Start with an otherworldly, dramatic landscape befitting giants, then add in a sophisticated culture dating to ancient times, a plethora of possible adventures, and days that stretch to 19+ hours of bright daylight. This is Norway.
The Walton Works and a crew of talented writers recently set out to explore parts of the country, with expectations that it would be beautiful and the coming adventures would be fun. Those expectations were not nearly big enough to adequately prepare the team for what they would find once they touched down.
Norway’s fjords, several of which have been named UNESCO World Heritage Sites, offer breathtaking views that will turn even a seasoned traveler’s perspective of the world upside-down. The reality is beyond imagination; steep sides that often don’t offer shoreline, precariously perched farms, glaciers and steep cliff faces that stretch 1,300meters from the water’s edge, flowering trees bursting with color….
The fjords also present the intrepid adventurer with endless opportunities for paddling, hiking, fishing, skiing, and adventure. For this group, that meant paddling in Nærøyfjord, part of the country’s longest, narrowest fjord, Sognefjord or “King of Fjords.” Nærøyfjord boasts dramatic waterfalls, snow-topped peaks and gorgeous farmland along its lush, steep sides. “Imagine paddling a sea kayak on calm waters under cliffs and steep hillsides the size of El Capitan for 20 miles — that’s what kayaking the Nærøyfjord, the narrowest fjord in the world, is like. Calling the landscape here “dramatic” is an understatement,” noted Brendan Leonard of Semi-Rad.
Beyond what the fjords offer… all manner of outdoor adventure awaits. The crew set out to push the limits of their acrophobia on the via Ferrata of Tyssedal which traces the early 1900’s construction of the Tysso 1 hydropower power. “The Tysso via ferrata is a history lesson with adrenaline. Following in the footsteps of the rallar who built the 400-meter pipeline literally on the side of a mountain, demands respect — and comparatively, the jaw-dropping exposure is certainly much more enjoyable these days with a via ferrata kit and new hardware,” commented Brendan as he recounted stories from the trip.
Paddling with goats, hikes through fjordland farms and Aurland Valley – the Grand Canyon of Norway, solstice spent sipping aquavit in the cultural center of Bergen, the via ferrata… so much was packed into nine days of travel, but so much was left still to be seen. We are already plotting our next visit to this incredible country.
Discover to a whole new world of adventure. Deuter, Fjord Norway and Visit Norway invite you to explore Norway’s gorgeous natural playgrounds and its rich history by entering to win a trip for two to the country. The winner will receive a 4-night, 5-day trip filled with exploration and activities to satiate both their inner Indiana Jones history buff and their Dean Potter adrenaline seeker. Spend time in Bergen with its historic, golden Bryggen quarter, travel to Voss – rightfully dubbed the “adrenaline town” and visit some of the incredible fjords by boat. Entries will be accepted until January 2, 2013.
Like all contests do, this one has its own set of rules and requirements. By entering the contest, you will be agreeing to play by the rules. Read them here!
–Teresa Bruffey (The Walton Works)
Essentials for Norway; your passport and a do-all pack!
When facing 40 days of Himalayan mountaineering, every ounce truly counts, and comfort is paramount.
As such, NOLS Training Manager and instructor Evan Horn was particularly excited about the Deuter Aircontact (recently updated!) as he embarked on a Himalayan Mountaineering Traverse course. He was pleased to find program pack he borrowed from NOLS would meet his needs on a self-contained mountaineering expedition while allowing him to cut weight.
“I was excited because it was a light pack with heavy stays,” he said. “I could put a lot into it and it still wasn’t going to weigh a lot and still transfer the load to my hips.”
The fit of his particular pack can also be attributed to the Deuter SL (slim line or short length). Designed for the average athletic female, this line is also great for slim men like Horn and youth.
Aside from fit, the Aircontact SL met Horn’s need for light and simple. He had set out to travel as light as possible for a high-mountain mountaineering adventure, including such steps as packing a quilt rather than a sleeping bag (tougher than this writer!).
Though the backpack and quilt held out, the group found itself a little too “lightweight” at a crucial point in the expedition. After making their way into the high mountains of the Himalaya, about 20 days of glaciated camping, and expedition-style climbing and ferrying loads over two large passes, the group found itself facing the height of the expedition. After traversing Dhana Dura, or Shepherd’s Pass, all that would remain was a gentle, short hike out.
However, camped on a glacier at 17,500, where fuel is essential to hydration, the course found itself surprising low during a fuel inventory. Whether it was a leak, an unattended stove, or something else, Horn didn’t know, but they all knew it was imperative to get to more habitable terrain before what remained was gone and they could no longer melt snow for water. Because they were on their final established camp before attempting the pass, they were faced with the choice: up and over, or retreat. The course and instructor team decided to base its decision on the next morning’s weather.
They woke to a white out.
But Horn suggested postponing the retreat. He proposed giving it a shot for 45 minutes. If the weather didn’t let up, turning would seem easier—more justified. If it did, well, then they’d be glad they gave it a shot.
Forty-five minutes later, the cloud ceiling sunk below the mountaineers, “and we had a calm, sunny descent,” Horn smiled.
The students and instructors quickly left snow for dry terrain (with fresh water and access to fuel), from isolation to rural India’s culture of generosity as they made their way through welcoming villages below Dhana Dura. The stark differences between the two settings stood out to Horn.
“It was interesting to navigate the cultural wilderness and the true wilderness in the high mountains very far away from any outside help,” he noted. Good thing he could pack all the help he needed into his pack.
Though it’s easy to think you can handle swinging that 70-pound pack up onto your shoulders in a “sack of potatoes” motion, it’s also easy to strain your back doing this. It’s best to take some precautions so you don’t end up flat on your back, missing an entire day of fishing, in the backcountry.
There are a number of safe approaches to loading your backpack. Regardless of which you choose, keep in mind the fundamentals of lifting: knees bent, back straight, and a willingness to ask for help.
The first technique can be done on your own:
• Stand behind the backpack holding the straps. Place one leg close to the pack with knee bent.
• Slide the pack up your leg to rest on your thigh.
• Twist your torso (carefully) so you can slip the same arm as the leg on which the pack rests into the appropriate shoulder strap.
• Stand up and let the pack slide around your back so you can place the other arm through the strap.
The second approach requires assistance. Ask a hiking buddy to pick up the pack from the front so you can slide it on, just as a gentleman would hold a lady’s jacket for her.
Finally, if you can locate a stump, log, or rock to set your pack on, it’s ready to be put on without much—or any—lifting. This approach seems to work best during breaks.
A little caution goes a long way on an expedition.
Special thanks go out to my models Jared Stienman and Kate Herden, NOLS marketing representatives, and photographer Kyle Duba, NOLS video producer and faculty member.
Need help, we have answers?
- Check out more Tips and Tricks at Deuter.com
In this video, I talk a bit about the new Aircontact Series, specifically the Aircontact 75+10 and it’s feature set. There are 5 packs in this series, including 2 SL models. These packs are organizational machines that’ll carry the long haul gear, expedition load and then some. In our partnership with NOLS, these are the packs that they use for their courses and recommend to their students and instructors.
On a personal note, I got the chance to do a mini-NOLS course in the Wind River Range with this pack and some great friends. While I was using it, I was continually impressed with the organization of the side pockets, map pocket and the side elastic pockets. While some folks use these for water and fuel bottles, I packed the electrified bear fence in mine…you gotta do what you gotta do. I only had about 45 lbs to haul, and the pack carried better than I ever expected. Really, the versatility and organization were key for a big trip, organizing group gear, personal gear and being able to reduce the “junk show” look of stuff hanging off your pack.
With the floating lid, you can really push the limits of the pack on size with the bulk of winter gear, expedition equipment, food for big resupplies and more. The back system is vented plenty – reduces perspiration 15% really – and the Vari Flex Hipbelt system really helps the load move with your body down the trail. Even the 55+10 can handle whatever you throw at it.
The SL fits women and some men the best due to the shape of the hipbelt, torso size and body type…think some elite athletes, Boy Scouts and younger adults as some examples of men that love the SL fit.
Overall, this pack is the standard when it comes to comfort, organization, fit and load haulers without compromise.
- Learn more about the new Aircontact packs.
- Pick up your own AirContact pack and learn how to get a FREE Wash Bag I toiletry bag with purchase.
Students of great variety enroll in National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) courses, and we have found a few key elements of Deuter Program packs, made with the Aircontact back system are invaluable in providing comfortable backpacking experiences to each of them.
First, the adjustable height of the shoulder straps allows NOLS to rent the same pack, course after course, season after season, to very different students. The VariQuick straps can be moved at small increments along the back of the pack to fit individuals of quite different heights.
Secondly, students on Adventure Courses (14-15 years old) and women are typically better fit by Deuter’s SL (slim line) packs, which we use at locations all around the world.
So, once you have selected the appropriate pack for your body composition and packed it full of all the necessary gear for your expedition you’re ready to load up and start walking, how do you ensure the pack is adjusted so you won’t end up in pain?
Start with the hips and work your way up. Make sure the hip belt sits one inch above the hip shelf. It is imperative that the majority of the pack’s weight is on your hips, not your shoulders or pulling on your back.
After cinching the hip belt down, move up to the shoulder straps. Tighten them to comfort, and then ensure the top of the straps sit on top of your shoulders. If there is a gap, the space between the shoulder pads and the hip strap is too long. If the shoulder straps reach the pack more than two inches below the tops of your shoulders, the space is too short. Use the adjustable shoulder locations on Deuter’s Program Packs for this very accommodation.
Once you have ensured the shoulder straps are set to the right height, clip the sternum strap. This serves to prevent the shoulder straps from slipping while you hike.
Finally, check that the top of the pack is cinched tightly in, not pulling back from your head, which will strain your back. This can be achieved by adjusting the load lifter straps above the shoulder straps.
Keep an eye out for some tips on safely lifting that heavy, nicely adjusted load onto your back soon.
The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) is the leader in wilderness education, conducting wilderness expedition courses to train students ages 14 and up in wilderness skills and leadership around the world. The ultimate goal is that students graduate from their courses capable of leading backcountry expeditions safely and responsibly; students also apply the lessons learned on a NOLS course throughout their lives in innumerable ways.
Essential to providing a quality wilderness education to thousands of students each year is a resilient backpack. Deuter has specifically designed the Program Pack for NOLS over this long-term patnership; many a NOLS graduate can reflect on the hours spent with his or her rented expedition pack. These Program Packs use a version of the Aircontact back system called the ACT Lite.
NOLS issues a wide variety of custom-designed and commercially available Deuter packs to students and instructors.
NOLS’ Deuter packs are toted to the most rugged, challenging, awe-inspiring terrain in the world. Branches in the Yukon to Patagonia, from India to the Baja California Peninsula use Deuter packs in backpacking, hiking, mountaineering, and climbing courses. In the Teton Valley, they are issued to 14-15 age groups in the summer and skiing and snowboarding students in the winter. NOLS Mexico estimates 95 percent of all the packs it rents to students are Deuter. These backpacks are intrinsic to not only backpacking courses, but also for canoeing sections in the Yukon. Climbing courses love the Deuter Spectro AC 38 as a crag pack. (Read Marco Johnson, an Instructor for NOLS, review of the Spectro AC 38.)
This relationship between Deuter and NOLS also goes in the direction of NOLS instructors and students testing Deuter packs in the field and subsequently endorsing them. Anyone can purchase the Spectro AC 38 with the NOLS logo. Most recently, NOLS tested, endorsed, and is transitioning into using the Aircontact suspension system, which is included in several lines of 2012 Deuter packs. Soon, all Deuter program packs designed specifically for NOLS students and instructors will feature this setup. It’s not surprising to hear one of the first things recent NOLS grads, myself among them, do upon embarking on the rest of their lives is invest in a pack like that they used on their courses.
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