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The History of Peer Gynt World Ventures

Peer Gynt World Ventures was formed in 1992 to organize hiking and cross country ski trips from the US to my native Norway. I wanted to show my American friends unique places not typically found in travel books or promoted by tour operators – and we wanted to incorporate it with some of our favorite activities. Our first trip of 25 friends from the North Star Ski Touring Club in Minnesota embarked on a “Hut to Hut” hiking trip in “Jotunheimen”. Not many on that trip had even heard of places like “Besseggen”, “Gjendin” or “Skaut Flya” or even Peer Gynt’s story of riding his rein deer along the edge of Besseggen. That wonderful group of out door enthusiasts from Minnesota still has reunions. Or, on a different trip north of the Arctic Circle, who had ever heard of “Knivskjellodden” and that you could hike there and be further north than the North Cape -- or have a local fishing boat pick us up for a midnight sun trip around the North Cape for bird watching by a rocky island in the Arctic sea.

“Heroes of Telemark”
Meeting interesting and unique people is an added plus to any trip and one of our highlights was having Claus Helberg as our guide on the “Saboteurs route” from the edge of the Hardangervidda Mountain Plateau to Vemork near Rjukan, site of the “Heavy Water” sabotage during WW2; Claus Helberg happened to be one of those saboteurs and his stories were mind boggling. Aside from being a war hero he most of all wanted to be remembered for his life long love and respect of the Norwegian mountains and his involvement in mountain safety and trail developments for the Norwegian Mountain Tourist Association (DNT). At the age of 82 he out-hiked most of us.

“Ski Norway”
We share Claus’s enthusiasm for cross country skiing and think there is nothing like gliding across a Norwegian mountain plateau on a sunny day in March. I wanted to share this experience with my American friends as well. Our annual “Ski Norway” trip brings us to the ski resort area of “Sjusjöen” and a network of more than 250K of ski trails. Our trip coincides with “Birkebeinerrennet” (The Norwegian Birkebeiner Race) giving those interested in the competitive aspect of skiing a chance to test their skills and strength in this renowned “Worldloppet” Race. Extended stay options and a chance to ski “Hut to Hut” in the more remote National Parks of Jotunheimen, Rondane, Hardangervidda and others is possible as is the opportunity to participate in the “Inga Låmi” women’s race the weekend prior to “Birkebeinerrennet”.

“Ski the World”
Many of our Ski Norway participants are long time “Birkie” (American Birkebeiner) skiers and with several of us having made the trek from Cable to Hayward enough times to be a member of the “Birchleggings Club” we wanted to see what cross country skiing was like in other countries. What better way to do so than by getting our "Worldloppet Passports" (www.worldloppet.com/passport_medal.php). We have skied most of the Worldloppet races, some more than once, and keep on going. In addition to lots of great skiing, we have discovered many unique places we otherwise would not have thought about visiting and on the way seen world reknowned historic sites and attended world class cultural performances. Additionally we have met and made friends all over the world.

Not Just Racing
Our “Ski the World” trips are not just about racing. While scheduled around a major “Worldloppet Race” we have, in different years, included visits to interesting cities or places such as St. Petersburg, Prague, Finnish Lapland and Venice. Additionally, most of the events are held near quaint villages with historical buildings, interesting shops and places to stop for lunch or a snack. Unique accommodations and good food is also part of the equitation. And there are always great trails for leisurely ski touring. We encourage non racing spouses and friends to join us.

Travel with your own group of friends.
Like Peer Gynt I am always looking for new ventures around the world. If you are member of a ski or hiking club or just a group of friends wanting to do your own trip, contact me and I will work with your group for a tailor-made trip.

Like Peer Gynt, I will always return to my Norwegian Mountains. I hope you will join me.

- Solveig