Tony and Tom from our Bristol store recently embarked upon a week of training with the Outdoor Academy of Scandinavia (OAS).
They tackled some of Sweden’s most beautiful yet demanding terrain in order to learn about the latest equipment from outdoor manufacturers including Hilleberg, Silva, Haglöfs, and Optimus.
In the final part of our trilogy the lads tackle their finals day’s walking and take in some of the incredible scenery.
We didn’t have to pitch down the tents this morning as we were now using our camping spot as a base. Instead, we woke early and gobbled down the usual breakfast, ready to do a set of Clinics that had been set out for us, to teach us a little more about the equipment. One on the stoves, one on the base layers, one on navigation, one on tents and one on …river crossing? This was designed as a lighthearted competition between the groups and we were to find out the results on the final day at the ‘last supper’.
We had to boil a litre of water as fast as possible using 2 stoves and one pan set. Then we had to act out some sketches to describe 4 features of merino base layers and take a ‘back bearing’ to a peak without a map and a bearing to the same peak with a map, but inside a tent so you couldn’t see it and get them to match. Next we had to answer 10 questions based on navigation around the camping spot that included some micro orienteering to collect some sweets. Next pitch a tent by giving a member of the group one-line commands and finally, do a river crossing in water that was waist deep and close to freezing! This last one was really about how you should manage kit to keep it dry, you don’t wear a lot I’ll tell you that much!
We did fairly well at these, we didn’t think we’d won, but it was good fun. We had lunch then got our daypacks ready again for the 2nd summit attempt. This was about half as far again as it had been going up the one the day before, and a lot steeper over much boggier and rockier ground, now we were talking! It made sense to do this as small groups, to help manage the different speeds people walk at.
It was a tricky walk and the navigation wasn’t simple, due it being boggy at its base and the complex contours of the peak meaning the steep sections were on the side we were approaching from. But having traversed a few times on the snow-covered areas to make it less difficult, we eventually got to the summit with its bigger cairn and far more spectacular view, due to its greater height. After a fair amount chatting and banter about who got to the top first and a lot of picture taking, everyone set of back to the camp.
I walked with Joel from Klattermusen, and we tried to take a more direct line back. It was a bit wilder and more changeable in gradient than the way we had come but more than manageable.
We weren’t quite as quick as we would have liked, due to the fact that we stumbled across a huge patch of Cloudberries that we proceeded to harvest into a vacuum flask! We filled it completely and when we got back to the Altai, commenced in making some very rustic Jam from them using honey that Eva gave us, to add sugar. It turned out to be more like Chutney, so we ate it with hard cheese on rye bread and it was delicious!
After this the last rehydrated meal of the trip, the only one I wasn’t keen on, although others had liked it, had me ready for bed. I fell asleep quickly, tired from the days excursions.
A slow start and a gentle hike back to the lodge, as we couldn’t arrive before 1.30pm. We stopped just before we got back to the lodge and were quizzed, by the Hilleberg Reps Daniel and Rene who had joined us for the return journey, on the brands and equipment we’d been using. After this bombardment it was time to get back and so we arrived at the lodge.
We unpacked all our gear, dried any clothing that needed it, washed off our boots and counted all the tent components ready to hand back. To our amazement everything bar 1 peg and 1 peg bag was there.
I found I’d slightly over estimated how much food I’d need, as I had a main meal and a fair few hot drink sachets left over, not to mention all my dried milk as Tony and I had managed to make his do for the two of us easily. All very good but it could have shaved a little off the extra 5kg I was carrying, a lesson there I think.
Inside we showered and had another buffet lunch, and a pint of ale… that was jaw droppingly pricey but gorgeous! Later on we had another sauna, just because it was on offer really, but it was nice and relaxing all the same, ignoring the plunge pool bit, obviously!
We sat and chatted to everyone, including the Reps, giving them feedback on how we’d found their equipment, good and bad, and about the experiences we’d had through out the week. They seemed very grateful.
Then it was time for the evening meal and closing ceremony. We were given Certificates for participating and told that we had passed the ‘Test’, which turned out to be the quizzing we’d got earlier! A prize was given out for the team that did best in the Clinics competitions, which wasn’t us as expected, but we did come 2nd surprisingly!
We had a few drinks with everyone after this, funnily not only is the country quite similar to Scotland, in terms of Landscape and Midges, but also in there fondness of whisky, much to my enjoyment!
Having found out just how squiffy drink makes you if you’re already tired, we hit the pillow quite early and got ready for the next days travelling!
Back on the coach and heading back to the airport, we stopped at a Klattermusen store to ‘see how things are done over here’. Much the same as back home, but pricier, making you feel quite happy to be British! Then on to the Woolpower outlet store where we also got to see how their garments were made, very interesting and not a knitting granny in sight! It’s amazing to see just how many large machines are needed to make one garment and just how industrial a process it is.
At the Airport we said good-bye to the people we’d met as everyone except Tony, myself and one other guy were on a different flight! We waited for another 8 hours and it took us a full 14 hrs to eventually get back to Bristol, but it had all been well worth it!