About a week after I returned from Austria I got a call from a friend asking if I’m interested in going to Sweden to climb the highest mountain there – Kebnekaise. Interested I was and after finding out that I could get a whole week of days off from work planning was set to motion.
The plan was to use a ferry to get over Finnish gulf and drive, drive, sleep and drive some more to reach Nikkaluota where the hike would begin. Starting quite early on Tuesday we were in Helsinki at 10am and drove about 800km that day with smaller breaks.
Visited a bell museum. The weather was very hot so you could only feel comfortable inside a conditioned car or in some shade.
We found a nice camping place when we reached Sweden.
Next day we finished the drive and after lunch and some packing we were off to Kebnekaise fjällstation. It was an easy trek which we covered in 4,5 hours with some breaks. The station was very crowded. I probably didn’t see that much people during the month in Alps.
Kebnekaise is above the Arctic circle so it doesn’t get really dark in there – basically the sun just goes lower and behind the mountain. So when it got lighter again we were off to the top – starting in the wrong direction 😀 I didn’t bother navigating ’cause two of the group have already climbed the mountain. So I was confident that reaching the top won’t be a problem. So I didn’t take the map with me. This resulted us going way off the track. Well, actually we were on the track, but it took a wide arc around the mountain. So it took us like 9 hours to get to the top. By that time the clouds had reached the mountaintop and we had very poor visibility.
When going down we opted to take the Eastern route down. That involved some climbing using ropes and cables, but nothing difficult. This descent took us to a glacier. Which was very cool, but also rised another navigation problem, ’cause there weren’t any tracks visible on the ice. The cracks were small, but still we avoided patches of snow. I knew the rough direction of the station so we tried to carry on in that direction. The mist made it difficult and walking on the glacier without crampons is tricky. I also managed to step on a loose stone and lost my balance which led to a 3cm long wound on my right thumb. And we still had to descend quite a bit. While on a small break the wind cleared a bit and I saw the valley we were trying to reach. So we continued along the river and soon saw some people descending from the track. So back on the track we were and soon in the camp. The others were already there. With some help I bandaged my thumb and prepared for the night.
We planned to make the drive back to Helsinki in one go so in the morning we rushed back to the car in rather great speed – 4 hours with small breaks. Washed up and left a note to a friend arriving later from his trip from Abisko. Taking turns behind the wheel we arrived the port in 15 hours with spare time until the first boat.
I tried to take minimal gear with me and tested how my New Balance running shoes work in the mountains. And they worked very well. The ground wasn’t that rough that I could have injured my ankles. My feet got wet a couple of times, but dried soon enough. Using Gore-Tex would have been better. Everything else was already tested and worked well. Still I’m missing a more comfortable backpack. I’ll start working on the shelter and possibly a lighter sleeping bag or a quilt.
Next bigger hike will probably in the winter.