04 October 2022
Two Norwegian ski expeditions have been launched allowing guests to follow in the footsteps of the Heroes of Telemark on the 80th anniversary of their Nazi sabotage mission.
Two new Nordic ski touring experiences will take guests on the same route taken by SOE (Special Operations Executive) Norwegian agents in February 1943. They will tackle a 10 or 15-day ski tour expedition, covering miles of sub-arctic wilderness on Europe's highest plateau, the Hardangervidda.
Led by an international team of ex-special forces and military history experts, both expeditions by S.O.E Expeditions will teach travellers all the required ski touring techniques and winter survival skills, staying in some the actual huts the heroes used during WWII mission.
Matt Smith, the founder of SOE expeditions explained, “The Heroes of Telemark is a compelling piece of military history which celebrates physical endurance and mental strength to achieve what the allies had failed to do through a ground assault and bombing missions. Through this and future expeditions we hope to give ex-military, history enthusiasts and those who just want to test themselves on a new style of endurance-based expedition, the chance to walk in the footsteps of legends.”
Operation Gunnerside took place in Nazi-occupied Norway during WWII, to sabotage Nazi Germany’s attempt at producing Deuterium Oxide, commonly known as heavy water, for the German atomic bomb program. The operation was later made into a Hollywood film starring Kirk Douglas, that followed the story of the mission.
Expeditions will be split into two itineraries, both of which following historically accurate routes from the original mission. A 10-day expedition will follow the attack route from the drop zone at the Jansbu hut on the Hardangervidda to the site of the heavy water factory in Vemork Rjukan.
A 15-day expedition will begin with the final approach of the attack route, before embarking on the unit’s escape route into Sweden. This expedition will take place on the anniversary of the real escape, 80 years ago.
Expert tour guide, Øivind Tangstad, who will lead the expeditions, has met and talked at length to both Jens Anton Paulson, leader of the Operation Grouse team, and Joakim Rønneberg, the leader of the team on Operation Gunnerside.
He said, “My grandfather and grandmother were both in the cabin next to the saboteurs in Fjøsbudalen, where they stopped to do their last preparation and checks before their successful operation on the heavy water factory – so this operation is part of my family history. The expedition will not only be an opportunity to retrace the footsteps of this amazing military story but will also allow guests to feel and experience what the journey would have been like 80 years go. You can only learn so much from history books – we want to help people experience it for themselves.”
Øivind is one out of only two people in the world to have skied all the Heroes of Telemark routes.
The 10-day attack route tour is priced from £2,395 per person and the 15-day escape route is priced from £2,995, not including flights. This includes based on accommodation throughout, equipment, training and guiding from elite special forces guides, all transfers and meals. The Attack route will take place on 9 to 18 February 2023. The Escape route expedition will take place 25 February to 11 March 2023. Recommended for those with a good level of basic fitness.
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