Glacier guiding

Location

Destination: 

Jostelbreen

Country: 

Norway
Trip Participants

Participants: 

Paul Marais

 "brei-kursus".

This is all you need to know of Norwegian, and you get instant respect, and it has nothing to do with knitting. Norway is a pretty stunning country, landscape and people, Steep mountains, isolation and handsome tall blokes and even better looking females. It has some glaciers, formed where the snow doesn't melt but compacts and forms ice. Ice is blue!_ and cold !

I arrived in Oslo on the 22 June and was met by Olaf at the bus station. He is an amazing Norwegian who traded the corporate lifestyle for one of science, nature and discovery. I then met his family and spent the midsummer evening with them as they braaied and sang and drank the dreadfully expensive wine and beer. The sun didn't set it went from blue at about l2pm to grey and then just turned blue again.

I boarded the bus 2 days later and went through a series of fjords, tunnels, underground traffic circles, ferries and as the bus was running early a unscheduled stop at a 13th century stave church. It was overwhelming! I then was met by Roger at the bus stop and completed the drive to the village of Gerde. One shop and one cafe-bar. lots of big wooden houses and one just a pile of timber, "Avalanche" said Roger matter of fact, Up at the lodge I met the other brei-cursus members, all lean, mean fitness machines, perhaps when the application for the course mentioned that exceptional fitness was required they weren’t joking.

That night the Theory part of the course commenced and after a brief discussion it was unanimously agreed to have the course in English by the 3 Danes and 5 Norwegians on the course. That meant I'd have to listen! We were issued with the necessary kit, and I acquired the dreaded plastic boots (The others had lekker leather comfortable shoes) that allowed zero movement at the ankle. Slightly less comfortable than wearing a peli-case on each foot.

The first days course was about basic snow techniques. I found snow was the nice white stuff It was cold, and if you were not dry too frigging cold. We had fun diving head first down the steepest slope we could find. I was pretty cold as I had not managed to borrow enough kit at this point. Norwegians are the best, if they think that their spare thermal underwear is better than yours they insist on lending it to you. So i was lekker toasty at the end of the course.

 

Next day we climbed onto the glacier where we spent the following three days learning how to cross it and rescue ourselves. WOW!! We donned crampons and learnt how to move around without impaling ourselves. It was steep, very blue and unbelievable.

 

Now we were ready to tackle a real glacier and we then took on a tongue of the glacier. Roped together we climbed up for most of the day, which was very very steep, beautiful, and hard work, After losing the first group for over an hour, we regrouped and climbed the final ascent to reach a rescue hut on top of the glacier. All around was just white snow, with rockey mountains off in the distance. It reminded me of the deserts here, just a lot colder and would the last one to bed please put out the light!!

 

Date: 

Tuesday, June 20, 2000 (All day) to Friday, June 30, 2000 (All day)
Activities

activity: 

Cross Country Skiing
Mountaineering