The journey ‘Sailing and Snowshoeing in Norway’ was organized for the first time this year by International Mountain Leader Allard van Lingen and skipper Olivier van Warmerdam were at the helm of this unique combination.

During this week, we sailed through the Westfjords of Senja. With the flexibility of a boat, we reached the most extraordinary places and searched for the best snow. This is Norway at its best for us!

Allard: ‘We both know a lot about water. Olivier about the sea and I about snow. Still, it was exciting to see how our collaboration would be. It was fantastic how our passion and knowledge seamlessly flowed from sea to land and back into each other. The week is definitely in the top 5 of my travels and has become an adventure of a lifetime for all of us. Next year, we will organize this trip again and this summer you can also join us. Then we combine sailing with a mountain hiking trip. There are only 7 spots available on the boat, I think they will be filled quickly ;).’

Travel Descriptions:

In this blog, you will find a compilation of the journey based on the participant Sjarel Verhoeven. He embarked on this adventure together with the other travelers.

Day 1 | Travel Day

After our flight, we arrive in Harstad following a smooth one-hour bus ride. Our skipper Olivier and also the skipper’s father, Leon, are already waiting for us. We receive a tour and safety information. We thoroughly enjoy ourselves, gaining insight into the sea area and the possibilities for Allard’s plans for our snowshoe excursions through a projector. Rocking gently in the water of the harbor, we know that tomorrow we will sail to Lundenes Grytøya and from there ascend to a peak on the island Grytøya on our snowshoes.

Day 2 | Harstad Grytoya

To efficiently manage the morning routine for 8 people in 35 minutes, I’m the first one up. We have breakfast, set sail, and head ashore!

Immediately, we put on our snowshoes and step into the Norwegian snow. Wow! In the most beautiful landscape, we gaze out over the fjords, mountains, and landscapes. We embark on a beautiful journey, and at a comfortable pace, we return to the harbor, where skipper Olivier and his mate Leon have just arrived.

Then comes a very beautiful moment. We go back sailing! Though with little wind, but together with the setting sun, we fully enjoy life on this sailboat. We receive information and explanations about all nautical peculiarities and eventually moor in the dark at the port of Lundenes.

Day 3 | Nergårdsvika Bjarkoya Norwegian Sea Nergårdsviak

Once again, I slept well on our ship. Leon boasted about his famous oatmeal yesterday. He didn’t exaggerate! We spot three sea otters playing, doing tricks, and catching fish. We are witnessing it all! Then, I help Olivier, Leon, and Allard refuel the boat with diesel, which only partially succeeds because the pump stops. We sail from the harbor to the anchorage in the fjord from where we embark on a beautiful snowshoe hike with 430 meters of elevation gain.

As the cherry on top of this day, there is also the Northern Lights tonight! What a natural phenomenon to witness. Afterward, we enjoyed a delicious dinner with freshly caught and prepared fish. What more could one ask for? We conclude this day with grateful words. The old cheese, which was brought as extra luggage, is gratefully consumed. Life is good!

Day 4 | Norwegian Sea

Somewhere in the north of Norway, there’s a happy birthday person! As I enter the cabin from my bunk, I see a beautifully decorated chair with a lovely card containing everyone’s wishes on board. I receive wishes and teary eyes (Fisherman friends?). I don’t have to do anything, can just sit down at the breakfast table, and am even served a fried egg! Meanwhile, we’re already sailing. As a seasoned helmsman, I get to operate the tiller. With a maximum speed of 6.2 knots, I’m completely happy.

The afternoon program will be: exploring the island or fishing with Olivier. We anchor off the coast of an uninhabited islet. I choose fishing, while my other friends explore and discover the island with Allard. After Olivier has dropped everyone off on land with the dinghy, he takes me to the better fishing spots at the back of the island. The evening dinner is guaranteed, and Olivier prepares a delicious curry from our catch.

Day 5 | Botnhamn

Slept like a log. Once again, a delightful breakfast provided by Laurence and Resi, oatmeal with cinnamon, apples, and raisins, boiled eggs, and fruit salad. With our bellies full, we depart from the fishing harbor. Unfortunately, no wind, so we’re motoring along. We diesel along nicely, make a 10-minute “pit stop” to fish at 35 meters depth. What bad luck, both Allard and Laurens unfortunately catch nothing. We slowly approach our drop-off point for our snow hike. Olivier takes us to the little beach with the dinghy.

The snowshoes and walking poles are already prepared on the beach. The lines we walk on the slope are very beautiful. Between two streams on the ridge, we hike upwards.

“My back already feels sweaty as the slope increases here and there. Occasionally looking back, we see the Moondance sail away from the bay and ahead of us, the white mass increasing.”

Due to the stormy winds, you can see the most beautiful patterns in the snow surface. The terrain is not easy to traverse. The wind-sculpted, then blown-up surface, partially melted and refrozen again, requires a lot of focus. Occasionally, we catch sight of the Moondance sailing below us. How magnificent to see that at this altitude!

Another delightful dinner is concluded with the daily conversation before we proceed to watch the projector presentation of our sailing and climbing program for the upcoming days.

Day 6 | Norwegian Sea

It’s already the second-to-last day. I wonder what beauty this day will bring us again. After doing the dishes, we hop back into the dinghy with our gear and are dropped off at a beautiful sandy beach. It’s cloudy, the least beautiful day of a whole week of sunshine and three evenings with the most fantastic Northern Lights.

The hiking begins almost immediately with a steep ascent. We are still below the tree line, amidst a labyrinth of smaller birch trees. After 5 km, we reach the highest point. The landscape widens, and everyone walks more or less in their own tracks.

“You feel small in this environment and gain enormous respect for this natural spectacle.”

After a good break for tea, the clouds seem to disappear. Then we turn around the mountain that leads us to the fjord in the valley. We had expected a smooth descent, but several inclines still come under our snowshoes. It starts to lightly snow, and we feel the cold rising from the water.

It’s dark by now. Suddenly, we see a sharp flashlight in the darkness. It’s Olivier waiting for us with his dinghy on the water.

A bit shivering, we step on board the yacht, which is anchored in a unique location right in the middle of the river, 20 minutes later. The snack board is quickly emptied. We enjoy a good meal, and then everyone goes to bed very early.

Day 7 | Travel Day

We’re informed that the tide in the last stretch of sailing to Tromsø will have a significant impact. Olivier has studied the tide table. If we depart at 7:00 a.m., we’ll have the tide with us. Eventually, we sail at more than 8 knots. Everyone comes to the deck to witness the very visible tidal current. Tromsø is already visible in the distance. As we nearly sail under the prominent bridge, we perfectly turn into the harbor on the port side, right on time. With utmost precision, our skipper docks the boat at the quay. We bid farewell to Olivier and Leon and head to the bus that takes us to the airport after this great adventure.

Sjarel, many thanks you for your personal notes!

Have you become enthusiastic?

This upcoming summer, you can already join the Moondance for the combination of sailing and mountain hiking in the Lofoten. Check out the website for summer and winter dates!