31 May 2014

Norway - Middagstiden (1072m) & Cabin Avalanche

For our second day in Norway, we opted to ski Middagstinden (Dinner Peak). With heavy snow predicted, this was a safe choice with low-angled terrain and few concerns about objective hazard. Huddled around my computer over delicious gin and tonics (imported Gin from a local Washington distillery) we felt confident in our decision.

Photo by Kelly.

We awoke to heavy snow as predicted. Our entire time in Norway the weather reports were crazy accurate actually. They could predict weather by region, by hour. With all of the crazy mountains I have no idea how, but if you're ever in Norway, trust these weather reports.

We loaded up the car and just drove 15 minutes down the road to find Middagstinden. I should say that "find" is hardly accurate, as this was our view:

Oh my, what beautiful views we have. Photo by Kelly.

Undeterred, we started our ascent on a summer road. We meandered through the "forest" consisting of well spaced trees along the flats before we began our ascent. We stopped frequently to gain our bearings, as, you know, we couldn't really see where we were going.

Seriously guys. These views were the BEST.

Good spirits despite the onslaught. Photo by Kelly.

Nick passing under the alter of nature

Our mouths are open and arms are up. WE ARE HAVING FUN!

We skinned until we reached the top of treeline and had to call it quits. Treeline is very different in Norway than in the US. When you reach a certain elevation the trees are just DONE. Looking at the mountains you see a very distinct line: up until this elevation trees grow, but after nothing grows. So, when you run out of trees, you run out of visibility.

We skied down through some fun powder but had difficulty maintaining speed due to the DEEP POW and super low-angle slope. The trees were really well spaced for some fun skiing though, and generally we had a great time. Nick tried to kill himself in a ravine, but that was only his first ravine of many for the trip, so we let him do his snowboard thing and looked the other way.

Once we reached the flats again we briefly entertained the idea of skiing another lap in the fun pow, but with snow blowing in our faces from increasing wind, it just wasn't worth freezing half of our faces off for another 700' of skiing.

The trail to the car. Photo by Kelly.

On the way back our navigation skills failed us, and we may have gotten a little lost... luckily, we could see a house in the distance, so we pointed our skicks in that direction and set about reaching the house. The house took us to the road, where we disagreed about whether to go right or left to get to the car, but our compass steered us in the right direction.

Once back at the car we confirmed: yes, it was indeed snowing. At least 6" had accumulated on the Tulle in the few hours we had been outside.

6" of Gnar in Gnarway! Photo by Kelly. Expressions by my face.

This same 6" had also blocked us in, so with Julian acting as an expert driver, the rest of us pushed the Passat until it tasted SWEET FREEDOM on the roads of Norway. All of us jumped in the car with our boots on for the short drive home. We *might* have been a little snowy.

A little snow never hurt anyone.

Once back at the house, we laid out our wet stuff and stoked the fire to warm our chilled bodies. One note about this awesome house - the entry way had heated floors and could be closed off from the main living area. Every day we would come in, unload, and lay all of our wet boot liners on the heated floor. It smelled terrible in that room - which was especially startling when you forgot about it only to be smacked in the FACE with the terrible stench anytime you opened the door - but it sure was nice to wake up to dry, toasty boots!

Langley stoking our fire

In the afternoon the weather cleared just enough for us gear back up and explore...our backyard. That's right, we left the skis behind to just play in the snow. We took lots of really fun photos of our surrounding mountains AND our group shenanigans.

Footsteps. Photo by Langley.

You can see our "town" behind. Photo by Langley.

Jumping photo! Kelly is actually the inspiration for all of my jumping pics.

Spirits are high.

The album cover for our forthcoming Norwegian Folk-Rock debut. One of my favorite shots of the trip.

Too bad I missed capturing when Kelly gave Julian a piggy back ride.


Nick especially had a fun time playing in the snow, and using my "fast action" camera feature I was able to capture his ridiculousness (in case you missed it, I love embracing all things ridiculous). It's been especially amusing for me to learn how to create .gif's of his antics:


Snow Angel

Little did we know the excitement wasn't going to stop with the snow angel creation. For days Nick had been eyeing a "sick couloir bro" across the way from our cabin. Just as we were looking across the valley a HUGE snowfield above the coulior came loose, releasing the largest avalanche any of us had ever seen in our lives.

The snow ran the entire length of the ridgeline, billowed up filling the valley below, and in fact started to creep up the mountain on the other side. It was loud and startling and stupendous.

A closer look at the cloud of snow.
The group filming the avalanche.

Once the snow settled, Nick had two statements:
1) Wow, glad we weren't over there.
2) It's definitely safe now!

He was kidding...mostly.

After the excitement of the avalanche, we took a few minutes to really take in the amazing scenery just as dusk was breaking.

A small day for skiing but a big day for excitement. We definitely earned our taco feast dinner.

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