VINTER EVENTYR 1999 - Part 1: OSLO MARKA

("Eventyr" is translated as either "adventure" or "fairy tale", in this case it is a bit of both- winter in Norway is kind of a fairy tale world where all your skiing fantasies can come true)

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Good reference for Oslomarka skiing: Skiforeningen's home page
and SF's daily trail conditions, often includes nice JPG pictures--
also Virtual Tour of Marka with Kjentmannsmerket

The full name is "Foreningen til Ski Idrettens Fremme" (federation for the advancement of ski sport). It was founded in 1883 as a federation of ski and other outdoor (friluftsliv) clubs in the Oslo area. SF is responsible for maintaining the 1000's of km of ski trails in Oslomarka, they also run the Holmenkollen ski museum, etc., etc.

There is a good topo map, 50000 scale, of ski trails in Nordmarka and also maps for the other "marka": Østmarka (east) and Vestmarka (west).

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   I had been dreaming about coming to back to Norway
since my last trip in 1996. Finally on the night of Mar 3-4
I flew via Iceland to Oslo's new airport at Gardermoen,
arriving at about noon on Thursday. On the train ride to the city
I could see that there was a lot of snow and it was still snowing.
I could also see ski tracks in the fields.

   This had been a very poor ski season at home in Nova Scotia.
The only skiing I had done was on frozen lakes, and my total
was around 100 km. So I was very hungry for snow and skiing.
When I finally got to Haraldsheim Youth Hostel near Grefsen
Station, I had had only 4 hours of sleep, so the sensible
thing would be to rest. 
  
   But who wants to be sensible with all those trails beckoning!  I
immediately got ready to go skiing. I started walking up Lofthusveien
towards the closest trail-head at Stig, about a 20 minute walk.  I
didn't walk far. There was snow on the sidewalk and  tracks of other
skiers. The snow on the sidewalk was better than any snow I'd seen this
winter, so I put my skis on! I had to take them off at major street
crossings.

  At Stig there is a parking lot at the start of a "lys-løype" or
lighted track, which goes into Lillomarka. Lillomarka is the
south-eastern subsection on Nordmarka. The trail is wide with 2 tracks,
and a skating/walking lane in the middle. It is a steep climb for the
first km. There is snow falling and the temperature is about 0 c. In
addition I have remnants of last years klister on my skis. so
sometimes snow sticks to my skis. But this is already the best skiing
I've done this winter!

   At Linderudkollen they are rebuilding a ski jump so some of the trails
have been rerouted around the construction. There is a trail junction
with signs about every 0.5 km so I am constantly referring to my map.
Somehow I got to Solemskogen, and almost to Lilloseter before I decided to
turn back, and get supper and a good nights sleep. At least I know
there's good skiing in Oslo. If only the temperature would drop
2 degrees , it would be perfect.

Total distance: 15 km
 
Friday 5-Mar

   It snowed at least 5 cm overnight but the temperature was still around
0. I took bus 23 from Grefsen to Tåsen, then transfered to the T-bane (subway
train). Actually on this section most of the subway line is above ground.
The Sognsvann station at the end of the line is really neat. On good snow
days you can step off the train and immediately put you skis on and cross
a parking lot to the trails. 

   I choose the main lys-løype which goes along the east side of
Sognsvann lake (elev 183 m). The wet snow occasionally sticks to my skis
but a little higher up the snow becomes drier and my wax ( mixture of
blue extra, violet extra, and last years residue) works quite well. at
Store Åklungen a sign indicates that I am crossing the 60th latitude-
only 30 more to the pole!

   At Ullevålseter there is a restaurant, but I just stopped for a snack
outside. People are putting up signs in the snow for some sort of race 
The main lys-løype swings back towards the south west towards
Frognerseter. This is a touring trail but it crosses the Holmenkollen
2x25 km trail several times. But even the touring trail has some wicked
hills. I had to herring-bone up one hill and then I met this 5 year old
boy who had just climbed the other side which was just as steep! He was
probably training for Sundays Holmenkollen Barnas race. I expect most of
the gold medal winners in the 2022 Olympics will be participating on
Sunday's children's race! It's rather humbling to think that when I
first started skiing 25 years ago, Erling Jevne and Bjørn Daehli were
only 6 years old, but they already could ski better than I could!

   I was hoping to drop in to the ski-kaffee at Frognerseter but it is
closed on Fridays. There is a ake-bane, or luge trail coming through the
field here so it's best not to ski on that. There are some old farm
buildings including the stabbur storehouse at Frognerseter. I thought
it would be all downhill to Holmenkollen, but it seems there were a lot
of "ups" too.

    One regret I have is that  I wish had skied in Nordmarka over
10 years ago. Then I would have had the chance to see a certain old man
skiing with his dog. The man's name was Olav and he was the King. Today
at Holmenkollen there is large statue of Olav on skis. The irony of it
was that Olav was born in Denmark. (there a lot of jokes about Danish
skiers). I guess to prove that he was a proper Norwegian, he became an
expert skier, competing internationally in jumping in the 1920's and
touring throughout his long life. He had good ski teachers, the Nansen
family.

   The Holmenkollen area was confusing since they were rebuilding the
stadium, trying to get it ready for the ski festival which started the
next week. I went all the way around the museum until I found the
entrance. The museum shows how skiing was a vital part of Norway's
culture and history - the skiing exploits of polar explorers like Nansen
and  Amundsen helped to create the modern Norwegian national identity. 
There are displays of both Nansen's and Amundsen's expeditions,
including original skis and sleds. 

   Outside there was some sort of fun race going on. I did a traditional
lap around the arena to the finish line and then started back to Frognerseter
the same way I came in. It can be very confusing getting out of the arena area
since then are set tracks looping around everywhere.

  After Frognerseter, I saw a sign for Månskinnløype so I decided to
take that for a change. Maybe this a trail traditionally taken on
moonlight tours? It seemed rather steep and narrow for that. It quickly
brought me down to the south end of Sognsvann, but it was too early to
quit  yet. So I took a trail north on the west side of the lake, crossed
over and came south again on the east side back to the T-bane station,
skiing almost right up to the ticket punch machine. The station is
completely open and self service One just puts one's ticket in the slot
and walks on to the train.

 I estimate about 30 km for the day.

 Saturday 6  Mar

   In the morning I skied from the hostel, across the field, almost
right to the Grefsen railway station. On weekends there are extra trains
that stop at a lot of extra places for about 50 km north of the city. At
each stop in the city more skiers got on, then at Movatn, skiers started
getting off. I got off at Hakadal (elev 150m), and was quite surprised
when only one other person, a nice young lady, got off with me. She was
heading to Kikutstua, to meet some friends. She mentioned that tomorrow
she would be taking her 7 year old daughter to the Holmenkollen Barns
ski race. Hakadal was the starting point for Holmenkoll March, held a
few weeks ago , where about 8000 people ski 42 km to Holmenkollen. But
today most people were getting off at Stryken or Harestua. I soon found
out why- there is a long steep climb from Hakadal. There was about 5 to
10 cm of fresh snow on the trail so we took turns breaking trail. I had
wide touring skis (65-55-60 mm) so I didn't mind breaking trail. My wax
was working quite well and I started pulling ahead. I felt rather good
about being able to ski faster than a Norwegian!

    We are going deep into the heart of Nordmarka, which reminds me a
lot of the steeper terrain of the Canadian Ski Marathon. A lot of steep
hills with many lakes. Later I saw a book - called something like "Marka
and War"*. During the nazi occupation of 1940-1945 Nordmarka was never
fully controlled by the Germans, especially in winter, and it remained
the hideout of the Norwegian underground, who had bases, complete with
radio stations, in the many huts in the region. 
 *[ I think it was Trygve Christensen: Marka og krigen, Oslomarka
1940-1945 (1993)]

  After about 5 km some other skiers passed us so we didn't have to
break trail anymore. At Gørja (elev. 376m) there is a trail junction
where we stopped for a snack break. My trail-breaking partner had some
wax remover so she cleaned her skis and re-waxed. It turned out she has
klister on from last weekend, and had no glide. So much for my superior
skiing ablity! Several people passed here  so now there was a now a faster
track.  I continued on alone, wishing the young lady "God Tur".

  At each junction, more and more skiers joined the trail, and there is
soon a constant stream of skiers. It has been snowing off on on all
morning and for a while it is coming down quite thick. Then the young
lady passes me, when she has the right wax, she is a very fast skier.
Just before I get to Kikutstua on Bjørnsjøen (340m), the trail groomer
passes, so now there is a fast double track.
 
    Kikutstua is a major meeting point in Nordmarka. This area was the
training ground for skiers like Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen, and
the teenaged Herman Smith-Johannsen (Jackrabbit) often skied here in the
1890's. Today Skiforeningen operates a restaurant here. This day it is
packed, hundreds of skis are parked around the courtyard. Inside it is
warm and steamy. I bought some waffles (vaffler) and solbaer toddy (hot
black currant drink).

   In this context "stua" or "stuga"  means "cottage"; it can also mean
the room in the cottage where skiers sit around the fireplace (peis).
"Hytte" (eg. Kobberhaughytta) also means "cottage" or "hut" but many
hytte are much more fancy that what we think of as huts.

   When I go back outside, the snow has stopped and there are some
beautiful views crossing Bjørnsjøen (Bear Lake). There are numerous 
choices of trails now, I choose a direct route towards Kobberhaughytta.
There is a big climb to about 450m. The high point is Appelsinhaugen,
where most of Norway's orange crop is grown :-)
 -- Only joking!! The story I heard was that, on sunny days, hundreds of
skiers stop here to eat their oranges (appelsin). An orange, a Kvikk
Lunsj (Norwegian version of Power Bar) and a thermos of hot cocoa or
solbaer are obligatory items in a skier's rucksack.

   After Kobberhaughytta I chose an ungroomed trail towards Blankvann.
There is a good track and I meet a surprising number of skiers. On weekends
in Nordmarka, one rarely needs to break trail on ungroomed trails!
I find the sign I was looking for - "Sykkel Trille Sti" ie. bicycle
rolling path. In July 1996, I took this shortcut, rolling my bike,
between Studenthytta and Blankvannsbråtan. Then I saw some expert mountain
bikers actually riding over the big boulders. But now about 100 cm of
snow covers the boulders and it is much easier skiing than it was walking
my bike.

  After I cross lake Blankvann it starts to snow again, but soon
it changes to light rain and freezing rain, the tracks become glazed,
and my skis loose their grip. I tried re-wax with  violet extra, but
wax will not stick to wet, cold skis.

   I stopped at Ullevålseter for a second lunch, and managed to spread a
little wax. It is mostly downhill from here anyways. At  Åklungen I ski
across the lake (ungroomed) rather on the parallel main trail, in order
to avoid a few climbs. I don't have to break trail there either. Back
on the main trail it is a easy fast downhill to Sognsvann. I can ski
right up to the subway train platform.

    I estimate I skied about 35 or 40 km. The Holmenkoll Marsj is
42 km, but I'm not sure of its route past Kikutstua.

   Nordmarka is big - over 1000 sq km, and it would take years to
explore all the trails there. I could have easily spent my whole 3 weeks
in the area, but I want to see some areas further north- maybe it will
be a little colder and drier further inland too. At least I've had a
taste of Oslomarka. Skiing has been good, but it will get even better in
the days to come.

  coming next: Gjøvik 

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David Dermott , Wolfville Ridge, Nova Scotia, Canada
email: dermott@ns.sympatico.ca
WWW pages: http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/dermott/