In search of snow

The ski season thus far has been disappointing. In Trondheim and Oslo, the ground is bare. On New Year's Eve we got out for 14 km of cross-country skiing around the cabin in Oppdal. The conditions were a little icy but mostly ok. Higher up in the mountains, we could see rocks exposed by warm weather and wind. Only a very few lifts were open at Oppdal Ski Resort.

Audun on a cloudy, late December day near Skarvatnet

Vibeke was on slow mountain skis and worked hard to keep up with Audun and I on skate skis.

After New Year's, Vibeke and I had a long weekend to kill before we needed to be back in Oslo. So we meet up with Vibeke's friend Marit, and proceeded to drive all through the night to Voss, where rumour had it there was snow. We pulled in to the area were we had booked a cabin at 2:30 am. It took us over an hour to find the cabin, which was not marked with anything distinguishing it from the one hundred other identical cabins around it.

We didn't hit the slopes until noon the next day. This was not, surprisingly, due to lack of sleep, but rather to indecision as to were the skiing would be best. We ended up rendezvousing with Anette, a local Vossing who showed us around the slopes of Myrdalen ski resort. 
Anette and Vibeke love snow!
It wasn't exactly a powder day. There was good snow coverage, but it was older snow, wind-packed in some places and crusted over in others. I had borrowed skis from my parents, since I pessimistically left my tele skis in Oslo. They were longer and skinner than I'm used to (Icelantic Nomads will spoil you on every condition except hardpack!), so they were a little harder to handle on the tough conditions. Nonetheless,  I enjoyed my first (real) turns of the season.

Marit in action
The next day, we headed out to test the backcountry skiing. Our original goal was Finnbunuten, a mountain behind the lifts at Myrkdalen. We drove further up the valley around the side to approach the mountain from a different angle, but were stopped a little ways from where we planned to park by a closed road. So we strapped our skis to our pack and hoofed it up the icy switchbacks of the road.

The fun way to get up hills. Not.
When we arrived at the upper valley and strapped on our skis, the wind picked up. As we skinned up the hill towards the ridge that goes to the top of Finnbunuten, the visibility decreased and the wind grew stronger and stronger.

In Norway, there are a set of traditional rules about how to behave in the mountains ("Fjellvettreglene"). One of them is "Det er ingen skam å snu", which means "there's no shame in turning back. Realizing that the conditions were against us, we followed just this rule.

Descending in low visibility. 
Tucking out the road

The wind was supposed to drop the next day, and we picked another peak, a classic in the area called Horndalsnuten. The weather was against us again. We followed a tractor road up from Skiple in Raundal. The forest around us was devoid of snow, and the moss seemed extra bright and green. "This isn't winter!" I thought.

Marit in orange and Vibeke in blue, headed up the tractor road
It was at about this point that it started to rain.
Is this your idea of fun?
The snow grew wetter and wetter. Further up on the mountain, above tree line, the conditions were probably better. But the mountain was shrouded in fog, and such low visibility means difficult navigation and challenging skiing downhill as well. After finding a seemingly abandoned car...

Posing on a car
... we turned again, and this time decided to head home.

Cool old bridge across a river. Don't worry, Mom, there's a new bridge next to it.
Back in Oslo, there's still absolutely no snow, to the point that Audun and I got our road bikes out on Sunday and took a spin around Maridalen. Road bikes. In January. This is completely unheard of in Norway. At least it was beautiful.
Pretty light on Maridalsvatnet

Success! In road biking. At the medieval church ruin in Maridalen
If skiing karma exists, and I like to believe it does, then I must have earned a lot last weekend. So I expect to be skiing pow for the rest of the season. (Do you hear me, weather gods?)

- The Wild Bazilchuk


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