Still feeling the stoke from Gaustatoppen and still wearing that big grin, I called my colleague/fellow ski-instructor and sailing-trainer at the Royal Norwegian Yacht Club (KNS) Anne Christine, who has a cabin at Hemsedal, on Monday. We had spoken loosely earlier about having an end-of-season ski trip to end our season on a high note.
After a very short conversation we decided to go for it. She'd pick me up at Ulabrand, Bygdøy, the Yacht Club's training center after my planning meeting with the other sailing-trainers. Best buddy/ski buddy Carlo graciously offered to haul my gear and myself to Ulabrand, thus making all pieces of my jig-saw puzzle fit, as I had to clear 17 Optimists instead of the 3 I had on my schedule. Carlo was going up with all the people from Oslo Winterpark the next day for their end of season bash.
When you want something strongly enough, you somehow make it happen.
Boats and gear ready at KNS Ulabrand, most of my stuff was just dry after Gaustatoppen. http://www.epicski.com/t/112004/gaustatoppen-telemark-norway-13-15-april#post_1457762
At 8:30 pm we were ready, my Black Crows Corvus' fit inside the roof mounted ski box with a millimeter to spare. Also brought along my Head SS Mags, just in case. The weather forecast once more looked very promising ( this has been a winter with way too little snow ). Anne Christine had been to her cabin during Easter, and had been confined to skiing slopes only.
Also with us was her dachshund Flaks ( flaks is the Norwegian word for luck ). We enjoyed the close to empty roads and found time to prep for our upcoming theory part of our IFSI class, having finished the practical part a couple of weeks earlier.
We arrived at her cabin, that she had described as "rustic" and "basic", just before 1 am. Having had a meal en route, we just had a welcome-to-the-mountains beer and a glass of wine while the wood-burning fireplace slowly warmed the big living-room. She has a high-tech "call to start the ovens" system that somehow had gone on strike - no biggie. I discovered that I'd forgotten my sleeping bag in Carlo's car, but Anne Christine just looked at me like I was weird ( people occasionally do that ) and said sleeping bags wasn't needed and showed me my room. In the closet she had everything I needed, and it's always nice to have a down comforter and a proper bed.
Cold boots in the morning is not an option.
Oh, I have forgotten to mention that it had snowed a LOT up there, everything was white that I could see.
Rising early and having a full breakfast, we quickly got into our gear and headed for the resort, app 20 mins away.
It was still snowing, so powder-skis it was. She had some very nifty boutique skis, Hendryx from Sweden. We headed towards the office to buy our passes, expecting a discount with our membership-cards from DNS, the Norwegian Ski School, and our instructor cards from Tryvann Skischool.
The bill looked like this :
Skistar is a great company, allowing card-carrying members of DNS to ski for free up to 5 days in a row.
As we didn't know about this, we were very surprised :
Anne Christine and I looking surprised.
Hemsedal is Norway's second largest resort, inbounds, and by far the largest for out-of-bounds/offpiste. On the map I counted 23 peaks that looked accessible before quitting counting. Plenty of snow and hardly anybody there made our prospects of finding untouched powder look very good, and Anne Christine knows this resort like the back of her hand - she would be the perfect guide.
Visibility could've been better, but at least we had plenty of snow.
Just from skiing to the ticket office.
Anne Christine delivered big-time, she found untracked powder for us everywhere. Avy danger was just at 1, so we could loose our backpacks - the people at the ticket office were kind enough to to look after them for us - again; Skistar is a great company.
I've been wearing that grin for a week now, my cheeks hurt, but it's a most welcome pain.
We only used the pistes when we needed to get to a lift, then take it to the top, where Anne Christine found new and challenging runs for us. Big mountain, trees, pretty much anything possible. She's a very accomplished skier and a great person.
I'm on top of the Roni lift here, looking forward to more fun.
Skiing trees. Most fun!
We were two happy campers, Anne Christine said she seldom, if ever, had seen the resort like this.
We had a healthy lunch and skied till the resort closed down. Then we went shopping for food etc, as we were being joined by our friend and colleague Hedda ( she also took part of the Gaustatoppen trip ) and her cuz Agnes for dinner. I even managed to buy a pair of trousers.
Anne Christine had had new insoles made at Surefoot in Oslo, but they needed a tweak. I decided to see if I could do a quick and dirty tweak.
Sometimes a good 15 mins soak in boiling water followed by an improvised punch does the trick
She said they felt a little bit better, but the next day she skied without insoles - back to Surefoot for a tweak.
Anne Christine made a delicious meal for the four of us, sashimi from salomon with asparagus, avocado and much more. A few beers and good wine made it a very fun evening.
Anne Christine and Hedda, I've gotta get something done to my flash.
Hedda and Agnes, a new and great friend gained for me.
Agnes, Anne Christine, I and Hedda - a rowdy crowd. I had been appointed lifeguard and had to wear the sticker on my forehead. Being in close touch with my inner child is important to me.
The next morning I woke up to the sound of capercaillies having mating games on the marshes just downside of the cabin. It was a great experience.
We hooked up with Carlo for a morning cappuccino before venturing out into the white. Visibility was still quite bad and I changed glasses in my Smiths - that helped me a lot.
Carlo told a joke that totally cracked Agnes up over morning coffee.
After a few excellent runs in poor visibility it was time for lunch again. Hedda and Agnes were skinning up to the top in preparation for Hedda's week long trek in the Lofoten area up north.
Agnes and Hedda almost ready to start their climb.
I allowed myself a beer with lunch ( just one ) - delicious.
After lunch Flaks the dog joined us for a few powder runs. He would run in our tracks, sometimes disappearing totally but surfacing with his tail spinning like a propeller.
One happy dog.
Later that day we scared a flock of mountain grouse, they were just about a meter away. It happened way to quickly to be able to get a photo of. Nature is great.
We were all pretty tired and made it an early night.
The next morning visibility had improved greatly.
Anne Christine's cabin, a great place.
We met our boss, Tore, and Anne Christine's husband Sigurd, both ISIA-teachers, at 10 pm and went up to the top. No tracks where we were going. After walking a distance we set off down the big mountainside, were we took different paths. Tore and I was going towards one of Tore's favorites, the Hogstfeltet ( a logging area ), where we were fortunate enough to set the first tracks. Steep and deep!
One happy ( and tired ) ambassador about halfway of the run.
My boss and mentor, Tore.
After this run, that took us from the top to the bottom I declared a time-out. We shared the first lift up, then I took a much needed cappuccino break while Tore skied the same run once again. Anne Christine and Sigurd had found an interesting line that they also skied twice.
About an hour later the three of us from the school met up outside my resting place, and headed out again. this time the "Gummiskogen", the rubber-forest, was the target.
Hendryx, Nordica and Black Crows.
Again we found no tracks and skied the challenging run. I discovered that my 196 cm long skies were better suited for open mountainsides and not tight trees, but somehow got down.Now I need yet another pair of skis, shorter and wider, and will quit being a traditionalist and go for full rocker and maybe reverse-reverse. On the trek there, I clumsily managed to snug my thumb somehow and was in some pain. Not wanting to ruin the others stoke I kept quiet about the pain.
Tore and Anne Christine in the Gummiskogen
madMads in tight trees, still smiling.
Tore had expertly calculated the time we would be down, the ski-taxi arrived the same time as we did. After an app 10 mins drive we were back at the resort. I needed yet another break and a fix of cappuccino and after the first, long lift we split up. I went to the skipatrol, where patroller Anne had a look at my thumb, taped it and advised me to take it slowly. I did, and just skied some puny trees. By now the snow had gotten heavier and after a few runs I called it a day and was just chatting with friends in the sun.
This was beyond fun!
This wasn't, but it'll be ok in a day or two.
Around 4 pm Anne Christine and I set our course for Oslo, agreeing that this had been yet another perfect ski trip.
After skiing Oslo Winterpark all season, I've been fortunate enough to be able to ski big mountains and trees in powder for 5 days.
I hope to be able to make it back to Gaustatoppen once more before the summer, and will go to Stryn for summer skiing in June, making my total ski days 105 this season, a new record for me. I've also logged in excess of 235.000 vertical meters so far and I'm happy and content with my choice of making a living with skies strapped to my feet wintertime, and with sailing during the off-season. A lucky guy indeed.
Beautiful scenery all over Norway, you should consider doing something different and try skiing here. I'm always willing to help with any information or tips you may need.
My ambitions for next season is making it to the EpicSki gathering, time and money permitting. I hope to bring more Vikings...
Edited by madMads - 7/9/12 at 7:05am