Local Ski Touring

Clare’s 'Cadet Norski' Adventure

Read about the incredible experience of a cadet who was supported by a CCFA small grant during her adventure training course. 

In February 2017 Cadet Sergeant Clare, King Edward VI Grammar School CCF(RAF), traveled to Rjukan, Norway, to take part in the Cadet Centre for Adventure Training (CCAT) Nordic skiing training course. In her own words, Clare recalls her experience.

Cadet Norski is the most amazing and enjoyable adventure training course I have completed through cadets, during which I learned and developed Nordic skiing skills in preparation for completing a challenging overnight expedition at the end of the course. 

When we arrived at our accommodation late Saturday evening, I was excited to discover we would be staying in traditional Norwegian timber huts. However, this discovery was topped the next morning when we woke to see the sunrise over Gaustatoppen; known as the most beautiful mountain in Norway. We were fortunate enough to have clear blue skies for the length of our course (though there was no shortage of snow!) so this breath-taking landscape was the backdrop for much of our skiing experience.

Our first day skiing consisted of becoming acquainted with our Nordic skis, learning how to ski uphill using a herringbone technique, and developing the technique of ‘running’ in the ski tracks across the flat areas. Though the ten of us on the course all had different levels of alpine skiing technique, this didn’t give anyone an advantage over others as Nordic skis have a very different feel and sensitivity so everyone had to build up their skills from the foundations. This meant our group progressed at a similar rate and everyone supported each other, so that by the time we set off for our overnight expedition on the Hardangervidda plataeu we had great team spirit and morale.

Though I originally expected this course to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I have been so inspired by the scenery, instructors, and skiing that I now suspect Nordic skiing is an activity I will taking every opportunity to pursue in the future.

Over the course of the week we became more and more confident on our skis, honing our control using the snowplough technique by attempting ever steeper ascents and descents. One of the aspects I loved about cross-country skiing was the way it unlocked the journeying element of skiing: we ventured uphill, downhill, off-piste, through woodland, made fresh trails across glistening frozen lakes, stargazed while night-skiing, and ultimately traversed a plateau. 

We also spent an afternoon at the Vemork industrial museum learning about the Allies' attempts to sabotage Rjukan’s heavy water plant during WWII, which was aiding German experiments to build an atomic bomb. It was especially fascinating to read about Operation Gunnerside, in which twelve Norwegian commandos used explosives to destroy part of the heavy water production facility, having crossed a 200m deep ravine, before successfully escaping. Five of these saboteurs skied across the Hardangervidda plateau on a 250 mile journey to Sweden, so we were privileged to be able to follow in their footsteps and imagine their experience. 

Though I originally expected this course to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I have been so inspired by the scenery, instructors, and skiing that I now suspect Nordic skiing is an activity I will taking every opportunity to pursue in the future. I am extremely grateful to all the organisations which enabled me to attend this course and get so much out of it, with particular thanks going to the CCFA for my grant contribution and CCAT.