Saturday, April 29, 2006
Not quite the london marathon but 500 set out in the sun shine saturday afternoon and after my 4.5k warm up the start was very quick which set the scene for the rest of the race round Stokkavatn - free bananas and juice to finish the 8.2k tour and then a quick jog home again - next year tactics will be much better worked out ;~)
chose the pic as I just didnt have enough "air intakes!"
Monday, April 17, 2006
And so to the last and final day-to make it all the way back to Stavanger & London via Fondsbu,the Beltebil,the bus,the train & the plane! a specially large niste pack to last us-packs on,we said goodbye to the lovely Gjendebu hut & fiddled with violet special & blue extra in an effort to get some grip....hhhhhmmm....a beautiful valley to be in looking back down onto the Gjende lake-but when the driving snow came it was hoods up & heads down again only just being able to see the track & the tips of the skis-they did totally disappear quite regularly!For the final push down Bygdin we gratefully followed a local who we'd cut tracks for previously and got back to Fondsbu for more T and specially made Chelsea buns and waffles-we took them both before piling into the Beltebil and eventually sitting on the hill waiting for the Valdresexpressen
Day 3=26k;Day 4=24k;Day 5=10k;Day 6=27k;Day 7=25k;Day 8=12k;Day 9=18k;Day 10=15k;Total=157k
Ultimate Kit List:
sheet sleeping back : eye shades & ears plugs : hut slippers : hut clothes change
wash kit : sun cream : knife / multi-tool : small 1st aid
gortex T&B : fleece T&B : thermals T&B : gloves, hat, mits, spare gloves
several pairs of socks etc(!)
ax, crampons, skis, boots, poles, skins, spade, small sit mat 1sqft, wax
googles & sunnies
maps, map case, compass
waterbottle : platypus : thermos flask
a few nice snacks to keep us sane!
reading book (cards and games in huts?)
Sunday, April 16, 2006
looking at the forecast once more showed large snow falls for midday - we packed up all our stuff and slinged our rucksacks heading out for Gjendebu, James with contingency skis on his back, and followed the mass exodus, although everyone else was going the other which left us with a clear road - totally clear of tracks - ours to cut....Leirvasbu had certainly treated us well but it was time for a change - a leasurely start lead to 11s at about 11!!where there was a real treat in store - James had very thoughtfully brought along some cream eggs - mmmmhhhhh - v nice - made you think of home & easter - it turned out to be another heads down day and were glad of the significant downhill about 4k from Gjendebu where we met the first folk coming the other way - very kind of them to cut tracks for us - being at only about 1100m here the landscape changed to one covered in small bushes and some combat skiing amoungst the vegetation became quite the sport!the fire in the cabin was an immediate magnet so we supped Earl Grey and played backgammon trying feet and discussed the finer points of telebindings - any better than the old days of wooden poles and steel bindings!quite a change at dinner as there were a total of 5 of us!
Saturday, April 15, 2006
so why dont we have a crack at Høgvagltindane (2066m) was the conclusion of the after dinner card games-looks good,& as M&P had been there before we'd have insider expertise-it was skins on early for me on the alpine skis but the other 3 managed to hold off til about 1680m on the Tele skis-by this time we'd come to expect copious quantities of snow & accordingly weren't disappointed-in & out of cloud came mysterious views of Vestre but the summit remainded illusive,quickly getting onto the glacier & more cloud we switched to GPS nav with P calling left a bit,right a bit til lunch was called at the coll,the mini Lindt easter eggs & go-nuts were offered round washed down with more Earl Grey!leading the next leg was quite confusing as there was no contrast between anything,steady 18% grey all round-were we actually moving atall?there was a ridge somewhere that we should find to go up,somwhere...in total "in-visibility" a high point was called 100m from the top & a rapid decent made,however,the highlight was watching a mountain "vole" in its winter coat forage around its snowy burrow just below the glacial snout-fabulous-and home in time for the saturday night party and prize giving
Friday, April 14, 2006
More skis than the average alpine ski resort outside the hut this morning & a breakie qu to match but still no one out ahead of us-we teamed up with M&P for a fabulous top tour as the weather was relatively clear-Kyrke was standing resolutely at the end of the lake-would have to wait for another day as we skied past it on the Spiterstulen route-a short climb & then a beautiful sweep down saw us cutting more tracks up our chosen valley-the locals staying suitably back enjoying the fresh tracks but not volunteering any!!We picked a safe route up over the moraine & between the crevasses onto the main body of Bukkeholsbreen only to find the cloud rapidly closing in-so much for our views-we were tantalised by fleeting ridges & tops but much appreciated the GPS navigation aid from P. 100 steps of cutting out front then 300 rest repeated several times-our top came & went but when we got closer we could tell it wouldn't disappoint-very wind blown & gusty the view from the summit (Bukkeholstindan 2135m) was quickly admired before being forced down onto the coll for a bivvy 2nd lunch in a small snow scrape dug specially-the spades 1st outing on this tour!our 2nd summit had to be aborted 20m from the top as conditions worsened unacceptably-wind & vis-& we headed home,rapturous about being able to ski wonderful offpiste cream before 3rd lunch & the final schlep back to base!
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Today was meant to be a rest day,as always the forecast dictating decisions,so staying low following tracks,no tops or anything exposed-well we successfuly achieved the last 2 & planned a simple tour (on the map at least!)sharp start after breakie saw us heading down on the Gjendebu trail-a fair amount of snow had fallen overnight & there was plenty in the air-goggles on!we chatted with a couple of guys at the Olavsbu junction (11.00) about the conditions & spotted a group ahead nicely cutting tracks for us-not for long tho as we turned off the marked route (12.00) heading up a secluded valley-fresh powder & lots of it-boot high-so going was slowed consideraly & after having to take a much needed lunch in our admittedly v cosy & snug bothie we realised the last 3k had taken 2hrs-but we knew where we were & what was to be done-4k along a flat lake & up to the 1700m coll at its end-a bit of a slog & 2hrs later we'd successfully navigated up it & took 2nd lunch (16.00) all of this was in 100m visibilty & lots of map & compass work-we were v pleased to find the twigs marking the trail back home from Olavsbu to Leirvasbu only 9k home-alot of head down & motivational thoughts-totally & utterly exhausted home to a cup of Earl Grey (19.30) so glad to see the dinner table & bed!
mmmh-thinking of all the lovely food we've had so far-the other side of this little adventure-its not all about horrendous mountains & knarly weather!They do feed us well in the cabins-porridge with cinnamon & sugar topping & occasional appel mouse aswell!Smoked salmon & scrambled eggs & many cheese slices washed down with much T&OJ.Breaky is also all about making your 'niste' or lunch pack-open sarnies are definitely a revelation-requiring the special packing technique!Don't forget the thermos-more Earl Grey!I also carry a selection of nibbles-'go nuts' & chocie bars & some energy drinks in case of emergency!But dinners are something else-quite amazing-3 courses washed down if you fancy with your choice of whatever!We've had everything from monkfish,steak,chicken,silverside,lots of excellent soups & very extravagant deserts-brandy snaps,cherry cream marangue upsidedown cake & chocolate brownies!Certainly not going hungry-mmmh
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Much excitement & anticipation about the route the guide had helped us pick out for today-a fabulous if not slightly steep ridge just behind the cabin leading to a multitude of new peaks,only a short way down the main drag before bearing right (north) & cutting our own way through virgin powder-this is whats it's all about!Despite our very much lightened & streamlined packs going was hard & skins came out as the inclination steepened.Calamity though as within a matter of minutes of this James once again fell victim to a broken ski binding,this time the other one despite having had both checked over night.Tough decisions weighing up the options saw James head back to Leirvasbu to rectify the sorry ski situation (he managed to borrow a guides skis for a couple of hours & had a relaxing few hours practicing Tele turns-considerable words to the hire company were planned!)Dougal pushed on up the ridge reaching 1800m (11.30) before having to put skis on back & walk the remaining 300m, occasionally in waste deep powder but mostly only shin deep-heavy going.5 vertical m below the summit of Tverrbottindan 2106m (13.00) visibility & snow conditions were so bad the only decision was to turn back & head for home,trying to retrace the already partially covered uphill steps!Home by 14.30,so much quicker down than up-amazing!
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
We knew today would not be one for tops with thick & low cloud forecast so we saddled up all our kit & set course for the next cabin-we weren't sure how far we'd get but hoped for Leirvasbu.After a quick application of blue extra & violet special we pulled out at 9.40,but were already stopping for skins by 10 as we disappeared into 'no vis country'.Heads down & a couple of food stops saw us at olavsbu by 2 (12.5k) where the carefully prepared cheese (&ham) sarnies were rapidly consumed!We thought the rest of the afternoon would go without remark as we enjoyed some nice downhill sweeps-James practicing his Tele turns & Dougal the odd badly executed tight parallel,however at the base of the final uphill pull James' ski binding gave up the ghost & he was forced to walk the remaining 2k to Leirvasbu-no fun at all.We got to the cabin at 5.30 (11.5k) & booked a late dinner.Repairs were duely sought & the rental company duely cursed!
Monday, April 10, 2006
Weathers going to be fantastic tomorrow so make the most of it was our greeting on arrival to Fondsbu sunday night-this was music to our ears as i'd spent saturday on the train and sunday on the bus and rather exciting beltebil. As promised monday dawned clear and after porridge we were off,light packs saw us eating up ground quickly,perhaps too much so,and we eventually made the glacier.Our planned top came and went in and out of cloud but we felt it was on and after 1st lunch,we'd already had 2nd breakfast,we headed up the coll where the cloud promptly rolled in obliterating the promised views,but being so close we skied a little further before removing skis and walked up the final summit ridge-no views we shook hands and quickly turned back-urdanostinden 2157!Back at the coll we also decided to take in slingsbytinden 2026 as the weather had cleared slightly,good whe back over our larger peak-the rest was a quick downhill to dinner-about 26km roundtrip to a fab dinner!
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
where to begin - what an event - the snow fell for most of the evening of saturday aswell as during the event itself on sunday - the road and trees had a beautiful sugar white covering making for an interesting dirve to the start.
we left our cabin about 2.45am after a quick harvegrøt (porrige, important additional carbobase layer!) caught the bus from tonstad at 3.45 on which we managed to rest a little and got to the start at 7 where there were about 2200 other competitors waiting for their start time - it was about 1-2 degrees so much chat about which wax to use!!
plenty nerves led us to our start at 9.15 after applying several thins layers of green, blue, blue extra, violet special, red and even a bit of borrowed special yellow VR75 - (borderline klister!!) we had already spent a while on the saturday afternoon preparing the glide sections of the skis...
the start was an amusing anticlimax as we waited for all those infront to gradually get going and cross the start line once the gun had gone off, we quickly got down to 6 abreast and eventually 4 once at the bridge - then the uphill started! 10am saw me at the 1st food stop (wooden tresel tables with paper cups and hundreds of sweaty skiers!) where it was a half banana, lemon juice and the 1st gel immediately feeling its effect i sprinted off along the tracks again - seeing people stretched all the way to the top of the next pass, climbing most of the way to the next matstation at 11.10, more bananas and another gel - not quite the same dramatic effect this time...
however, this was about as high as we were to get (~1000m) so the significant climbing had been done, making me feel much happier, all down hill i thought and then saw the 30km to go sign...i could sense the fatigue creeping up fast - i had counted on being able to get to the top and then freeride down, but then realised the difficulty in cruising down on gelly legs - faceplant time so by the time the 3rd food stop came along at 12.20 it was time for a more substantial rest (4mins downtime!) - time enough to take the skis off and reapply the red wax in hope that some of the stick would return on the warm sugary surface...
pretty much running on fumes by this time - 24k to go - but only 13k to the 4th drinks and then i was familiar with the rest (quality tip : break it down into managable chunks, a real help!)...you’ll notice not much commentry on the landscape, primarily as most of the time i only saw the heels of the person infront ;~)) number 1771 was there again - i thought i’d passed him earlier...
the rest became a bit of struggle and a blur, passing the last food station at 13.50 in a trance popping the last gel and banana handout washed down with more lemon juice, gratefuly there were more “free” downhill sections of glide followed by the occasional faceplant - now i realised why there were manned red cross stations at the bottom of each ;~)
the distance markers became more frequent and folks had started to line the tracks (have to mention that as a result of the staggered start a significant number of folk had already finished and the tracks had certainly suffered from heavy traffic making finding a decent ski rutt a little tricky) flags were being waved and encouraging calls came from the sidelines - very motivational, almost there, to the bottom of the last hill, around the last corner - and then a 2k marker - not that far - surely! only one possible ski action now, too exhausted to try anything else - too much emotion and exhaustion...
a final call of “løype” as someone with a little more in the tank wanted the racing line - this must be the last corner - but where’s the “mål” (goal)?? turn the corner and theres still some 200m to the banner - seems a monumental struggle to get there, the continual pushing against an overwhelming urge to give up and colapse, the body screeming for an end, i feel uterly drained of everything, nothing left to give, not another inch as momentum slows me to a stoop as the barcode is read from number i’m wearing - 5hrs 34mins finishing at 14.49 - an experience that will not be forgotten, amazing to be part of, such a pleasure, such a feeling, not of satisfaction or acheivement but pure spirit, thoroughly recommend your own sesilåmi
Saturday, April 01, 2006
friday evening saw Madrugada play the local tennis club ;~) great gig, top music - loads of folk, good atmosphere - tremendous encore including "lift me" - so lots of singing and dancing - had to miss the afterparty tho due to the impending skiing!!