Snow running through the veins.
Tails of whales leaping over the horizon of the Lyngen Alps.
An outdoor photographer and a extreme skier.
A classic, revolutionary, ski mountaineering adventure.
Arctic. An inimitable and rare light to be treasured.
The sun here is special, even more precious: it lives for a short time, illuminating in perfect harmony together with the moon. Anders Møller Vestergård has about four hours available to shoot Eivind Wergeland Jacobsen drawing his dreams on the snow. A single, long, golden hour, before darkness eats everything up again. As always in his work, Anders Vestergård is alone, but in excellent company. It’s November, an exceptional time to ski these small, large Norwegian mountains which, like waves, perpetually emerge and plunge back into the ocean, in an infinite movement.
How did the project go?
Eivind: The day started very early, around two in the morning: we wanted to be ready for when the light came, and we also had a two-hour drive to do. The choice of the period was not accidental: in fact, the polar night would begin the following week. We knew we would only have four hours of clear light, an exceptional golden hour during which the sun would emerge for about an hour. The mountain we have chosen for the project is called Holmbukttind, and it is 1666 meters high: the peaks here are lower than the Alps but just as challenging. With the skins we started climbing from sea level, so quite a bit. The first three hours were very demanding from a mental point of view: it was the middle of the night and we didn’t see where we were going at all. Luckily I already knew the route and had it saved on my watch, which was good: there was a lot of fog and low clouds on the glacier, and it would have been easy to get lost. We spent ten hours in the mountains and in the end we returned home around five in the afternoon, truly an endless day!
What have been the main difficulties you faced during the photo shoot? How were you organize?
Anders: I had about ten kilos of photographic gear with me, nothing unbearable but still a good weight, since usually when you pack your backpack to go to the mountains you always try to be as light as possible, and in fact I was quite slow compared to Eivind. There was no snow for a good part of the beginning of the route, so we had to carry our skis and boots on our backpack for a long way.
Another big challenge for any outdoor photographer is the cold: hands are always frozen! It was minus twenty degrees at the top that day, but in reality I have to say that I wasn’t too cold. Even tiredness made itself felt: we woke up really early and after a few hours I was starting to feel a little tired. Going up the mountain totally immersed in the dark doesn’t help to be motivated! But seeing the sun rising gave me fantastic energy, exactly what I needed to recharge!
Even time management is not a factor to be underestimated: at the beginning I was a little stressed because I knew that I would have very few hours of light available and I had to hurry to reach the summit, while on the other hand I wanted to dedicate the right attention and the necessary space to each photo. Slowly, however, I realized that I would have made it and I calmed down.
The day after the ski tour you also saw some whales… What emotions did you feel?
Anders: Someone told me that November is the best month for whale watching in Skjervøy, so I thought I’d take advantage of that. I have some friends who work on boats and they could accompany me and I must say it was a truly amazing experience, I was super excited: also in this case the light was great, and seeing killer whales and humpback whales jumping was a special and very intense emotion.
As a photographer, do you ever think that you are missing out, you are not fully living in the moment, because you are focused on shooting?
Anders: Of course, it is one of the most delicate points for photographers, a conflict that always exists. Usually on skis I can enjoy the moment, and indeed I think that taking pictures offers added value to the experience. While whale watching I was very focused on taking a picture when I heard my companions on the boat screaming because they had seen a whale jump in another spot, and I completely missed it.
You are a great photographer. Do you think photos steal people’s souls?
Anders: No, I just try to capture people’s feelings. I hope to leave them with a good memory, something to be happy about.
On which mountains do you prefer to ski?
Eivind: Lyngen Alps are unique in the world: they emerge straight out of the sea, they’re low but seem high and allow you to run wild with creativity and have endless opportunities when choosing the lines, they also offer a truly incredible scenery, Jiehkkevarri is the highest mountain on which I made a couple of first descents, my favourite. However, usually when I go downhill I am satisfied for a while but then I immediately feel want to ski on another slope.
What’s the worst thing about being an outdoor photographer?
Anders: Maybe the fact that while you’re photographing you can’t ski the beautiful lines that the athletes are drawing that you have to capture instead! But between the two things I’d rather take a good photo than ski a nice slope, so that’s okay.
Working as an outdoor photographer is the dream of many people… Do you think you are privileged?
Anders: Yes, absolutely! I guess I’m not allowed to complain. On the other hand, we must also clarify that it is still a tough job.
Who is the best skier ever in your opinion?
Eivind: Vivian Bruchez, he has a lot of technique and an exceptional sense of aesthetics.
And the best photographer?
Anders: Tim Tadder, I like his style!
Who or what would you like to be in a possible next life?
Anders: In a dolphin, it just seems like they’re having a blast!
Eivind: In a mountain goat. They run up and down the mountains, super fast and with great elegance!
What would you say to the version of you of ten years ago?
Anders: I think there are no words that would have made things go differently. I would simply say to him to live, fall and get up, always.
Eivind: Maybe it’s a bit of a cliché, but I’d say don’t be afraid to follow your dreams.