic nature experience. For Norrøna Sport – this means fulfilling our mission – making the world’s best outdoor products, so our customers can focus on their actions because we keep you comfortable.”- Jørgen Jørgenson CEO and owner at Norrøna.
Norrøna uses top of the line materials and chooses designs that are sure to excel in the mountains. From their lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Pants to the trollveggen Gore-Tex Light Pro jacket, Norrøna is aware of the needs of their athletes wherever their winter adventures take them.
Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Jacket
Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Pants
Falketind Warm1 Stretch Zip
Falketind Down750 Jacket
A tour of the headquarters gave us real insight into the brand and the dedication that goes into each product. Everything from the design, sewing and testing is done in-house and has a personal touch from someone on Norrøna’s carefully selected team of employees. They work hard so that athletes can play hard, knowing their gear will perform on the toughest terrain and through the harshest elements. Our plans over the next few days at High Camp were to put this gear to the test on numerous ski-touring trips.
As the tour came to an end, we asked our final questions, filled up our water bottles and packed into the van. We had a six-hour drive ahead of us, and two mountain passes to get through before the gates closed at 8 pm. We buckled-up plugged the music and hit the road.
The drive to Turtagrø was breathtaking. Each bend revealed immense walls of snow that had only recently been shaped when the road was plowed through the previous week. The tops of the snow walls played peek-a-boo with the snowscapes far off in the distance while beams of sunlight sparkled on the jagged peaks. We all sat perched on the edge of our seats as we gazed in awe at the striking landscapes unfolding in front of us.
As we rounded the curve reaching Turtagrø Hotel, the sun began its slow descent behind the mountains. Tents littered the snow outside and Norrøna gear was everywhere. This was High Camp Turtagrø, and we had three days to explore its epic terrain, experience the unreal views, and discover a new-found devotion to nature.
Each day began with extensive planning the night before. From the elevation and trip duration to avalanche hazards for the proposed routes, our confidence grew with the knowledge and experience displayed by our guides. We were certain that they would lead us on an unforgettable few days of skiing through Norway’s breathtaking mountainscapes.
The mornings began with van rides along the winding road to our starting points. From there, we assembled our touring equipment, locked into the bindings and skinned into the vast snowfields and mountain passes that laid ahead.
Friday took us touring across a dam and up the backside of Steindalsnosi, a mountain with an elevation of 2025m. Saturday had us adventuring across a glacier and up the steep slope of the 1965m Lauvnostind peak. This region in the Jotunheimen Nasional Park is known as the ‘Home of the Giants,’ which was evident from the rugged peaks that towered over us on our ascents.
We skinned onwards, each step bringing us that much closer to our daily destination and the descent that awaited on the other side. During the demanding ascents, we told stories, shared jokes, and simply enjoyed each other’s company among the peaceful surroundings. You could look to the horizon and see endless rolling fields of snow and jagged exposed peaks just waiting to be discovered.
It didn’t matter how fast you climbed or how technical the lines you skied were, all that mattered at High Camp was that you took the time to enjoy the spectacular views. There was no need to rush to a peak or scramble down to the bottom because everyone was there to live in the moment. How often do you get to stand on a peak over 1900m high and enjoy the scenic Norwegian landscape below?
High Camp Turtagrø was not only a backcountry skiing event but an ode to nature. Each day began with smiles and sunshine, then finished with fresh tan lines and some new and exciting stories. Those who had never experienced the Jotunheimen area came for the skiing and left with an exceptional mountain experience. All of us departed High Camp Turtagrø and Norway wanting more.
*Photos By Photographer Stephen Shannon