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May 1 ski trip in Romsdalen, Norway

Late April through May is corn (snow) season in Norway, the best time of year for ski mountaineering. May 1 (Friday) was a holiday here, and when my friends Christophe (French), Ivar (Weegie) and I saw good weather coming, we decided to take an extra day off and heading out on Wednesday evening. Destination: Romsdalen, one of most dramatic valleys in Norway, graced by Romsdalshorn on one side and brooded over by the mighty Troll Wall on the other, about a four-hour drive from Trondheim. We base-camped at a comfortable (10-kroner, 6-minute showers! That's a bargain in these parts!) campground in the village of Isfjorden, and ascended three peaks in two days.

The first was Vengetind, at 1852 meters (6075 feet) the biggest thing in the area, and one that's been haunting me since I backed off the couloir three years ago due to icy conditions. (I am not all that experienced in snow and ice craft, but Christophe, who has spent a lot of time in the Alps, has taken me on as a protegé because we work well together). The skier's route follows a broad couloir up the west side of the mountain, ending in a col between the mountain's two summits. To get to the higher north peak you traverse around to the north side on a very convenient natural ramp, then up steep snow the last 100 m to the summit. The ramp is a bit loose with some rotten snow crossings, and it's a long way down if you were to fall but not at all difficult -- the main thing is to keep your cool and at least one hand on something solid just in case. The snow in the couloir was heavy/wet, a bit tricky to ski but also really safe, if you were to fall there is almost no way you could NOT stop. A dream come true for me.

On May 1 we did a double header, Kjøvskartind (1552m) and its neighbor, Kirketaket (1439 m, "the church roof"). I have done both in one day twice before, once with Christophe and once with two others from a larger group who had the energy to do the extra 800 meters of vertical. Both have very broad, south-facing slopes that reliably produce bumper crops of corn every spring. Consequently, Kirketaket, nearest to end of the dirt road that gives access, is probably the most-heavily skied peak in the area. We saw maybe 20 other skiers on the mountain, nothing, according to Christophe, compared to what you would see on a popular route in France. We were maybe the 8th, 9th, and 10th to reach the top, and this was after we had ascended Kjøvskartind, come down a couloir on its west side, then cut back up to the climbing route on Kirketaket. Lets just say that Weegies are not known for early starts, something Christophe likes to rib Ivar about and also one reason he likes to ski with me.

Here's a link to a photo gallery:

I've been doing other, less impressive summits on the last few weekends, and hope to do a few more before I hang my skis up for the summer!

That's an area I have wanted to visit and climb in for many years. I have several friends who have done routes on the Troll Wall that sound really great. Someday, I need to spend a year in Norway and Sweden to get in climbing, backcountry skiing (gotta do telemark turns in Telemark, of course), orienteering with the originators of the sport, stay with Barb's cousins in Old Stockholm, spend more time in the sculpture park in Oslo, ... Our bike tour in 1973 was much too short and took in much too small a part of Scandinavia. Fantastic images!

Hi BigRed,

I enjoyed your trip report very much. I don't ski, yet, but I hope to learn soon.

Thanks for the link to your photos. Very beautiful country!

Good times with good friends is hard to beat.

Take care.

Trout if you do not ski, then the pictures from BigRed is not the kind I would recommend you to try the first time! Impressing photos, but only for the pros. Me even would not try that decend.

Yes, you want to be a solid expert skier and experienced in a lot of different snow conditions before you can call something like that fun. I have been doing one kind of skiing or another for the better part of 50 years, and put in a few days of steep skiing in the Tuckerman ravine area many years ago, but I have only taken up (moderately) steep skiing again after coming to Norway a few years ago. . But if you define extreme skiing as "If you fall you die (or get badly hurt)" then I don't do that kind. Despite the steepness, the snow was soft and deep enough that it is quite easy to stop if you fall -- which I did once or twice. I felt much more exposed on the final climb to the summit.

I have added a few of Christophe's pictures to the gallery, and added titles on all the photos.

Thanks guys, and duely noted.

I do seek expert training when learning a new skill, and have been snowshoeing a couple times as well as being pretty good at sledding..... on trash can lids, inner tubes and such! HaHa.

I've been on the "kiddie slopes" a couple times, enough to know what my current limits are. I need a great deal of instruction and experience to be able to say that I can ski.

I do however love to winter camp, especially in the few times each year that we get ice or snow storms here in the Southeast US.

I'll try to remember how important "soft and deep" is.

Thanks guys, and duly noted.

I do seek expert training when learning a new skill, and have been snowshoeing a couple times as well as being pretty good at sledding..... on trash can lids, inner tubes and such! HaHa.

I've been on the "kiddie slopes" a couple times, enough to know what my current limits are. I need a great deal of instruction and experience to be able to say that I can ski.

I do however love to winter camp, especially in the few times each year that we get ice or snow storms here in the Southeast US. Some of the higher elevations in the mountains I frequent offer winter like conditions in January & February. I love to backpack and wade fish in these months.

I'll remember how important "soft and deep" is.

I showed Barb the expanded slide show. She says she really wants to go, but she won't ski the steeper slopes (except that she has skied slopes as steep as you showed skiing on). I probably would stick to my randonee skis, since I tend to fall too much on the teles. The climbing looked casual enough, but I would rather get over on Troll Wall.

The great thing about Romsdalen, and Norway in general, is that you can pick a tour at just about any level. Kirketaket and Kjløvskartind (the two we did on the second day) are perfect examples of big, somewhat steep open slopes that are fun for everyone from expert big-ski skiers to people in 20 year-old leather boots and E99s, and there's lots more like that. That also allows you to work up to steeper stuff, which is basically what I have done. When Christophe first pointed out the couloir on Kjløvskartind it looked steep enough where I wasn't sure I was ready for it -- they always look steeper head-on -- but as we skied toward the mountain and I got a better look at it it really seemed like no big deal, and an exciting new descent route for my 3rd time on the mountain. So I expect you and Barb can find plenty to do if you do decide to come over.

I have been a loyal telemarquiste for nearly 30 years, many of them on NNN-BC boots/bindings and light skis of one description or another in powder glades in Vermont or spring corn on New England backcountry trails. When I came here I ran into a lot more varied and difficult snow conditions, especially of the crust and hard windpack variety, and started feeling limited by equipment, so I moved up to plastic boots etc. I was shocked -- shocked! -- to discover that "modern" cable bindings are so tightly wound that they are constantly pulling back on your heels, doubling or trebling the amount of work it takes to go uphill. I eventually shelled out something like $350 for a pair of 7TM tour bindings that unlatch like a randonee binding. Furthermore, I have to come to prefer alpine technique even when using tele skis -- I find it more powerful, quicker edge-to-edge, and more centered than telemark technique. After all that evolution, there is basically no longer any telemark advantage -- for me it was always all about lightness and versatility, 20 k hut to hut in the morning, bag a peak in the afternoon. So, while I am keeping my heavy tele equipment and my lighter mountain skis, I have ordered a full randonee rig, which I will pick up during a visit to the US this fall. The mountain skis will still come out for our Easter hut-to-hut tours, but I expect the randonee skis to be the right tool for more pure up-and-down peak bagging. The heavy tele skis may be relegated to my relatively rare days of lift-service skiing, where having a free heel can spice up the tameness of groomed snow.

As for the Troll Wall, well, I never evolved much as a rock climber -- too much of a lone wolf -- so I'll leave that one to you. I am actually more inspired by the smooth walls of the peaks in Lofoten, or Stetind, Norway's "national mountain".

Nice Tele turns! Great ski mountaineering trip. I'm currently a U.S. National Ski Patrol patroller and was a Nordic patroller for 10 years and would love that trip.

My Atomic TM 22 skis would be OK for that trip but not my long 210 cm. Asnes Norwegian Army skis that I use for backcountry touring in Colorado.

I see you guys didn't use climbing skins. I don't go backcountry skiing W/O them.

Eric Blumensaadt

I used TM22s on that trip. A bit stiff for the deep mush we were in but they do the job. You can keep the 210s, especially if they are like other Åsnes skis which I find unforgivingly stiff. I have a 205 cm pair of Åsnes Nansens hanging in the basement, and that's pretty much what they do best.

The Vengetind couloir is way too steep for skins, but we used them on Kjøvskartind and Kirketaket. Funny thing, though, when I first came to visit Norway 25 years ago no one was using them. When I passed a big group going up Galdhøpiggen I had people asking me "What have you got on your skis?" then "I'll give you a thousand kroner..." Back then I was on a pair of 220 cm Karthu XCD MGs, a "chemical" waxless version of the GT. While I kind of miss the lightness and versatility of skinny skis and leather boots, on steep slopes and difficult snow I'm very happy to have more modern equipment.

My daughter and I finished the season by doing Alnestind, another peak in the Romsdalen area, on May 31. The famous Trollstigen road takes you right to the snow, you can just get out of the car and step on to the snow. Shorts and t-shirt weather, a perfect way to finish up the season. I had hoped (and still could) to go at least one more time after my birthday --if I ski after my birthday I call it "beating the reaper" -- but it gets harder to get to snow and then there's sea kayaking...

Ah yes, sea kayaking. I own a 18 1/2 foot long, 22 inch wide Eddyline Sea Star Kevlar sea kayak. (sorry for the non-metric measurements) That kayak is FAST and much more stable than the British designed "sea canoes" like Nordkapp. My hull is a rounded cross section to the cockpit and has soft chines from the cockpit aft. Two sealed fore and aft bulkheads as well.

I have 2 laminated Sawyer wood paddles of diferent blade shapes and an Aqua Bound Canadian plastic/fiberglass paddle. The Canadian paddle is always on my stern deck as backup. All are two-piece and adjustable for feathered or straight blades.

My kayak has a drop down rudder, I confess, but I only use it for very strong beam winds. I've speared that boat right through 10 foot (3 meter?) incoming surf with me and my paddle hugging the deck at the last second after getting up enough speed to run through the wave. Love that Sea Star. Aqua top, lavender rear hatch and cockpit coaming and white hull.

I was a certified American Canoe Association instructor and did Canadian wilderness trips in Quebec and Ontario until I bought my 1st sea kayak. Then the canoe got little use.


I haven't kayaked nearly as much as I would like here in Norway, largely due to the complications of family life and the logistics of boat transport etc. The latter problem is about to get worse when we give up our own car and join a car co-op. But we have a Klepper folding kayak which we can take on trains etc., not as much fun as a single kayak but on the upside it's one way my wife and I can do backcountry travel at (exactly!) the same speed. With one daughter off to college and the other increasingly independent, we are looking forward to more time on the water. At about this time last year we got away for a 3 day weekend in the renowned Geirangerfjord, so here's a page on that:

As you might be able to tell from the photos we have two Pygmy stitch-and-glue boats that I built from kits - an Osprey standard for myself and an Arctic Tern for my wife. Not in the same performance category as your 18 footer but very light and they get us where we want to go.

I am also working on a skin-on-frame boat for my daughter. (Problem: she has undergone a massive growth spurt since I made the measurements that you use do determine the length and other details of the kayak). I will probably be steaming and bending ribs this weekend, something I've never done before so I can only hope it goes well. So there may also be the possibility of the the three of us doing some tours together.

August 2, 2021
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