Cross-country skiing: Kvitavatn by Exodus' Tom Wilkinson

As our coach wound its way up the mountain road towards Kvitavatn, some 950m above sea level, I felt the excitement start to grow. I’d never been to Norway before, never tried cross-country skiing and was itching to have a go.

On arrival we quickly discovered who our new roommates were, grabbed a bite to eat and headed off to settle in.

At breakfast the next morning I found our friendly group chatting eagerly about what lay ahead. The first task of the day was to make ourselves a packed lunch from the huge buffet laid out in the canteen, before heading into our first briefing, where Ilse, our resident leader, set out the plan for the day. First stop, the equipment store. Once kitted out, we headed over to wax our skis, a crucial activity in this part of the world. We’d all visited the small shop in the Fjellstoge to pick up the ‘Blue Extra’ that we’d need to help us grip and glide on the fresh Norwegian snow.

I was amazed at how far we progressed on just the first day; Ilse had us doing numerous different exercises to help balance and technique, including basic turns, how to use the poles and how to fall over safely. Perhaps not surprisingly, I found the falling over part very natural, and made sure I practiced at least twice a day from then on! As the week progressed, we gained confidence and began to head further afield, on full day tours. Lunch would be eaten outdoors on these days, with all our packed lunch plus a few chocolate treats and warm coffee taken with us. Cross country skiing is great cardiovascular exercise, so my initial fears about being cold were soon shown to be totally ill founded. I even found myself taking layers off as I worked up, almost literally, a head of steam.

The tours were divided between the pristinely cut trails or loipe around the lake and in the hills, and our trail breaking sorties into the Norwegian wilderness. The scenery really is unique and typically Nordic, with rolling hills and snow-laden forests at the foot of Mt Gausta, the highest mountain in southern Norway. The phrase winter wonderland is used so often, but never has it been more true than here.

Evenings were spent enjoying the good company, chatting about our day and attending the talks and presentations put on by the leaders on subjects from winter survival to mountain safety. Many of us had also taken advantage of the duty free on the way out, so were well stocked in that department! We’d all made great progress by the end of the week and felt hugely proud of ourselves and what we’d achieved. Perhaps more importantly, I had seen and tried something new in fantastic surroundings in the Norwegian countryside, and had a great time into the bargain.

Tom Wilkinson, our Product Executive for Norway travelled on the 15th February 2009 departure.

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