A love letter to Bing

It may not be the most important thing on the agenda, but it is one of the forces that Morten Knapstad and Team OneCall have in common with their predecessors: The excitement of discovering something new or achieving something that has never been done before. It’s the same forces that motivated mountain pioneer Kristian Bing a hundred and twenty-five years ago and that made him successfully climb up the ice on the Briksdalsbreen Glacier. In many ways Kristian pioneered our unique and extreme mountain sport here in Norway. He planted the seeds of exploring and made way for others to follow. Either we are flying down mountains or climbing them up. Wandering between crevasses or spending the night in them. The love for our strong but vulnerable nature was the same then as it is now. The respect and the need to protect it hasn’t changed even if the times have and the equipment we use is more developed and advanced.

The place where modern-day pioneer Morten Knapstad and his team together with Visit Nordfjord made their historical stunt in April 2020, is also of great historical meaning for Kristian Bing. In 1895 the mountain pioneer climbed up the glacier fall at Briksdalsbreen Glacier alongside a local man from Olden, Rasmus Aabrekk. The climb up the ice took them about eighteen hours. To celebrate both this achievement, Kristian as well as the mountain sport and the wonderful Norwegian nature we had to come up with something unique. The idea was developed to be the first one to fly a speedrider down the Glacier and it soon became a reality and thus a little part of history itself. 

takkGreetings from Kristian Bing to Rasmus Aabrekk, 1895

Briksdal Valley is a powerful, narrow but majestic spot. The arm that crawls down the mountain is a unique piece in the beautiful Norwegian puzzle. It’s a place that’s ever changing but one that never stops taking your breath away. In the movie Morten is being flown up with a helicopter. He then rides with his skis down towards the icefall, before he jumps off the edge. He continues by flying over Briksdalsbreen Glacier, then water skis his way over the water and finally arrives safely on land on the other side. It’s an achievement that is worthy for a pioneer. It’s a homage to all of them who came before us and lay the path ahead. 

BriksdalsbreenPhoto: Sara Strand Place: Briksdalsbreen

Briksdalsbreen

Photo: @skeye_photo Place: Briksdalsbreen

 

Watch the stunt on Youtube

 

Just like Morten you will also get the opportunity to join our journey. Visit the places that Kristian Bing discovered, get to know the wonders that he so often seemed to stumble across and not at least perhaps get a better understanding of who this great first “extreme sports athlete” really was. 

Who was Kristian Bing?
(1862-1935)

 

Today there are many experienced mountain explorers that look up to Kristian. Judging by the stories he was as focused on the joy that activities in the mountain could bring him as well as the landscape itself. He was set on protecting the nature he played in, and by his own interest measured the glacier’s abatement and melting. He founded the Bergen Mountain team (Bergen Fjellmannalag) in 1895 and by doing so made sure his work to protect the mountains and its surroundings would live on even after him. Kristian also thought that everyone should have access to the wonderful treasures of nature and made Nordnesdalen Valley a place of gathering for the Brigade boys (Buekorpsguttene) in the eighteenth century. In many ways he seemed to protect people just as much as he did nature, and it seems as if it perhaps is the smartest thing to do if you want people to take care of it.

Kristian worked as an attorney in Bergen from 1891. His peak of interest reached more than just the mountain. He loved history, politics and Norse mythology. Kristian actually held the honor of bringing the Olsok celebration in 1897 back to life. A lot of his driving force were based on his ability and his need to preserve. At the referendum before the dissolution of the union in 1905 from Sweden, Kristian built a hundred fires on the mountain Ulriken in Bergen, forming a big flaming YES. Each letter is said to have been up to a hundred meters tall. The love he shared for his country, for his hometown Bergen, for nature and for vulnerable groups in the society seemed to mark his entire life. Today in Fredriksberg at Nordnes there stands a bust in Kristian’s memory; for his tireless effort, feats and achievements. 

As a mountain pioneer there are many tales about his many expeditions. He is often described as an extraordinary glacier hiker wrapped up with optimism and knowledge. He obtained hi knowledge through numerous expeditions, both minor and great between Finnmark and Folgefonna. As a sixteen-year-old he is said to have climbed up the ladder all by himself. He supposedly won a bet against well-known poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnsson climbing up the cathedral in Brussel. Kristian made sport out of exploring, whether or not intentionally is hard to say. The story about how he outdid William Slingsby to the top of Jostedalsbreen Glacier in 1894 is a story just about that. (…)

 

 

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«Josten på langs» (1894)
A signature glacier walk in Jostedalen 

 

Imagine you are an experienced and well-travelled Englishman in the late eighteenth century. Maybe your name is William Slingsby and you already have been the first climber to over fifty mountain tops. Then imagine you have packed your bags and that you are ready to go on a new adventure. You have secured a team to complete an expedition with you. You have set a goal and no one as far as you know has achieved this goal before you: You are set to be the first person to walk across the Jostedalsbreen glacier or to walk “Josten på langs”. You have calculated the time it will take. You know it won’t be easy, but you have conquered bigger mountains. You know you can do this. After all, you are William Slingsby, the well renowned mountain pioneer who loves Norway. 

The hike you are about to take is not a walk in the park. The fluctuating conditions make sure of that, leading you through stormy weather. Even though it’s early spring, the weather doesn’t seem to take notice. But all this doesn’t really matter because you will be the very first to walk “Josten på langs”. What you don’t know is that there is a local man a day ahead of your journey. This man is familiar amongst the glaciers, especially on this route because he has tried to cross the glacier before, but without any luck. On this expedition the Norwegian hikes with his friends Per Grønfur and Absalon Erdal, who are also experienced mountain men.

You are closing in on the mountain top. You can see it now in front of you. Words of gratitude, awe and wonder escape your lips. You couldn’t be more pleased. Only, you are not the first. To your utter surprise you discover a cairn placed on the top in front of you.  A cairn hat should not have been there.

Kristian Bing, the local Norwegian, had arrived there the day before. But he had walked up the opposite side, from Olden Valley. The disappointment William Slingsby must have felt is hard to imagine. If Kristian knew about the Englishman’s try beforehand, we can only speculate. Either way, this was the event when Kristian Bing out-did William Slingsby to the top of Jostedalsbreen Glacier by walking the opposite way. With purpose, or not.

Kristian’s trip supposedly took about 47 hours. Today this route is a classic. A real signature hike and one that takes about 3 days. There are more ways up than one and you can read more about it on our own website and plan your Glacier walk with one of our local guides.

«Bings Gryte» (1898)

 

There should be no surprise in revealing that Kristian was used to going his own ways and because of this ability he became the first to discover many things. Even if just by coincidence. Amongst his discoveries was the natural phenomenon now known as “Bings Gryte” or “Bings Pot” in 1898 and “Bings Brekuppel” or “Bings Glacier Dome” near Mt. Skåla in Nordfjord.

Bings Gryte is a weather phenomenon that forms in the glacier by whirlwinds 1607 meters above sea level. The otherwise white, flat and futureless landscape is suddenly interrupted by a pit in the middle of the ice. The whirlwinds form as a result of the local topographic conditions between Langedalen Valley and Stordalen Valley. The pit can best be described as a sort of blue lagoon on a hot summer’s day. It changes with the seasonal conditions and reminds naturally enough of a pot. This rare sight is a part of the classic three-day ski trip “Josten på langs” even today. 

"Bings Gryte"

Experience the blue lagoon on the roof of Norway's largest glacier

©
Gaute Dvergsdal Bøyum
Bings Gryte

«Mt. Hornelen» (1897)

 

Kristian also named several glacier arms, such as Odinbre, Lokebre and Torsbre. All named after Norse gods by his own special interests. He even is said to be the very first to beat Olav Tryggvason’s achievement of conquering the mighty impressive sea cliff Hornelen since the Viking king himself. 

860 meters vertical up from Frøysjøen sea in Bremanger rises the well-known landmark Hornelen. Hornelen is known to be Europe’s highest sea cliff and is climbed today by the most experienced climbers from all corners of the world. If it’s the view that’s alluring or the challenge in itself calling you to it, Hornelen rarely disappoints. A more beautiful and unique mountain climb is hard to come by. And if you dare you have the option to lay down by the end of the cliff, looking vertical down on the boat traffic directly beneath you.

Hornelen is a place known as a gathering for witches and trolls, old sagas and ancient traditions. There is a lot of history and mystery surrounding the cliff. It is also home of one of the sagas about Olav Tryggvason. It is written that Olav made his climb to the top, attached his shield and carried down a shepherd that had gotten stuck. King Olav was described by Karl Hall in an article 1883 as “The Norths greatest sportsman”. Combining all things Norse and the love of mountain climbing, this must have triggered Kristian’s curiosity to make the leap himself by taking on the challenge that is Hornelen. In 1897 he became the first one to have climbed up the cliff since Olav Tryggvason. It was no easy task and with him was the local farmer Anders Jeremiassen.

Hornelen is considered to be a vivid and alive mountain. Moving with rockslides, clefts and rips. (Or restless troll and performing witches). It only makes the trip even more nerve-wracking. Kristian and Anders made it to the top eventually, even though apparently Anders insisted on carrying with him a boat hook. Like the trip in itself wasn’t hard enough.

Today there is a climbing route named after Kristian. It begins in Hornelen’s east wall, takes about eight hours and according to tradition should be climbed with your bare hands. Luckily there are other ways to the top, as well. There are two hikes with variation in difficulty that could even suit a family. The hikes begin at Hunskår or Berleneset and are best carried out in the period between May and September. They vary in time and terrain, but all offer a great experience.

Hornelen

Europe´s highest sea cliff 860 m.a.s.

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Sverre Hjornevik
Hornelen01

Hornelen

Europe´s highest sea cliff 860 m.a.s.

©
Sverre Hjornevik
Hornelen02
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«Vingenfeltet» (1912)

 

In 1912 Kristian discovered petroglyphs on Vingenfeltet in Bremanger. He was originally looking for places in Norway where he could access hydropower through waterfalls. In his search he heard words of “some animals carved into a mountain” after his trip up Hornelen. The locals most likely already knew of the place, but Kristian was the first to publish his findings in 1912 and opened Vingen up for archaeological research. 

The petroglyphs with hunter’s art are the first discovered in the South of Norway. The field is considered to be the largest in Northern Europe and is dated back to 3-4000 years BC.  It consists of over 2000 different petroglyphs showing motives of deer but also humans of both sexes. 

Helleri

The interpretation of the petroglyphs evolve around an ancient tradition called “styrtjakt” of deer. This a brutal but efficient form of guided hunting, leading the animal off the cliff plunging itself to its death.

Vingen seems to have been a place of great gatherings for the local communities. The newer interpretations also point out that Vingen could have been a place of spiritual or religious ceremonies. The deer here is represented as a fertility symbol and it is imagined that groups of young unmarried men and women gathered here and took place in various celebratory ceremonies. Vingen was an exciting and vibrant place with rare access to meat.

It can seem that most of what Kristian Bing discovered was by sheer luck or accident. But he took the responsibility that came with these discoveries ever so seriously. In 1913 he ended up buying the farm Vingen for 3000 kroner. The property showcased amongst many things the waterfalls he originally set out to find. He then sold the farm in 1917 for over 50 000 kroner, but he made sure that the Bergen Museum got Dyreberget, the site where the petroglyphs were located, for as little as a 1000 kroner in 1923. And in doing so securing this piece of history for the future.

Today you can visit this unique place along with experienced tour guides through the tourist information in Bremanger, taking you through a part of history you surely will want to remember. If you can’t make the trip physically, you now have the opportunity to do a virtual experience: virtuellevingen.no

GårdenPhoto: This is "Vingengården" - The small farm that Kristian Bing bought.

 

 

You can experience «Vingen» with a certified guide:

Rock carvings in Vingen

Experience thousands of rock carvings in Vingen, while Mt. Hornelen gleams in the background.

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Visit Nordfjord
Vingenfeltet

Rock carvings in Vingen

Experience thousands of rock carvings in Vingen, while Mt. Hornelen gleams in the background.

©
Visit Nordfjord
Vingen

Morten made history

 

When Morten Knapstad from Team OneCall safely landed under Briksdalsbreen glacier, it was the last piece in a a large puzzle. To perform a stunt for the first time, within what we call risk sport in nature, hold’s long traditions. Roald Amundsen came home from the South Pole, while Robert Scott failed, the difference between triumph and tragedy can be tracked back to planning and preparations. When Bing and Aabrekk climbed Briksdalsbreen in 1895, it did not come as a surprise, Bing had already marked himself as a passionate glacial alpinist, just like Amundsen a few years later when he reached the South Pole after a series of other impressive accomplishments.

To do something for the first time, requires a passion for detailed preparations. Team OneCall consists of a group of airsport athletes who's grown up life is all about flying. Morten Knapstad, is one of Norways leading pilots in paragliding and speedriding. Before his wing caught air above Briksdalsbreen, he had detailed knowledge on his equipments maximum performance, calculated gradients in the different parts of the glacier fall, wind and weather, landing area and flown thousands of hours training.

When Morten is screaming with euphoric joy after landing, it is because we are doing an extreme sport, it layes in the very definition that there is risk involved. Even with detailed planning and preparation the stunt still contains a degree of uncertainty. Morten accepted that little portion of uncertainty, just like Bing and Aabrekk did back in 1895. Bing lived for the glaciers, mountains and nature north of Bergen, we in Team OneCall live for the same remarkable nature today. We see a red line throughout the history of Norwegian tradition of achievements in nature. We enjoy to prepare and follow with execution.

It was an honour to see Morten team up with Visit Nordfjord and other local businesses. It turned into a project showing huge potential in the joint forces of our national airsport community, and local tourism interests.

Perhaps a "love letter to Knapstad" will be made a hundred years from now? The history of Norwegians exploring the possibilities in nature, will most definitely continue.

Bjørn Magne Bryn
Leader Team OneCall

EXPLORE THE NORDFJORD REGION

 

Briksdal Glacier

The mighty Briksdal Glacier is part of "Jostedalsbreen National Park". Experience the magical blue ice up close.

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Morten Noremsaune
Morten Noremsaune - Briksdalsbreen
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