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Kari randonnée au dessus d'un fjord
  • Writer's picture Kari & Jonathan

Hardangervidda


Jonathan portant le regard sur la neige au loin

Hardangervidda in February is known for its very harsh weather conditions with whiteout, strong winds and heavy snowfall. It was exactly these conditions we were searching for as we wanted to train in hard conditions to acquire new skills and be better prepared for longer expedition in even more remote places.


We have previously experienced strong winds, heavy snowfall and extreme temperatures, but only for shorter periods of time. This time we wanted to challenge ourselves with even harder conditions and for longer. Let’s just say that we got what we searched for.


In fact, Roald Amundsen stated that his hardest and most dangerous trip took place just there as he got surprised by a storm during his crossing. In other words, Hardangervidda is no joke.


We did our best to be as prepared as possible to face the challenges. We made a packing list, and checked our gear many times to be sure to not forget anything, as well as making some modifications on our equipment.


Some might argue that we had had too many things gone wrong even before to start. Jonathan had just finished an antibiotic treatment for an infection in the finger, and Kari had to stop by the emergency room on the road as she had also caught an infection. This, in addition to some complications with some of the equipment.


Well, at this point there was no turning back. We had to find solutions, because we were determined and so excited to begin. So, as we approached Finse, we clipped our skis on and got started. We were very happy to finally be there, slowly making our way away from the cabins and into the white and wonderful wilderness.


From there we spent our days to walk, slowly making our way forward. We switched between who made the tracks and who followed behind. From the very beginning we met quite strong winds, making a constant background noise. While the whiteout completely erased the landscapes around us. We were left with our minds only. Entertaining ourselves reflecting on past events, and thinking about future ideas and dreams.


The days were long when walking for hours with only the sound of the wind as company, and nothing else to see than the tip of our skis. Most of the days the snow was wet and sticky, and big packs of snow get stuck under our skis. It made every step an effort. The hours passed slowly, but the kilometre counter on the GPS was almost standing still.


The weather forecast warned us about a coming storm. We made sure to secure the tent as best as we could and built a windbreak in the direction of the wind. We had to trust ourselves as we went to bed this evening.


We woke up when the wind was starting to blow like crazy. The tent was shaking and it kept us awake all night. The sound and the vibration were frightening, and we were scared that the tent would tear or collapse. In the middle of the night we had to crawl out of our sleeping bags, put on clothes and go out to remove snow from the tent to not risk to get buried under it.


The wind calmed down a bit in the morning and we got to catch back a few hours of sleep before preparing breakfast. But before we knew it, the wind was speeding up again. The tent was shaking like never before. What met us when we went outside was a tent completely covered in snow, the wind was extremely strong and it was blowing and snowing from all sides. Neither of us had even seen so much snow..


We were terrified. We saw absolutely nothing, everything around us was white and we got slapped violently by the snow and the wind without a break. We removed the snow as best as we could but nothing seemed to help, it came back just as quickly. It was like swimming against the current never reaching shore…


The windbreak we had built the day before was of no use anymore as the wind had turned completely. We started to build a new one on the other side of the tent. We built it as high and solid as possible, and continued to remove snow to prevent the tent from disappearing under the snow.


It continued like that all day long. We were totally exhausted and completely terrified. We could not go to sleep as we had to continue to fight against the snow during the night. At this moment we found ourselves more than one and a half meters below ground level.


When the storm finally calmed down after 36 hours in the tent, we had to dig very deep to find the snow pegs and even our skis. The wind was still strong, but we were able to move forward and continue the journey.


As we did not really sleep the two previous nights, we were ready to spend a good night without having to go to remove snow during the night. We pitched the tent and cooked before we went to bed very early.


The wind was calmer, but we were still on guard from the scary experience we had had the nights before. That’s why Kari woke up very quickly when she suddenly heard a big “BOOM!”, not sure if it was a big avalanche near by or the glacier cracking.


And so the days went on, we made our lives and our routines. We experienced several stormy days and nights. One afternoon a storm surprised us as we were pitching the tent, making it super complicated to do.


It was like we were getting used to living in the midst of the storms. Having to build toilets everyday to protect ourselves from the wind and snow. Securing the tent from blowing away when pitching it every evening. Building an amount of windbreaks. Carrying an amount of snow that we would have liked to know the total weight of. Finishing everyday writing in our diaries, hoping that mother nature would keep us safe during the night.


It is by far the hardest thing we have done (so far), and we have never been happier to arrive to our end point, to get to sit in a chair in the train, to take a shower, to have some comfort, and to not have to struggle with anything for a bit.


One might ask how we stayed motivated when the conditions were complicated, and the things got really challenging. The answer is quite simple: we didn’t.


What kept us going was the commitment we made to ourselves and each other, the hope that easier moments would come, the support of one another and self-discipline.


We basically left no choice but to keep going, to get out of the warm and cosy sleeping bags in the morning, to continue to talk when we were tired, and to do all the necessary tasks even when we really did not want to.


If we were to wait for motivation before to start taking the steps towards our goals, we might just wait forever…



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