Norway (2): The Ice Canyon

 
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So, did we get cold enough last time then? No?

Well you’d better grab a blanket for your knees. Up to now we haven’t ventured far above sea level, but I can’t let you off quite that easily. Today we’re heading up into the mountains..

 
 

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The landscape here, close to the border with Finland, reminds me so much of the European Alps with their flat bottomed glacial valleys. A road cuts across the valley floor. Around about the point it disappears into those trees we start a rapid rise, negotiating a series of steep hairpin bends. Reindeer herds are reputed to wander these slopes but, sadly, not that day.

At the end of the road, an area of cleared ground. The comfort of the car must be forsaken here, for this is the place where we get out and walk. We’re advised to dress for the arctic, ho ho. I took them at their word. Leggings under fleece lined trousers. Two pairs of socks. Four layers of shirt, sweatshirts and fleece under a well padded coat. Scarf, gloves and a distress purchase beanie from the hotel that morning. I am no lover of hats, but this last item turned out to be an exceedingly good call. Oh.. and no contact lenses either. The previous day it had been so cold the lenses felt as if they were curling up and freezing on my eyeballs. Not a pleasant experience I can tell you. Things righted themselves quickly enough once back under cover, but on a bleak mountainside with no shelter for hours? Not worth the risk.

 
 

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Kitted out with crampons. You know how much I’ve been wanting a pair of these! Not with the spikes that I’d need for the Precipitous Bank, these had studs. But perfect for crossing the mountain terrain and providing a little extra grip on paths often embellished with a gleaming coat of ice.

 
 

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This was our destination, a chasm in the rock

 
 

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As we progressed further along the path the crevasse became deeper, until..

 
 

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Gorsabrua

Our Austrian guides proudly told us that the bridge had been engineered in their home country. It’s relatively recent: opened in the summer of 2011. Given the impossibility of access any other way, the whole construction was lifted in by helicopter and lowered gently into place.

 

But nothing, nothing prepares you for the view should you venture out over the abyss..

 
 

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It’s so difficult to capture scale in a still photograph. From the bridge to the floor of the canyon there’s a drop of 153m (502 ft). In summer water flows freely from the top to the bottom but now the waterfall is almost completely frozen.

 
 

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In the warmer months there is bungee jumping from the bridge into this incredibly narrow space.

Er.. no, me neither. But there are videos on the internet if you’re brave enough to watch. Just google Gorsabrua.

 
 

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Our guides preparing a barbecue lunch before the hike back to the road. And very welcome it was too.

With darkness beginning to close in again your intrepid blogger, notwithstanding upholstered to the proportions of the Michelin man, was starting to get seriously cold.

 
 

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On our final day of exploring, sunrise and sunset merged into one giving a glorious pink sky for all of the ‘daylight’ hours. By this time we hadn’t seen the yellow orb itself for five days, only the very tops of the mountain peaks basked in its light. Photography is so challenging in these low light conditions but the shots do capture the atmosphere, I hope.

 
 

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Would we go back?

 
 

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Absolutely.

 
 
 
Norway_ The Ice Canyon
 
 
 
 

2017-02-16T19:43:37+00:00 December 7th, 2015|Tags: |78 Comments

78 Comments

  1. Sam December 7, 2015 at 11:44 am - Reply

    Gosh, these photos are so atmospheric and definitely very beautiful, despite the low light levels. They’re probably lovelier because of it. You write very evocatively about this place and I certainly have a yen to go there now.

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 7:18 pm - Reply

      I think we caught the timing just right for the atmospheric sky. A week later and we’d have missed the sun on the mountain peaks. It must be really dark there now!

  2. derrickjknight December 7, 2015 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Great pictures. I could never have gone up there

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 7:21 pm - Reply

      It was a bit of a heart-stopping moment when I first looked down. There is no prior hint of just how deep it’s going to be!

  3. Val Finnegan December 7, 2015 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    What a beautiful place. Your photos are fantastic & make me want to travel there & have that experience for myself. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 7:28 pm - Reply

      Hi Val, thanks and welcome! I was quite taken with Norway I must admit. I’d definitely go back.

  4. Jayne Hill December 7, 2015 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Jaw droppingly utterley fantabulous! {{wipes envious drool off keyboard, adds to “List of places I want to visit if I ever leave the country again” }}

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 7:34 pm - Reply

      One of the best things is that it’s not too far to go. Rather bitty with a couple of flights and driving etc, but in nice manageable chunks and no jet lag.
      Hope conditions are improving a bit up there.

  5. pagedogs December 7, 2015 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    Your photos are exquisite. I watched a video of the summer bungee jumping. Nope, not me, crazy narrow. But the summertime waterfall is pretty amazing.

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 7:36 pm - Reply

      It’s scary stuff isn’t it! Watching the face of the chap about to do the back flip… said it all.

  6. Vera December 7, 2015 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Jessica, Jessica, Jessica……..perhaps it was because I had had a morning on my feet baking cakes and pies so I was needing a sit down, perhaps it was because I had had lunch but not the dessert so perhaps my sugar levels were low….but really…. was happily reading your blog….got to the bridge photo, then had the weirdest sensation in the pit of my stomach as I arrived at the chasm photos. I kid you not, I really thought I was standing on that bridge and looking down at the drop. Five minutes later and I still have a nervous feeling in my stomach, so I think I shall go and have a lie down to recover! PS. Lovely photos.

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 7:40 pm - Reply

      Oops.. sorry Vera. Heights don’t normally bother me (too much) but it took me a while to adjust. Thankfully the bridge wasn’t at all wobbly, otherwise I’d have been out of there.

  7. Julieanne December 7, 2015 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Breathtaking. I love the way you manage to capture some of the light on the tops of the mountains as the sun was out briefly. And the way you can almost see frozen mist in the Gorsabrua canyon. Norway is on ‘my list’ and we even have people we can stay with there. But I’ll have to visit in summer as the cold triggers v. bad ME pain. I’ll enjoy your winter photos in the meantime. I’m not surprised you would go back. It looks truly stunningly beautiful. Great blogposts.

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks. There’s still (was) some water falling into the canyon, it looks to be coming from a fast flowing stream. Further upstream we saw the water pooling and travelling along under a sheet of ice. Quite amazing.

  8. Backlane Notebook December 7, 2015 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    What a magical landscape and a perfect adventure pre-Christmas.

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      Christmas came early with all the snow!

  9. woolythymes December 7, 2015 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    And to think you even considered a warm beach vacation when you had THIS! WOW. Absolutely incredible. Fine photography job, too. (I hope there might be more!!!! I hope I hope I hope!!!!!)

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:08 pm - Reply

      He still owes me the beach. I’m not going to let him forget it either… 🙂

  10. FlowerAlley December 7, 2015 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    I feel like I just went on an adventure! You are my hero. I soooooo loved this. Thank you.

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:10 pm - Reply

      Oh gosh… you’re welcome!

  11. CJ December 7, 2015 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    Wow, it’s absolutely breathtaking. I’m feeling a bit teary now, goodness knows what I’d be like if I was actually there. It really looks like the holiday of a lifetime. And as of now, it’s on my bucket list. So glad you had such a wonderful time. CJ xx

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:12 pm - Reply

      Take thermals. Take layers of thermals. When we were looking at the weather forecasts before we left it was saying about -1 or thereabouts. Ha! Easy! Noooo…
      Thanks CJ.

  12. justjilluk December 7, 2015 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    Fantastic photos. But -am I tempted? No!

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      It was a wee bit cold. Thanks Jill.

  13. Christina December 7, 2015 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Dear Jessica, again great photos from Norway. This country surely doesn’t lack beauty, icy beauty that is! The Gorsabrua cleft is totally amazing. I don’t know how you managed to look down there, though, let alone taking a photo. Thanks for taking us with you on your adventures.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:24 pm - Reply

      I left Mike to take the photos. He is far more knowledgeable when it comes to the technicalities of the camera. But also because it’s his camera. Can you imagine if I had dropped it?
      Thanks Christina.

  14. annincumbria December 7, 2015 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    All the above comments and more, thank you for sharing.

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:24 pm - Reply

      Thank you Ann.

  15. Lindsay December 7, 2015 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Wow, absolutely stunning photography! I loved reading about your adventures (even if I got chilly just thinking about being out in that cold)! I’d never heard of Gorsabrua but after enjoying your wonderfully descriptive post I sure would like to go there now!

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      Hi Lindsay, thank you and welcome! It is beautiful, I’m not sure I could cope with the long dark winters though. I’d be flying to Hawaii!

  16. Island Threads December 7, 2015 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    it does look beautiful, but very cold, reminds me of northern Canada, the cold and beauty, the mountains look different, I know how difficult the low light can be, at this time of year my flash sometimes goes when I take a photo outside, the bridge looks pretty solid, not swinging in the wind, if you can, go back when it’s warmer, the contrast is amazing, I was fortunate enough to walk a frozen canyon in Jasper park, then even more fortunate to visit again a few years later in summer, the water was amazing and looked more dangerous than the ice had, just as well you have enjoyed it despite the cold ……………..
    beautiful photos, especially love the pink cloud photo, I am surprised by the lack of snow in the valley I would have expected a completely white landscape, is it nearish the sea, Frances

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:43 pm - Reply

      It was odd that there was so little snow up there, plenty of it on the coast funnily enough. Perhaps it’s true what they say about it getting too cold to snow. Or maybe that valley is just sheltered by the mountains. Jasper sounds wonderful. I have to admit I’m a bit taken with winter landscapes now. Might have to visit that one too.

  17. Jacqueline December 7, 2015 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Oh Jessica ….. AMAZING photographs and what an experience. I love the images of the mountains, half in the sun and half in the shade and that pink hue ….. just beautiful….. and the Ice Canyon …. one of those jaw-dropping, intake of breath moments I would think. XXXX

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      I loved the pink sky! It was just so odd that it carried on from sunrise to sunset.

  18. frayed at the edge December 7, 2015 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    Absolutely stunning photos!!

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      Thanks Anne.

  19. Kris P December 7, 2015 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    Another set of wonderful photos Jessica! I’m not afraid of heights but I think that view into the crevasse would have given me pause. And, yes, it looks very, very cold. In fact, I found myself rubbing my hands together here, even with the temperature nearly 76F/24C outside.

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:48 pm - Reply

      It certainly gave me pause. Mostly because it was so unexpected. Just around the corner from there we were only slightly above the level of the stream where it enters the canyon. And then all of a sudden, a 500 ft drop! Awesome.

  20. Denise December 7, 2015 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    Just makes you realise how enormous this planet is, and how tiny we are by comparison. Very thought-provoking.

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      Yes indeed.

  21. snowbird December 7, 2015 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    What stunning scenery, nature in all her splendour. What a beautiful planet we live on.xxx

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:51 pm - Reply

      We do. If only we could keep it that way.

  22. Joanne December 7, 2015 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    What an absolutely beautiful place to visit, lucky you x

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:55 pm - Reply

      Thanks Joanne.

  23. Sarah December 7, 2015 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Wow it looks stunning, I can see why you would love to go back! That must have been so sore with your contact lens and something you won’t have thought about prior to your journey! Sarah x

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 8:58 pm - Reply

      I think it was just the first day and I wasn’t acclimatised to the cold. Not very comfortable though, you’re right!

  24. Charlie@Seattle Trekker December 7, 2015 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    I’ve hiked in the mountains for years and for some time I’ve wanted a set of crampons to get safely above the snowline. After extensive discussions at home it was agreed that the money would be set aside to buy a pair, that was with the provision that I would not wear them above the snowline. They hang in my office and get dusted regularly, or I suspect that they get inspected for an adequate layer of dust…Marriage is complex.

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      It certainly is! Could you not just dust the snow off before you got home?

  25. jannaschreier December 7, 2015 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    I had a similar problem (minus the light issue) trying to photograph the Rockies this summer. You’ve clearly got the hang of it much more than I did, though. They are quite incredibly photos; we all want to go.

    • Jessica December 7, 2015 at 9:06 pm - Reply

      Easy flight from London Janna. Direct to Tromsø from Gatwick…

  26. Amy at love made my home December 7, 2015 at 10:44 pm - Reply

    OMG!!!! It is SOOOOOOOOOO beautiful!!!! I am though SOOOOOOO glad that you took us along with you because there is absolutely NO way that I could have crossed that bridge! It is incredible, you must have felt as though you were in the most beautiful other world! xx

    • Jessica December 8, 2015 at 10:54 pm - Reply

      It was a bit of a surprise crossing the bridge I must admit, I had no idea how deep it was going to be… definitely worth a lot of O’s… 😉

  27. Linda B. December 7, 2015 at 11:32 pm - Reply

    Looking at these amazing images, I am sure the first Norwegians who settled in Wisconsin had to be pretty disappointed with our landscape by comparison.

    • Jessica December 8, 2015 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      Warmer though, especially in summer.. that would count for a lot.

  28. Peter/Outlaw December 8, 2015 at 2:59 am - Reply

    Stunning beauty! Such a glorious place to visit but could you imagine living in such a climate? I feel a little cold just looking at your gorgeous images. Oh wait, I forgot to turn the thermostat up when I got home.

    • Jessica December 8, 2015 at 11:00 pm - Reply

      I couldn’t contemplate it for a minute. I was shivering today and we’re still in double figures on the positive side of zero. And the thermostat was turned up too. Thanks Peter.

  29. Sarah December 8, 2015 at 8:49 am - Reply

    I loved reading this, and your previous post too. What fantastic atmospheric beautiful photos you captured. Wonderful – I’m sure we’ll all be digging out our ski togs and planning trips to the far north next year. And Jessica, I see we share the same taste in walking boots!

    • Jessica December 8, 2015 at 11:01 pm - Reply

      I’ve had those boots for years. What they have seen… and still going strong!

  30. AnnetteM December 8, 2015 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    Wonderful photos, especially of the setting sun on the snow capped mountains. I was really interested to hear about your layers of clothing as we are planning a trip to Calgary shortly, though at the moment it isn’t too cold. What temperatures were you preparing for? It sounded as if you needed all those clothes. I hadn’t even thought about contact lenses being problematic either. Thanks for sharing your holiday – it was a really interesting read.

    • Jessica December 8, 2015 at 11:08 pm - Reply

      I was completely misled because the forecasts I’d been looking at were saying about -1 or thereabouts for daytime temperatures. It was much, much colder than that so I ended up doubling up with clothing. And the hotels were very warm, so ironically I didn’t have enough light clothing either! Total wardrobe fail. Enjoy Calgary.. another place I’d love to go.

  31. Christina December 8, 2015 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    All I can say is “Wow!” Fabulous images.

    • Jessica December 8, 2015 at 11:08 pm - Reply

      Thanks Christina.

  32. wherefivevalleysmeet December 8, 2015 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    The dusty pink mountain tops are simple magical.
    When I first visited Norway many years ago I came home inpired by the exterior house paint colours, and tried to replicate it on our house in Hertfordshire, but it failed – it just didn’t work in our country. It was quite an expensive mistake.

    • Jessica December 8, 2015 at 11:22 pm - Reply

      It’s easily done. Light can alter a colour quite dramatically on two walls within the same room, let alone across countries.

  33. Brian Skeys December 8, 2015 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Wonderful pictures for us to enjoy by the warmth of the fire Jessica. Did your adventures up the scaffolding prepare you for the bridge crossing!

    • Jessica December 8, 2015 at 11:28 pm - Reply

      Thankfully I have returned to the warmth of the fire 🙂
      It puts things into perspective. How tall is a house? 20, 25ft? When I compare the view from there to looking down a hole 500 ft deep.. I shall be positively racing up the ladder next time.

  34. Sheila December 8, 2015 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    Spectacular scenery, and your photos are great. The canyon views made my palms clammy! I don’t ‘do’ heights, so you have my admiration for venturing up there, especially in the extreme cold. Well done you. I can understand why you would go again.

    • Jessica December 8, 2015 at 11:31 pm - Reply

      It was a holiday with a difference for sure. But it was a heart stopping moment looking over that bridge. How anyone could bring themselves to jump off it I really don’t know.

  35. Vintage Jane December 9, 2015 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    Fabulous photos. Just wow! On my wishlist …

    • Jessica December 9, 2015 at 10:53 pm - Reply

      Thanks VJ.

  36. sustainablemum December 9, 2015 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    The photos are stunning the low light enhances them (and makes it look cold!) that waterfall is amazing, I want to there now!

    • Jessica December 9, 2015 at 11:03 pm - Reply

      It’s a fascinating place to go.. I wish we’d been able to stay for longer, we only scratched the surface really.

  37. Helene December 17, 2015 at 3:23 am - Reply

    More lovely photos from your trip to my home country. It’s nice to see such incredibly familiar things –and yet, after 16 years here in London and only back visiting family a couple of times, last time in 2006, all this feels like AGES since I have seen 🙂

    • Jessica December 17, 2015 at 11:16 pm - Reply

      With the shortest day coming up it must be very dark up there now. But the houses all looked so cosy and prepared, many with stacks of firewood piled up outside. I hope you get a chance to visit again soon Helene.

  38. Donna@Gardens Eye View December 19, 2015 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Wow there is heaven at the top of the world…your outfit reminded me of how we dressed when out on a snowmobile or sledding as a kid…

    • Jessica December 19, 2015 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      If we’d gone a couple of weeks later there would probably have been enough snow for snowmobiles and dog sledding. That would have been fun, but really I loved it just as much ‘out of season’. It was the tranquility of the place and the feeling that we had it all to ourselves.

  39. Chloris December 21, 2015 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Absolutely stunning photos Jessica. It looks so beautiful. I don’ t suppose I shall ever go, so it is lovely to get a little taste of this amazing landscape.

    • Jessica December 21, 2015 at 8:54 pm - Reply

      It’s very beautiful. They said the ice was building up in the canyon quite rapidly, so I wonder what it looks like now.

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