Tolerance – an outdated word?


On september 4th I gave birth to my first son Benjamin. My nine months of pregnancy were surprisingly easy and allowed me to kayak up until 10 days before birth, endurobike and even paraglide up until month seven. In the 8th month I went hiking for 7 hours in the vicinity of Svartisen glacier, and in general feeling very good as the little man grew happily inside. As it turned out, not everybody liked the fact that a woman still goes down a hill on a bike or jumps in the kayak to paddle class four as soon as the belly can be seen…


Seven months pregnant


Before pregnancy I repeatedly heard comments such as: “Women have to decide on their own when to slow down and put on the brakes”, and  “Pregnancy is not an illness – it is really good to keep staying active”, pluss “Your body will tell you when to slow down”. So what happened when it actually did not tell me to stop until ten days before birth? People got angry.

I guess I should not have been so surprised to realise that whitewater kayaking and enduro biking is not really looked upon as “normal activity” for pregnant women. However, to be able to stay so active made the mental aspect of my pregnancy extremely easy – I was happy and active and the same with my baby boy. And here are some facts to consider

  1. When I got pregnant I was not just normally fit. I was as fit as I have ever been in my entire life – coming straight from high-end athlete performances at World Cups and World Championships the months before, and a hard training regime leading up to those competitions.
  2. My mind has not played tricks on me (too much) – I still have trusted myself to make the best descicions on the water and on the biking trails – why would I now suddenly start screwing up just because I was pregnant?
  3. Kayaking is like walking – I have close to 15.000 hours on the water – that is 625 days (24/7) or 1.71 years.


8 months pregnant


But what really have surprised me is that it is not just strangers remarking on my activity level the past months – also my friends have found it appropriate to point the finger at times. It seems like the tolerance for socalled “extreme sports” while being pregnant is quite low – and lower than I actually thought up front.

This brings me to the key topic of this text: TOLERANCE

Perception is the key to it all. I do believe that many of the negative remarks come from not truly understanding the world an extreme sport athlete walk in. One of my friends commented “But what if you get the paddle in the stomach when you run this?” The section in question is one I consider very easy, and one I have done hundreds of times without anything happening. I just replid: “Why would something happen now?”.

I have been blessed with a man that trusted me 100 % while carrying his child. He never once told me not to get on the river, to not run a rapid, to not go biking… He did however tell me that I might be wise to not paraglide the last two months – something I agreed with as soon as I gave it a thought. His trust in me has been the biggest sign of love ever – and I am forever grateful for his support.


9 months pregnant

Being pregnant have been a wonderful journey, leading the way to the arrival of little Benji. As I have explored new depths of my own being while feeling him grow inside, I have also learned more about the people around me and the world I live in. It only encourages me to walk my own steps, making myself and thus my little family happy.

To end this blog here are some advice for the pregnant extreme sport athlete:

  1. Try to follow your gut instinct – not your brain. The brain will tell you to slow down or to keep going – but it is really the body that will tell you how active to stay while being pregnant.
  2. Try your best to not listen to anybody telling you what to do or not – be your own being.
  3. If you are happy, the child will also be happy. You will never cause him or her any harm or risk – it is your child after all.
  4. To kayak while pregnant is really down to good balance and a good back-deck roll! I had both and thus enjoyed endless trips on easy whitewater the last month of waiting.
  5. I thought being fit would help me at birth – but as it is with strong core muscles sometimes it can be a hard birth because all the muscles can cramp and hinder the pelvis opening up… as it did for me with 30 + hours of labour. But being fit put me back on the bike 4 days after birth, and in my kayak 7 days after birth, so I say the benefit of being active is huge.

Good luck!


Competing at Sickline World Championships 4.5 weeks after birth


As I climb out of bed at the break of dawn I yet again think about how incredibly rich my life is. If I had never said yes to join a roll practise in the small pool in Sjoa at age 16, I would not be sipping coffee in my cabin Soria Moria, overlooking the magical waters of rio Futaleufu, Chile. But as it is, I do not believe in coincidences. Not at all.




I believe strongly that we shape our own world. The real challenge of life lies within recognizing the chances when they come along –to grab them and go with them. Of course, in a parallell universe I might have been sipping my coffee on my own pacific island, or I could have simply just stayed in Otta where I grew up, content at watching kayakers and rafters float through our little community on their way to the rivers of the region. Notthing wrong with that, and sometimes I envy the friends I have that managed to find their peace in our home town.


But I am still happy I accepted the invitation to learn to roll a kayak back in 1996.


But honestly, what makes me perhaps the most annoyed in the whole world is when somebody tells me (and many like to do, especially before they know me) how lucky I am. To have what I have, to have done what I have done, to have seen what I have seen. No – I am not lucky. I made my life happen by myself, it did not not just occur by some magical whim of fate.

Skjermbilde 2016-03-10 kl. 23.37.51
Cruising through Terminator low water below my casita

But I do admit that I am lucky being born Norwegian, having had the privilege of growing up in a safe country with all the possibilities of the world just laid before my feet. If there is something I try to tell my students, this is it. Instead of demanding that the government should pay the students more (!) money to get an education in form of higher scholarships, we should appreciate the immense opportunity we are getting as Norwegians and work harder, and strive for becoming our best. My nine-year university degree was all free, and it secures my off-the-water-life – I can always find a job as a lecturer or teacher. For this I am very grateful.


But again, I had to work for it. I carried university books with me around the world for 9 years, and always found time and place to study while on the road. That takes a good portion of stubborness and determination, pluss some nice friends that from time to time helped me carrying those books around! And no, I did not just magically get a cabin on the shore of one of the most beautiful rivers in the world – I worked hard to get the money for it, then I worked even harder at negotiating the deal with the local farmer, learning the language and finding somebody to help me build it. If I had listened to just one of the dozens of people that told I was crazy, and perhaps even stupid, I would have never sipped my coffee by the fire, and writing this blog. Again – luck had notthing to do with it.

Morning view


So – I also got this place in northern Norway.. a coincidence? Nope, I used the money I earned at the Octoberfest one year and bought it. 14 hours shifts for 16 days, carrying beer to thirty people, paid for this view. I like that.


Thank you thirsty beer drinkers for this view!


If anything is entirely clear to me it is that we are responsible for our own lives. If you do not like where you are or what you are – change it. There are probably a million reasons why you haven´t done it yet, but pardon me – they are all excuses. In the end it is only you that can go about and change your life. It is your responsiblity. Do not look at others thinking they are lucky to have the life they are living – my bet is that they did something for getting what they have – even if it only means recognizing chances and taking them when life puts them in our path.


Now it is time for me to get on the water – see you out there!




Enjoying river life with the important people – amigos!



Peer – you lie!

These are the famous words from the opening scene of Henrik Ibsen´s screen play Peer Gynt, written in 1867. As a Norwegian I have grown up with quotes from this play, and many of them are engraved in my mind just as well as random German grammar rules and my grandfather´s firm advice on cross-country skiing. If you can quote the infamous Peer, you are definitely a true Norwegian. So what does Peer Gynt have to do with kayaking?

Peer was an adventurerer, a womanizer and a coward, demanding attention at every corner. He entered the Norwegian stage with a bang, knocking over traditional Norwegian belief that a person should be responsible, work hard and not draw too much attention to himself. Instead he stole a bride, chased the farm girls, rode on the back of a reindeer buck, got a child with a mountain troll and only just escaped the halls of the Mountain King. He also enjoyed the harems of the Middle East, talked to the Sfinx and of course – stayed away from any kind of decent, hard work. He left the love of his life, Solveig, and ventured out into the world to follow his own destiny – to become a world citizen.

Simply put – he was the ultimate adventurer of his days, a flamboyant, extravagant spirit that believed that his dreams ought to become reality – only then could he be himself fully and fulfill his potential as a human being. Sounds familiar?


Peer Gynt and the mountain troll Foto:

Peer is quite possibly the most narcissistic character in Norwegian literature. No other is more self-centered and high on life, but he is also the most discussed, celebrated and even admired anti-hero of them all. And more to the point, he is a perfect mirrored image of most of todays extreme sport athletes. If Ibsen would have had any idea about our modern society, Peer most certainly would have been base-jumping, rafting and kayaking his way across the globe. Without a doubt, his Instagram and Facebook accounts would have attracted thousands of followers.

As a matter of fact – to be named a Peer Gynt today is equal to be complimented as a daredevil and an outsider, one that thinks outside the box. The fact that Peer throughout his life did not manage to admit his own short-comings until the very end, is something that most Norwegians forget. Despite the fact that he shied away from all difficulties, and would simply chose the easy way around a problem, today we even hand out the Peer Gynt prize to a person who has done outstanding work for the common good in the Norwegian society, one that has left a positive imprint on the international global community. The irony is almost too much.


The preposterous Peer Gynt Prize


So what is the big deal with Peer? As a stage character he is most interesting – an anti-hero who keeps slipping away from death, which appears in the play as a mysterious button-molder. He wants to take Peer´s soul and re-mold it as it is simply useless in its current form. The only thing that can save him is if he can come up with an occasion in his life where he has been himself fully. Peer protests: He, if anybody, has been himself fully – lived life to the fullest and followed his own wishes and dreams. He has walked his own steps, fulfilling his destiny wherever it may take him. But this is when the Mountain King re-appears, stating that Peer actually has been mostly a troll all his life!


Dovergubben – King of the Mountain. Foto:


To clearify: The trolls live by the motto: To be yourself – and to hell with the rest of the world! (Troll, to be yourself  – enough!) As a human though, to be yourself means that you still have to take responsibility for your own actions, good and bad. This crucial point was missed entirely by Peer as he is extravaganting around the world, breaking hearts and running headfirst into his own pleasures and desires.

The end of the play is intriguing – Peer returns home to Norway as an old man to find that Solveig has waited for him all along. His salvation it seems, lies in the ever-lasting purity of Solveig´s soul – the only place where he has been as he ought to be – she has kept this version of Peer polished in her heart and her strong belief in his goodness seems to smooth out the rest of his selfish life. Perhaps.


Peer and his Solveig. Foto: Peer Gynt spelet

As Solveig´s lullaby closes the play – the mysterious Button-Molder lingers in the shadows, warning about the next cross road where they are to meet again. He indeed claims the final words but what happens to Peer, Ibsen does not make clear. It is up to us to decide what destiny Peer would have – whether he lives or dies. Never has an open end been more intriguing – and the play continues to fascinate to this day.

As a modern-day adventurer I find it useful to once in a while do a reality check – am I myself – or am I simply myself enough? I would rather not be labelled as a troll whose goals are only selfish and narcissistic. I like to believe that by living outside the box I find happiness for myself, and thus become a positive part of the world. However, I wonder what Ibsen would have made of our extravagant way of life, snapping selfies and hunting likes on social media platforms. Filling my life with waterfalls, exotic trips to far-away places, competitions on man-made courses and doing exactly what I want, when I want it… What difference is there really between me and Peer, except that I do not lie as much as he does?

To me it seems that eventhough Peer only got one child with the female troll in the mountain hall of Dovre – his family has grown hugely in the past decades. For good and for bad.



Mariann – a potential descendant from Peer Gynt and his troll






I am sitting at my office desk, trying to make sense of the world. Tragedy keeps striking, and it strikes without mercy. As much as I am at loss for words, I feel this agonazing thorn inside my heart, nagging me, questioning me, demanding answers. Why do we kayak when there is so much at stake? A life is so fragile, and the loss is so devastating when yet another friend passes on.


Lovely, hilarious and outragous Beth (to the left!) …


I know why I keep kayaking. The energy and the confidence the river has given me I could never buy for a million dollars elsewhere. It is not an easy road to choose, that is for sure. She is merciless, fiery and ready to teach us whatever lessons we need to learn. But she is also peaceful, smooth and merciful – she embraces all of us, with our different stories, backgrounds, goals and hopes.




Many people wonder how my family deal with me running waterfalls and pushing my limits in deep river canyons when most will push their inner boundary with a heart-measurer or added weights in the gym. My answer is: My family doesn´t really deal with it – I believe they are waiting. They are waiting for the news when it didn´t work out deep in the canyons of southern Chile, or even on my home-run on the Raundalselvi in Voss. They are scared. To the point of oblivion. Always. And they should be.


But we should never let fear dictate our lives. My family may fear for me, as your family does for you when you are out on the river. But they have no choice, your family and mine, but to accept that we are living life in a way that makes us happy. I acknowledge that this is a selfish ground to stand. I can take it. You as well, I presume. For what do you prefer: To sit still and dream your dreams away, feeling pieces of your soul fade away as the clock keeps ticking – is that life to you? It is not to me. And my family knows this bare truth. The biggest responsibilty I have in my own life is my own happiness. With happiness comes love for the ones around me, peace and harmony. It is that simple. And some of us need the forever ongoing challenges the river provides to make us happy. Simple truth x 1.




If I did not run into the river on my path of life, I would have been a worse person than I am today. The same goes for Josh. John. Juanito. Lulu. Beth. Five friends lost in 14 months. It is devastating. Heartbreaking and beyond words… but what bound us together was the love for the common road we all chose. The river. They knew the risk, even if none of us ever wanted to drown. Simple truth x 2.


Amazing moments in the north of Norway with Lulu, Katrina and Nicole.


It is such a cliché that we only live once, and you have to make it count, and so on. It is a cliché for everybody, family and friends, who have lost somebody to the power of the river. But at the same time – is it really safer to live a so called normal life? The chances of getting hit by a car while crossing the road or getting in a traffic accident is way bigger than drowning. And I have to admit it – I rather move on by drowning than getting killed in traffic. And I think you are with me on this one. Simple truth x 3.


There are always somebody that stand behind. The ones that were on shore, that went for search and rescue, the ones that did not manage to save our friends despite incredible efforts. To all of you out there: Thank you. For your effort, for your relentless will to keep trying everything – for your pain and despair – we are here with you. We shoulder you, even if you do not know us – we raise you up even if you can not feel it – your task and your burden was so immense – and it was never your fault. Never. We all know what we risk.


But I have to admit it, I do have the survivor´s syndrom. And I think I am not alone in the whitewater community. How many of us got lucky over the years? How many brush the swim off like it was notthing, walking away with a smile, but silently thinking: Fuck, that was close. I know I have done this many times. Too many? I don´t know. I don´t know how good luck and bad luck gets dished out by the river. I know that the one time on the Pascua in Chile, the river ran a few hundred thousands CFS – I should have drowned. I know that at least one out of the two times I was stuck under the same rock on Hospital Rock section of the Kaweah river in California I should have drowned. That time on Marion´s Creek run in New Zealand´s Hollyford – before I really knew how boof or paddle hard whitewater – I should have drowned. Thank you to the people that saved my life. You know who you are.


Keeping the love and stoke going…

The fact is , there have been a few close calls. For all of us. There are many ways for us to look at those, though. We can get terrified – put ourselves down – stop kayaking – never again run class 5. Or we can look back, analyze, be honest about what went wrong and why – then get back on our feet and become better. I prefer the latter because it makes my life worth living. It makes me stronger, and it is a strength I take with me back into normal life. Every day. I know this is the same philosophy that Lulu, Juanito, John, Josh and Beth lived by. I know this because I talked to them about it. I know it because I can feel the truth of it in my heart, as I know they did in theirs. I grew up loving the sayings of “Memento Mori” and “Carpe Diem”. But I never knew that the consequences of living by those would hurt so much.


A flower for all our friends…


But people – I feel a strong urge to call out. Please – I know you feel like me. I know you need to push – I know you need the river to guide you in your life. But can you not just please step back a tiny bit – make the good calls. I know I am not really in a position to say this since I have made many bad calls. But. It hurts so much when we lose a member of the family. Every single one of you are special. Do what you have to do – push – explore – live – but also – reconsider, walk and leave it for next time. Please. Find a balance. The important balance. We all have a right to live and die – but live your life wisely. We might just get one chance. Simple truth x ever.


There is still another day out there to enjoy.. Deep in the Russion wilderness.