Nordic Skiing — The Real Thing

December 20, 2002

Roger Bailey told potluckers of the great backcountry, hut to hut, skiing he experienced in Norway. It is no wonder that “Nordic” skiing is identified with “crosscountry” skiing — if one is of a mind (and ability) to do so, one may virtually ski 200 miles across Norway from Voss to the capital city of Oslo! Roger and companion did about 100 miles of skiing in nine days. Access to trailheads was all conveniently available by railroad! Excellent overnight facilities are available in the backcountry, in huts that hold from 25 to 40 people. Accommodations can be had for do-it-yourself to completely serviced. Surprisingly, these facilities were built and are maintained not by the state, but by the Touring Club (a la Mazama, but obviously on a far grander scale).

The altitude that was contended with was of the order of 4500 ft., which this far north is above the treeline. Sorry, Oregonians, but not a tree in sight — so, no blue trail markers nailed to trees. It behooves one to have (and know how to use) map and compass. Trail distances on trailhead signs are given as time not mileage. Roger noted that this must be Norwegian skier time!

There is great downhill skiing to be done. The backcountry is not crowded — Roger’s slides usually showed only their single trail winding down the slope. However, this does require some “uphilling”. The rare lift sported only one chair, so one ties a strip of mohair on to the skis and climbs. Roger did one climb of 2000 ft. — obviously not for the faint of sinew!

Among Scandinavian artifacts that Roger had on display was a beautiful strip of (young) seal fur that was tied on to skis for climbing in times past. A vintage ski looked like it might have been bought in a lumber yard. It is good that the quality of respect for wildlife has improved along with that of outdoor gear.

Bep Fontana

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