Sunday, February 8, 2009
My Canucko-Austrian friend from home introduced me to another ski friend who lives in Oslo. When I first talked to him on the phone i was surprised when he answered me in perfect South African English--not what I expected from someone who I had been email corresponding with in Norwegian, but what the hell. He's a fun guy, with a ski-résumé including high Andean and Central Asian peaks, so I was excited to meet up again and go for a skitour on Guastatoppen--the closest real mountain to Oslo (about 2 hours away in the Telemark region.)
The drive there was actually very nice, and I was reassured that Southeast Norway isn't as boring as I had worried. There's snow everywhere and the hills surrounding the city and fjord get bigger and could almost be called mountains by the time you have driven a half hour out of the city, with steep U-shaped valleys and rocky outcroppings.
We had a bad coincidence though when we stopped for gas, realizing simultaneously that we had both forgotten our wallets. Balls. The two hour drive thus turned into a 3.5 hour drive as we had to go back and grab money so that we'd be able to make it to the mountain and back.
We tobogganed into a parking spot just as pretty much everyone else was skiing down from the mountain.There were a lot of smiling faces coming down as we started, so had high hopes (albeit dwindling daylight.)
The weather was clearing up after some fresh snow, but as soon as we got above treeline we realized that we had a problem. The temperature was below 0F and the wind had started howling like crazy higher up. After an hour or so of that, Andrew decided that he'd rather just make laps on the lower part, because 1) He'd been to the top before and 2) he couldn't feel his hands or feet and snot was freezing to his face.
I wasn't as cold so I decided to keep going, and we agreed on a turn around time and meeting place. I continued up, soon getting some frozen snot of my own, but was actually really enjoying the skiing and the views. I ended up running out of time about a hundred meters below the summit, but it was getting dark so I was pretty okay with heading down. The skiing was really variable, with a mixture of windswept styrofoam, packed powder caches and boiler plate. Pretty manky on the whole, but fun and challenging nonetheless.
Made it back to a cold Andrew ('I'm a freaking african damnit, i'm not made for this shit!') and we hit the car and drove back to the city. Guess there's a reason a lot of Norwegians wait and do most of their 'toppturing' in the warmer, lighter months.