I had breakfast with Laila as the sun was beating down on the lake outside. Already the lake was full of skiers heading up the icecap of Hardangerjøkul and kiters eeking out the breeze on the lake. The promised high pressure was arriving. I left late at 11 and joined a procession of skiers heading south, most of whom were day trippers with small sacks. The lonely hillsides of Reinheimen and Breheimen 2 weeks ago, or indeed exactly here 6 weeks ago, were a far cry from this.

It was very easy skiing up in well formed tracks on a gentle slope for about 6 km. The sun was out and I was now fit enough to maintain a good pace. Indeed, I caught a lot of people up including the musical entourage of Daniel Kvammen who had stayed and performed at the large DNT lodge at Finse. Henrik was amongst them and I chatted with him for half an hour as we skied along in the sun in the most perfect weather.

37. Looking back north as I head up to Helevetesnutane from Midnutevatnet lake. In the distance and beyond Finse, are the steep ramparts of Hallingskarvet

After the top, just beyond Brattefonnvatnet lake, I decided the weather and conditions were good enough to go a different way to Kjeldebu cabin. It was shorter and offered better skiing. I had only been this way once before and remembered it being spectacular. While the other skied down to Midnutevatnet lake I veered off to the south across virgin slopes, unblemished by other tracks or twig markers, and traversed up to the frozen tarns between Helvetesnutane and Helveteshorga.

was a lovely ski up and I got a great view over the huge empty flat expanse of Hardangervidda to the south of me. The descent down the other side was wonderful as I headed south west across the undisturbed hillside making my own tracks. I continued south west and went to the north and west of Lassheldrenuten, and then across Lassheldretjørna lake (1227m).

38. The descent down the south side of the Helvetesnutane towards the plateau of Lassheldreslaet is not too difficult but seldom used

Looking to the west the entire landscape was dominated by the huge Hardangerjøkul ice cap and the rampart of cliffs which supported it. These ramparts were only broken in a few places where glaciers tumbled down from the ice cap onto the mantle at the bottom of the cliffs.  I met a couple of guys coming up across this lake and explained the route I had taken to them, as they were going to Finse. .

I followed their tracks down, traversing under a large snowdrift which I would not have a picnic under and continued down to nearly the south end of Lake 1154m on the valley floor. Here I met the marked ski route which had taken a big detour to the east. It was now a pleasant ski down good tracks with the sun in my face for a couple of km across Langavatnet lake.

At the south end of this lake the ski route climbed 100m comfortably up slopes for about 2 km to cross a shallow ridge on a tundra like landscape. At the top I started a wonderful descent for just 2 km down to Kjeldebu cabin. I glided practically the whole way down and it was over in 10 minutes.

039. Kjeldevu cabin is a self service cabin with firewood,provisions and gas.

Kjeldebu was a large self-service hut with 2 separate cabins. However there was a warden here at peak periods, but due to the Norovirus scare there were only some 20 people while usually there should have been 100 during this Easter holiday. I took the same room I had 6 weeks previously when I was the only one at the cabin. There were a few interesting people here one was Kjell Aage Oprann who is about my age and I was to spend the next 3 days skiing with.

Kjell Aage and myself decided to ski all the way to Sandhaug the next day. It seemed a lot at 30 km, but the route was easy, and virtually flat except for the first few km. It was bitterly cold when we set off at around -30°C but as the sun started to rise it warmed up. We skied separately for the 7km to Dyranut lodge as Kjell had problems with the waxing on his skis, and was slower on the steeper climbs, but we met up in the lodge there for a second breakfast.

After Dyranut we skied together south across the lake, which was again busy with kiters as this was another popular spot for them, and then down the wonderful slope into Bjoreidalen. This gentle downhill run allowed us to virtually stand still while we glided down the 3 km into the shallow valley. It was almost free 3 km.

There was now a gentle climb up and and another easy descent for 10km to get to the east end of Langavatnet. The terrain was so flat here it was difficult to distinguish the uniform frozen expanse of the lake from the near level undulating tundra on this vast “peneplain” It was an easy ski and we had covered it in well under 3 hours so paused for a snack.

After lunch Kjell Aage powered up the next gentle slope and left me behind. He now had a great glide on his skis while mine were slippery. Often when I kicked forward on one ski, hoping for a glide on the other, all I got was the ski I kicked on slipped back and I lost momentum. I stopped to apply just a bit (some 30 cm) of Swix Blue Extra, just about the only wax I now use, and the difference was so tangible, as the skis did not slide back anymore.

After a few km of beautiful easy skiing in perfect conditions I caught up with Kjell Aage and we skied together chatting for an hour or so. However Kjell Aage was developing a pain in his groin/hip area and it was getting a bit painful for him to take large strides. I left him to continue at his own pace for the last 3 km which were largely downhill anyway.

40. Sandhaug lodge lies in the middle of the vast Hardangervidda plateau. It is open for a few weeks around easter but when it is closed a self-service cabin is made available

I had been to Sandhaug before some 4-5 times but had always stayed in the self-service cabin as the main lodge was not open. I was curious to see what was in the large building which I had only seen with dark windows and covered in huge snow drifts. There were only some 20 skis outside which was a good sign. Without the norovirus scare there would have been 100. There was a man with a sledge just unpacking. I said something to him about his ski boots.

Despite the fact I had my balaclava pulled down like a bank robber he recognized my accent (the English seldom get rid of their accent while speaking Norwegian).  He said “I know you”. It was Martin Madshus Sandbakken who I skied with for a day a few years ago near Finse. He and his girlfriend Tera Lyons were skiing across Hardangervidda now in the same direction as me.

I went in and got a bed in a dormitory as all the rooms were full. There were 30 beds in the dormitory but only 5 were used that night. Kjell Aage arrived soon and got one nearby. It was a great evening in the lodge. I had plenty of great folk to chat to, there was a great traditional living room and dining room, the food was delicious and plentiful, and the host entertained us with amusing stories.There were only 35 people there while there should have been nearly 200 according to the host..

Kjell Aage and myself set off after a later breakfast, while Martin and Tera got away early with their large sledges. We headed west across Nordmannlågan lake and started climbing up beside the Besso stream bed on the other side when we came across a huge swathe of reindeer tracks. There must have been over a thousand animals in this herd, and it had just passed in the last few hours.

The marked route took me an odd way from Bessevatnet lake to Bismamarvatnet lake by going a tortuous route via Øvre Bessevatnet lake and lake 1330m and height 1415m. This seemed very long winded to the usual route I go, which is through Dimmedalen. By the time I realized I had already followed the twigs of the marked route so I was committed to it. I caught up with Martin and Tera just after Engelstjørn lake and we had lunch here. The sun was warming but there was a bitterly cold breeze which chilled my bare hands quickly.

I continued on my own after lunch up the slope towards the top of which was a great view north to Hårteigen, a prominent nunatak rising steeply from the peneplain of Hardangervidda. At the the top of the slope I passed between two knolls and then started a fantastic descent. The wind had gone and the sun warmed the air as I sped down a rounded stream bed which curved from left to right like a bobsleigh track. I zoomed down going up each side turning at the high point before heading down to the stream bed again and heading up the other side. After 10 minutes of this fun I was spilled onto Ambjørgsvatnet lake.

41. Skiing between Sandhaug and Litlos in perfect conditions on Hardangervidda

It was so warm crossing this lake and skiing up the slope by Holken hill on the far side I was sweating even though I was just in a thin shirt. My glasses were steaming up and I had to stop frequently to clear them. So I was ready for the luxurious, cool, breeze created with my final gliding descent down to Litlos lodge. Again I had stayed at the self service here some 5 times, but never seen inside the lodge.

The lodge was cosy and smaller than I thought. I got a bed in a small dormitory upstairs and soon Kjell Aage joined me, his groin strain causing him problems. Martin and Tera had everything they needed in their sledge so carried on to try and put a few more km in before they would set up their tent to camp. It was forecast to be -30°C so there was little envy from Kjell Aage and myself.

As we were sitting in the living room after the excellent dinner an arctic fox sauntered along the valley. The staff said it was a frequent visitor. It was indeed a bitterly cold night and I had to wander out to the toilet block a couple of time after the sun went down. The large moon and clear skies made a head torch unnecessary.

42. Litlos lodge in a near full moon. When the lodge is closed there is a self service cabin which is made available

The next morning was stunning with bright sunshine and the Norwegian pennant flag was hanging limp from the flagpole. Kjell Aage, myself and another guy, Gaute Aas, skied across the lake as a trio chatting and relaxed in the perfect conditions. After possibly the most pleasant 5km of the trip we got to the south end og Kvennsjøen lake. Here Martin and Tera were just finishing packing up.

43. Tera Lyons andMartin Madshus Sandbakken with their pulks on Kvennsjøen lake just before the climb up to the Tuevotni lakes en route from Litlos to Hellevassbu

I let the other go on while I chatted with Martin and Tera, accompanying them up the slope a bit while the others went on. Their sledges, almost unnoticeable on the flat lake suddenly became a burden as they heaved them up the steep slope. Half way up I said my goodbyes and headed on up to the shelf where the Tuevatni lakes lay. Once up it was a glorious ski and and am sure Martin and Tera would be looking forward to it.

By the second lake I came across Kjell Aage and Gaute Aas.  They were the epitome of Norwegians in the Easter mountains. The had inherited a snow bench facing the sun built by previous skiers. Having laid out their foam mattresses they were shooting the breeze and lapping up the sun while they ate their packed lunch.

44. Gaute and Kjell-Aage doing what Norwegians do best when the Easter Sun is out in the mountains between Litlos and Hjellevassbu

I stopped and chatted  with them for 10 minutes before carrying on over the pass at Tueslaet. It was almost too early for lunch and I wanted to get over this easy pass and head down to Bjørnabotn before I stopped. Once over the pass it was a wonderful gentle glide down the other side for 2 km to the shallow valley floor. I also inherited a snow bench at the bottom in a real sun trap. As I ate my lunch Martin and Tera gracefully glided past with their sledges chasing them down the hill. Kjell Aage and Gaute Aas soon arrived and we sat there chatting, drinking coffee and enjoying the weather for a good hour, as there was no hurry.

In the early afternoon we cruised us the gentle slope to the south for the final run down to Hjellevassbu cabin. The climb was hot and again I was sweating at the top. The route down the other side was an exciting 2 km. I pretty much let my skis go into a fast glide. Occasionally the thought crossed my mind “if I crash now it is going to hurt” as the trail was a bit icy due to the amount of skiers snow plowing down here over the last 2-3 days.

Luckily I made it to Hjellevassbu cabin unscathed. It was also a self service cabin but the DNT had a warden present for this busy period. I managed to get a 2 man room for myself and Kjell Aage much to the wardens displeasure. He was a grumpy Dane who had been volunteering for this role year after year. The more he bossed people around the more they cold-shouldered him.

We all sat outside against the south facing wall for a couple of hours until the power of the sun diminished and the shadows grew. On the north side of the hut where the thermometer was in the shade it was already -25°C and dropping. I intended to get up very early the next morning at around 0330 and ski to Haukeliseter to catch the only bus so went to bed early, which was part of my rationale for getting the 2 man room.

45. A Blue Moon (second full moon of the calendar month) over Hjellevassbu cabin. This is a self service cabin. It got down to minus 38 celcius a few hours after this photo

When I woke it was naturally dark but there was a full moon, the second in the month so it was a blue moon. I quietly packed up and set off at 0400. It was bitterly cold and the thermometer said -38°C, the coldest temperature on the trip so far. Hjellevassbu lies in a cold hollow and with the clear skies and very high pressure it was hardly surprising, even if it was nearly April.

I skied up in the moonlight without my head torch, and noticed there was a good shadow of myself across the snow from the moon. The 2 km climb up was slow as I did not want to breathe too heavily and inhale the bitterly cold air. Once at the top it was magical. It was still just 0500 but already the sky was beginning to lighten and this, with the moonlight, caused the mountains to glow as if they were luminous. 

46. The first hints of a daylight on a bitterly cold morning between Hjellevassbu and Haukeliseter

When the sun eventually appeared an hour later it was about 0630. It was still bitterly cold and I kept my balaclava on all the way to the bottom of the valley and across to the small hut at the south end of Åmotsvatni lake. I stopped here to eat a snack and put my skins on for the final climb of the trip.

47. It was minus 38 when I started at 0400 hrs but now a few hours later it had warmed up to minus 30. By the time I got to Haukeliseter is was warm in the sun

By now I was fit enough to saunter up the 300m climb. The ascent soon started to warm me up but the low sun had done little to raise the temperature and it was still perhaps -25°C. I passed a few tents by Mannevatn lake and thought one might be Martin and Tera’s, but I later learnt they had gone all the way to Haukeliseter last night and taken the night bus;- which was impressive!

Half an hour later I was at the top of the saddle at around 1350m, to the west of Vesle Nup. There was a great view here to northern reaches of Setesdalsheiane, the most southern mountain area in Norway.. I was not going into them but just skiing down to the road between them and me where my tour would end.

48. Looking south to the northernmost hills in Setesdalsheiane from Nupsskaret saddle. From here it was all downhill to the end of the tour at Haukeliseter

I looked round mournfully at Hardangervidda which was now bathed in bright sunlight, It would be my last look for a while.  I reflected on my remarkable tour of 19 days where the weather was so kind to me not only did I not have to have a weather day but I never even used my wind trousers and jacket. It was unheard of to have such a long period of stable weather. With some sadness I turned to start the final descent.

Without skins my skis were very fast and I had to snowplough down the steep slopes for the first kilometre. The freeze thaw cycles of the last 5 days had made the surface of the snow both icy and unpredictable and I kept to where many other skiers had roughed up a path. The long snow plough was exhausting on my legs and I was thankful when I reached the bottom.

With very slippery skis I struggled across the undulating ground for another 3 km. It would have definitely been worth my while putting wax or skins in retrospect but I kept thinking the downhill would start soon. When I did reach the last steep downhill I was slightly anxious the snow conditions might be difficult. I started off and managed a few zig-zags in the hard, polished snow which was very uneven and realized it was going be a nightmare.

It was not a difficult decision to take of my skis and walk down. Plenty of other people had done it and there were good steps. Had I skied I would have had multiple crashes and done some damage, to either myself or my equipment on the hard snow. It just took 5 minutes to reach Haukeliseter lodge. This mix of traditional and modern buildings lay beside the main road between Oslo and Haugesund, and was a major thoroughfare through the mountains.

I took my skis off and clipped them together with rubber straps, plunged them into the snow and went into the lodge. I booked a ticket on the only bus that day, which was due in 2 hours time. As I ate a snack in the restaurant I bumped into Bjørn who I had a meal with just 6 weeks ago when I gave my talk at Finse. He had just led a group over Hardangervidda, and it was their tents I passed 3 hours earlier.

49. Haukeliseter lies at the southern edge of Hardangervidda. It was an favoured training ground for polar explorers and this building is called the Nansenstua (Nansen’s living room), It was the end of my 450 km Langfjellene Tour

The bus stop was just outside the Nansen cabin, one of the oldest and most traditional buildings at Haukeliseter. It was of course named after the explorer who stayed here while training for his polar expeditions. The bus was punctual and it whisked me away from the mountains and down to the snowy forests of Telemark and delivered me to Oslo 6 hours later. It had been one of my best ski trips.

50. The completed route from Bjorli in Reinheimen to Haukeliseter in Hardandervidda


Mads and Natacha wanted to go to Slettningsbu and then Sulebu as they were following the “Massiv Ski Route”. I could go directly and Ola explained a route to me, and said most of it would be marked. Even if it was not the weather was starting to clear and after 3 day of misty conditions there were views again.

I went south along Tyin Lake for 3 km then cut up across the road and up the slope to Galdstjernet lake. I was was back into the mist now, but the route was marked with wooden twigs as it veered west and undulated across the tundra like landscape. As the marked route started to descend into the big bowl with Bjødalstjernet Lake in the bottom of it, I left it and slowly traversed round the hillside keeping height.

This meant I had less to climb on the south side of the bowl to reach the lip where Slettningen Lake lay. The sky was clearing now and the views were opening up lifting my spirits. In fact the ski along the south shore of Slettningen Lake was a delight. Just beyond the end of it I veered south and prepared for a steep descent. I remembered coming up here once and it was difficult as it was wet snow..

29. The descent from the route between Tyinstølen to Kyrkjestølen marks the end of Jotunheimen. The mountain in the distance is Suletinden in Skarvheimen

However, this time the snow was perfect. It was a foot deep, light, dry and consistent and I had a great ski down the valley for a good km linking turns in the virgin bowl with no other tracks. After this it got much steeper so I just traversed the slope weaving between the trees. Where I did not have the confidence of managing a turn I stopped and did a step-turn before traversing another 200 metres again in a series of long zig-zags.

Near the bottom I looked up to see Mads coming down. He was a great skier and made it look easy, Natascha was far behind him and she was following in my zig-zags. At the bottom of the slope we reached Kyrkjastølane, which was an old collection of summer farm buildings and a chapel, whose idyllic past was now compromised by being beside the main E16 road between Oslo and Bergen. Adjacent to one of the cabins here we found a warm sheltered terrace with a bench and had lunch in this sun trap.

After lunch we crossed the road and climbed up onto Filefjell. I knew the way so lead off with Mads and Natascha following. I made good time up the hill as my ski fitness was starting to return. We chatted as we climbed up onto the plateau of Filefjell. I was soon out of breath trying to keep up with these two, who were both police officers and triathletes, so at the top of the hill I took my foot off the gas and let them ski off.

30. On the Filefjell plateau between Kyrkjestølen and Sulebu cabin

It was about 5 km across the high plateau of Filefjell to reach Sulebu hut. The sun was warm and I was skiing just in my shirt as I glided over the undulating plateau. I arrived at the huts at about 5 pm, but the hut which Mads and Natacha had chosen was quite full with a large mixed nationality group, so I when into the other hut.

There was only Kaja and her friend Morten, who was joining her from here to Haukeliseter. This cabin had provisions, wood and long rows of beds so there was plenty of room. I chatted with Kaja but Morten was a man of few words. Before bed I went through to the other cabin to make a plan with Mads and Natascha about skiing all the way to Bjordalsbu tomorrow which was 30 km away.  

It was a cold morning when I went over to the other hut. Natascha and Mads were ready and we set off. Initially we skied across the flat but then we had a steep climb up to the saddle, called Sulesharet, between Suletind and Sulefjell. My lungs were hurting in the cold morning air as I breathed heavily to keep up with the young triathletes. It was a dull day with low cloud and the fantastic view to the mountains between Bygdin and Gjende lakes in Jotunheimen were obscured.

Mads and Natascha skied off down the other side, but I wanted to avoid this rapid descent and lose my height gradually, so I traversed down the slope for almost 2 km and caught up with them. It was to be the only time I got the better of them. We skied then as a team chatting to each other for another hour by which time we had done another 5 km to reach Masseringstjøni lake. Here we had previously discussed leaving the normal marked route, and taking a easier short cut I did a few years ago, but in the other direction.

Instead of veering west, climbing a 100m ridge and then having a steep and difficult 400m descent to Breistølen followed by a 400m climb to Starsjøen, we continued south from Masseringstjøni lake down the open wide valley with easy skiing to Eldrevatnet lake. Mads and Natascha shot off and flew down the 4 km in a flash but I was tired and zig-zagged from side to side in the poor light. One one misty sections I was disorientated, like scuba diving in milk, and hit a small snow ridge which sent me tumbling.

At Eldrevatnet we regrouped and had a snack before crossing the road and heading up Øljusjødalen to our south. It was quite a steep valley but we kept to the east of the frozen stream ravine, and crossed it some 2 km after crossing the main road. The weather was clearing now and there were large patches of blue sky letting the bright sun through.  We now headed west to Nordre Halsatjøni lake and climbed in a gentle arc up to Starsjøen.

31. Hurrungane from the south as seen crossing Starjøen lake near Bjordalsbu cabin

Before Starsjøen the weather had cleared sufficiently to give us a wonderful view north to the southern side of Hurrungane, the massif which I cherish so much. The wind was starting to pick up though and there was a river of spindrift flowing across the bright snows surface. With the sun on it every small undulation and ripple was crystal clear, while it had been lost in the mist an hour ago.

We skied across Starsjøen lake and picked up the official ski route, marked with twigs on the other side. We had saved ourselves some 200 metres of ascent and descent and a couple of km coming this way, and had easier skiing to boot. Now my route finding was over I did not have the energy to keep up with the other two who were as fit as professional athletes.. While I put skins on for the upcoming climb and had another snack, they continued and were soon two dots near the top of the slope.

32. Natascha Vingereid and Mads Skipanes crossing Starsjøen lake en route from Sulebu to Bjordalsbu

The last 4 km were into a near gale, however, the sun was out and I did not need to put my gore-tex jacket on. It was a long climb at the end of a long day and I found these last 4 km quite taxing. Virtually the whole way I could smell wood smoke from Bjordalsbu cabins, which gave me false hope it was just round the corner. However, I just took my time at a more sustained pace and was not exhausted when I got there.

The hut was busy with about 10 people already there and I could see another 10 coming up the slope behind me.  It is a self service hut but the I managed to find a 2 bed room for myself, laid my stuff out and then I got my provisions and settled down. There was a great atmosphere in the hut with plenty of chat and laughter across the candle lit tables with a large stove burnt in the corner drying everyone’s clothes to a crisp. I found the hut book with my first entry in 20/03/1984 from my first ever ski trip in Norway from Tyin to Finse.  

I had a lazy start. I knew the route today and looked forward to it. It was still respectable at 17 km but it was perhaps the easiest 17km of the trip. The wind was still a good force 4 from the south but the visibility was good. There was a small gentle 100m climb across a series of lakes to the high point. Patches of mist and shafts of sunlight were making it very atmospheric.

After the high point there was another series of lakes with the gentle slopes between them just enough to glide down. It was the most relaxing of skiing. However it was soon to get even easier with some fun sections as I started down a near continuous 10km slope and the wind disappeared

The sun came out and I could feel it’s warmth, despite the cold air rushing past my face as I sped down. Quite a few times the marked trail dropped quite steeply and then crossed a flat section but I avoided this combination by veering to the east side of the valley and slowly traversing down until I was level with the end of the flat section, and ready to start the whole traverse detour again at the top of the next steeper section.The consistent firmness of the snowpack, and new snow covering it, made perfect conditions, what Norwegian call “silkeføre” or silky conditions.

As I reached the bottom at Djupvatnet lake I noticed the the sun was bright and the wind had completely vanished. I stopped for as snack on a mound of snow and could feel the heat on my face. I put cream on my chapped lips, nose and ears to save them from more sun. There was a family of Norwegians sunbathing in a snowy hollow basking in the sun’s reflected rays.

33. Approaching Lungsdalshytta lodge with Lungsdalen valley in the background, which is the way up to Kongshelleren Cabin

From here is was a short relaxing kick and glide across the lake for an hour to Lungdalshytta lodge. The last 200 metres were up a steeper slope and my skis were slippery. I was too lazy to stop and put the skins on so I had to work my arms hard to stop myself sliding back. It had been such a short easy day I could almost treat it as a rest day.

The lodge was not too busy. Mads and Natascha were already here and during the afternoon about 20 people arrived. I got my own 2 man room again and had a great shower and clothes wash. The lodge was very traditional and had a cosy living room to read and relax in with many groups gathered and chatting while waiting for the meal. The meal when it came was superb with local dishes from the produce of the summer farms like Rømmegrot and smoked trout. I had a vegetarian dish which was delicious and enough for 3. If was the best food of the trip so far.

34. Inside the stue, or living room, of Lungdalshytta lodge. This lodge has its own summer farm and much of the produce is served to the guests.

After yesterday’s easy day I was ready for the 28 km to Geiterygghytta. The route took me up Lungsdalen for a solid climb of 600 metres over 8 km. The sunshine of yesterday had gone and now It was a gentle wind and light snow, but the visibility was not too bad as I slowly climbed past Eivindbotn. It was here an outlaw, Eivind Fredlaus, used to hide when during a 20 year period in the 1700’s when  the authorities were after him. It must have been bitter in winter when he fled to his stone hut here.

35. Heading up Lungsdalen to start the climb up to Kongshelleren cabin some 15 km away

At the top of the climb I reached a plateau with the two Volavatnet Lakes on it. As I was skiing across these lake to Kongshelleren hut there was a party of 8 coming towards me. They are formed 4 pairs and had got their windshelters out and threaded their ski skicks through the loops on each side. Each person then grabbed their skicks and stretched the sail between them. With the force 4 behind them each pair was wizzing across the flat lake with the nylon sheel billowing in front on them. I had done this on my own sometimes but the pain in ones arms was too much to bear after 5 minutes of fast excitement.

Kongshelleren hut was a smaller self-service cabin. Apparently it had been very busy the previous night with many people sleeping on the floor. This is often the problem with the self service cabins around the Easter week, –  which was still a few days away. I just had my lunch here as a group of 15 arrived from Geiterygghytta. They said it was busy there last night also and likely to be tonight as there was a well known musician on a ski tour there with his entourage.

It was another 12 miles to Geiterygghytta, and I remembered it being mostly down with a couple of kilometres of a taxing uphill. The downhill bit was most of the first half but the gradient was not enough to give me a free ride except down into a valley at the end of it. The uphill bit was strenuous and seemed to go on more that I expected. Just when I thought I was at the top it veered of in an unexpected direction and climbed even more, mostly unnecessarily I grumbled to myself.

However the last 3 km from the top of the climb to Geiterygghytta lodge were a fantastic downhill glide, with the occasional exciting steeper bit where I had to leave the established track and make my own way, traversing across the hillside. It was a fun descent, but I was glad to arrive at the lodge as my legs were burning with effort.

I was distraught to see so many pairs of skis outside, perhaps a hundred pairs. The lodge was going to be busy. When I went in the couple running the place where a little stressed sorting visitors out with sleeping arrangements. The lodge is quite near the road and easy to get to so there would be many skiers here due to that, add to this the proximity of the Easter holiday and the 30-40 music fans and entourage of Daniel Kvammen and it was overfilled. I along with 50 others would have to sleep on mattresses on the floor in the living room once Daniel’s concert was over.

The lady barked at a few people who complained, and also me when I asked where I could put my rucksack, so I felt a bit put out and considered continuing to Finse another 6 hours away. However, just that moment she had a cancellation and sought me out to offer me a bunk bed in the annex, which I took at once and forgave her stern tone earlier.

The food was good and the concert was busy. In fact there was no room to watch it, so I sat in the parlour and chatted to other guests. One was Henrik who I met a month earlier when I went to Finse Hotel to give a talk on my www.skipaddlenorway.com trip and he had been in the audience. As it happened Henrik was a friend of the Daniel, the young musician, so he came and chatted to us when he paused for a break.

I was looking forward to ski to Finse Hotel, where I knew a few people who worked at the hotel. Daniel and his musical entourage were also going to Finse but they would be staying in the DNT hut which would no doubt be chaotic. I set off quite early after a great DNT buffet breakfast into the dull overcast day with low cloud. I started with Mads and Natascha but they were on a mission to catch a train back to Oslo so we said our goodbyes.

It was getting significantly fitter now and it did not take long to head up the valley to Omnsvatnet, as the tracks made by many skiers had not been driven over by snow scooter. I had a good glide and my skis slid nicely in the slots left by the skiers of yesterday and already this morning. I ignored the marked route which seemed to take a unnecessary deviation to the north halfway along the lake over some large knolls and continued to the west end of the lake, where I met the marked route again.

From here is was a long sustained 200m climb up the slope to the south for about 2 km by which time I reached the barely discernable remnants of the Omsbreen glacier, which were now just patches of smooth “firn” snow. It was windstill at the top and a bit misty, with large snowflakes slowly drifting down out of the sky. It was quite busy and I I must have passed 10 skiers coming down just on this descent.

From the top I readied myself for the long run down to Finse. It was steep enough to get a good glide, but not so steep so that I had to work hard to control the direction of my skis. My rucksack was lighter now and I was fitter, so I could be more adventurous on my turns. It was 6km all the way to Finse and I loved every minute of it. My legs were burning when I finally got to the bottom but I was exhilarated.

Finse was busy. It was quite a shock to see so much going on and a train was just digorging its contents as I arrived. I skied across the train tracks once it had gone and made for the Hotel. I have known the manager, Laila, for some 18 years having first met here when she was working at Turtagrø in Hurrungane. She was a friend rather than an acquaintance, and I was greeted with a big hug.

I had been to Finse some 6 week previously to give a talk at the Expedition Festival when I skied across Hardangervidda in early February from Haukeliseter and had not seen anyone for 5 days. I was vague on my expenses for this previous trip, and the hotel felt they still owed me so I got a very big discount. After I showered I went upstairs and kept bumping into people I knew so it was a very sociable afternoon..

In the evening I dined alone in the large dining room until I was joined by Laila and her Canadian boyfriend, who was a Richard Gere lookalike to a T. He was a enthusiastic kiter and Finse was a mecca of snow kiting. Indeed he had come all the way up from Ljosland in the previous week. We had a few beers together in the evening before I went to bed.

36. Finse is on the railway line and an easy destination to get to so is popular with wintersports enthusiasts. Snow kiting is especially popular here

Finse and the area was very busy. There was a lake in front of it which was teeming with kiters and looked like a wintery Bruegel painting with hundreds of people enjoying themselves on the snowy surface. Easter had just started and Norwegians flock to the mountains like the proverbial lemmings for the Easter week. For the visitor it is a time to avoid as the huts are all very busy and usually I would have expected to sleep on the floor in at in least 3 of the next 5 lodges and huts.

However I had a stroke of luck as Laila explained to me people were avoiding Hardangervidda and indeed Finse. The had been an outbreak of Norovirus in one of the huts and this had spread to all the huts on Hardangervidda. The press had got hold of this story and blown it up out of all proportion so it became a National story. I was also in luck with the weather. The  forecast for my next and final leg across Hardangervidda was absolutely stunning with 5 days of horizon to horizon sunshine and no wind as a heavy high pressure dominated Southern Norway.


The girls Kaja and Kari-Anne headed off early, but Chris Christine and Myself had a slow start, as the weather was not good enough to go over the Smørstabb glacier to Leirvassbu. So the alternative was a relative easy day down to Skogadalbøen and we waited for the snow flurries and mist to clear as per forecast.

The first 6 km were quite uneventful as we undulated across the gentle slopes of Rundhaugan in generally poor visibility. It was good to have the twigs to follow on this stretch as it was quite featureless and the tracks the girls made an hour or two before us were already obscured. It was a shame not to see the spectacular mountain scenery around us.

24. Looking down the upper reaches of Utledalen on the descent from Sognefjellshytte Lodge to Skogadalsbøen Lodge

The weather then started to relent a bit as we reached the lip of a steeper bowl. The ski route goes this way to avoid an avalanche prone area in Vetle Utledalen just to the west..The slope was too steep for me to ski straight down even with the near foot of new snow, so I traversed down the slope with a energetic turn at each end of the zig-zags. I was careful not to go too far towards the west flanks of Hillerhø as I thought this might be avalanche prone.

Once the steep section was out of the way and we had dropped a few hundred metres the slope eased off and there was some great downhill skiing for a few km down to the treeline. We all enjoyed finding out own route down through the small knolls and undulations in the easy-to-turn-in, soft, luxurious, snow and were elated when we reached the first of the birch.

26. Looking down Utledalen valley on the last few km towards Skogadalsbøen lodge

We had a break here in the sun as the the patches of blue sky grew larger and the wind died off. We were at a junction of a few valleys, with the could-obscured giants of Hurrungane to our west and the 2000 metre mountains up Rauddalen to our east.  It was an easy and delightful 4km ski from here down through the forest on quite a uneven ski track to Skogadalsbøen lodge. The track was as narrow as a a snow scooter with deep snow each side and it was quite exciting in the short steeper sections.

27. Christine Teller and Chris Stockbridge approaching Skogadalsbøen lodge in Utledalen valley

The girls were already here, relaxing in front of the fire. Kaja had found one of my books and was reading it. The hosts fired up the stove in the drying room also and soon the accomodation was comfortable. We spent the evening dining together and chatting around the fire with the hosts, as the 5 of us were the only guests in this lovely traditional lodge.

We all set off together in the morning on the long ski to Fondsbu lodge. It was overcast and there were a few snow flurries. None of the mountains were visible. I knew the first 2 kilometres today were taxing as it was a steep climb up through birch woods. A few scooters had been this way in the last weeks and had compacted a furrow of snow and we had to follow it until we escaped from the trees and into the mouth of Uradalen where winds had slightly compacted the snow. It took a good hour and plenty of effort to slog through the forest.

Once in Uradalen the going was easy with a firm base and some gentle descents and rises for the next 4 km. It was a shame there was not more of a view, but that is a risk of skiing in a mountainous area. After these 4 km the climb steepened and there was a sustained but quite easy further 4 km climb up to Uradalsbandet, the high point of the day.

28. Climbing up the last of Uradalen valley to the Uradalsbandet saddle unter the steep slopes west of Uranostind

I was ahead of the others and did not wait at the windy pass with its snow showers so skied down the south side of the pass to Uradalsvatnet lake and had a snack while the others arrived,  The descent was quite steep, but the flat light and difficult visibility made it hard work and a bit nerve-wracking as it was difficult to read the slope. The others came down equally gingerly some even walking the odd section, except Kari-Anne. She came down with the intuitive skill of a Norwegian who had grown up on skis and put us the rest of us to shame.

It was now a long 10 ski across a few lakes and high snow covered moraine mounds to Sløtafjell. We split up in the snowy weather; all just keeping our heads down and ploughing into the flurries. There was nothing to see really except for the next 200 metres. It took surprisingly long to reach Sløtafjell, as things always do when there is no view to encourage you along.

I knew there was a long descent coming up which in good conditions is fun but in this flat obscured light with inconsistent snow firmness was probably going to be hardwork involving a lot of zig-zaging. There were two ways down; either clockwise or anti clockwise from Sløtatjernet lake and both looked the same. I chose the latter as I knew it having been down some 5-odd times before. Better the devil you know.

It was indeed taxing as I could just not make out the contours and undulations in the snowfields and crashed twice before I got down to the cabins at the west end of Bygdin Lake. From here it was a short ski to Fondsbu lodge. The others were well behind me up on the mountain, but all decided to go anticlockwise round the mountain. They arrived at the same time and said it was easy so I will remember this for next time.

I went in and met Solbjørg. She had been the host here for 20 years and was well known, not only locally but in Norway among outdoor folk. I had known her for about 18 years and always got a warm welcome. Fondsbu lodge was nearly always busy as it was an easy ski from the road and it was also served by a fleet of 50 year old Bombardier Weasels, which were like minibuses on belt tracks. I got my usual room and washed my clothes in the shower before the dinner where there were about 30 guests.

The next day the weather was again dull. However it did not really matter as I was just going across Tyin Lake to Tyinstølen where there was some accomodation. I said goodbye to Chris and Christine, and also Kari-Anne who were all stopping here.  As I skied up the shallow incline of the road between Fondsbu and Tyinholmen Solbøurg caught up on a scooter. We chatted for a good 10 minutes before she blasted off down to her hometown to get some rest before the Easter chaos started in a week’s time.

From Tyinholmen there were tracks across Tyin lake for 12 km all the way to Tyinstølen. There was no one else on the lake and I just went over in one go, skiing for about 2 and a half hours in the good conditions. It was only in the last km that I could make out the main road and the cluster of houses I was heading for such was the mist.

I climbed up the slope on the edge of the lake and found the lodge. I was not what I was expecting at all and was quite scruffy. However Ola who ran the place was very accomodating  and the prices were cheap. I realized I had met Ola before when he showed me his self service cabin here some 5 years ago, which I did not realize was adjacent to this place as I arrived off the bus in the dark then..

Initially I thought Ola, who owned the place, was a bit of a bungler. The place was spartan and lacked a woman’s touch, and my room in the cellar was totally soulless. However the more I chatted with Ola the more I realized he was quite a character. He was a local but had spent a few decades working in refugee camps in East Africa. There were just 2 other guests here Mads Skipanes and Natascha Vingereid who were also amused by Ola’s style. They were planning on going the same way as me for the next 5 days.

This was the end of my third section, Jotunheimen. It should have been the highlight, but It had been a disappointment. The dull and misty conditions meant I had to settle for 3 rather tame days rather than the spectacular possibilities which good weather would have allowed, like going over Smorstabbbreen or Memuribreen glaciers – which I had done before.


Breheimen is a  mountainous and glaciated national park between Reinheimen and Jotunheimen. It has a good handful of mountains over 2000 metres, most of which have large glaciers on their flanks. I intended to ski for 3 days through it from Pollfoss in the NE to Sognefjellshytte in the SE.

I left Pollfoss in bright sunshine and skied up the cleared road to Framrusti 6-7 km away. I assumed this road was cleared because maintenance snow scooters occasionally needed to access a hydroelectric dam further up the valley. It was bitterly cold in the shade of the hillside and forest, perhaps minus 25 °C.

At Framrusti I had to leave the sanctuary of this snow scooter track and head SE up a km long summer path in the forest to a saddle, called Bråtååsen.As I suspected it was still deep, virgin, forest, snow which dismayed and worried me. The snow was just so deep and loose this year it was easy to get bogged down. I had a hunch though that the 2 km descent down to Bråtådalen valley on the other side was clear.

It seemed that this track was used as a thoroughfare for some foxes and they had slightly compacted some snow which had subsequently frozen, so by following their tracks I only waded through 25 cm of snow rather than 75cm. I was very grateful to our canine friends  As I climbed out of the shade in the valley the temperature warmed and the forest branches, thick with snow, sparkled. I was lucky with the fox tracks as they took me all the way to the saddle where a great view quickly unfolded down to the valley and I was ecstatic to see the snow was compacted by some scooters and occasional skiers.

10. Having left Pollfoss and crossed the ridge at Bråtååsen to Mork there is a great view of the rest of the day up Bråtådalen to Sota Seter lodge

It was a fantastic run down to the old wooden farms around Mork in Bråtådalen valley. Their century old wooden walls darkened by decades of sun almost smelt charred in the bright sunlight reflecting off the snowy fields. All the animals on these farms were inside for the winter months. There was a another farm nearby with the abandoned long sheds of fur farming, once prevalent in Norway but now frowned on.

The main road in the valley at Mork was cleared of snow and mostly asphalt and icy gravel so I walked the 300 metres to the boom. Here the road continued but as a private road and it was not cleared so often or throughly, so it was covered in hard packed snow, almost ice, but there was a ridge in the middle where the vehicle tyres had not been and it afforded good and fast skiing. The road was virtually abandoned with just a car an hour, so I could ski down the middle of this snowy furrow for a quick 5 km

I passed a few clusters of old summer farms at Dyringen, their turf roofs were groaning under the weight of the heavy snowfall and the picket fences were all but buried.Soon after Dyringen I reached the north end of Liavatnet Lake. I thought there might be snow scooter or ski tracks along it, but there were none.

11. Skiing down Liavatnet lake towards Sota Seter. The mountain in the background is Tverrådalskyrkja

None the less I headed down through the thick snow to the frozen lake to ski across it. There was a magnificent view of Tverrådalskjrkja at the far end of it. However, after a km I realized it was a mistake trying to ski across the lake and headed back through the birch trees to the snowy track. Climbing up through just 100 metres of deep soft forest snow to gain the track again took me nearly half an hour as I floundered about in the waist deep loose snow.

Once on the track again I sped off on its gentle undulating curves through the mixed birch and pine forest for about another 6 km to reach the summer farms around Sota Seter which was almost like a living museum. People had been coming here every summer with their sheep and cattle to live in these gorgeous wooden cabins and barns, taking advantage of the lush mountain meadows, for centuries.

15. An old summer farm at Sota Seter. Some of these buildings are hundreds of years old and were just used in the summer when the animals came up to the mountain pastures

One collection of these timber buildings had been converted into Sota Seter lodge by the Norwegian Tourist Association (DNT) and catered for skiers in the Spring and walkers in the Summer. Sota Seter is the epitome of Idyllic Norwegian mountain scenery and culture. It is a staffed lodge only, and there are no self-service facilities when it is closed.

Chris and Christine, ruddy after a days skiing in the sun, were relaxing in the traditional lounge and gave me a warm welcome. As did the host, who was from Lom and knew a few people I did. We were the only guests on this first day of it opening for this Spring on 16 March. The food served in the evening was mostly local as the DNT try and promote this in their staffed lodges. Later John also arrived, he was an Irishman living in Switzerland who had just discovered the delight of Norwegian ski touring, and also planned to ski south to Hardangervidda. By bedtime the temperature dropped to -26°C

14. The stue, or living room, of Sota Seter lodge. The lodge is composed of a number of summer farm buildings which have been adapted to cater for people yet still retains its charm

The next morning the temperature was down to -32°C and it stung my face and nose so I had to pull my balaclava down as I set forth through the idyllic scattering of summer farms in the bright sun. I was wary about the route as on two previous years I missed it and had to wallow in deep forest snow to get up to the treeline. That was no option this year with its huge accumulations with there was no hope of wading through steep, virgin, forest, snow.

16. Climbing up the slope towards Tverrådalen with the view up Mysubyttdalen where the cabin at Slæom lies some 10 km away

I found the route and could see why I went wrong previously as it went in the wrong direction to my intuition for almost 2 km, traversing up through the birch trees eastwards before turning south to climb past the treeline and into Tverrådalen, a high hanging valley where the ski trail was marked with twigs. There were fantastic views west up Mysubyttdalen towards glaciers and north down the white expanse of Liavatnet lake of yesterday.

17. Looking north as I climb up the slope towards Tverrådalen with the view down to Sota Seter at the near end of Liavatnet lake

I was the last one and I could see the others climbing up the moraine mounds at the bottom of Fortundalsbreen glacier at the foot of the magnificent Tverrådalskyrkja mountain. I had climbed this mountain in what seem like another lifetime 16 years ago on my mission to climb all the 2000 metre mountains in Scandinavia (see www.scandinavianmountains.com)

I followed the twigs onto the glacier and up to the saddle. To the east of me is a renowned wind carved bowl with 50 metre cliffs.It is called Heksegryte, or the Witches Cauldron, and is dangerous in poor weather, as it is easy to ski off the cliffs if one navigation is suspect. Some 4 hours after leaving Sota Seter I eventually got to the watershed on the glacier where Chris and Christine were relaxing in the sun having lunch; and what a spot they picked!

It was spectacular enough behind me with Tverrådalskyrkja rising steeply up out of the glacier, but the real view was to the south. The whole of the Hurrungane massif rose unimpeded some 25km to the south.I was a breathtaking sight of what was my playground for a whole summer in 2002. Just a couple of peaks to the south of the massif were hidden behind their taller siblings in front. Each peak to me conjured up a happy memory. This was a cherished and meaningful view to me.

20. The view south from the top of Fortundalsbreen glacier towards Hurrungane. On the left is the Styggedals-Skagastøls ridge in the middle is Dyrhaugstind and on the right is Austanbotntind.

Just to the east of this angular alpine massif was the Smørstabb Massif with its large graceful glaciers carving away at narrow ridges. Again each of these peaks had memories, all of them good and I remembered warm summer days with Arne Instebø and Tone Søvdsnes 16-18 years ago. We spent days climbing and wandering amongst small brooks tumbling across high mossfields, and meadows of glacier buttercups watered by alpine snowfields on the way up to the summits. I lingered at this memorable spot cherishing the memories while Chris and Christine headed down after John.

I eventually left elated and almost euphoric with the memories and landscape and headed down the south side of Fortundalsbreen Glacier. I made wide swings as I found the snow too erratic to telemark. Although I have skied some 10,000 km in the mountains of Scandinavia my skiing is not technically that strong and I have to have perfect conditions to enjoy an downhill ski. What I lack in skill however I make up for in strength and tenacity.

After an hour I caught up with Chris and Christine and then overtook them as I blasted on down the ski track to Nørstedalen and the hydroelectric dammed lake. The track was generally wide enough to ski down but occasionally if it got to steep i traversed across the hillside in zig zags. The dammed lake was short but due to the danger of falling between ice blocks the route marked with twigs followed a tortuous path along its eastern shore.

From the dam it was a fast and exciting 3 km down the rest of the valley until it merged with a bigger valley by the DNT lodge at Nørstedalseter, a very cosy atmospheric tradition lodge with perhaps 50 beds at a squeeze. When the lodge is closed there is a 4-bed self-service cabin where I had previously stayed.

John was already here and so where a group of 4 girls from Stavanger including Kaja and Kari-Anne. It was quite early in the season so when Chris and Christine arrived the 8 of us made up the full complement of guests; while 3 week later at Easter it would be jammed with guests with many sleeping on mattresses on the floor.

It was again cold in the night and about -25°C when we set off. Although Sognefjellshytta was not open the girls had already arranged to stay they, but cater for themselves so it was easy for Chris Christine and Myself to ask the owner for the same arrangements. The alternative would have been the old cabin at the nearly Krossbu which is the worst DNT cabin I have had the misfortune to use.

It is a surprisingly long route to Sognefjellshytte/Krossbu with a lot of accent and descent and the forecast was for snow showers in the afternoon and night so I left early. I was the first and forged a route up the slopes of Vetledalen to the east. It was a sustained climb for about 700 metres. There was a bit of respite when I crossed the shelf where the Grønevatnet lakes lie and another across Liabrevatnet Lake, but this was offset by a couple of very steep sections which were taxing and I had to zig-zag.

23. Christine Teller and Chris Stockbridge climbing up the slopes on the ski route between Nørstedalseter cabin and Sygnefjellshytte lodge

The two girls caught me up at the top but I remembered there was an easier way than the marked route slightly to the east, and took this avoiding a climb up and over a knoll. By now the blue skies of the last 5 days had vanished and snow-laden clouds had covered the sun sending the first of the big flakes down in the still air.

I sneaked round the hill and started the long descent to Storevatnet lake. Initially the going was easy, but the final descent to the lake was steep and the visibility had deteriorated so much it was difficult to make out the contours of the slope. I just managed to get to the bottom without crashing, but my legs were like jelly as I spilled onto the lake. I looked up to see the others coming but only Kari-Anne was skiing down, the rest were walking.

There was no reason to stop as the weather was misty with some snow flurries. I skied across the lake to the small dam in the south and then started the final 6 km section. It was tiring as there was quite a bit of uphill and my skis were slippery. After a while I stopped to put my skins on and save energy. I also had a snack and waited for the others to join me. The final kilometres seemed to take forever, and there was little to see as the weather was now closing in.

We all got to Sognefjellshytte at the same time after a 10 hour day. Krossbu was another half hour so we were glad to see to see lights on and a snow plough clearing huge drifts of snow from the entrance to the building, and some people shovelling it off the roof.

Raymond, the owner, arrived just after us and let us in to the west entrance of the annex. we followed him down the corridors with drained fire hoses laid in the corridors so they would not freeze towards the original timber lodge. The gap between the annexe and the lodge was now connected with a huge and very modern atrium, like a giant geodesic greenhouse. It was an impressive space, and although 15 metres high the snow drifts were up to the roof on the lee side.

Although Raymond was not open he looked after us well and provided showers, 2 man rooms with bedding, boiling water and even a free beer each. We rehydrated our meals in the old dining room looking out of the window to see it was snowing heavily and spindrift was blowing around in the force 6 wind. From here we would leave Breheimen and ski into Jotunheimen. I had wanted to go over Smørstabbbreen Glacier to Leirvassbu and from there to Fondsbu, a spectacular route. But in poor visibility it would be pointless and wiser to go to Fondsbu via Skogadalsbøen lodge with the other 4, who were becoming my ski-trip family.


The Reinheimen is a new National Park largely of high undulating moorland cut by a few large gentle valleys. It is a wild and somewhat unglamourous region but has great reindeer pastures. In the west of Reinheimen this alpine moorland becomes much more dramatic as it becomes riven with the much deeper valleys and the fjords of the Tafjord Mountains. My plan was to ski south for 3 days between this undulating moorland and the Tafjord Mountains from Bjorli in Romsdalen to Pollfoss in Ottadalen.

I took the train straight from Oslo Airport up to Bjorli in Romadalen and got there in the evening, having already decided to spend the night in the cheaper hotel. It was cold and clear and there was masses of loose powdery.The weather forecast was fantastic for the next days and I went to bed optimistic after a long day’s travel.  

I woke early and had breakfast with the construction workers who also staying in the hotel. I found some local maps of the ski touring routes around Bjorli and skied off down the frozen pavement to the train station a km away to find them. I could ski on tracks round the north side Rånåkollen for a few km and then drop down to Brøstdalen by a bridge. I could see that bottom of Brøstdalen valley was a ravine and impossible to cross without going over the bridge at Ulvåbrua. However there was nearly a  km of virgin, loose, deep, forest snow to ski through to join up the Rånåkollen track to the Ulvåbrua track and this made me wary even if it was downhill as the snow was bottomless.


02. Looking down the upper reaches of Romsdalen before heading west into Brøstdalen

The ski round the north side of Rånåkollen was fantastic. There were groomed tracks covered in a dusting of new snow and frost. The pines twinkled in the sunlight and the heavy snow bent the birches saplings double. I made good time in the bright morning light and within an hour after leaving the hotel was at the point where I thought I should descend through the forest to the Ulvåbrua track. I was a bit worried as I might be bogged down in the snow up to my armpits. However I found an old snow scooter furrow, some 3 foot deep, and thought it would be wise to follow it.It was steep and I crashed twice into the banks. I was virtually submerged in snow. I put my arm out to push myself up and it dropped down into a feathery void. I had to take my rucksack and skis off and virtually had to wade and climb back to the snow scooter track. With some relief I made it through this white quagmire of quicksand-like snow and made it to the Ulvåbrua track. I could see the area had an old working mill which was a summertime museum.

There was now a long gentle climb up a cleared road which served the farms up in Brøstdalen. There was easily enough snow to ski up the road where I could look down into the impossible ravine which I deliberately avoided. After an hour the trees thinned and I reached Fremmer-BrøstetFarm, it’s old sun-burned wooden buildings sitting dark against the gleaming fields. The pines were thinner now and the dominant tree was birch.

I skied down to the frozen Ulvåa river and had a snack in the bright sun under blue skies. From there I followed snow scooter tracks up the shallow valley to the summer farms at Horgheimsætra and then Kabben and finally Tunga some 3 hours later. Here the landscape split with a valley heading NW up to Vakkerstølen hut and a valley continuing SE to Pyttbua hut. I took the latter and climbed gently into Puttbudalen where the last of the birch continued in copses. Where the wind had been blowing the snow was firmer, as the windblown snow crystals had broken and compacted.

03. heading up Brøstdalen

As the trees finally disappeared I had a small rise to ski up to reach an open junction of two valleys. Between these valleys was the Queen of Tafjordfellene, namely Puttegga, which just misses out being a 2000 metre top by some 60 cm. It steep ridges were fringed by a large overhanging cornice, which would come crashing down in the spring. Pyttbua hut lay just at the bottom of the east ridge It had 2 separate accommodation huts and the toilet/utility block. There was a young German couple there already who had come to this area a few times in the summer and this was their first winter trip. They already had the fire going and had melted a few buckets of water.  The larder was well stocked and I quickly found and prepared my favourite items after a long first day of some 30 km.

I rose early and set off before the Germans were up. It was another glorious day with horizon to horizon blue sky and no wind. In the shade of the mountains it was cold at below -20 Centigrade . The route was marked by birch twigs stuck into the ground. I climbed gently to the south up a shallow slope into a white sunny bowl to the north of the crags on Karihøa. I crossed a few frozen tarns and was looking to see where the route went, assuming it was to the east

However to my surprise it went up a very steep snow drift to the south of this sunny bowl. The snow drift had formed a ramp which I had to traverse up for about 50 metres. It was marked with the twigs but it looked quite steep and in avalanche conditions I would not think it save, and would have found a longer route to the east. My short skins would not let me climb the ramp in anything but a long series of side steps.

04. The route from Pyttbua to Tordsbu on Day 2 goes up into the snowy bowl NE of Karihøa and then steeply up a drift to Radiovatnet lake. The drift can be avoided by detouring a km to the east over height 1539m

At the top of the ramp there was a lovely still small valley with Radiovatnet lake across it and then a wonderful descent down to the vast flat expanse of Tordsvatnet l;ake. I kept as much height above the west side of the Tordsvatnet which left me only about 5 km to ski across the lake to Torsbu hut. It was a very easy pleasant day. Almost a rest day as it was over in about 4 hours.

05. Looking south from Radiovatnet lake across the frozen expanse of Tordsvatnet lake. At the far end of this lake is Torsbu cabin

This hut also has two cabins. I could see there were already two people in one of the huts, and looking at the gear and literature they had assumed them to be British. I lit the stove and was just getting the last bucket full of snow to melt when an large man with a beaming smile slid to a halt speaking Norwegian with the unmistakable British accent.

We introduced ourselves. He was Chris Stockbridge who had previously work in Stavanger as a oil field geologist. He guessed my name and said he had read my book and had followed my www.skipaddlenorway.com journey 9 years ago as I skied up Norway. Pretty soon his wife Christine arrived and we went into the hut. Both Chris and Christine were bright, good humoured and gregarious and we chatted easily. It transpired we both intended skiing the same route for the next week or so. The more we chatted the more we discovered mutual friends and interests. This was the Norwegian hut system at it’s best.

The next day we were to part ways for a bit as I was skiing to Pollfoss where I had already arranged to spent the night and then Sota Seter tomorrow. Chris and Christine were going half way to Pollfoss and then taking a taxi to Sota Seter, where they would spend 2 nights; so we would meet again tomorrow. I set off first and started the long descent to Billingen.

Initially the route was virtually flat but it soon started a long easy descent traversing down the slopes of Tverrådalen valley. Towards the end it got steeper and I had to make large shallow swings as the snow was too inconsistent to telemark straight down. Even then I fell once as the harder firm snow changed to soft deep snow when I was not expecting it.  The slope ended as my legs were burning with effort and it spilled me into Torddalen. I looked up and saw Chris and Christine starting down in the same cautious manner I did.

It was surprisingly long to ski the 6km along Torddalen to the area where it narrowed and climbed over a spur to begin the final descent. My skis were slippery as I did not wax them, as I constantly hoped for gentle downhill sections, and this cost me a lot of energy on the shallow inclines and flat sections. I passed the tracks of a wolverine which as always looked like they were on a mission with very little deviation, even in gnarly terrain.

08. Looking back up Torddalen on the easy descent from Torsbu cabin to Billingen

The final descent to Billingen was quite steep in inconsistent snow with very fast skis. Again I fell twice as my legs just disappeared into deep loose snow and my torso and rucksack carried on. It was only when I reached the first of the summer farms the terrain became easier as there were some snow scooter tracks which other skiers had followed.

09. The old summer farms at Billingen now lie beside the road from Otta to Stryn

Again with burning leg muscles I skied down through the last of the sun burnt cabins and barns of these ancient summer farms which had stood for centuries, to the road at Billingen. The farms where covered in dollops of thick snow which were glistening in the sun making every glance look like it was from a postcard. At Billingen I crossed the main Riksvei 15 road with my skis still on and skied down a short snowy track to a bridge over the Otta river and to the hamlet of Åsen.  The frozen Otta river was buried under huge mounds of snow, twinkling in the sun and just disturbed by a few fox tracks.

From Åsen I was lucky that my hunch of a cleared track came to be. It was not only cleared but it was a prepared cross country ski track. It was about 6 km to Pollfoss but it went past in a flash as most of the track was either level of down hill. Once at the bottom of a steeper fast section the track veered off to the right so unexpectedly it took me unawares and I could not make the turn. I ploughed of into the deep loose forest snow in a cloud of spindrift. Once I came to a stop i was partially submerged with snow up my nostrils and behind my glasses.

Pollfoss is an old historic hotel now owned by a Dutch couple. There are open during the spring by arrangement only and they were expecting me. It was a very characterful place and a nice stop to reorganize after 3 days skiing. I had now finished the Reinheimen Section of my Langfellene Trip and I had been blessed with great weather, nice scenery and company at Torsbu cabin.