Monday, June 1, 2009

1 June

Well, today was the day.

I awoke at 8:15 and actually had a great breakfast at this hostel! I had an orange, a waffle with jam (!!!), and strawberry yogurt with muesli. I have never really been a fan of yogurt, but on this trip I am starting to warm up to it. Particularly mixed with muesli. SOOOO GOOOD.

Getting to the ski center is usually pretty simple - there is a bus that goes from Stryn to the Ski center (45 minutes away), but right now it isn't running. I don't know why. So I was only able to get to the Folven, at the base of the mountain. Folven is basically a big drunken party full of skiers and snowboarders from around the world. Everyone I had spoken to assured me that I could just show up and get a ride without a problem. Surely enough, the first group I approached offered bring me along.

Bjorn and Inge brought me along in their car and we drove up the mountain together. They got me there quickly, gave me some basic advice, and Bjorn lent me his (really, really nice) ski goggles. We were driving up the side of the mountain within minutes, which was really incredible. The road has only been driveable for a week now. The snow had been cleared, leaving somewhat of a canal which snaked its way to the top. In some places there were eight feet of snow visible; much higher amounts were present but unknown because there was no way to check! The trip to the ski center was truly surreal.

When we arrived I just had to rent gear and buy a lift ticket. Renting the gear was really quick and easy, because everyone in Norway has their own. The lift ticket was also pretty straight forward. I found the prices to be very reasonable by Norwegian standards. One day ski rental was $50.00 and my lift pass was $65.00. Considering the once-in-a-lifetime factor, I was happy to pay up. All that was left now was the mountain/glacier. Most of what I skied on today was a glacier, albeit covered in 15-30 feet of snow. The ski center gets around 30 feet of snow in a typical season, and it never totally melts. (It's supposed to snow on Wednesday, actually.)

After gearing up, I made my way to the lifts. First there was a traditional chairlift, which brought me from 3500 feet to 4300 feet. Then, there was this thing called a t-bar lift. To use it, you grab this T-shaped bar, tuck it behind yourself, and lean back. The sensation is something analagous to waterskiing uphill. The T-bar brought us from 4300 feet to the top of the mountain at 5300 feet. (!)

So, this one time I went skiing in West Virginia. Hahaha...

Before today, I had been skiing twice at Snowshoe Mountain. I was expecting the skiing to be challenging, but manageable.

To put it bluntly, I got pwned. The "easy" trails were much steeper than I anticipated, and the snow was difficult to maneuver in. It was very heavy, because there had been several consecutive days where the temperature did not drop below freezing. On my first run, I made my way very clumsily down the mountain, crashing every few minutes. When I skied for the first time a few years ago I suffered initially with the Zoolander complex; I wasn't an ambiturner. Only being able to turn one way makes slalom skiing very difficult (read: painful). Today I was having similar problems, which were antagonized by the steepness, the heaviness of the snow, and my 16-month hiatus from skiing. One of the wipeouts twisted my right knee pretty badly because the ski didn't pop off, but it didn't slow me down too much.

On my second and third runs, I fell much less, but I was also in some pain from my earlier wipeouts. All in all, I lasted about 3 and half hours on the mountain before I was beat. I returned my equipment and managed to hitch a ride all the way back to Stryn, where I just took a long nap.

Upon awakening, my right knee is hurting a lot. Walking isn't a problem, but turning it or laterally shifting my weight is painful. Fortunately, I can put my feet up and relax for the rest of the evening. The pain isn't particularly acute, rather it is a constant reminder of the crazy day I have had. Oops! I am sunburned too. Oh well. Worth it.

Pretty blue ice/water

The Stryn Ski center from the first lift

The second (T-bar) lift, going the rest of the way up

Showing off my casual skiing attire at the top

The Strynfjell valley

Miraculously still standing after many falls!


  1. Tory,
    I hope you iced your knee and are taking ibuprofen!!
    Guess who

  2. Uh oh, this doesn't bode well for me skiing in the Andes where the US national team trains...

  3. I continue to be entertained and educated by your account of such an interesting journey. And the photos are spectacular. Hope your knee does not give you much trouble. Love from Gramma and the rest of the St Pete family