Sunday Edit: Wave hunting and midnight sun

Two childhood friends from Aabenraa, photographer Mads Schmidt Rasmussen and schoolteacher Jens Jakob Ellegaard Petersen packed a converted van with equipment and 10 packs of rye bread and drove up to the northern archipelago of Lofoten in Norway. The weather forecast determined whether it was going to be a day for surfing, snowboarding or hiking boots.

The trip

Jens: “The idea behind the trip was to take advantage of the prevailing conditions. We live in a car and are constantly in contact with nature, we are always outdoors, no matter what the weather is like. You can still surf, even if it’s raining. We spent a lot of time looking for good waves, but if we couldn’t surf, we could snowboard and if we couldn’t snowboard, we could surf, and if we couldn’t do either, then we could go hiking."

“All you really have to do is drive. I have rebuilt my car with shelves for surfboards and snowboards, where you can also put mattresses on top so that it functions as a bed. You just lie down in the back, sleep and then drive on the next day. It isn’t always possible to check in to a hotel.”

Mads: “We didn’t really have a plan, other than that we had packed snowboards, surfboards, snowshoes, hiking boots, suitable clothes and gear, axes and everything we would need to make campfires. Not much happens in the first part of Norway, but when we got far enough up and drove along the coast, all we had to do was check the weather forecast and do whatever sounded coolest.”

Jens: “We really had a lot of rye bread with us. 10 packs, I think, along with some rice and pasta, the kind you can quickly throw in some water and cook on a Trangia camping stove. Once we’re in the car, we just want to go. We really don’t feel like cooking very much – it has to be easy and fast.”

Mads: “We also had campfire equipment with us, one of those huge griddle pans, so we could cook proper food if we had the time and inclination. One evening we had a small barbecue party on the beach with some people we had met while surfing. You get more enjoyment out of doing something if you do it in the company of others.”


Jens: “Surfing in these surroundings is a totally wild experience and some of the waves we had were very nice. It’s totally different than surfing south of the equator or on the west coast of Jutland. It’s much more demanding. It’s much colder and more raw, but the waves are good, and it’s an amazing natural experience.”

“When you surf in the south, it’s so easily accessible. Everywhere you go there are surfboards for rent. The water is warm and everything is perfect. In Norway, it takes a little more effort to reach places.”

Mads: “Well you don’t get that California or Bali feeling at all, but on the other hand, you don’t have to share the waves with so many people. In Norway, there might be 20 other surfers waiting for the waves, while in California, for example, you might be waiting with 100 others for your turn to jump on the wave. When you surf, the rule is that there can only be one person on each wave, you don’t just jump right in.”


Mads: “One of the biggest experiences we had was a backcountry trip, where we at 00.30 at night was hiking up a mountain with snowboards on our backs and snowshoes on our feet. Lofoten is located north of the Arctic Circle, so you get the midnight sun. The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon that occurs south of the Antarctic Circle and north of the Arctic Circle during the summer months. The earth rotates around an axis that slopes relative to the sun and during the summer months, the North Pole points toward the sun. We were at the top at 02.30., drove down, and was in bed at 04 o'clock.”

“We had driven a really long way; the weather was bad and we spent the whole day looking for waves in vain. For some reason, the weather always turns nice and sunny in the evening. Up there, the sun doesn’t go down at night. We had eaten dinner and were actually on our way to bed – we had even brushed our teeth, but we had the feeling that we didn’t get as much out of the day as we had hoped.”

“The weather forecast for the next day also looked dull, so we agreed to drive up there because it was sunny at the time. We could just spend the entire next day sleeping. We went up on the shady side of the mountain and when we reached the top there was full sun and we could see directly down into the valley through the low-lying clouds. Midnight sun gives off an absolutely amazing type of light, it’s not at all like when the sun shines in the middle of the day.”

Mads: “We would really like to try sailing up there in our boat. We need to have all of the same equipment with us, snowboards and surfboards, but instead of driving around, we just want to have a small rubber boat with us so we can sail toward the coast. The mountains are still there. In the meantime, we want to do everything else too – we will embark on many small adventures.”


Mads: “I travel a lot with work and have been in Greenland many times. This is where I tried backcountry snowboarding. Backcountry means that it is out in the hinterland, where the areas are deserted and unexplored, where there are no tracks to follow and often no internet. You have to bring a snow shovel and an avalanche detector and really look after yourself, because you are out in the middle of nowhere.”

Jens: “It's the excitement and the adventure, it has to be cooler and further away every time. We have both just bought all the gear we’ll need to get out into the backcountry.”

Mads: “We are very conscious about safety, because we just go up a mountain and are out in places where no one has been for years. On our trip to Norway, there wasn’t much snow left, even though we were 2,000 km up in Norway.”

Mads: “We didn't have that much time, so we tried to find places we could drive to and literally just walk up the mountain, snowboard down and then almost land in the trunk of our van.”