Adventures of a mother of 7 – Johanna Gustafsson

Because it's there!

When 8 years old I learned about Mount Everest, and ever since I have dreamed about climbing up there. When I became middle-aged and sensible I thought that it's impossible.

2012 when I turned 50 I suddenly got this crazy idea to fulfill my childhood dream. Now, almost 2 years later, after studying, training, researching & finding solutions, it seems possible!

If things go well I will summit in May 2014, if things don't go well I will hopefully do it another year. If you want to follow me vie e-mail updates you can subscribe to them.

Night xc-skiing in Italy

In Finland paths in the forest and also skitracks, our traditional winter paths, are by law always free to use for everyone. In Italy as well as in France and probably in most of the world the prepared crosscountry tracks are generally not free to use, you have to pay a fee for the maintenance that obviously costs someone money and time.

After full day on alpine skis in Monterosa I thought to do some real skiing also. I found some nice looking tracks by our hotel, no fence around them nor a booth for tickets. I couldn't resist testing them. They were great, the skis were gliding really well. We had had soft and damp snow during the day, but in the evening it suddenly turned perfect. 

I continued uphill until suddenly there came towards me the machine making the skitracks. I felt guilty of course, having no ticket, I turned around to escape. Luckily it became dark at the same moment. I had a headlamp but I didn't dare to use it. The machine had really bright lights, I was sure the driver had seen me. It continued with full speed after me. I wasn't sure if that was his normal route and speed. Or if he was furious about me being there when the tracks seemed to be closed. 

I managed to distract the track-machine driver. He went to other direction and the great skiing tracks, newly made were open for me. I enjoyed the skiing a lot, tried to make no traces on the clean paths while continuing uphill to the farthest corner of the area. There I saw the machine lights again, coming toward me! I went off the tracks into the soft snow. That was slow going. There was a fence. I climbed quickly over the fence, hid behind a tree. I lost my skis and felt really embarrassed by the whole thing. The machine passed me by a couple of meters. After a moment it returned! There seemed to be tracks around the whole meadow. I hadn't seen a map of the area and I had no idea how the tracks were placed. To avoid getting "caught" I crawled into the snow lying still. At one time a bit later I escaped into the shadows of a house. 


Finally I was on my way back to our village and hotel. The last challenge was a wildly barking dog. Looked like it was in a chain, but I am not sure. Scared already I passed it as fast as I could and found my way to the hotel.

It is funny how good training you can get when you are slightly scared in the darkness, in a totally new area with a ski-track machine chasing you. The odds were even, I evaluate. He knew the tracks, had a powerful machine and bright lights in all directions. I could hide in the darkness or dig myself into the deep snow.

I should be ashamed of myself, going to the tracks without permission. Another part of me says that crosscountry tracks should be free for everyone to use. That is how it always is in Finland. We have rights for everyone (jokamiehen oikeus) to go to the nature, use all paths and also other areas, picking berries and mushrooms etc., as long as you don't go to the yard of someone.  It is open, allowed and free.

Anyway, that was a fun night :)

Johanna Gustafsson – the Everest project