Earlier this year I was lucky enough to attend the 2019 Heroes of Telemark course in Norway.
I wanted to take part in this course to start to learn about the cold environment, cross country skiing and to learn more about the amazing story of the men of Grouse team and what they went through in 1943.
This trip delivered on all of these things and much more. The chance to visit and travel through some of the places such as the Hardangervidda plateau, Telemark region and the factory at Vemork, is hard work, challenging and humbling.
The first three days of the trip were spent learning how to cross country ski. The instructors were fantastic and catered for all abilities. It was also a good opportunity to become familiar with the kit we would be using on the upcoming trip across the Hardangervidda.
On the fourth day we travelled by snowmobiles up to a frozen lake, the same lake that the Grouse team had parachuted on to. The journey was long and bitterly cold, as the wind and snow had just picked up. However, it did show us just how harsh the weather could be on the Hardangervidda. We stayed here, on the edge of the lake, for a night in a wooden hut, which was surprisingly warm and comfortable.
By the next day the weather had cleared and we made the journey across the lake on our skis, arriving at our destination late afternoon. Again, our accommodation was in the form of a wooden hut, which the Grouse team had slept in. A few of the group, myself included, decided to sleep in a snow hole. It took us three hours to build but was worth it for the experience!
The following day was harder work as we headed out across the plateau on our skis and arrived where we had started the journey, 8 hours later.
The next morning we had a challenging day skiing back over the plateau. We then had some time to prepare to ski the attack route the saboteurs took through a small gully overlooking the factory. Here we got our first look at the men’s target at Vemork. It was a special moment for me to stand at that point overlooking the valley, with all my companions and to think of the hard work it took to get there and just remember what the Grouse team had been through all those years ago.
The trip was made all the more special by Matt, whose expert help guided us through the trip, and Brian, whose knowledge of the history of this story is unparalleled and brings a real closeness and understanding of how humble and brave the men were. All of the guides and local people who contributed to the trip and the fellow group members helped to leave us with many lasting and priceless memories.
I would recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about this amazing story and has read the books, to take the time to challenge themselves and show respect to the men of Grouse team, by booking on the next expedition to relive the story of the Heroes of Telemark.
– Tom Seward