under the coconut tree

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Alpine Sunset


Photo Credit: Andreas Spak

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Ice Scream too

When the missus said I get to pick the destination for this year's Christmas trip, I headed straight for Google and found Rjukan. Boasting 140 frozen cascades and a climbing season starting as early as November, I knew I could do no wrong - especially after encountering dangerously brittle ice in a warmer-than-usual Kandersteg last year.

Having worked hard the last couple of months, Irene was keen - no, determined - to take it easy this winter - heck, the lady practically ordered a white Christmas, a warm cosy cabin, a hot mug of chocolate and a good book! She got her wishes granted when I found a climbing partner in Andreas Spak, a local guide.

In a weird-but-wonderful sort of way, nothing beats getting up in the dark (sun rises at 9.30am here), throwing on a pile of warm clothes and hauling a bunch of gear out in the heavy snow hoping for a good day. With ice falls like these, I'd say I have hit jackpot!



We were meant to do a bit of skiing while we were in Norway, but the ice was so good we never made it to the snow slopes.



Like all things mountaineering, getting to the top is only half-way. Abseilling down brings along its own risks - but damn, was it fun!!






A good husband never leaves his woman behind. Good advice - so I dragged Irene out into the valley and tried (and tried) to show her the joys of ice-climbing. She grumbled, but deep deep down she knew she liked it.



During our down time, we took the chance to watch other climbers performing magic.



A climber chillin' and just hanging around.



All in all, Irene got her snow and white Christmas, and me - I certainly got my ice. At the end of the week, I had multiple bruises all over my body and arms so weak I could barely hold my cup of coffee - we headed for home in the glow of alpine light.

[Photo of alpine sunset to be added]

- KL 18012004

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Rjukan

Christmas this year was in Norway - our third trip here after 'whaling' in Tysfjord and 'fjording' in Bergen. I told KL we could go anywhere as long as there is a white Christmas - trust him to find Europe's premiere ice-climbing venue!Posted by Hello

Rjukan is a small town in the shadows of Gaustatoppen, the highest mountain in Southern Norway.


The vibrantly coloured cabins at Rjukan-Hytteby where we stayed over the Christmas and New Year period. Posted by Hello


Quaint as it is, Rjukan is unfortunately located in a valley that receives absolutely no sunshine over the winter months, hence the ideal ice-climbing conditions. We were greeted by a chilly -9 degrees on the first night and it dipped down to a low -15 degrees the following night. Posted by Hello


Cold as it was, KL carried on climbing leaving me to take on the role of bread-winner! What can a girl do but to pick up her mini fishing rod and drill a hole in the frozen Lake Mosvatn to fish for trouts! Ice-fishing is a common past-time amongst the residents here, although I was constant restless at the thought of falling into the freezing lake if the ice were to crack open below me! Posted by Hello


The winter months left us only with 6 hours of day light and the nights were spent with candle lit dinner and scrabble sessions. Posted by Hello


For you history buffs, Rjukan was the scene of one of the most exciting saboteur activities during the Second World War. By raiding the hydro electric plant that supplied heavy water(picture below), the Norwegian saboteurs stopped the Nazi's plans to make an atom bomb. It is now a musuem. Posted by Hello


There's something about the snow that just warms the heart. I reckon we'll be back here again.


Monday, January 03, 2005

Light-hearted London

It's the Christmas season again and the streets of London were adourned with colourful display of lights. Posted by Hello


Kids and adults were having fun with the mini-funfair in the middle of Leicester Square. Alas, KL's attempt at trying to win me a life-sized Tigger failed miserably! Posted by Hello


Lights display along Regent Street. Posted by Hello