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Live TR: Lillehammer, 10-17 Feb 2019

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Time to get a thread up and running for our next trip. Sportlöv has come around remarkably quickly (where did January go) and we're again joining the hordes heading north on the E6 from Göteborg. This time it's the 500 km journey to Lillehammer. Should be around 6 hours, if the weather is kind...and probably longer as the forecast on yr.no has it snowing all weekend in Lillehammer Very Happy
Wigglies suggest a decent week ahead, I think.

Lillehammer has several ski areas within 45 minutes or so of the town. We're staying in Hafjell (piste map here) which has the largest selection of lifts and slopes. We're also hoping to ski in Kvitfjell (piste map here) which is a short drive away. I doubt we'll get to Skeikampen or Gålå this time.

So far, the food shopping is done, but nothing's packed, we have no alcohol, not really looked at the route or thought much about what to take. So all that starts tomorrow, along with fitting the roof box, topping up screenwash, checking and practice fitting chains (haven't used them since last winter) and other such fun. It may be snowing in Lillehammer but here in Göteborg it's typical west coast weather: windy, wet and wild. I'm not looking forward to preparing the car Sad but at least we're going skiing snowHead
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Have a safe drive up, it’s been raining all night and reports of “ice rink” conditions on the roads in the south of Norway.

I had an off and ended up in the ditch last weekend. Luckily I got help from a passerby who towed me out. Good to have a tow rope and snow shovel in the car.

I’ve now put my studded winter tyres on, which have much better grip in icy conditions.

Have a good week skiing.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Enjoy and safe travels! We liked Kvitfjell the best, but but interested to hear your review.
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@Spoon, thanks for the warning. We'll be in Norway middle of the day tomorrow so hopefully conditions will have improved by then. We've only got studless winters, not much call for the studs down here.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Really looking forward to your trip report. Going to Hafjell 6th April and really looking forward to it ha going had to cancel last minute in 2017. Drive safely
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Car packed, and we're off, near enough at target departure time of 10:00, a minor miracle. Satnav programmed for Lillehammer, don't really need it till well past Oslo...But, hang on a minute, why is it suggesting 9+ hours until arrival, and an odd route out of Göteborg? We ignore it, and take our usual route out, which cuts an hour or so off the estimate but it's still looking slow. After half an hour or so of debate (bad weather, roads closed, holiday traffic perhaps), and puzzling over why it wants us to leave the motorway at the border, we realise why. Quick check of the settings, yup, it's set to avoid tolls. D'oh! Laughing
Reset the options and the journey time is down to a much more realistic 5.5 hours. Phew! Onwards and northwards Toofy Grin
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Laughing
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
The rest of the journey was largely uneventful. It started raining half an hour short of Oslo, and from then on it got steadily colder. The rain turned to snow just past Gardemoen airport, and gradually the road turned white. Roadworks on the E6 for 40 km or so before Lillehammer slowed it's a bit, but we got to Hafjell just ahead of the 17:00 check in. There was only a short queue when we arrived, so 10 mins later we had the keys and advice from reception - no need for snow chains, the first hill is the steepest so if we get up that we'll be fine.
Hmmm. Our cabin is 12 km up this road, in the Hafjelltoppen area. We turned the first corner to head up the steep bit and met a line of cars chaining up. The road was covered in compact snow, no sign of ice, so we pulled out, passed them and carried on. The hill got steeper and we got slower, steeper still, slower still...was this such a good idea? We got down to walking pace, but the hill eased and we'd made it. Except that in front of us was a car with chains on, crawling along at no more than 10 km/h. Frustrating. Once we got onto a flat, straight section and past a car that had stopped to take its chains off (there was now tarmac showing) we nipped past the slow car from Germany. The driver looked terrified, and we suspect it was his first time using chains.
Another 5-6 km later we found our turning, and 50 m short of the cabin we ground to a halt. Soft fresh snow on a steep narrow drive was finally too much, so I sent the girls on ahead while I fitted chains and scrabbled up the last little bit.
Whilst unpacking the car I discovered why the toll booth half way up the mountain didn't charge us Laughing

It looks readable on the photo but that's only because of the light from my head torch.
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We had a lazy start to Monday, waking up to bright sunshine and fantastic views across the valley from our cabin. After a leisurely breakfast, mini_mg and I kitted up and headed out to find our way to the pistes. Our cabin is on the far edge of the resort, so it's a fair distance to any lift. Not a huge problem on the way down, transport track 72 runs right past the cabin and a short wade through though deep snow saved us walking down the drive (and introduced mini_mg to the concept of post holing Laughing). Aside from one wrong turn, it was an easy and very scenic ski down through trees dusted with snow, alternating with expansive views across the valley. The run ends halfway down the Olympic piste (closed for a gs comp, unfortunately). First up, we opted for the easy blue 23 which zigzags down to Skitorget. Two chairs (Hafjellheis 1 and 2) took us back up, and as blue 21 was deserted, we lapped round and back on to Hafjellheis 2. At this point, the first problem became apparent: mini_mg's toes were freezing in her new boots. So we headed up the new Hafjell 360 (detachable 6 pack, heated seats) to the top. From here we should be able to ski back to our cabin, we hoped.
Problem number 2: a distinct lack of signage or maps on the transport tracks. It looked like 70 then 72 would take us home, which they did...but only with significant uphill, a detour through the Ilsetra area and a bit of a climb by the only lift that wasn't running. Not a great end to the morning.
After lunch, with mini_mg kitted out in a pair of my thin socks (hers are rather thick) things were going much better. We repeated a few runs, added the black/red Hafjelløpa to the list (really nice, fab snow, steep ish but not ridiculous) and stopped to watch a few racers. We also practiced our switch and one ski skiing on green 1 down from the top (improvement required). With 45 minutes of lift opening left it was time to head in as mini_mg's toes were on the cold side again. This time we headed down greens 8 and 9 to Gaiastova in the hope that we'd find a better route home. No good. This time we couldn't get far enough over, and every stop to check the map (useless, didn't have tracks or roads marked) and gps (missing map features, so almost as useless) made the toes colder. We eventually ended walking up a few hundred metres of road. There must be a decent way back, but we've yet to find it.
I took the opportunity of an early finish to try out the uphill mode on my Shifts. A gentle 45 minute climb up from the cabin, along a ski path and then a couple of (unnumbered) transport/cross country tracks got me to within sight of Gaiastova, but a bit uphill so I've still not found a good way home. It was very peaceful though, and the combination of shifts, colleges whizz skins and atomic hawx xtd boots made the uphill relatively easy. I turned round about 17:25, as it was getting dark, and was back in just under 10 minutes.
Overall, despite the cold toes and route finding woes, today goes down as one of the better days I've had, anywhere. The scenery is glorious, pistes and lifts pretty quiet, and the snow was perfect. Bring on Tuesday!
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Easy to lose your balance post holing


View down track 72


Mini_mg and the Olympic flame


Vista from the top


Afterglow from sunset, just below Gaiastova
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I’ve just moved to Borås, so following this report with interest. Heading to my first Scandinavian resort this Easter (Isaberg doesn’t count Very Happy), just need to decide which resort!
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
No pictures today, it was mostly cloudy with a few snowflakes this afternoon. I was sent out alone this morning to find a better way back to the cabin. The information desk could only agree that it was difficult to get back. They did give me a free parking permit for Gaiastova, so we can leave the car there if we want. Armed with this, I headed up to the top (sneaking in a bumps run on the way - with characteristic flailing) and tried to find a better route back. Last night's skin up proved invaluable, as I had a much better idea of the lot of the land, and found a route back with only a hundred metres or so of skating. Unfortunately though, the resort workers had been hard at work clearing the roads, and one device was a snow blower pulled behind a tractor that spewed grit as well as snow from the road directly onto the track that we have to use to ski home. So now I have lots of long shallow scratches on the bases of my new skis. Tools, not jewels.
I picked up mini_mg and we tried out the gondola to Mosertoppen (felt slow, we prefer the 2 main chairs). Red 43 was fun: wide, quiet and perfect for (somewhat imperfect) carving practice. We also tried out Hafjellheis 3 on the way back for lunch. Big mistake. It's a non-detachable 4 man chair, probably the slowest I've been on. Despite being pretty short, it seemed to go on for ever and the only solace was that I won chairlift bingo.
After lunch, and a battering at ticket to ride from both the girls in my life, we headed back out. This time we took the car down to the main Skitorget car park so we could do a spot of night skiing. 100m down the road it was clear the chains needed to come off. So, unclip everything, roll forward off the chains, get out to pick them up. D'oh! Rolled too far, chains now under rear wheels. Get back in, roll forward, pick up chains. 12km further down (it's much quicker to ski) we parked up and headed out. Only the first chair is open after 16:30 (plus a t bar I think, but mini_mg doesn't like t bars) so we did a selection of the reds and blacks back down, including the bottom half of the Olympic run that was open today (and bashed after the races, so firm but not too icy). The pistes were well lit and pretty quiet.
Hunger (and chilly toes) put an end to the skiing well before the slopes closed. We nipped in to the sports shop to get mini-mg some thinner socks (so I could have mine back), then drove back up. This time the toll camera spotted us, so I paid the 30 NOK on the way up. Irritatingly, we got about 10m up our drive, but at that point the snow defeated us so the chains went back on for the last 40m. Grrrr.
All in all, a relatively lazy, chilled day without major mileage but a few good runs. Tomorrow's forecast is brighter and not so cold so hopefully mini_mg will be a bit more comfortable.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@newrealm22, plenty of reports on scandi resorts if you search SHs, and varying views on where's best. Are you driving from Borås?
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Looks great. The story of the climb up the hill without chains reminded me of when we were there, and I decided it could be nice to head up to the top after skiing for dinner (I think there was a hotel up there). Very sketchy and ended up turning around 3/4 of the way there.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Themasterpiece, it felt a little like that this evening, ostensibly clear road (well, tyre tracks clear) but actually there was a thin layer of ice from the thaw earlier, and the wheels were intermittently scrabbling for grip.

We had bonus sunshine all day today Happy. The forecast suggested early sun followed by cloud, so an early start should have been the order of the day, especially as I had a work commitment after lunch. So of course last night I slept really badly and didn't emerge until nearly 9. I'm not a morning person when I'm tired (or, tbh, at all). Sad
After a quick breakfast we tried a different approach, chucking the skis in the car and driving the 3km up to park at Gaiastova, stopping 50m down the drive to take the chains off (this time I managed not to pull forward so they were under the rear wheels rolling eyes ). This meant that mrs_mg could escape from our cabin and see some scenery. Mini_mg and I headed down the mountain while mrs_mg went for a short wander along a cross country track before settling down in the cafe with a latte.
We checked out Moseterheisen (long uncomfortable button with numerous places where the track goes downhill and the button pole ends up, ummm, up) and green nr 4 (nice view, dull). We did the timed slalom (victory by 1 second, who's the daddy?). And that was enough to get us to lunch time so we went back up to the top and down to meet mrs_mg at Gaiastova. Two 199 NOK burgers and a 165 NOK gulasch soup later, the hunger was gone. Not bad food actually (the soup especially) and price-wise, well, it's up a mountain in Norway.
After lunch the girls chilled in the cabin while I dealt with work, which took a bigger chunk out of the afternoon than I'd hoped. Whilst I was working, apparently a snow plough honked at our car, which I'd left at the bottom of the steep drive so I didn't have to put the chains on yet again (and then take them off). Mini_mg was feeling a bit out of practice so this evening we tried to fix a few things that were hampering her confidence. A teenager unhappy with her skiing, and a dad who is only marginally better than her and definitely no instructor, what could possibly go wrong? Thankfully, slowing everything down and working on nice rounded turns produced some good improvements and mini_mg finished feeling much happier. Result. Hopefully tomorrow will be better still.
When we got back, the plough had returned and gone up the drive, so now it is hard compacted snow...and I still can't get up it without the chains. I've had plenty of practice in the last 4 days so it's down to a couple of minutes each side with gloves and a head torch in the dark.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Bright sunshine and empty slopes. What's not to like?


Evening skiing, with the olympic bobsleigh run in the background.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Great report and brought back great memories, 21 was my first ever blue run when we went up there back in 2007 for the weekend with friends. I'd had my first ever taste of skiing the day before basically 90 minutes on green 11 snowHead
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Spring has sprung! Well, perhaps not literally, but today it certainly felt like it. 7 degrees, with the drips from the roof threatening to turn into a waterfall and the snow decidedly slushy from mid morning. Luckily there's enough base and not too many people so the pistes didn't suffer too badly, and served up some fun blasts. Picking up on yesterday evening's theme of not turning too quickly, we started out on a couple of easier runs down from Gaiastova (greens 9 and 8 used to practice railroad turns, then the bottom of blue 21) to get to Midtstasjonen and took Hafjellheis 2 back up. Nipping down to Mosetertoppen we lapped red 43 via the upper half of the gondola, enjoying the wide open rollers and lack of obstacles. We must have done something else as well before lunch, but I can't remember what!
After lunch we warmed up again on 21 (see a theme here?) then finally headed over to the top of black 60. This was used for the slalom and giant slalom at the 1994 winter Olympics, so for us was a must do. The top pitch is reasonably steep, somewhere around 35 degrees at a guess, and would be pretty intimidating in full race set up with water injected ice. As it was, today with soft snow it was relatively benign and the second quarter where it flattens before dropping off again was fab for full width arc to arc carving.
We spent the rest of the day lapping the middle chair as it was quiet. We'd hoped to get up to the top on the last lift, but a full emergency stop on our last lap put paid to that. Mini_mg's first experience of hitting the brakes was luckily not too violent - the chair swung up and back but soon settled down and we were close enough to a pylon to not bounce a lot. The people 3 or 4 chairs ahead of us weren't so lucky. No idea what caused it, but we we're moving again a few minutes later after one false start. However, by the time we got to the top, the Hafjell 360 had closed so we came down via 21, Ljustraversen (41-45 across the hill) and finished on the black pitch of 41. All in all a successful day despite the warm weather.
When we got back to the cabin, I had to clear piles of fresh slush which must have fallen off the roof. There's a big overhanging ledge of snow (seems excessive to call it a cornice, but that's petty much what it is)and I'm sure it's going to fall on one of us in the next couple of days!
Tomorrow we're heading north to ski Kvitfjell for a change, which is on the same lift pass (and hosted the super g and downhill races at the Olympics). I will have to get up earlier than I've managed all week Sad Laughing
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@mgrolf, great report - many thanks!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@mgrolf, a good read. Looking forward to the rest.

Remember not to slam the cabin door.
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Very good to read about somewhere different! Takk. My first ever ski holiday (with school) was in Geilo. I couldn't afford to go skiing again till I was 40.
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@ster, Laughing
There have been several soft whumps as we've been sitting eating breakfast this morning. Extreme care needed when we leave, methinks!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Friday - a grand day out to Kvitfjell. About 50 km north north west of Hafjell, Kvitfjell is on the same lift pass and also hosted alpine events at the 1994 winter Olympics. As one of mini_mg's friends was there for a few days, it made sense to make the ~1 hour drive for a change of scenery.
Miraculously I wasn't (too) late up, so once breakfast was consumed, lunch made (sausage sandwiches) and kit on, we set off. The first obstacle - the cornice of doom - was safely negotiated without injury to either of us. Then it was the usual faff going down the drive, chains off, onto the road and down the hill. Serena sat nav kept insisting that we turn off onto "unpaved road" but wisely I ignored her as these roads were snow-covered transport tracks through the trees Laughing. We were soon onto the E6, and into mist trapped in a chilly temperature inversion: 3 degrees at our cabin, -7 in the valley. Driving alongside a lake, the scenery would have been stunning, if we could have seen it! But we couldn't. Aside from a minor misjudgement at a roundabout (note to self: when road is covered in snow, don't trust those winter tyres too much, turning corners is harder than going straight) the journey was simple and we parked up at the bottom lift alongside about 5 other cars. It was still foggy, and barely anyone was around.
Going up the first chair (Olympic Express, though it felt anything but rapid) we could have been in the Alps - a gash struck through the trees up a steep hillside, it felt very much like Fontaine Froide in La rosiere last year. Coming over the top we saw...racers. And more racers. On the short ski down to the bottom of the Kvitfjell Express we saw, yes, yet more racers. Catsuits everywhere, and barely a normal skier to be seen. There were several different groups of race trainers spread out on piste nr 2, of varying ages, all looking very competent and fast.
At the top, we stopped to take in the truly panoramic view, then skiied down to Kvitfjell Vest via red 21 and blue 22. It became immediately apparent that Kvitfjell's grading is somewhat tougher than Hafjell - several of the reds were more black, and one green (20) was definitely blue. All were very empty, amazing given that it's half term week in central Sweden and there are loads (and loads) of Danes around too.
Mid morning we spotted someone who could have been mini_mg's friend (light blue jacket, blue helmet) getting on the Vestiden Express chair ahead of us, but they didn't come back and we didn't catch them up. So we roamed around, exploring the various pistes on both sides of the main peak. Red 3 down towards Mellomstasjon goes down as my favourite piste of the week - steep but not silly, just a blast to fly down with no one else to worry about. The Oleheisen button is slow and really only serves one green - done, but not to be repeated. Fjellheisen was faster, and the red 26 more fun but a bit thin at the top - wind blown, most likely.
We had lunch outside at the centre of Kvitfjell Vest, then nipped across on the very short gondola that bridges a small valley to access the third set of slopes - 2 greens and a very gentle blue served by a new-looking chair Vesleseterheisen. It looks as though this area is being developed, with lots of building work, so I expect it will expand in years to come. For now, it was tranquil and good for carving practice, but a bit dull.
Back across the valley, we finally bumped into Mini_mg's friend, so we spent the rest of the afternoon zooming round with 2 Swedish families, some flying down pistes and others nipping off through the trees.
We called out a day around 15:00, back at Mellomstasjon, saying our farewells before heading down the bottom half of black 1b - the Olympic downhill. There's a sign at the top warning that it is steep and difficult. The snow was in our favour (soft and grippy) so most of the run passed without incident, aside from a missed turn for mini_mg which left her stuck at one side facing the wrong way. Never a good position to be in, but with some judicious side slipping to get to a better place, the turn was put in and the rest handled with aplomb. The pause gave me time to get my inclinometer out - yep, it was steep. 50 degrees steep. Earlier on, when the snow was still hard, it could have been much trickier. Overall though, a very enjoyable run.
The journey home was easy, and this time we could enjoy the scenery. Back at the cabin there was just time for a mammoth game of Carcasonne before tea. 2.5 hours later, we were all hungry and a bit grumpy. Confused Perhaps we should have eaten before the game!
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A bit of a mix on our final day. Mini_mg wasn't overly enthusiastic this morning so after an abortive run out, we came back to the cabin and I picked up my skins for another gentle wander uphill. Again I dodged the cornice of doom:

This time, once I got above the cabins I headed off the cross country tracks and up a (very slight) hill away from everything. I was hoping to find a little soft snow to play in, but aside from a few pockets there was nothing but wind blown breakable crust. Still, it was very peaceful, and the light looked ethereal through my sunglasses. It wasn't quite so good with the naked (eye) camera, but this gives some impression.

There was a tempting looking hillock about a km away, with enough pitch for a decent run down but long was calling so I switched back to downhill mode...and confirmed that I've completely forgotten how to ski off the beaten piste. Shocked Anyone seeing me would have wondered which muppet I was (Rowlf, obviously Laughing).
All week, there have been people industriously building an enormous kicker at Midstasjon. It was so big that the tracked digger next to it could no longer reach the top with its bucket. This morning, there were finally signs up, for big air qualifying for the Norway X Games. Over lunch we checked the events page, only to discover that it was running 12:00-13:00. Cue disappointment all round, followed by surprise when we skiied round the corner of piste 21 after lunch to find hundreds of people crowding round the kicker. There was a commentator going full pelt (in Norwegian, of course - similar enough to Swedish that we could understand the scores, but different enough that a lot of the rest went over our heads). There was still a competition on - not the main event, we think, but an associated smaller one. So we watched for 20 minutes or so as a bunch of lads did backflips, double cork 720s and other spinning twisty things.
Don't bottle out now.

A decent crowd.

When the fun finished we had enough time to do the timed slalom again (v rutted, slowest of the week) and a last run down to the bottom. Partway down the sun poked through, rather a long day from us.

Then it was back up to the top, across to Gaiastova and home. Now there's just the packing, cleaning and a last night's sleep before we head back south, aiming to get back to Göteborg in time for mini_mg's swimming training in the afternoon.
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