We left on Monday with the bus at 0930 to Bjaen, a little village just north of Hovden and moved into two tourist huts. After having a little time unpacking, we went for a little skitour to get used to skiing again. On our route Tim taught us a lot about the weather; it was really nice to see the practical side of the theories we learned in the lectures about clouds and wind. After the tour we had some time left to play around on a hill with bumps and jumping hills.
For Tuesday Len and Tim changed the groups, so we could observe differences in their leading and teaching style…So we ended up with Len, what turned out to be more different to the previous days than I thought. While we focused on technique and skill with Tim, I got the impression that Len wants us students to be more involved in the leading process. He told us the aim of the day and then we had the students leading the groups by their own means. Like that I noticed that you are much more careful and you observe your surroundings a lot more, when you’re leading a group than when you’re following the leader. The weather was just amazing the whole day and we had lunch in the sun on a saddle with a very beautiful view over the mountains. After some downhill skiing we could see a herd of reindeers running through that amazing landscape.
Later on, one student requested to do some avalanche scenarios and Len did so after just a little while. But before, we were taught to do an emergency snowhole shelter. It was very interesting to see, that in an emergency situation you can built a shelter within very little time, which will get you out of the bad weather and keeps you safe at first. Playing in the snow we came to use our avalanche probes for searching for buried bodies: One student laid under a cornice and the rest could try to find him with putting the probe through the snow. It was really interesting how stabbing a human body feels with the probe. Then we finished our tour which lead us over a lake and then back to the hut.
Unfortunately I couldn’t manage to put my avalanche probe back together, so I had to ski with it for a while like an idiot until I got some help from my fellow students why could put it back together.
On Wednesday we started with some short skiing to an area where Tim and Len vermuteten enough snow for building snow holes. After a short introduction we started in groups of six with our snowhole/igloo. At first we were very confident with finishing the hole soon, but especially the inside of the snowhole took us much longer than we expected. One group did the SICK-Igloo. For a demonstration and the other three groups did a rather igloo version of the snowhole. While you build the roof right on the backs of people standing on the middle of the snowhole, the igloo version includes cutting snow blocks with a snow saw and putting the blocks like an igloo to a round roof.
Both versions have their advantages and disadvantages, regarding the situation you’re in. Especially the sawing with the snow saw was a lot of fun and I was really surprised how hard the blocks actually were. After a couple of hours building, we finished our home for the night which could easily fit six people and I have to admit, that I had the best night outside in Norway so far. Although I have to say that I would have been way more concerned about the stability of our snowhole if it wouldn’t have been approved by Len and Tim.
On Thursday they picked us up after breakfast to do another but smaller skitour. This time we headed for a peak, at first with the skis, the last part by foot. Even if the wind was horrible, we all reached the top and got rewarded with an amazing view over the mountains. On the way back you could see that even if we all built proper snow holes for the night most of us where quite exhausted by the skiing and building in the last two days. Nevertheless, we all reached the hut around lunch time and had a couple of hours to recharge and have a proper lunch before getting out again for staying overnight in shelters. Therefore, we just skied for a couple of minutes in the woods and started looking for a good spot as it was already late in the afternoon. Fortunately, we found a spot very quickly and with a little advice here and there we could build a shelter, which is just enough for staying one or two nights. After dinner we made two bonfires and sat at it telling stories until it was very late. The night in the improvised shelter was good and it makes me a little proud, that I learned to survive the night even with some comfort just using a tarp and some ropes.
On Friday we went back to the hut right after breakfast cleaned the hut and got picked up by the driver around noon.
I had a very very nice week!