Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Up, down and around

This weekend away in Geilo was booked months ago. A cabin in the resort housing 1 American, 1 Lithuanian, 1 Scot, 1 token Norwegian, 1 Norwegian/English cocktail, 5 Full English Breakfasts and a Geordie. 2 days of skiing and snowboarding and a night to remember around the table playing drinking games with Lithuanian vodka and Jagermeister.

Unfortunately M wasn't able to join in the snowy fun due to her dicky knee so she stayed behind in the cabin and whilst the rest headed for the very necessary cash machine and queues at the ski pass office and lift stations, myself, Steve and Catherine, headed into the backcountry to get away from it all.

On the first day we had an inauspicious start when we gained a lot of altitude very early on only to find ourselves having to lose it even quicker by walking down the side of a black ski run. We eventually found a great 10km loop on an undulating but perfectly groomed trail around a lake. The sun was so hot Catherine was forced to ski in just her long johns and gloves were removed only for us all to suffer with sore hands and blisters later, despite some M*A*S*H field hospital duct tape wound dressing. We built a snowy laz-e-boy recliner for lunch with my shovel and Catherine broke out the homemade banana bread stuffed with fruit and nuts. We took another loopy route back to the cabin across yet another lake and found ourselves skiing around a biathlon arena.

After picking up the alpiners from a noisy bar in town we all sat down to a huge pot of bolognese and pasta before settling in for the night telling stories and playing drinking games until the food, drink, stove heat and exercise all took their toll and everyone drifted off to bed at a very rock'n'roll 11pm.

We sleep Norway-style these days. Fat duvets and open windows. It was 8C in the bedroom in the morning and I awoke feeling just a little bit fuzzy around the edges. After almost filling the recycling bin with last night's empty bottles and cooking up some porridge those of us feeling up to it headed out for Day Two. Cross Country Team did another Up, Down and Around, this time on the other side of the valley. The highlight was watching the Snowcat roll past our high lunch stop and being able to lock into fresh cut Nordic tracks and ride the roller-coaster trail back down the mountain.

We were chased back to the cabin by bad weather closing in down the valley and the car drivers were keen to get moving a.s.a.f.p. as there was the real possibility of getting caught if the mountain roads were shut. On the way home, driving through the worst road conditions I've ever seen, we were held in a tunnel for over an hour. We waited for a snowstorm to pass then we followed a snow-plow in convoy, 18km at 10mph, bumper-to-bumper. At the first service station we pulled over, racked with hunger, and devoured guilt-free cheeseburger and chips, with hot-dogs for desert.


Martin Rye said...

I like that. In fact I like that a lot. I just bought a book about Norway called The Fellowship of Ghosts.

Nielsen Brown said...

Sounds like a lot of fun. I remember getting snowed and iced in at Milford Sound in NZ. We were able to get a free trip on the boat out into the sound to look at seals, penguins etc. But when the snow plough arrived it was either leave or stay for a while.

We left.

Holdfast said...

Martin - that book sounds very interesting indeed, I think I will need to read it. I fell in love with The Rondane National Park, mentioned in the book, when I visited it last May. It's high on my list of places to go camping this summer.

Nielsen - I thought the whole car ride home in the blizzards was wonderful but our driver begged to differ!