By Kim Havell
Doug Stoup, aka "Malibu Doug," once won Battle Dome. Since then he has gone on to more great feats of human power but in a slightly different arena. These feats include expeditions to the farthest corners of the earth, including both Poles, remote areas of Norway, and beyond.
Thanks to over ten years of experience staging North Pole expeditions out of the archipelago of Svalbard, Norway—within the Arctic Circle—Stoup recognized untapped skiing potential in the area, leading him to organize a reconnaissance mission to the region. This past May, Stoup assembled a group of experienced ski adventurers in the sleepy town of Longyearbyn to explore the pristine coast lines of the Northern Island of Spitsbergen in the only way possible—sailboat.
Our crew included a variety of cast members like Keoki Flagg (photographer), Noah Howell (skier and filmmaker, of Powderwhore Productions), Andrew McLean (skier), Ane Enderund (skier), Scott Raynor (owner of Valdez Heli-Guides and skier), Tom Day (skier, filmmaker and one of my Blizzard of Ahhhs heroes), and more.
TRAILER: POWDERWHORE’S ‘BREAKING TRAIL’
The sailboat, the Jonathon IV, is a 60-foot steel hull beauty. As the boat cut through the glassy, protected waters of the fjords and inlets, we scouted out a multitude of routes on an astounding number of peaks from her narrow upper deck. With 24 hours of sunlight and no limits as to when and where we could explore, our group set out with sunscreen on at 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. for alternating sessions of first descents. In small groups of four, we traveled by Zodiac to shore and then began our climbs up to lines ranging from 1,000 to 4,000 feet directly from the ocean.
As part of the journey, Howell documented our Arctic ski discoveries on film, all of which will be revealed on the big screen at Powderwhore's world premiere of their new film, Breaking Trail, on Wednesday, Sept. 28, in Salt Lake City. Transitioning from a purely telemark ski film company, Powerwhore now incorporates riders of all disciplines, meaning Breaking Trail highlights all stripes of human-powered backcountry adventure in settings both foreign and domestic.
Sidenote: No true ski trip can be wrapped without a dance party fueled by some low-grade whiskey. Howell and McLean led the charge in this respect, below deck in Jonathon IV‘s Lito cabin room. If you see them around, it's worth asking them about dancing in tight places. Turns out they know how to gracefully navigate more than just the confines of steep couloirs.
After the world premiere of Breaking Trail, at Brewvies in Salt Lake on Wednesday, a 40 city film tour follows. For information and tour dates: powderwhore.com.
ICE AXE is offering more trips to ski Norway in the spring of 2012. For more photos and information from skiing Svalbard, or to book a spot on one of Ice Axe's adventures, check out iceaxe.tv.