Another wilderness trip through European Alaska

Today almost exactly 2 years ago I finished another long autumn trip through and around Sarek national park in Swedish Lapland after my trip from 2008 and a ski crossing during the preceding winter. This time I took my packraft with me and tried to follow a route with as much as packrafting sections as possible. Eventually I floated pieces of the rivers Guhkesvakkjåhkå, Sijddoädno, Miellädno, Smajllajåhkkå, Rahpajåhkå and Rahpaädno and crossed several lakes. Sarek is a real packraft paradise and can make you think you’re somewhere wilderness paddling in remote Alaska instead of Europe.

And as the rivers here invite you to inflate your inflatable boat, so do the mountains invite you during the clear weather windows to visit their summit for a wide mountain vista. I even spent three nights on a mountain and saw quite active northern light displays during each.

Just like with my first trip through Sarek I wrote a very long trip report about this trip, however unfortunately it is only available as a trip report in Dutch. But those really willing to read it will definitely find an appropriate online translator to struggle through it. Even though I have almost visited every corner of the park, I’m sure this last visit will not be my very last.

Packlist
All the gear and food for the trip except from worn clothing.

Sarek 201009
Backpack ready for a new day hiking.

Sarek 201009
Searching a route through the many rocks and small lakes on the Gassalahko mountain plateau.

Sarek 201009
Suottasjjåhkå mountain stream under the glacial tongue of Suottasjjiegna, easy to ford with these low water levels. The mountain above the glacier is Såltatjåhkkå (1928m).

Sarek 201009
Packrafting Guhkesvakkjåhkå river with often shallow water.

Sarek 201009
Taking a break on the Sijddoädno river which was difficult to packraft due to many impassable boulder gardens.

Sarek 201009
View northward from Namadis (818m) with the Sijddoädno river meandering through the valley, the mountain Guravarasj (1050m) on the left.

Sarek 201009
Looking back towards the saddle (1066m) in the Bastavagge valley under Basstavarasj (1492m).

Sarek 201009
Morning in the Basstavagge valley after a tarp bivouac on the snow.

Sarek 201009
The mountains Unna Stuollo (1766m) and Skajdetjåhkkå (1933m) at dusk.

Sarek 201009
First northern lights seen from the bivouac spot at lake Dielmajavrasj (1175m).

Sarek 201009
View into the Sarvesvagge valley with at the opposite side the north face of Nåite (1620m) which dominates the whole east half of the valley.

Sarek 201009
Prints of a wolverine in the snow while climbing Dielmatjåhkkå (1659m).

Sarek 201009
View over a part of the Jågåsjgaskajiegna glacier with a glacial lake under Axel Hambergs topp (1821m), seen while climbing Kanalberget (1937m).

Sarek 201009
The wild morainic debris in the Ridanjunjesvagge.

Sarek 201009
Wet weather while reaching the outlet of the Sarvesvagge valley towards Padjelanta.

Sarek 201009
The falls of Ahkkajåhkå river and the mountain Guohperskajdde (1644m).

Sarek 201009
Ahkkatjåhkå (1974m) and the renvaktarstuga cabin under Algganjalmme.

Sarek 201009
View into Padjelanta and onto Gasskatjåhkkå (1517m) in Norway from the summit of Låvdaktjåhkkå (1445m).

Sarek 201009
Northern lights above Padjelanta seen from the summit of Låvdaktjåhkkå (1445m).

Sarek 201009
The mountain Låvdaktjåhkkå (1445m) with its glacier remnants.

Sarek 201009
Taking a midday break along the Sierggajåhkå mountain stream.

Sarek 201009
The Ruohtesvagge valley and the mountains of the Sarektjåhkkå mountain massif seen from Gisuris (1664m).

Sarek 201009
The Ahkka massif from Gisuris (1664m) around sunset.

Sarek 201009
Lake Vastenjaure (547m) in Padjelanta National Park with the mountains surrounding Sorfjord in Norway at the horizon, seen from Gisuris (1664m) just after sunset.

Sarek 201009
Making a mountain bivouac under the tarp on Gisuris (1664m).

Sarek 201009
Aurora Borealis reflecting in lake Allohaure (545m) as seen from Gisuris (1664m).

Sarek 201009
View over Padjelanta with the Sulitjelma mountains at the horizon seen from Gisuris (1664m).

Sarek 201009
View to the north from Ahkka Borgtoppen (1963m) with the vast lake Akkajaure (423-453m) deep below.

Sarek 201009
The lake plateau Gassalahko seen from Ahkka Borgtoppen (1963m).

Sarek 201009
The mountain massifs of Lavdak, Ruohtes, Lanjek en Alkatj in Sarek seen from Ahkka Borgtoppen (1963m).

Sarek 201009
Northern lights behind Ahkka Stortoppen (2015m), seen from Borgtoppen (1963m).

Sarek 201009
Ahkka Stortoppen (2015m) during the late morning.

Sarek 201009
A tundra vole liked my food cache. All the pecan nuts had disappeared from the desserts.

Sarek 201009
Bivouac in the Ruohtesvagge valley under mountain Gavelberget (1819m).

Sarek 201009
View over Mihkajiegna glacier to Sarektjåhkkå Stortoppen (2089m), Sydtoppen (2023m) and Bucht-toppen (2010m) from Mihkatjåhkkå (1735m).

Sarek 201009
The braided Smajllajåhkå river down the Ruohtesvagge valley.

Sarek 201009
The falls in the Smajllajåhkå river near Mikkastugan cabin with Sarektjåhkkå Stortoppen (2089m), Sydtoppen (2023m) and Bucht-toppen (2010m) in the background.

Sarek 201009
The braided Rahpajåhkå river on the valley bottom of upper Rapadalen.

Sarek 201009
Mouth of the mountain stream Tjågnårisjågåsj in Rahpajåhkå river with mountain Bierikbakte (1789m) in the background.

Sarek 201009
Braided Rahpajåhkå river in Rapadalen with mountain Låddebakte (1537m) to the left.

Sarek 201009
Looking back to the Rahpaädno river while hiking through the birch forest.

Sarek 201009
An old Sami shelter in Rapadalen which can still be used today.

Sarek 201009
A winding birch.

Sarek 201009
Rapaselet with Låddebakte (1537m) in the background from a river island.

Sarek 201009
My home made woodgas stove burning on birch bark.

Sarek 201009
A moose with young in Rapadalen.

Sarek 201009
A young male moose in the forest in Rapadalen.

Sarek 201009
Rapadalen with Nammasj (823m) and Tjahkkelij (1214m) seen from Lulep Spadnek (816m).

Sarek 201009
Part of the Laitaure delta and Nammasj (823m) seen from Skierffe (1179m).

Sarek 201009
Packraft ready to float through the Laitaure delta, table mountain Tjahkkelij (1214m) on the background.

Sarek 201009
View back to Nammasj from within the Laitaure delta.

Sarek 201009
Morning at lake Sitojaure (630m) along the Kungsleden trail.

Sarek 201009
A wide view back to lake Sitojaure from the Kungsleden trail.

Sarek 201009
Last night of the trip in the Autsutjvagge shelter on the Kungsleden trail.

Sarek 201009
Spot messenger at work.

Sarek 201009
Continuing over the Kungsleden trail to Saltoluokta.

Advertisements

A few tiny footsteps along Willem’s monstrous Scandinavian thru-hike

A few months ago I spoke already about Willem’s plan to start a very long thru-hike, crossing Scandinavia from the most southern point of Norway to the Nordkinn, the most northern point on the mainland of Scandinavia, a journey of about 2500km. His monstrous trip looks to me as the most interesting thru-hike to follow this year. If you don’t already know his Transscandinavia blog, throw an eye on it now! You can follow his actual progression on a map on its blog and follow him through his Twitter account.

Today Willem should be in Lindesnes ready to take its first footsteps on his immense long trip. When I take a look at his route plan his journey will cross or coincide with a few short stretches of 7 trips I did in Scandinavia in the past. I have been collecting several photos from my past trips here that will give you an idea of these coincident spots Willem will walk along.

The most southern area where I have been making a trip in Scandinavia is Jotunheimen. 2007 was a very wet summer in Norway and together with a lot of snow lingering from the preceding snow rich winter, I especially remember this trip as grey and wet with a lot of walking over wet snow. This summer is starting very rich in snow too this year and as Willem will even pass earlier through Jotunheimen than I did, the circumstances will probably at least be comparable as not to say worse then I encountered 5 years ago.

Uradalsvatnet
Uradalsvatnet (1316m) with Skarbottsnosi (1780m) on the left and Uranostind (2157m) on the right, July 12 2007. Willem will walk along the shore of this lake exactly as I did. On my trip the lake was still almost completely frozen and the ice was still thick enough that I just walked on the lake over the ice for a short stretch. It is very likely Willem will be able to do this on many lakes during the first weeks of his hike.

Vettisfossen Vettisfossen in Utledalen, with 275m Norway’s second waterfall in height, July 14 2007. Willem does not mention Vettisfossen in his route plan even though he will pass by very close. I’m curious if he eventually will make the short detour.

Utledalen
Deep incised Utledalen with its mouth into Årdalfjord in the background, July 13 2007. Willem will pass exactly on this spot too if he will climb Friken.

Skarvheimen
View over Skarvheimen, the area south of Jotunheimen with Utledalen on the right where you can see the mouth of the valley into Årdalfjord, seen from Friken (1503m), July 13 2007. On my trip I spent the night on the summit of this flat topped mountain. Willem undoubtedly has the same plan in mind if the weather will be good.

Bivak Friken
My bivouac spot in the ring of stones on the summit of Friken (1503m), Stølsnostind (2074m) in the background, July 13 2007.

Hurrungane
The highest peaks in the Hurrungane massif above the glacier Maradalsbreen as seen from Friken (1503m), July 13 2007. From left to right Store Skagastølstind (2405m), Vetle Skagastølstind (2340m), Sentraltind (2348m), Styggedalstindane (2387m) en Jervvasstind (2351m).

Skogadalsbøen
Skogadalsbøen (831m), a staffed mountain lodge in Jotunheimen, July 13 2007. Willem might buy some food here or read one of the many books from the book shelf as I did.

Utla
The swollen Utla river in Utledalen on one of the many days during my trip the rain just didn’t stop, July 17 2007. Hopefully Willem can pass here in more pleasant circumstances.

The second area where we will have common footsteps will be Dovrefjell. Here I made a snowshoe trip together with Veerle and Ivo two years ago. My companions and myself had to deal with snow storms during much of the trip and eventually we did not encounter musk oxen. I’m curious whether Willem will get the chance.

Dovrefjell 201003
Larstinden (2065m), Store Langvasstinden (2046m) and Drugshøi (1957m) in Dovrefjell and the snow covered lake Amotsvatnet (1301m) blending into the landscape, March 7 2010. Willem will be walking along the lake as he will not have its packraft along yet.

Dovrefjell 201003
View over the east ridge of Snøhetta (2286m) towards the summit of the highest peak in Dovrefjell, March 10 2010. If the weather will be fine Willem will climb Snøhetta over its north ridge and descend over the ridge you see here on the photo. During our trip the acceptable weather window was too short to try climbing to the summit.

Dovrefjell 201003
The view from below the east ridge of Snøhetta, March 10 2010.

Dovrefjell 201003
Ivo and Veerle looking around on our way to Stroplsjødalen, March 6 2010. Willem will pass here in the opposite direction heading for Kongsvold.

The area with the most common footsteps, it probably will not surprise, will be Sarek in Sweden as I have done several trips here. Here we are already north of the polar circle. For me Sarek looks like the most beautiful mountain area in the whole of Scandinavia and I wonder how Willem will experience this area compared to the rest of his hike. A few packraft and foot tracks will nearly coincide too in neighboring Stora Sjöfallets.

Sarek 2008
The meanders of the river Alep Sarvesjåhkå at the west end of the Sarvesvagge, seen from Tjågnårisvarasj (1207m), September 9 2008. Willem will walk down there below from left to right along the swamp to leave Padjelanta behind and enter Sarek through the Sarvesvagge.

Sarek 2008
The upper part of the Sarvesvagge with the snow capped mountain Ridatjåhkkå (1944m), September 9 2008.

Sarek 201009
The renvaktarstuga cabin in the Sarvesvagge, September 3 2010. The cabin was unlocked when I passed along here so I decided to spent the night inside. Maybe Willem is able to find shelter here too.

Sarek 201009
Skajdetjåhkkå (1830m) seen from in the middle of the Sarvesvagge, September 3 2010.

Sarek 201009
View into the Sarvesvagge from near Dielmajavrasj (1175m) with at the opposite side of the valley the north face of Nåite (1620m), the mountain which dominates the whole eastern half of the valley, September 3 2010. Willem will probably bushwhack along the opposite side of the river as this is the easiest side to hike through the Sarvesvagge.

Sarek 201009
Another view into the Sarvesvagge from Dielmajavrasj (1175m), now looking onto the peaks in the Gådok massif, September 3 2010.

Sarek 2008
On a nice autumn evening in the hart of the Sarvesvagge, September 6 2008.

Sarek 2008
Along the Sarvesjåhkå river in the Sarvesvagge with Nåite (1620m) and Luohttotjåhkkå (1875m) in the background, September 6 2008. Willem will probably walk exactly on the same spot along the river as the Sarvesjåhkå is not packraftable anymore after the melt peak of early summer.

Sarek 201009
View over Rapaselet in Rapadalen with Stuor Skoarkki (1591m) on the left, September 2 2010. On the right you can see the mouth of the Sarvesjåhkå into the Rahpaädno river. Willem will put in overthere and packraft the Rahpaädno over a short stretch to put out left of the big lake on the picture.

Sarek 201003
Almost the same view over Rapaselet and Bielloriehppe, now during winter, March 28 2010.

Sarek 201009
At the mouth of the Sarvesjåhkå into the Rahpaädno where I continued my journey over the water through Rapadalen just like Willem will be doing over a short stretch, September 13 2010.

Sarek 201009
The view you get through Rapadalen near the mouth of the Rahpaädno river into the large swamp of Rapaselet, September 13 2010. Willem will just continue over the water here.

Sarek 2008
Along the Rahpaädno at its mouth in Rapaselet with Bielloriehppe (1830m) towering above, September 1 2008. Willem will probably leave the river somewhere over here.

Sarek 2008
View through the woods onto the Rahpaädno river in the lovely birch forest down in Rapadalen, September 1 2008.

Sarek 2008
Rapaselet and the Bielloriehppe mountains (1830m), August 31 2008. Willem will be climbing here to leave Rapadalen for the Snavvavagge.

Sarek 2008
The Snavvavagge is an elevated valley in Sarek. You can see the mountain Låddebakte (1537m) on the left, the lake Snavvajavvre (977m) and the Ålkatj massif with its many glaciers, August 31 2008.

Sarek 2008
In the clouds from the summit ridge of Låddebakte (1537m), August 31 2008. This mountain is mentioned in his route plan too. Hopefully he will get the chance to see one of the most spectacular views you can get to see in Sarek from a mountain summit.

Sarek 2008
The spectacular view over Rapaselet and onto Bielloriehppe (1830m) from Låddebakte (1537m), August 31 2008.

Sarek 2008
Willem will take the faint path here which runs high above Rapadalen from the northwest end of the Snavvavagge, August 30 2008.

Sarek 201009
A bit further down the path he might be admiring this view over Rapadalen and the Rahpaädno river with in the background the east end of the Sarvesvagge and the Gådok mountains, September 11 2010.

Sarek 201009
And when looking into the other direction from the same spot he will see the upper part of Rapadalen, September 11 2010.

Sarek 201003
The Pielastugan under Bierikbakte (1789m) on my ski crossing of Sarek, March 29 2010. Willem will be hiking here fluently over the tundra, probably the easiest hiking section on its entire route through Sarek.

Sarek 201003
The mountains of Ähpar and Skårki with the frozen lake Bierikjavrre (801m) below seen from Vuojnestjåhkkå (1952m), March 30 2010. When the winds will be good, Willem would inflate its packraft for a ride on the lake.

Sarek 201009
Paddling on Liehtjitjavrre (788m) while looking back to Ähpar in Sarek, August 31 2010. Willem has the intention to packraft this lake too as long as the winds will be his friend.

Sarek 201009
The mountain Ahkka from the Atjek lakes in Stora Sjöfallets during a beautiful red sunset, a view Willem might get to see also when he will pass along or packraft the Atjek lakes, August 28 2010.

Willem will cross the route I followed last year on my Sapmi trip 3 times in the area between Dividalen and the Finnmarksvidda plateau. My trip was walking deeper into the far north of Sweden in order to find an interesting river to packraft and to pull back northward again towards the three countries point between Norway, Sweden and Finland. From there I eventually was pulling east into Finland and packrafted a good stretch of the Poroeno river. Willem will pass here in a very straight line when viewed on the map in order to approach the Nordkinn as fast as possible. He has chosen the rivers Rommaeno and Lataseno instead. I wonder how these rivers will be experienced so late in the season.

Sapmi 201107
In the rain at Gappohytta at the Norwegian-Swedish border, June 27 2011.

Sapmi 201107
Climbing out of the birch forest above the Goldahytta, June 29 2011. Willem will be hiking here through the birch forest coming from the mountains around Dividalen in the background of the picture.

Sapmi 201107
The point where the borders of Norway, Sweden and Finland meet at the lake Golddajavri (493m), the mountain Barras (1419m) in the background, June 29 2011. Willem will definitely put his footsteps on these wooden boards too when he will visit the three countries monument.

Sapmi 201107
The huge Finnish lake Kilpisjärvi (473m), June 29 2011. Willem’s plan is to packraft this lake to Kilpisjärvi from the right to the left on the photo just like I did coming from the south.

Sapmi 201107
Saana (1029m) from the birch forest above Kilpisjärvi during the midsummer night, June 29 2011. Willem will hike along the footsteps of Saana fell, a holy mountain for the Sami.

Sapmi 201107
A pleasant stream in the birch forest near Kilpisjärvi, June 29 2011.

The last area where we might have common footsteps will be on the Finnmarksvidda plateau in Norway near Kautokeino. Unfortunately I can not show the place Willem will pass in pictures from my solo ski trip I did last year between Tromsø and Kautokeino as I got a broken camera during that trip. Anyway, the photo’s I’ve been showing here even don’t cover 1% of Willem’s entire trip. It speaks for themselves that he will have a trip of a lifetime and will see many more interesting landscapes on its hike then you see here. We will have to wait patiently until autumn for Willem to show his Transscandinavia thru-hike in pictures. As of today I will be tracking him daily on the map through his SPOT messages.

Sapmi 201107
The long reindeer fence on the Finnish-Norwegian border without end, July 2 2011. This is the west border of the Finnmarksvidda. Willem will be hiking and packrafting between the hills close to the horizon on the picture.

Snowstorms, aurora nights and arctic summit bivouacs

After 48 hours on trains and busses I finally arrived in the small village Kvikkjokk in Swedish Lapland south of the Laponia wilderness. It was around sunset and getting dark on this evening, one day after the March equinox. No single sign of human life was noticeable in the village. I immediately prepared my pulk, put my skis on and left the village in northeast direction over the Kungsleden trail.

Sarek 201003
Night on the Kungsleden trail outside Kvikkjokk.

This famous long distance trail turns into a snow scooter track during the winter and is easy and fast to follow on skis. I skied about 5km in the dark under the stars till I encountered an open spot in the forest. Here I pitched the tent in the snow and went to sleep. A few times I looked outside through the tent door to see if there would be northern lights active but the moon and the stars were all that remained visible in the night sky.

During the morning my outdoor watch was showing -12°c inside the tent. I stowed everything back into my pulk and continued with skiing northeastward over the Kungsleden trail. The Bårdde mountain massif made the horizon in the north. Today I wanted to reach the foot of the mountains in Sarek. Sarek national park counts one of the most desolate mountain terrain in the whole of Scandinavia and that’s the area through which I now wanted to make a crossing on this winter trip.

Sarek 201003
A curious Siberian Jay in the taiga forest.

Few kilometers farther I arrived on the frozen lake Stuor Dahta. Here I left the Kungsleden behind and entered the taiga forest north of the lake to climb through the forest to the Pårek plain in the south of Sarek.

Progression became immediately very slow. I sagged till my thighs in the soft powder snow which is so typical in the taiga forests. I almost never saw my skis except from the tips. My pulk was drifting behind me through the snow, often buried in the white mass. It was difficult to find a good way up through the forest. The climb through the forest was only 2km long but it took me four hours to cover it.

After hours I reached the tree line and the snow immediately changed composition. A hard snow deck covered the tundra hills of Lulep Vardo and I could make fast progression by now. I climbed till the ridge of the hill where I had a fantastic view over the surroundings and on the southern mountains of Sarek.

Sarek 201003
Footprints of a wolverine in the snow.

Sarek 201003
The view in southeast direction from Lulep Varddo (785m) with the white lake Stuor Dahta (526m) and the hills of Gablla.

Sarek 201003
At the hill Lulep Varddo (785m) with view on part of the Bårdde mountain massif with the mountains Tjievra (1692m), Loametjåhkkå (1871m) and Bårddetjåhkkå (2005m).

After descending the hill I crossed the Pårek plain in a pretty fast speed. North of the plain I reached the foot slope of the Bårdde mountain massif. An abandoned summer Sami settlement is located on the foot slope where I found a turf hut where I could sleep at night.

Sarek 201003
Continuing my way north over the Pårek plain with the Bårdde mountains on the horizon.

I collected firewood from the scattered birch around the settlement and made a campfire in the hut. But then something unexpected happened inside the hut. At a certain moment my Petzl head lamp fell open and the batteries fell into the fire, immediately exploding. This was a serious setback since my head lamp was the only light source I had with me on the trip. How would I be able to find my stuff inside the tent at night? The disaster made me feel a bit anxious and I told myself to stop early enough before dusk each evening from now on to have enough time to pitch the tent in the remaining daylight.

Sarek 201003
The old sami hut at the edge of the Pårek plain where I lost the batteries of my head lamp in the camp fire, unlucky me.

The next morning the weather remained perfect. An exhuberant winter sun rose above the Pårek plain. I climbed over the southern foot slope of Bårdde into the valley south of the mountain Bårddetjåhkkå. Here I left my pulk and skis behind between some boulders and took my backpack on my back to start climbing towards the summit of Bårddetjåhkkå on my snowshoes. I had the tricky plan to pitch the tent on the summit of Bårddetjåhkkå and spent a night on the mountain if weather permitting. Two years earlier I had spent a night on the summit on an autumn trip through Sarek but did not saw any northern lights during that night. Since I found the summit panorama so overwhelming from this mountain, I had said to myself that night to keep returning to this mountain until I would see the northern lights from its summit.

Sarek 201003
The locked red metal cabin below the summit of Bårddetjåhkkå (2005m).

The slope towards the summit of the mountain was not very steep and therefore perfectly feasible in winter. The view from the summit on all the other Sarek mountains and the taiga plains in the south is still one of the most beautiful summit panoramas I have ever seen.

Conditions remained perfect when I arrived on the summit. There was only a weak breeze and sky clear. Despite the favorable conditions I pitched the tent as secure as possible. By studying the weather forecast at home I knew the weather would probably deteriorate during the next morning.

Sarek 201003
My Hilleberg Soulo pitched on the summit of Bårddetjåhkkå (2005m) with a beautiful view of the Sarek mountains in the background. The air was so clear I could see the Lofoten Islands rising out of the low clouds over the Norwegian Sea.

Sarek 201003
Looking in northern direction from the summit of Bårddetjåhkkå onto Ahkka (2015m) 46km away in Stora Sjöfallets national park, the mountain which is also called the queen of Laponia by the Sami people. More in the foreground you can recognise the Sarek mountains Kanalberget (1937m) on the left with the summit of Nijak (1922m) just visible behind and on the right Dielmatjåhkkå (1659m), Axel Hambergs topp (1821m) and the western summit of Suottasjtjåhkkå (1822m).

Sarek 201003
Mountains in the massif of Sarektjåhkkå in the evening light: Såltatjåhkkå (1928m), Gassatjåhkkå (1912m) and Gavabakte (1906m).

Sarek 201003
The highest mountains of Sarek, from left to right Sarektjåhkkå Stortoppen (2089m), Sydtoppen (2023m) and Bucht-toppen (2010m).

During the night I woke up to search for the aurora and they appeared! It was -21°c and a moderate breeze from the west felt icy cold. I enjoyed the dancing curtains over the arctic mountains while jumping and sweeping with my arms to prevent shivering from the cold. Few hours later the night sky became entirely black again and I jumped back into my tent. During the rest of the night I could not find a good nights sleep anymore. I felt the cold reaching my body through the air mattress. The winds were further increasing towards the end of the night and when I got out of the tent around sunrise the wind was increased to stormy speeds. Low clouds were visible in the south but it was still clear above me and over the remaining Sarek mountains. When I broke up the tent everything changed at an alarming speed. In just one hour of time the low clouds reached Bårdde and I disappeared into a white out on the mountain, the winds increased to storm speed. I knew I had to be as fast as possible now so I did not take a breakfast.

Sarek 201003
Northern lights above the moonlit mountains of Sarek.

I descended the mountain as fast as I could and made a pause in the lee side of the steel cabin on the ridge below the summit. Here I ate a quick breakfast and soon continued descending into the valley. Meanwhile it began to snow. Down in the valley I descended under the cloud base and could see the surroundings again, but all mountains were now hidden in the clouds. The winds were less heavy down here even though snowfall continued. I picked up my skis and pulk and started to ski towards the Njoatsosvagge over the mountain pass of Sähkok where I temporary disappeared into the white out again.

Sarek 201003
Descending into the Njoatsosvagge in wind and snowfall.

Descending down into the Njoatsosvagge went fast. I had to ski in zigzags most of the time, otherwise I would gain too much speed and that would be unsafe as my ski techniques were not yet that experienced. On the valley floor of the Njoatsosvagge it started to snow harder and the wind seemed to increase again. I met a lot of snow fowls, loudly flying out of the snow deck whenever my presence felt too threatening for them.

Sarek 201003
Skiing over the frozen river in the Njoatsosvagge.

Sarek 201003
Bivouac at the mouth of the Luohttojåhkå into the Njoatsosvagge.

I pitched my tent against a rock wall on the edge of the valley floor where the canyon of the Luohttojåhkå creek runs from the Luohtolahkko mountain plateau into the valley. This way I was a bit sheltered against the wind gusts which were rushing from the Luohtolahkko plateau down over the slope into the valley.

The next day it remained snowing for a long time. Around noon the snowstorm ceased and it became quiet quickly with virtually no wind anymore. I skied into the Luohttojåhkå canyon which would lead me to the Luohtolahkko mountain plateau. The fresh layer of snow and a lot of powder snow had been accumulated in the canyon, blown here by the winds from the plateau. To my surprise the creek in the canyon was not frozen everywhere. I met a few tricky passages in the canyon where I had to find a way to pull my pulk over a slope above spots of open water.

Sarek 201003
Hollows under the snow above the snow covered Luohttojåhkå.

Higher up the canyon turned into an open V-shaped valley until I could ascend out of the valley over the slope and reach the plateau. But this was not easy orientation wise as a layer of fog was now covering the plateau. I did not see anything. Everything was white. The snow and the sky before me were just one equal white display for my vision. I tried to stay on track with help of my GPS and compass. Later I climbed out of the fog and reached a hill in the middle of the plateau. This was an impressive place.

A wall of white mountains bordered the vast plateau where a trail of footprints of a wolverine was the only sign of life in this arctic winter wilderness. The weather improved so I decided to climb Nåite, an isolated mountain with a rounded summit bordering the Luohtolahkko plateau in the northeast. I left my pulk behind on the plateau and saved its position as a waypoint on my GPS. Then I climbed Nåite on snowshoes and made another summit bivouac. A layer of fog invaded the Luohtoloahkko plateau below at dusk while I tried to anchor the tent as secure as possible. The only reason I pitched the tent again this high was to get another spectacular view of the northern lights, but things did not evolve as I hoped that night.

Sarek 201003
Bårdde seen from the Luohttolahko plateau.

Sarek 201003
On the summit of Nåite (1620m) in the evening with the Luohttolahko mountain plateau in the background covered again under a layer of fog.

Sarek 201003
Morning on the summit of Nåite (1620m) in fog and snowfall.

During the morning I awoke in a white out, light snowfall and increasing wind, but a next real snowstorm did not look to be on its way. I broke up the tent, descended the mountain and found my pulk and skis again on the plateau. Now I had to leave the Luohtolahkko plateau and descend into the Sarvesvagge. The only spot where this is possible during winter is through the Noajdevagge, a small canyon like side valley of the Sarvesvagge. From my earlier summer trip in Sarek I knew there is only one narrow strip on the valley slope where I could make a safe descent from the plateau down the valley. At other places the valley slope is too steep and avalanche danger too high. Reaching this only spot with help of my GPS was easy in the white out, but skiing down the slope on deep powder with a pushing pulk in my back was another story. Because it is only over a narrow strip that the slope is not too steep for a winter descent, I had to ski down in zigzags. Making a sharp turn with a pulk is not possible so I gained a lot of speed in each turn. Besides that, there was no possibility to orientate in the white out which made keeping equilibrium an impossible task for me. I fell several times and one time my pulk got twisted behind me. Luckily this slope was not that long and soon I could ski downward over the narrow valley bottom with ease. A reindeer herd had chosen the valley to search for food under the snowdeck. They were probably left aside by the Sami as the mountains of Sarek are not supposed to be their winter grounds.

Sarek 201003
Climbing out of the river canyon of the Noajdevagge.

Sarek 201003
Skiing between the birch in the Sarvesvagge with a view onto the river bed of the Sarvesjåhkå.

On the lower part of the Noajdevagge the river ran into a canyon with too many passages of steep ice and open water rapids in the river that were too dangerous to pass along. I had no choice than to search a way to pull my pulk out of the canyon as moving over the river became too dangerous. I succeeded with much effort. Further down the slope I reached the valley bottom of the wide Sarvesvagge, one bigger valley in Sarek and also one of the least frequented during the summer season. I was now below the cloudbase and could see the lower part of the valley. By skiing eastward I reached Rapadalen, the big main valley inside Sarek, where I pitched the tent in the birch forest. During the night the following snowstorm arrived, throwing a load of drifting snow on the tent with each wind gust and that kept me out of sleep for a long time at night.

It took till the afternoon the next day until the sun appeared. The wind however remained blowing strong. I decided to explore the slopes of Rapadalen on snowshoes and to wait till tomorrow to move on.

Sarek 201003
Sitting out the snow storm in Rapadalen.

Sarek 201003
The tent on a sheltered spot in Rapadalen after the snow storm with the mountain Låddebakte (1537m) towering above the valley floor.

Sarek 201003
Climbing higher through the powder snow in Rapadalen on snowshoes with Rapaselet and the Bielloriehppe mountains in the background.

Sarek 201003
Snow drifting in the stormy winds over the valley slope of Rapadalen.

Sarek 201003
Rapadalen with Dielmaskajdde, Rapaselet, Bielloriehppe and the drifting snow on the valley slope in the foreground.

Sarek 201003
Rapadalen with Låddebakte (1537m) and Rapaselet.

Sarek 201003
Sarvesvagge below and the mountain massif of Gådok and Bielloriehppe seen from the ridge of Dielmma.

The next day I skied upstream over the frozen Rahpaädno river in Rapadalen. Skiing over the ice went faster than through the powder in the birch forest on the valley floor. Around noon I left Rapadalen behind me and climbed over the valley slope to the wide saddle of the Pielastugan under the huge face of mountain Bierikbakte (1789m). Footprints of a fox led me to the frozen Bierikjavrre mountain lake. After crossing the lake I was heading for the hill Vuojnesvarasj and had to cross the frozen river Bierikjåhkå. Something unexpected took place while I crossed the river ice. The ice started to crack and before I really realized what was going on I immediately started to ran to the other side of the river to get rid of the collapsing ice. The ice collapsed under the pressure of my weight but by moving as fast as could I could save myself from sinking too deep into the water. My pulk however was floating behind me like a boat on the water between the broken ice. Once on safe ground on the riverside the ski bindings immediately froze solid and sticky ice formed on the skins as well as under the pulk. It was a hard work to get my boots out of the bindings with help of my knife and then scrape all the ice from the skins and the bottom of the pulk with my snow shovel.

Sarek 201003
The upper part of Rapadalen with Skarjatjåhkkå (1647m) seen when climbing out of the valley towards Bielavratja.

Sarek 201003
First view on Bierikbakte (1789m) when moving over a sastrugi field.

Sarek 201003
Bierikbakte (1789m) when approaching the Pielastugan. This cabin belongs to the mountain association of Jokkmokk and is also locked.

Sarek 201003
Looking towards the Basstavagge with Ähpartjåhkkå (1914m) on the left and Alep Basstaskajdasj (1766m) on the right.

Sarek 201003
Following the footprints of a fox on Bierikjavrre (801m).

Hard work or not, I realized I had been lucky. By sinking deeper in the river water the consequences could have been much worse. One lesson learned: never cross a river downstream from a lake. Warmer water from under the lake ice seems to stream into the river which prevents the formation of thick river ice immediately downstream from the lake outlet.

Sarek 201003
The collapsed ice on Bierikjåhkå.

Sarek 201003
Bivouac on Vuojnesvarasj (1006m) at the base of Vuojnestjåhkkå east ridge while in the background you can recognise the cone shaped mountain Slugga (1279m) in Stora Sjöfallets.

On Vuojnesvarasj I searched a sheltered spot to pitch the tent. It was snowing again during almost the entire night. During daytime I waited for the weather to improve and during the afternoon it even became sunny and quiet again which made me decide to climb Vuojnestjåhkkå. And why not take the tent with me to the summit. I searched my way to the summit over the long and wide east ridge of the mountain which never becomes steep to be dangerous. On the summit I could admire another spectacular winter panorama. I studied the weather which remained pretty fine and decided to give it a try. So eventually I pitched the tent before dusk on the hard snow just below the summit ridge of the mountain. At sunset I went to sleep and decided to wake up at least once every hour to check for the northern lights to appear and to keep an eye on the weather evolution. Conditions can change very quickly in the arctic mountains and I wouldn’t get surprised by a snow storm in the middle of the night. A full moon rose above the mountains and gave me a lot of helpfull light at night since my head lamp was still useless without any spare batteries.

Sarek 201003
View over the Vuojnesjiegna glacier with the mountains Spijkka (1976m), and Sarektjåhkkå Sydtoppen (2023m), Bucht-toppen (2010m), Stortoppen (2089m) and Nordtoppen (2056m) from halfway on the east ridge of Vuojnestjåhkkå.

Sarek 201003
On the secondary summit of Vuojnestjåhkkå with view onto the main summit (1952m) and with Sarektjåhkkå Sydtoppen (2023m), Bucht-toppen (2010m), Stortoppen (2089m) and Nordtoppen (2056m) visible behind.

Sarek 201003
The deeps towards Sarvajiegna on the southwest side of Vuojnestjåhkkå (1952m).

Sarek 201003
The mountains of Ähpar and Skårki with the frozen lake Bierikjavrre (801m) below seen from Vuojnestjåhkkå (1952m).

Sarek 201003
My tent on the ridge between the secondary and the main summit of Vuojnestjåhkkå (1952m) with the mountains in Stora Sjöfallets in the background.

Sarek 201003
Ähpartjåhkkå (1914m) and Bierikbakte (1789m) from Vuojnestjåhkkå (1952m).

Sarek 201003
Ähpar, Skårki, Bielloriehppe, Gådok and Bårdde with Sarvajiegna below from Vuojnestjåhkkå (1952m) at sunset.

Deeper into the night the green glow appeared in the sky, not very active but I was happy enough to admire yet another aurora night from a mountain summit. I did not feel so comfortable about the weather evolution though when looking at the sky in the southwest. Lens shaped lenticularis clouds appeared over the mountains overthere and grew into larger proportions. I was hesitating at first but than made the decision to listen to the rules I had set myself each time I would make such a bivouac on a mountain summit. Whenever hesitating about the weather evolution, just be better safe than sorry, pack and leave the mountain. While I was packing my tent and other bivouac gear the clouds were invading all the Sarek mountains one by one while the aurora disappeared behind them when the cloud sheet reached the mountain ridge of Sarektjåhkkå. It was a long way down again. My track in the snow over the east ridge was perfect to discern and to follow in the dark. At the time I finished pitching the tent again at the base of the mountain it was already past three during the night and when I could finally lay myself down in the tent it began to snow. All mountains were again hiding in a thick cloud deck. I definitely had made the right decision and on time.

Sarek 201003
Night on Vuojnestjåhkkå (1952m) with weak northern lights above the mountains of Stora Sjöfallets national park.

The next day I did not move anything. It remained snowing the entire day while the winds were increasing too. The following night everything evolved into a third snowstorm and I had to come out of my tent in the middle of the night to close a gap under the flysheet through which the drifting snow was entering the tent. Weather improved slowly at daytime and during the afternoon I was on my way skiing towards Sjuodji, a long hill marking the border between Sarek and Stora Sjöfallets national parks. Here on the slope of the hill I waited for two nights in hope for more northern light shows. The weather did not cooperate in a positive way though. Two cloudy snowy nights were alternated with a sunny day in between. I made another lazy day, only exploring the hill and enjoying the lookouts onto the Sarek mountains and the plains of Stora Sjöfallets.

Sarek 201003
Lifting clouds over the Ähpar massif seen from inside the tent on Sjuodji.

Sarek 201003
Mountain massif of Sarektjåhkkå seen from Sjuodji (1089m).

Sarek 201003
Slugga (1279m) seen from Sjuodji (1089m).

Sarek 201003
Bivouac spot on Sjuodji with Vuojnestjåhkkå (1952m) in the background.

A long day followed when I skied through Stora Sjöfallets towards lake Langas where the small settlement Vietas is located at the other side of the lake, the end point of the trip where I needed to catch the bus. On my way I passed the volcano like mountain Slugga and met a Sami family ice fishing on lake Bietsavrre. By late afternoon I could start with the descend through the taiga forest towards lake Langas. A big surprise was awaiting me. The lake was not entirely frozen and I had to find a way to cross it! The outflow of the hydroelectric power station near Vietas brought a strong current into the lake with a big area of open water as a result. Further downstream the lake was frozen again even though the ice did not look very safe out there.

Sarek 201003
Heading towards the volcano like mountain Slugga (1279m) on the border of Stora Sjöfallets national park.

Sarek 201003
View over Bietsavrre (645m) in Stora Sjöfallets national park from the mountain pass below Slugga.

Sarek 201003
View back over the Spadnejåhkå river with Slugga (1279m) behind.

Sarek 201003
A reindeer herd in Stora Sjöfallets national park.

It was a nervous job to bring my pulk down over the steep descend in the forest where I met many traces of moose. I skied towards the Stora Sjöfallet waterfall which connects lake Vietas with the upstream lake Gårtejavrre. A narrow strip of land separates the two lakes from each other. The river connecting the two lakes was not frozen and therefore impossible to cross. Gårtejavrre, the upstream lake was frozen though. That saved me from an unsafe crossing over Lake Langas. I spent de last night in the Sjofallstugan, a small hut on the southern lakeside of Langas. The ice on the lake was making loud cracking noises all the time. It was a bit frightening to hear. Later during the night the northern lights appeared for a last time and remained active for hours till about four o’clock in the night. I remained watching the show in the cold till the very last convulsion. This was a memorable moment to end the trip. The next morning I skied over Gårtejavrre and the small strip of land to Vietas where I caught the bus at noon.

Man, this was a great Sarek winter crossing!

Sarek 201003
Lake Langas (375m) not entirely frozen!

Sarek 201003
Latest dinner of the trip in the Sjöfallsstugan.

Sarek 201003
Northern lights above Stora Sjöfallets with the lights of Vietas at the other side of lake Langas.

Sarek 201003
Northern lights above the Sjöfallsstugan.

Sarek 201003
Northern lights above Stora Sjöfallets.