Reflection assignment Nr. 3 Winter mountain ski touring

We went from Monday 22 March until Friday 26 March on our winer mountain ski touring trip.

Monday we all left together at the university with a bus. We settled in the rooms and jumped back on our skis to do a little tour to get to know the surroundings. Tuesday we did a long daytrip from around 15 kilometers. We focused today on map and compass and also learned the beginning of building an emergency snowhole and how to rescue someone in an avalanche. Wednesday we left the cabin with our big rucksacks and build a snowhole with six persons, where we would also overnight in. Thursday we climbed a little steep hill/mountain and reorganised our stuff before we went out again for another night outside. This time in an emergency shelter. Friday we went back to the cabin and cleaned there, before we already went home again to Kristiansand.

I have been learning a lot this week. I learnt a lot of practical stuff. I improved my cross country skiing, map and compass skills and shelter building skills. I learnt how to build a snowhole and an emergency snowhole. I also improved more little practical stuff, like how much food I need every day and what I have to have in my daybackpack.                For cross country skiing we focused less on technique and more on just the daytrip itself. I never thought the first time I tried cross country skiing, that I could do 15 kilometers in a day, so that was a real accomplishment for me! Also the first time skiing with a big rucksacks was an interesting experience. Every movement was more difficult to do. For example: uphill cost a lot more energy and downhill asked for a lot more balance and concentration. Also when you fell it was a lot more difficult to get up.          During the long daytrip we focused on map and compass, but also the rest of the days we looked regularly on our maps. Most of the times I could point out where we were, but sometimes I asked some help from the others, than we found out together were we actually were by giving both of our opinions and discuss that. I didn’t really lead the group during one of these days, but I always tried to follow the discussions about our route, so that I also could help navigate us. I think that my still not so good cross country skiing skills played along in the fact that I didn’t lead. I still had to focus a lot on my skiing and to than also lead a group was maybe a bit too much in my mind for me.    My shelter skills improved Thursday evening. I found out that I found it difficult to now which knot I needed to tighten something. Luckily we were with three persons in a group and together we found always a solution, so we had at the end a decent shelter for the night. Because some others were better in the knots I spend more time building the snowwall, because I could make myself useful with that. At the other hand I also tried to do some knots or looked how others did a knot and also why that knot there. When building a shelter I always find it useful to use everything of your surroundings, like the trees above and around you for more shelter or the snow or twigs for building a wall.                                                                                                                                    I found the building of a snowhole (and an emergency snowhole) really an once in a lifetime experience. We slept in a snowhole! I found the process really interesting how we could build a good snowhole but also how we could quickly build an emergency snowhole. Every snowhole was also a little different, because every group focused on something else,like size, firmness or practicalness.

Some smaller things I learnt:

  • Always have space left in your daybackpack (for when you take clothes off)
  • Finding a person in an avalanche with your probe is really tricky! You could miss a person just with a couple centimeters off.
  • You can fill your water bottle up with snow (put snow in your cold water bottle)
  • Important to slide your skis and not step (with klister wax)
  • In the wilderness you can easily make a shelter, on the tracks that’s a lot more difficult because the snow is compressed

I also learned more about group dynamics, but a lot is similar from the first ski trip. I again saw the more task-orientated and socio-emotional orientated people. I still didn’t really see the four stages of group development. A reason for that is that we switched the groups a lot of times, like the instructor, a big group of 12 people, a small group of 6 people or a small group of 3 people. Most of the time we also got very clear instructions, like when we were building the snowhole. In my opinion one day is not enough to get through the four stages of group development, because in one day you can’t create depth in the group. The aspect social loafing was there, for example during the building of the snowhole or the emergency shelter, but I also saw that people reacted quickly on this behavior by saying something that they could do or by asking for a switch, so that they also had to do some more work. During the making of the snowhole we switched a lot of times from task, so that everyone had the hard work, the easier work or a break. This was very efficient and made that social loafing appeared less. A good thing about the group switching during the week is that the group cohesion became better. You teamed up with new people and got to know them better in another way.

I really like how I this week got to know the concept friluftsliv better because I think using it in my day to day life and in my workfield is a real added value. I learned again how to work with and use my surroundings and learned how to see all the beauty and the opportunities the raw nature can give to you. I also think that the raw nature can challenge you psychical and mental and that is a really nice way to get to know yourself better and learn with the different life experiences you get in nature. For example for ‘troubled’ youth and persons with special needs, but also just for myself and people from my youth movement.