Blogs & Testimonials
Here are some very similar stories of successful expeditions, designed and orchestrated in a joint plan between GoAdventure1 and their customers.
EXERCISE NORTHERN PURPLE ENDEAVOUR-With GoAdventure1
The 7thBattalion the Scottish Regiment (7 SCOTS) embarked on a ten-day skiing expedition in March. It retraced the route Norwegian Saboteurs of WW11 took during Operation Gunnerside in February 1943, a daring operation by a small team in their mid twentys, who sabotaged an important Nazi heavy water plant – which was vital to the German atomic weapon program.
Whilst the planning and preparation had been going on for a year prior, our team’s first time training and getting to know one another was at a pre-expedition weekend in Aviemore in early February. Over the weekend the team familiarized themselves with their new kit and learnt about dealing with emergencies and casualties in snowy environments. The team stayed in the Norwegian Lodge adventure training facility in the Cairngorm mountains; named because it was built by Norwegian escapees during the Second World War. It was one of the facilities used by the British Special Operations Executive to help train the Norwegians to conduct covert operations against the Nazi occupation. It felt very appropriate that the beginning of the team’s expedition would be the same place where the saboteurs began theirs.
After we arrived in Norway in early March, we spent four days training how to Nordic ski in preparation for their expedition. This included spending the day out in the nearby forests and alpine skiing centre; then coming home in the evening for lectures on winter mountain safety and weather hazards. In Norway, after spending 4 days training, we set off on the first day of the expedition, we set out early and spent the day travelling 24km through forest and across an iced over lake. At the end of the day the team stayed in a mountain cabin called Fjearefit, the Norwegian equivalent of a Scottish bothy, that had been used as an initial base of operations by the saboteurs a few months prior to the attack on the heavy water plant. After a surprisingly warm night’s sleep the team set off again to travel another 15km back along the iced over lake, visiting Berunuten, which was another shelter that the Saboteurs used en route to Vemork, before stopping to create their nights shelter. Snow conditions meant the team built a Quinzhees, a large hollow cone of compacted snow which kept the team safe from the minus twenty degrees Celsius weather outside, the skies were clear and quiet. The third day of the expedition was a further 8.6km ski back to the start point, where we took happy photos of our team, a little weather beaten but happy. We then set off for our lodge, the Bykle Hotel where we had been staying in previously, to pack up and prepare for the final days ski. The final day had the team receiving a talk from Torje Nikolaison of the Rjukan Fjellstue, who had known most of the saboteurs; he gave a very personal and moving account of their characters as well as some more of the history of the operation. Following the briefing, we were rousingly ‘piped out’ and the team then followed the “Saboteurs Route” up over a hill through the forest and down a re-entrant to a vantage point from where we could see the heavy water plant where we received a tour of the inside of the – tis now a museum. Afterwards it was a drive back to Oslo, and some well-deserved rest prior to our flight back the next day.
The team learnt a great deal about the challenging nature of working in such an austere environment and the difficulties extreme temperatures can have on even the most basic tasks. The expedition also developed leadership qualities; as the small team and adventure training environment meant everyone had a chance to step up to the plate and navigate, pull the sledge or keep up the team spirit.
“This expedition taught me that leadership is not a fixed, it is contextual and situational. Being in very harsh conditions, with a small team conducting arduous training requires a different type of leadership. One more relaxed, but one that requires a lot more from each team member, ranging from input to drive to determination.” – Lt Angus Caddick
I would like to acknowledge and thank Jerry Dolan of GoAdventure1.com, for his assistance from the outset in support of the expedition. His contribution and experience were crucial in allowing us to plan and deliver this overseas expedition, which is key to developing our reservists in many ways, whilst improving the Reserve offer.
“It is necessary to introduce youth to danger and adventure to provide a learning environment that would provide the moral equivalent of war.”
Kurt Hahn, 1941
Steve Perry of Bournemouth & Poole College Hardangervidda & Heroes of Telemark Extended Tour 29 March-7 April 2019
Feedback from me is all positive mate, you looked after us extremely well and left me nothing to worry about. It was a well planned trip and extremely supportive infrastructure which made the whole experience enjoyable and hassle free for us. Hopefully we will get the funding again next year and would definitely do it again if we do .
Will Close Ash multi activity week in Hovden. Already scheduled for April 2020
Will was approached by a group of friends interested in a multi activity week, each of which had a very different view as to what they wanted out of their week in the snow, so, through an associate I found Jerry, who owns GoAdventure1 and, Jerry then put together a program that involved avalanche training, cross country skiing, dog sledding and ice climbing, all of which ticked all the adventure boxes for us. So Jerry organized the itinerary and did all of the practical teaching in each activity, conducted the lectures on mountain safety, avalanche awareness, emergency shelter construction and weather, then led us on the ski tour into the mountains. Anyway…
The week started with an introduction into the cross country skis and with such a varied range of experience within the group started off with the basics such as basic walking with poles, learning to glide in the tracks, a few uphill and down hill techniques, so funny and much different to downhill skiing. The two days training over with, we went on to do a two day tour to an area where we could dig into a snow bank and make our cavernous accommodation for the night. Yes, it was hard work but it kept us warm and by the time we finished the snow cave we were certainly ready for our dinner and hot drinks. What a beautiful star lit night we were treated to as we sat wrapped in our warm jackets and had a nightcap before we retired to our cosy sleeping bags, patiently waiting for us inside our cosy snow cave. The expedition resumed the next day as we awake to the sound of the stoves burning away like a steam train, warming up our ready cooked breakfasts and hot chocolate drink, both needed to ensure our readiness for the next leg of our journey back to Hovden and our nice clean sheets! The good part about sleeping in snow cave as opposed to a tent is that we didn’t have to pack up the cave and carry hit with us, we merely left the cave entrance blocked up in case we needed it go back in an emergency and carried on to Hovden. On the way down we skied off piste and in tracks, practicing our newly learned techniques courtesy of Jerry; of course, we were never out of his sight and as promised, he didn’t stop coaching us to ensure that we got the techniques right. The route down was pretty straight forward, mainly in tracks and was undulating with a fantastic downhill run, which enabled us to view the wonderful views across the horizon. Pretty soon we were near or destination and for those more adept at learning new skiing techniques, even had time to have a go at telemark turns; not for the faint hearted, but they don’t half look good!
Only two of us had ice climbed before but it was no problem as we all had a lot of instruction from Jerry on how to wear the crampons (those are the pointy things that fix to the bottom of the boots for climbing), use an ice axe and also how to tie onto the rope for the actual climbing. The weather was perfect, but a little cloudy, which made for a slightly warmer day than we’d expected. After a spell of practising walking like a bow legged cowboy (so the crampons didn’t get caught on one’s trousers) and learning how to wield an ice axe into the ice, we set off on our first pure waterfall ice climb. As you can see from the photograph opposite it wasn’t quite vertical but the ice was certainly challenging, but once you got the hang of the crampons and axes, relying on the rope for safety, we all ventured further and steeper as the day went on. On the last day of the holiday, we all elected to go climbing again, this time we climbed on sheer vertical ice, unbelievable! It was even easier than the easy angled stuff! The ice was a blue/green in colour and had little holes and pockets in it so we could hook the axe into, which meant that we didn’t have to waste energy driving the axe in, which made for an easy and quick ascent up the 20 meter waterfall. Jerry also taught us how to place the ice screws into the ice so that we could have a go at leading a climb, but with an added safety rope for protection against a fall. To get this far and without even rock climbed was just unbelievable and everyone progressed so well.
We also spent a day dog sledding, which was totally fantastic being in charge of one’s own dog team after only a short course of instruction from Svein Magne and Jerry. Just a 30 minute drive from Hovden, through wonderful nordic scenery, we arrived at our venue near Edland and met Svein Magne and his team of 45 eager Alaskan Huskies, all fed and raring to go! After a short spell of instruction, we set off on our tour of the high valley, each pair given their own sled and 6-8 dogs, our very own dog sled team! So after about an hour or so following a route of undulating terrain across lakes and through woodland, we arrived at our lunch stop, we parked the teams of dogs then went into a huge teepee, where there was huge pot of stew and jug of hot chocolate. Soon after filling our tummies we were on our way back to our finish point through woods and over lakes and a light flurry of snow, just like Narnia! The dogs knew they were heading off for more food so they didn’t hold back, however, Svein Magne led the way and at a slower pace than the dogs would have liked. At the end of the trip, we assisted with unharnessing the huskies and leading them to their personal kennels, gave them their well earned food, well earned cuddles and headed off back to Hovden where our wonderful local cuisine awaited us.
What can we say?… it was truly amazing, typical Norwegian Easter time fayre of a wide range of: breakfast smorgasbord including boiled, fried or scrambled egg, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, a fresh fruit bowl, salads and cut meats and fish, particularly good was the smoke salmon! Lunch was a packed lunch, which we made ourselves from the breakfast menu. Dinner was generally a mixture of cooked and cured varieties of, reindeer, elk and Roe Deer fillets, a variety of locally sourced fish and fowl, shell fish, fresh vegetables and salads; artistically presented by the amazing chef Trond. We didn’t have to sue long for our share of the ‘treasure’ as there was more than enough of everything for everyone and what a rare thing it was to see an open fire in the buffet room right next to the waffle making stand, try the goats cheese, local jam and fresh cream on waffles, it’s utterly delicious!!
Our accommodation of wooden cabins was cosy, comfortable and deafeningly quiet! Not far from the main building, which housed the restaurant, lecture room that doubled up as our private dining room for our last supper, TV room and reading mezzanine. All of the buildings were made of old pine under a grass roof, some of which had small conifers growing out of them and all were well insulated against sound and cold, but of course, the cold out there was a dry cold, unlike the moist air we get in UK.
What a truly amazing week provided by Jerry and the team from Fjellstoge: Ann-Torill and Roy (owners), Trond the Chef and his team and also the catering staff. We enjoyed it so much, that we’ve booked again for next February and March when we’ll be venturing on a longer ski tour staying in cabins along the way, also to do some progression in dog sledding and ice climbing!
Will and crew.
Canford School CCF 15-22 February 2019 ski touring in Hovden in Norway by Lieutenant Colonel Dan Culley (Contingent Commander). Already booked for 14-21 February 2020!
It was a real pleasure to see you again and thank you so much for all of your time, energy and effort towards making the trip such a success for Canford. It all worked so well and I am very grateful for your expertise and skill in pulling it all together. Below is our post expedition report.
Thirty three year ten cadets from the Canford School CCF consumed with excitement and anticipation, together with three teaching staff and seven instructors converged on Hovden at the southern end of the Norwegian mountains on a cold clear and starry evening in February to be met by Jerry Dolan, the chief instructor from GoAdventure1 on the eve of Canford’s annual pilgrimage to experience the challenges and delights of cross-country skiing and arctic survival.
The aim was to the cadets to Nordic Skiing whilst teaching them basic elements of survival in the arctic and thereafter conducting a three day expedition sleeping out in a snowhole for one of the nights. The trip was designed to challenge the cadets, taking them beyond any previous limit of comfort, confidence or familiarity, thereby developing key life skills.
Tentative steps early next morning in the ski tracks quickly gave way to more ambitious relay races, touch rugby and tag games as the cadets grew in confidence over two days under the crystal skies and over the powdery glistening snow. Small clutches of figures in red Goretex tops could be seen tumbling about the vast expanses of stunted birch growing ever more confident and adventurous. On the third day the basic elements of snow survival were added into the skill set with snow caves, snow mounds and snow holes as well as Quincy shelters, bothies, snow profiles, transceivers, probes all becoming part of the cadets’ vocabulary. The third day closed somewhat nervously as bergens were packed and pulks loaded on the eve of the big back-country expedition which would see the cadets covering nearly 45 km in all.
The cadets set off early next morning with some stunning pink clouds drifting in from the West, but heading more sedately now, heavily laden, for their snow holes. After much digging and scraping the first day closed with tired bodies crawling into their sleeping bags in a mixture of huts, Quincies or snow mounds and snow caves to enjoy a welcome compo meal and some hot chocolate. Sleep overcame all quickly after an exhausting day where the cadets surprised themselves and surpassed expectations. By late evening however two of the snow caves through lack of any real depth of snow (Norway has along with the rest of Europe suffered from a lack of snow this season) had begun to sag and the occupants beat a hasty retreat to the huts nearby. The Quincy mounds however were a triumph and the girls on the expedition led the way and were the first to spend a night under ice.
The second day dawned warm and misty as the cadets rose themselves and once again heaved their rucksacks onto their shoulders and stepped steadily off towards their second night’s camp. Warm slippery snow challenged the wax on the skis and made for hard work as the fourteen year old boys and girls pushed on through the mist moving slowly from one birch whip to the next with the lack of any visibility challenging any measure of progress and with it the cadets’ morale. Gradually each group reached their destination to start building more Quincy shelters or occupying ones from the night before; but not before one plucky lad found himself rolling over the edge of a bank to twist his knee and scupper any further skiing on his part. A pulk rescue quickly swung into action and saw him enjoying a comfortable night in a hut and another trip in a pulk the next day to a roadhead with all the other cadets tired but elated as the sun returned to usher the exhausted cadets out through a gently undulating forested area dappled in sunlight that can only be described as Narnia.
The trip started as an exciting yet novel experience but quickly developed into a real challenge for these young men and women, many who described it as by far the hardest thing they had done: a fair claim certainly by one pupil as he rose, laden with a large rucksack, from his hundredth fall of the day. Such is the value however of such a formative trip and much thanks must go to the Ulysses Trust for their generous support. It will undoubtedly generate much thought, greater awareness of the fruits of any real endeavour and the value of challenging the unknown.
Calday Grange CCF 18-25 February 2017 dog sledding, Nordic ski touring, ice clambing in Hovden in Norway by Lieutenant Patrick Sebastion (Troop Commander)
5 years ago, ‘someone’ suggested it would be a fantastic idea to take Calday Grange CCF Cadets to Norway, with GoAdventure1, for a ‘bit of Adventure Training’, 2 years later it happened, and who could have predicted how successful it would have been? Certainly the constant questions from cadets about whether there’d be another trip meant it was only going to be a matter of time. So… yes… in February 2017, we set off on Exercise Norwegian Troll 2.
A late start this time, travelling overnight by coach to Stansted Airport to take advantage of direct (and cheap) flights to Oslo, ensured our transport connections were smoothly undertaken with little fuss or stress (for the cadets at least). Once in Norway the slight matter of another six hours coach travel was also soon forgotten when we reached our destination, Hovden Fjellstoge in Setesdal, warmly welcomed by the hostel staff and our in-country lead instructor Jerry Dolan.
Day One kicked off with the first of many truly continental breakfasts with everyone settling quickly into the meals routine that would serve us well for the rest of our time in Norway.
Using equipment loaned by the military stores at Bicester, our first day on the snow found a level playing field (in more ways than one) whereby skiers and non-skiers alike all got to grips with the nuances of Nordic skiing. If I said no-one fell over I’d probably be struck down by thunderbolts courtesy of Thor, the Nordic God of Thunder, so best just to say we all took a little time out to ‘test the comfort’ of the snow.
After venturing further afield over the following days, interspersed with lectures and practical demonstrations of survival techniques and avalanche awareness / survivor location, cadets were soon well prepared for the highlight of our adventure – venturing 1500m above sea level, working with our trained instructors using off-piste markers to spend the night in self-built snow shelters or ‘quinzees’. This all went extremely well, and yet again a great night’s sleep for (most of) the team. Nobody seemed to mind that they had to be dug out the next morning!
The overnight wind and drifting snow proved to be a taster of what was to come on expedition day two… and it was such a shame that, considering the planning that had gone into the expedition, nobody had decided to tell the weather. As we travelled down the mountain, into the valley and joined the main marked cross-country tracks – shouldn’t the weather be getting better? Obviously not…
All our three sub-teams, each accompanied by instructors and staff, experienced differing challenges. Suffice to say this was definitely an expedition to remember. Wind strong enough to knock one of your feet, visibility down to 5 metres – a true challenge – and everyone loved it (once back at base, with a bowl of hot soup of course). Equipment and mental attitudes tested? Box ticked.
In addition to individual skills and memories that would stay with us for a lifetime, there was also fun to be had (dog sledding) with more physical activities – ice climbing up one of the frozen waterfalls that abound in this area of central southern Norway.
Reaching our final day intact our timetable included a museum trip to Vemork hydro-electric plant at Rjukan – location of one of the most important acts of sabotage during the Second World War, where Norwegian saboteurs prevented the Nazis from developing atomic weapons from the heavy water produced there. It was incredible to note how different the outcome of WW2 might have been had Hitler’s project to lay waste to London using an atomic bomb been successful. Our visit involved skiing and trekking part of the route taken by the saboteurs across a valley ridge and down the gorge. Definitely not your usual museum trip by any means rounding the week off with plenty to think and talk about.
As with our previous trip to Norway, this year’s adventure training was without doubt strenuous and a certain level of physical fitness was required. But that said, a positive mental attitude and the camaraderie that developed during our week in Norway meant that cadets worked as one to ensure that everyone faced their personal challenges head on, completing the week with a strong sense of achievement and a massive smile on their face.
Special thanks must go to the Ulysses Trust for their financial assistance in support of the expedition, our Armed Forces partners for equipment loan, everyone working behind the scenes to progress our JSATFA and Med Plans, and in particular GoAdventure1 for their slick organization of the trip and for their instructors involved in all elements of our training.
Will we do it again? Yes we will…Already booked for 2020!
Lt Patrick Sebastian, Calday Grange CCF (Ex AGC)