It was -21c when we left the lodge in Hemsedal this morning. Today’s objective was an ascent and descent of Skogshorn, one of the higher peaks in this region (1728m) that lies just to the east of Hemsedal.
Leaving the car at a deserted car-park half-way to Lykkja, where the Hynda river emerges, we were treated to endless views of the relatively deserted forests and frozen lakes that lay to our south. Easy skinning up through the shallow valley gave way to a landscape that not different to the Cairngorms. In fact it is so similar that apart from the slightly colder temperatures, abundance of birch and pine forests and summits a few hundred metres higher, you could on first acquaintance be forgiven for thinking they were one and the same place.
Even the biting wind that was gathering momentum as we turned Westwards felt distinctly Scottish. Perhaps Scotland just feels distinctly Norwegian? In fact it was bitterly cold. We stopped to put on extra layers and I pulled my frozen fleece as high as I could onto my face. Gradually the slope steepened, never more than 30 degrees, but the soft, light and friendly snow was gradually replaced by an icy crust with banks of wind slab and sastrugi making skinning progressively more challenging as we approached the summit.
The summit of Skogshorn is modest enough, a small raised summit, adorned only by a small cross and some other monument, hidden beneath an encasement of Rime ice was all that could be seen. We didn’t hang about, the sun was low and the wind strong. A few photos, a brief glimpse across to Nibbi and Skarvanfjellet and we were done.
We estimated it was well below -30c once the windchill was taken into account. Whatever, it was cold. We stripped our skins, locked in our boots and began to retrace our steps down the western slopes, brief moments of skiable snow increasingly interspersed with icy crud and wind slab that snatched at my ski’s as I travelled down. I don’t think using the term skiing was really appropriate.
It was hard-work and far from stylish but a great day in the wilds of Norway nonetheless.