An exceptional trip with inspirational instruction....even for a rank beginner with no skiing experience at all.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
I had several inspirational moments. The first was the moment when I first managed to stay upright on skis on the first day, the second was skiing out over Kvitavatn lake, then in turn the moment when I managed to herring bone uphill successfully, to snowplough downhill under control, telemarks to provide better stability, and the first run without an instructor around the ski tracks. Skiing in a force 9 gale was pretty exhiliarating too!
- What did you think of your group leader?
Ilse was amazing. She is hugely talented, incredibly patient and knows exactly when a word of praise or a word of criticism will be most appropriate. Several times when I was struggling with something she would pay me a compliment that lifted my mood entirely, equally she never let go something that I was doing badly (pole position for general propulsion mostly!) if she thought I could improve it. Full of energy and enthusiasm, she was inspirational.
Chris was also great - very different in style, he would talk us through an ascent/descent then leave us to make some decisions about how to approach the obstacle so that we had to think independently about what we were doing. He was never too far away to come back and rescue me from various trees, snow drifts and ski contortions when I managed to hit them but it gave a real sense of achievement when something went well...because you'd done it right. He picked me up out of more piles of snow than anyone should have to do, but always with a smile. He was also great when I gave myself a minor injury on the final day, and got me back to the lodge not only in one piece, but cheerful and with a sense of achievement.
At the end of the week we were presented with a disc of photos taken for us where quite a few of us were not taking many through a) fear of crushing the camera b) concentration on skiing or c) being in a snow drift, so we have a great record of the week. I cannot rate the leaders highly enough at Kvitavatn and I can't wait to book again for the coming season.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Cross country skiing makes everything hot - don't dress for downhill or you'll bake. Light layers are a must. Do take a flask, mittens are a winner and most of all definitely take gaiters and waterproofs if you are a beginner. You will fall over......maybe not as much as me, but you will fall, and staying dry is the key to enjoying your trip. Take the smallest day pack you can manage (flask, lunch, layer, camera - you don't need much else) to keep your balance under control. I also took my yak tracks (for gripping ice when walking around) which I found really useful when it got slippery around the Fjellstoge towards the end of the week. Not falling down off skis was a desirable state of affairs given the opportunities for falling over on skis!
Inevitably snow conditions vary (we had a couple of warm and therefore very slippery days) and this can be a bit frustrating, but the leaders are very good at picking out the best possible activities for the conditions. You'll get a lot out of the trip.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
The Fjellstoge is clean, comfortable and has a sauna, mini cinema with some DVDs, open fire, and fantastic food twice a day (make a lunch up from breakfast). Showers are communal (not a problem, but be prepared!). A particularly great feature of this trip is that the area has a set of lit tracks so you can ski independently in the evenings and the opportunities for skiing off track with the group are great. At one point we were skiing around hills aobut 3/4 of the way up their height, crossing over downhill runs, and looking down over valleys and lakes. It has all the best of hiking, but with snow and skis thrown in.
Those looking for a busy night life will be disappointed, but if you want a bit of peace and quiet with some exceptional teaching, and to make quick progress to being able to ski away from tracks etc, this is the trip for you.