Tag Archives: Sweden

Mt Kebnekaise

After a couple of days relaxing in Kiruna I started to get itchy feet (and no it wasn’t my socks, they’ve been washed, with soap and everything). Felt like I haven’t done any walking for a while, and to be honest real beds are just too comfortable. So I thought I would pop out of town and climb a mountain called Kebnekaise. At just over 2100 metres it’s the highest peak in Sweden, and it’s a beautiful climb.

Getting up early Sunday morning I jumped on a bus to Nikkaloukkta, from there it was a 20km walk to the mountain station at the foot of Kebne. After three months of pretty much non stop rain it seems that summer has finally come to Sweden, the sun was shining and the mountains looked amazing. I camped Sunday night a little way up the valley from the mountain station.

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I say “I” but I wasn’t alone, a had a wonderful companion, Lyka, who was not only great company but also kept the tent warm at night (though my kit is now covered in fur).

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Lyka was lent to me by Jenny, who I must also thank for lending me her amazingly ultralight tent, and letting me crash in her spare room for my time in Kiruna, a lovely person all round.

5:30 Monday morning we were awake, and by 7, coffee and dog biscuits had been had (Lyka loved the coffee, I wasn’t sure about the biscuits) and we were ready to go.

The day started off fairly easy, walking to the head of the valley, with a quick stop to fill the water bottle from a stream. There’s nothing more refreshing than fresh spring/melt water, still icy cold from the snow. Then the fun started, coming round a bit of a corner the end of the valley comes into sight…

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From here the hike becomes more of a scramble, large boulders and a lot of loose rubble, with a few patches of snow thrown in for good measure. Genuinely good fun, but I was thankful I had a nice dry day and a good pair of walking poles (thanks to Marcell for lending me those). Lyka loved the snow, nearly lost her a couple of times when she decided to go sledging on some of the steeper sections.

The peak on the right is Kebnekaise, but the path actually goes up the one on the left first, then down across that dip before going up to the peak. It’s hard to get a sense of scale from the photo so I’ll just say this. There’s a full sized cabin half way up the right hand peak, try and spot it if you can. The straight line distance between the two peaks is something like 4km.

At the top of the left peak was an amazing collection of Cairns. The stony, wind swept peak, covered in these strange little rock piles, felt almost spiritual (until you remembered they were built by day hikers whilst they stopped for a snickers and some water)

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From there it was down, through the dip then up the main peak. With a quick stop for some lunch at the cabin (I brought a rather expensive freeze dried chicken curry as a celebratory meal but it turned out to be German, full of sugar, banana and pineapple. Not great)

Finally reached the summit some time around 2pm. The last 40 or so metres are up a steep snowy ridge, slippy as balls to get up but great fun to slide back down again and absolutely worth it for the view. Here’s me trying to look casual and ignore the rather long drop to either side (the lady taking the pictures said I should fist pump or something, I said I was far too English)

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Then it was just a cheeky three hour walk/scramble/slide back down to the valley and a short walk to find a nice spot to camp for the night. This morning we got up early, walked the 20km back to Nikkaloukkta and got a bus back to Kiruna where both Lyka and I have collapsed on the sofa. Three of the best days hiking I’ve had all summer, and to anyone thinking of climbing Kebne, go for it. I won’t say it’s easy but it’s by no means impossible and its definitely worth doing.

Pedestrian Ponderings

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So, walking upwards of 9 hours a day gives one a fair amount of time to think. Here is an insight into the mind of a long distance Hiker, I even included a picture of me doing my thoughtful face (I look great in exam halls). Oh and I tried to do bullet points but the wordpress app has foiled me at every turn so you’ll have to imagine them.

Sweden, a country with beautiful countryside and countless amazing trails, but no country pubs…

Why, after millions of years of evolution, are our knees better adapted to walking backwards?

Oh a shop! Better buy some chocolate

With our phone GPS tracking our every move, Google searching knowing our darkest questions and Facebook keeping tabs on everything we do, was Orwell a bit optimistically limited in his vision of Big Brother?

Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow bloody shoulders.

I wonder if someone makes centrally heated boots.

My God, this country does have a lot of pine trees.

Some mad fool just told me there’s a place where it doesn’t rain and everything is made warm by a giant ball of fire in the sky. I mean I respect people’s right to believe in their religion but some things are a bit far fetched.

Is it possible to have ones legs surgically replaced with giant springs?

We are nothing more than the sum of our experiences, yet our memories have been shown to constantly rewrite themselves. Can it be argued that we are in fact an entirely new person when we wake up each morning? Do we even remain the same person from moment to moment?

Should have bought more chocolate.

If I swat enough mosquitos, leaving alive only those that don’t land on me, will they eventually evolve to avoid all Freds?

I remember when I used to eat food that didn’t come from a tin, those were the days.

Is anyone even reading this? It’s been so long since I read the news London could have been hit by an atom bomb and I wouldn’t know…

Maybe I’m the only person left alive….

Wait no, there’s someone peeing behind that tree.

Only three more hours till lunchtime!

If each kilo you carry burns ten calories per mile, how many many more miles can I lug this pasta around before it becomes nutritionally void?

Hmm, I should write all this down for a blog post.

“The Crazy Englishman”

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So apparently I’ve earned my trail name from the other hikers on the Kungsleden. I heard about this morning when I bumped into two swedes who, when they heard my accent, exclaimed “oh so you’re the crazy Englishman”. Not going to lie, slightly flattered.

The Kungsleden so far has been absolutely amazing. Bleakly beautiful mountains, crystal clear rivers and bloody treacherous snowfields (already put my foot through what looked like solid snow but turned out to have a good 2 foot void below it, slightly sphincter clenching moment). Plus, finally, I’m meeting other hikers. Loads of them, and there great. Found a beautiful spot in the middle of a valley to camp last night, had a nice big dinner and settled down to some reading, lovely evening. Though the overall atmosphere was slightly spoilt by the discovery that my tent is about as waterproof as a sieve… Had to pack everything up quickly at about 11pm and leg it a couple of miles to the nearest Hut. Looks like I’m going to have to plan my route around where I can find stugas to stay in. Just stopped off at a mountain station for a sit down but it’s time to crack on, at least the sun is shining today!

Apparently it’s Still Winter…

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Forty nine miles in two days, not bad if I may say so myself.
The mountains have been slowly drawing closer, and the buggers are still covered in snow! Seems like no one told them it’s supposed to be Summer.
Still, with just a couple more days before the Kungsleden things are getting exciting.

Plus, I had a pair of hawks (or some such) flying along with me for a few miles the other day, beautiful creatures. Though sadly the lighting wasn’t ideal and the zoom on my phone really isn’t great. Aannndd saw a moose, which disappeared before I could even get my phone out, sneaky bastard.

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I’ve given myself a night off in a hostel to get clean and organised (the hostel has this amazing machine, you just put clothes in and they come out clean, the times we live in) and met a lovely couple who are motorbiking around northern Sweden. Nice to have someone to chat to.

Oh and I’ve officially named my bag Big Brother. For two reasons 1) like a real big brother he’s a constant source of pain and irritation, but always there when I need something and 2) like the Orwellian Big Brother, everywhere I go he’s right there behind me…

By the way, anyone who wants to see some more photos check out my instagram FKeate.

And, of course.
http://www.justgiving.com/Fredrik-Ahlburg-Keate1