If we had to describe how northern Norway makes us feel, “familiar” is the word that comes to mind. From the steep, vast fjords, to the kind-hearted people, to the stable snow underfoot as we climb and ride mountains in every direction. Norway is our happy place, and returning this spring, even despite a dwindling snowpack, was exactly as we’d hoped - freeing and familiar.
Two years ago, Sean developed the idea for a group of us to visit the Lyngen Alps of Norway, high above the Arctic Circle, where the hours of daylight far outnumber darkness and where helicopter accessed backcountry is illegal. We chose to immerse ourselves in a culture that actively encourages backcountry ski/splitboard touring. It’s a place where freedom camping (camping wherever you want) is accepted; where you can climb mountains in every direction and ride all the way down to the fjords. It’s a place where we find complete freedom of mind, body and spirit.
With our four-season tent, sleeping bags and camping necessities in tow, we arrived in the Lyngen Alps this past May, ready for a chance to reflect, explore and shred. Each day we would venture out, climping the frigid peaks and each night we would return to base camp, our muscles sore from the day’s climb. Windy conditions near the summits required us to don crampons for much of the trip, which left space for challenging ascents and rewarding rides down.
For a few days during our Norway adventure, we drove south to explore the Lofoten Islands - an archipelago marked by stunningly unique scenery; mountains and peaks, open sea and sheltered bays, beaches and untouched lands and industrial fishing culture. A few hours into our drive, we started to notice the scenic change from Lyngen, seeing new zones and their potential in the mountains and enjoying the traditional fishing villages along the road.
On one day, we toured up a peak still covered in a decent amount of snow. After a long morning ascent that included skinning, a bit of scrambling up rocky faces, and more skinning, we reached the top and took a few moments to breathe and make a mental note of the sacred place. He was in our thoughts that day, having just experienced the death of a close friend. Right on cue, a majestic raven soared up over our heads, circled around and flew off to sea, leaving a feeling of familiarity. Whether you believe in them or not, it’s moments like that ground us, and assure us that we’re not just traveling around aimlessly (to places like Norway). Rather, our trips are intentional, familiar, and wildly freeing - energizing us before returning back to work, life and our day-to-day routine.
After this second trip above the Arctic Circle of Norway, we didn’t just return to a routine back in Montana. We took home a bit of the spontaneity of freedom camping, the challenge of daily touring, and a renewed assurance of the purpose of the mountains in our lives. Ultimately renewing what we’ve known all along. The mountains - like Norway - are familiar. And from the familiar, we find comfort to expand our horizons and go beyond what we think we’re capable of.
A day on the snow is a wonderful thing and spreading the love of riding can be pure joy. On Friday, March 6th the crew from 686, including professional snowboarder Forest Bailey, took their recently formed Compton Snow Club (a select group of students from the Watts/Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club) up to Mt. High, CA for an enjoyable day on snow. For most of the club members, Compton, CA locals, this was their first introduction to not just snowboarding, but the element that has brought us here at 686 so much joy throughout our life - snow.
Check out the kids frist day on the snow below. Good times were had by all. Be sure to pass on the stoke of snow to those around you throughout the year as well!
All Compton Snow Club goods are available NOW! A portion of all proceeds will go directly to supporting the Watts/Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club.
Thank you to Mt. High and Forest Bailey for being a huge part of one of the funnest days we at 686 have ever been party to.
Sunday, April 5, marked the beginning of a spring tradition - the 686 attending, and wreaking havoc on, Snowboarder Magazine's Superpark. After standout parties last season at the 686 house, we look to continue the tradition of letting the good times loose out at Seven Springs, PA. Tune in all week to @686 on instagram to get daily updates from the team.
Summer edit from Max Lyons. Who dat Who dat? Max Lyons shows everyone how do to it proper in Mt Hood Oregon for the Summer. Keep your eyes out for this kid in the future!
We are super excited to be working with the #fatheroffreestyle Terry Kidwell on his new line with 686. Please click the link below and enrich your mind and soul with one of the most influential riders that has ever set foot on a snowboard! #fatheroffreestyle #686 #hightechgoodtimes Snowboarder Magazine