Day 19, 24 Jan 2016

Zero visibility.. An interesting 5 1/2 hours!

We left Haukliseter and opted for the very steep 120 metre ascent, which was fine, despite being quite physical with the deep fresh snow.

Conrad and Hilary ascending with the ‘herring bone’ technique.

The next 3 kilometres were somewhat more challenging! The area was a series of craggy knolls and valleys. The cloud level dropped and we couldn’t distinguish up from down, or sky from snow. Conrad, who was leading this morning, slipped off two unseen three metre cornices. It was quite frustrating not being able to let the skis glide for fear of going over an unseen edge. The contour interval on the map is 20 metres. However, a lot can happen on the ground in 20 metres that is not displayed on the map.

We struggled on in an agonisingly slow manner, bumping into unseen hills; alternating with realising your ski tips were hanging over fresh air!

The ground continued to rise to 1360 metres and as we did so the visibility diminished until we could only see 1 metre around us. It then started to drizzle rain!

We had only done 4 1/2 kilometres in 3 hours!

Consulting the map we still had to cross another knolly section, that would prove testing if the visibility did not improve. We considered options. There was a chance of injury of we fell off another cornice. We were now wet, making slow progress and knew some really windy and snowy weather was going to arrive in the next day and a half. Was it time to continue or turn back to the cabin?

The choice was pretty simple, but the consequences are not good. We had planned to make some forward progress before the really bad weather hits. We will now have to sit it out for quite a number of days until the bad weather passes through. All part of any major trip.

We retraced our route, which still wasn’t easy due to the poor visibility and the now very heavy wet snow. At the top of the steep section above the hut we realised the quickest descent was to walk straight down hill with the sledge in front of us letting gravity find the most direct line.

When we arrived back at the cabin the equally disappointed snow kiters were returning to Stavanger, also having being thwarted by the weather. The staff at the cabin were understanding of our enforced extended stay and were particularly helpful, especially, Crystal. Nothing left to do but wait.