By Vil Tervo, 29 June 2019
So what do you do when you leave NZ? Well one of the nice things about being part of the club is its international network.
In late June, I met up with a former Swedish member of the club Ylva who was tramping in Swedish Lapland with her boyfriend Daniel. I joined their trip in the last section as we tried to climb Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest peak (~2100m). After 9h driving day to Nikkaluokta, there was a dead flat, and somewhat boring 19km walk to Kebnekaise Fjällstation which took about 4h given that I was walking with my 60-year-old mum. What I was expecting was maybe a large lodge, but what was waiting for us was a hotel with a campsite, kitchen, restaurant, bar, and a sauna of all things. Of course we had to take advantage of the facilities so after setting up the camp and cooking some dinner, we had to go to the sauna. The night was cold as, and I woke up several times, but that being said the morning wasn’t bad and we headed to the mountain. We knew we only had a limited window since there was a storm coming which a tour guide warned us about as we passed a large group on the way up. Well the weather started to turn and as we started the last section visibility dropped to under 100m, and we were walking in a blizzard. Given that the trip was in the middle of June (see European summer), we didn’t have helpful alpine gear that the club would provide in NZ, mainly bothy bags, MSRs and ice axes. As my mum got slow and Ylva and Daniel were freezing we decided to meetup at a shelter close by. It took us over 30min in the weather to reach the shelter from the point we were (this should have only taken 10-20min), and as expected I couldn’t see Ylva or Daniel as they had continued on. We had a quick lunch and added more layers so we could go on. However, after only 50 more metres we had to turn back as our speed was dangerously slow and we had to get off before the storm would hit within the hour. However, we didn’t know that only about 300m from the shelter we had stayed in there would have been another newer shelter where Ylva and Daniel had taken refuge. Now in NZ splitting a group like this in these conditions would be risky, however in Sweden, there is 4G coverage on the whole mountain so communication wasn’t a problem for us and I let Ylva and Daniel know that we decided to turn down given the weather. We were only about 500m from the summit, but given the worsening wind, slow pace, and at this point 50m visibility we didn’t really miss anything. Even Ylva and Daniel turned back them only being 200m from the summit in the shelter. The walk down went fast and even the sky cleared up, but the wind picked up and I got knocked over at least three times by it, luckily we were coming down.. Back on the valley floor we passed a small herd of reindeer just before the Fjällstation which was neat. In the end We were quite happy to know that we could get back to the sauna, and even got some cold beersies from the shop, such luxury! At this point Ylva and Daniel finally caught back to us, as they had stayed in the second shelter for quite a long time. While we were in the sauna the weather turned to absolute shit show which was quite unfortunate as we still had to walk out that night as we had a long drive ahead of us the next day. This turned out already somewhat long day into a longer one as the total walking took round 12h as we did 36km, call it a Medium (maybe Medium-Fit) day! So yeah, what can I conclude, tramping in The Nordics can be cool, but it just seems way easier, also it’s cool to catchup with other club people overseas, and you’d be surprised how many trampers had been to NZ.
The following day we (me and my mum) drove to Finland via Norway which definitely reminded me of the South Island and Fjordland. When we got to Finland we climbed Saana Fell, a short mountain (~1030m), where I had to create a club logo. Bonus about this mountain is that they have a trampoline allowing you to take some sick shots.
Overall a fantastic trip, I would definitely recommend tramping in the Scandinavian Mountains, Norway would be the best option however, and if you get the chance definitely catchup with the international people from the club while overseas!