Thursday, March 12, 2015

Svalbard: Day 1 (I Think It's Still Day 1)


            In transit in mind and body, but not in luggage. Arrived to Oslo, stopped to look at the holy grail of snus wall in the Norwegian Duty Free Shop. Browsed for an unnecessarily long time through the liquor section trying to decide if bringing liquor was a good idea at all.  The indecision was probably also on account of the two hours of sleep I’ve caught in the last 28 hours. Lost in a fog of confusion and teetering back forth under the weight of my severely overloaded, 50+ lbs. carry on backpack, I picked up a log of exotic snus and a bottle of Jamieson in preparation of encountering Versailles level prices for booze and drugs in Norway. Emerging from Duty Free, the carousels of baggage claim were empty and the entirety of the vast baggage claim warehouse was deserted. “Shit, did I wait too long to get my bags and the baggage department moved them somewhere else?” Scampering between carousels searching for any sign of two Salomon ski bags and two extra large duffle bags, there were no signs of my luggage arriving. After a tense wait in the baggage service department, thinking of the possibility of weeks of baggage delays hampering our entire trip, I ended up talking to some of the nice airline employees I’ve ever met. After some computer searching, it seemed like my bags were somewhere between the cold vacuum of space and the molten iron of the center of the earth. For all they could tell, my bags simply didn’t exist beyond the four bar-coded stickers adhered to the back of my ticket. “It’s that damn guy in Seattle who seemed utterly confused on where to put my mountain of luggage after I went through customs coming into Seattle from Kelowna” I thought. Now the waiting game of sitting in soiled underwear, sweaty tee-shirts and taking showers only to put back on the same foul smelling clothes I’ve been wearing for 36 hours straight begins.

Svalbard: Day 0 to Day 1

Day 0- Travel to Kelowna
            Yup, still have that feeling like I forgot something. Four large bags filled with more down jackets, pads, pants, boots, gloves – everything is down – than I’ve ever brought before.  Still don’t know if I’ll need those heated socks I’ve heard about.  Had to take back a pair of skis I gifted and was forced to saw off a pair of Guardian bindings at one in the morning, 7 hours before my flight, due do an overzealous binding mounter and too much Loctite.  Now it’s a pre-shred mission in Golden, BC before the adventure in Svalbard.  I’m looking more forward to hiking and camping and adventure than jumping off of cliffs. Guess I am getting old.

(Post Golden update. I actually had an immense about of fun jumping off of cliffs. Not old quite yet!)

Day 1- Travel

            I don’t think I understand the magnitude of what’s going on. I’m pretty excited but at the same time just on another flight across the big pond writing emails and watching movies. People have no doubt skied in Svalbard but it’s not about being first, it’s being a part of the few that would say yes to frigid arctic temps, weeks spent in icy, moist tents and climbing big mountains on a daily basis. Plenty of people offered this exact trip said no to it. Somehow, probably on account of my ignorance and naiveté, I enthusiastically said yes. It’s a new adventure for me, a non-heli accessed, non-lodge catered, non-pampered trip into the unknown.  I know I’m not physically fit enough right now. Not aware enough in the ways of climbing, ice, ropes, protection and evaluation of big routes going up. I don’t know how to properly snow camp for more than one or two nights. I am completely unaware of the experiences ahead of me. But what I do know is that know how to ski big mountains. I know the weight of taking a challenge head on and how to put trust in myself to do it. I know how the mountains make me feel. And most of all, I know how to say yes to a new possibility in this unlimited realm that skiing offers.

Svalbard: Day 0

            Packing. I don’t know what to pack simply because I’ve never quite done anything like this. I’ll probably have that constant “I’m forgetting something” feeling from now until I’m frozen in my tent thinking “really could of used that extra pair of long johns about now.” There is so much damn stuff packing into stuff sacks, dry bags and giant weather sealed duffles that it’s going to look more like I’m moving somewhere instead of going skiing. I’ve probably stripped about 25 geese naked to fill the amount of down products I’m bringing.  I’ve learned that there is actually something geese hate more than kids provoking them lakeside and being north in the winter or south in the summer, it’s polar expeditions. Hope I’m not forgetting anything.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Is there anything cooler than a cover of a ski magazine? Yes, yes there is, it's called skiing.  That is far cooler than the cover itself.  Covers are cool, but doing the skiing to make the covers is far cooler.