Ski Conditions

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Ski conditions in Nord Troms - Arnøya and Kågen

Arnøya and Kågen, Skjervøy - Northern Norway

Ski Conditions

I skied in the last days on the islands of Arnøya and Kågen in Skjervøy (near Lyngen), Northern Norway. We have had an atypical season, with basically no snow January – Mid March, followed by strong, intense snowfalls over Easter. That has produced a widespread persistent weak layer (PWL) of facets under (and, to some extend, over) a crust, that scared skiers from from Nordland to Nord Troms for the majority of the season. The persistent weak layer showed to be less developed on Arnøya and Kågen, due to a generally thicker and solid snowpack. April was on average abnormally warm, with high freezing levels in the night, and no real melt-freeze cycles that we usually see in April.
29 April we headed up the NE glacier (to 980m) of Arnøyhøgda, finding 30-40cm of dense new snow, sitting on the previous moist-wet snow. Skiing quality was good, the HS (height of snow) exceeded the 320cm of my probe. Test pits produced no notable results. As in prior excursions, I could not detect the persistent weak layer that could be observed farther south in Lyngen or Kåfjord.
30 April we ascended Arnøyhødga (1165m). Due to overnight freeze and radiation cooling, the snow stability was good all along the SW route, despite warm daytime temperatures. I shoveled a deep track into the narrow summit ridge, thus ascending the summit proper should be possible for sure-footed folks now. On the descend down the NE route we found excellent conditions, dry to moist new snow on a hard base. On 1 May, after a good overnight freeze, we skied corn snow in the Urtinden south bowl. Rotten snow was limited to 0-200m elevation. I recorded an HS of 225cm at 500m. The sun was intense, and several loose-wet could be observed throughout the day on the steep SE and S slopes. Redotinden (820m, Kågen) south face provided good skiing at noon on 2 May, with corn/slush that supported wide skis. People with narrow skis definitely felt the lack of support and softness of the snowpack.
On 3 May we did the NE-W traverse of Store Kågtinden (1228m). The NE route was completely tracked out. The west shoulder provided good skiing until about 450m, then it got notably soft. Traversing around the SW-S aspect of Store Kågtinden in the afternoon is not recommended at the moment – you punch through an isothermal snowpack with large slopes above. Instead, ascending the NW slopes of Redotinden and skiing out through Trolldalen is recommended. Steep south slopes were producing size 1-2 wet loose slides throughout the afternoon. Breikågen (683m) provided good spring skiing on 4 May down to sea level. The surface was compacted by wind throughout the winter, and got less affected by the warmth.

Overall, more and more warmth is getting trapped in the snowpack. N-NE facing aspects with thicker snowpacks and less direct radiation are taking the warm temperatures better. There is still some uncertainty about the weak layer. With more and more warmth getting into the snow and the snowpack getting thinner, I wonder if we will see occasional activity on the weak layer in the next days. In addition, probing showed occasionally a crust and facet development between the older wet snow and the more recent snow. No results in pit test yet, but worth noting.

Quality skiing can still be found - particularly N-NE aspects - with the right aspect choices and timing. I expect this to be the case for another few weeks.

On The Map

These observations and opinions are those of the person who submitted them. The ACMG and its members take no responsibility for errors, omissions, or lapses in continuity. Conditions differ greatly over time and space due to the variable nature of mountain weather and terrain. Application of this information provides no guarantee of increased safety. Do not use the Mountain Conditions Report as the sole factor in planning trips or making decisions in the field.