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Live TR: Sälen/Tandådalen, 9-16 Feb 2020

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Another sportlov, another trip report from Scandi land. This time we're off to Tandådalen, one of the 4 areas that make up Sälen. The piste map is here.
We'll be staying in an apartment right at the bottom of the slopes, near the T8 and T9 skidskoleliften lifts, which looks pretty good in terms of proximity to the slopes. The drive from Gothenburg is about 500 km, and should take us around 7 hours including a decent lunch break. The first 40 km or so will be zero emissions Very Happy but then the remaining 460 will be less environmentally friendly once the battery has run out and we're back to petrol power Sad. Greta would not approve.
Weather wise, the wigglies look OK, with a risk of snow complicating the drive up on Sunday.


Work has been hectic the past few weeks, so I'm as yet woefully unprepared. Mrs_mg has done her usual sterling work filling the freezer with meals, so we can pack a week's worth of food into coolbags and put them in the roofbox to stay cold on the way up. I'm feeling smug for tuning and waxing the skis at the end of last season, so bar a scrape they're ready to go. But I've not done anything else. Normally by now I'd've checked all the rest of the kit, done half the packing and worked up timings etc but that will all have to happen on Saturday. For now, at least excitement is building snowHead
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
The night before...car mostly packed, other than the freezer and fridge stuff. Route planned, house tidied and all ready to go. So far, so good. The plan is to leave reasonably promptly after breakfast tomorrow, and do most of the driving in daylight.
The weather forecast isn't looking quite so kind though - probably rain turning to snow as we go north (can't really complain about that) and 20 m/s winds by lunchtime. The wind should be behind us so maybe we'll get a bit further than 50 km on battery power Laughing
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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?
@mgrolf, enjoy Happy

We spent half term there 2yrs ago. We will definitely go back one day.
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You need to Login to know who's really who.
First place we took our daughter skiing - great place for that purpose.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
08:45. Bags in, check. Skis, boots etc, check. Food, check. Food for the journey, check. Car chocka, but still decent space for the occupants.

Cake... We've forgotten the cake! Shocked Needs to be kept upright, and can't slide around. In the giant game of Tetris that is the car, there is a cake-sized slot, but one touch on the brakes and the cake will be plastered across the back of my head.
Level failed, restart!
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
@mgrolf, Laughing
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Well, we've arrived. Pretty uneventful journey really, with Ciara running through her breathing exercises but not getting into full voice here. It was windy and wet, but with remarkably little traffic given it's the equivalent of half term here, there wasn't too much spray and no significant delays to speak of. There were lots of trees though. If you have 2 minutes and 48 seconds of your life that you don't need back, then you can "enjoy" the whole thing here:

http://youtube.com/v/zVltfOblj9A

By the time we had picked up our keys (including the obligatory nummerlapp - I found the ticket machine quickly, fortunately), Ciara was warming up nicely so being guided in to our apartment building by friends who'd arrived earlier was a welcome surprise. Extra hands made unloading the car (which bore an uncanny resemblance to Mary Poppins' carpet bag) much faster than normal. Extracting kit from the roofbox was a little nerve-wracking, as it opened straight into the wind and the lid was flapping disconcertingly. Bags, skis, poles and sledge came flying out (literally, in the case of the sledge) and I moved the car up to the car park. By the time I got back, everything had moved two floors up from the lobby into our apartment and Mrs_mg was well on the way to sorting the kitchen. Whilst the grown ups unpacked, tidied and did end of journey type things, mini_mg wrapped up warm and headed back out into the storm with her friend, to locate another family whose apartment is a few minutes away. Being teenagers, rather than knocking on the door they opted to check that they had the right apartment by scrambling up a huge pile of snow to get level with the upper story windows, then rang their friend and told him to look out of the window. rolling eyes Laughing

That's pretty much us done for the day and ready for tomorrows mayhem, when teenage lie ins do battle with the vital importance of first lift. I know where my money is!
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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!
Monday dawned grey, breezy and with flurries of snow still blowing around.
Monday actually started much earlier than that, with the ghost of skiers past clumping around in ski boots at random times through the night (it was probably just the plumbing, but it sounded much more like someone stamping snow off their boots).

Despite the odds, a total of 5 teenagers (that's all of them) were up and ready to go for 9, so we were out early despite the inclement weather. The snow was not particularly pleasant as it had been a few degrees above zero for most of the night, so the pistes were wet and heavy. We powered through, lapping the T bar Parlifterna as there was virtually no queue and working our way round pistes 15-19 (green through to black x2, though to be honest with softish snow the 2 blacks were not really more than an average red run. Then we shifted over to black 24, via the Mio Express (rare chair lift, complete with a queue of perhaps 5 minutes) and T14 (another T bar, can't find the name right now). At this point mini_mg's toes had reached the painfully cold stage so we headed in for an early lunch.

After lunch (courgette & feta soup, home-made bread and a yogurt, mums) we re-grouped at about 13:30. This time we headed for Östra Tandådalen and the runs around the Pulsen express chair, via a rutted and unpleasant traverse. We went up and down a few times, with various people dipping into the trees and then failing to reappear for ages (big faff factor this afternoon). By mid afternoon, the group was dwindling as people split off for lessons, a break or to change to the dark side. A hard core of 4 applied rule 5 and headed over to Hundfjället, the connected area, via two flat ish buttons (transport lifts, as they call them here). It would probably have been quicker skating, but that was too much like hard work. First (and only) run on this side was Trollskogen (literally, the troll woods). Dotted amongst the trees in a small river valley are lots of wooden scenes based around trolls, complete with sound effects and the odd light. There's an easy if narrow piste that winds along, then lots of tracks through the woods. Normally these would be bumpy, a bit tight for adult sized skis and occasionally icy. This winter, with not so much snow and +7 degrees mid afternoon, the lumps and bumps were huge, tree trunks and rocks sticking out all over the place and holes and hollows abounded to catch out the unwary (and indeed everyone else). Add in lots of kids of all sizes and you have a recipe for chaos. Surprisingly fun chaos.

Not much else to say really about today, we had dinner then drinks with some of the other families at ours. And I claim a contender for most unusual use of a pair of voile straps: holding the two beds together in our room, so Mrs_mg doesn't disappear down between them like she did this morning Shocked Laughing Laughing
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Straps are handy to have around. Toofy Grin

And- don't drive that fast, can't enjoy the landscapes. wink

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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@Hyst, Laughing
Strange thing is, most people would consider me to be a slow driver. You've got a point about the scenery, except that all there is to see on the way to Sälen are trees.

On to today, which has turned out to be a bit of a surprise: one of the best days skiing in ages. Not due to the weather, though it was bright most of the day. Not down to the snow or the slopes, as it was hard and scrapey verging on icy. Not for maximum vertical, distance skiied, a new run or a spectacular wipeout (none of those today). But simply because Mrs_mg got out on skis for the first time in years. snowHead snowHead snowHead
She's not been fit or well enough, with enough energy, to even contemplate skiing for many moons. We'd given up taking her kit, and family holidays were a tug of war between our desire to go skiing and Mrs_mg 's frustration that she couldn't join us. This year, we booked an apartment right at the base of the main lifts, with a free drag lift just across the way. So her kit went in the car somewhat optimistically but with a glimmer of hope that it might get used. We had a late night (for us) socialising last night and first thing in the morning it wasn't looking good, with Mrs_mg tired and perhaps a little grumpy. Breakfast seemed to be pushing us further the wrong way, with my attempt at pancakes a sorry mess glued to the base of the frying pan (should've brought our own, grrr). But from there, something changed. Mini_mg headed out to meet up with friends, whilst us older types kitted up. The first good sign was getting Mrs_mg's boots on without tears, shouting or major marital breakdown. Then we walked across the snow to the nursery slope, at a measured pace, and Mrs_mg was still smiling and not collapsed in a heap. She had a minor wobble at the top of the lift ("how do I do this") before proceeding to lap the lift in a very creditable manner, her confidence rapidly increasing. An hour later we called it a day, before her energy ran out, and Mrs_mg retired to Wayne's for a well earned coffee whilst I went off to find the horde. All in all, a very satisfying morning. We even managed to walk across to the far end of the resort to go to lunch with friends. Mrs_mg will probably pay for it tomorrow, but it was worth it for the fun this morning.

After lunch, mini_mg and I played around on one ski for a while (how come I feel so much heavier going up on one leg, I'm sure it doesn't feel like that if I just stand on one leg)! This did provide a couple of slow speed comedy wipeouts each, but also some impressively smooth skiing from mini_mg. The less said about my effort, the better. Mid afternoon mini_mg called it a day, and I worked my way over to Östra Tandådalen and back, enjoying the mostly empty pistes in between and barely stopping for a couple of hours. It was getting a tad chilly by 17:00 so I finished as the lights came on.

It was colder today and the forecast now is for a few days below zero, so hopefully the piste bashers will be able to work their magic and with snow cannons blazing away for much of the day the pistes may be in slightly better shape tomorrow.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Mini_mg demonstrating how to ski switch uphill (wind assisted)


The view from our apartment, looking up piste nr 19


Looking west from the top, with Trysil in the distance


Proof I was there


And a nicer version, with Hundfjället to the left, where my head was in the previous picture

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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.
Drive looked good, hardly a traffic light in sight

mgrolf wrote:
a total of 5 teenagers (that's all of them) were up and ready to go for 9, so we were out early


Do share you secret, one is hard enough to roust out of bed and made ready at anything like a decent hour.
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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
@ster, sorry, no magic solution here. Only one is ours (mini_mg) and she has always been an early riser, awake by 7 every morning irrespective of what time she's gone to bed. The other 4 were not quite so snappy this morning; mini_mg and I were at the Panorama Express just before 09:00 and as no-one else was there, we nipped on as it opened for a warm up lap. We could probably have done a couple more before the group was fully assembled. Not much else to report from the morning's ski, aside from the largest cookies ever (with suitably large price tags) consumed in the cafe at the bottom of the Pulsen Express at fika time.
After lunch, we headed over to Hundfjället again. This involves a couple of 4-500m long drags that are basically flat, so you can let go, mess around and grab on again. In places the track goes downhill so often people move up to spare buttons further ahead. I was last in the group (blocked off by small kids at the choke point of the tunnel under the road) and there was a bunch of people queuing for the first button lift. So ego/testosterone/stupidity kicked in. I'll just skate on past, I thought, then when one of the aforementioned teens lets go, I can nip in and steal their button. With a bit of momentum, and a decent rhythm, I shot past the huddle at the start and rapidly caught up with the rest of the group. 100m in, I'm feeling good so no need to grab a button soon...200m, yeah, I can do this...300m, a button would be good soon, I'm getting a little hot. No button, they're all taken, and now the track starts going up so no-one will let go. Looks like my cunning plan has gone the way of so many others and I've blown it. No choice now but to keep going and at least I'll be first there and can indulge in some gentle teasing of the lazybones on the lift. By 350m I could do with opening some zips and venting, but if I pause I'll lose all my speed. At 400m it's hurting, and at 450m the track gets even steeper. I herring bone walked the last 20m. No breath for mocking, though I least I was still ahead. Just.
Fortunately we then hopped on the. Vägganbanan chair so I could get my breath back, and the pistes that side are mostly gentle; group inertia gave me more recovery time too. I suspect I'll feel it tomorrow though!

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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
My autistic daughter took a dislike to that drag lift. So much that she decided she would walk back to Tandadalan side rather than use it! She was 8 at the time!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@NickyJ, did she let you use the lift? It's quite a long walk, especially in ski boots Shocked

I'm usually at a low ebb of energy on day 4, and sure enough it was a bit of an effort getting up today. We made it out on time though. The sky was clear and it had been cold overnight, and it really showed - the pistes were beautifully groomed, smooth, firm but grippy. Mini_mg was in skiing heaven (she likes a good piste, not so fussed by chopped up snow or off piste). Strangely, despite perfect conditions, it seemed quiet and so the pistes stayed good for most of the day.

The teenage crew headed for the pool late afternoon, leaving me enough time to grab my skins and do a little uphill exploring. The snow off piste is pretty rubbish, refrozen mank, so I planned to skin up in the trees then exit back onto the piste to come down again. It seemed like a good opportunity to practice kick turns and get a bit of exercise. I found a good route in, with a closed black run to head for - naively I thought this might be easier to skin on (they've been blowing snow at the top all week, to cover some thin patches - the rest looked fine and I had no intention of skiing back down the closed run). Having navigated through the trees with only a couple of minor slips, the closed piste appeared and I strode out confidently. Confidence rapidly turned to concern, maybe a little fear and a touch of panic as both skis disappeared sideways out from under me, sliding on the ice cunningly concealed by a thin layer of snow crystals. The image of mgrolf sliding not-so-gracefully down a long straight back run, shedding gear along the way, passed before my eyes. A bit of nifty (read desperate) work with my poles kept me upright and prevented realisation of the nightmare but lesson #1 learned: setting an edge with only your toes in the bindings is much harder than when fully clipped in. As my heart rate settled a bit, I assessed my options. Going backwards wasn't appealing, and a kick turn was clearly out of the question; the trees behind me came pretty much up to the edge of the piste so not much room to play with there. The route forward looked perhaps a little better, so onwards it was. Despite a couple of heart in the mouth moments, I made it to the other side and could tackle the climb on the far edge, where there were fewer trees and a bit more space. Simple...or not. The snow was still pretty horrible and I tested the limit of my skins' traction a number of times. When the skins give up, the skis go backwards and I go forwards, and of course there's no resistance from the pins at the front so I ended up on my knees a few times. Elegant. Lesson numbers 2 & 3: don't try to climb too steeply on icy snow, and maybe in those conditions it would be good to carry ski crampons.
Despite all the flailing, I managed a few decent kick turns amongst the trapped skis, tips in the snow and general muppetry and I got to the top in one (hot and sweaty) piece. That just left a ski down under the lights, schuss across to the ramp up to our apartment, and up this as far as possible before a quick turn sideways to stop and remove the skis. Easy, done it loads of times and again tonight no problem. Pole on the uphill binding, ski off...slam. Straight down on my hip, onto solid ice. Ow. I must've lifted weight off my downhill ski, so it shot out from under me. Luckily/sadly (take your pick) there was no-one there to laugh at me and I picked myself up with nothing worse than a dent in my battered pride. I've not even got a decent bruise to show for it.


Pretty view as a reward for my effort
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@mgrolf, i walked with her, I didn’t feel i could leave her on her own!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
My daughter, 6 years at that time and tiny, had problems with that connecting drag.

In the end solution was I took the initial impact and leveled it out with my pole behind where daughter was hanging on - worked out quite good after some attempts.
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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?
@Hyst, the one at the Hundfjället end does have a bit of a kick to it. I've seen adults struggling, let alone small 6 year olds.

Day 5 - getting Mrs_mg up the hill. It dawned bright and sunny again, and with the weather forecast not looking so good for Saturday, it was now or never for Mrs_mg to get further up than the top of the ski school garden. Thursday was a total write off for her Crying or Very sad so on was a bit touch and go, but after breakfast she decided she was game for it. Skistar do various options on the lift pass, including a 3 lift variety which seemed about right. With the lift pass charged up and safely in her arm pocket, we headed up the main chair with about half of the rest of the horde we're holidaying with. Familjebacken, green 15, was the order of the day - a mostly gentle curve around the hill through the trees, with one slightly steeper pitch to start. A few minutes later we were at the bottom, without any drama, so we rejoined the queue which by now was quite a bit bigger. Run 2 was much like run 1, with a few more people but still very smooth snow. That made it coffee time for the older mgs, having successfully conquered Tandådalen. Half an hour or so later, we used the third of 3 rides. This time the piste was beginning to cut up, and Mrs_mg was perhaps a bit tired so she retired to the apartment leaving me to catch up with the others.


The mgs at the top of the Mio Express.

The rest of the day was much like the others - up, down, up, down, with plenty of sun and very few people. Using the T bars and avoiding the blue runs at Östra Tandådalen basically means empty runs and no queues. Hundfjället was a bit busier, with a reasonable queue for the new 8 seater (West Express) with heated seats but even that was less than 10 minutes. Meanwhile, Mrs_mg had the swimming pool, sauna and jacuzzi to herself (the "Poolarium" downstairs on the bottom floor of our apartment block).


Looking down from the top of Hundfjället

There's a little snow forecast overnight so we'll see what tomorrow brings, for our last day here.
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As forecast, Saturday dawned foggy with a few centimetres of fresh snow having fallen overnight. At first light we could see halfway up the hill, but by lift opening the cloud had come down quite a lot further. Not to be deterred, mini_mg and I were out at (nearly) first lift and were rewarded with lovely firm grippy snow on Storabacken. The cloud and flat light did make it a bit disorientating though. Mini_mg commented that she had been going slowly, and I had to point out that I hadn't been able to keep up! On the second lift up we noticed that the next piste over (black 23 Hanget) looked open. We'd seen piste bashers up there the previous night, looking like UFOs high up above Storabacken, presumably bashing it flat after the snow cannon had been blasting all week. We met up with some of our friends and they'd seen the piste from the bottom, on their way over from their apartment, so the plan was set: a return to the scene of Thursday evening's skinning debacle (but this time going down rather than up - maybe that would be easier). We cut left under the lift line at the top, in the clouds, and passed the winch anchor post before dropping over the edge...and into fresh, soft untracked snow. The transition from hard piste to softer snow nearly caught a couple of the group out, but we made it down without major incidents. We didn't pause to think, just headed straight back to the lift to lap round again, picking up a couple of stragglers along the way. Three or four laps later, there wasn't much untracked snow left and aside from a couple of boarders who trespassed on our run (the cheek), all the tracks were ours. No one else seemed interested in the best snow anywhere, all week Puzzled

I left the teenagers at this point for a cup of coffee with Mrs_mg who was relaxing on a sofa at the bottom of the slope. Very pleasant, and only slightly spoiled at the end by the Dutch family that plonked themselves down opposite and on the rest of our sofa. It wasn't so much that they sat down, but more that they didn't make any effort at all to ask whether the seats were free (including the end of the sofa next to me). If they'd asked, the answer would of course have been yes but it felt slightly strange, especially since there were 4 seats (not counting the 2 we were occupying) and 5 of them.

We wondered whether it was the weather that was keeping the slopes quiet, but even this afternoon when the sun came out (briefly) there was hardly anyone around. We spend most of the afternoon tree skiing off the right side of the green 15 familjebacken, in a large ravine. Tree skiing should mean skiing between the trees, but for this particular group it seemed to mean tree hugging, tree bouncing (where you ski into a tree with springy branches, and it bounces you out backwards) and falling into trees. There were a few turns made, but far more falls and one particularly spectacular switch snowplough butter down the side of the ravine. A few snowball fights were thrown in for good measure. This continued until it got too dark to go into the ravine, at which point the group split with 2 hardy souls continuing to battle the trees on the other side of the piste (the trees came off better) and mini_mg and I nipping back onto the piste once the trees got too thick. With the lights beaming down, we stayed out until last lift (final ride up at 17:57 so technically I suppose not quite last) enjoying the empty slopes and still decent snow. Mini_mg and her friends rounded off the holiday with some sledging whilst Mrs_mg and I made a start on the packing.

So that's pretty much it for this holiday, just the tedious bits left and a long drive home tomorrow. Fingers crossed the weather behaves and the queue out of Sälen is not too bad.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Really enjoyed your TR, thank you for sharing, safe trip home
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