Mr David Howie, Head of Outdoor Pursuits at Loretto School , reports on this summer’s Borealis Society North Norway Expedition.
“Twelve 6th Form pupils and two members of staff (myself as leader and Mr Nigel Bidgood as deputy) together with two female assistant leaders from outside Loretto, have returned from a successful 30-day mountaineering expedition to North Norway which took place in July-August 2015. The build up to this major expedition was well underway many months ago (in the summer of 2014) when I visited the two areas the expedition team would journey through. During this visit I carried out a reconnaissance of the most arduous sections of the routes, including climbing a couple of mountains coming across reindeer and white-tailed eagles on the Lyngen peninsular. I returned wholly enthusiastic about the expedition areas having gained valuable local knowledge.
Training started in earnest in the Spring Term of 2015 with weekly practice sessions on navigation, learning about equipment and visiting Tiso's to equip the team with suitable mountain boots and clothing. A 5-day practice expedition in the Lake District followed the end of term - which started with torrential rain as we drove into the National Trust campsite in Langdale. The next 5 days were very wet and cold with extremely high winds as a series of depressions swept across the country. As a result, plenty of practice was gained in wild camping, cooking and surviving wet days of wild weather. The team undertook day walks gaining a few summits when weather permitted. To maintain team spirits in the extreme weather conditions, we took advantage of the many cafes around the Lakes to sustain ourselves with hot chocolate drinks and ample helpings of locally made cakes. To give perspective to the conditions, there were three other school groups in the area, all of which had their tents destroyed in the gales and they all had to abandon their expedition! In the summer term training sessions continued with food planning, equipment preparation and fitness training.
The expedition team travelled by air to Tromso in North Norway from Edinburgh at the end of Summer Term. Tromso was our base for 24 hrs while we gathered fuel and 5 days food for phase 2 - this would be stored on board our chartered boat whilst we completed our first phase. We travelled by boat through the fjords to the north end of Ringvassoya (island) where the team
trekked across the island, climbed three mountains whilst encountering much snow from a late winter in May. Campsites were wild, with tents pitched on soft springy moss beds with lakes and the mountains, we would climb to the south, always in our view. The weather was clear yet there was a cool arctic airstream present throughout our route across the island.
The team boarded the boat and the journey took 5 hours through broad fjords and amid Spectacular mountain and cliff scenery of the Lyngen peninsular. Fishing off the boat was a new experience for many of the team members before landing on North Lyngen. After a reconnaissance of the route to a glacier camp plans were adjusted due to the dangerous slopes up into a glacier lake system. Undaunted, the leaders hatched a plan B and the following two weeks saw the team venture through high mountain country, climbing a number of peaks via a few impressive glacier crossings which cascaded out of high mountain cirques. Reindeer were encountered at close quarters and a number of eagles were spotted high above the valleys. Our final peak, Fastdalstinden was climbed as the weather was turning murky but the team were rewarded with views across Lyngen fjord before a wet descent ensued.
The journey back to Tromso was broken with a surprise stop for the team where they enjoyed a traditional cod fish dish prepared beautifully and caught locally. This was a fine meal after what had been a most memorable expedition journey. Tromso, food and much rest was then experienced by the team.”
Loretto Sixth Form pupils taking part were - Elizabeth Kington, Annabel Wood, Annabel McLean, Helen Montgomery, Ellis Gibb, Lorimer Macandrew, Eleanor Fraser, Brittany Emmett, Katy Ramage, Matthew Walters, Liam Cook, Spenser Plakaris