Rolf taking a dive

December 9th, 2004  

Topic: Rolf taking a dive

One of my most cherished memories from Army service is when Rolf took a dive.

It was Friday afternoon and we were returning to camp after a weeks winter exercise in the North Norwegian mountains. Having been furthest up my squad caught up with last company just as they started the downhill race towards the trucks which were parked on the road in the bottom of the valley. It went fast!

As usual, Rolf took the squad-"pulk" (sledge) down the hill. This was the sort of work-sharing we had developed over time. He was the biggest guy, and the steadiest, downhill skier on the team. I do not know if you have ever been on a winter march with sledge, but is an art of its own. Primarily, it is heavy - all the Squad-equipment is loaded onto it - that day I suppose ours was loaded with approx. 150 lbs. The "sledger" also carries his own personal gear. When going uphill a second man ropes up in front of the sledger, while a third pushes on the back with the ski pole. There is a cut-out at the rear of the sledge for that purpose. Going downhill the sledger is all by himself or a second guy is helping braking by holding on the rear rope. There is also a hamp rope which is fastened in the front which can be slipped under the sledge for additional braking.

Anyway, that day Rolf was not in the mood for braking - we had a hard time keeping up with him as the downhill slope gradually increased - we saw the trucks far down in the valley. It had been a nice exercise - but, cold. The thing when it is so cold is that your body uses much more energy than normal. You keep moving to keep warm, you shiver in your sleep, irregular meals and there is a lot of activity all the time. Besides, the cold does not invite very much to expose the flanks, so to speak. In other words we had developed the 1000 yards-stare, our minds were firmly fixated at the warm seat that awaited us in the barracks!

Thing with a sledge is that when it comes to a certain point in the downhill it is not possible to break any more, you just have to ride the wave! It pushes on and on. Things worked out nicely till we came midway down the hill, then more and more small birch trees (not much trees in Northern Norway) popped out of the snow. However, as the whole battalion had skied before us it was a wide track through the "forest". with plenty of broken bushes. I passed Rolf, about 10 meters out on his left side - I looked over to him. He went hell-for-leather, in deep concentration. His field cap was turned around, the brim down in the neck. Then it happened! Rolf skis went on each side of a broken birch tree, the sledge stopped dead, instantly, against the short tree trunk - the leather straps that held the pulleys to the sledge broke, and Rolf went through the air!

I was still looking at him when it happened - it was totally unreal - like a film in slow motion - still is. The sudden stop, that gave a backward jolt in the pulleys, before the leather broke, for a fraction of a second gave him an upright position as the skies continued forward, which was immediately compensated for as the weight of his backpack violently pushed him forward again. And pushed and pushed! Rolf was now almost level in the air - chin first, his eyes firmly fixated forward - concentrated, his arms and ski poles trailing out in the air behind him. Then he hit the snow - chin first! Then came the backpack. The whole scene hit me a like a hammer. My legs just buckled under me - and over I went in the snow - l couldn't stop laughing for a long time. I chuckle when I write this.

The rest of the squad soon caught up with us and helped Rolf on his feet. As it turned out only his pride was hurt - and the sledge, which was easily fixed. Rolf, being a gemutlich guy, soon forgave me for enjoying his perils. After I bought him a couple of beers, that is. Yes, we did make it in time to the longed-for seat.
December 9th, 2004  
rotc boy
lol, i'd hate to be him 8)
August 15th, 2007  
Team Infidel
good story
March 24th, 2009  
Great story!!!
March 24th, 2009  
I can picture the whole thing!