Norwegian Ice

Ice Climbing in the Arctic Circle



When award-winning photographer Ray Demski started dreaming about shooting ice climbing during the aurora borealis, he found out 2014 was predicted to be a near-peak in an 11-year solar cycle, offering potentially the strongest aurora possibilities for years to come.

He did, though, need a subject for his shoot; so he asked his good friend Alex Luger to join as the climber for the project. Alex and Ray have a great history of collaborating on shoots, and they both felt confident about working together on this one. Alex then recruited his climbing partner Hanno Schluge and the team was complete. 

They decided on Lyngen, Norway inside the Arctic Circle, as it was expected to have the required combination of good ice and high chances for aurora. With a small, strong team they set out at the end of January on what was to be a nearly two-week trip. After several tough nights waiting for the aurora, a combination of the long, steep approach, temperatures down to -35 C. plus intense wind chill, and the daily challenges of camp life, the crew were left exhausted.

Although their first location was good, nearly halfway through their trip they still had seen only faint aurora activity, so they made the tough decision to switch locations.

Luckily it paid off: The next shooting night everything came together like it should. They were in position and ready to shoot when the sky exploded into the most magical and intense display of aurora borealis any of them had ever seen!

Hanging on ropes with his tripod fixed to the cliff, Ray used a combination of long exposures and two small flashes to capture the ice climbing action and the sweeping aurora borealis as it filled the sky.

Ray chose this technique because he felt it was important to capture the experience of the climber totally in the moment – in a single shot without using any composite methods.

But Ray didn’t stop there. In his pocket was a Nokia Lumia and throughout the shoot he used it to take some truly awesome ice climbing images in the daylight and sundown. In doing so he captured the sheer beauty and size of the landscape which you can see over in the dedicated project area of this site.

“I’m stoked with the final images, and very grateful to the awesome team that realized this adventure.” says Ray. And so are we…

Photographer: Ray Demski |
Climbers: Alex Luger, Hanno Schluge
Production leader - Mountain Guide: Heli Putz
Photo assistant - BTS photographer: Thomas Schermer
Video: Cameron Sylvester

Behind The Scenes

Nokia Lumia Gallery

Ray and the crew also took some shots with the latest Nokia Lumia smartphone. The shots have only had basic adjustments applied during the processing from RAW. Discover more here.