19th April 2021
Yesterday I found myself at the London Region Nordic Ski Club venue in Hillingdon, London for my first ever attempt at roller skiing. Roller skiing is, in a nutshell, the art of nordic skiing without any of the hassle of that pesky white stuff also known as ‘snow‘. A better description is provided by the good people at Tracks & Trails…
Roller skiing originated as a training method for cross-country ski athletes and enthusiasts to imitate the sport’s technique and practise ready for the winter seasons.Tracks & Trails Mountain Adventure Holidays
So, that’s the ‘what’ dealt with, now for the ‘why?’
I have a friend, David Hamilton, who is an accomplished mountaineer. And I do mean ‘accomplished.’ He has, for example, climbed Everest 10 times (show off), climbed all of the seven summits (the highest mountains on each of the seven continents of the Earth) twice(!), worked for many years guiding in Antarctica and skied the length of both the Pyrenees and the Alps.
My favourite question when I see David is; “What’s your next trip then?”
I last asked this question, back in January and he said, in a matter of fact sort of way; “I’m going to ski the length of Norway.” To which the only answer really is, “Oh!”. This is pretty much what I said.
Perhaps I should have left it at that.
A few days later, and clearly with too much time on my hands, I emailed David to ask if a person with only downhill ski experience could do such a trip, or maybe half of the trip (about 60 days). Next thing I know I’m part of the team. Not just for half the trip though, oh no. Mrs P, who obviously wants to get rid of me said, “why do you want to only do half the trip?” To which I explained how unfair it would be to leave her on her own for so long. To which she said, and I quote; “Oh piff and tosh! I’m perfectly capable of looking after myself. You boys go and have fun.” (well, maybe not an exact quote).
Upshot is, I am now booked to do the whole thing.
So, all things being equal, on the 1st January 2022 David and I will set off from the southern most point of Norway, Lindesnes and ski to the northern most point at Nordkapp. A distance of 1,700 km (1,056 miles). The journey will take around 110 days. We will utilise a variety of accommodation; predominantly basic huts (no facilities but a fire and a dry floor to sleep on) as well as staffed huts, where we can buy food and sleep in something resembling a bed, a few nights in hotels and a few (hopefully) nights in a tent. We will be carrying heavy rucksacks and will see pretty much the whole of a Norwegian winter. Finishing in mid-April 2022.
Only around 150 people have ever completed this trip in winter [source: http://norgepaalangs.info/] . And not all of them finished. It’s gonna be tough.
I’m excited. I’ve even drafted a patch to sew onto our kit.
So, all I have to do now is:
- Task Number 1 – Recover from Long Covid
- Task number 2 – LEARN TO SKI!!
Task number 1 – The recovery from Long Covid is coming on. It’s been just over 12 months now and I can safely say that I am definitely getting there. Although I have never had more than 3 days without any symptoms, those symptoms that remain are more irritating than debilitating. My fitness is certainly improving, but I have a way to go to get back to my pre-covid levels.
Task number 2 – This brings me back to the reason I found myself at the London Region Nordic Ski Club venue in Hillingdon, London yesterday. I had booked a taster session and was hoping that no-one would ask me why I had decided to have a go at roller skiing. Of course, everyone asked and, as I’m not a good liar, I told the truth. They were very good, no-one laughed in my face.
I was lucky enough to get a one-to-one session with an excellent teacher Dagmar who managed to keep a straight face throughout. Fortunately, I have been downhill skiing for many years and am quite good at it, however, Nordic, or cross country skiing, is a VERY different skill, but I do at least have a good sense of balance, am fit and, most importantly, have a good sense of humour.
I was pleased when, at the end of the 2 hour session, Dagmar assured me that I would “probably” survive the Norway trip.
Watch this space for what I hope to be regular updates on my progress including continued recovery, planning, problems and of course, more roller skiing.
If you want to read more about the trip and a bit about David Hamilton you can find an article on the Mountain Equipment website about the trip and David’s Alps traverse – Crossing the Alps, Pyrenees & Norway by ski.