Sunday, 9 January 2011

Fill in the planks

With a wedding, holidays, Christmas and New Year finally out of the way it was time for my little band of ex-pat ski brothers (and sisters) to get together for our first little ski outing of the season as a group. Having only a few flat local mini-excursions under my belt it still felt like the first time I'd been on skis in months and I was relishing being in the mountains and getting in some ups-and-downs.

Parking the car and skiing past the lift queues I'm always glad to leave the thrill-seekers behind to their expensive lift-accessed pleasure and earn my vertical more honestly. Conditions under the skis were good with plenty of fresh snow making the going easy but slightly slow, filling us all with a false but useful sense of downhill confidence so early in the season!

Eating is always a big part of being outdoors for most people and guilt-free calories are the best. We snuck out of the wind as best we could and packed down the snow to form a seat. Skis and sit-pads formed the upholstery while I dug out the rest of our picnic trench.

The weather was 'interesting' all day. The wind changed direction at will. The snow stopped and started when it felt like it, changing from dry swirling sprinkles to lazy fat wet flakes that smothered sound. Mountain views were the only constant, obvious by their almost complete absence throughout the day.

The trail eventually petered out into nothing but deep powder. We watched the more skilled telemarkers carve up the headwall and lusted after their god-like turns. We turned into the wind, pointing ski tips downhill. Wearing goggles and smiles we enjoyed the fruits of our uphill endeavour with a gravity assisted homeward journey. The almost effortless return's serenity was only punctured by a quick came of  'Dodge the Unleashed Dog' as we descended through the hyttes. Back at the car there were excited snippets of conversation in between mouthfuls of Christmas cake. It was a ____ing good day!

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do I envy you or what! So much snow to enjoy and proper winter to boot.
Here I sit with +10°C and rain! And the Swiss mountains are showing more brown/green than white because of the warm southerly winds.
Not fair...
/ Karl

Fraser said...

Excellent, as I said to Hendrik at HIF, reckon some skis are on the cards for next winter...Got any good resources for kit reviews/etc for someone who's only ever been downhilling before?

Joe Newton said...

Karl - whilst the conditions around Bergen have been changeable it was a pleasure to find these fine skiing conditions only an hours drive east of the city.

Fraser - I find singular sources of information about my kind of skiing hard to come by but you'll be hard pressed to find a more passionate and eclectic discussion of backcountry skiing in all it's forms than over at the Telemark Tips forum: http://www.telemarktalk.com/phpBB/

Dave Hanlon said...

Aah, and so it begins. I want more of this, perhaps one a week or more, to keep me fired up until the first weekend in March!

Fraser: You have an excellent resource right under your nose. The staff at Breamar Mountain Sports will tell you everything you need to know about Nordic Touring Gear to suit your needs and aspirations. They'll even sell you some if you ask them nicely. Be careful though, if you like gear your gonna like ski touring gear a lot :-)

Fraser said...

Joe, Dave, thank you both. I've already been on the Braemar site to see what sort of outlay I'm looking at. :)

kate said...

a great day indeed. are they the same type of skies that people use for touring? they just look longer and thinner than i've seen in photos

Mac E said...

That looks fantastic, I'd be happy with 3 straight weeks of that (of course the UK would grind to a halt)

Keep the reports and pics coming, it gives me something to dream about :-)

Richard

Joe Newton said...

Dave - if I can get this action once a week I'll be happy too.

Fraser - there you go! All this backcountry ski touring information you could want!

Kate - depends on your definition of 'touring'. Alpine touring (or AT as it's commonly known) skis are short and fat for use in steep mountains. We use cross country touring skis which are fatter than cross country racing skis but thinner than alpine skis. Ski length is determined by your height and weight and usually run around +/- 5-10cm of your height depending on your preference for float on soft snow and manouverability through the trees.

Richard - I'm glad we don't have to travel too far from the city to find these conditions although last winter I had this kind of skiing on my doorstep. Literally ON my doorstep.

samh said...

Splendid! Time to learn to make those god-like telemark turns though ; )

Joe Newton said...

Sam - damn straight!

Chris (i-cjw.com) said...

Beautiful! Looks like a great day. Can there be anything more elegant than a stylish telemarker?

Heather said...

Looking like a stunning adventure!

Joe Newton said...

Chris - no, I'm pretty sure a skilled telemarker is the most stylish of snow travellers.

Heather - thanks, it was a great day out, followed by two weeks of man-flu misery!