WHERE: Nikkaluokta to Ritsem via Kebnekaise – Lappland, Sweden
WHEN: August 7-10, 2017
WHO: Karma & Scott
OBJECTIVE: mountaineering/hiking, climbing Kebnekaise
After a 17-hour-long train ride from Stockholm to Kiruna followed by a short bus ride to Nikkaluokta, we began our approach to Kebnekaise. The weather forecast prompted us to push through to the base of the mountain that evening despite the late hour and it was nine when we finally set up camp. Long days up here still though, the sun comes up at four and sets around ten. We woke to a beautiful day, as promised, and were on trail by seven.
We ended up having an absolutely epic day on Kebnekaise! We decided to leave the public western route to the masses on the mountain (yeah Keb is a fairly accessible and popular spot) and instead climb up the eastern route. This choice involved a bit more fun technical challenges such as a glacier crossing and a fixed line climb up the eastern face, thus requiring a bit more experience and gear.
The big day
The morning started with a very nice walk through the Kitteldalen valley before turning east for the long steep hike up to the plateau where Björling’s glacier starts. We got our axes out and strapped on crampons to cross and to climb up the snowfield to the ledge where the fixed lines start. Clipping into harnesses for safety we began the ascent along the beautiful and fairly easy but exposed face up to the ledge just below the southern summit. Unfortunately, the summit remained covered in clouds, so we climbed until visibility began to fail then opted for lunch instead.
We still had a long way to go before camp that night, so we were keen to begin our descent. The plan was to scramble down the back side of the mountain on Durling’s trail, a faint but kerned route through Kaffedalen on our way towards Sarek. We found a pretty nice camp spot in the valley and enjoyed the last bit of sun with our dinner. I am sure I will feel my legs in the morning, but otherwise, I feel fantastic. Such a beautiful day!
Heading towards Sarek
The weather was still good so we ended up doing a couple of pretty big days heading west following Kungsleden (the Kings Trail). I just love this place! You can see for miles upon miles through epic alpine valleys flanked by massive mountains, an awe-inspiring experience! We treated ourselves to a night at the Kaitumjaure hut on our way to Vakkotavare where we caught the bus to Ritsem, our resupply point before stage two of the mission.
Since we got to Ritsem a couple of days ahead of schedule, and our food box had yet to arrive, we have decided to take a couple of days off before heading on into Sarek. Beautiful views of the national park and the Akka massif across the lake keeps us motivated. Now start the weather game… which is changing by the hour. Fingers crossed.
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