Assignment 03 – Snow Igloo trip

In the week before our Easter Break we had our last winter trip. From Monday, 22nd to Friday 26th of March we went to the mountains in Hovden. On Monday morning we left from the University with the bus to two lovely huts in the mountains. The ride took us around 4 hours. I stayed in the bigger and prettier hut with my flatmates Toni, Elena, Roman and Nico and ten others of the outdoor education group. The first two nights we slept in the hut and the last two nights outside.

After moving in we left to a half-day tour on our skies. The groups were splittet into two groups. I was in Tim´s group. First we checked the snow conditions and decided to wax with klister because the snow was very wet. We skied along the area around the hut, up to different hills and practiced our skiing and downhill skills. After that we had a little free time to play on the ski-playground in front of our huts. In the evening we cooked together and had a short meeting in a common room to get the informations for the following day. After that the whole outdoor education group met up in our hut – we sang together and played games. A really nice evening! 

Tuesday was one of my favorite days! We changed the group leader, so I was in Len´s group (for the first time). At 9:30 we started our day trip in the mountains – after waxing the skies with klister again because the snow was still wet. The weather was amazing. We had a blue sky, lots of sun, less wind and perfect temperatures. What I noticed was a difference between Tim and Len as a leader. Len often took his own routes and let us lead and find the way by ourselves. That was new because in Tims group we often just followed his track. Thats why I learned a lot about bearing and reading a card this day. It is quite difficult to find the exact positions on the card and needs to be practiced. Another difference is that Len likes to tell us facts about the animals and plants in the mountains. That was very interesting for me as a biologist. Tim told us a lot about weather phenomena and geography – that was very interesting too. I liked to see two different ways of leading a group while skiing in the mountains and I could learn a lot from both. That´s cool! I also could transfer the facts about the different types of clouds from our lecture: cirrus (high up, thin), cumulous (fluffy, sheep, on sunny day), cirrus stratus (covers the whole sky), cumulonimbus (storm, clouds), altostratus (mid-level, gray/blue-gray, covers the whole sky, can be a sign for a storm), lenticular (looks like a lens, rainbow colours). 

After lunch we learned how to build a one-person emergency shelter in the snow with all the stuff we had: shovel, pole, biwack, sleeping mats and skies. I was impressed how fast you can create a wind- and waterproof shelter where you possibly can have an overnight sleep. It took us around half an hour. After that Len showed us how to find a person in an avalanche with the pole and how to react if you find the person. It was good to see how to react in an avalanche situation out in the snow – not just in the lecture room. What I learned about avalanches: under rocks: more than 30 degrees, black slopes: 25-30 degrees, avalanche prone areas: under rocks, on convex zones. 

I was very happy about my skiing skills while this trip. For the first time I felt comfortable on the skies and noticed improvements compared to the other ski trips. I was a little proud of myself this day and felt very satisfied in the evening. The group dynamic worked pretty good this day. Everyone was very happy and motivated – a perfect ski day! 

What I carried in my daypack: shovel and pole, first-aid-kit, warm jacket and gloves, woolen hat, rain trousers and jacket, water, hot drink, lunch, snacks and sunglasses.  

 Wednesday was the beginning of our snow-iglu-trip. At 9:30 we started the trip with our big bag packs. We skied around 2 hours into the mountains and found a good spot to build our snow-iglus. With a group of six (Elena, Mira, Ida, Laura and Luca) we started to built our snow iglu. The feeling of creating an igloo was hard physical work – but it was great and satisfying!! We made an igloo with snow blocks as roof (the other way: shuffle snow on 6 people). Sawing snow blocks was amazing and I didn’t expect that it works so easily. 

It became pretty warm in the igloo and I slept very well – no fear of collapsing at all. The group dynamic worked while building the igloo quit good: we identified different tasks for each and changed after 10 minutes to keep the process going. An exhausting but amazing day! 

After the overnight in the igloo we skied up a mountain – the view was great. The way down the hill was pretty difficult for me because of icy snow but I did it! After that nice trip we skied back to the huts and had a two hours rest before we left to an area (5min away from the hut) where we built the emergency shelters with the tarp, rope and things of the surroundings. Luca, Laura and me prepared the shelter in between two needle trees with the tarp, rope and branches. Group dynamic worked pretty good – we agreed fast and had good team work. Even this night was very calm – we were good wind proofed. I didn´t expect to sleep that well in a shelter / snow igloo – better than in a tent. That was a nice experience. In the morning we  went back to the hut, moved out and drove back to Kristiansand.

All in all the week was full of new experiences and impressions. It took me a while to process all these new things in my head because I was overwhelmed in some points – in a positive way. I was impressed how good the different groups worked together without long discussions or disputes. I´m glad to got the chance to experience all these things!