Mountain Memories #4

Todays photo is from June 2007 and shows a young Bryn Williams together with Tim & Rich. We were on a climbing trip to the Lofoten Isles.

I volunteered to sort the travel logistics and when I decided on a strategy of how we were going to get to this remote chain of Islands, North of the Arctic circle in Norway, I think I probably sorted my options by price order – lowest first. If I had the internet it would have been dialup and even in 2007 there wasn’t the information available that there is today – at least thats my excuse and I’m sticking to it. 

We flew to Oslo. That bit was fine. We then hired a car and drove to Lofoten. That wasn’t quite so fine. I had booked us a ferry for the next day to get across to the islands and so we had a deadline. What looked like a 12 hour drive turned into much more of an epic. I hadn’t realised that there were virtually no motorways on our route once we left Oslo. 

To beat the clock we ended up driving in two hours stints continuously for 23 hours, rooting round the car in turn so that those in the back could sleep whilst those in the front drove or navigated. We had some fairly diverse music tastes in the group and so developed a rule that the driver could play the tunes of their choice on their iPod. Mysteriously mine went missing part the way through the journey. 

Thankfully we made it in time to catch the ferry I had booked. 

Our first clue that this wasn’t the car ferry I had imagined was when our hire car was lifted by forklift truck into the side of the ship. The second clue came when we were welcomed aboard and asked to check in at reception, making sure we made our dinner reservation on the way through. 

The “ferry” turned out to be a rather nice cruise ship that was making a tour of the Norwegian Fjords and stopping at Lofoten along the way. When we arrived for dinner (in pretty much the clothes you see in the photo, this was a camping trip for us after all) we were sent off to the four corners of the dining room to try and minimise the impact on the other guests. I sat with a lovely couple celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary in style with full evening attire. 

When we arrived on Lofoten we were pleased to establish that campgrounds were free of charge, had a water supply and toilets and the weather was amazing. We bummed around for a couple of days, soaked up the sunshine, made plans, did some easy climbing and psyched ourselves up for all the amazing lines we would do over the two weeks. With 24 hour daylight and wall to wall sunshine there was no rush at all. 

Then it started raining. 

And it didn’t really stop. The whole time. 

We still did some cool stuff. We climbed “The Goat” above Svolvaer, watched Hot Fuzz many times at the cinema (as that was the only place on the island that was dark), did doughnuts in the hire car (a Nissan Almera in case you were wondering), climbed a big hill with snow on, had many open fires and slept quite a lot. We also went to a pub that looked like a private shop from the outside and was very expensive. 

On the way home we decided to stretch the journey out as the weather was naff. I think it took 3 days of more normal driving back to Oslo. Rich had a friend who worked in the oil business which meant they had a swanky penthouse apartment in the financial district. We got lucky as we arrived on the night of a concert and so lived the high life with live music courtesy of the Spice Girls or someone like that. I remember Tim nearly got arrested for driving beer in public. 

My iPod never did turn up.