Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Norway Update

I was going to start this post with a... I know, I suck, where's the updates, and then I thought, you know, I've been doing lots and have just been too busy to blog. One adventure leads to the next and the amount of content builds too high that you don't want to dig your way into it. Regardless though, I still started my blog with a crappy apology since I've been off line for a whole month since my last update. So, here we go! We have lots of photos and Kim has posted them on Picasa so check them out by clicking on the title links (especially the Bergen pics!)

Climbing at UTE

I've been hitting up the indoor climbing wall a couple times a week and am building up my forearms once again (used to climb but if you don't use it, you truly do lose it). I've been progressing quite well and am starting to be able to do some of the more difficult routes with more overhanging sections. I've got a makeshift pull-up area at home as well and by using this a few times a week, combined with a crossfit style workout involving pushups, ab work and squats, I've feeling stronger in my upper body than I ever have before! My forearms are definitely still the weakest link though as I can be done a climbing session (can't hang on anymore) but can go over to the rings and still manage to do 15 pull ups. Go figure. The climbing centre also has two slacklines set up and while I still have a ways to go, I've managed to walk to the halfway mark which is much better than I did at first!


Kim and took a long walk over to the ski jumping and stadium area in Bymarka (the main ski area close to town) and attended the mens World Cup 50km classic ski race. It was the first time that either of us had seen a real ski race and man were these guys moving! What made the event extra exciting was the fact that there was a Canadian racer in the top 10 who slowly moved up to top 5, then four, and then pushed over the last few kilometers and took 3rd place! This was the best placing for him ever and it was great to see how the Norwegian commentator was showing his support and excitement for his effort.

Kim had to fly down on a Friday to Bergen for a work session and so we decided to make a weekend out of it and I came along. Thanks to a local deal, we stayed right in the heart of the downtown for quite cheap. Bergen is... well, it's probably the most beautiful city that I've ever been to (and that says a lot coming from a place as nice as Victoria). The city is old and steeped in history. Think cobble streets, small multi-coloured homes situated in all directions, tight quaint walking streets between buildings and a vibrant downtown filled with people at all hours of the day. This, combined with kilometers of shoreline, surrounding mountains and the smell of the sea, and you have a northern paradise. The only big downfall to this city that is "The gateway to the fjords of Norway" is that it rains... a lot. So, much so that it is also called the "City of Rain" or for Canadian reference, "The Vancouver of Norway" (although worse). Annual percipitation is around 2.25 meters. Yes, 2.25 METERS.

We got very lucky with the weather as the sun shone down on us most of the weekend and allowed us to take an absolutely phenomenal local mountain hike. There is a bus tram that takes you up to restaurant overlooking the city. There is also a cable car that takes you up another mountain called Ulriken. Well, if you hike up to the restaurant, you can continue upwards and then follow the high plateau in a horseshoe curve over to Ulriken and back down to the City. All told, the hike is in the 25 km range with a start and finish right in the City centre. Check out the video clip I put together to get an idea! I could say more but the photos we took really do speak for themselves.

We mostly just toured around Bergen by foot and we also went to the Natural History Museum which housed a large collection of rocks and minerals, many taxidermied animals, and a good collection of whale and dolphin bones (hung together of course). Overall, this was a great trip and I would love to go back... when it's not raining!


Kim's work hosted a skiday at the local ski hill where you could do some downhill or cross country skiing. A group of us got dropped off at a trail entrance before the skihill which let us ski for 12 kms before we arrived (rather than arriving and doing the local trackset). This turned out to be a great idea as we had the most perfect day you could ask for. The sun was shining down and the temperature was about -6 degrees which made for perfect blue wax ski conditions. We ended up climbing right up to the communication tower at Vassfjellet (the ski hill) and then tried to ski down without falling. For me, this has not been easy as I have never been a skier having been a snowboarder for the past 12 years. Also, having relatively narrow cross country skies doesn't help much either! I'm learned how to telemark but I still have a long way to go! If only all the trails could be uphill :)


Kim and I have become friends with a French couple and an Italian couple and we ended up going on a ski trip to a hut called Iglbu for a long weekend. It was a about an 8 km uphill trip to the cabin where we stayed for two nights and would do day trips from. The thing about Norway is that there are literally huts everywhere. This allows you to travel nice and light and then stay in a comfortable cabin with a cozy wood stove and parafin for lighting. You end up getting into the life of collecting, cutting, and chopping firewood, stoking the fire, melting snow for water, and living a simple life for the weekend. This was both Kim and I's first real cabin trip and I tell you what, this is definitely the way to go. No tent, mattress, stove, pots, utensils and dishes required. Bring some clothing and food and you are good to go. What I really realized on this trip was that ultra-light mountain biking trips would not only be a possibility, but an absolute MUST DO! I have been dreaming of this ever since. And when I mean mountain bike trips, I don't mean riding man-made buff singletrack; I'm talking really about riding up and over mountains... basically where every you want. The thing about Norway versus the West Coast of Canada is that the forests are much more open and the landscape is more rolling and glaciated which allows you to literally pick a direction and go. This might be heaven...

This past weekend, over the Easter break, I did a great ski trip to Trollheimhytta... will post pics and update soon!



Kristenn said...

Right on Todd! Looks like you two are having an awesome time exploring and embracing what the area has to offer!
Tell Kim I found a red BCBR volunteer shirt in our spare bedroom I'm pretty sure is hers!
We're getting ready for our local Hammerfest XC race this weekend - Jeff's put together a fantastic course I'm sure he'll be happy to show you when you get back.
Spring is becoming summer here - mtn biking yesterday in ss jersey and shorts. woot!

Scott Nowack-Thompson said...

I miss you...