Another Icy Adventure

12:53 p.m. on December 15, 2010 (EST)
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My recent Crystal Garden report made me think back to a little trip we took back in September 2003, after we had been in Norway for a year or so. I read in the local newspaper about a place in nearby Trollheimen called Blåsalen (the blue chamber), a natural tunnel melted through an old ice deposit by a stream connecting two mountain lakes. After asking around my department to find someone who could point it out on a map, we made plans for an overnighter, this time tenting out instead of staying in a hut, mainly so we could be sure it was within reach of our eight year old. It was a two to three hour hike up from the road along Gjevilvatnet, turning off the trail for the last few km to head for our campsite and Blåsalen.


We camped at the head of a lake a short climb below the main objective.

(That's a MH Trango 4 -- we have kind of underused it over the years but we figured we could wind up in strong winds both in the mtns and along the coast, and so sprang for it to replace our 4 person Eureka Alpine Meadow, which took a beating in gusty winds during a canoe trip in Algonquin. There have been a few times when we were pretty glad to have it, despite the cost and weight).

My older daughter and I headed up to check out Blåsalen in the evening, then we all went up the next day. Here's how it looked as we approached it.

So you can see that it was just a tunnel through what might look like a snow drift but is actually is from snow that accumulated over many years at some time in the past.

The entrance had a "shower curtain" of melt water.


And as we went deeper in we could see the entrance framed by the melt-sculpted ice of the walls and ceiling.


There had been a collapse along one wall, reminding us not to linger too long.


Deeper still and we were in a kind of blue gloom, with light leaking in through thin spots and melt holes in the ceiling.


Along one wall we found a natural nave where some sort of icy icon would be right at home.


The upper entrance was guarded by a precarious fin of ice, definitely not a good place to stop.

Afterwards we started up towards Blåhø (1671 m, highest in central Trollheimen), but the weather started to turn so we headed down.


Despite the dark clouds, we managed to break camp and head down without getting wet.


All of this is past tense not only because it happened in 2003, but because Blåsalen collapsed a couple of years later. Gone forever.

I think this makes a "cool" (intended) comparison to the Crystal Garden because, despite the common theme of ice, in one case the ice is ephemeral, delicate, fragile, and sharp, and in the second case it may be hundreds or thousands of years old, and it is massive but sculpted into smooth forms. Quite a contrast!

1:34 p.m. on December 15, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks for sharing these (now historical) pictures, BigRed. They're wonderful.

As I was reading I started wondering, but what does it look like now? Too bad such a special place is now gone forever.

9:28 p.m. on December 15, 2010 (EST)
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I like the shots looking out from within the ice caves. Reminds me of some I was in back in Denali Park in Alaska in 1978-79s summers. And the shot of someone standing in the huge chunks of ice is like it was in the Portage Glacier area back then too.

2:06 a.m. on December 16, 2010 (EST)
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Maybe we'll get back up there and check it out someday. I would guess the collapsed ice chunks have filled back in with snow and it will take more years of melting before the deposit is gone completely. But the way things are going I'm not willing to guess how many more years. The best guess date for when the Arctic ocean will be ice free in summer has been creeping steadily forward!

10:30 a.m. on December 16, 2010 (EST)
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Are you still coming back to the states?

11:49 a.m. on December 16, 2010 (EST)
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Yessir! Flying into Boston on the 29th to celebrate the new year with family. Then we will drive coast to coast in a rented Prius -- three of us, our dog, camping gear and the bare minimum of clothes to live on until we get our rental house established. We found a funky house in Riverside right by a hilly-rocky park. Judging from the pictures, if we squint our eyes on a cool winter morning it might look like alpine hills in Norway on a warm sunny day!

5:10 p.m. on December 16, 2010 (EST)
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Nice pictures BigRed. But about the house you are about to rent, are you leaving Norway for some time?

1:24 a.m. on December 17, 2010 (EST)
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Six months sabbatical (forskningstermin) and a month of vacation. We'll be back in August!

6:48 a.m. on December 17, 2010 (EST)
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So you like Norway. Are you planning to stay there the rest of your life or till you move somewhere new? What do you do there? Work wise I mean?

7:18 a.m. on December 17, 2010 (EST)
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It's not all roses here but given the economic situation these days I'm glad to have a steady job (as a plant physiologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology) and could well end up staying until retirement or longer. Depends a bit on where our daughters settle, although there's some chance they'll split up and end up on both sides of the Atlantic. As it stands now my older daughter is a student at my university, has a Norwegian boyfriend, and says she is very glad she stayed in Norway rather then going to a US or Canadian university. We're glad to have her around and not to have to pay high tuition as well as travel costs. The Norwegian mountains are beautiful and endless, if at times somewhat barren compared to others. I'm really looking forward to the Sierra and the deserts and maybe some action in the PNW.

1:43 p.m. on December 17, 2010 (EST)
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How did you get your job,did you apply for it before moving to Norway or after you moved there for other reasons?

2:14 p.m. on December 17, 2010 (EST)
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I applied while still living in the US, but I had already come to Norway 2x previously to ski hut-to-hut, so I knew my way around at least a little bit. When I get the interview we decided to take the whole family to Trondheim in the dead of winter to see what the city was like at its darkest.

8:26 p.m. on December 17, 2010 (EST)
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Big Red now I can truly understand the reason why some friends said they loved Norway so much. The pictures and trip reports give us tells it all. It's such a dinamic ecosystem they have and beautiful beyond belief. I do have to ask if you'v had (sheeps head)? I had friends from Norway and knew a few military that spent time there. If you get time with your travels in the US while on Sabatical. I would suggest the Lady Bird wildflower research center In Austin Texas. You might find it interesting. Also the Hill Country has alot to offer in Outdoors and good BBQ. LOL   But always thanks for the great photo's.

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