adventures abound in Norway
on photos for enlargements
A glacier clings to a crease in the mountain that rises high in a
bright blue sky. Glacial waterfalls cascade upon slanting forests.
An icy river rambles through a rocky ravine. White glacier, green
mountain, cascading waterfalls, blue sky—all this is reflected
onto a mirror-smooth fjord that winds its way through the mountains
from the Norwegian Sea
Welcome to Stryn, Norway.
Located in the heart of fjord Norway, the town of Stryn (pop. 3,000)
ranks among the world’s most picturesque destinations. But
it’s more than just another pretty place. The mountains, valleys
and glacial lakes of the Stryn region (which includes Stryn, Loen
and Olden) allow for a wealth of adventure activities. There’s
kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, hiking, glacier walking, and
skiing—in winter and summer.
On a warm, sunny day in June, I took a one-hour bus ride from Stryn
town to the Stryn Summer Ski Center. For much of the trip, I was
the only passenger aboard the tour bus. I sat in the front seat,
staring through the windshield at glacial lakes, snow-capped mountains,
and tiny wooden holiday cabins with roofs covered in thick grass.
Twenty minutes from our destination, the bus stopped to pick up 5
teenage snowboarders at Folven Camping, the most popular campsite
in the area. Each of Folven’s 35 cabins accommodate up to 12
guests. The campsite provides additional space for tents and camping
Our bus continued along the winding highway with only an occasional
passing car to interrupt the view. We climbed eventually to the Old
Strynefjell Mountain Road, a 16-mile long snow-rimmed path that used
to be cleared by hand in the 1940s when summer skiing got its start.
(In winter, the Old Strynefjell Mountain Road is impassable due to
snow. Even if it were possible to navigate, the Summer Ski Center
building is closed and buried to the roof in snow.)
Summer skiing is made possible by a glacier. The Jostedalsbreen,
or Jostedal Glacier, covers an area of 300 square miles, making it
the largest in continental Europe. At it’s highest point, Lodalskåpa,
the Jostedal Glacier looms 6,700 feet above sea level. One of its
glacial tributaries, the Tystigen, provides the snow base upon which
skiing is possible from June to August.
I could not have picked a better day to hit the slopes. A bright
midsummer sun hung high in the cloudless sky. The warm air tempted
me to ski without a jacket, as was the case with a few courageous
locals. But the mountain air can cool significantly as the chair
lift climbs. Even on warm summer days.
As the lift took me above 2,500 feet of vertical runs, glacial lakes
came into full view. I saw valleys flecked with snow. Mountains stretching
to the horizon.
At the top of the lift, the temperature dropped nearly 15 degrees.
That when my problems began.
I am not a good skier. In fact, you could say that I’m a lousy
skier. Before Stryn, I had only skied on 4 or 5 occasions—the
most recent, about 20 years ago.
My dismount from the chair lift was clumsy, although not catastrophic.
On unsteady Rossignols, I snow-plowed toward the second-stage t-bar
lift, wary of 6-year-old Norwegian kids who flew past me like blond-haired
As a dozen skiers had done before me, I waited for the approaching
t-bar to make contact with the back of my thighs and carry me to
the top. But somehow I lost my balance, grabbed the moving t-bar
with one flailing hand, clutched my ski poles with the other, and
was dragged from behind the t-bar instead of being propelled by it.
A couple of hundred yards later, at the top of the lift, I collapsed
in a heap among a group of skiers.
Had this been anywhere but Norway, laughter might have echoed between
the mountain peaks. True to the cool Norwegian demeanor, however,
my slapstick arrival barely registered a glance.
After gathering myself, I snow-plowed down the Catwalk. This path
leads to a 5-mile cross-country trail, a series of downhill runs,
and a snow park with jumps for snow boarders. Chest heaving, knees
wobbling, my body aching from numerous wipe outs, I cartwheeled to
the bottom without breaking my neck and collapsed in a patch of sun-sloshed