Vertical Doctor.

Soon I will go to bed. My last Sunday in Norway has been, still is, a long day. I didn’t want to leave this place without a proper mountain walk. We have been enjoying the sunlight without rain for at least one week. Today the forecast looked more like the one from Malaga. Sun, no rain, no wind… perfect. So good that I didn’t need my slope flatters, also known as crampons. Wrong. As the Estonian will say, “vale”. “Vale tio” for the Spanish speakers. But let’s beging by the midday, when I started driving. My objective was one of the nicest rocky teeth I have ever seen. Reaching its summit, follow the ridge until the highest point, go down to the valley and come back to the parking place. Estimated, 20km. Gore tex shoes, short trousers, t-shirt and a little backpack full of staff, let’s say, insurance policy. As soon as I have a view of the destination from the road I realise that it is not possible. The sun here doesn’t help to know where is the south or the north. It makes a circle over us not setting down on these days. I didn’t pay attention neither to the map to see that my walking project was in the side of the mountain which keeps the snow the whole year. Well, the parking place is full so I have a better excuse so my friends won’t mock me. Change of plans. Let’s improvise facing the challenge and probably the enjoyment will be bigger. My new objective is to go up the first mountain I tried when I arrived, on the other side of the valley, but getting to the top and from there figure out how to come back by a different way. This parking lot is also full. The tourist season has started and elks have been changed by Germans. I start and for the first time in my life I didn’t change any of my clothes. My climber partners enjoy so much when I ask them to stop to take off my jacket, or put an extra t-shirt or put back the jacket… but not this time. Must be the experience. And also the age. Well, in about one hour and a half I reach the summit, 1045m. My car was at 5m over see level. Tides here change about 2m, so it was safe enough. Plenty of people but not disturbing. This is not the Everest. This is the Per Karlsatind. The view is fantastic and the moment of true has come. After finishing some food is time to figure out what to do next. From the top of this ridge, which goes inland perpendicularly from the sea shore, I guess there is an option to start the descent to the left, down the valley which I first planed to walk back to the parking, between two of the next summits. It is not obvious and when there is not option to do it, the way back to the route I have used is not easy at all, mostly because my legs don’t want to go upwards anymore. Ok, let’s go and check it our. The ridge on its left side is totally vertical ending on a continuous snow slope which I hope is hard enough if I managed to reach it. At 900m I see my descending highway. My heart rate rises to the border of the alarm level. There the snow slope is almost as vertical as the rocky wall of the ridge. It is difficult to admit but that is my best option. Standing there, facing and almost “touching the void” with my sport shoes and my alpine casual outfit, the words from Emmanuel Cauchy, also know as Vertical Doctor. He was the medical advisor for the film Himalaya, and it was then when it all started for him. In one of the free days on the shooting of the film he decided to climb up a little mountain close to the set. It was not difficult but took more time than what he thought, enough to force him to spend the night on the top of the mountain. There he decided to dive deep down on the study of the effects of the extreme cold temperatures. But before facing that new academic field he had to go down the mountain. As me, well, with much more proper clothes but still without crampons or ice axe, he used tiny scissors as only holder on the icy slope down the mountain. I didn’t take this morning any scissors, neither tiny nor big. Then another name came to me. David Degive. In our first intimate expedition we headed to the Argentiere glacier. Amazing experience which deserve another post. By now I will focus on the fact that having reach almost the summit of the Chardonet I was so exhaust and cold that decided not to go higher and wait for David in the most sunniest spot of that mountain. He was much fitter than me at that time and reach the top but still don’t understand why he put his ice axe close to me, as if it would rise the temperature in my half frozen body, and went up using a couple of sharp stones instead. Today I was not cold at all and I have plenty of sharp stones on my personal shop. Let’s go. Backwards. I don’t want to face the danger. Immediately I realize that my feet are stepping on a 10cm layer of something that looks like melting hailstones and below that the hard ice is telling my shoe tips to go and have a party somewhere else. Too late. That kind of ground doesn’t allow me to go up again. Ok, whatever don’t kill you makes you fatter. Well, not instantly, probably at the end of the day, at about the dinner time, when I manage to finish successfully. Keeping my naked hands half buried on the melting hard water leaning on the sharp stones I could feel how my weight was sneaking away from me under my trousers, just were the back looses its innocent name. “Breath, breath, breath and keep going ahead… not, backwards”. Repeating this sentence I reach a rocky oasis on the snow where the slope turns to be less steepy. Self confidence comes back and shameful feelings about my dirty trousers disappears as I check that there are not breaking traces. My feet are completely wet and I have descended only 100m. Next objective is to reach a lake on the center of the valley at about 400m over sea level. I manage to do it following a sneaky line of rocks, actually the border the glacier moraine. A kind trout invites me to swim and drink the clear water. There is ice floating but not sign of any other spirit. In front I have my inicial destination. Impressive stone arrow pointing at the sky. No one bothers me. Time for chocolate, Kalev, and a bit of relax before facing the last part of my tour today. The lake sends its water to a lower lake and the path goes by the waterfall, sometimes too close. The sound is similar to the F16 and it changes as the pathway turns among the trees as if there were more fighters around. Once on the second lake, there is no more up or down. The valley is flat as the surface of the lake. And after 6km the road tells me that for today is enough. I am a little bit dead. Almost 20km of real mountain walk with a lot of memory links. I have to mention one name more before I finish this story. Siim Kampus brought me here last November to work as a carpenter. It was cold and dark. No, not dark, more than that. But nature is our office and that has no price. Suur suur tänan. Sleep well.

General view of the valley from the top of Per Karlsatind.
Hard thinking.
View of the backwards highway from the oasis rock.
The moraine and the Bortinden, my first objective.
Lower lake from the waterfall.
Norwegian Caribbean?
Waterfall from the lower lake.
Or waterfalls from the lower lake.

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