Mount Salen rises above the Soroysundet sound, offering majestic views of the surrounding Norwegian islands and the Arctic Ocean. Climbing the mountain was not quite like being on the top of the world, but being in the northernmost town in the world has a pretty special feeling.
Whilst on a Hurtigruten cruise, I took the Into the Ice excursion for two reasons. One, I wanted to appreciate the panoramic view from the top of Mount Salen, and two, because I was curious about the history behind the hike. I was not disappointed.
Hiking Mount Salen
Despite the frigid conditions expected this time of year in Norway, the hike was not particularly challenging. Far from feeling let down by this, the relative ease of the hike made it easier to listen to the tour guide and take in the spectacularly beautiful landscape.
The hike is designed to replicate the excursions of Norwayâ€™s polar hero, Adolf Henrik Lindstrom. We wore white overalls over our clothes for camouflage on the mountainâ€™s slope, goggles, fleecy caps complete with ear flaps, and thick gloves. The tour guide carried a Norwegian flag in preparation for the symbolic planting at the summit.
While I knew the hike was relatively safe and the camp was not far behind us, the contrived expedition really did feel like a polar excursion. It was easy to imagine how isolating and inspiring those early explorers must have found the poles. I really enjoyed playing with the flag at the top, although the views were distracting.
Mount Salen looks out over the Soroysundet sound and the Barents Sea. We hiked on a clear day and the islands of Haja, Hjelmen, and Soroya were visible beneath the pale Arctic sunlight. The stark beauty of the ocean and the landscape was breathtaking.
Food is at the heart of every great expedition. The Into the Ice Hike gives tourists a taste of what it was like to be Adolf Lindstrom, right down to some of the famous polar explorerâ€™s recipes.
Adolf Henrik Lindstrom was a chef and polar explorer born and raised in Hammerfest, Norway. Lindstrom played a crucial role in every single one of the polar expeditions that earned Norway its status as a polar nation. He explored the north and south poles, sailed through the Northwest Passage, and even sailed around the American continent in his adventurous lifetime.
Lindstrom was born in Hammerfest, Norway in 1866. His father was a lumberjack and Lindstrom and his two younger siblings worked hard throughout their reportedly happy childhoods. Lindstrom started his shipboard career at 15, sailing on the many sealing and hunting ships around Hammerfest. His culinary skills quickly became apparent, and it wasnâ€™t long before he took over the galley.
By historical accounts, Lindstrom was an exceedingly cheerful man and an extraordinary cook. He kept the spirits of his fellow travelers up with his good humor and delicious dining even on the darkest days. He hunted seals, penguins, reindeer, and the other game found in the Polar Regions to create healthy dishes for his fellow explorers. His judicious use of arctic cloudberries kept scurvy at bay, and no member of his crew suffered from malnutrition while Lindstrom was around.
Lindstrom did his fair share for science, too, when he was not hunting or cooking. While a part of the Gjoa expedition through the Northwest Passage, he collected plants, birds, and animals for the University of Oslo. This was not the first time he contributed to science in this manner. On his earlier expeditions with the famous explorers Nansen and Otto Sverdrup aboard the Fram, he collected rock samples, plants, animals and other biological data. It was the recommendation of Otto Serdrup that convinced Roald Amundsen to sign Lindstrom on to the crew of the legendary South Pole exploration of the Gjoa.
Lindstrom was present when Roald Amundsen planted the Norwegian Flag on the South Pole, earning him the South Pole Medal and securing his place as one of Norwayâ€™s heroes. He proved his heroism again a few years later on a rescue mission to find a missing Russian expedition last seen along the Siberian coast. He found the Russian crew at the end of a 275 kilometer sledge journey in the winter of 1915. All 60 survivors were exhausted, starving, and displaying signs of scurvy. Lindstromâ€™s diet quickly cured them of all three ailments, and the crew returned safely to their homes.
Lindstrom stopped exploring only when a stroke paralyzed his left leg. Not deterred, he held frequent lectures about his experiences to educate his fellow Norwegians about the far ends of the world.
No discussion of Lindstrom is complete without some of his legendary polar cooking. While we did not eat seal or musk ox at the end of our hike, tucked safely back in the shelter of Framheim, we did enjoy a delicious helping of pancakes. The recipe is one of Lindstromâ€™s, and after eating it I understood why he was so sought after by polar explorers. The pancakes were phenomenal!
It would be hard to replicate many of Lindstromâ€™s recipes today. Most of the animals he hunted are now protected. Explorers like Lindstrom made do with what they were able to find, hunt, and fish along the way. The staples of most polar diets were biscuits and pemmican (a bar made of lean meat and animal fat). Lindstromâ€™s ability to turn this meager fare into something palatable is worth a medal in itself, in my opinion.
Final Thoughts On Into The Ice with Hurtigruten
Into the Ice is the perfect hike for travelers interested in local history as well as beautiful scenery. The hike itself, while not challenging, was well worth the historical experience and is something I will remember the next time I enjoy a flavorful energy bar on an expedition of my own.
Hammerfest itself is worth exploring while you are there. The local food is fresh and delicious, and there are several other hikes in the area well worth your time.
If youâ€™re interested in having this experience for yourself, check out the Into the Ice Excursion with Hurtigruten.