ASSIGNMENT 02 – Self-organized field trip: Ljosland, West-Agder

In the week of February, 21th we had our first self-organized student field trip. The aim was to go on a several days skiing tour, carrying a big backpack and camping outside for at least two nights. I was really excited and looking forward to this trip, as I’ve never really been snow-camping and on a longer skiing-tour before I came to Norway. But this also meant that we had to plan and prepare everything carefully, which wasn’t too easy as we didn’t have a lot of time to do so.

Planning & Preparation 

I was in a group with Elena, Toni, Roman, Nico and Claire. We first planned on doing a 4 day trip in Ådneram. But due to the weather conditions, with a lot of rain and avalanche danger of 3 we changed our planes and decided to do a three days and three nights skiing tour in the ski area of Ljosland. We planned to stay on the prepared ski tracks because of the avalanche danger. 

We found a good and detailed map of the region on norgeskart.no, which we printed out for us all. In total the track was 20km long and led through pure nature. The area included some mountain and flat areas around a few lakes. We filled out the Expedition Route Plan and sent it to Len one day before we left. We also made sure to stay on tracks where we could reach a DNT hut in emergencies. This was important for all of us because it was the first time for all to do a three-day ski trip out in the snow.

As we planned on camping outside all the three night, we brought a tent, a foam-mat an an air mattress as well as my winter sleeping bag. The temperature forecast were around 0°C to -5°C. I felt very warm during the nights and a good sleep. 

We were two tent groups with three people in each group. We prepared all the food at home and put it in different plastic bags. For breakfast we had porridge with nuts, for lunch crackers, bars, chocolate and nuts and for dinner we had pasta with pesto (first night), lentils (second night) and couscous with vegetables (third night). We have orientated ourselves to the recipes of Ida. We divided up the tent, food and stove in each tent group so each has the same weight to carry in the big backpack. 

Preparing and planning worked very good in the group. We had almost no discussions about the food and the route plan. It was no problem for all to skip the first trip we planned as well. Three of us were more into planning the tour and filling out the route card while the other three were more into planning the food and preparing. This division was very effective and avoided lots of discussions. 

The tour

Tour-Gang

We started the trip on Sunday around 3pm. It took us a 2h drive until we reached the ski center of Ljosland. We parked our car close to the start of the route. With our skies and backpacks we started our trip and skied 1km to our first overnight place. It was the first time skiing with the heavy backpack on and it was totally different to skiing without. You need more balance even while skiing uphill as well as downhill. Furthermore I felt much more exhausted and we were very slowly – but that was ok. The snow conditions were not that good because the snow was old and it rained the day before. So in the beginning we struggled a lot with sliding until we found out that we need more wax. Afterwards it worked quite well. 

After building up our tent (at around 17.30) in a flat area surrounded by hills we cooked dinner outside and went to our sleeping bags early to be recovered for the next day. Luckily it was not that cold, we had around -5°C, less wind and no rain. 

first dinner

first campsite

When we woke up on the second day and watched out of the tent you could see nothing except a white wall. It was so foggy that we couldn’t see more than 10m. The tent was frozen because of the moisture and cold. After breakfast (at 10:30) we started the tour. It was really bad because we couldn’t even see the track as well as mountains or lakes. That is the reason why we lost our way two times and had to ski up a very steep hill twice. We met two people (the only ones) on the track and asked for the way because we couldn’t find the track we had to go (because of the fog). We showed them our tour on the map and luckily the men showed us the right way. After 2h of skiing under very bad conditions we made lunch break close to a DNT hut. We all were very exhausted. As we were recovered (30min break) we started again. After 1 hour one of our group didn’t feel very well and struggled a lot. So we made a little group discussion whether we should go on or not. So one of the group took the word because no one really wanted to decide what we should do. In the end we turned around to the DNT hut and built our tent up close to it. We felt more secure to sleep close to the hut because we didn’t see whether there is a lake or a steep mountain around us. I think it was a good decision to turn around and find a secure place to sleep because we all have less experience, we didn’t know the track and one of us felt bad. In this moment I realized that you have to work as a group and follow the needs of the weakest person when you do a trip like this. I also noticed that it is very important have a leader in such situation who weighs and takes the word. 

Skiing in the fog

After building up our tent (at around 17:30) we made dinner outside. The tent and our sleeping bags where very wet from the night before. Some of us struggled because of their wet down sleeping bags and didn’t feel very comfortable with it. Due to that we decided not to go on the next day but to ski back to the car. Everyone felt fine with the decision. 

 

Second campsite

On this day we planned to ski 10km and made 5km (but it felt like 10km) due to the fog and bad conditions and decided to go back to the car the next day. In some points I feel a bit disappointed that we couldn’t do it but it wasn’t possible in 3 days under these conditions and we definitely made the right decisions to go back. It is not easy to meet all needs of the group members. But as I said its important to follow the needs of the „weakest“ persons. 

On the next day we made the way back in 2h and needed 5 hours the day before! The fog is gone and we could see the beautiful nature with mountains and lakes. This was amazing! 

Me on my skies

Group

What I learned is: 

  • to be flexible and adjust the situation to the weather conditions
  • it is okay to change the plans if necessary 
  • having a leader who takes the word is important to make decisions in a group with different opinions 
  • follow the needs of the weakest person 
  • good preparation (of food, gear and route) is everything!