Karen Darke – Heroes of Telemark?!

In Rjukan, Norway, staying at the great ‘Climb Inn’, just below all the ice climbing waterfalls but more famously the factory of the Heroes of Telemark (the Norwegian heavy water sabotage during World War II). The team – Andy Kirkpatrick, Mike Christie and my brother Simon Darke. The plan – to ski / snowbike around the Hardangervidda Plateau area for a week. The reason – to see if the chunky funky snow-handbike works better than a X-country sit-ski, for Simon to learn to X-country ski, and just to be out together practising winter camping…going to try and adopt the Norwegian approach of ‘if you’re not skiing, you’re either sleeping or having fun’…is skiing not fun?

After 2 days here getting orientated, testing the ATH Lasher (All-Terrain Handbike) and gathering food supplies, we’re setting off in the morning. Pulk packing tonight and last big feed (hmm, homemade crumble…we’ll be dreaming of it tomorrow night as we look into our vacumn packed bags of dehydrated food). My optimism levels have gone from 10 on seeing the bike – fresh in from Alaska, giant 5” Surly tyres – down to a 2 after struggling to ride it across soft melting snow that covers the lake ice.

It was +5 Celsius here today, so hardly the subzero Antarctic type weather we were hoping for. In the warm weather, we’re not sure how well the bike will work, hence the sit-ski is coming along for the ride too…lots of kit to lug about the plateau, but hopefully worth it (so we can either push the frontiers of what is possible when you can’t walk, or look like total idiots and realise we were chasing a foolish dream).

So in the shadows of history of the Telemark Heroes, we couldn’t feel less like heroes ourselves, with lots of things to test and figure out before getting one step closer to our ambition of going south, www.poleofpossibility.com

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