Kvikk Lunsj? ✓
Ski wax? ✓
Writing a packing list before a trip is a safe way to ensure that you don’t forget to pack anything important. The next step is to pack your backpack efficiently, or in my case, learn how to do it whilst on the go. My first experimental learning experience occurred when we needed the ski wax on our first day, and I packed it in the bottom of my backpack. After unpacking my whole bag to wax my skis, I always packed my ski wax and other essentials in a reachable place near the top of my bag. In contrast, items for later in the day, such as my sleeping bag, went to the bottom. Waxing my skis was information assimilation. We briefly talked about the different types of wax and where to apply them in the classroom. We then applied this knowledge literally to the skis. But I would also say that it was an experimental learning experience for me since waxing requires constant experimenting due to different snow conditions, and I would say that you also need a bit of luck.
Our first ski trip!! And my first time on cross-country skis! You can say that I was pretty shocked when our teachers told us to just put them on and ski down the big hill on our first day. In Germany, we would have gone through one to two hours of theoretical training/ talking before we would have a go at downhill skiing. Still, it must be said that I appreciated this learning-by-doing approach. Going downhill on skis that are only attached to your shoes at the front is an experience I won´t forget, and it helped me for the following days. I learned how to fall and that it is completely fine to do so. I had a really great first day, even if I left the ski tracks with a few bruises.
The next day we did our first tour to a stadium, where we ended our day with a relay race and some theoretical training. We stayed on the prepared tracks, which helped us improve our technique. Moreover, we learned how to walk uphill. The group was entirely shattered throughout the area. People had to wait for each other quite often, which isn’t good in cold weather.
This was improved the next day when we went on a backcountry tour through the deep snow. It´s essential to go on a slow but continuous pace so the group can stick together and profit from the already made ski tracks from the person in front. Due to bad weather and a lot of wind, we dug a trench into the snow for our lunch break to get some proper rest. This was yet another experimental learning experience for us.
We finished our trip with some games and a little theoretical session about how to prepare a camp side and different snow layers. This input was information assimilation, and we got to prove it useful on our next trip to Evje with the Norwegian Out-door Education class.
Evje- Week 8
A two-night trip into the snow and another trip full of experimental learning. We learned how to set up tents/ lavvos in the snow with tree branches as pegs, how it is to ski with a big backpack and how to stay warm for more than 24 hours in the cold. For instance, you should never get into your sleeping bag when you are cold; instead, do some exercises to get warm beforehand.
Some learning assimilation also took place. We used our knowledge about setting up a camp (stomping down the snow and letting it settle) from our Hovden trip.
Personally, I struggled to eat and drink enough on this trip due to the coldness, and I almost took all my food back home with me. Luckily, it was only three days, and I learned a lot for the next trip regarding which foods I needed to bring to eat more.
Snow caves!! Finally, the trip which most of us had been looking forward to. Three nights in the high mountains of Norway, from which I spent two nights in a snow cave and one night in a tent at around -10 degrees. This was when we got to use all of our previously acquired knowledge and when a lot of learning assimilation took place.
The week before the trip was spent with lectures about winter navigation, safety and shelters. We learned about how to build a snow cave, detect hypothermia and frostbites, and navigate when you can´t see more than 20 meters.
Once we arrived in Hovden, we skied to our campsite, which had been selected and tested by our teachers to safely build a snow cave there. After setting up our tents for possible shelter, we began to dig our snow cave in smaller groups. We over-came exhaustion, loss of motivation, coldness and inefficient digging situations. We had an excellent and relatively warm night in our snow cave which we were proud of.
The next day was spent collecting water from a river and a small ski tour to Magnhildshellene. We took turns in navigating our group. In the evening, the second half of our group arrived after suffering from an illness the days before, which meant that we had to dig more snow caves or make our 3-person caves into 4-person caves. So, more digging. Eventually, we pulled through after helping each other out and had another excellent night in the cave.
The third day was moving day. We packed down the whole camp, which could take quite a while and moved to a new spot. It was quite windy that day, but the sun was out, and we had a beautiful view. After navigation to our new campsite, some of us started to dig a new cave whereas I decided to sleep in a tent this night. We went to collect some firewood and dug a firepit but sadly couldn’t keep the fire going for too long. Eventually, we stopped after inhaling a lot of smoke and decided to eat dinner. The only problem was we were low on gas, and we hadn´t found running water. So, we found ourselves in a tricky situation since we didn’t have water and couldn’t melt snow due to the lack of gas. Luckily, someone found running water at half twelve in the night, and we got to have dinner/ a warm drink before bed. This was one of the most prominent experimental learning situations, and we will now always bring more gas.
We had to move the furthest on the last day, so we decided to move in military-style, which means 50 minutes of skiing, 10 minutes of resting, etc. We stuck together in groups and drove at a slow but steady pace. At lunchtime, our teachers threw us into a big experimental learning situation. We took a lunch break for nearly two hours because our teachers wanted to see what we would do when getting cold. Lucky for us, the sun was out, so most of us could easily lay around in the sun for the time being. If we had encountered bad weather, I would have put the tent up after digging an L-shape in the snow to get proper rest and to be able to sit/ stand inside.
After lunch, we got to do a lot of downhill skiing to get back to the prepared tracks and then to Hovden.
All of the trips were amazing and an experience I will never forget. I liked that we did a lot of learning-by-doing and that the trips and the acquired knowledge built on each other and gradually got “more extreme”.
I guess Thomas is correct; we are really fortunate. Others pay for this; we get to study it.