The Tuesday before last, I sat down next to a stranger at a BBQ and started chatting. The conversation soon turned to skiing and before I knew it (well, 3 days later…), I was in a car headed to the mountains of Western Norway.
There didn’t seem to be a set plan for the weekend (I had only received a text message a midnight on Thursday, or is it considered Friday at that point?, that the trip was a go). We knew just that we were headed towards Strynefjellet, which is a good 6 or 7 hours from Trondheim. It might not officially be summer on the calendar, but it sure seemed like summer here the week before last – never-ending sun and temperatures in the 70s and 80s, which meant a lot of snowmelt and iffy avalanche conditions. If nothing else, we could ski at the Stryn Sommerskisenter (summer ski center – Norwegians like to make big words, and don’t use the letter c), glacier skiing that is only open in May, June and July.
We arrived late Friday night at the campsite (which was one big party – more about that later), but I was too tired to appreciate the beauty around us. You’ve gotta love that at 12:30am it was still light enough to put up the tent without a headlamp! But in the morning, we had breakfast with a view.
The next 3 days were filled with toppturs, a trip to the sommerskisenter, enjoying the sun, “swimming” in a FREEZING (3C!) lake, eating good food, and drinking beer. It turned out that it was opening weekend of the skisenter and the campsite we stayed at was once big party, complete with live music and a bar (I actually got carded, which was a little embarrassing given that no once else in my group was stopped and I think you can drink here at the age of 18!).
Because pictures speak a thousand words…
Day 1 pictures (left to right, top to bottom), click to enlarge:
(1) Burying our perishable food items, and more importantly, beer. Norwegians are honest people – they won’t steal your car or your tent, but they may “borrow” your beer. (2) With lots of signs of snow instability, we picked our way around what seemed safe and happened to end up at the high point on the ridge. The views? Not so shabby! (3) Skis, shorts, beer – perfect combination! (4) We spent 2 hours on the summit enjoying the sun. Some people did that naked. Those same people may have even skied down without clothes. I was not one of these people… (5) Photo op for those who were clothed. There was also a naked photo op, but this is a family friendly blog… (6) On the way back to camp, we stopped for a “swim.” I almost chickened out. Snow melt and glacial runoff make for a cold dip, 3C (less than 40F), but I hear I am now on my way to earning Norwegian citizenship.
Day 2 pictures (left to right, top to bottom), click to enlarge:
(1) The snow banks at the skisenter were ridiculously tall! (2) The sommerskisenter had a 2-person lift and a t-bar (you know how I love t-bars…). (3) As the lifts closed, we started on a topptur to Nuken. We were able to take the first lift up (the t-bars had already closed) and then skin to the summit. We skied out farther down the road from the skisenter, meaning we got a long descent without having to work too hard for it. (4) The views I’ve been waiting for! Not quite a fjord but close (this was the lake we swam in the day before. (5) Skiing down Nuken, complete with some crevasse avoidance and stream crossings. (6) Hipp hipp hurra! We should do that again!
Day 3 was a bit less eventful, but consisted on one final short tour. The clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped by about 15 degrees, signaling an end to our week of “summer” in Norway. While I have one more tour in mind for when I return to Seattle, this marked the end of my ski season in Norway. Going out on a high note and leaving me wanting for more – perfect!