I'm back from Valhalla, jet lagged and mind swimming (and legs aching) from a week of adventures in the high peaks of central Norway. This is my first trip report, a hash out on a mountain climb and ski tour my group did last Saturday in the Romsdal Alps, thousands of meters high over yonder fjords on a peak called Kirketaket.
Kirketaket, a 1,439-meter summit outside the town of Andalsnes, Norway, is a famous peak in the Romsdal Alps of central Norway. My adventure up the mountain last week started with a drive from sea level to the trailhead, where the group put skins on skis and headed uphill. The climb -- about 1,300 meters -- would take around four hours to reach the ski-jump-shape mountain's summit.
Our guides for the day were Halvor Hagen of Andalsnes and Didrick Ose from Molde-based DID Adventure (www.didadventure.no). Easy skinning on cross-country-like trails led to a forest and a steep climb an hour into the journey. (Our route in GREEN on the image below.)
(image courtesy of www.kirketaket.com)
For gear, I tromped along in Black Diamond Kilowatt skis, Fritschi Diamir Freeride Plus bindings and SCARPA Spirit 4 boots -- an alpine touring setup made for serious steep and deep terrain. The Black Diamond Covert 32 AvaLung was my pack of choice. My apparel was a mix of Outdoor Research outerwear, new prototype wool base layers from Duofold, Defeet socks, and a buff hat.
We ascended Steinberget, a ridge before the peak, breaking for lunch at a snow-wall camp. White peaks and slate-blue fjords stretched into the distance. The summit ridge of the Troll Wall, a 2,000-meter cliff outside of Andalsnes, poked spires against a pale sky.
I had a Clif bar and some Norwegian chocolate. Then it was back to business, poling and striding in zigzag fashion on the face of the mountain.
The wind kicked up, sending spindrift over a ridge, sandblasting the line of skiers. Near the summit, the snow became a polished face, icy and glinting in the sun, skins slipping as I pounded edges in for grip.
On top my hands were frozen and stiff. Face exfoliated from the violent spindrift. I hid behind a cairn to get out of the wind, the Romsdal Alps dropping to all points of the compass from the perch.
Time to descend. The icing on the cake of a ski tour. I peeled skins off skis, stuffed them away in my pack, and clicked my bindings down. Edges cut into the mountain, slicing turns, losing vertical fast for a thousand feet, fjords and endless snow in the distance. We'd ski another half-hour, cutting turns on the steep upper mountain, then cruising gentle terrain back to the trailhead, from the mountain summit back to sea level and icy fjords, one Norway adventure down, many more for the week still to come.
(Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eleven U.S. newspapers; see www.THEGEARJUNKIE.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog, and an archive of Regenold's work.)