Words & photos by Duthie, video by Will Nangle
It takes a lot to ruffle Enni Rukajarvi’s feathers. Even as a 20-year-old rookie, she was swiping X Games slopestyle gold from under the noses of Jamie Anderson and defending champ Jenny Jones. From the FIS World Cup circuit to the Air + Style, she’s topped the podium time and again in Big Air too. Then there’s her two consecutive Olympic medals, one of which was earned during the most dangerous contest in recent memory.
Now, however, cracks are beginning to appear in that cool Finnish exterior. For the last ten minutes, an aggressively affectionate toddler has been climbing her like a tree. “Wow…” is all she can bring herself to say, as three-year old Fenna wraps a set of tiny arms around her neck and plants her face limpet-like against one of her cheeks. The smile remains, but the eyes look like they’re working on an exit strategy.
Sorry, Enni – for the next five days, there is no escape. Welcome to the Nomads Bus.
“The snow has finally arrived, and so has the welcome wagon – all 40-odd feet of it”
The story of the Nomads bus begins in 2014, when Belgian couple Tim Boffe and Valerie Cook crowdfunded €20,000 to convert a classic American yellow school bus into a “hostel on wheels” – one that would be fully kitted out for winters in the mountains, free to head for wherever the snow and weather were best. The project caught fire, the target was reached, and after a long conversion job the Nomads Bus (affectionately known as ‘Jumbo George’) was good to go.
Before long they’d settled into a nice rhythm: Val does the lion’s share of the cooking, while Tim drives the bus and, in his capacity as a fully certified mountain guide, leads the guests on the mountain. Peak winter is spent travelling around the Tyrol Valley, before driving north to the Lyngen Alps for spring splitboarding. After a stellar Austrian season, things in Norway have been at relatively low tide, but luck is with us by the time our crew (rounded out by videographer Will Nangle) assembles in the Arctic Circle. The snow has finally arrived, and so has the welcome wagon – all 40-odd feet of it.
While it easily dwarfs everything else on the road, getting it to comfortably house six guests – as well as Tim, Val, Fenna and their Swiss mountain dog, Lewis – was always going to be a challenge. A lot of thought has gone into the layout, without so much as a square inch going unused.