It was rainy sunday afternoon on end of may. I was walking out from local swim hall in Rovaniemi when the phone rang.
¨ Hey Antti, me & the guide crew are going to Svalbard. Plan is to cruise the coastline for a week & hike mountains straight from the sea. Do you want to go? There is no camera crew, just checking lines for your next project and enjoying arctic atmosphere. ¨ Offer came from Arctic Guides founder Anders Bergwall with whom I have been working past two winters in Swedish Lapland.
This was an offer which I could not refuse. It was type of trip where my girlfriend Ella could also join. For the first time in my career I had a chance to go to place only to scout for future and have a real snowboarding holiday at same time. Summer was officially pushed back & we were going to Svalbard!
My first impression when arriving in Svalbard was that there is so many mountains around. There is enough descents for one man’s lifetime. But what really impressed me the most was the ship we were about to live during the expedition. I had never been staying in a ship like this before. Although it was old fashioned it had all the best equipments for navigation and safety. To me all the keys for great trip start from the place you stay because it is where you spend most of your time outside the mountains. In this occasion I can say that MS.Origo just might be the coolest accommodation/transport I have used on a trip.
Approaching the mountains thru water is very fascinating. You jump from a ship to zodiac boat which takes you to shore & once you are in land first thing you need to do is to make sure to watch for polar bears. Once the ¨bear factor¨ is checked you start ascending up the mountains that literally grow from the fjords.
Main focus on the trip was to check lines for next year. This meant that I hardly got to ride anything that I would normally ride. Everyday I set my eyes on location that would give me the best view possible for the lines that looked interesting. Basically every time I reached the top it felt like this could be one the spots where filmers could be filming in upcoming season. It was great to stand on that side for once and really take time to look things more widely.
Wildlife comes right under your nose in Svalbard. Only thing you need to do is to be patient and stay awake since most of the time animals move much more during the night. Of course guides who know where the wales, bears, birds and walruses move helps too.
When I go on a snowboard trip there is always stuff that stands out more than others. Usually it is something that involves riding because it’s the main reason on the trip. Svalbard however was something different. It was a trip which included snowboarding but it was not everything. It was all about experiencing arctic nature in it’s wildest form. This trip was great reminder that you should never go an trip with only one thing in your mind. You need to have options until last minute and being able to enjoy the time without knowing what will happen next is one of most important things being out there!