Friday, 12 February 2010

Lizzie le Blond by way of Biosphere

Geir Jenssen is a musician who, under the name Biosphere, records mainly in Tromso, the northernmost town in mainland Norway. Surrounded by glaciers, mountains, and tundra, the austere 'Arctic' soundscapes he produces are gloomy yet strangely soothing. Sounds of howling wind and running water, combined with his music, evoke empty, snowy wastes.

Although usually filed under ambient, the Norwegian's compositions transcend the generic electronic noodlings of much of the genre. Take a listen to Kobresia, from the classic album Substrata.

With Jenssen's interest in the Arctic circle landscape, it wasn't a total suprise to discover he is also a skier and mountaineer. Many of the mountains he's climbed can be seen on his
Northern Playground website, which is partly about the Lyngen peninsula area. Along with a picture of each mountain, and the route taken marked in red, he also lists the first ascensionists plus interesting historical information.

As I mentioned in the Ornulf Opdahl posting a substantial number of the peaks were first climbed by 19th Century British climbers. But it is the name of Elizabeth Main that crops up more than others. Born Elizabeth Hawkins-Whitshed, following a number of marriages, she was also known as Mrs Fred Burnaby, Mrs E Main, and Mrs Aubrey le Blond - as well as the more the more glamorous sounding Lizzie le Blond. She was one of the pioneering female alpinists and the first president of the Ladies Alpine Club. She wrote a number of books, including Mountaineering in the Land of the Midnight Sun (1908), which is all about the Lyngen area.

There are many tales about her, but a famous one saw her climb the Zinalrothorn (4221m) twice in one day - the second time to retrieve the skirt which propriety demanded she wear over her climbing breeches when off the mountain.

Geir Jenssen has also climbed Cho Oyu in Tibet. And, yes, he's produced music inspired by the expedition.

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