When I first saw the clearly eye gripping white splitter that divides the rock walls of mountain Forholttinden into parts, I felt simply enchanted by it’s perfection and beauty.
It is truly a steep skier’s candy and I love sweets!
What a name… A name that left us curious. A name that must have it’s reason, but what about?
Was it the angle, the exposure, the commitment? Of course both Gorm and I was excited to see what “The Godmother of all couloirs” would offer us.
The Godmother of All Couloirs, the eyegripping left white stripe in the face of Forholttinden, Lyngen.
The adventure takes place on Forholttinden, a mountain on the Lyngen Penisula that you can see clearly on the other side of the Kjosen fjord when driving along the road between the Lyngen ferry ports Svensby and Lyngseidet. To access you either need a boat or you need to enter from the southern part of Lyngen, driving through Lakselvbukt village to Jøvik village, then walk along the shore.
Gorm Gunleiksrud on the approach to Forholttinden. A couple of kilometers booting on the rocky low tide shore
After about 1 h of walking along the shore, skis on the back back, you reach the foot of the mountain Forholttinden, 1469 m. When you stand under the rocky north faced wall it’s easy to know where to go. There are simply not many options of possible ski lines here. The neighbor couloir “Valpariso”, to the left of our line, was opened by our friends Andreas Fransson, Morgan and Bjarne Sahlen and is another option and even tougher, but either way you are opt for an adventure in the game of steep skiing.
Climbing up the lower parts of the couloir
In the Lyngen Alps guide book, I learned that the mountain Forholttinden itself was first climbed in 1946 and the first skiing descent on the north face down The Godmother of all couloirs took place in 1989. Three Swedish steep skiing pioneers: Sten Qvarnström, Mårten Claesson and Petter Eneroth were the first.
The book hints about the amplitude of the adventure they had:
” To improve the level of safety, we brought a selection of helmets, however due to low budget, improvisation was necessary. I brought my old Jofa hockey helmet with a wire cage – and duct tape replacing a missing screw. Mårten borrowed Petter’s tweed-pattern car racing helmet from the 60’s. Petter treated himself to a nice and neat blue helmet, although designed for river kayaking” – S Qvarnström, 2012, recalling the first descent
The conditions were simply fantastic due to snowfalls the last days. The couloir was filled with deep fresh powder. I crossed my fingers that we would be alone. It was the day of the Skittentind randonné ski and downhill competition back in Tromsø and strategically my plan was that other candidats to ski the Godmother would be occupied…
After 300m of climbing through the rock zone, we got up to the snow and saw fresh boot tracks.
-Oh no, we are actually not alone, I sighed to Gorm…
There were no tracks coming down so we had obviously a party ahead of us. Due to both risk from falling objects and the impact upon the snow, it wasn’t the best discovery.
Sluff from above came towards us as we climbed up. Two local young guys had got the icing of the cake and could tell us about loads of powder and a tiring ascent. They looked quite exhausted but seemed happy as they skied down to the fjord.
“Well, at least, the snow sticks” I thought to myself as we continued our climb.
The good thing was that in comparison to the previous party, we were late and could enjoy the sun light. As the afternoon turned to evening, the sun moved along the sky. As we ascended, the north aspect couloir got filled with more and more light as the sun rays came closer.
The 1300 m ascent surely proved to be a tiring journey. At parts, we were basically swimming in fresh powder, sometimes up to the breast. It took us hours to get to the top and the climb felt endless.
After hours of heavy booting and climbing up the couloir, we´re ready to take off. The sun is on her way down and the snow is dry and light as wheat!
Great skiing, simply great.
We experienced all conditions of snow and as we reached the top, a feeling of accomplishment filled my body. It had been a long ascent and it was sweet to look over the edge and see the other side of the mountain. Now it was time for the reward- to ski down in one of the most magnificient couloirs I had seen.
The expression “Earn your turns” must have been invented just here.
It was a pleasure to click into the skis and point them out above such an impressive surrounding.
Whoever quoted the expression “Earn your turns” must have thought about the Godmother of all couloirs on a deep day!
Skiing down the white splitter
From the top followed 1300 vertical meters of skiing around 45º and up to about 50º on the sides when choosing the steeper sections. The snow was excellent and despite the earlier visit of the previous party, to the sides of the mid fall line, we could ski untouched powder. The best of it all was the fantastic light as the sun filled parts of our descent.
When choosing to commit to such an adventure, you need to play the cards right. That means making constant evaluations to the snow pack, conditions and safety along the way. As we climbed up the couloir, we had been able to judge the snow and get a good over view over it’s stability, the different layers underneath and any special dangers in the terrain that we could ski into on the way down.
When it comes to mountains and adventure skiing, conditions are everything. We had perfect conditions this day, and we surely felt privileged to get the opportunity to ski such a fantastic line!
Gorm is having a good time. In deep conditions like this, exposure feels less and there’s room for even more playfulness!
At 22h we were back at the shore. The sun was about to leave the horizon and the sea was calm. Now I could allow myself to feel the accomplishment. I think the descent of “The Godmother of all couloirs” deserves to be among one of the most beautiful skiing moments I’ve had.
The couloir shined in golden yellow light. Gorm looked up at at the tracks with a big smile and hinted about tired feet. I was hungry because all food was gone hours ago.
– “I’m happy we don’t have to walk back in ski boots” Gorm said as we changed to sneekers and replaced the skis on the backpack. Let’s go home!
Dropping out of the Godmother couloir an into the late sun light. May in Lyngen and north Norway with mid-night sun skiing is a special.
Many of the magical Lyngen ski descent are described in the “The Lyngen Alps” guide book: Buy at Friflyt shop or Amazon.
The Godmother of all couloirs is mentioned in the recently published book “The Lyngen Alps” by Eivind Smeland and Sjur Nesheim. The two remarkable locals have been climbing and skiing in the Lyngen area for a lifetime and their book is their celebration to the magic landscape of Lyngen and a true gift to adventure seekers.