When you purchase gear through links on our site, we may earn a small commission. Here’s why you can trust our tests and our affiliate partner.

TheKiteMag 51 Tight Lines Kari Schibevaag 3 copy 1200x800 - Tight Lines

Tight Lines

Last issue we heard from Kari Schibevaag who flew to the archipelago of Svalbard – the last stop before the North Pole – for a quick snowkite trip and polar bear avoidance. This time she also heads north but staying on mainland Norway, for a longer trip on the Finnmark Plateau, something she’s dreamed about crossing with skis and a sled for a long time.

TheKiteMag 51 Tight Lines Kari Schibevaag 6 1440x754 - Tight Lines

It has been 23 years since I lived in Alta, a relatively small city in the northernmost county in Norway, Finnmark. I was there to study and to play handball, so my interests and life back then were completely different from the life I live now. Crossing the Finnmark plateau, Norway’s largest plateau with an area greater than 22,000 square kilometers, hadn’t even crossed my mind. My main goal was to become the best handball player in the world… But my knee necessitated something else. Broken ligaments filled my head with a lot of frustrations. About 22 years ago I changed sports from handball to kiting, and ever since, the Finnmark Plateau has been firmly on my bucket list. I’d done some short trips up there, but not a longer trip with a sled and kite.

My dream was to be out on the plateau in winter with the full moon in the sky. I wanted to experience the magical light you get at this time and the cold night and days – and yes, I finally got the experience I had dreamed about. Joining me on the trip were my friends Jørgen and Cecilie. It was not the first expedition we’d done together, so I knew this was going be a good one. We were ready for eight days of adventure out in nature. The last trip we did together was a two-week kite expedition in Svalbard. Finnmark and Svalbard are similar except there are no polar bears in Finnmark, so on this trip I would sleep easy through the night, knowing that when I zipped up my sleeping bag I could slip into dream world without any worries about polar bears entering our tent… That felt quite a relief…

The trip started with a storm blowing, so we had to wait in Alta for an extra day before we were good to go. Luckily the storm passed after just one day and sunny conditions welcomed us when we entered the plateau. It was a cold start with 38 degrees Celsius below zero and no wind. I was happy there was no wind because that would have made this day even colder… We had done a lot of prior planning and packed everything needed for an eight-day trip in the wilderness: warm clothing, kites, cooking stuff and food, emergency equipment and medicine, and so on. It’s not like you can just stop at the next shop and buy things if you forget something…

Every day we were on the move until the sun went down. The days are short in February, but it is amazing when the sun is up. We set camp around 4pm. We had brought ice-fishing gear with us, so we would make a hole in the ice and one of us would start fishing while the other two boiled water and made dinner. Being on a trip like this is of course about enjoying yourself, but the main focus is to eat well, have hot water in the thermos, check the gear, get rest, and stay dry and warm. Your attention is so focused on these things, you can forget about what is going on in the world. Although I used my phone or a small camera to take pictures, it was so cold that I couldn’t spend much time on it. So it was a good break from reality, especially with everything that has happened the last two years. We lived in the moment.

The first night and day of the trip was truly magical with an amazing pink sky and a crazy northern lights show. The next morning the whiteout was back and a storm blew in, but it is all part of the experience. It was good to feel prepared, knowing we could handle a situation like that. We wanted to kite, but the wind was blowing a gale and we couldn’t see much, so we decided to walk. After two days of storm the sun finally came back with perfect kite wind. We were on top of a big frozen lake, Lesjavri, the biggest lake on the plateau. With the wind blowing a steady 10 knots from behind us, we pumped our kites and cruised downwind, singing, laughing, and screaming with joy. It was magic.

After crossing the lake, we met Per, a local Sami. There are a lot of people using the Finnmark plateau and a lot of Sami people living in camps with their reindeer. So we saw a lot of reindeer and dog sleds, and as people passed us they would wave. The reindeer are beautiful and the Sami people look so good in their colorful clothing. The joik, their traditional music, is a unique form of cultural expression for the Sami people. Each joik is meant to reflect or evoke a person, animal or place, and most of them are personal and tied to a specific person because it is often made at the time a person is born. I find it so powerful and beautiful to listen to. Throughout the whole trip I had different joiks in my head when I was walking. This music is so special, and it fits so well with the magical nature.

Per, who we met driving past us, showed us his catch of fish and we were super impressed. We asked him for advice on a good fishing spot and he showed us another lake where he said there is a lot of fish. We decided to camp at this lake and went full power on the fishing. He was right – there were fish there – but although we could feel them nibbling on the hook, we could not manage to get them up. It made us a bit upset because we really wanted the fish! The next morning, we woke up to the most amazing sunrise. It was cold, but I felt it was a good time to try our luck at fishing again. My hunch paid off and we finally caught some. It was smiles all round, sitting on the ice with the sun coming up and an atmospheric morning fog, in the company of good friends. I am still smiling now thinking back on it.

TheKiteMag 51 Tight Lines Kari Schibevaag 14 scaled - Tight Lines

Pers hosts guests at Mollisjok Lodge, so we decided to go there next. He had showed us where to fish, so we just had to make the trip to his place. There was no wind that day so we walked. When we got to his place Per and his family welcomed us warmly. It was so good to enter the lodge and taste their delicious warm broth and fresh fish. We talked with him about his life. He really lives from nature and it’s so good to see that people can still do this, fishing and hunting, living far up on the plateau – what a place and what a family. We went fishing together, we showed them how to kite, and said hello to his reindeer. I had so many thoughts in my head after this visit. It would be a dream to live like this, but could I manage?

I don’t know how many miles we did every day, but we managed to do everything we had planned and more. We crossed the plateau, got fish, lived out there in the ever-changing weather conditions, met the Sami people, said hello to cute reindeer, kited, experienced the northern lights and the full moon, walked, got frozen, and had the best time. Palm trees and sand are nice, but it is cold winter times like these that keep me happy. Arctic adventures give me so much. I can say for sure that this will not be my only trip up there.

Want More?

You can get the latest goodness from the world of kiteboarding by subscribing to our print edition. You'll get 5 packed issues, plus a free tee and free digital access. And you'll be directly helping with our sustainability efforts too!

Check it out now
Subscribe Today