Flying to Norway this November/December was not in the cards, so my guide and I “met” each other in the next best way we could imagine- through a Skype call.
We had a 90 minute meeting last week that felt like we were in the same room. This call bridged the 4,000 miles between us in a way that gave me a sense of her, and she a sense of me. The visual cues we were able to take advantage of in an in-person meeting were present in almost the same way. She could tell what made me excited or hesitate, and I could tell what she thought was most important. It was a reminder of how powerful this technology can be.
Elise (pronounced Elees-ay), my guide for skiing across Norway, and Marit, the CEO of guide company Hvitserk, allowed me to walk through my three pages of questions in our Skype meeting.
Elise is the real deal. She leads expeditions across regions in the arctic including Svalbard last winter, all around Norway, and has trekked extensively through Nepal. She is a master navigator and pushed hard for me to be ready equipment wise for an even colder climate that I had originally planned for.
There were several key take-aways from the call: Norway’s winter predictions are similar to the United States this winter. It is expected to be colder with more snowfall than normal. We will be skiing in around 5-10 degree F weather during the day. The nights will be -25 F regularly. They like the sleeping bag that I have chosen because it is comfort rated down to -30 F and wind/moisture proof. We should be done breaking camp by 8:30amish daily and will ski until between 5:00-7:00pm. It will be dark, a good headlamp is critical. There will be a couple times during the crossing where we take skis off, we cross one river. Elise expects to have to help me down one particular sharp embankment. She will handle navigation, I will follow behind her. If snow is deep or there is a storm, we will be slowed down and this will be a problem timing wise. The main work is in breaking trail so we hope the snow will not be too deep. We will stop once an hour very briefly to drink and eat a high fat/high protein snack. We talked a lot about equipment, clothing, outerwear, and how performance wool products are the best for base layers. We also discussed breakfast and dinner preferences and my response to all was, I eat anything as long as it is gluten free. I have celiac and it would be a serious problem if I was accidentally exposed to gluten. I learned my only means of communication is through a iridium/satellite phone so my hopes for details daily dispatches were dashed, but I am planning to call my husband and give him a quick verbal update that gets emailed out to followers. We discussed the animals we may see. We then discussed logistics for meeting up in Oslo, the actual day we drive across Norway and then the last day when friends and family ski out to meet us for the last two hours of skiing in.
During the call, gnawing in the back of my mind was, “What will it be like spending 24 hours a day for 9 days with this woman??” Elise is serious, but smiles and laughs easily. She seems great!
I am sure there will be times of compromise, frustration, laughter and her encouraging me to dig deep. I am thinking we will leave this trip knowing each other very well.
My feeling once we hung up was a combination of: I’ve gotten myself into some real serious %^&*, BUT, I’m in good hands! 9 weeks to go. Time to get down to business!
**Since this call, I have followed up with a few questions regarding back-up means of communication, a back-up stove, will she be carrying a shovel and what specifically, if any, avalanche danger exists? I am waiting to hear back. Elise is probably in a tent right now somewhere remote.