Sjusjøen nailbiter

8 Nov

Sjusjøen skisenter

Norway got hit by the disgusting warm embrace of tropical moisture this weekend. This meant that the new snow that had fallen in the heights around Oslo was going to take a nasty beating. No trails close to Oslo had been prepped in spite of significant snowfall.

On a trip to Movatn this last Thursday I scratched up my skis quite badly on a unprepped trail. I was not keen to repeat that.

All this made me decide to go to Sjusjøen yesterday. This was my fourth trip since October 4th. The warm moisture coming in from the southwest had to cross some high mountains before falling on Sjusjøen, making the place a good call.

As with my last trip I took the train then bus to the top. A lot of snow had fallen overnight when I arrived. Conditions were nonetheless tough with above zero temperatures and freezing rain. The trail preppers had been active and the available groomed network had increased significantly since my last trip.

Given the slippery wet snow the best call would have been to bring my skate skis. Still, with red wax classic wasn’t wretched.

Was able to ski well past my turnaround spot last week. Then after an endless and fun downhill climbed back uphill to the Sjusjøen Skisenter at Natrudstilen (not Sjusjøen). This place is used as a training ground by a lot of national teams including the Swiss, the Norwegians and Germans. I saw the Swiss team.

The less pleasant thing about the place was that it’s a mess of steep trails that I was trying to navigate through to find a way to loop back to Sjusjøen. A sign promised that it was possible to press onto Sjsusjøen but after wasting a ton of time and energy endlessly looping back to my starting point I finally discovered that the trail beyond hadn’t been prepped.

I asked one of the only noncompetitive skiers I came across if there was a way on to Sjusjøen. He indicated a trail a bit further down to the right. Though I was happy to have asked and understood the response in Norwegian, my joy diminished quickly. After several kilometers that trail just looped back to where I’d already been.

At that point time was getting critical if I was to have my bus. I was dead tired, frustrated and in a bad mood. At a sign indicating 10,2km to Sjusjøen I had an hour to get my bus. I decided that I’d better think positively and banish the unproductive hate I was feeling for Sjusjøen Skisenter with its tangled and unsigned trail network, World Cup ranked skiers and biathlon shooting range noise.

I took a couple minutes to reapply some wax and then started up the hill that had seemed long…going downhill. As I was panicking a bit I started going too fast and was having to stop to pant. I reasoned with myself that 10km an hour was about my average anyhow and that I needn’t rush. It would all just work out. Once arrived at the top of the summit I blasted the one good downhill going that direction with my glasses off since in the fog and freezing rain I could see better without them. The pain of the rain pellets stinging my eyes was intense but I resisted the urge to snowplow and in an aerodynamic tuck just focused on weighting the outside ski in the turns.

Further on it was all slightly uphill but generally not steep. I saw a couple skiing together off in the distance ahead of me and decided that they were my bus. The woman was skating and the man was skiing classic. They had the normal idiot reflex of speeding up as I approached them from behind. I was focused on my bus and simply didn’t care and maintained my speed at the same rate. I was in my body and not in my brain. I wasn’t thinking, just moving. The only thought that I can remember was realizing that my technique was just clicking effortlessly.

I passed my “bus” on the next steep without being the least bit surprised about it. The only thing that did surprise me was how quickly I arrived at Sjusjøen. I had time to freeze my ass off before the bus arrived.

Its driver was a young guy who was the only Norwegian I’ve ever met who seemed deathly afraid of driving in snow. The bus scheduled to arrive at the train station at 17:05 pulled in at 17:10. That just gave me enough time to get my train that pulled out of the station at 17:14.

A couple hot chocolates later I was sleeping blissfully heading back to Oslo. All in all quite satisfied.

Trip details:

  • Wax: Red.
  • Style: Classic.
  • Distance: 39km.
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