Heroes of Telemark Commando Experience

11 Days

Overview

Heroes of Telemark Commando Challenge

In 1942, the race was on to prevent Hitler from realising his nuclear ambitions and the allies would do whatever it took to prevent the Nazi’s from creating the first bomb. Norway had been occupied by Germany in 1940, who were well aware that the Norsk Hydro Plant was producing Deuterium as a by-product of its operations. Otherwise known as ‘Heavy-Water’, D2O was key to producing nuclear material and the Nazi’s had immediately increased production. The RAF attempted to destroy the plant from the air but as you’ll see on your trip, this is simply not possible. 

Worried, the Special Operations Executive (SOE) began to draw up plans for raids from the ground and so having recruited a group of Norwegian locals, then in October 1942 inserted them back onto the Hardanger Vidda plateau via parachute. Operation Grouse was the first in a series of raids and will be the one of three which you will follow in its entirety to its spectacular conclusion at the Norsk Hydro Plant. It would take time for the Norwegian Commandos to move into position to receive a group of Royal Engineers who would then be led to the plant to destroy it so they moved as quickly as they could to recce landing zones and make sure there was no Nazi presence. 

Once the signal was given, Operation Freshman was launched. This audacious but doomed plan saw a troop of Royal Engineers loaded onboard two Horsa gliders which were pulled by Halifax bombers but due to a series of misfortunes, one of the Halifax bombers and both gliders crash landed into the mountains. Those who were not killed on impact were soon rounded up by the Gestapo and executed under Hitler’s infamous ‘Commando Order’. This devastating loss of life also seriously impacted the men of Operation Grouse who feared the Gestapo would soon be on their trail too and so fled deeper into the savage wilderness. Surviving for months on moss and litchen, these hardy Norwegians attempted to maintain morale whilst they waited for news of a new operation. 

After 4 months on the plateau, the final operation was launched which saw a further 6 Norwegian Commandos parachuted onto the plateau under codename, Operation Gunnerside. They quickly met the Operation Grouse men and immediately began to prepare for a raid onto the power station. Security was much higher as a result of the failed Operation Freshman so the only bridge over the gorge was not an option. Instead the raiders had to find a route down off the Hardanger Vidda through the forests to the plant. 

It is only when you follow this final attack route that you will truly appreciate the scale of their task. That they successfully destroyed the machinery inside the plant after 5 gruelling months in the harsh Norwegian winter is a true testimony to their Commando ethos. 


 

Highlights

  • Learn to operate and survive in the wild at the Hogas Ski centre
  • Insert onto the Hardanger Vidda via skiddoo
  • Pull your pulks across the frozen plateau as a team
  • Follow the attack route to the Norsk Hydro Plant

Itinerary

Your expedition starts at RMR Manchester where the team will take you into the hangar to do final kit checks and give a final briefing on the expedition.

In the evening the complete team will have a meal in a local restaurant and have time to socialise in the bar

Accommodation

Camp cots with sleeping bags

After an early breakfast, we will drive to Manchester Airport and catch a short flight to Oslo. Upon arrival we will collect our hire vehicles and commence our journey west towards the Revsnes Hotel in Byglandsfjord where you will be based for the training phase of the expedition.

Accommodation is a comfortable hotel with stunning views over a frozen fjord. Evening meal will be served in the restaurant followed by an introductory brief from the Mountain Guide on clothing and the days ahead.

Today, following a breakfast in the hotel restaurant we will head to the stores to draw kit before commencing ski training at the Hogas Ski Centre. This is a chance to shake out into your teams and along with your Commando partner, learn to ski both on manicured routes and off-piste. This will be the first time you will spend a full day outdoors so will be a great opportunity to test your kit, adjust your clothing and prepare yourself for the challenge ahead.

In the evening you will again take a meal in the hotel restaurant and in the evening have chance to learn more about exactly what the Commandos had to do to survive and operate on the Hardanger Vidda.

After a breakfast in the hotel, you will return to the Hogas Ski Centre, this time as a team to pull you pulk across a testing route, to fine tune working as a team and swapping positions. During the day you will learn more about winter survival skills, camp craft and the use of snow-shoes. In the afternoon you will have chance to visit the local town to purchase any last minute items before heading back to the hotel to pack your kit under the supervision of your Commando partner.

After an early breakfast the team will load up the expedition kit and head to Songekrysset where you will leave the hire vehicles and meet the local Snow Scooter guides who will take you onto the plateau. After an exhilarating ride on the back of a snow scooter, you will arrive at the desolate Operation Grouse Drop Zone (DZ). Once the scooters depart, you will move as a team to the first overnight accommodation which is Berunuten Hytte, one of the original sabotage huts.

Upoin arrival you must ensure the fires are lit, snow is collected for water and rations prepared.

Today is a long drag along the lake and up over a mountain so you will be tested as a team to navigate, encourage each other and reach your destination before nightfall. Upon arrival you will split between two hyttes and again light the fires, dry kit and feed. These two huts again were used by the raiders so it will be a perfect chance to learn more about the Commandos and their exploits.

Passing from the lake and its dam, you will move down off the plateau into more undulating terrain before reaching Reinar Hytte. Tonight you will have the option of sleeping in the accommodation or a snowhole which is surprisingly pleasant. Make sure you look our at the stars this evening as you will see more of the universe than you would have seen before.

Today you will move from the wilderness towards civilisation as you reach compacted tracks used by the locals. Whilst still a long day you will find yourselves increasing in pace towards the Landing Zone (LZ) of Operation Freshman, the ill-fated operation by 9th Field Company, 1st British Airborne Division. It is here that you will complete the pulk-pull, having successfully crossed the Hardanger Vidda.

After a chance to enjoy a fresh cooked meal at the Vierli Ski Centre, you will move to Rjukan in the hire vehicles to the High Mountain Hotell Skinnarbu where you will have chance to freshen up before dinner.

In the evening, you will be given a presentation on the resistance in the area and how the hotel you are staying in served as their HQ. This will be followed by a set of orders for the following days raid.

Evening meal will be in the hotel restaurant.

Today after an early breakfast you will be met by the local guide and historian to retrace the Op Gunnerside advance to contact sabotage route. Wearing white camouflage clothing, you will move down the gorge to the Hydro Plant. Upon arrival you will have chance to look around the great hall of the plant and see the site of the destruction. Fortunately you do not need to now escape to a safe country and instead can celebrate with a trip to Krossobanen and visit to Rjukan.

Upon completion, you will return to the High Mountain Hotell Skinnarbu for a final night where you will have chance to hand back any kit and equipment, have a debrief on the expedition and prepare to travel home the following day.

Evening meal in the hotel restaurant.

Following breakfast in the hotel restaurant, the team will say farewell and depart back to Oslo, dropping the hire vehicles off and flying back to Manchester. The team will then be moved back to RMR Manchester to collect vehicles for onward travel.

Inclusions

Cost Includes

  • 2 full training weekends prior to expedition in Anglesey
  • Comprehensive folding kayak training package where you meet your expedition partner, become confident with capsize drills, paddling techniques and water safety
  • All accomodation
  • All feeding
  • Kit Hire (excluding sleeping bag and personal kit)
  • Transport in country from airport pick-up to airport drop-off

Cost Excludes

  • Flights
  • Personal Kit
  • Sleeping bags and sleeping mats

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

Heroes of Telemark Commando Experience
From £37650
/ Adult
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