Xmas break, Billingen, Dec 22-28 2019

A fantastic week on Strynefjell!

Visited Veslefjell (1431m) 3 days in a row. Awesome snow!

Peaks visited:

Peak Height PF Location
Uppnosi 1294m 401m Skjåk, Norway
Ski-skating, Billingen Skjåk, Norway
Veslefjell 1431m 101m Skjåk, Norway
Veslefjell 1431m 101m Skjåk, Norway
Veslefjell 1431m 101m Skjåk, Norway
Ski-skating, Billingen Skjåk, Norway

Continued from last week

Uppnosi (1274m), Dec 23 2019

Uppnosi seen from Pollfoss

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.

Our base-camp this week

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.

Our route to Uppnosi

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.

Heading out from Slette

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.

Heading up the tractor road

In the end, we decided to take a direct approach and that didn’t work very well for poor Karma.

The short-cut turned out to be the opposite…

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!

On the forest ridge, with old tracks carrying our weight

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.

Happy days!

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 on Uppnosi

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.

This top ain’t big enough for the both of us…

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.

On top of Uppnosi

After enjoying a couple of sandwiches and something warm to drink, it was time to head back down.

Anne and Karma on Uppnosi

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.

Descending Uppnosi

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”.

Job done!

And NOW – we were ready for Christmas!

Trip statistics: 15,1km, 670 vertical meters, 3h:38m

Pictures (Canon EOS RP/Iphone8) from the trip:

Skating (on skis) around Billingen, Dec 24 2019

My skating tracks from Christmas Eve, 13,9km

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.

Here we go!

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…

Passing Veslefjell

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.

Looking towards our base-camp on the far side of the lake

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…

Ready for Christmas dinner!

Trip statistics: 13,9km, 240 vertical meters, 1h:40m

Pictures (Iphone8) from the day:

Veslefjell (1431m), Dec 25 2019

My route from the cabin, 3 days in a row

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.

Life just got easier…

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!

Towards Veslefjell

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.

On top of Veslefjell

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.

Looking back on Veslefjell

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!

Back together again

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 😉

Enjoying a good game of “Ticket to Ride”
Karma adopted Jade’s bed. I call this picture “Evolution”

Trip statistics: 8,7km, 700 vertical meters, 2h:05m

Pictures (Iphone8) from the trip:

Veslefjell (1431m), Dec 26 2019

Ready for Veslefjell – again!

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.

Into the forest

Once we rose above the forest, life was not so exciting for Karma anymore and she focused on my tracks from yesterday.

On our way up the mountain

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.

Our little “cartoon figure”, patiently waiting…

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.

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.

Anne wil remember this descent for a long time

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…

A rainbow??

Trip statistics: 8,7km, 700 vertical meters, 2h:39m

Pictures (Canon EOS RP/Iphone8) from the trip:

Veslefjell (1431m), Dec 27 2019


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.

So nice…

I reached the top 11:42am and enjoyed a mighty scenery before removing the skins from under my skis and heading back down.

Iphone8 panorama from the summit
Canon EOS RP panorama from the summit
Happy dude!

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.

What a nice Christmas!

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

Skating (on skis) around Billingen, Dec 27 2019

Today’s tracks

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.

Looking back on Veslefjell, which I skied in the morning

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.

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