Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wicked Weekends Part 2

We decided after our strenuous ski mountaineering weekend it was definitely time for a weekend spent lazing at home..........until Ally phoned and lured us in with tempting images of huts, skis, whiskey and mountains.
So this time we were off on a fjellski tur (kind of fat cross country skis with steel edges) from Prestøyhytte (which we waded into a few months ago in an earlier post) and on to Shutzhytte in the Selbu area.
Crossing a rather unnecessary swing bridge on the way in (you could ski across the river!)

We all packed wildly and furiously on Friday afternoon and managed to get away by the crack of about 5 o'clock. We had a stop off at the huge Coop Supermarket on the other side of town and lost each other in the vegie section for some time - big supermarkets are so uncommon here you forget how overwhelming they can be!

Fortunately it is only a short drive (about 1.5 hours) to get to the start of the route in. In the freezing cold we sorted through way too much food, mounted big lamps on our heads and took of on our fjell skis. The first 2/3 of the route was following quite a nice scooter trail. Then we had a steep climb through very unreliable wind blown snow up to the hut, which we reached in about an hour (it took us three on foot last time when we had to wade through the snow).

Enjoying the skiing?
We cooked up some food and drank a whiskey toast to Ally (it was his birthday!) An alarm was set for 9 o'clock - a nice early sun rise start (-:. We had a big porridge cook up in the morning, and after a bit of mucking around we headed out round midday.

The snow was super difficult because it was so windblown and had a very crusty layer on top. The amount of crashes we mounted up between us was rather comical - Ally was having a very interesting time on his skinny cross country skis. We cruised up a on a frozen river on which you could see frozen stoppers in the ice!

Tim and Ally on the move

After crossing twon more frozen lakes the light was dimming as night approached. We entered some pine forest and our pace slowed as we picked our way amongst the trees. Finally, just as it was completly dark and I was stuck in a big snow drift Ally yelled that he could see the hut, so we crashed our way down to the hut.

The Shutzhytte by daylight
We found a nice little room with bunks to heat up, so before long our hut was warm and cozy. Chris set to work and dug a deep path all the way down to the ground enabling us to access the toilets in crocs only....you would have thought he wasn't even tired!

Having a cozy time in the hut in the NZ polypros!

Leaving the Shutzhytte
Sunday dawned with even a little sun! We got an earlier start from the Shutzhytte because we had to cover about 20km to get back to the car. We made quicker progress as we were able to follow the trails we had made the day before. We stopped for lunch outside some little cabins, but even with our down jackets on we could only stop for about 15 minutes before we began to get very cold.

A few welcome rays of sun

Low light on our way out
After about five hours we finally reached the car, all feeling very tired - this skiing business is hard work! A visit to Statoil to receive a free coffee with our refillable Statoil mug was needed before we set off back to Trondheim for another week 'in the office' so to speak (-:

Wicked Weekends Part 1

A couple of weeks ago we had a huge hoar frost in Trondheim, so I included a few photos of the ice laden trees.
Looking out our front window, brrrrrrrrrrrrr. It was about -20 and very damp!

White trees everywhere
While the weather in Trondheim continues to be miserable and rainy, we have managed to escape for the last two weekends in a row into the mountains. The ski tracks round Bymarke (where we live) are up to no good and the streets are slippery and wet, so getting away is the best thing to do right now.

Our first trip was a Norsk Skialpinisme Sammling (Norwegian Ski Mountaineering Group Training). We know a couple of the guys in this group through the Wing Orienteering Club and they kindly allowed us to tag along and borrow some fancy ski gear for the weekend.

We drove up to Kårvatn, a small farmstead set in a very steeply sided and pretty valley. There we stayed in a DNT Hytte which is owned by the farm, and also the location of Gudmund Kårvatn's extremely impressive ski barn, where he bases his ski business.

A little shed on the Kårvatn Farm
On Saturday morning we set out on a 'cruisy' trip up the mountain. We climbed up through the trees, across some fairly steep slopes which I had no idea how I was going to ski down, and into a big snowy basin. The sun was out, but it was still pretty cold. We had a quick sandwich feed, before heading further up the mountain to a ridgeline. The others headed off on their own, leaving Chris and I to have a go doing some runs between the top and the lunch spot.

It was a beautiful sunny day, but still pretty cold!

The group pausing to take in the view

At first I was terrified and sure I was never going to get down....but after a few turns I realized that these skis actually wanted to turn, and the difference between skis with proper boots and using fjellskis with a liftable heal is huge!

We had some great runs in some pretty soft powder before heading down through the trees. Skiing through them was quite scary, I was glad to have a helmet, and I ran over a couple of small ones!

That evening we had a technical relay round a short loop; put skins on, run up hill, take skins off, ski down hill, take skins off and attach to pack, run round a cone, put skins back on again. Our skills were somewhat lacking....but it was very entertaining anyway (-:

Chris was a little anxious before the race

Starting the little competition...Ola takes the lead

The stressful skin removal
The next day the others had a race which I watched and took some photos. Chris had a fun time at the back of the pack blasting up the hill, then so much time on the skin changes and down hills. In the afternoon we went for a short trip, before it was time to pack up and head home!

Chris shows his skills on the downhill

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Trysil Ski Orienteering

One week after our return from Sjusjoen we were ready to put the cross country skis on again for the National Ski Orienteering competitions down in Trysil. We had to leave Trondheim straight after work on Friday because it is a 5 hour drive south. Trondheim had been experiencing an extreme freeze all week with temperatures hovering around -20. This was making biking to work an interesting experience!

As we drove South we passed through Røros, a small town which is located in a kind of depression, meaning it frequently records extremely cold temperatures. When we passed through we hopped out of the car and had our first experience of - 34!

Trysil is a ski resort quite high on a mountain side, and interestingly the temperature actually steadily increased as we climbed up - at the ski resort the temperature was a balmy -14. We were staying with the rest of the Wing contingent, and had two very nice apartments to stay in, located right beside the start area.

Chris finishing his course

The following morning was crisp and clear as we warmed up on some nice groomed trails. The scooter trails which you follow during the competition seemed pretty well made this time, and Chris, Helen and I all enjoyed ourselves on our courses even if we had no show against the
Norwegian ski bums.

Chris wearing the speedy Wing top

We went out for pizza and spent most of the afternoon watching cross country skiing on TV. Sunday was the National Relay, and Helen and I teamed up with another girl Vebeka who was staying with us. We all improved considerably on our kilometer per hour rates from the day before (-: The mens' Wing team which consisted of Øystein, amazing (and female) Marte and Lars managed a convincing win overall which was really exciting.

Start of the relay...they were quite fast....

The Wing team after winning the mens relay with one female team member
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Christmas in Sjusjoen

Chris and I had a couple of very busy weeks before the Christmas holidays finally arrived. Chris has been commuting everywhere by running, because of his arm. We were longing for the snow to arrive, but instead it was just freezing cold, dark and icy.

But finally, just a few days before Christmas the snow came. We immediately took to the skis, but unfortunately the rocks were still poking out and I saw sparks fly off Chris's ski's a few times!

We had a lovely Christmas Eve meal with a colleague and her family, then had a quiet day with some skyping, some ski unwrapping, and a pretty walk up the Gråkallen Domes in the snow.

We had hired a car and spent boxing day morning filling it with stuff for our trip down south for some ski action with Fiona and Stu (Kiwi friend's living in Bristol at the moment). Stu was recovering from just having raced in Abu Dhabi and the World Adventure Race Champs (along with Fiona and Chris) in Portugal.

We had a slow drive down in snowy conditions and arrived in a very chilly, very snowy Lillehammer. We stayed in the hostel that is in the train station, so we peeked out the window and watched Stu and Fi disembark the train beneath us. We were all excited about the trip, so we talked skiing and adventure racing for a fair bit before going to bed.

In the morning we loaded the car with many skis and all our gear and drove up through the very snowy forest to Nordseter, a little ski village just before Sjusjoen. We found our cozy little cabin and jumped in the fluffy white stuff before heading out for our first taste on the ski and some of the hundreds of kilometers of groomed trails.

Fi out on the skis

Between the trees

We all had our bright lights, so we beamed our way round a very fluffy trail that took a bit longer than expected because of the very soft snow. A whizzy descent and we arrived back at the cabin in time to cook up a yummy dinner.

The next day dawned clear and sunny, so we decided on a mission down to Lillehammer. The skiing was much better and Stu was picking up skating ridiculously fast. The general gradient was downhill and as the day wore on we started to get pretty cold. We passed a crazy looking steaming river. A final great downhill led us into Lillehammer and we made a trip to the Kiwi supermarket before we hopped on the bus to get back to Nordseter.

A steaming river on the way in to Lillehammer, it was freezing!

After two days on the skate skis we decided it was time to have a 'classic' day. It was wonderful and sunny again, so this time we took off on a more sedate loop round a very big lake. The trail wound up and down gently through beautiful snowy forest. After a couple of hours we decided to take a short-cut straight across the lake and then as we headed back to our cabin the huge moon rose up against a pink and purple sky.

Out on the classic skis in the sun

We wanted to make it down to Lillehammer again to try and get hold of the DNT key for the hytte (which we have already in Trondheim) but had forgotten to take with us. Chris and I skated ahead and had an exhilarating trip along the best trail yet. Unfortunately the office in Lillehammer was shut, but we stumbled across the Visitors Center and managed to get a key from there instead.

We caught the bus back to Sjusjoen and skied back over a hill to Nordseter. The sun was just set and it was a very crispy cool night, once again we could ski in the bright moonlight with the stars twinkling above us.

Our last day at Nordseter had arrived, and it was the 31st. After another fun ski involving rather a lot of off track skiing through deep powder (and a lot of falling over!) we created a delicious feast for ourselves and brewed up plenty of mulled wine. As midnight approached the fireworks began, the whole valley seemed to be filled with people letting off very elaborate fireworks.

There was a steep path beside or cabin and some kids who were having way too much fun tobogganing down it - consequently we all saw the New Year in zooming down the hill on the toboggan too!

New Year's day was very cold, around -20, so we wrapped up warm and packed our things for the final part of our trip. We drove about an hour North to a place high in the hillside called Høvringen. Their we had organised to hire some touring skis from a man, who also (given the late hour of our arrival) let us stay in his apartment which had a great big window opening out onto the mountains and a sauna!

Warm fire, book, sauna....

The view from our cabin at Høvringen

Chris, Stu and I went for a short ski in the freezing cold while Fi cooked us a delicious dinner. It was wonderful to get back for some hot food, then jump in the sauna to warm up! Especially given all our bodies were feeling pretty tired after heaps of skiing.

In the morning we made an early start to give us plenty of time to get into the Rondvassbu were we planned to stay the night. It was still around -19 so we couldn't really stop very much. But it was a beautiful clear day and the mountains were high and snowy around us. After about 5 hours, just as the sun was setting and the mountains were turning pink we arrived at Rondvassbu and immediately lit the fire and made hot soup.

On our way in the trails to begin with

Em and Fi trying to catch up to the boys

Half way to Rondassbu

Checking the map

The sun is now setting...

Descending carefully to the hut

It wasn't long before the hut was a pleasant 18 degrees and we could enjoy ourselves in the cozy hut. The following day Fi and Stu had to get back to Oslo for their return flight to the UK, and we realised we were in for a really early start the next day. We woke and 6 and were heading out from the hut in the cold wind and dark at about 7 o'clock with our headlamps beaming out across the snowy hillside. The snow was blustering around us, and we all felt as if we were arctic explorers.

Looking up valley from Rondvassbu

We made good time and stormed along the last bit of the route, arriving back at the car with plenty of time, but also feeling pretty pooped. We drove down to the bus station in Otta and parted ways with Stu and Fi after a fantastic snowy ski week.