All eyes may have been locked to Nazare and Ireland last week as ex-hurricane Epsilon rocked the western shores of Europe. Yet, the day after those juggernauts went XXL, the swell filled in for Norway too and the results are nothing short of a cold water haven.
Portugal, Spain and Ireland are damn enthralling. But the majority of waves surfed on Thursday were not for the every surfer. By first light on Friday though, those lucky enough to be in the vicinity of cold water surfing's hallowed ground were in for something spectacular. Empty A frames, set against the mountain-laden back drop of Lofoten, barrels you'd have no problem squeezing into, rather than the impending doom of a 70ft Golitath at your back -- all with one of the arctic's best lensmen pulling the trigger.
Region guide: Norway
Hallvard Kolltveit was shooting in the water for 6.5 hours straight on Friday. Continually moving is likely the only way to avoid frostbite when the water's at a frigid 7 or so degrees C, the air temp dipping to 0-5 degrees C. For Hallvard though, it's just the norm.
“It just got better and better and better,” the photographer tells MSW. “And I couldn't get myself to swim in. I had brand new Xcel wetsuit, gloves, and boots ready for that first winter swell, so I was toasty throughout the whole day.
“I cramped up like crazy when I got back on land after sunset though, but it was definitely worth it. These shots were on Friday, when we got the last push from the major swell that ripped through Europe. That swell hit Norway on Thursday, but as always, the Arctic wasn't delivering the goods quite as expected. On Friday it calmed down a little bit and got really good.”
Swells like this pretty consistent for Norway. But as the country's perched high on the arctic circle, it's the wind that make or scupper a session. “This time though, we had the solid groundswell pair up with a nice offshore breeze,” Hallvard added. “I don't think I've seen it that good for at least six months.
“Quite interestingly, we have a lot more surfers in the lineup now than last years. I guess it comes from people working from home, being able to travel within Norway and taking time off in the middle of the day to go surf. November usually means less crowds, but it's still packed here.”
Cover shot by Wes Schaftenaar