A photo has been circulating around the internet showing a group of young girls dressed in princess costumes, except for one girl who is standing on the end dressed as a hotdog. When I first saw this, I laughed as anyone would, but as the day went on, I referenced it a couple more times to friends and I started to realize that the photo was so much more than just an internet meme; It spoke to me. Not because I’ve always wanted to dress up in a hotdog costume, although i’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t enjoy it. It spoke to me because I have a really deep respect for people who shrug off the norms of society and live their lives how they want, regardless of how weird it might seem. I respect them because they don’t go along with the crowd just because everyone else is. I think being a hotdog princess applies to all genders, not just to women. We get so caught up with who is doing what on social media and trying to find ways to feel validated by others that we forget who we really are; just a bunch of total weirdos trying to find a weird little place in this world. So I say to everyone. Be the hotdog princess that you know you are.
A few years ago, I spent some time in Norway with my good friends Cameron Sylvester and Angela Percival. Cameron was filming an ice climbing piece for Arcteryx and had asked me to come along to help out in the vertical world, while Angela was shooting stills. During the planning process, we had heard about giant formations along the coast, however after showing up, we quickly realized that the unusually warm spring had left all the coastal climbing rotting in the sun. After sitting down to discuss logistics, we decided to push inland. Cameron and I weren’t super enthusiastic since we had our hearts set on filming on the coast, but what we found was more amazing than either of us could have imagined. After a few hours of hiking, we came upon Storfossen, a colossal 500 foot monster that is formed in the Gorzi canyon located on the outskirts of the Lyngen Alps. Technically we didn’t stumble upon it. Cameron had briefly scouted it on a previous shoot, but because of time and logistics, they weren’t able to film on it.
The climb was accessed by either a 3 pitch rappel, or a diffiuclt down climb further up the canyon to the east. Since we hadn’t scouted the down climb, Cameron and I decided to rap down in order to get the approach shots we needed. Arcteryx athlete and badass Slovenian, Luka Lindic and his climbing partner Blaz Markovic (aka Lobo, which I think translates roughly to “Meat”, which would make sense since that is all he ate the entire trip) led the charge and after about 30 minutes, we were all at the bottom, staring up at the days project.
After filming a portion of the approach, Luka and Blaz started climbing, while Cam and I headed back up in order to film the last pitch. It was a long day, but the footage ended up looking really good, so we were psyched.
The following day, after making our way back up to the formation, we decided to rappel in from the top and film the individual pitches. While getting ready to rap in, we could feel the water that formed the climb underneath us, vibrating the entire column. Rapping down a few pitches, we arrived at a chamber that seemed to be much more stable than the upper pitches and also felt like a good place to start. The two of them geared up as I moved into position above them. About halfway through the 2nd pitch, after getting drenched by the melting ice, a huge windstorm came blowing up the canyon. The wall of white pushed toward us much faster than I had anticipated and didn’t have time to prepare for the inevitable blizzard. The intensity of it all caught me off guard.
Between the near impossible visibility and my soaked camera (sorry Cameron), the three of us quickly made our way up to the ice chamber that served as the last belay. As we waited for the storm to pass, we all exchanged glances. None of us were terribly excited to still be on the formation. The vibration was noticeably stronger at the last belay, and after a few minutes, the storm let up enough that we were able to leave the cavern and quickly make our way to the top.
Later that evening, after we descended in the dark, we stood by the car, watching the northern lights dance across the sky. The laughter faded as the group fell silent. Ribbons of green snaked past constellations and all at once, everything was perfect.