Hovden/Haukeliseter Ski Trip- Self-organised
Aim-To improve ski technqiue, navigation and ski fitness
For the self-organised trip, we decided to choose Haukeliseter area in the greater Telemark area. We were a group of 8 people with varied experience. The aim of the trip was to start from Haukeliseter and ski to Hovden over the course of 4 days, however this had to be changed due to sudden weather changes and we decided to remain and work out of the DNT Haukeliseter centre for the remained of the expedition. The 4 days taught us some valuable lessons in planning, ski ability and team-related issues.
Day 1 consisted mainly of travelling to the DNT Haukeliseter centre. By the time we arrived at the centre it was 15:00 and the suns was beginning to set, so we brought our cabin and set off for a small ski session over the frozen lake south of the DNT centre. The ski session was only for about 1hr 30 mins but was perfect to practice ski technique and work on my Telemark turns and Telemark stance. As the sun was setting, we returned to the DNT centre where we took full advantage of the outdoor hot tub which was a weird and bizarre situation we were sitting outside in -7 in a hot tub. The sauna was also a bonus and from knowledge I know that the sauna is very important to Norwegians and Scandinavians. I see it as an excuse to get experience warm weather to get away from the standard cold climate. From the first day, I felt a lot more confident in my own ski ability and was becoming more fluid with the movements.
Day 2 was a frustrating day, as overnight a storm came in with 18m/s winds with whiteout conditions and it was advised we did not attempt the trip to Hovden from the DNT staff and our lecturer. This damped the team’s motivation and moral as all want to embark on an epic trip to Hovden. From the morning to early afternoon we decided to stay in the DNT centre hoping for the storm to clear up, this is when the frustration set in and the start of boredom. This is a common theme in many expeditions as no one can manage the weather. Polar expeditions and high-altitude expeditions are good example of this. From around 15:00 it started to clear up and we decided to take the window of opportunity to get out on a small tour. We decided upon an 8km that sets off south from the centre and returns in a loop. The tour was challenging as although the storm had calmed it was still 15m/s winds and a temperature of around -12 reaching -20 with wind chill. The group were strong and we took turns leading legs following the sticks used to mark the routes. Myself, George, Elouise, Kyle and Bowen were all in the less experienced group during ski week but it was clear we were improving with more practice and the exposure of the storm made up work harder and push ourselves. As we returned to the centre everyone was fulfilled that we got out to ski. The day taught me that with a bit of patience and resilience, things will come around and that working together and common interest is key to success and valued experiences.
Day 3 was the day we could finally get out and get some good skiing. The weather was good with sunshine and low wind so we took full advantage of this and embarked on a day tour. We decided upon a route that morning that was 11 km heading west from the centre and returning east. The route consisted of mountainous terrain with steep inclines near the start but gradually declined once we were pass the half way mark. The day would test us on several issues would later be left un-sorted. We followed the marked sticks west from the centre until we reached the base of a steep incline taking us into mountain country. Precise navigation was not necessary for this trip was the routes were continually marked, thus we became lazy with our efforts to focus on improving our micro navigation which was one of the main aims for the trip. As we began the steep climb, several members of the group found it harder due to constantly slipping or the psychical aspects. This can be put down to not wax applied to the skis or personal fitness which was also a main aim of the trip Around 11:00 we reach the peaked of Vargeskornuten (1165m). It was an achievement for the group as it was the highest we’ve been on skis before. The descent was trickery though with many falls entailing. The rest of the day consisted of travelling over mainly flat terrain with some hilly areas. As we came to the end of the tour the experienced skiers grouped together leaving the less experiences to struggle a bit and an evident example of the split is when I feel over in deep snow and was struggling to get up and no helped and stood there. It wasn’t till George came over to help I realised that the group was split into two. For the rest of the tour we stayed in the two groups. This showed there was a breakdown in team cohesion which would later worsen. That evening we decided to camp out however this was not followed through due to a damaged tent and myself showing signs of hypothermia where I was unable to use my hand and lost feeling in my feet and as George recalled I was speaking gibberish. This was down due skin exposure to the weather earlier in the day which was my own fault. That night myself, George, Elouise and Kyle decided to stay in the huts whilst the other camped out on the lake the coldest place to camp with -18 temperatures.
We decided to leave the on this day as we felt although we didn’t complete our initial aim to reach Hovden, we believed that the lessons we learnt were very valuable and allowed us to reflect upon our performance, strengths and weaknesses. The Germans decided to stay an extra day wanting to do another tour, but I was not willing due to the events the night before I did not want to expose myself any further. The trip overall was enjoyable, presented a realisation to my ability and taught me several lessons. There were examples of team breakdown at times. This could be due to arrogance or misinterpretation, but it supports Tuckman’s storming stage in group development where teams test each other and require breakdowns in team cohesion to further and better the team.