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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Selected Secrets of Good Coaching

The SportPundit discovered by chance some years ago that he had a natural talent for coaching as he co-coached an amateur European youth football (soccer) team in Germany. The result was an undefeated team and recognition in the German soccer magazine Kicker.

In our first regular season game, we faced the league champion of the previous year, who had won 6-1 against our team's players the year before. 6-1 is a virtual blowout in soccer.

This time, we emerged victorious 11-1. Although our talent base was thin, we fielded the better TEAM game after game, and maintained that same average goal difference throughout the season, scoring 56 goals and giving up only 5 goals in our conference. In other words, we gave up fewer goals the entire season than the same players had given up in their first game the previous year.

Although we had the same players, we had a vastly different TEAM.

What were our coaching secrets?

Please note that the following coaching "secrets" are not secrets to good head coaches, whether in sports, law, executive or other corporate matters. Indeed, the reason that we have such an extraordinarily high opinion of the head coaching abilities of someone like Larry Kehres of the Football Division III Mount Union Purple Raiders, is because we have seen Kehres, college football's winningest coach, publicly express exactly the same principles that we have applied independently as a coach ourselves.

But one need not listen to us - listen to Kehres. As one veteran rival coach remarked about Kehres: "How does he win all the time?... I wish I knew, because then I might beat him one day." That reminded me of a comment made by one of the local coaches to a friend of mine about my own coaching: "How does he always win?"

Here are some "secrets" about winning as a coach that we have in common with Larry Kehres.

Secret Number 1 : Recruit the Right Players and Hold Them to Higher Standards
(This can also apply to the recruitment of the right personnel in any organization)

Stephanie Storm quotes Kehres:

"You have to recruit good people, then assist them in their development."

Milan Simonich quotes Kehres at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette concerning his recruiting of players:

" "I only ask them three questions, but they're important.... Are you a good man? Do you have a passion for football? Do you plan on getting the grades you're capable of?" "

Stephanie Storm in the Akron Beacon Journal of November 28, 2003, writes:

"Football might be the focus of the coach's life, but he teaches his players that their values ought to extend beyond the field.

During football season, players' grades actually improve.

Coach says it's important that we hold ourselves to higher standards, especially when so much attention is focused on us during the season,'' wide receiver Randell Knapp said." [emphasis added by SportPundit]

Kehres expects his players to give their best, every day. As quoted by Nancy Armour at The-Review.com:

""I'm proud of the fact that our men do learn that you have to do, day in and day out, what you're supposed to do," Kehres said. "I don't expect (victories). However, do I expect a certain level of performance throughout the offseason in terms of what we do and then, in the season, in how we practice so that we would have a chance to go down that path? Yes, I expect that.""

Secret Number 2: Prepare Your Team to Play with Passion and as much Perfection as they are Capable of

Larry Kehres says
that "The job of a coach is to prepare his team."

This involves training in all of its aspects, including mental and physical preparedness.

As Milan Simonich writes at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"He [Kehres] took a solid program and turned it into a spectacular one by emphasizing precision, mental preparation and weight training."

Players on and off the field must know what responsibilities they have and what action they are to take in any particular game situation. A player who is undisciplined off the field is not likely to exercise discipline on the field. It is the whole player that counts.

The onus hereby is on the COACHES. Kehres is quoted by Al Eisele at the Huffington Post:

" "I always try to get the assistant coaches who work with me to understand that if there's no learning by the kids, there's no teaching.... I've tried hard to get the coaches to accept that as the only measure of performance, and there are just no excuses accepted. If there's no learning, there's no teaching....." "

That standard of teaching and learning demands extremely knowledgeable and effective education of players.

Stephanie Storm in the Akron Beacon Journal of November 28, 2003, writes:

"Kinnard and many other team leaders point to the precision with which the program is run, the attention to every detail all the way down to scheduling the number of minutes for each practice drill, as a main reason for their overwhelming success."

The result of that philosophy is awesome.

Milan Simonich writes at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"He works for perfection," said Matt Caponi, a senior defensive back and a Baldwin High School graduate. "That's how his offense has been for the last three years -- perfect." ...

On the field, Kehres lays down a singular challenge to everybody who pulls on a helmet. "I expect them to play better than they ever thought they could," he says."

Coaches, when is the last time one of your players called your offense - perfect?

Jack Ewing, president of Mount Union College, is quoted by Milan Simionich at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as saying about Larry Kehres and the football team program:

"This is a culture of excellence that I have never seen before."

Every coach creates a "culture" of some kind by his coaching. What is yours?

Secret Number 3 : A Coach Must be Absolutely Objective at All Times

Effective coaching demands absolute objectivity about the skills, strengths and weaknesses of players and coaches, on both sides of the ball. Wishful thinking is at the heart of bad decision-making.

If you have a weaker team than the opponent - accept it. A weaker team can beat a stronger team if the coaches correctly recognize that they are weaker and take proper measures to try to offset that weakness. Here we can point to Stanford's incredible record upset of USC this year 24-23, even though Stanford was the underdog by more than 40 points. Prior to that game, as Ted Venegas, USCFootball.com Columnist for Rivals.com wrote at Yahoo sports:

"The Cardinal have completely revamped their approach defensively. Before this season, they ran a passive 3-4 defense which was of the read and react variety. This year, they do nothing but attack.... Defensive coordinator Scott Shafer came to the conclusion that Stanford did not have the talent to remain passive, so they have to force the action."

The Stanford upset of USC was enabled by good coaching under the leadership of football director and head coach Jim Harbaugh and the Stanford coaching staff, who objectively recognized their weaknesses and compensated for them.

The principle also applies to basketball. Tubby Smith, former basketball coach at Kentucky and now in his first year at Minnesota where the team is sporting a 5-1 record as opposed to 2-6 last year with much the same players and a similar schedule, says about coaching:

"If you're not skilled enough offensively, defensively you can make up for it with hustle and sheer determination and effort," Smith said. "We feel like we have to overachieve."

Secret Number 4 : A Coach Must Work Optimally to Develop the Players He Has

Stephanie Storm in the Akron Beacon Journal of November 28, 2003, in "Team Concept Rules" writes about Larry Kehres' assessment of players as follows:

"When he [Kehres] thinks back to the start of the run that began Mount Union's dominance, Kehres remembers a meeting held among the team's staff in the early '80s when he was an assistant.

'We just decided to quit pouting about what we didn't have and concentrate on improving the players we had,' Kehres said.

'We went with the idea that if some of the players we recruited weren't as good as some others when they arrived, it was our job to help them catch up,' Kehres said. 'It was sort of, "Come on, let's quit whining and feeling sorry for ourselves and make the most of what we've got."

What happens when you do not develop players properly (required in college ball) but expect them to perform automatically (as is more likely in the NFL) can be seen at Notre Dame, where Charlie Weis, a former NFL offensive coordinator, went 3-9 this year as the head coach of the Irish. As Posted at FanBlogs.com (and cited at BlogIron) by Kevin Donahue:

"Charlie Weis is an outstanding offensive mind - without question - but he is failing as a head coach.

There is nothing in his resume to suggest that Weis is capable of developing talent. He certainly didn't have to develop players in the NFL, just show them the plays, tweak here & there, and collect the trophies. But now - with his team needing it the most - Weis is not developing talent at Notre Dame.

Good recruits are coming into the Notre Dame system and - but for their own inner passion to excel - languishing under Weis. There is no such thing as marked improvement, it is simply a transaction with Weis. It almost as if the recruits are NFL free agents, signing with the team and then expected to use their talents to improve the team. There's nothing to suggest that Weis is actually taking a player from one level and ELEVATING his game to the next level. And this is Weis's Achilles' heel - he isn't developing players.
"

Nebraska had the same problem with Bill Callahan, who had proven himself as an offensive coordinator, but not as a head coach, having inherited a Super Bowl team for one successful season and then going 4-12 the next year. It is one thing to develop offensive plays for professional football players at the top - both Callahan (Oakland) and Weis (New England) were offensive coordinators for Super Bowl teams - but it is an entirely different matter to head coach a college team, that may not have the talent at all to execute effectively many of the plays that a brilliant offensive mind can come up with. Plus, equal attention has to be paid to the defense. The job is simply a different one and a coach must adapt coaching to the personnel that he has.

Secret Number 5 : A Coach Must Adapt the Style of Play to the Players Available

Stephanie Storm in the Akron Beacon Journal of November 28, 2003, quotes Kehres about the style of play that a football team should have, dependent on the players available:

"Some years you don't have the kind of players you need to say, run the option,'' he said. 'As a coach, you can't just do what you want to do. You have to match it to the ebb and flow of the kind of players you have."

Especially coaches who rely on a "fixed system" and then try to force that fixed system upon their players, whether those players are suited to that system or not, are not likely to be successful. Larry Kehres adapts continuously - to the times and to his players.

Let us tune in to Division III football and the blog, the D3 Football Daily Dose, where commenter Mainjack writes as follows about Mount Union's head coach Larry Kehres ("LK" in the posting quoted below), :

"I’ve been a bit surprised that no one has mentioned how LK has adapted his teams over the past 15 years to stay ahead of the curve. In the early 90’s when the west coast offense was first starting to creep into the language, LK embra[c]ed it, and blew people away with his 5 wideouts and wide open passing. Back in those days as soon as MUC got anywhere near mid-field, they were going for the bomb. As the 90’s came to a close, and defenses were figuring out the west coast schemes, LK went to a very good running back, a blocking fullback and a tight end. Chuck Moore and Dan Pugh helped remake the Mount union offense, and allowed the passing game to be as successful as it needed to be. Now you have Kmic absolutely carrying the load behind a massive offensive line, with deep threat possibility in Garcon, and two or three other receivers doing damage on short routes……when necessary.
Football is cyclical, but LK has always stayed one step ahead of where the game is going, which is why they have not had many down years (if you can call one loss a down year)."

Secret Number 6 : A Coach Must Concentrate on the Basics

One of the things that shocked this writer about the Callahan-coached Huskers was that they seemed to have forgotten how to block and tackle with passion, i.e. the most basic skills required of a top football team. Coaches who spend all their time designing plays and looking at films of opposing teams are not going to be successful if the basics are thereby neglected. The game must still be played - on the field - not just on the drawing board.

One coach who understood this was UCLA's fabled basketball coach, John Wooden, who made his highly touted players run basic basketball drills like shooting layups continuously, as he explained, so that layups would be made automatically during game situations and not be missed. The same applies to tackles in football.

Indeed, the attention to fundamentals by John Wooden was legendary. As written by Kyle Colvett for Inside Tennessee at Scout.com:

"The most basic of football skills and behaviors need to be emphasized. John Wooden, he of the ten NCAA basketball titles at UCLA, the Wizard of Westwood, used to begin the practice season with an entire session on how to put on socks and shoes. Players were troubled by blisters and foot problems and he discovered that the players didn't smooth out all the wrinkles around their heels and around their little toes, places where the blisters were prone to occur. He sometimes noted that they didn't lace their shoes properly or that they wore shoes that were a size too large. Such details mattered."

Secret Number 7 : Yelling and Screaming is NOT Good Coaching, but Ritual and Routine ARE : Sports Psychology, Mental Fitness and Mental Discipline

See in this regard, for example, Secret Ingredient at FootballPracticePlans.com, which is about sports psychology. We mention it here because sports psychology is immensely important, and as pointed out there, quite correctly:

"Studies show that yelling and screaming does NOT work with 94% of youth football players… and it can make it even harder for them to improve...

Varsity high school football coaches that use routines and rituals with their teams are three times as likely to have a winning record...."

That is absolutely correct. We have seen time and again on playing fields where coaches, parents, relatives and fans are screaming and yelling at their players, all to no avail.

SCREAMING AND YELLING is a sign of poor coaching, poor parenting, poor relations to other people, and poor spectating. It is a sign that you are unable to cope rationally with the situation that faces you. It is evidence of a lack of mental fitness and an absence of mental discipline. This does not mean that one can not be intense and enthusiastic, but it does mean that coaches yelling and screaming at players is simply a waste of time. John Wooden is quoted as saying:

"Intensity makes you stronger. Emotionalism makes you weaker."

The job of any coach is the same as that of any parent or educator, it is the job of rational instruction. Such instruction often best involves ritual and routine, to improve focus and reduce error.

One of the secrets of Tiger Woods, the best golfer of all time, for example, is ritual and routine. As written by Bill Cole, founder and CEO of Procoach Systems, Silicon Valley, California, in What Makes Tiger Tick?:

"[Tiger] maintains personal rituals before playing and practicing, and before each shot he takes."

Cole points out clearly that physical AND mental fitness must be elements of proper instruction for successful coaching. With respect to the mental fitness of Tiger Woods, Cole observes these strengths, which a coach should try to implement in his coaching and inculcate in his players:

1) Very high personal standards (Larry Kehres agrees) and accountability
This applies to conduct off and on the field

2) Unrelenting mental discipline
On our soccer team, for example, we demanded and enforced strict mental discipline. Players were not allowed to yell at other players or to argue with referees - these were grounds for us, the coaches, to immediately remove a player from the field. Players were expected to concentrate on THEIR playing of the game and on nothing else.

3) Confidence-building by focused practice - achieving permanence of skills through practice
For example, we often see people at golf driving ranges, senselessly hitting one ball after the other as fast as they can, gaining nothing from the exercise. Practice must be focused on gaining permanence in a given skill. Practice must focus on "perfecting" something, which means that time must be taken to concencrate on what is being done. John Wooden is quoted for this:

"Do not mistake activity for achievement."

4) Focus on the process - not focus simply on winning or losing
Studies show that the difference between equally-talented champions and non-champions is the absence of fear in champions - they are not haunted by the fear of losing, but concentrate on the process of winning, doing what it takes to win, regardless of the specter of losing.

Some selected sites touching upon good coaching are:

"Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." - John Wooden
No-How Coaching by Coach John Gagliardi, some of whose No-Hows are:
  • No fear of being different
  • No throwing away money
  • No top-heavy staff
  • No reverence for titles.
  • No busy work
  • No substituting Mission Statements for doing the job
  • No withholding honor earned
  • No substituting reams of paper for action
  • No being a jerk
  • No focusing on mistakes.
  • No substituting putzing for achieving
  • No celebrating the heros only
  • No overloading by overanalysis
  • No fear of taking a risk
  • No giving power to setbacks
  • No settling for less than the best
  • No focus on winning everything
GiveMeFootball.com for soccer coaching
Football Training - soccer coaching links
Football Coaching Strategies - by the AFCA - detailed at Human Kinetics
  • Running game—Tom Osborne, John McKay, and Darrell Royal
  • Passing game—Bill Walsh, Steve Spurrier, and LaVell Edwards
  • Defense—Dick Tomey, Barry Alvarez, Dave Wannstedt, and Jerry Sandusky
  • Kicking game—Spike Dykes and John Cooper
  • Philosophy, motivation, and management—Eddie Robinson and Joe Paterno
The AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) has more books
- check your online bookshop
Football Tools - Training Systems, Playbooks, DVDs etc.
Better Coaching - Australian Sports Commission
Better Rugby Coaching by Dan Cottrell
Coach Carl - Cycling
New Sports Technology and Coaching Solutions- e.g. XOS Technologies
ACTO - Association of Coach Training Organizations (Corporate) see their directory

Monday, March 19, 2007

Rajalta Rajalle-Hiihto : Extreme Sports : Skiing Cross Country Across Finland Border to Border from Russia to Sweden

Have you ever imagined seeing a herd of reindeer crossing your ski trail? Now THAT is a unique and unforgettable experience.

That is what happened a few days ago to one of our friends (BB2 2007), who just finished participation in one of most unusual extreme sports offered on our planet, the annual international Border to Border (Rajalta Rajalle-Hiihto) literal "cross country" ski event across the country of Finland from the border of Russia to the border of Sweden on a route skirting the Arctic Circle (Kuusamo - Taivalkoski - Pudasjärvi - Ranua - Keminmaa - Tornio).

This tour has been described by Cross Country Skier as "a week-long odyssey in which marathon distances become a lifestyle".

The ca. 440 kilometers (ca. 275 miles) of the ski route are covered in 7 days with daily cross-country skiing distances of anywhere from ca. 44 to 78 kilometers (on a "non-competitive" basis) as fixed variously by the organizers, with the difficulty of - and time required for - each daily ski stage being greatly dependent on the weather.

The Border to Border ski tour is an organized event for experienced and hardened ski tourists involving 7 straight days of up to 50 miles per day of physically demanding skiing. Cross Country Skier even writes: "This is a vacation that requires months of advance training", although persons not highly trained have managed this tour. Still, training is highly recommended so that one does not have to give up because untrained joints in the legs, arms or wrists are strained or because blisters on soft skin not hardened by experience may make further progress difficult. The right equipment and clothing for temperatures below freezing are also essential, especially for the feet.

Travel by bus, food and lodging are provided - for which reason participation involves registration and payment of substantial charges, including payment of a small deposit upon registration for the tour. See e.g. the tour prices charged by Nordic Saga Tours Sports & Adventure in Edmonds, Washington, USA or Schulz Aktiv Reisen in Dresden, Germany. Still, costs are kept as low as possible by the fact that the organization is done through 6 Finnish municipalities and nearly 200 volunteer workers. Otherwise it would probably be impossible to run this kind of an adventure ski tour at an affordable price.

Very nice to very simple accommodations are provided in hotels, huts, youth hostels and schools. A sleeping bag is required, but this and other belongings including extra and very necessary clothes are transported along the ski route by bus. Because of the sometimes close accomodations (many persons sleeping and perhaps snoring on the floor of a school in sleeping bags in more remote locations), earplugs may be recommended.

Interested persons should read carefully the general requirements listed at Rajalta Rajall-Hiihto, the Border to Border home website. And, for persons not accustomed to the extraordinary skiers of every age out there, including seniors . . . as noted at Cross Country Skier: "Just prepare your ego to be passed on the trail by some 70-year-old Finnish lady."

The ski-trail track (loipe) is marked (groomed) by snowmobiles and a snowmobile follows the last skier in each group to make sure no one is lost, while participants for safety reasons carry mobile (cell) phones. Periodic way stations at appropriate intervals for food and drink along the way are manned by volunteers, who are residents of the region. There is a possibility for skiers to take a bus rather than to ski a segment if the skiing becomes difficult for whatever reason.

Border to Border traditionally takes place each year in the first half of March and registration to participate in one of the 4 tour groups of maximally 100 skiers per group must be made by December 31 of the preceding year, for example, by 31 December 2007 for the 2008 tour (experience indicates that registrations should already be in by June to be sure of getting a spot).

Four tour groups are scheduled for 2008 and given below (for 2009 and 2010 see http://rajaltarajallehiihto.ranua.fi/?deptid=9559).

The Year 2008 Border to Border group ski tours
March 6 to March 12
March 7 to March 13
March 8 to March 14
March 9 to March 15

As written by Border to Border guide Jaakko Heikkinen:

"The Border to Border ski tour has established its position as a major ski and tourism event in northern Finland."

The home page of the Border to Border tour is found in Finnish and English language at Rajalta Rajalle Hiihto

Other interesting links involving Border to Border are:

Cross Country Skier - Finland from Border to Border (2003)
at crosscountryskier.com

Skiing across Finland (2004)
by JoAnn Hanowski at MasterSkier.com and Nordic Skiing Magazine

Skiing in Lapland
by Olaf Bochmann of Ames, Iowa

Border to Border: 440 kilómetros esquiando por tierras de Santa Klaus
from Antonio León García, Spain (2004)

Finnish Tourist Board

Rajalte-Rajalle : ein Skilauf quer durch Finnland (2005 - in German, auf deutsch, von Andrea Blüthner)

Århus Skiklub - Dagbog fra "Border to Border"

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Svellnosbreen, Spiterstulen, Jotunheimen : Extreme Sports : Glacier Climbing in Norway as a Guided Tour

Did someone say "extreme sports"? Bloggers do not just sit at their PCs. How about glacier climbing in Jotunheimen in Norway? We literally "chanced" upon Adventure Ice (Eventyrisen) during a 1977 camping trip in Scandinavia. All photographs below are by Andis Kaulins and we share them with you here (reproduced from 30-year old slides in various stages of quality).

Spiterstulen Svellnosbreen Ice Megalith
All photographs made by and copyright © 2007 by Andis Kaulins. In the Svellnos glacier.
Did glacial towers like this serve as the origination of the idea for man's making of megaliths?

The above photo was taken in 1977 in Svellnosbreen (Svellnos Glacier), Spiterstulen, Jotunheimen, Norway, during a guided "tour" of the glacier. Saagar writes at Virtual Tourist:

"Out of Spiterstulen cottage there are daily (season and weather permitting) guided trips to the Svellnosbreen glacier just below Galdhøpiggen, the highest peak in Norway. The glacier is a wonderland of crevasses, tunnels, towers and ice cliffs ... it's a great experience. Except hiking strength and relevant clothing (you will be told), no previous skills are needed. Daily tours 15 July-15 August. Contact Spiterstulen at 61211480." [Our comment: please note that Visit Norway gives different months for this 7-hour tour - inquire first.]

Svellnosbreen
Jotunheimen means "Home of the Giants".

Svellnosbreen Jotunheimen Ice Giants
These Giants are of Ice. Solid Blue Ice.

Svellnosbreen Ice Megaliths
Did our guide plan to go way up there? We had to follow.
(The sky background of this photo was damaged so we replaced it. The rest is original.)


Key phrases in the Virtual Tourist quotation above are "hiking strength" and "relevant clothing". Guided glacier climbing in Norway like this (not quite the same as glacier walking or glacier hiking) is an extreme sport for most. Do not do this unless you are young and fit, and if you are older, in very good shape and sure-footed. This is mostly suitable for athletic types.

Svellnosbreen Glacier Climbing Norway Norge
The ice terrain to be mastered in the glacier is not always easy. This is wet ice and snow.

An example of the ice terrain to be mastered is found in the photo above which includes the lady in front of us on the mountain rope and her young daughter, who both made the tour with flying colors. In that photo we are coming down and out of the glacier. You have very steep ice terrain on your right, and a big crevice left. This is nothing for the weak-hearted or those without a good sense of balance. Plus, you have to have stamina for this kind of a climb.

Spiterstulen Climb Uphill to Glacier
This photo gives a good idea of the long trek from valley to glacier and back.
The difference in elevation is ca. 1000 meters but the hike is longer of course.


An ad for a "glacier tour" does not mean a comfortable tourist-type tour to view a glacier, as we thought. They surprised us. The description of the glacier tour further above says "no previous skills" required, but you do need to learn immediate skills, like climbing ice hills on crampons (metal spikes) and moving safely up and down steep icy slopes while tethered to a mountain climbing rope shared by 10-15 other people. When you do this the first time, you will have butterflies in your stomach. Guaranteed.

Jotunheimen Hiking to Svellnosbreen
This is the glacier trail at the beginning, but it is not all like this.

We did manage to survive and enjoy this "tour" immensely in 1977 as absolute novices. The young Norwegian guide, who does the glacier tour every day in season (which might be only one summer month, because otherwise the weather can be bad and quite dangerous), looked at us carefully from top to bottom, saw we were young and strong, made a sensible impression, and said we would make it, even though we did not have proper footwear or clothing. He was right, but it was rougher than we thought, as I lost one pair of eyeglasses in a crevice underway through a quick jerky tautening of the mountain rope as someone ahead of me slipped. The rope caught the glasses and they were gone. When I reached into my breast pocket for my replacement pair, I discovered that one eyeglass of those had also broken somewhere underway, so that only one healthy lens remained. It was a half-blind descent. But, then again, not many people worldwide have ever been in this glacier, so we are proudly one of them.

Kaulins Norway Norge Svellnosbreen Blue Tunnel
Andis Kaulins, unshaven for 2 weeks, in the Blue Tunnel, Svellnosbreen, Norway, 1977.

Reinhard Penner Deutschland in Norwegen Spiterstulen
Reinhard Penner at the Entrance to the Blue Tunnel, Svellnosbreen, Spiterstulen, Norway, 1977

The guide, a strapping young Norwegian in great shape, said the glacier climb was not dangerous, unless the weather got really bad, in which case we would turn around and go back home. We were lucky and had sun nearly all day long. Here is a good quotation from elsewhere:

"On a clear morning we packed up and began the climb from 5000 to 7000 feet. As we stepped onto the glacier we roped up. This put a guide at the lead and each person tied into a rope at about twenty foot intervals. Another truth about climbing was revealed to all of us. When a guide says, "one" you translate to, "two and a half." For example, you ask, "how long is the climb to high camp?" The guide would say, "one hour." You then translate this to "two and a half hours." If the guide says, "three" the true answer is, "seven and a half" and so on. Once understood, it eased our anticipation...." Leon Watts, Living the Life with MountainZone.com

The guide told us that he made the hike down from the glacier in about one hour. It took us nearly 3 hours to go up to the glacier and nearly 2 hours down (plus 2 hours in the glacier), but we were in street shoes - that's all we had along - as we were in Norway more to find and photograph elk than to do any glacial mountaineering. We had been in Lom , the gateway to Jotunheimen, to take a look at the Lom Stave Church, among the oldest stave churches in the world, and were headed South when Spiterstulen stopped us. Better planning is essential, truly.

Spiterstulen Mountain Hiking to the Glacier
It is a long, rocky and partially watery trek from the base camp lodges in Spiterstulen to the glacier above,
probably ca. 1000 meters elevation difference with a hiking distance of about 3 km very steeply uphill.


How we got to Svellnosbreen was a surprise. We had no expectation of a 2-3 hour hike straight uphill to reach the glacier, with only 1 Coke and 1 Snickers along for thirst and hunger. We were not prepared for that. The Norwegians in our group shared their food and drink with us.

Jotunheimen Hikers to the Glacier
Experienced climbers had the right footwear, clothing and backpacks with food & drink.

A simple tourist brochure ad for a "glacier tour" which we saw by chance in Spiterstulen - with emphasis on "tour" - turned out to be a totally unexpected full day's real-life adventure.

Andis Kaulins Glacier Tour Norway Svellnosbreen
The Sport Pundit Andis Kaulins - August 1977 - near the end of the glacier tour
on the return leg. Whew. It was a bit cold in that rain outfit.
Wow! We made it. It was a thrilling experience and an unprecedented memory for a lifetime.
We
are surely one of very few chance "passers by" to ever take this glacier tour unplanned.

Background Information and Links

Jotunheimen is the highest mountain range in Scandinavia. The name means "Home of the Giants". Spiterstulen is at 1100 meters, at the border of the tree line, and serves as the base camp lodging for hikers and climbers in this area. We do not know the exact elevation of the glacier tongue at Svellnosbreen.

Arnstein Berg has a superb photo of the entire Svellnosbreen Glacier from the front as seen from Visdalen - with Galdhøpiggen, the highest mountain in Norway, at the immediate back
High Resolution map of Svellnosbreen
Spiterstulen (Norwegian, English, German)
Høgskulen i Volda (Volda University College) nice page on Spiterstulen
Svellnosbreen rundt map of the glaciers around Spiterstulen (bottom of page)
Per Gustaffson at Eventyrisen climbers at Svellnosbreen
Eventyrisen at Flickr
Traildatabase for this region of Norway
Den Norske Turistforening (The Norwegian Trekking Association)
Sogneford
TuristVeg
Jotunheimen at Wikipedia
Jotunheimen - in Norwegian, but see picture gallery
Jotunheimen Links of various kinds for hiking in Norway
Till Topps Guide to Jotunheimen
Visit Lom
Trygg i Jotunheimen (Feel Safe in Jotunheimen - only in Norwegian)
Jotunheimen-Turist - Vågå Reiseliv (Norwegian, English, German)
Fjellsiden (Norwegian - some photos of Jotunheimen)
Adam Cagliarini has a photo of Svellnosbreen glacier looking from Galdhøpiggen
Mike Greenfield has great pictures of the glacier and surrounding area
At Fjellweb you see how people are properly dressed for climbing in this region
Britta Schönenborn has a great photo of the Giants of Svellnosbreen
Hakadal KFUK bildegalleri of Svellnosbreen
Aktiv i Oslo
Breogfjellsport
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Sky Earth Native America


Sky Earth Native America 1 :
American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
,
Volume 1, Edition 2, 266 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Sky Earth Native America 2 :
    American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
    Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
    ,
    Volume 2, Edition 2, 262 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Both volumes have the same cover except for the labels "Volume 1" viz. "Volume 2".
    The image on the cover was created using public domain space photos of Earth from NASA.

    -----

    Both book volumes contain the following basic book description:
    "Alice Cunningham Fletcher observed in her 1902 publication in the American Anthropologist
    that there is ample evidence that some ancient cultures in Native America, e.g. the Pawnee in Nebraska,
    geographically located their villages according to patterns seen in stars of the heavens.
    See Alice C. Fletcher, Star Cult Among the Pawnee--A Preliminary Report,
    American Anthropologist, 4, 730-736, 1902.
    Ralph N. Buckstaff wrote:
    "These Indians recognized the constellations as we do, also the important stars,
    drawing them according to their magnitude.
    The groups were placed with a great deal of thought and care and show long study.
    ... They were keen observers....
    The Pawnee Indians must have had a knowledge of astronomy comparable to that of the early white men."
    See Ralph N. Buckstaff, Stars and Constellations of a Pawnee Sky Map,
    American Anthropologist, Vol. 29, Nr. 2, April-June 1927, pp. 279-285, 1927.
    In our book, we take these observations one level further
    and show that megalithic sites and petroglyphic rock carving and pictographic rock art in Native America,
    together with mounds and earthworks, were made to represent territorial geographic landmarks
    placed according to the stars of the sky using the ready map of the starry sky
    in the hermetic tradition, "as above, so below".
    That mirror image of the heavens on terrestrial land is the "Sky Earth" of Native America,
    whose "rock stars" are the real stars of the heavens, "immortalized" by rock art petroglyphs, pictographs,
    cave paintings, earthworks and mounds of various kinds (stone, earth, shells) on our Earth.
    These landmarks were placed systematically
    in North America, Central America (Meso-America) and South America
    and can to a large degree be reconstructed as the Sky Earth of Native America."

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