Archive for February, 2011

Sunny Days & Moonlit Nights

Last week we had beautiful weather; not a cloud in sight for several days. I was working quite a lot of shifts, but one afternoon I decided to take the long way to work to enjoy the sunshine and take some photos. The yellow house in the photo below (as well as all the other buildings in the photo) belongs to the open air museum at the south tip of Tromsø island. It’s a collection of buildings “rescued” from places all around the area and moved to the museum. The museum is only open for a couple of hours on sundays in the summer season, and even then you can only really visit 2 buildings. Still, the buildings are very pretty. The panorama is taken on my way up the hill, looking back at the fjord and the only farm area on Tromsø island.

These buildings belong to the open air museum at the south tip of Tromsø island A view towards the farm area at Holt

We had quite a lot of new snow the week before… though this person probably hasn’t cleared his car for the whole winter. As the streets are cleared by snowploughs, the piles of snow directly next to the road can become very high. Some traffic signs get buried, as do some of the bus stands – at this one you’ll have to dig if you want to read the time table 😀

Some people don't seem to need their car all winter! The new snow causes some minor problems: you have to dig to read the timetable of the bus!

I worked a late shift that day, and at about 22:00, the most amazing northern lights appeared. I watched from the roof of the institute for a bit, hoping it would last for a while so I could take some photos after work. At 23:00, I was done with work, but the northern lights had also disappeared. I decided to take a chance and drive to a dark place anyway. Well, “dark”, that was actually impossible to find as the moonlight was incredibly bright that night! I drove into a valley which is not very populated. The road leads to a ferry that had stopped for the night, so there was hardly any traffic. It was so beautiful in the moonlight… I stopped to take some photos, hoping the northern lights would reappear. Unfortunately, they never did, but I didn’t regret going as it was beautiful nonetheless.

The valley leading from Ramfjorden to Breivik. It was so incredibly clear in the moonlight - and incredibly cold too! The moon shining through the trees

I had the next day off, and convinced Paul to take a day off too. We drove to Nordkjosbotn, about an hour inland from Tromsø. We saw this majestic eagle on the sea ice of one of the fjords…

A big eagle on a frozen fjord

We went snowshoeing in a valley, enjoying the sunshine. The wind was very strong, so we opted for a sheltered valley instead of a windy mountain top. We watched the sun go down 🙂

Snowshoeing Paul enjoying the last rays of sunlight

And the moon rise… In this photo you can also see how windy it is higher up in the mountains – lots of snow blowing from the top!

The moon rising above the mountains

We had dinner at Nordkjosbotn, and waited for the darkness to come. We found a nice beach where we waited for the northern lights to appear… this time we were lucky! They weren’t very active, this band stayed in the same place all evening. It was very dim most of the time (also having to compete with the bright moonlight), but at times it would become brighter.

Northern lights seen from a beach This band stayed pretty much in the same place for hours, but the brightness kept changing

With the bright moonlight, we also took a self portrait 🙂 and one of our shadows to show just how sharp they were. I kept looking behind me for some bright street lamp which wasn’t there 😀

The bright moonlight enabled us to take a nice Valentines portrait :) Showing how sharp our shadows were in the bright moonlight!

It was a beautiful week… and we ended it by going to Senja for the weekend. I have lots of photos of that trip, now I only have to find the time to post them here 🙂 stay tuned!

Ullstinden

This weekend the weather in Tromsø was perfect for skiing. On Friday night we got about 25 cm of fresh snow and for the rest of the weekend had clear blue skies. I decided to ski up Ullstinden, a mountain about 1000 m high on the the mainland about 45 minutes drive from Tromsø. Ullstind roughly translates to the wool mountain, which is a good description. Ullstinden is easy to climb, faces into the afternoon sun, frequently has good snow conditions and is usually very safe from an avalanche perspective.

The Moon Above Ullstinden Looking southwest towards Kvaløya from half way up Ullstinden

About two thirds of the way up Ullstinden splits into two peaks with a sort of valley between them. The valley floor affords good views of the Lyngen Alps to the North. Many of the Lyngen Alps are too tough for my level of skiing, but some of them are quite easy. Although the area is very exciting I have never yet skied there because I don’t like the prospect of having to be back before the last ferry. This is one place I would love to see a new tunnel built!

Looking northeast towards the Lyngen Alps The moon over the Lyngen Alps

Somewhere between the valley and the top the sun began to set, but there was still plenty of light to ski by.

Sunset on Ullstinden Close to the top tracks left by different skiers start to converge on the summit.

The snow at the top of Ullstinden was drier and more powdery than further down, but not so deep or powdery that it was hard to climb up though.

Almost there.. just one more photo of Lyngen This is as close I got to a self-portrait as it was too windy to faff about balancing the camera on something ;-)

I didn’t spend very long on the top as it was quite windy and I wanted to ski down while there was some daylight as well as moonlight. While the view from the top is very nice, it’s not all that different to the view from two thirds of the way up.

Small cornice just below the summit Some nice untracked snow... but not for very long ;-)

Skiing down into the sunset was really nice. The snow was more or less as purple as it looks in the photos and the nice gentle slope provided an lazy cruise back to the car.

Powdery purpleness

I hope these conditions last for a while!

PS: Thanks to Hanneke for sorting all out my pictures while I sat on the sofa 🙂

Blåmannsvikdalen

It’s been blowing a gale this weekend, which prevented us from going up any mountains. It’s also quite cold (for Tromsø), -8 °C which makes it feel really cold with the added windchill. We wanted some fresh air anyway, so we went snowshoeing in the valley next to Blåmann, called Blåmannsvikdalen. It’s a very narrow valley surrounded by beautiful mountains. Luckily, the valley was quite sheltered from the wind.

The entrance to Blåmannsvikdalen, with Blåmann on the right and Buren on the left Paul in the valley

This cabin was near the parking place, they built it so close to the edge of the water!

A cabin at dusk. The long exposure (13 sec) makes the water smooth, and you can also see movement in the tree :)

Hopefully the weather will improve soon. We’ve hardly seen the sun in the past week! The week before that, we soaked up some extra sunshine though, while skiing in the French Alps. Photos of that are coming soon!