Monday, April 13, 2015

High-fat diet in the Arctic

Arctic explorers carry a couple of kilograms of butter, because it contains many calories per gram. Some of them eat a stick of butter for breakfast as well as dinner. Me and Martin also bet on fat when we went to Kebnekaise: we brought butter, goose fat, coconut oil, sausages, bacon, frozen meatballs and almonds. I counted at least 3 kilograms of fat but we probably had more. You have to do this if you want to be considered cool in the Arctic circles.

Kebnekaise is a mountain area located beyond the Arctic Circle and Kebnekaise is also the name of the highest mountain in Sweden. I have been there two years ago and wanted to come back as soon as possible, despite the horrible weather we have experienced. There is something about the Kebnekaise area that draws me there and it's hard to explain.

Sunday

After arriving to Kebnekaise fjällstation, we went for a short ski ride just above the hut. The snow was horrible, as is normal for the very windy Láddjuvággi valley. It was then easy to convince Martin to go to Tarfala valley in search for better snow. It turned out to be the right call.

Monday

In the morning we went up to Tarfala mountain hut in sunny weather.

Tarfala valley, Storglaciär and Isfallsglaciär
Martin took a nap in the afternoon, so I went alone for a ski ride just above the hut. The snow was much better than yesterday but still very tricky. Thanks to a lot of wind, icy parts mixed with deep pockets of powder. I fell because of this in the bottom flat part and later learned that the whole hut watched me fall through the window. I'm always happy to provide entertainment.

After dinner, the whole hut gathered again at the windows to watch a group of guys skiing with headlamps. I told Martin: "They are either complete idiots or professionals".

There is no water or electricity in the hut and you have to fetch water and wood from the outside in −15 degrees Celsius. After the arrival of the group with headlamps, the hut was packed to the last bed and had the right Arctic atmosphere. The fat in our stomachs also only amplified it.

The Moon and a hairy mountain. My best guess is that wind is blowing snow over the mountain and creating an illusion of hair.

Tuesday

Two years ago me and Kolo unsuccessfully tried to climb Kaskasatjåkka (2076 m), the 4th highest mountain in Sweden. We turned around because of high winds. Me and Martin made a second attempt and the weather was much better this time with clear blue sky. However, it was very windy and cold, so we had to cover our faces regularly to avoid frostbites. We were rewarded with a view that is even better than from Kebnekaise sydtopp, the highest mountain in Sweden.

Western panorama includes 3 of the top 5 highest mountains in Sweden: Kebnekaise sydtopp, Kebnekaise nordtopp and Kaskasapakte. And it's taken from the 4th highest mountain, Kaskasatjåkka.

Wednesday

We woke up to a typical Tarfala weather: very low visibility, snow and strong wind. No wonder this is the most windy place in Sweden.



Luckily for us, the wind was blowing into our backs and it was actually making moving easier. We wanted to go back to the Kebnekaise fjällstation, but also check out the glacier cave inside Pallins halvjökel.

You can make a couple of ski turns in the glacier cave

The glacier cave provided a nice shelter, but we had to leave it and enter the white world.

Man on the Moon

We arrived at Kebnekaise fjällstation just before noon and then didn't do anything for the rest of the day.

Thursday

Two years ago I have been ogling Tuolpagorni a lot but we didn't have time to ski it, so I made it my main goal of this vacation.

Tuolpagorni has a bowl on the top, a very unusual formation

The conditions looked awesome: clear blue sky, no wind and a lot of powder snow. Our only worry were avalanches, but a snow pit only showed a dangerous layer more than a meter deep.

It felt very strange to be in Tuolpagorni's flat bowl up in the air. We went up to a saddle below the top, enjoyed the view and then skied down the obvious path.

Our downhill route

It was our first time skiing such a narrow and steep couloir (38 to 40 degreees), but in the end it was easier than expected. The deep snow was very forgiving and the couloir wider than it looks at first.

Our piece of work in the couloir

Wow, what a day! No wind is a once-in-a-lifetime experience in this area and skiing Tuolpagorni is also something we won't forget. Watch Martin's video summarizing the whole day.

Friday

I woke up feeling bad, so I stayed in the hut while Martin went for a short ride near Jökelbäcken. It was time to leave Kebnekaise and head home. I'm sure we'll be back soon.

As usual, a small selection of my photos is on Flickr and a full album from multiple cameras is on Google+. Martin also made a video from the whole trip.