As always I awoke early, with the plan for the day descending to the Kungsleden and then climbing up along the Sinnijohka the Sinnivaggi and camp high from which I could set out the following day to climb Kebnekaise then descend to the Fjällstation area to camp.
Whilst having breakfast I was buzzed by the first helicopter for the day as it flew down the valley, I assume depositing fisherman, it soon returned. However, aside from that interruption it was a pleasant morning as I sat and watched the world go by. Finally. after the third helicopter flew overhead, it was time to leave. I descended towards the Kungsleden, passing the chair, it had moved a couple of kilometres since my last visit, and it did look worse for wear.
The descent was somewhat uneventful and soon I was crossing the Tjäktavaggi, finding a place to relax I decided to have lunch. The weather remained overcast and humid as I set off towards the Kungsleden. Approaching the north south highway I strained my eyes looking for the expected crowds on the Kungsleden, and yes they were there. There were groups heading north and south and as I reached the Kungsleden I saw 2 groups heading south. These were the first hikers I and seen for 3 days. As I headed south I soon passed others heading north but within an hour I was leaving the Kungsleden and heading up the Sinnijohka valley. I was somewhat surprised to see that there was another solo walker following a path diagonal to mine and I realised that we would meet. I arrived at the junction before he did and waited. We spoke briefly he was on his third trip to Kebnekaise his first being about 50 years ago. He was aware of Jorgen Johannson and his featherlite practices. Soon he and I were travelling the same path but at different speeds and once I hit the boulder hopping he was well behind. The Sinnijohka valley is a fascinating valley and as you climb you are presented with a rock wall, it was later after studying the map I realised that it was here that the rivers flowed in opposite directions one to the east and the other west. Above all else I was immediately impressed by the view along the Sinnivaggi to the east with the obvious drop at the end toward to the Kebnekaise Fjällstaion valley.
However, I was to swing south and up, the weather was deteriorating and as the air became thicker and the wind increased I followed the valley before climbing and sidling, by now I was looking for a campsite and I spied a ledge a couple of kilometres ahead and felt it would be the perfect site, or at least I hoped so.
I could sense the storm approaching but with very step I approached the ledge and soon I was boulder hoping again, there are a lot of rocks out here. Eventually I reached the ledge and quickly found a campsite a near a stream and with the increasingly loud claps of thunder the tent was erected and I was inside as the first drops of rain fell. Soon the wind was howling and the outer of the tent was taking a pounding, but inside it was a different world, calm and relaxed. Well, at least it felt like it, I checked the wind ward pole for movement but it was rock solid, it was then that I recognised that this was the tent for me in Lapland. Eventually the storm passed and I looked outside to my astonishment found a group erecting tents 20 metres away, I will not repeat what I thought but suddenly I realisd that I would be sharing this site with a group of 7 people and 4 tents. I was not entirely pleased by this development. But it was dinner time so I setup the stove cooked dinner as the weather deteriorated and quickly dived into the tent as the rain began to fall.
After an interesting storm during the night I awoke to a brilliant sunny morning but I knew rains as expected today so after a quick breakfast I packed up and began the long climb to a saddle which would be my departure point for the climb to Kebnaikaise. It was a long but steady climb, mostly across boulder fields as I climbed from 1100 metres to 1550 metres. However, the closer I climbed to the saddle the more spectacular the views became especially looking down the valley towards Sinnivággi.
Ultimately I reached the saddle which at 1550 metres was the highest point of the trip to date, but more climbing was to come. It was here that I joined up with the main path from Kebnekaise Fjällstation to the top (a veritable highway) it was obvious that the trail was well used as indicated by the flattened path and the rubbish. Now there were hikers behind me and in front of me. I placed my pack to the side of the trail, quickly noticing the detritus. As I climbed it was somewhat misty with the first group of descending walkers commenting on how windy it was higher up. Leaving my pack I donned my Montane jacket and ensured that I was carrying enough warm gear as I ascended. It was to be a 500 metre climb to the top across boulders, I took my time appreciating the fog shrouded views, while others hurried upwards (or downwards). After several zig zags following the bright red markers I reached the ice covered summit. That is the foot off the ice cone. Here I had a decision to make climb on the slippery ice I did not have any “spikes”, or call it a day. It was an easy decision, call it a day, I was inwardly comfortable with my decision, my days as a peak bagger have passed and I am just happy being there as trying to reach the pinnacle. For me I was on the summit and at this moment it was the culmination of the walk.
It was somewhat breezy up there so I sought out a sheltered spot only to find it had been used as a toilet for “Number 2’s” finding a better place I sat down to reflect upon the trip, for me this was the end, even though I had a couple of days walking to go. I also knew that rain was approaching and felt compelled to descend and collect my gear before descending further into the valley. The initial descent to my pack was a knee jarring affair, but I knew worse was to come, as from the saddle there was what appeared to be a vertical 200 metre climb, to a minor summit before the descent to the valley. The following elevation profile gives a better overview of the what it requires to climb from Kebnekaise Fjallstation to the top.
With a full pack on I looked at this climb with some apprehension, but with persistence I made it to the top and sat down, admiring all the small rocks cairns that had been constructed over the years. From here it was a long descent, and about halfway down it began to rain making the rocks even slipperier. It was not fun. But there was the entertaining moments such as the 2 daughters pushing their mother up the hill, they intended to stay the night on top, I wondered if they would make it, and if so when. Climbing Kebnekaise should not be taken lightly.
In the headwaters of Kittlebäcken the river was flowing fast and somewhat deep and I, like several others, sought out our own crossing spot as the rain fell. Now with cold wet feet I continued to descend as my feet warmed to the task. I had planned to camp in the valley at the foot of the Kittlebäcken, and as I approached the area I realised that many others had a similar idea. Speaking to a family, I indicated my desire to camp about 50 metres away from them on the last remaining flat clean spot. The rain had now stopped and with the tent up and dinner on it was time to relax, it had been a long day with 1300 metres ascent and 1613 metres of descent over 14 kilometres.
It was a pleasant evening as the sun played hide seek in the clouds and the young children happily played nearby.
I awoke in the morning, put on breakfast and was soon cursing, having poured boiling water on my big toe, which was not smart. Leather boots would have been the ideal protector. Note to self either don’t pour boiling water on your feet or use leather boots in future. Fortunately, the burn was not as bad as it could have been (it would get worse) after covering the toe with tape, I set off, passing tent city adjacent to Kebnekaise Fjällstation, where I happily dumped all my rubbish and then quickly moved on.
The path from Kebnekaise Fjällstation to Nikkaluokta is well used and I have described my experiences in a previous post, the walking was easy and my toe was mostly okay. As the afternoon progressed I would pass more hikers heading to the Fjällstation some of who I figured were on the Fjällräven Classic. There were plenty of helicopters flying in and out and I assume some people were taking the cheap seats in the cage.
The Fjällräven Classic. In my view it is impressive that 2000 people or thereabouts want to participate. But I do wonder whether the organisers have considered the environmental impact of the event. The number of helicopter trips delivering goods, tents for check points, etc. The impact that the walkers have on the environment, here I am thinking of rubbish, sanitation along with the demands the walkers place on the STF hut wardens (see Mark’s post here and here ). Maybe the numbers should be limited further. As an example of the waste that is involved in this event, when I reached Nikkaluokta I watched 2 buses full of participant arrive, these buses then returned empty to Kiruna. How often does this occur during the lead up to the event?
Okay back to the story. I camped beside Čievrrajohka and went about the usual camp chores but was surprised to watch a reindeer wander along the opposite bank and after a pleasant evening with only a few mosquitos I was soon in bed and asleep. Only to be disturbed by a small creature around the tent, it would be a while before I would find the damage
Within an hour the next morning I was in Nikkaluokta and as I had plenty of time before the bus I visited the church.
I sat down on an ideally located bench and relaxed, taking in one last look at the mountains before beginning the journey home. It had possibly been the best trip I have had in this area. Plans for next year are already evolving.
In this post I thought I would look at cooking and its associated activities. As a starter, I normally boil about 600 ml of water in the morning for Porridge and coffee, occasionally there maybe an extra cup of coffee so then it would be 800 mls. In the evening I boil water for the main meal (abut 400 ml) and for coffee or tea (bout 200 ml) in winter I will also make soup adding an extra 300 ml of water. For this trip then on average i boiled 1200 ml ( 1.2 litres or 41 ounces per day) My gas usage for this trip was about 20 gms of gas per litre of water boiled. Using the stove for 9 of the 10 days resulted in the use of one 230 gm Gas canister.
Kovea Spider, the Spider is a well respected stove and one that can be used in inverted mode to provide a liquid feed of gas in cold conditions which was not necessary on this trip. I decided to take it as I really wanted to know what the fuel usage was likely to be under summer conditions, however, I did recognise that the consumption would be higher than my Jetboil Sol Ti. I purchased 2 by 230 gm gas canisters at Katterjokk and only used 1 of them (there was a little gas remaining) Using my figures the gas usage was around 20 gms per litre of water boiled, whereas in my experience the Jetboil runs at about 12 gms per litre. For a windscreen I used a design that I found at Whitburns Wanderings blog. Given my lack of organisation I put together the windshield at the last minute using an old Zelphs Stove windscreen, it seemed to work well, but there was no doubt that at times it was affected by the wind.
On the last day I did melt a part of the aluminium windshield indicating that maybe a thicker aluminium sheet was required.
Snowpeak 900: To compliment the Kovea Stove I used the Snowpeak Trek 900 pot. What I liked about this pot is the quality of the Titanium, and its suitability as a mug. I partnered this with a Four Dog Stove Titanium Lid giving a total weight of 128 gms. Not a lot more can be said expect that the Titanium is noticeably thicker than that found on some pots.
Water, during the day I usually carried about 500 ml in a Pet bottle from Imsdal, I like these bottles as they are robust and being slim and tall that fit easily into the side pocket of the pack. In the evenings I would fill my Evernew 2 litre and 900 ml water bladders which would provide me with sufficient water for the evening and following morning. I prefer Evernew bladders over other brands because of their robustness and the fact that the cap is attached to the bottle and thus cannot be lost, without losing the flask as well. Furthermore, the thread is a perfect match to the Sawyer water filter.
Cup/Mug, as depicted in the photo above I used a Sea to Summit X mug, and sadly a small animal decided to take a few bites out of it, as a result I will revert to my Ziploc or other containers to be used as a soup and coffee cup..
Spoon. a Ti Spork from Light my fire is my companion it is virtually indestructible and can be used a spoon, a whisk and for cutting the steaks.