A fantastic week on Strynefjell!
|Ski-skating, Billingen||–||–||Skjåk, Norway|
|Ski-skating, Billingen||–||–||Skjåk, Norway|
Continued from last week…
Monday: Our first day at “Jadebu” – the cabin that we borrowed for a few days from our good friends Lena and Terje. The cabin is located between Billingen and Nysætri on Strynefjellet.
It was a cloudy day, otherwise OK. No wind and enough visibility for a trip to a nearby mountain. The choice fell on Uppnosi in Skjåk – a mountain I’ve thought about visiting for YEARS – having driven across Strynefjellet numerous times for the past 20 years.
The amount of snow could be a challenge for the dog, and so we tried to be clever in picking the route. We ended up with Slette (along the road to Sota Sæter) as the starting point, as there was a tractor road going up the forest. Even with a lot of snow, a tractor road would be far better than open terrain.
We headed out from Slette just before 11am. It was quite cold. The car reported that the outside temperature was -17 deg. C. We could only hope that this was a “valley effect” and that it would be warmer on the mountain.
We had a smooth and easy trip up the tractor road. Anne had regular mountain skis while I had chosen Randonee equipment for this trip – a total overkill. But the tractor road was leading us away from the top and so we had the choice: should we set a direct course for the top or stick to the tractor road? If there was as much snow on the ridge and on the mountain as here in the forest, then Karma would have a longer struggle if we stuck to the tractor road.
In the end, we decided to take a direct approach and that didn’t work very well for poor Karma.
We had more than 4km ahead of us and if conditions didn’t improve, there was no way we would reach the top. Our last hope was that there were tracks on the forest ridge.
And there was! They even carried Karma’s weight and now we were really optimistic about reaching the top!
When we rose above the forest, the light got more flat. But not so flat that it would cause inconvenience on the way down. As long as we followed the poles (probably to lead the way for snowmobiles going up to the antenna on top), we were also able to stick to the old track that – for the most part – carried Karma’s weight.
When we (finally!) had the top right ahead of us, we could see a single reindeer below the antenna. The reindeer was partly shy, partly curious about our presence. It kept a safe distance, but didn’t run away. I had to put Karma on a leash, as she was mighty interested in the creature ahead of us…
The reindeer was an adult buck and didn’t seem to be injured or starving. It was however odd that he was all by himself, but apparently, there can be some lone drifters in the outskirts of the herd. In this case – the Breheimen reindeer herd.
It was definitely not -17 deg. C. on top. My guess would be around -10 deg. C. I was not cold although I stood still with a sweaty shirt under my (non-insulating) Gore-Tex jacket.
After enjoying a couple of sandwiches and something warm to drink, it was time to head back down.
The snow was a mix of soft snow, packed snow and snow with an icy crust. As such, it felt quite OK to have Randonee equipment. We had to wait some for Karma, struggling in our tracks.
Things got easier for her in the forest, where the base from the old tracks was hard. And there would be no short-cut this time! We followed the tracks to the fork where we could go left for our trailhead, or right if we wanted to go to Pollfoss.
Man, it was nice to start the Christmas break with a proper ski-trip! We stopped at Dønfoss to pick up a few items from the local store before returning to the warm cabin. After sending Christmas cards to friends (the Electronic way), it was time to decorate the tree – a pine tree from behind my house on Gurskøya. This was the 4th tree (I believe…) from my “own forest”.
And NOW – we were ready for Christmas!
Trip statistics: 15,1km, 670 vertical meters, 3h:38m
Pictures (Canon EOS RP/Iphone8) from the trip:
Tuesday: Christmas Eve, and no time to go on a major ski-trip today. Too much work to be done in the kitchen, preparing food, etc…
However, we did have time to check out the nicely prepared tracks running past the cabin. We decided to ski towards Nysætre and “take it from there”. We were all happy to be on prepared tracks again.
Anne skied on classic skis for prepared tracks, while I decided to skate. I skate once or twice every year, each time imagining I’m FLYING along the track but the hard facts are that: a) I don’t know enough about skis and how to prepare them to FLY and b) I don’t possess the technique. So, the result is that after ~5Km, my hips and ankles begin to ache.
As we passed Nysætre, we also passed the point where I skied Veslefjell during our Easter vacation back in 2017. Little did I know that I would be skiing this mountain for the next 3 days…
We had a feeling that the prepared track could possibly run all the way to Grotli. That would be a nice ski-trip on regular skis, but for certain not today. As I had a feeling that we had skied approx. 5km, I figured it was OK to turn around. A 10km high-tempo ski-trip was quite OK after breakfast. Especially for Karma, who had to run all the way.
After returning to the cabin, I uploaded the track and saw that the “post-breakfast” trip was 10,3km. And now it was time for the traditional Christmas Eve porridge for lunch.
After the porridge, I put my skating skis back on, took Karma and followed the track in the other direction – towards Billingen. By the time I reached the point where we have to cross the main road, I decided to call it a day. My hip and ankles were hurting. We returned to the cabin and I could add another 3,6km to my activity log.
And now – Christmas Eve could begin…
Trip statistics: 13,9km, 240 vertical meters, 1h:40m
Pictures (Iphone8) from the day:
Wednesday: We were lazy and happy after a nice Christmas Eve. We slept late (until 9am), had a nice breakfast and Anne decided that she would be most happy just staying in the prepared tracks today. As I would not, I decided to try to make it to Veslefjell – just above the cabin.
There were a few challenges; the forest was quite dense, it would be a big effort to break the trail and it had started to snow. These were not challenges in their own rights, but combined – I reckoned there could be a chance that I would not make it to the top. But I could at least try!
I skied from the cabin and followed the road that led to the uppermost cabins. To my delight, I could see tracks going into the forest. But to my despair, the forest was really dense!
There was however no reason to worry. The tracks guided me nicely through the denser part of the forest and soon I was in fairly open terrain.
I was still following the tracks when I got above the forest. The tracks ended at approx. 1000m, which didn’t matter much now that I was on the mountain. More good news – it had stopped snowing and I had blue sky ahead. I had a really nice trip up the mountain!
Then it got quite cold (some wind) and the light was getting flatter. And there was clearly fog on top. Not that it really mattered much. I was just happy to reach the top today.
After a short stay, I turned around and kept the skins on until I reached the cairn that I thought was the top when I headed up the mountain. Here, I took the skins on and had a MOST WONDERFUL run down the mountain. The snow was of super quality all the way down to the cabins. As this was my proper ski descent on Randonee equipment this season (not counting the slow descent from Uppnosi two days earlier), I had pause a couple of times as my legs were quite shaky. The whole descent from the west top took ~15 minutes.
When I got back, I met Anne and Karma – just returning from the same 10km+ ski-trip that we had done the day before. How strange to return to the cabin in the very same second!
I hoped to go back the next day, along with Anne and Karma. Hopefully, the tracks would carry Karma’s weight. This is especially important in the forest. The mountain offered a harder base below the snow.
We really enjoyed staying in our friends’ cabin – feeling quite at home. At this point, we were not really sure when the owners wanted their cabin back, but we were ready to move out on short notice 😉
Trip statistics: 8,7km, 700 vertical meters, 2h:05m
Pictures (Iphone8) from the trip:
Thursday: As I hoped, Anne was eager to visit Veslefjell today. And now that there were good tracks up the forest, Karma could come along too. Not that we would have left her alone in the cabin…
The weather was OK, although the light was a bit “flat”. I expected everything from sunshine to snow on top. Time would tell…
The tracks up the forest worked well for Karma, although she spent more time outside the tracks than on. Too many exciting smells in the forest.
Once we rose above the forest, life was not so exciting for Karma anymore and she focused on my tracks from yesterday.
The light was still “flat” when we begun the final climb to the summit plateau, but at least it didn’t seem to be fog or snow up there. Something fell from the sky – it was too heavy to be snow crystals. I wondered if it was moisture from fog – freezing and falling down.
To our delight, the summit plateau offered a beautiful scene of light and colors.
1h:45m after leaving the cabin, we arrived on top of Veslefjell.
This was my 3rd visit and Anne and Karma’s first. Time to celebrate…
We didn’t see much north towards Reinheimen, but the light was quite stunning…
And then it was time for the descent. The snow was just as nice as the day before, and today I let Anne run down as she pleased, while I waited for Karma to catch up.
When I looked back on the mountain, I saw – to my HUGE surprise – a rainbow! I’ve never seen a rainbow up in the snowy mountains before. It certainly didn’t rain up there – so what produced the rainbow is a mystery to me…
Trip statistics: 8,7km, 700 vertical meters, 2h:39m
Pictures (Canon EOS RP/Iphone8) from the trip:
Friday: Another gorgeous day, which Anne wanted to spend on skis in the birch forest with Karma – as soon as the sun got high enough. I was all set for my 3rd (and final) visit to Veslefjell – to enjoy the awesome ski descent from this mountain. I decided to go as fast as I could – in both directions.
I headed out from the cabin 10:33am and only stopped for pictures a couple of times.
I reached the top 11:42am and enjoyed a mighty scenery before removing the skins from under my skis and heading back down.
The ski-descent was just as awesome as I had expected it to be. The snow was pure from the top and all the way to the cabins. Not a single touch of packed snow or icy crust.
After the trip, I drove down to Dønfoss to pick up some groceries and Anne and Karma had returned from their forest trip in the meantime.
Trip statistics: 8,4km, 700 vertical meters, 1h:36m
Still Friday: After the drive to Dønfoss, I was keen on more skating along the prepared tracks, and decided I would go for one more trip. The prepared tracks didn’t run all the way to Grotli, Anne could tell me – having been to the end of the track two days earlier. The track actually ended just 100m further from where we turned around on Christmas Eve.
It was really, really cold outside. -18 deg. C. and I decided to ski with my Gore-Tex jacket on. As I approached Nysætre, I met a skier coming the in opposite direction and his face was all white. I thought that was weird and wondered if he just came off the mountain.
But when I took a selfie at the end of the track, I realized one didn’t have to go very high today to get a frosty beard…
The skis were a big disappointment. They didn’t glide well. I wasn’t quite sure if it was the lack of caretaking or simply the cold temperature. Hence, the whole trip was a huge struggle.
Trip statistics: 10,4km, 180 vertical meters, 1 hour
Transport Day, Dec 28 2019
Saturday: The cabin owners should have arrived the day before, but didn’t due to sickness. It was a shame, as we had hoped to spend Friday night together with them. They were now due to arrive on Saturday afternoon. But as we had promised our friends in Hov (Søndre Land) to be there by that time, we had to leave around noon, after making sure the cabin looked pretty much as we found it.