Category Archives: kungsleden

Kebnekaise summit the hard way

With 2102 meters Kebnekaise is the highest mountain in Sweden and a highlight of any hiking trip in Laponia.
There are two optionsclimbing Kebnekaise, both possible as day hikes from Kebnekaise Lodge:

Östre ledan (The Eastern Trail): The shorter of the two options crossing the Björling glacier and climbing a (moderate) via ferrata. Daily guided tours (incl. equipment) from Kebnekaise lodge.

Västre leden (The Western Trail): A straightforward, though long and exhausting hiking route of 22 km and more than 2000 meters ascent with no need for technical equipment. I have summited Kebnekaise twice, in 2014 and 2016, on both occasions via Västra leden.

On the way to Kebnekaise
                            On the way to Kebnekaise

The track feel as long as it is. It is however very beautiful, almost all of it above the tree level passing a wonderful cirque with hanging glaciers as well as the curiously shaped Tuolpagorni on the way. Around halfway up, it is quite a psychological challenge having to climb and descend Vierramvare  on the way, adding 300 meters to the ascend, making the total ascent 2100 meter.  While the trail is straight-forward and not technical, the scree slopes, however are quite steep. The last 50 meters ascent is on snow, though normally crampons are not needed. The summit is quite small with room for no more than 5-6 people and quite exposed,  and since it is on top of a glacier the actual height may vary a bit from year to year. In 2016 it looks like at hut will be build immediately below the summit, a place where helicopters taking sightseeing tourists land as well.

View from Kebnekaise summit
                                 View from Kebnekaise summit

Difficulty: 4.

Information and maps: Summitpost, 

Click here for a photogallery of the Kebnekaise Summit Climb (July 2014) on flickr.

Kungsleden – five highlights and ten important lessons learned

Aktse with Skierfe in the background
                         Aktse with Skierfe in the background

July 2013: First time out on a multiday, camping hike: The Northern (and most popular) stretch of the Kungsleden from Abisko to Kvikkjokk – approximately 160 km walked in 10 days.

Highlights:

  1. The wilderness of Laponia in general. Although you are never far away (10 km max) from a staffed hut, there is a true sense of wilderness, which furthermore comes without virtually without a risk of predators.
  2. Aktse. An old, now abandoned, settlement, where the spirit of the settlers remain and a mountain lodge now is established at the old settlers lodge.
  3. The endless forest between Laitaure and Kvikkjokk.
  4. The midnight sun. In July it never really gets dark.
  5. Kebnekaise and around (I climbed Kebnekaise  on another trip in both 2014 and 2016).
Camping close to Sälka
                                   Camping close to Sälka

Lessons learned:

  1. Bring a map. Not only for safety but also to learn about the landmarks on the way.
  2. Do not buy too small hiking boots. It took me two years and 6 lost toe nails to realize this.
  3. Check your sleeping mattress. My sleeping mattress was not insulated as I had bought an air-mattress by mistake.
  4. Hiking in Laponia requires a four-season sleeping bag as snow may be encountered at any time, especially in the higher areas, such as at the Tjäktja pass.
  5. Merino wool, merino wool. Merino wool is unsurpassed for base layer/underwear.
  6. Even though the midnight sun is on, it may not be enough to charge a solar charger.
  7. Bring hiking poles, not only for hiking but also for river crossings.
  8. Do not overdo it in the beginning. The 20 km I did on second day between Abiskojaure and Alesjaure was clearly too much.
  9. Bring a GPS watch – not for navigation but for monitoring distances hiked and ascents done.
  10. The mosquitos are ferocious. The mild Danish mosquito spray does not work up here: Buy the local mosquito repellent.

    Walking on planks through birch forest at the beginning, right after Abisko.
    Walking on planks through birch forest at the beginning,         right after Abisko.

Schedule:
Abisko – Abiskojaure (camping) – Alesjaure (camping) – Tjäktja (hut) – Sälkka (camping) – Singi (camping) – Vakkotavare (camping) – Before Sitasjaure (camping) – Aktse (camping) – before Pårte (camping) – before Kvikkjok (camping).

The complete photogallery of the Kungsleden hike is available on flickr.

With these lessons, I went to the Alps in France, to hike the Tour de Mont Blanc.