Blizzard Badass: Norwegian Edition
Born: 12.13.1917, Kristiana Norway
Died: 12.30.1988, Konsgvinger Norway
Jan Baalsrud is not a well known name in the United States, although he is a national hero in his home country of Norway. In this frigid edition of Frontiersman of the Week, we’re going to explore why Jan might be one of the most impressive survivalists in the world. The Second World War painted a brutal landscape across history, and bore witness to countless exploits of both exceptional bravery and selfless sacrifice. The participants of that awful conflict, on both sides of the aisle, fell victim to one of mankind’s greatest tragedies. Jan was no different, except for the incredible circumstances under which he managed to survive.
Born in the city that is now Oslo, Jan aspired to be an instrument maker. Upon the invasion of Norway by German troops in 1940, he fought at Vestfold, resisting the incursion. The German invasion was successful, however, and Jan fled to neutral Sweden, but was expelled- accused of espionage. After his ejection, he traveled to countries including the Soviet Union and the USA. Having a bit of badassery in his blood, he wound up joining an English-trained special forces group called Norwegian Independent Company I (or Company Linge, named for their leader). He returned to Norway to resist the occupation. It should be observed that the English were absolute professionals at wreaking havoc behind enemy lines.
Jan had bad luck. A case of mistaken identity led to disaster: Germans attacked Company Linge’s boat en route to destroy an air traffic control tower. Their craft was carrying a sweat-inducing 8 tons of explosives. The crew was forced to sink their own boat and detonate the cargo, escaping in a small dinghy, which the Germans quickly sunk as well. Do you know how cold Arctic waters are at that time of year in Norway? They regularly reach 28.8 degrees Fahrenheit before freezing occurs. Jan & co. swam ashore, but Jan was the only one to evade his sausage-eating pursuers. Oh, did we mention that he had a gunshot wound in his foot?
- Missing one boot (presumably due to the bullets) and soaked, he killed one soldier and a Gestapo officer with his pistol. He continued to evade capture after dispatching the men.
- Jan marched through miles and miles of unbroken snow, only to be knocked down a mountain by a winter storm-induced avalanche.
- Fighting frostbite and snow blindness, he managed to half luck and half navigate his way to the comically named village of Furuflaten.
Quick Definitions of Horrifying Injuries:
- Frostbite: Freezing of the Skin & the Underlying Tissue. Frostbite can cause nerve damage, tissue death, and person-death.
- Snow Blindness: Technically Photokeratitis, snow blindness is like a bad sunburn on your fucking cornea caused by unprotected exposure to UV light for extended periods of time.
- Blood Poisoning: This is an extreme case of infection during which bacteria get into your bloodstream and start messing around, and it can also kill you.
Aided by Faraflutiens (at least we assume that’s what Faraflutites are called), Jan was partially nursed back to health and, bafflingly, deposited in a wood hut atop a freezing Alp called Revdal. He was not well, and suffered from horrendous malnutrition, injuries, and blood poisoning. Next, he was transported to a location where he would be picked up by locals. En route to his drop off point, some freezing location in Finland, he was half abandoned because of German activity.
- Atop Revdal, Jan did some good old fashioned bloodletting (on himself) with his pocket knife to relieve those pesky symptoms of blood poisoning.
- He referred to his bloody, freezing, death shack as the “Hotel Savoy.”
- When his stretcher dropped behind a wall of snow after Revdal, he spent 27 days busily amputating nine of his toes to halt the spread of gangrene.
After his amputation vacation, native Scandinavians called Sami picked up Jan and agreed to get him into Sweden.
- He was transported into neutral Sweden by reindeer. This was part of his agreement with the Sami to trade his Christmassy transportation for various goods like booze and coffee.
- He SURVIVED.
Jan was inducted into the Order of the British Empire, and awarded the St. Olav’s Medal with Oak Branch. He reunited with his family after the end of the German occupation. His next order of business was to move to the gorgeous island of Tenerife, Spain, raising a colossal middle finger to Winter. He eventually returned to Norway (presumably having forgiven snow for his awful treatment), and lived until 1988, when he died peacefully.