Alpine touring in Stryn

_MAL1192, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

One week ago today, I returned from a weeklong vacation in Stryn. I have now posted all of the photos from the trip, including those from the last day, when the four men went ski touring up the back of the mountain. Above is a photo from that tour, made last Thursday morning. This was my first time to use randonnée bindings, ski bindings that allow the heel to move freely for ascents and traverses. We attached synthetic skins to the bottoms of our skis. The nap of the fur points downhill (toward the back of the skis), providing grip on the snow to prevent slipping backward, but still allowing the ability to slide forward. The rear bindings on my skis could be twisted around to provide three different heights of heel support, for varying angles of inclination when ascending a slope. Patrick hiked in snowshoes, with his snowboard on his back.

It was a lot of fun! We hiked for about an hour or so, almost to the peak of the mountain behind the ski area. Then after a quick breather, we switched to downhill mode. The three skiers removed the skins from the bottoms of their skis and converted their heel bindings to alpine mode, locking the heels in place. Patric stowed his snowshoes and strapped on his board. What followed lasted just a few minutes, but was without a doubt the best run of the week. We had a wide open bowl of fresh, totally untouched snow, all to ourselves. It was glorious.

When we reached the bottom of the bowl, we found ourselves at the edge of a steeper slope crossed by several horizontal crevasses. We could not easily see what lay beyond them (more snow, or glacial moraine?), so we backtracked a bit, hiked over some rocks, and found a higher slope that looked safer. On this slope, we could more or less see the whole way down, so there was less risk of ending up in unskiable terrain.

We skied down and across the slope, down toward the lake at the bottom of the valley. The road through the valley was on the other side of the lake, and there was no bridge across. I saw ski tracks across the ice and snow atop the lake, but I didn't dare follow them. The hike back to the ski center took half an hour.

I’ve been thinking about getting my own skis for the past few years. Now that I've tried randonnée, I think I'll get this kind of equipment. It offers a lot more freedom than ordinary downhill gear.

My Stryn photos and Patric’s are now online.

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