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The aurora forecast was promising and i decided to do my best at capturing this phenomenon. As darkness was approaching i put on my climbing skins and started the long climb towards one of the many mountains in the area. First i had to walk through the mountainforest, with crooked creepy trees. I distracted myself by constantly looking up to the sky instead of looking around for ghosts. Once i got over the treeline i was forced to forget my fears for about an hour...it`s impossible to be afraid when your climbing up a ridiculously steep mountain... I`d rather be exhausted than scared shitless :-)
Eventually i reached the area just under the peak. My original plan was to climb all the way up to the top, but i was too exhausted to even consider such a thing.
My eyes wander across the beautiful mountainscape. The sky was getting darker, but my eyes had adjusted enough to get a good view of the scenario. Suddenly i see a creature about 100 meters ahead of me. A characteristic shape quicly moving across the white mountain. The illusive wolverine... Not the most common creature to see. I`ve spent a day or two in the mountains over the years, but this was only the second time i`ve come across this cute predator. What a nice start to the evening....
There was no sign of the aurora yet. I looked up at the clear blue sky, and when i say blue i really mean blue... I saw a white cloud and started to worry that clouds would come rolling in. I stared at this weak cloud when it suddenly started moving. Not moving like you would expect from a regular cloud, it started dancing...up and down and from side to side. When i realized it was the aurora i must have looked like Hank Moody in the company of 20 naked strippers....
I then started the search for compositional spots. Really not that difficult in such a place. I fired away frame after frame, constantly moving around. Then the action really exploded. The aurora was more intense than i`ve ever seen before, and i`ve lived up here my entire life. It only lasted for a few minutes, but i`ll remember it for quite some time...
At one point the light would come straight up from the peak, like there was someone doing nuclear testing just behind it. I shot at iso 800 at f/4 and shutterspeeds down to 2 secs. The landscape became significantly brighter and i just smiled for myself... This is 4 seconds of concentrated northern lights beaming up from the highest peak. I have another shot where it seriously looks like the whole mountain is about to go off, but i`ll save that for later...
A couple of hours later i was standing at the same spot i shot my last upload when i heard footsteps in the snow. The snow was windswept and crunchy so i could hear everything quite clearly. I froze when i saw the silhouette of the wolverine just about 50 meters in front of me. It just stood there watching me for a while before it disappeared. 10 minutes later the same thing happened...this time it appeared closer. My heart was pounding... I`ve never heard of a wolverine attacking humans, but in the dark bent over my camera i could pretty easily be mistaken for a big fat reindeer. I dont have horns, or anything that could resemble horns, at least not on my head, but still.... Kinda like surfers attacked by sharks thinking they were seals :-)
I packed my gear and rushed towards the steep mountainside where i had planned to ski down. In complete darkness with a wolverine circling me in... I somehow managed to get home safely without breaking any bones or becoming the nightly meal for the wolverine....ahhh...good times!
Have terrific week everyone!
Beam me up Scotty
by Arild Heitmann
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