Sunday, December 28, 2014

10 years of Snowchasing!

This season marks the 10th season of snowchasing and my 8th year writing this blog!
It has been a decade now since my first winter skiing in BC! With more than 90 000 visits and 116 posts so far, this blog is just getting better and better (in my opinion! ;)

Hopefully, this one will be another one to remember!

As every winter this one will be different from the previous one. The biggest different this winter is that I won’t take the plane to go skiing! My girlfriend is currently doing a training period in Grenoble and since this city is nicely located at the Alps doorstep, I will spend my winter exploring this famous mountain range!

Since I have only spent in the previous years only a week in Italy, one in Austria and another 2 weeks in Switzerland for skiing, I haven’t even really started to scratch the surface of the possible options!

I have been in France since April, I have already started to hike around the peaks surrounding the city. It was some really nice weather this fall for doing so. I have also spend a fair amount of time to the municipal library to fuel up on the topo books that are available.

An fairly nice storm hitted the mountains in November, but with reports of hitting rocks by most of skitourers doing tours around Grenoble, I stayed calm and waited for the base to build up a bit. The snowpack, instead of building up disappeared with the warm weather we had in early December.

I was looking at the options for skiing from Slovenia to Spain and nothing seemed really interesting. With reports of major ski resorts not opening for theChristmas holiday, some really depressing webcam view and even reports of heli-transported snow, there wasn’t much hope!

As I was in Strasbourg with Amelie after spending a few days with her parents visiting the Christmas market, we saw a report that Norway was receiving a shit load ofsnow.

I had swore myself after driving to northern Norway last spring that there was no-way that I would drive back up north, but snow was calling...

After a short call to Piet, my German friend that I’ve met in Roger’s Pass, we made the plan to rally up with him and his girlfriend Sarah the following morning in Hirtshals in northern Denmark to take the ferry to Norway. After packing up with food and booze to minimize as soon as possible our expenses in Norway, we drove straight the 1300km that were separating us from the ferry.

The drive through Germany was as I remembered: not super interesting and quite long (even if you can drive at whatever speed you want). They haven’t really build the autobahn next to some architectural gem...

We met according to the plan at the ferry. They were starting from the south of Germany and had driven all night long! The ferry ride was not too rocky and that was quite good for me since I am a bit sensitive to seasickness!

As we got to Norway, we had our first vision of the season of what a real winter looks like!
With snow on the ground at sea level, ice on the road, there was no doubt; winter was on its way here!

We did the usual weather forecast check in what I would say is probably the widest free internet network on earth: McDonald’s. A decision was quickly made to drive towards Røldal which was 220km from Porsgrunn where we were.  It had snowed around 160cm from the 16th of December to the 21st and there was more snow on the forecast!

I had quickly forgotten how long it can take to drive on the norwegian roads! With nice pure ice on the road, you are not too tempted to go over the 60km/h speed limit... and if you are, photo radar are there to remind you not to do so!

We first stop in Haukelifjell skisenter which is 30km east of Røldal. We were pretty excited as we got out of the car, since there was a lot of snow everywhere and the snow was nice and cold. We set in Piet’s van to have dinner as we heard what sounded like rain...

We first doubt that it would be possible since it was -3Celcius outside. I went out to make sure, but yes, it was raining. As we went in bed, it was raining fairly hard and I started to wonder if we had just driven that far for nothing!

The rain didn’t fell for that long and it eventually turned to snow but it had time to did some damage... 

There a fresh layer of about 5-10cm of snow covering a thing layer of rain crust. Since the visibility wasn’t that great, we drove around a little bit to find a backcountry slope with some trees on it. The days are fairly short at this time of the year here! With the sunrise around 9h30 and the sunset at 3h30, there is not much time to waste!

We parked near the Vågslitunnelen just north of Haukeli and after the very last minute preparative, we started skinning from there. 
It has been fairly windy and there wasn’t much good snow. We did a short tour that would have been nice if it wasn’t from the raincrust. 
We had textbook dust on crust...    
After that not glorious start, we drove through a pretty intense snowstorm to Røldal in the hope of finding better conditions!

Hopefully, the conditions would make up for the long drive!


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