My first day in Tromsø it started to snow – they told me it was the first fall of winter. Whilst it was still daylight I went hiking to the cable-car station through the birch forest and up above the tree line. There was no point going on to the summit beyond as everything was white and I was in the cloud anyway. About 15 cms of snow had fallen so it was a very slippery walk back down. Occasionally the clouds would break and you could see the harbour below.
I had booked an aurora hunt that night. There are plenty of organisations in Tromsø that will take you out. Snow showers were forecast and it was very windy but breaks in the cloud meant that we might be able to see something. We went out at seven and returned after one the next morning and in all that time there was a single two minute sighting of the aurora – it was very beautiful though and well worth it.
They took us across to the next island in the archipelago – Kvaløya (whale island) which has spectacular scenery and visited a number of view points. The best was where it was sheltered from the biting wind. We’d left the tour bus and scrambled gingerly down to a beach through the ice and fresh snow. I placed my tripod and camera on a small headland as there was a great composition looking northwards across a bay to the mountains. I knew I wouldn’t have selfie takers walking backwards into my pictures from there! As it turned out I had set up looking in just the right direction as the aurora flashed green on the horizon just when the clouds opened up.
I took four pictures in two minutes before the clouds rolled back across the scene and the snow started to fall again. The full moon bathed the clouds and the mountains white and gave a lovely blue-green tint to the Arctic Ocean. The exposures were five seconds long so I caught a lot of light and colour – it was breathtakingly beautiful.
The tour took us back across to the mainland looking for more breaks in the clouds. We ended up high in the mountains but turned back for Tromsø at 1am due to the heavy snow. Walking back to my hotel just before two I took one last picture – Tromsø cathedral.