The Norway ski expedition is a biennial event for Bradfield College CCF and is one of the highlights of our adventure training programme. The expedition is designed to quickly equip cadets with the pre-requisite skills before embarking on an expedition that utilises huts, tents and snow holes. In addition to having great fun, the cadets gain proficiency in Nordic skiing and learn valuable winter campcraft skills. At the same time leadership, teamwork and self reliance are also developed as the demands of the training are gradually increased. Norway provides a superb location for this type of expedition and its infrastructure of huts and marked ski trails are second to none. However training in Norway is expensive and costs have risen sharply in recent years making support from the MOD and in particularly the Ulysses Trust essential if such trips are to remain available, on financial grounds, to all our cadets. This year our Ulysses Grant was essential in order to ensure that the trip could maintain the ambitious objectives set on previous expeditions, providing cadets with unique challenges and experiences.
Our team of 16 officers and cadets had an immensely successful 9 days in Norway and set out below are the reflections of one of the team, Tom Watson Brown, an Army cadet currently in the LVI Form at Bradfield College.
The difference between downhill and cross country skiing is quite striking. No longer did we have to contend with endless queues for chairlifts, worry about over-priced hot chocolate or deal with the endless nightmare that is ski hire shops. This was skiing as god intended it. And boy was it good!
Our first day was fun but painful; this was because every time we tried to turn, move or in my case stand still, we fell over. However thanks to the skillful teaching and enthusiasm of our ski instructors we made great progress. The next day we completed an exhausting 14km trek and despite a few blisters, the odd bruise and sunburned noses we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Day 3 was a storming day, quite literally. After enduring a literal blizzard of razor edge snow we arrived at the Tuva Hut, a warm welcoming place that served excellent waffles, and an equally good bunkhouse. Day 4 brought more challenges in the form of a 16km trek to a downhill ski resort where a delicious burger and chips awaited us. The next two days were our expedition, one night in a tent, the next in a snow hole. On the first day we went night skiing, a simply awesome experience. The following morning we set about building snow holes, a cold, wet but satisfying task, ending in a surprisingly good nights sleep. The next day was sadly our last and we packed up, skied down and said goodbye to Haugastol.
We had over the relatively short period of time learned to work as a team, looking out for each other and realising that the challenges of living in a snow covered wilderness were best met as a tightly knit team. All of us had learned a great deal about cross country skiing and a little more about ourselves. And that was worth more than a thousand blisters!