25th Anniversary Appeal Expedition: Day 56

25-anniversary-expedition-day056Lønstua to Balvashytta. 38km 10hrs. I knew today had the potential to be complicated, a lot of terrain to cover, and numerous hidden features hinted at by the contours on my 1:100 000 map. I started early across a small suspension bridge following the summer path towards a place called Graddis. A chaotic maze of ski and scooter tracks greeted me in the woods and slowed decisive movement. The land rolled and folded in micro-gullies hiding the true horizon. The snow is old, thin, icy and sculpted everywhere… this region has clearly not had snow for weeks if not months. It’s all wind effected. Skiing this terrain is challenging and not entirely pleasant. Time slips by whilst I concentrate. It would be easy to fall and be injured here. Nothing is soft, and there are rocks everywhere. I arrive at a frozen lake and look in horror at the surface. It looks like cross winds have created a monstrous chop and then frozen it in an instant. Sastrugi and ice. I take my skis off, strap them to my rucksack and hike cautiously across. I get lost in hidden gullies with impassable drops on the far side; I skin up through rotten bottomless sugar snow, patiently, exhaustedly, slowly… time vanishes… I cut to the road and walk a little, trying to enjoy the view and take what good I can from the day. For the first time on this journey I shake my head… Then I enter the last, narrow, northward leading valley of the day. The snow problems ease, and I follow the snowy banks of a frozen river watched by ice cascading from the steep valley sides… it’s alpine, narrow skyless, different and makes the day special and memorable. The valley spills me out onto the shoreline of another, calmer frozen lake and I reach the Balvashytta after an exhausting and testing 10hrs of “skiing”. The hut sleeps 4… and 3 lovely older gentlemen are already in residence! I’m lucky to get a space and even more fortunate to have good company for the evening.

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