Thursday: First day
I step into the unforgiving silence, and all these slightly repressed feelings wash over me. I am struck by a strong yearning for a particular person in my life. In other words, the mountain trip taking us around the southern parts of Padjelanta/Badjelánnda National Park start as mountain trips usually do. The three musketeers converged in Luleå from where we drove towards Kvikkjokk with a nice old Volvo car. We bought dried reindeer meat in Jokkmokk for a business fair for students at which we will be try to sell our mountain adventures. It is called Amår and takes place at the Linneaus University in Växjö the 6th of Mars. We got to Kvikkjokk and the end of the road after 150 km (Jokkmokk – Kvikkjokk) of desolate road with only a handful of cars seen. We did arrive late though (around 20.00). After having set up the tents, warmed up the food and arranged some small things we are joined in the tent at 23.11 for an evening meeting, ready to get out in the mountains…
Friday: Kvikkjokk – Kurajaure
Woke up around 07.00 to prepare for a snowmobile ride. A very nice guy called Björn was going to drive us to Tarrekaise to save us some time. So much snow! About 130-150cm. A lot of troubles with the snowmobiles but still happy faces. Björn refused to give up despite getting stuck in the snow several times with the snowmobile. Windy and snowy but the contours of the mighty Tarrekaise massif could still be seen behind us as we went higher and higher during the day. Started skiing from the Tarrekaise area around 14.00, which was not very optimal. Really tough the first bit (very deep snow) but soon we were up on more wind-exposed mountains. We saw reindeer there. Earlier on the snowmobiles we followed a herd of five(ish) moose. Graceful animals! Up, up, and up all day. Night came and we found a wind shelter. Slept inside but used no wood. Cosy! =)
Saturday: Kurajaure – Bridge over Varvekkråhto
Woke up att six to a cloudy, slightly windy day. Happy faces. During the first hours we could sense the dramatic mountains surrounding us as we lost altitude. Climbed 500 meters yesterday. At lake Vaimok the wind was blowing hard. Luckily the wind was coming from south-east. Put up our lunch break tipi in strong winds, approx. 10-15 m/s. We are right on the east border of the lake. We are happy to have the wind in our backs but aware of the risk of some seriously harsh weather. The wind is getting stronger. Adam lead us with the GPS and I go last since I too have a GPS. Steep slope downward but everyone makes it. We are impressed over how well Katarina manages the slope. But no good for paying customers =). The time is now four o’clock and since the sun goes down at 16.06 today we decide to start looking for a place to put up our tent around the northern bridge over the river Varvvekråhto. Stronger wind now, approx. 20 m/s. Everyone does a great job in making wind-protection for the tent in the form of snow walls, secure the tent poles and get the snow out of the tent. Very important to keep the tent dry inside. Johan is now warm and has the feet of Katarina in his armpits. Everything important is inside the tent. In this weather it is not a good idea to go the planned route via Sulitelma. We see nothing and outside the wind makes you fall over. The tent is shaking, vibrating and making a lot of noise. We are taping feet (Katarinas) while Adam is trying to get the coordinates of the closest mountain hut into the GPS. Not easy since the reference system Sweref 99 (used in the map) does not exist in the GPS. Everybody is happy despite the circumstances. Time to eat (cold) food!
Sunday – Bridge to Staddajåkk
Barely slept at all tonight due to the storm. Very windy. The tent was full of condensed water and the space between the inner and outer tent was stuffed with snow, so much that Katarina that slept closest to the inner tent became irritated with Adam and Johan that suddenly took up so much of the space in the tent… The wind was weaker today but we still could only just put up the lunch tipi for a breakfast on bacon. Difficult conditions regarding the snow as the wind has blown away all the snow to expose a barren and bumpy ice that we ski on. Not good. Climbed approx. 250 m (750 – 1000 m.a.s.l.) and in the mountain pass the wind picked up again. Like yesterday the wind came almost from behind. At the start we enjoyed it but soon we could barely stand and our pulks were blowing away. A constant wind of 15-20 m/s with gusts of 25-30 m/s. Chaos. White out. Started to become a little bit scary and we almost discontinued our attempts of reaching the cabins. Instead, we decided to try to get to a lower altitude. From seeing only 5 meters ahead of us, we could soon see 100 meters ahead. From walking on foot, since the pulks were pulling away so strongly in the wind and icy ground that skiing was not possible, we could soon ski again. Hopeful. The wind lost strength as we lost altitude. Three very happy guides soon saw the cabins, somewhat startled by the experience of complete snow chaos. Are now waiting for the weather report from Johan’s mother. Have eaten a mixture with characteristics of chocolate balls. Yummie. Are going to sleep for a long time, everybody is mentally exhausted. Aiming for the Touttar cabins tomorrow but depending on the weather we might put up our tents before that. We are able to get a ride with snow mobiles from Tarrekaise to Kvikkjokk so we are not in a rush =).
Monday – Staddajåkk to Touttar cabins
What a day! Started with nice weather and barely any wind (i.e. not horrible weather with storm). But very icy, and so barren. Where is the fluffy snow? Held too much altitude at Staloloukta which led to a hilly terrain and traversing on ice. Tough. Climbing skins helped. Beautiful terrain with small hills everywhere around us. Soon started to climb from Staloloukta towards Touttar but never seemed to get to the cabins. For every crest ahead of us we thought we would find the plateau on which the Touttar cabins and the Touttar lake is located. It became dark. We did not have the coordinates for the cabin. Not very good. At last we decided to make a longer break and really think about how to continue. Already then, Katarina saw some rocks in the distance that looked similar to cabins. Very close to putting up our tents, we made a last attempt in reaching the cabins. The rocks were actually cabins! The entrance to the hut, however, was completely covered in snow… But at last, we are sitting and eating cardamom buns, enjoying life. Who does things like this by their own choice? We are strange.
Tuesday – Touttar to close to Såmmarlappa
30 min sleep-in, awesome! Difficult weather conditions, complete white-out, but this is good practice. Weather got better as we lost altitude, and in the Tarra valley a weak winter sun shone upon us for a few minutes during lunch. A ravine made the trip there long. But great views! Skied along the Tarra valley and enjoyed not having to climb. Met a group of Germans camping. Adam had been making jokes all day about that we like previous days should make a night hunt to find the huts. This is exactly what happened. We had no coordinates to the hut so instead of going there, we camped nearby and waiting for the snow mobile ride by our friend Björn. Next time we will put all coordinates in our GPS. But we had good food and wine at the camping site! Everyone is happy and longing for semlor (Swedish dessert) in Jokkmokk tomorrow. The time is now 9.30pm. Good night!
Wednesday – Såmmarlappa to Luleå
Cold morning, around -20 degrees Celsius. When we leave after breakfast on bacon and peanut butter we see the hut we missed yesterday. A lot of people all of a sudden; a German couple, the mountain cabin hosts, and finally Björn and Helena. We go to Kvikkjokk in beautiful weather seeing mountains we haven’t seen for the whole week. In Kvikkjokk we are invited to coffee with fresh milk in the beautiful and comfortable mountain station. We can’t stay long, but at least we agree with Björn to cooperate in the future as well. In Jokkmokk we eat semlor as we thought we had missed the Fettisdag (a special day in Sweden for eating semlor). With fresh cream! We get to Luleå where Adam’s amazing partner Sara invites us to have pizza for dinner. We are tired but happy :)