Barry Howard: Norway

Norway is my second home. It's an unusual country with some unusual geography. Its most north-easterly point is further east than Cairo in Egypt; it has a coastline of 83,000 kms, with a population of just 4.9 million in a country one third as large again as the UK. (Our population is 70 million). Some road gradients require you to climb 900m in just  1700 metres distance, on switch-back 'serpentine' roads. There are more than 100 ferries within Norway - excluding international departures and arrivals. 90% of mountain road passes are closed between early November and April.

From 1973 onwards for eight years I worked seasonally as a Survival Instructor for the Ministry of Defence on cold weather survival training near Bardufoss and Andselv in northern Norway. This was harsh, brutal at times, always deeply rewarding, and humbling that the MOD should employ and trust a 20-year-old Civilian Instructor to impart his skills in Arctic conditions. For £5 a day.

1979 saw me starting to walk south from Nordkapp in Norway - towards Tromso via Finnmark spending over a month solo exploring the high 'vidda' that is the most northerly mountain plateau in Europe, until injury forced evacuation to Tromso Hospital

Annually I led schools and adult groups to central and south west Norway undertaking mountain and survival programmes.

In 2002 I drove 10,000 kms solo throughout Norway, Sweden, and Finland. [This brings my total journeying distance in Scandinavia to over 70,000kms: driving, sailing, sledging, walking, sno-cat, skidoo, bus, flying, rail, and ferry]. See:

I continue to regularly lead school groups and interested adults on mountain courses (Spring, Summer, and Winter), survival courses, and for younger school pupils multi-activity courses in south western Norway: deep-fjord fishing, rock-climbing, mountain walking, gorge exploring, survival training, archery, and canoeing. In 2003 I led a winter mountaincraft skills course for novice teenagers, in Telemark - an outstanding course by courageous guys and girls who lived in a mountain hut for a week, cooking for themselves and experiencing five metres of snowfall in two days - 10kms from the nearest road - and only accessible by sno-cat and skidoo. For them it was the journey of a lifetime.

Recently I ran a high-status survival course for 'National Geographic' photographers, on the western edge of the Hardangervidda National Park in south west Norway. The course started well but, challenged by the weather, the clients retreated (silently before 5am one morning) earlier than expected only to be found holed-up in a luxury hotel in the next village. Americans and Germans do love their creature comforts.

The photos for almost all of the galleries will be from film and not digital.

Tusenvis av slitne, stressede og siviliserte mennesker begynner å forstå at å gå i fjellet er å komme hjem, at villmarken er nødvendig. **


**Thousands of tired, stressed, civilised people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home, that wilderness is a necessity.

Svalbard Wildlife Service / Algot K. Peterson 

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