Higher Latitude

HIGHER LATITUDE

WORDS: Jussi-Oskari Taka PHOTO COVER: Isak Dalsfelt

Eirik Verlo, Krister Kopala and Jussi-Oskari Taka are three close friends from Tromsø, Northern Norway.  Higher Latitude is their attempt to portray splitboard freeriding at 69° north, way past the Arctic Circle.

The idea of the web series started when we realized noone has ever really done anything like this before; filming only snowboarding throughout the season up here in Norway. The idea was to divide the season into three parts: Early season Polar Night, when sun never really rises above the horizon; Midwinter pow frenzy, and Spring season big mountain freeride, what you can see on the Episode 3. The used music is only from local artists who would like to contribute into the project. Locality plays a big role in this project and we were lucky to find great artists ranging in different genres and moods who wanted to give their work to be used in the episodes. We wanted to be in full control of the series so we didn’t accept any partnerships which would bound us into anything we didn’t want to showcase, and the ones we found were really cool for letting us express ourselves in the way we wanted and shaped Higher Latitude the way it is now.

One of the base camps.
Photo: Isak Dalsfelt
One of the base camps. Photo: Isak Dalsfelt

“Everything seemed good on paper with this kind of setup but when the project started we realized the struggles of filming splitboard freeride without big budgets. Helicopters, snow cats and snowmobiles are banned in Northern Norway”

We come from various snowboarding backgrounds: Eirik ,25, is the original splitboard workhorse of our group who started splitboarding by sawing his old board in two back in 2010, and has been experiencing steep powder in Tromsø area ever since. Krister, 26, has a strong history associated with freestyle which really shows up in his riding when it comes to sending the biggest cliffs, stacking shots from kickers or on-sighting a natural feature. And finally there’s Jussi, 24, originally from Finland, who competed in Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and Winter X-Games in boardercross before moving to Tromsø and switching his main focus to technical freeriding in 2015.

Approaching the line in Lyngen Alps.
Photo: Isak Dalsfelt
Approaching the line in Lyngen Alps. Photo: Isak Dalsfelt

Higher Latitude has been one of the coolest projects we’ve worked with. It has allowed us to discover so much new terrain, just a short drive away from our home, we never knew even existed and appreciate the unique setting of changing of the seasons we have here up north. “

Everything seemed good on paper with this kind of setup but when the project started we realized the struggles of filming splitboard freeride without big budgets. Helicopters, snow cats and snowmobiles are banned in Northern Norway so every single piece of camera gear needed to be carried up and down the mountain every time we went filming— and the approaches can be long — which added up as two-three times heavier packs than normally, longer days spent on the mountain and greater fatigue when the riding finally started. All this needed to be taken into account. With the help of our very dear filmmaker friends we managed to develop better strategies to get things done more efficiently and these techniques kept evolving through the entire season. You can really see the improvement in filming from episode 1 to 2 to 3.

Crew hiking to the glacier
Photo: Isak Dalsfelt
Crew hiking to the glacier Photo: Isak Dalsfelt

All in all, Higher Latitude has been one of the coolest projects we’ve worked with. It has allowed us to discover so much new terrain, just a short drive away from our home, we never knew even existed and appreciate the unique setting of changing of the seasons we have here up north. Friendships inside the group got deeper and we also got to know a lot of new people who share the same kind of world view with us. We tried to transfer the joy you get from searching new sectors, camping on the glaciers or AirBNBing a house from a distant location with your friends and just riding world class powder on lines ranging from mellow tree runs to gnarly steeps into these little edits, and we hope we can inspire others to try the same on their home turf.

Thanks, higher latitude out!