Last weekend I went skiing across a swamp and a few lakes in Västerås with some friends. We had really beautiful weather, very clear and sunny. Two experienced Swedish girls, held back by two clumsy Irish guys. Jenny and Sofie have both skiing since they were able to walk and floated around on the snow like two petite angels. Liam and myself flopped around like drunken apes on skates, snow is about as rare in Ireland as a priest that doesn’t like kids.
I thought it would be more convenient to have all the gear in one rucksack instead of everyone carrying smaller bags. More convenient for everyone else, but I was nominated to carry the rucksack. Around 15 kg of gear for the day, but the Mjölner is such a tall and thin rucksack it didn’t affect my stability at all. It’s made for climbing but that tight centre of gravity suits skiing well.
The lakes were kept cleared of deep snow by the wind, so it was only a few cm thick out on the ice. There was so little friction the wind was almost enough to blow us along. Off the lakes though the snow was over half a metre deep, and underneath that was unfrozen swamp, so we had a few wet pjäxor at the end of the day.
We had a few fleeces to warm up during the stops, but I had been stupid enough to forget my wool base-layer in Stockholm, and the cotton t-shirt I was wearing got soaked in sweat in no time. It’s a cliche that cotton kills in the cold, but it’s so true. Even with plenty of layers over the cotton, it felt ice cold.
I don’t have much faith in breathable materials to keep sweat at bay, I opened my thigh zips and pulled up my sleeves to keep cool. It also gave me a nice tan on my forearms, it’s surprising how much power the sun has this early in Spring. I wish I’d had some polarised glasses on though, the glare can be powerful.
I’m not sure exactly why I like to go out skiing or hiking, but I’m 90% it’s because I then have an excuse to have hot chocolate.
This photo is taken in the bog, here you can see what the Swedes call skare. It is the snow that forms when deep snow gets melted on the surface by sun or rain. Then it refreezes and a thin, hard crust is formed on top of deep powdery snow. It’s annoying to walk through because it always feels like the crust can take your weight until the last second when it cracks and lets you drop into the deeper snow. On ski it’s a different story, the crust can take the weight without breaking, it has really low friction so you can glide easily on it, and it’s hard enough that kicking off with the edges of the skis can really push you forward.
We could travel almost 10 kph without even trying too hard. It really makes me think about my last trip
where wading through the snow was so tough. The entire distance Michi and I covered in our weekend we could have done in a couple of hours on ski without all the effort.