It’s the beginning of April, the sun is back, and it’s time to be the first to cross this part of northern Norway during winter season. The national park center has finally approved our application to cross Norway, I gathered a team of 4 chosen people, and we met up for a safety debrief, and went through our safety procedures and techniques, and talked about the days in front of us. It’s a reason why we are the first to go all the way to Sweden in winter, the surrounding mountains is steep, it’s stormy, and climbing in blindness could be a dangerous game if you don’t know what your up to! The day is Wednesday, date April 5. We are 4 people, 4 pulkas, almost 200kg of equipment. This is the story written by the guide him self about the journey across Norway.
After a couple of hours we passed kvitsteingamma, after that there was no sign of people on our journey. We climbed up Skavldalen, at around 900 meters up we got our first whiteout. I have my trip well planed, and I got the track on my GPS, so this just a game. But i knew with my self that I needed a clear sky to get down in Gråtadalen due to all the snowdrift and holes. But my experience told me to continue, because once we get further down we will probably get under the fog, and since we were heading east and the wind tends to blow from east, I knew that we probably would get some references further down. I was right, but the way down was steep, and not everyone found it easy to slide down the mountain side with a 50kg pulka in their back. Since the snow was just powder, it turned out to be really funny, and the group where loaded by a good feeling when we entered Gråtadalen.
Time to set a camp
The first night
With winds over 20m/s, we all slept like a princess during the night in the patagonia tents with double poles.
It’s day 2, and time for breakfast, we melted the water needed for the day, and took down the camp, the time was 09 AM when the skis where on again. The day turned out to be incredible ruff, we started with some river crossing and climbed our way up to 1000 meters again. From this point, we ended up with our climbing harness on, and battled our way down the mountain side and down to around 30 meters. There was little snow, so we had to carry our pulkas to the destination point. Great day!
The distance day
Date is 7 April, woke up to beautiful weather, time we got going. 09 AM Today is the distance day, our goal is 2,8km, but the reality is another thing. But the spirit was high, and the day started with no skis as there was no snow.
We ended up carrying/dragging without skis for a couple of hours before we reached good snow. The rivers where open, and that’s a bad thing, because we need to cross it. We found a reasonable good spot, rigged some ropes over and crossed over to the right side. The sun was strong, and the snow was wet, therefore we ended up drinking way to much water than we planned. After climbing up to around 1000 meters, we could take our well deserved lunch break.
In front of us, the mountains of Saltfjellet, it’s just powder up here, and on the other side it’s the same, it’s colder down there. We finally got going, and we made good progress down the hill. I could see the big smile on the group as they surfed down in the powder of the new snow that came the night before. People where laughing again, and seem to forgotten about all the hard work the past 6 hours.
We made it down, but we ran out of water, i knew there was a big waterfall a couple of km ahead. It’s so big, It had to be open, so we followed the river and went for it. After an hour we reached the waterfall, it was frozen in, but we manage to find an open spot to fill up. It involved some rappelling down, but the alternative was setting up camp and that was way to early. Filling up here saves us time in all ways so this was real diamond!
After 10 hours we ended up setting camp deep inside Saltfjellet national park.
Today we got a problem, it’s a storm incoming, and the national park center has told us to avoid Stallogropa since there are some birds nesting there. This means we need to climb another mountain to avoid it, but it’s well planned. But it was not planned to do in whiteout! Early morning April of 8, we took down our camp and started our journey towards a mountain few people have climbed before (If anyone has been climbing there, we don’t know). It was a steep hill, and on the top the whiteout came. There is dangerous cliffs everywhere and we knew the wind was going up in a couple of hours. We had to continue, this is a bad spot!
We ended up pushing the sledge in front of us looking for cliffs, we knew from our GPS that they were coming one by one, and we found them this way. We rigged up a dead man’s anchor and rappelling one by one down a couple of cliffs. It was great! After around 4 hours of climbing, we reached down to Søndre Bjøllåvatnet. The wind was raising, and we need to enter the stormdalen (Translated, it’s the valley of storms). The valley is known from its name, and people have lost their life up there before due to the wind that hits you from all directions.
We climbed up the hill, and on top the storm came in, it was exactly like it, the wind came from all directions and flipped over our sledges. We had to go in sick sack to avoid it. In brutal wind and whiteout, we fought our way through the valley following the GPS and suddenly in nowhere we all stopped. Right in front of us is a big lynx, it’s just standing there, we can almost touch it. That moment was worth every bit of it, I got it all, its pure happiness being that close to that king of the mountains! This is exactly why I love being out there, those moments are the one I live for.
After 12 brutal hours and an average of 0,8km/h we finally reached our goal for the day. In this kind of conditions, it’s hard to take pictures, but here are the few we got
The last push over to Sweden was a dream, and in nice weather we reached the boarder of Sweden, and we got picked up by the owner of Saltjfell hotel polar circle. He drove us to the hotel for a nice celebration dinner and some well deserved beers!