We look up to the snowbound pass coming in and out of view, knowing that beyond the lip, concealed in swirling, disorienting mist, lies the glacier that we have to cross. We’ve been frustratingly imprisoned in our tent on the same patch of tundra for the last 40 hours, restlessness gnawing at us as we wait for the conditions to clear. Our food reserves dwindling, we should attempt to cross the glacier soon or admit defeat and descend down the valley.
It’s strange to think that a road runs along the fjord less than six miles away to the west. But we’ve seen trace of neither human nor beast for four days and, hemmed in by steep mountains, civilization seems a long way away.
More than 200 miles north of the arctic circle, the same latitude as northern Alaska, my Swedish chum Björn and I find ourselves midway through a week-long circuit of North Norway’s Lyngen Alps, where 24-hour light – if not blue skies – reigns for three months during the summer.
Host to some of the most spectacular scenery in Scandinavia, the Lyngen Alps, east of the city of Tromsø, boast a high concentration of impressive peaks, including ice-capped summits soaring to 6000 feet, jewel-like lakes, wild V-shaped valleys, glaciers, and huge waterfalls plummeting into fjords – all of this crammed into an isthmus of land less than 15 miles wide and some 50 long jutting out between the North Atlantic and the Barents Sea.
Entombed in the tent, my mind drifts like the mist itself. I think back to two days previously when the clouds had temporarily lifted and in startling sunshine we had traversed steep snowfields plunging at a 45-degree angle into a deep azure lake, where even in August ice floes still drifted in it. On the opposite, southern shore, meanwhile, a steep glacier calved into its waters. It had been one of the most magical lakes I had seen anywhere – and it didn’t even have a name on the map.
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