On the road
By no means is Kebnekaise a tall mountain. Just slightly above 2000 meter it is the tallest one in Sweden and quite popular to visit.
There are two routes up. The longer is easier but of course longer time to climb. The shorter one includes a walk over a glacier but should be ok even for unskilled climbers.
Originally my trip was ment to cover part of Kungsleden e.g king’s trail which is a walking path. However due to unplanned events I had to delay my departure and instead team up with my friends at a later date and wholly focus on climbing Kebnekaise.
I will walk the part from Nikkaluokta to Kebnekaise alone but I hope to be able to join some other walkers along the way. I don’t think it is advisable to walk alone but these are the gate to Kebnekaise and I think that there will be quite a few walkers.
I am writing this first part of the story on my way to the airport and I am quite excited. I hate to leave my wife, whom I recently married, but I have planned this for 2 years and it was a childhood dream of mine to walk the king’s trail. Since Kebnekaise is not a part of the trail I have still that goal which I have to put back in my bucket list.
Path to Kebnekaise
So I arrived to Nikkaluokta in the afternoon and decided to stay there for the night. It’s a quiet place and the most action takes place when buses comes and goes. Occasionally travelers by car and bike also seems to find their way here.
It was not much to do but chill. I took a stroll around the area but all in all there was not much to do.
My first real active day was shortened a bit by taking the boat. I think it saves about 6 km or roughly 2 hours walking.
They were quite good in promoting the distance to the boat which in term got me a chance to estimate how long time each kilometer took.
Arriving in the small village I realized that there is a restaurant and probably cabins that you can rent for the night.
Since I had a few hours of sun the evening before I should have stayed here but it’s always a tough call to make.
The boat trip took about 30 minutes and was a nice break from the walking. Since I didn’t have many kilometers behind me I wasn’t in the fittest condition so saving a few hours was a good call.
Next stop Kebnekaise station
After the boat there are wooden walkways and stony paths.
Along the way you can find pouring creeks and there are several places where you can refill your water.
Make sure you follow the guidelines before you refill your water bottle.
During mid day I took a brief stop to fix me some instant food. After ten minutes in hot water it was ready to be eaten. To my surprise it tasted much better than expected but from what I heard is that after a few days you grow pretty tired of these.
As the distance from the boat increased the signs showed how many kilometers I had walked.
After a few hours I arrived at Kebnekaise station. My friends had already arrived so it was nice to meet them and chat up about what have happened.
Prepare for the climb
The way up
On the way up it rained a lot. We started at 7.10 am and it rained for about 2 hours. For me the pace was quite fast and I was up for a tough walk.
At about 10.20 we arrived at the edge of the glacier and I had a tough decision to make. In the beginning I was 10 meters behind but the further we got the further behind I were. It took me about 5 minutes to catch up when the rest had stopped. The guide was confident I could make it but I had my doubts and my left knee ached a bit. I was going back and forth in my head when I came to the conclusion; if I am doubting this much then I shouldn’t do it.
I have reached halfway to the top, one fourth of the journey in total. The glacier, climbing the snow wall and actual climbing the mountain, then a steep walk up some stone landscape and finally the snowy peak remained. I might have had energy to do that but then the climb down felt exhausting in my head.
As I saw my friends and the guide take off a sence of regret filled my thoughts. Did I make right call?
I stayed for a while and watched as they walked swiftly away.
As they have passed the first part of the glacier and headed for the snow wall upwards, I returned over the boulders.
Between the boulders and the rocks were a short walk of snow. When I had passed by the boulders I came across a bit disoriented and didn’t know how to proceed. Fortunately there were some rocks piled up and I could see some walkers approaching from south so I took aim on them and found the path back.
On the way back I took my time. I decided to enjoy the walk and take plenty of breaks.
The view back was amazing and even though I failed at reaching the peak I had a beautiful day.
On the dead glacier there were some reindeers. A glacier apparantly dies when it doesn’t move anymore.
The path back felt like a neverending sea of stones.
The walk down took a toll on knees and feets. I was still cheerful since the landscape and weather gave a beautiful walk.
Hardened by disappointment over failing and thinking I will never do a journey like this again, I was also happy for being able to see these magnificent views.
And if you look closer there sprung out wonderful flowers like this one, which I believe is a blue bell.
Due to the heavy rain I didn’t cross the river on my own but had to take a long walk around to find a bridge across.
Reaching home base I was just one hour earlier home than the others but I think I lost one hour just to be able to cross the bridge.
Kebnekaise station to Nikkaluokta
The walk back went a lot faster than the walk to Kebnekaise but I believe that I had a tiny bit more miles behind me then. And I was not slow walking like days before.
Reflections on the hike
Today, a few days after I feel a little bit sad that I never reached the peak. I still had a wonderful day and I am happy I went as far as I did. But I wish that I had made it. I wasn’t enough trained and the pace was tough. I also was a bit scared to climb up the snow wall and mountain side. If I had a little more energy then perhaps.
I met quite a few climbers on my way down and one of them assured me that it’s a tough call to decide not to proceed and also takes a lot of willpower to reach before it’s too late.
And I should be assured that when I am ready, the mountain will be waiting for me…