It’s ten years since she climbed the Seven Summits, i.e. the highest peaks on the world’s seven continents. Now, Randi Skaug tells us how she bought her own island and started off on her eighth undertaking.
Published: 5 July 2017
Randi: I was sitting in bed with my cat when I found Naustholmen on Finn.no. Once I understood that the whole island was for sale, and not just the houses, I bought it. And not so I could sit there alone with my echo, but to create a friendly space in a somewhat hostile world. Naustholmen became my eighth summit, after the Seven Summits.
I had visited Steigen before I bought an island here. Someone asked me to come up and go kayaking a few years ago. And, by the way: I have done a lot of kayaking, but this is the most beautiful place I have ever been out paddling. Turquoise water, full of islets and skerries with the mountains of Lofoten on the horizon. This is what I wish to share with others.
My guests at Naustholmen spend much time outdoors. They go on mountain hikes, kayaking, sleep in hammock tents between the trees, fishing, birdwatching and photo safaris. And some people like to just enjoy sitting on the beach by a fire. Sometimes a cosy fire is all you need.
I guess I can say that my life as an adventurer started back when I was 18-19 years old. During a 1-year period, I completed my upper-secondary education with exams in every subject. I earned a top mark in French and should have actually been very proud. However, I was feeling quite down during the drive home from Oslo to Ringerike. Afterward, I realised that I was sad because I lacked a new goal and direction in my life.
A few days after my exams, I was standing in the kitchen and heard a news report on the radio: Reinhold Messner was the first person to reach the top of Mount Everest without oxygen. My Dad asked me what business anyone had up there, whereas I was thinking that this was the ultimate accomplishment. Imagine reaching the summit on Everest!
For years and years, this remained just a dream I had fun pondering without ever taking a step towards doing it. Up until 1993 when I ended up on a mountain in Nepal with a view over to Everest. This made me think it was possible, and I started making preparations.
First Norwegian woman at the summit of Mt. Everest in 2004
Has climbed the Seven Summits, the highest peak on every continent, the last one in 2007
Paddled the coast of Northern Norway in the kayak, Sakteruta during the summer months of 2012, 2013 and 2014
Purchased Naustholmen in Steigen in 2015 to use as a base for nature-based experiences
The island is 33,000 sq. metres and can be reached via express boat from Bodø, after a boat ride taking 1 hour and 20 minutes
It was once part of Nordland County’s biggest trading post, with commerce based on fishing
I slept outside in temperatures of -40 degrees Celsius, and I spent time in thin air and learned to dress and eat properly, and remain dry instead of being sweaty as I approached the campsite. It’s about the small details. Although I’m not a very fearful person, I’m also not a thrill-seeker. Therefore, I always prepare well. My plan is to always make it home “for dinner”. Then, one day I got an invitation from someone with whom I had discussed Everest, an invitation to the summit.
Everest was third among those seven summits. I had actually never heard of the Seven Summits before climbing Everest. When I came back down and stood there looking up at the summit, it was nearly unfathomable that I had been up there.
So many things became very easy after I climbed those seven mountains. More than ever before, I believed that everything is possible, and that things will work out fine. It’s not certain it will happen right away, but eventually things will work out. We have a tendency to fear the unknown, but that fear decreases each time you accomplish something.
However, I wouldn’t recommend anyone to go and climb Everest; it’s one of the most boring things you can do! You just sit there on a pile of rocks waiting to become acclimatised. I hiked 25 kilometres in 10 weeks, so you can imagine how slow the pace was!
Something special happens to people when they come here to the island: They roll up their sleeves even before they come ashore; they want to lend a hand. I have received an incredible amount of help, and Naustholmen is being built in collaboration with others. This is something for which I am very grateful. People arrived by boat and built a kayak storage rack, cleaned up the basement and made an herb garden. The guest who are visiting now also want to help out with something.
This place has its own special energy. And there is no place as peaceful as an island – we don’t have any traffic lights here, and not a single car. It’s truly fantastic, TRULY fantastic!
I didn’t have a clue when I bought Naustholmen. That’s why I referred to my first year here as a trial year. It’s not a place for extreme sports, but you can try doing things you’ve never tried before. You came here as the person you are, and leave as the person you’ve become.
It’s not going to become too big, either, with overnight accommodation for maximum 22 guests staying here at any given time. I’m currently working on a zoning plan for developing the island, but I’m not going to sink money into tiles and sealants so that everyone can have a private bathroom. We’re going to keep sharing showers and toilets, which helps us to get better acquainted. As for me, I sleep on a mattress in the loft of the boathouse with my cat.
The greatest adventure I’ve ever been on, even greater than Everest, was a trip I called “Sakteruta” (i.e. The Slow Route). I paddled a kayak from Rørvik to Russia over the course of three summers, at times alone, sometimes with company.
That trip left a number of marks, partly because I stowed my watch below deck and went with the tide. I learned that things take as long as they take. So, even when I am busy, I no longer get stressed out. I was taken good care of by everyone I met along the entire route, and I got a whole, big family up here in the north.
Another lesson I learned during my kayaking trip was to count the special moments instead of kilometres. Those moments that brighten things up a bit, and shine extra bright. Just north of Rørvik, on the second day, I thought I was about to get run over when I heard a boat engine and felt a whoosh of air.
But, then I heard someone say: “Care for a cup of coffee?”. That’s when I realised that it’s the special moments that are worth counting. To this very day, I have no idea how many kilometres I paddled.
The booking calendar for 2018 is already starting to get full, with both private individuals and companies. I recently received a visit from a company that was going to hold a meeting here on Naustholmen. The peace and quiet and somewhat poor mobile phone coverage means that there are literally no interruptions or disturbances.
It was such nice weather that they chose to sit down on the dock and work. They told me that they were able to have different and better discussions than usual. But, they got such nice tans and such obvious tan lines from their sunglasses that no one is likely to believe that they have been at a meeting.