Skiing northern portion of Sweden's Kungsleden trail

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TreeFallin
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Skiing northern portion of Sweden's Kungsleden trail

Post by TreeFallin » Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:35 pm

There was an interest after one of my posts in a trip report about our 2017 trip to ski the Kungsleden trail. Thank You as this rekindled memories of a fabulous trip:

We flew to Stockholm from Boston with our skis and a duffel bag of ski boots, backpacks and winter trekking clothing. There is a special Airport to City train that runs every 15 minutes (or something like that).
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The train stops at the main train station in Stockholm.
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At the train station we purchased tickets for the 'Arctic Circle' train from Stockholm to Abisko. This is a sleeper train with a cabin and two tiny beds and even a tiny tiny shower. We slept all night until we arrived at town of Kiruna where we were told the train could not go to the final station due to an avalanche. We boarded supplied busses and rode the final hour to Abisko on a bus.
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From the Abisko station we walked to the lodge of the Swedish Tourist Federation where we dressed for our ski trip, put our remaining clothes into a duffel bag and used the lodge's baggage room as a 'locker'.

The day was young so we started skiing right away. Our first hut, Abiskojaure was about 10 miles away.

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The skiing was relatively flat with a few rolling hills and up and down river snow bridges,

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And over frozen lakes

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And as the day slowly drew to an end we arrived at Abiskojaure Hut, a collection of 3-4 bunkhouses, a sauna and a mini office/store with a few backpacking food staples.

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Each bunkhouse has a woodstove. Campers need to fetch their own wood from a woodshed, split it and bring it in. Also large water canisters are dragged out to the lake to fill with water for cooking and drinking.

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It was a refreshing night after a long flight and a long train ride.
In the morning we made ourselves breakfast and started skiing to our next hut named Alesjaure

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The trail is exposed all of the time so high winds are a norm. One must be dressed with great windbreaker hardshell pants and jackets as well as ski goggles and hat and whatever we all wear on epic winter ski trips ;-)

There were more hills to tackle today but honestly nothing out of the ordinary for our norm. We were able to tackle them without skins without much of a problem. There are often also 'halfway safety cabins' to shield skiers briefly from the wind and to help them change layers or sit down and have a snack.

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The trail is frequently marked with orange X signs spaced tightly to assist skiers during whiteout conditions.

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We encountered a whiteout when crossing the last lake towards our hut. Ironically we left the trail to cut a shortcut across the lake when the whiteout hit. Luckily we were able to navigate safely to the hut without straying off course.

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At every hut it is a custom to welcome skiers with 'skiwater' which is hot water with lingonberry juice. After a long day of skiing this drink always lifted our spirits.

The next day the caretaker arrived early and warned us of 40mph winds all day. All of the people in our bunkhouse chose to stay put. I ventured out a few times to test the conditions and then, because the wind was going to be in our face I thought we could bundle up and try it and if things get horrible we can always return back with the wind at our back.

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The winds were fierce but we shuffled our way up towards Tjaktja pass one step at a time.

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There were even more hills on this day, akin to skinning up a 4000 footer.

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Finally at long last we saw the Tjaktja hut in the distance. Still far away but at least an attainable goal.

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We made it to the hut much to a mild surprise of the hutmaster. I wanted to think that we represented US well that day. :-)

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Every hut has simple, yet functional outhouses with foam seats to make sure you don't freeze your ass permanently. It's good to make it back to the bunkhouse after number two. ;-)

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The winds were forecasted high the next day, yet slightly less than the previous. As we were clicking into our skis one of Yvonne's mittens got picked up by the wind and started flying away from her. She had to chase after it.

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As we skied on the round hills with the snow blowing close to the ground resembled giant ocean waves.

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Finally we made it halfway to the top of the Tjaktja pass and a warming shack. At least it was downhill from here.

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So much white, white everywhere. At some point I looked at Yvonne as she seemed to lose the trail and was actually descending towards a frozen waterfall…I whistled, got her attention, got her turned in the correct direction and soon after she rejoined me.

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We continued skiing downhill and along the way we were treated the most amazing array of light, skies, snow and sunshine…

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All great things come to an end as the afternoon inched towards its middle we have arrived at Salka Hut. The hutmasters were waiting for us outside with a thermoss of hot skiwater and paper cups.

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We spend a great evening at the sauna talking to our newly established tramily. Sauna at the huts consists of a woodstove, three rooms. First one to get undressed, second to get washed and third to sweat.

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The forecast for the next day was good. Moderate winds and sunshine. We enjoyed skiing towards our next hut while passing spectacular mountain scenery and abandoned summer Sami villages.

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We arrived at Salka Hut without any problems.

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The hutmaster had a good sense of humor when we asked him where the sauna is. The was none. He said if we wanted to sweat we can chop some wood. :-)

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He warned us that the winds for overnight were going to be extremely strong. We heard the wind outside throughout the night … it sounded like a freight train.

The toilets in the middle of nowhere :-)

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In the morning the outhouses were filled with blown in snow. One had to showel out the cabin first and at some point as we wiped…the toilet paper flew back out of the hole into the cabin where it had to be chased down, thrown into the hole and the lid closed to keep the devil out.


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The next day was the toughest day for wind. The wind was moving us left and right, really strong. It was hard going at times but the scenery was awesome. We were circling the range of Sweden's highest mountain : Kebnekaise

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At one point we crossed paths with a dogsled

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We were glad to have made it to the large lodge of Kebnekaise Station, wind whipped and ready for a hot shower and a good meal.

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The hut carpet outlines the Kungsleden trail

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The next day's trip to Nikkaluokta was easy, we have by now descended from the mountains and the trail was mostly a snowmobilled road.

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We took a bus from Nikkaluokta to Kiruna and another bus back to Abisko where we spent a night and boarded the arctic train back to Stockholm.

A great trip. I'm glad I wrote up this trip review 2 years after the trips conclusion. It was fun to rekindle memories. I hope one day we get to ski the second half of the Kungsleden trail. Here is a link to more photos from the trip: https://www.flickr.com/photos/brambor/s ... 892583803/

Day 1: Abisko to Abiskojaure - 15KM
Day 2: Abiskojaure to Alesjaure - 23KM
Day 3: Alesjaure to Tjaktja - 15KM
Day 4: Tjaktja to Salka - 13KM
Day 5: Salka to Singi - 13KM
Day 6: Singi to Kebnekaisse - 13KM
Day 7: Kebnekaisse to Nikkaluokta - 17KM

Abisko is one of the best locations in the world to view the northern lights. We got to see them a few times. Quite a spectacular experience for me (first time). 

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lowangle al
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Re: Skiing northern portion of Sweden's Kungsleden trail

Post by lowangle al » Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:21 pm

Wow, great trip, thanks for posting.

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Cannatonic
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Re: Skiing northern portion of Sweden's Kungsleden trail

Post by Cannatonic » Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:58 pm

wow, what a trip! thanks for posting. Did everyone speak English for the most part??
“The disciples are drawn to the high altars with magnetic certainty, knowing that a great Presence hovers over the ranges. You were within the portals of the temple....to enter the wilderness and seek, in the primal patterns of nature, a magical union with beauty”
1931 Ansel Adams

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TreeFallin
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Re: Skiing northern portion of Sweden's Kungsleden trail

Post by TreeFallin » Sun Mar 17, 2019 4:17 pm

Yes, everyone spoke English enough to be helpful because we sure did not speak Swedish :D

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Nick BC
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Re: Skiing northern portion of Sweden's Kungsleden trail

Post by Nick BC » Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:59 pm

Thanks TF for a great trip report. Scandinavia seems to have these wonderful rolling, alpine areas where you can have these mellow tours. The outhouse photos reminded me of a few of the BC Hut trips I’ve done. The beauty of styrofoam on the nether regions, in sub zero temperatures is definitely not to be scoffed at.

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