Norwegian Mountains, Telemark
Vesle Nup (1510m), Jan 29 2011 (did not summit)
My good friend Petter Bjørstad had invited a large number of friends and colleagues to Haukeliseter this weekend, to celebrate his 60th birthday. Anne and me were invited and it was a privilege to accept. Not only would I meet Petter and his family again, but I would also meet most of the Greenland 2004 team - Torstein, Per Ove and Ståle - in addition to Petter.
It's a long way from Ytre Søre Sunnmøre to Haukeliseter (500km), and the road can be particularly long in January. Anne and me left Gurskøya 8:30am on Friday morning (driving our own cars), then we drove one car from Sogndal (where Anne lives) and joined the chartered bus from Bergen (where most of the guests came from) at Kvanndal. Everything was going smoothly until we reached Vågstunnelen above Røldal. The tunnel was closed for maintenance, and we had to wait in the bus for 1,5 hours. We arrived at Haukeliseter 10pm - 13,5 hours after leaving Sunnmøre...
Haukeliseter was packed full. In addition to our group (80+), there was also a couple of other parties. A late meal was awaiting, and after catching up on the good old days with the G4 team, it was time for bed.
A ski-trip was on the agenda for Saturday, but when we woke up in the morning, the weather was ... I think the word inferno pretty much covers it. The weather forecast promised a blue sky, and for a while it was hard to believe that there would be a ski-trip today...
But around 10am, it was clearing up and we could see a blue sky. But the wind was still strong. The day before, I had told Petter that I had personal interests in Vesle Nup, and Petter reasoned that this peak was probably the easiest peak to reach in this kind of weather. The departure was announced to 10:30am, and more than 30 skiers met outside the main building. It was obvious that this would be a very windy experience.
Among the 30+ skiers were 2 friends of Petter from the UK (Rob and Andrew). Although they are very experienced mountaineers, they had never skied in the mountains before (nor been to Scandinavia), but had practiced for this trip in an indoor arena back home. They were in for a rough introduction to mountain skiing...
We hadn't skied for long before we ran into practical issues. Were we to ski as one group, or as multiple groups? 30+ skiers form a long row, and for the people up front, it was impossible to see what was going on in the back. On top of the first hill, the wind was already quite strong and a number of skiers decided to return to Haukeliseter.
Soon, we joined a marked route (sticks) which we followed up the mountain. After a while, Anne, Torstein and myself formed the point group. As visibility dropped significantly, we lost sight of the rest. The wind was now at storm's strength, and we periodically stopped to decide if we should move on or turn around. But as we had clothes that kept us warm, we kept moving on.
At 1130 meters, we saw that the marked route was leading us away from the mountain, and we had to decide if we wanted to proceed without these sticks for comfort. As visibility was gradually decreasing and the wind kept increasing, we realized that the trip back to Haukeliseter would be long as it was. We decided to turn back around.
Soon, we joined the rest of the group that was still on the mountain and informed them that we were turning around. Another team was also out skiing (not part of our team), and 3 of them decided to go for the summit. I didn't observe this myself, and kept on skiing back along with Anne and Torstein. I stopped to take some photographs, and while wrapping up, a large group passed me. I assumed it was our group, but Anne and Torstein called on me and said they belonged the other group. The other group was also going in a direction different from the one we had ascended. Just as I was to return to Anne and Torstein, I noticed that Andrew was the last one in the other group, and I called on him. He then joined us and we sat course for Haukeliseter.
We returned to Haukeliseter 1:26pm - close to 3 hours after heading out. There were episodes on the mountain that made me uneasy until I knew for a fact that everyone was back down, safe and sound. I was later told that the wind had peaked out at 28 m/s at Haukeliseter during the evening. It wasn't quite as bad up on the mountain, but probably in the range 22-26 m/s.
We met the 3 skiers who continued towards the top, but they told us that they turned around shortly after. And after a while, it seemed that everyone was accounted for.
6:30pm, we all met in the main dining room and enjoyed a memorable dinner and a party that Petter most likely will remember with great pleasure. The dinner lasted well into the night, and we met for breakfast 8am the next morning. The weather had settled and the road had reopened. The chartered bus left Haukeliseter 1pm on Sunday, and after a loooong trip, I stumbled in my front door at 11pm the same evening. I had driven trough heavy snowfall in Sogn, heavy rain in Nordfjord and a storm along the coast.
4 of my friends attempted Vesle Nup on Sunday, but had to give up only 100 vertical meters below the summit. Vesle (little) Nup was not in a good mood this weekend...
Many thanks to Petter and Heidi for a most enjoyable weekend!
The pictures were taken with a Canon EOS 550D + Canon EF-S 17-85mm IS USM F 4-5.6
(Full size images)
(Images scaled down.
Pictures from the trip
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33