The Arctic is typically not the ideal destination for a strike mission, especially in January when there’s barely three hours of daylight, extreme tides and heavy storms. For this reason, Danish surfer Oliver Hartkopp had spent six months planning a trip to Lofoten, Norway in March. A time on the Norwegian peninsula were the beaches are blanketed in powder and the light is golden; the ideal dramatic backdrops for an Arctic surf film. But when Lofoten resident and surfer Hallvard Kolltveit called Hartkopp about an untraditional winter storm that would be sending swell to Lofoten in January, Hartkopp splashed the cash and headed up earlier than planned. The trip was documented in “Arctic Janaury,” a short film produced by Kolltveit that just won the Grand Prize at the Cold Hawaii Film Festival.
Hartkopp arrived a few days after Polar Night, a period during mid-winter when the sun stays below the horizon all day. “It took some convincing from Hallvard before I got my stuff together and flew up,” Hartkopp said. “I mean, going up there when there’s practically no light, wet and miserable was not what I had in mind. You’re left with so small margins. Looking back at it, I’m pretty glad I went though.”
“I think most people around the world think that these places are so remote, yet you’ll find cities, shopping malls and a vibrant local community,” Hartkopp said, surprised at his experience traveling around Lofoten while looking for waves in the dark verse what he’d seen in the media. “It’s sexy to sell it a bit more adventurous than it really is, and it was kind of funny to drive past surf shops and surf camps on the way to the surf. So much for untouched. The place is amazing though and far from anything I’ve seen before. Having these kinds of waves in a place like this is unreal.”
As for the surf, Hartkopp said, “It was spot on. It was a hard one to read on the forecast, but I’m glad I got convinced and got to experience this. We hiked over mountains, surfed a new slab and saw some really good waves come through that week – most of them unridden. I probably paddled over ten thousand empties. It’s unheard of to score that good when you’re going to a place as stormy as this with the conditions we were facing.”