04-Jun-2001 -- The N61E8 expedition team, chaplain Knut Skjeldal and engineer Ingar Nergård, left our base at Hemsedal at 6:50 am. We were blessed with a clear cold night followed by a sunny day. A perfect day for our task!
We drove on highway 52 towards Lærdal and parked the car at Øljusjøen Power Plant at 1140 meters above sea level. There were plenty of snow for skiing, as we had planned. We set off at 7:45 with synthetic skins under the skis to prevent back-slipping. Ingar brought a Norwegian flag on top of his backpack. No expedition without a flag!
Our first challenge was to to climb a hillside that seemed a little steep. Knut staked a course that looked good. We soon discovered it was steeper than it had looked! But after some tough climbing we made it. Soon we found ourselves in the most beautiful landscape one can dream about. (That is when you love cross country skiing!) We were amazed of all the snow in the mountain at this time a year. We could walk anywhere without sinking even a centimeter into the snow.
We navigated by the map and didn’t turn on the GPS until about 10:00 am, when we felt sure to be near the confluence point. Then we had climbed most of the way up on the Stardal mountain and had reached 1500meters above sea level. The GPS said we were 360 meters away from the point. Then it was a “walk in the park” to find our first confluence!
After Ingar had made some fine adjustment we could take the picture of the GPS, (pic #2) and plant the flag in the snow in the spirit of the great norwegian explorers Roald Amundsen and Børge Ousland. (pic #3)
This was a moment of great historical importance. Therefore we stood side by side singing the national hymn “Fagert er landet Du oss gav” with gravity and passion. It means: “Fair is the country You gave us”.
After some food and changing of sweaty clothes we took the group picture (pic #4 ) and the panoramic picture. (pic #1) We moved the tripod a little away from the point to get a better view.
Allthough the weather was perfect for more skiing, we didn’t dare to stay any longer, in case the snow should get too soft in the warm sun. That would have made the return difficult. At this time, about three centimeters of the snow had softened. This turned out to be ideal for skiing down the hillsides. No need to be careful! We just made a few parallell and Telemark curves before letting it go in a straight line downwards! Speedskiing really gives a great thrill! :-)
It is very common to use “klister” (a sticky stuff) under the skis, when the snow is wet, to get enough friction. Instead we choose to put synthetic skins under the skis in the steep ascents. On the flats and the not so steep ascents we used the skating technique. (pic #5)
On the last 500 meters before we reached the car, at about 1:00 pm, we sank through the snow a couple of times and we were glad we had returned so early.
On the map on picture #6 our trip is marked with green dots and the last part of the route back with purple dots.
Thanks to Sissel Carlstrøm for lending us the GPS-unit and to Terje Mathisen for the inspiration in confluence hunting!