Snowbird

Kari Schibevaag’s usual travel plans were curtailed this year by the virus-of-which-we-do-not-speak, so she decided to stay local and make the best out of the situation. Traveling round her home country in her trusty red van, she packed up her sledge and headed into the winter wonderland of the Norwegian mountains and forests.

PHOTOS: THERESE N. ANDERSEN AND TOMMY SIMONSEN


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by Therese N. Andersen 7 - Snowbird2021 started quietly for me thanks to my dog Truls… We had to hide on top of one of the many mountain plateaus in Norway, far away from all the noise of New Year’s Eve fireworks. If you have a dog, you probably know all about the challenge fireworks cause so we decided to just hide… But having said that, it was actually quite nice to hide away for New Year’s Eve! And what a beginning to the New Year we had, with perfect weather: sunny, cold and windy days. What more can you wish for in this crazy world? The beautiful weather had lasted for weeks. Ok, it had been very cold with temperatures down to -20 and -30 degrees Celsius, but what a magic light. I come from Norway and am so grateful to be here during these strange times. We have been able to travel inside our country and I have loved this opportunity, mixing up hitting the waves or finding fresh powder in the mountains. Norway is a perfect country for traveling so going abroad in 2021 has not been on my mind.

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For the last three years I have lived in a Pössl campervan and I love this simple life. Inside this rather small van I have everything I need for a comfy life, and it has made it possible for me to live the life I normally do while being on the road. I can travel to mountains and beaches, explore new spots, and go on new adventures. My life has not changed that much during the pandemic. The biggest change is that my adventures and travels are now taking place only in Norway, with fewer friends, and far away from the big cities. I think about Brazil, South Africa and the other places I usually travel to that have sun, nice conditions, warm and stable wind, good friends, good food and beach life, and of course I miss all this a little bit when it is freezing temperatures outside and there is ice on the van windows when I wake up. But I will use this year to explore Norway even more, and actually when I think about this, it makes me really happy. I will get to know my country better and the more I explore, the happier I feel about coming from Norway! 

The adventures I have been on so far in 2021 have been some of the best. When the pandemic started and I had to stay at home, I couldn’t stop thinking about heading into the mountains, letting the wind take me to remote spots and camping there. So that is what I have done so far this winter and will keep on doing this year. I have even been able to travel to Svalbard, next to the North Pole, and had the most amazing time out in nature, just me, my kite, good friends and ice. The feeling when I head out is something special. Packing the sledge with all my gear, pumping the kite and just camping out there in the wild is freedom to me. The power of nature makes you forget your problems, phone and computer; you live in the moment and focus on the next adventure ahead of you. Friends ask me why I travel so much, and the answer is that this is how I charge my batteries. I love it and every time I get back to my van, which is like a five star hotel for me, I just want to start a new trip exploring with my kite and sledge. 

After a few months up in the mountains I missed the ocean so much. A six-hour drive and I was back at the beach. Of course, it is not Cape town temperatures, but we have both waves and flat water here, and I must admit that my face was one huge smile when I got out with my board and kite. It was so good to feel both the twintip and the wave board under my feet again. I keep reminding myself that I am lucky to be able to do all my favorite sports in my own country, and to have the luxury of choosing which to do…

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Do you fancy it?!

If you’re lucky enough to come from a cold winter wonderland like me or can head to one next winter, here are my top tips for going on an expedition with your kite and tent… It doesn’t have to be a long or hardcore trip; start with a small trip and don’t go too far at first. Check the forecast so you’re not heading out on the coldest day. I always pack my sledge with too much stuff when I head out on a trip, but every time I go I learn more about what is essential or unnecessary. You need almost the same things on a short trip or a long trip. It is obviously essential to wear warm clothes, ideally wool thermals (and pack a spare set), and a windproof outer layer. In my sledge will be a tent, a good down-filled mat (better than your average sleeping mat!), a winter weight sleeping bag, a camping stove to heat water, a hot water bottle to heat up my sleeping bag at bedtime, food that doesn’t freeze, candy, a thermos, night light, head torch, map, and kite equipment of course. If possible go with a friend, or at least tell someone you trust where you are for safety. And enjoy!

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This feature originally appeared in TheKiteMag #42. To read the full issue, subscribe here.

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