The highlight of my Easter ski trip (yes, I am aware that Easter was 2 months ago – I am just trying to prolong the excitement…) was a trip to Skåla.
Headed up there.
After climbing 1823 meters (5980 feet) from essentially sea-level, we’d be able to cosy up for the night in a DNT cabin before skiing down the next day on fresh legs. I loved this idea as I always feel like I am conserving energy – which makes me slooooow – on the way up both for safety reasons (I don’t want to be on the brink of exhaustion in such a wilderness situation) and to better enjoy the ski aspect of the trip. With the whole ski down on the same day aspect of the trip out of the equation, I could speed up a little (in theory, at least).
We started out following a narrow, icy trail through a forest which was so awesome. A friend of mine once suggested that there be a sarcasm font, it would be appropriate here.
Lunch time view
Once we broke free of the trees, it was pretty straight forward. I struggled a bit given that it was the 5th ski tour in 6 days, it had been quite some time since I had eaten breakfast, and sometimes my skins just don’t want to stick to the snow. At our lunch break, I had to seriously think about if I could continue on to the top. But after forcing some food into me, I started to feel much better and decided to press on.
First one up that icy bit!
With renewed energy, I even managed to be the first up a steep, icy face (aided by the fact that I already had ski crampons on from earlier struggles). Personal moment of glory! With about an hour of upward travel left to go, we began to encounter groups in front of us who were turning around without reaching the summit as it only got icier and daylight was waning. But with crampons and sleeping bags, we pressed onward through the clouds towards the summit and the tower at the top.
Skålatårnet (Skåla Tower) was built in 1891. The stone walls are 4 feet thick and there is space for over 20 people to sleep (on a 3 level giant bunk bed) plus a very basic (no electricity or running water) cooking/eating/hanging out area. It was below freezing when we arrived up there but the fast skiers in our group already had the stove going in an attempt to warm the place up. Over the course of the evening, it never really got warm, but after changing out of our wet clothing, adding many layers of dry clothing, and snuggling up in a sleeping bag, it was certainly more than bearable. Add to that some warm food and wine (many thanks to the strapping young men of our group who carried that up!) and I had no complaints.
The next morning we arose early (before 6am) to check out the sunrise. Half the group (including myself) returned to bed, while the other half started down Skåla with the intent to ski another mountain that day. With the extra sleep and a very leisurely breakfast, we didn’t start our descent until after 12.00, which actually was a smart decision. While the earlier group complained that they skiing was horrible, we were treated to sun softened snow and it was quite nice!
We took an afternoon nap in the sun before tackling the narrow, icy path through the trees (it had not miraculously improved in the 24 hours since we last visited it).
As the final tour of my first Norwegian Easter ski trip, it was the most memorable.
As they (ok, we?) say – skål (cheers) to Skåla!