Words by: Elisa Røtterud
Good grief, I whisper, turning off the alarm clock. It shows 3:45 am.
I don’t really know why I set it, because I have been awake almost all night. I am thirsty and I can see that there is still some red wine in the cup. I pour it out and rub my eyes. I have ten minutes.
I carefully get up from the narrow bench I am lying on, before it tips a bit and makes me lose my balance with my feet dangling over the edge. Falling is not a nice feeling.
“We must move over to the East Side,” I whisper to my friend, Live.
“I just fell asleep,” she grunts.
“Yes, but it’s about to happen,” I answer, gently pulling her up.
We have spent the night on the highest mountain in Norway and Scandinavia, Galdhøpiggen.
And before you read on, you should know that this is an adventure that you cannot have without experience in glacier climbing or assistance from a mountain guide to get you up and down again.
Everything is timed and organised. My watch shows 4:05 am. We are sitting on a camping mat, each holding a cup of steaming coffee. And then it happens. Dawn breaks. It flirts with the clouds. It flickers. It shines! And then it disappears behind a cloud again. Oh no. But wait! It comes back again! So bright! Can it be possible? So powerful!
We laugh. We smile. We gasp. We enjoy. And we feel a tremendous sense of freedom and gratitude. What an unforgettable experience!
After a couple of hours’ sleep on our way down from the mountain, we meet a glacier tour, made up of children, parents, grandparents and teenagers, all heading up Galdhøpiggen. There must be around 80 of them in the crocodile.
Items are getting crossed off bucket lists.
Take an imaginative solo trip before your summer holiday with the family!
Travel alone or with a friend.
It will provide you with a great sense of satisfaction, a feeling of achievement and an intoxicating feeling of power before the family holiday, which is meant to please everyone, children and adults.
According to Steven Kotler, author of the best-seller “The Art of the impossible,” a detour and a solo mission results in
– Increased creativity
– Improved relationships
– Increased productivity
– More empathy
He writes that we need some “no-time” to get to “real-time.” Or to put it more plainly: It does us good to get away from everything occasionally.
We will all be having staycations in playground Norway this year as well.
Last summer, 170,000 tourists wanted to visit the Besseggen ridge, according to Ipsos, who carried out a survey for the Norwegian Association for Outdoor Organisations. The final figure ended up being 36,000. We have all read about the chaos at the ferries to Lofoten. Hordes of people at Pulpit Rock. We want to climb on a via feratta. Find a cool tree house to spend the night in. Take an Instagram selfie at Loen Lake. Because, of course, everything must be documented.
That leads to herd mentality, waiting and queuing.
Probably also a bit of shouting and aggro.
Expectations must be met.
Just imagine having two hedonistic days available to yourself before the annual holiday begins. What would you do?
– “That is easy to answer,” replies my mate El Greco.
– “Play paddle with the boys followed by a couple of gin & tonics!”
OK, that can be fun, too! But you could also try to be a little more creative. Try to put together an adventure that could really be memorable, make your friendships stronger or bolster your ego. Find an adventure that means that you have to exert yourself a little more physically and mentally. These are often the trips that you can laugh about afterwards. But also be realistic. Find an adventure that suits you.
You cannot climb the Trollveggen cliff face even if you think you are in good shape from pushing a buggy with the kids in rolling countryside.
Let me try again. You have 48 hours at your disposal before your family holiday. What would you do?
– “Well, you could book a mountain guide and climb Store Skagastølstind, the third highest peak in Norway” replies El Greco. “I have always wanted to do that.”
So do it, then!
– “But I don’t know whether I can do all of that climbing stuff,” he says, straightening his cap.
Well, in that case, the mountain guide you talk to will choose an experience that suits your abilities. Perhaps it would be Austabotntind? Still a lot of fun and spectacular! Because you need to be honest about your physical and mental abilities. And if the worst comes to the worst, you can always turn back. The summit is just a bonus. The trip is what counts.
If you are of the considerate sort who doesn’t want to filch from the holiday budget, there are a lot of budget-friendly adventures waiting just outside your door. What about a shorter expedition not too far from home?
Last winter, I went off-piste on cross-country skis from Ringkollen to Grefsenkollen, in the Oslo hills, towing a sled. It wasn’t a long trip, only 40 kilometres, but the going was heavy and I had to make my own trail and often lift the sled over fallen trees; it was a sort of micro-expedition.
I have probably never sworn so much in my entire life. Sometimes, I even just stopped and screamed, as I remember it. The trip took me two days. You can imagine how tired I was when I reached the end!
And guess what it cost? Chocolate and freeze-dried food.
Will I ever forget the trip? Never.
Is there anything wrong with being a tad egoistic before you start to compromise and go on holiday with other people?
I don’t think so. But then, I am on solo missions all of the time.
I have chosen not to have any children, so clearly I get a lot of time to play on my own. But isn’t it good for everyone to play according to their abilities and on their own terms once in a while?
This spring I was suffering a bit from the blues, and instead of shutting myself away, I chose to join a small group with Norrøna Hvitserk, crossing Svalbard on skis.
After six days on the trip and a little hiccup in Barentsburg we took a boat back to Longyearbyen. But I was hungry for more experiences.
And the first thing I could think of was a slap-up dinner in an ice cave, preferably staying the night. And after calling around for a snowmobile and a driver with a rifle, that is what I got.
And you cannot imagine how much fun I had driving a snowmobile in an Arctic down suit with a piping hot pizza under my arm, before squeezing myself into the Longyear Glacier to find a place to camp.
Have you ever slept in an ice cave and eaten (cold) Italian pizza with a good red wine 30 metres under the ground?
I can highly recommend it!
A better version of myself.
After trips like that I always return to my husband, happy and content. I get new enthusiasm for my work. And I become the person that society expects of me: A better version of myself.
But enough about me. What is your dream?
Just imagine having two hedonistic days available to yourself before the annual holiday begins.
What would you do?