2020 Week 52

Christmas break in eastern Norway

Sunny, but cold…
Date Peak/Place Height PF Location WCP
24.12.2020 Noseknippa (Nøsakampen) 1236m 57m Vestre Slidre, Norway
24.12.2020 Ski-skating, Vaset Vestre Slidre, Norway
25.12.2020 Ålfjell 1137m 204m Vestre Slidre, Norway
26.12.2020 Bjørnahovda 1050m 36m Vestre Slidre, Norway
27.12.2020 Murkelie nord 880m Vestre Slidre, Norway

Monday through Wednesday: Sunday was transport day to Sogndal, and the plan was that I would start my Christmas vacation on Monday. That didn’t happen. A crisis at work required my attention for two long days. The tension headache I had been struggling with for the past weeks did NOT get any better from this change of plans.

On Wednesday, we drove from Sogndal to Vaset (Valdres – Vestre Slidre) to check into the cabin we had rented for our Christmas break.

Our rented cabin at Vaset

The cabin – 150 years old – had received all necessary upgrades and was top notch!

Settled in!

After checking in,  we drove up the road to a place with some semi-decent views, to take the picture to be used for our annual Christmas card.

Our Christmas card #10 in the bag…

The Christmas tree came from my backyard (again) and the best pine trees are long gone. But we settle for what we have. It’s become a nice tradition – since 2015.

Not the finest tree, but the finest presents!

I went to bed with a splitting headache, but was patient and expected that the tension would let go – sooner or later.  

Noseknippa (Nøsakampen, 1236m), Dec 24 2020

Our trip up and down Noseknippa

Thursday:  We both enjoy taking a ski-trip on Christmas Eve, provided that we are in a place where is snow. Even after spending half the night in a rocking chair (the headache prevents me from putting my head on a pillow) I was very motivated to go skiing. And Noseknippa became the destination!


We took the toll road to lake Rensennvatnet and found a place to park the car in the Nosi cabin area. Then we headed up the south ridge.

On our way to Noseknippa

The wind was cold and the weather was gorgeous

Beautiful weather. Karma is “clicking” – reunited with snow

It was a short trip to the top – only 1,6km and it was tempting to continue towards Grønsennknipa – 3,3km to the north. But that meant that Christmas dinner would be late and we didn’t want that.

On top of Noseknippa

Given the wind, it was altogether an easy decision. It wasn’t pleasant to be up there.

Let’s get OFF this mountain…

We took the same route down and the skiing conditions were NOT great. I wish I had brought my randonee skis instead of my mountain skis.  

Descending Noseknippa

It was indeed a modest start to our skiing activity in the Christmas break, but it was at least a start.

On top of Noseknippa

Trip statistics: 3,8km, 300 vertical meters, 1h:12m

Pictures (Canon EOS RP) from the trip:

Ski-skating, Vaset, Dec 24 2020

My solo round

Still Thursday:

After returning to the cabin, I took a solo skating trip in the nearby cross-country tracks.

There’s SO many tracks to chose from. Impressive!

I had a terrible glide and didn’t enjoy the round one bit. The skis needed some magic that I didn’t posess.

Nice terrain and sunset!

Not bothering to give the skis my best is a shame, really – and I think I’m going to do something about it. Because, while I really dislike the classical cross-country style, I love skating! It’s a ballet on skis, if you’re good at it – and a complete chaos if you’re not. I’m somewhere in the middle, I’d like to think…

Returning to the cabin

The rest of the evening was a traditional Christmas Eve…

Ready for dinner, well knowing how fortunate we are!
No fat food for Karma, and she has no clue why…

Trip statistics: 4,5km, 100 vertical meters, 0h:32m

Ålfjell (1137m), Dec 25 2020

Our ski-trip across Ålfjell

Friday: Another half-a-night was spent in the rocking chair, but the headache started to let go at 7am. I wish I could have blamed it on the aquavite, but hard months at work was closer to the truth. But, we woke up to brilliant weather and went on a ski-trip after (late) breakfast. We didn’t have a destination set in stone, but I really wanted to get to top of Ålfjell – a mountain we visited 7 years earlier, on foot.

Ready for Ålfjell (background)

The signpost said “Ålfjell 12,7km” in the opposite direction of where we wanted to go. Confusing! But we figured that if we just followed the main track to the northeast, we would find a route to Ålfjell sooner or later.

Karma was rocket girl today. Full of energy and all over the place

After 3,5km we did. We were close to Vaset and noticed a track going up in the northwest direction. After doing a cross-compare of the GPS map and skisporet.no, we knew that this track would take us to the top.

On the track leading to the top

What a fantastic day to be out!

Yes, yes! We’re coming!
I bet Karma rolled 100 times today…

Too bad I don’t have cross-country skis! I could have put vax on my skating skis, but I wanted those skis to have a clean sole. So instead, I was skiing on my mountain skis and wore Scarpa T4 plastic boots. It felt a bit ridiculous, but I would be the king of the downhills!

Me and my Telemark gear

It was a lot of uphill, and my skis were “running on fumes” in terms of vax in the final hill. I needed a refill even if it meant worse glide on the way down.

On the summit plateau

3,2km after we left the main track, we arrived on top of Ålfjell. It felt like we had been skiing for 10-12km, but we only had been skiing for 6,7km. Uphill, for the most part.

Back again, 7 years after the first time we were up here

Before deciding what to do next, we enjoyed the views…

Jotunheimen peaks, Falketind (the pointy peak) left of center

Tempting as all that downhill was, we agreed that we would continue across the mountain and take the 12,7km route to Vaset – the route that we noticed at the start of our ski-trip.

Ready to go!

The first downhill was really nice. Then followed a completely unnecessary uphill, and there was a couple of more downhills before the terrain flattened out.

Looking back on Ålfjell

We skied for 5km before the route eventually turned towards Vaset!

The remaining ski-trip was a mix of; OK, tired, bored, oh-no-not-another-uphill! I started to feel the beginning of a couple of blisters but knew that we would be back at the cabin before they would blossom.

The long way back to Vaset

The route back to the cabin was actually 0,5km longer than the 12,7km advertisement and the total round trip was 19,9km. I didn’t really want the trip to be any longer but 20km would have felt better.

Ålfjell – now with the moon above

In any case, it felt really nice to crash through the cabin door, clothes off, take a shower and a nap before dinner.

Trip statistics: 19,9km, 600 vertical meters, 3h:11m

Pictures (Canon EOS RP) from the trip:

Bjørnahovda (1050m), Dec 26 2020

Our route to Bjørnahovda and back

Saturday: Life is getting better. No rocking chair last night. I actually slept through the night in a bed! That’s actually a while since I last did! Dead tired, though. I take that as a good sign.

After a very, very late breakfast we decided to go for a ski-trip in the fog. I proposed that Bjørnahovda could be a nice target and Anne nodded – being just as tired as I was and that she could turn around whenever she wanted.

The cross-country track is passing next to the cabin we rented, so it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to get going.

On our way to Bjørnahovda

As long as we followed the cross-country tracks, we could probably have been skiing all day long, but that would be too boring in this kind of weather. Besides, the blisters from yesterday was now blossoming and I had forgotten to take any preventive measures.

Bjørnahovda ahead

After 5,9km, we left the main skiing track and went into the deep snow on Bjørnahovda’s south ridge. Karma really struggled. But – she made no effort to follow in our tracks. Too much to smell!

Come on, Karma. Be smart!

It was 0,7km to the top, which wasn’t a whole lot to Anne and me, but it was a challenge for Karma. She’s a tough girl!

Closing in on the top. Ålfjell in the background

While Bjørnahovda is just a forest hump and not a real top, it felt like a real top today!

Treat is on its way!

We discussed continuing towards Murkeli, but then we would end up on the route we came down from Ålfjell the day before. As Anne wanted to return the way we came, we did just that. Karma’s steam was long blown and she seemed to be in survival mode.

Karma, resembling a winter decoration…

But eventually, we reached the cabin. And it felt really, really, really good to settle in, shower, grab some lunch and rest before dinner…

Trip statistics: 13,1km, 330 vertical meters, 2h:35m

Pictures (Canon EOS RP) from the trip:

Murkelie nord (880m), Dec 27 2020

Today’s tracks

Sunday: The weather has changed to the worse and there are convoys on most of the mountain passes in southern Norway. The plan was anyway to take it easy as we had plans for a longer trip tomorrow. Weather permitted…

But we had to go for a ski-trip and settled for Murkelie Nord as the target.

Heading out from Vaset Stadion

I chose my skating skis, which was a gamble given: a) a temperature drop to 0 deg. C., b) snowfall during the night and c) how bad the glide was the other day.

To my big surprise, the skis were flying today. The soft sole was a bigger problem for Karma than for me. I actually enjoyed myself, and especially as we had the wind in the back.

On our way through the forest

A whole lot of people had issues with the vax today, as 0 deg. C. is the worst of all temperatures. Anne struggled in the beginning too, but it got easier after rubbing some of the vax off.

Passing Murkelie sør

When we got to Murkelie nord, it was tempting to a round trip, but that meant gaining some elevation and the wind was quite strong against already. So, we agreed to return the way we came. It was pretty stupid to go on this trip without skiing glasses, but we survived.

I was actually not aware that dogs had to be on a leash here. It makes good sense for several reasons, but as we hadn’t brought the harness today – we let Karma do what she normally does – behave well and follow her owners. When passing other dogs, we make of course sure that she stays by our side. After 4 days on the Vaset tracks, she hasn’t bothered a single skier. The training when she was a puppet has paid well off!

And today, she was just the inspiraton that two young boys needed. Their mother said the boys were “in the cellar“, but when Karma came along they found new energy. We kept company for 1km or so, making sure their newborn energy didn’t suddenly vanish.

Murkelie nord – our turnaround point

Life at the cabin is good. I have finally found some kind of Christmas peace even if I’m watching closely what happens on work. (I’ve had the on duty call this week)  

We chose to extend our stay with one more day, so instead of checking out on the 29th, we’ll be leaving early on the 30th.

After the trip, I visited the local store. It was a shock to see *everyone* wearing masks. Not that they shouldn’t, it’s just that back home, hardly anyone wears masks in the stores. But a lot of the cabin owners come from the Oslo region, which is a totally different planet with respect to Covid – than Gurskøy on Sunnmøre. I hadn’t remembered to bring a mask for the ski-trip, so I used the fleece neck as mask instead. Not that it’s doing the job of a mask in any way, but at least I didn’t stick so much out from the crowd.

Karma is basically just eating and sleeping. The long trips on snow is tougher for her at age 8 than what they used to be. She doesn’t seem to complain, though.

Trip statistics: 12,9km, 200 vertical meters, 2h:30m

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