We have been waiting for it for a long time. Snow crust. And when it finally arrives, we are stuck with everyday life, stuck until the sun starts melting it away and all seems lost. Or is it? A forecast promising a few cold nights fuels our optimism. A few days after, we’re on our way, Håkon and I, on a winter summit attempt. By bike.
It’s late before we manage to get above the tree line and to the foot of the mountain. The snow is not very cooperative, to say the least. The crust gives way more or less nonstop and we have to push our bikes. All. The. Time.
Worn out after riding from the springlike conditions down in town and up to the receding winter landscape 750 meters higher up, the last kilometers on rotten snow fills us with doubt regarding whether it is possible to scale the mountain or not. The thought of another 450 meters of vertical climbing to the summit stops us in our tracks. Instead, we settle for camp, hoping to wake up to a fresh crust in the morning.
And indeed, early morning does reveal a thin snow crust. The summit attempt is on. Barely. At this point, the percentage that we actually have been riding our bikes in the mountain range is probably less than three percent. No wonder Håkon sports a broad smile when we finally can ride our fatbikes. But it is to no avail. The crust is melting in front of our eyes.
It’s a shame to turn around, but it would be the pinnacle of stupidity to continue. At least, that’s what we thought.
Even if we have to walk most of the way down the mountain, we manage to increase the percentage distance cycled to at least 5 percent. Oh, joy.
We decide to camp at the edge of the mountain range to recover from our failure. After a long evening around the campfire, Håkon chooses to spend the night alongside the fire, while I enjoy the comfort of my brand new Hilleberg Soulo tent.
We awake next morning to a crust thick enough to carry an elephant and can’t help feeling slightly disappointed about our decision to turn back the day before.
This is where this little blog post easily could have ended, if it wasn’t for the very fact that the cold comes back the week after. Whether its due to bad memory or shortsighted naivety is hard to tell, but I can’t help giving it another go, perhaps fueled by the thought of having to wait another year.
I start early in the morning and hope the crust won’t melt away before I have cycled the fifty kilometers up to the mountain range. Unfortunately, I’m on my own. Håkon couldn’t make it this time.
Arms and legs aching after the brutal climb up to the edge of the mountain range, I enjoy catching a few rides on the crust before it indefinitely melts before my eyes. It’s back to pushing again.
I summit many hours and 400 vertical meters later in the last remnants of daylight.
Then, next morning: A virgin crust fresh from the nights freezing cold. And instead of 5 percent riding and 95 percent pushing, it’s the other way round.
That’s one fat summit attempt.