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Way back in time before the onset of adulthood I enjoyed countless days heading into the hills of Yorkshire with nothing more than a squashed sandwich & youthful sense for adventure! Despite long past youthful and work commitments keeping me in the city, the sense of adventure and love for the outdoors never left me. After digging my boots out and returning to the hills I attended a number of courses to improve my hill knowledge and skill base, during one of these courses it was suggested I join the Mountain Leader Training scheme and was delighted go on to gain the MOUNTAIN LEADER Award in April 2012. As well as spending time on the hills and mountains of the UK I have also enjoyed trips to the Nepalese Himalaya, Swiss & French Alps, Mallorca’s Tramuntana, Andorran & French Pyrenees, Morocco’s High Atlas, Tanzania’s Mt Meru & Kilimanjaro, Argentinian & Chilean Patagonia and winter expeditions to Norway’s Hardangervidda. Since gaining the ML I have also gained the SINGLE PITCH AWARD, INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD and the WINTER MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD. I am now enjoying working in a freelance role whilst trying to get out climbing as much as possible.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Snowshoes, Frozen Lakes & 4 Legged Snow Taxi's - Norway Snowshoing Expedition (Feb 2013)

 Having sampled a shorter than originally planned Snow Shoe Expedition to Norway in February 2012 (due to Ryan Air assuming we would prefer to enjoy 2 days in Stansted airport instead!!!!), I again joined Rob Johnson of Expedition Guide for a weeks snow shoeing in the Telemark region of the Hardangervidda National Park, Norway. Opting to travel with Norwegian Air (rather than the amateur bandit outfit that is Ryan Air!) I was looking forward to experiencing a longer period surrounded by the stunning landscape in full winter conditions, whilst also gaining log book days towards the International Mountain Leader training scheme.

 The Hardangervidda National Park covers an area of approximately 3400 square kilometers and includes the largest eroded mountain plateau in Europe with a largely barren landscape of rolling hills and many lakes, pools, rivers & streams. With an average altitude of 1100m and winter temperatures regularly around -20ºC and below(!) the Hardangervidda has been the chosen training site for many pre polar expeditions, including that of Roald Amundsen prior to his expedition to be the first to reach the South Pole (though Norwegian's hardly mention the subject!).
 The Telemark region of the Hardangervidda was also the setting for one of the most remarkable stories of daring, heroism and survival, and which played a major part in the outcome of the second world war - The Heroes of Telemark.
 After meeting up with all the members of the group - Sam,Gary,Dave,John,Mike,Brett & Rob in Oslo we made our way by road to Hardangervidda and to the edge of Møsvatin, a huge expanse of frozen lake. Here we were met by snowmobiles to take us over the lake to out hut base for the coming week.

TUESDAY - and with a slightly dubious forecast for the coming week it was decided we would spend our first full day on snow shoes heading for the nearby summit of Laksanutane by making our way over the frozen surface of the lake and making our way through the trees that lined the far shore. From here we made our way to the summit avoiding any slopes that could pose a potential avalanche risk.
Looking from the slopes of Latsanutane.
On the summit!
Rob, Sam & Gary snow shoe to the summit.

 WEDNESDAY - After a short trip to the highest point on 'our island' we built a snow shelter in which some of us would spend the coming night. By making a piling our rucksacks up before covering them in snow from the surrounding area we had the begins of our Quin-zhee shelter. By continuing to add to the pile whilst somebody walked on it to help consolidate the snow we were soon able to dig into the pile at ground level to retrieve our rucksacks, from this stage we then dug out the snow from the center to make the shelter.
The Quin-zhee takes shape
Brett digs out from inside.
Mike, Dave & John make their beds for a night in the shelter.

 THURSDAY - with the dubious weather failing to materialise we took the chance to try our luck at ice fishing, which would involve traveling with the dog team, whist some of us had a go at Telemark skiing (some more successfully than others!). By drilling holes thru the ice using an over sized drill bit we made holes in the ice where we could drop lines and bait into the lake below.
 Setting off for a suitable site on the far side of the lake we were assisted by a team of 11 dogs & the musher Olav. Not as laid back as shown on travel shows, traveling with dogs involves a lot of running when going up hills!
Skiing on the lake surface.
The dog team head for the fishing grounds.
Olav de-ices the sled runners whilst the dogs eat.

 N.B No fish were caught in the making of this expedition!

FRIDAY & SATURDAY - would be the culmination of our week with a 2 day trip involving a days snow shoeing to spend a night in the Lavu (wigwam like tent) before returning back to the hut the next day to the end of our wee.
 Leaving after a good breakfast we made our way over the lake where it was noticeably colder than previous days with the added wind chill. After crossing Møsvatn we made our way up and onto the plateau before heading down to over night camp.
 The evening was spent in the excellent company of Olav who introduced us to a 12month old trout delicacy & some tunes from his mandolin, all assisted by a drop of Whisky!!
 With some of us spending the night in a nearby tent and not the Lavu with its stove it was a little uncomfortable with an outside temperature of -30C! 
 Waking to frozen boots, frozen water bottles and lots of expletives(!) we all hungrily ate breakfast before packing up camp and setting off for our return journey back to the hut. Making our way via a different route than our journey to the Lavu we made the most of some stunning views on our last day. Again the temperature on the lake was bitingly cold in the cross wind!
Making our way to the lavu.
Stunning Norwegian scenery.
At the Lavu site with dogs being fed.
Olav entertains!
Sunrise over camp -30C!
Making our way over the flat surface of the frozen lake.

 "Have I got something on my lip?"
 


                                          Rob Johnson's video of the weeks expedition.


 
Norway Snow Shoe Expedition - 2013.
 All in all an 'excellent adventure' and a trip I would highly recommend!