Living in Scandinavia, I’m fairly used to the cold. Compared to the Baltic Sea and Kattegat where I usually surf, the water in northern Norway is actually warmer (less cold might be the more proper wording) during the winter months thanks to the Gulf Stream. For Tom Carroll however, leaving the New South Wales summer for the Arctic Circle, the transition must’ve been more dramatic. The destination, Lofoten Islands by the coast of Norway, had been on my radar for some time and being fed with stunning imagery through Social Media from this seemingly magical place, my expectations for the trip were high. It is said that expectations ruin the experience, but Lofoten surpassed my wildest dreams and I left with a memory for life. Here’s Tom’s own words about the trip to Norway. (Photos by Kian Bourke-Steer & Olivier Morin)
When I found out I was coming up to Norway I scanned the internet for images of Unstad. The whole idea of surfing there seemed so foreign from my home beach of Avalon in Sydney’s Northern Beaches where we surf in 22deg waters and 30deg air temps this time of year. Then to suddenly land and surf with ice on the ground, snow everywhere, layers of clothes to take off and then all that rubber to get into and, out of, was quite a shock. But I my enthusiastism to feel what it was like for the surfers of Norway and Sweden swallowed any barriers that were evident to start with. Unstad right and beachbreak surprised me with their strength. I especially wanted to ride the “Garbage Dump” left at the southern edge of the bay but it didn’t turn on, maybe next time!
I have never surfed, snowboarded and SUP surfed all in one day!! “Intense overload of stimulation” is an understatement. Our first day was a real window into Lofoten Isd surf/mountain freeride lifestyle potential. I was absolutely exhausted by the time the sun had gone down we ended up in Tommy Olsen’s beachside sauna in the snow. Super exotic experience for me.
I have never hiked to snowboard. Always hit the resort with comfort of lifts or on a few trips helli boarding in New Zealand and USA.
I learnt the saying “earn your turns” in the most friendly way with the privileged of having an awesome crew which made the challenge of hiking a pleasure on the day. Was exhilarating making the top of our chosen route and seeing the vertical drop on the other side of the mountain range. I can’t believe I made it through those rocks!
Stunning is all I can say, I am still soaking in my memories of this most extraordinary place. Probably the most constantly spectacular place I have ever visited, every corner I drove around to explore brought more and more beautiful scenery. Everyone was friendly and welcoming too!
Tommy and Marion from Unstad Arctic Surf were wonderful hosts pouring love into each mouthful of food and attentive care and humour into all activities, never ever a dull moment!
Finally I have to say a massive thank you to SurfEars, Christian & Magnus for making the whole journey into the Arctic circle possible!!
“In Cod We Trust”
Slippery roads created a need for a good team effort.
IN COD WE TRUST – Lofoten street art. January trough April is the main fishing season for arctic cod. Marion from Unstad Arctic Surf spoiled us every night with fresh cod and other local food cooked in a traditional Norwegian manner.
Christian, the inventor of SurfEars, finds his rhythm at Unstad right.
Arctic Party wave – Two legends: local Tommy Olsen and Tom Carroll
Huge thanks to the great people at Unstad Arctic Surf for organizing the trip. For more information about the surf camp check out their website at unstadarcticsurf.com.
Also thanks to surfshop.no, Nordic Surfer Mag and Olivier Morin Photography.