It all started in 1999 with a six-week bicycle tour through Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Simon Michalowicz - born in 1981 and originally from Iserlohn in Germany - got a taste for “brunost, vafler og norsk friluftsliv” (brown cheese, waffles and the Norwegian outdoor living) and there was no turning back. From now on, this was his passion.
“The Norwegian outdoor lifestyle suits me perfectly,” he says, “and I prefer longer trekking tours. I’m happy to set off with my tent, no matter the season. For me, it’s about being out and about and having the best possible time.
Norwegian trails have a large place in Simon’s wanderlustful heart. His first big journey took him to Hardangervidda, crossing from Finse to Haukeliseter. The fascinating landscapes left a long-lasting impression on Simon, creating a deep and ever-growing desire to fully experience and explore Norway. Simon couldn’t shake this idea and thus was born the goal of walking Norway from South to North.
“In 2013 I made the decision to leave my job and put the plans into action. I started the big adventure at Cape Lindesnes and reached the North Cape by foot 140 days later! This journey changed everything, above all I learnt that you can be very, very happy with only a few things in your backpack.”
His idea of a perfect day in the wilderness is nothing short of a fairytale.
“The first tentative sunrays wake us up and promise a wonderful new day. Soon the stove is whirring and the smell of coffee fills the tent, we slowly crawl out of the sleeping bag and prepare our breakfast. We take our time and take it easy. After completing our morning routine and packing the backpacks, we tackle the first few miles of the day and enjoy the beautiful autumn scenery around us. The mountains shine in all sorts of colors, the soft rays of the sun immerse the environment in wonderful light. During the breaks, we indulge in treats from the backpack and brew coffee - just wonderful! The miles fly by, we make progress which, in this weather, brings so much joy! Toward late afternoon we look for a place to pitch our tent. We quickly find what we are looking for and set up camp near a small creek. We fetch water, set up our tent and enjoy the view. In the twilight the cooker is buzzing and we reward ourselves for the day with a delicious dinner. Soon, this inner contentment sets in, one only experiences after a strenuous and good day on tour.”
But it’s not all sweet memories. In an attempt to cross the Jostedal glacier lengthwise in March, his team was surprised by a blizzard and were trapped in their tent for three days of harsh wind and snow. They spent countless hours clearing the tent from snow, and had he not been experienced, the outcome could’ve been worse.
“After this very special winter trip, I swore I would always bring the best equipment in the winter. A cheap snow shovel, which does not do what it promises, can quickly become dangerous. It's just a snow shovel, but when it comes down to it you have to be able to rely 100% on it. Winter in Norway is no time or place for gambling on poor equipment!”
In 2014, Simon became part of the Helsport family and was able to try out many different Helsport products and put them to the test.
“Be it Svea, Spitsbergen, Lofoten or Fjellheimen - all these tents have accompanied me and have always been a reliable retreat for me and my companions - no matter how bad the weather was! When we came out of the tent after three days in the storm high up on the Jostedal Glacier, our Svea tent still stood like a rock, it had brought us through the winter storm without any problems! All in all, I have spent well over a year on tour in Norway and always had tents and sleeping bags from Helsport with me - they’ve never disappointed me!”
For newcomers treading into the mountain sphere for the first time, Simon suggest you focus on collecting experiences and delete the ‘what-if’s’!
In the end, the most important thing is that you go out! Choose a rather light approach in the beginning and slowly grow to do more demanding stuff.
“In the end, the most important thing is that you go out! Choose a rather light approach in the beginning and slowly grow to do more demanding stuff. Do not start directly with the most demanding tours. I get lots of questions about Norway from South to North. I can warmly recommend to do at least one test tour beforehand. Gather experience and see if you and your gear are ready for an adventure of this magnitude! At the end of the day, when you actually stand at Cape Lindesnes and want to leave, you will be ready and the chances of getting to the North Cape without major problems are increasing enormously!”