This blog is going to be about the self-organised ski trip.
Our task was to form groups of four to five people and plan and execute a ski trip including at least two days of sleeping not in a hut. It turned out to be quite difficult to get fix teams, because some of us just couldn’t decide with whom they wanted to go and where to go. But in the end I was really happy with my group. I was really psyched to go on this trip and to push my limit regarding cold weather, sleeping outside, being on skis in a remote area and just getting out of my comfort zone really. During the planning process, it was therefore a challenge for us to come up with a route everybody felt comfortable with and appreciated. Some were more concerned and unexperienced regarding skiing and winter activities in general than others. We managed to agree on a route though that everybody was looking forward though. As always in groups, along planning we had to deal with some people feeling they were doing more than others and others social loafing. When people who are used to being in a leader position suddenly feel like others are more expert in a specific field, this can make them feel useless. During the car right to our starting point, however, we managed to talk all these problems out of the way and purely look forward to the upcoming trip.
We spent the first night in an AirBnb where I had to learn the hard way that you should always double check your gear. I had forgotten my ski shoes at home. Luckily, our host lent me his pair of shoes and they fitted even better than mine! So, after this shock was gone, the trip could start next morning.
On the first day we navigated to a DNT hut. Now all the orienteering lessons from back in Kristiansand really paid off. It took us a lot of stops and sometimes comparisons with the phone but we managed to always find our positions. It was fairly easy the first day because we mostly stayed on the tracks. In order to test our gear, we slept just outside the DNT hut that night. The idea was to try out the coldness but still have the possibility to get inside in the worst case. We flattened a square of snow behind the hut and decided not to set up a tarp because it looked like a perfectly cloud-free night. Fortunately, the gear worked perfect and the sleeping bags only froze a bit at the part where you breathe in which made me think why there are no down sleeping bags with some sort of Primaloft at the area you breath in or an extra waterproof shell at that spot.
The next morning, we found out just how long it could take to pack everything with four people. I guess it is good to develop a quite high tolerance for waiting when you’re with more people that you haven’t been on trips with before. But of course, the first lesson from that is not to be late, especially when it’s could as we would learn the next morning. Since it took us quite long to get ready and also longer time to navigate because we decided not to follow the tracks that day, we decided to set the camp for the night not so far as originally planned. It takes a whole lot more practise to use the map off tracks in snow, because all the lakes, ponds, and also small elevations you see on the map simply are covered by snow and look like normal flat land. We started digging a snow cave for the night at around 4:30 pm. It took us really long and I even hurt my back on a particular stupid move shovelling out snow. Three people were enough to dig though, so I could take care of dinner already and rest my back. Long after it had gotten dark already, we finally were done with the snow cave. We had a roughly 3m*4m and 1 to 1,50m high cave. We stuck out skis at the opening and covered it up with the snow we had dug out, leaving only a small entrance. After we all had had dinner in the cave, we could already feel the cave heating up from our body heat. All of us had a pretty good sleep that night, considering the snowstorm that was going on outside at temperatures well below zero.
The next morning, we definitely were faster in packing all the gear. Also, when you don’t unpack your gear in a hut it really makes it faster packing in the morning. So, that’s another benefit of sleeping outside but not in a tent. Once some of us were already finished packing, they had to be waiting in the cold and still ongoing snowstorm for the rest to get set. Since by taking out the skis from the cave it was destroyed, there was no place to hide from the cold wind. This showed us how quickly cold and nasty weather can change people’s mood. It took us hot chocolate and waffles in the close hut to get all happy and forget the cold weather. Since due to the ongoing snowstorm we spontaneously changed our plane for the rest of the day and simply returned to the DNT hut from the first night and spent one more night there. For the next time, if I plan on passing the same hut on the way back I will definitely leave some stuff to just grab on the way back to travel lighter. The last day was then pretty much just going back the same way we came the first day.
This trip made me realise that it really can be hard or sometimes impossible to make everyone reach their own set goals for a trip. When everybody wants to be pushed out of their comfort zone, while some might have a much higher tolerance this is not possible without making it too maybe too much to handle for some members of the group. So, the goal is to compromise and still everybody will learn something.