Searching for degrees above Morkedalen

Colder today. The Mercury was touching -25c as we headed up the valley this morning. In the time it had taken me to get my ski’s out of the back of the car and skins on, I was freezing. I jumped back into the car to warm my feet and hands up once more.

We were about 20 minutes north-west of Hemsedal at a point marked as Morkedalen. A scattering of cabins were dotted at various points along the valley, breaking up the birch woodland which was laying dormant under a thick blanket of snow.

We had a fairly open plan today. The main objective being to climb up out from the valley floor onto the satellite tops that lay to our south and to the east of Storebottskarvet some 1500 metres above sea level.

Ski touring above Morkedalen

Steph pulling onto easier ground above Morkedalen

Ski touring above Morkedalen

Pete maintaining a steady pace in the frozen shadows

It was awkward going at first, breaking trail through deep snow and dense birch woodland was far from straightforward. Eventually as we made our way a little higher the birch became more scattered and we could pick an easier line upwards. But it remained hard-going in the deep snow. The ski’s pushed through and sank a little on each upward shunt, my meandering trail replaced by kick-turns and zig zags as the gradient steepened. And as we climbed higher and the wind freshened, it became colder. My face was numb in the penetrating cold but thankfully the brisk pace and trail breaking was keeping everything else warm.

Ski touring above Morkedalen

Pete keeping warm during a brief stop

Eventually we pulled up and onto the small satellite summit, marked only as Point 1480, it was worth the effort. As the wind buffeted our bodies, we stared out at the frozen expanse to our south. The large frozen surface of Gyrinosvatnet cut a great swathe through the nothingness.

Ski touring above Morkesdalen

Worth the effort, looking south towards Gyrinosvatnet

Ski touring above Morkedalen

A small shelter we discovered just south of Point 1480.

From here we turned to partially retrace our steps. At first the gradient was modest, the ski’s struggled to generate flotation but eventually the degrees started to stack up and we were treated to some delightful if short lived powder skiing down into the forest before a short skin brought us back to the road.



About Richard Talbot

An accomplished fell-runner as well as being a keen climber and mountaineer. Since 2005 he has worked for the UK based manufacturer Mountain Equipment and is currently Director of Product. He has worked in the outdoor industry for over 15 years.
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