Guy’s First Arctic Ski Touring Trip. Part Two.
A continuation of Guy Oliver’s first trip to the Norwegian Arctic. We have been
staying at Galdahytta, a remote hut for two nights, and are about to set out for the
second hut, Gappohytta.
It was my turn with the pulk, the plan was that being the most experienced I would take the pulk on the downhill sections and young strong Guy, the apprentice, would pull it up the hills. I was feeling a bit tentative as I was hitching up, wondering how I would be taking it down the slight incline and onto the lake. No problem, the experience soon kicked in and I was off enjoying the steady pace and views in the sunshine. We crossed the lake and over a small hill and down towards a frozen river. The snow surface was perfect, and as the speed picked up, I decided to show Guy my expert turns as I negotiated one of the small trees that were dotted about. Unfortunately the pulk had ideas of its own and decided it was easier on the other side of the tree from me! Bang! I stopped so quick I wondered if my eyes would ever settle back into their sockets.
There I was lying on my back pondering what the apprentice would think of the expert skier and pulk puller. I was hopelessly tangled in a mess of slings, poles and skis, the tree stood firm and took no notice at all, Guy oozing confidence calmly slid down to me.
“Where do you want me?” He said.
Together we sorted out the mess, fortunately, pride was the only thing damaged, I was soon on my feet and we set off along the valley. A short while later we turned south west and up a steeper valley, Guy took over the pulk just as several teams with six dogs and a sled each passed us. The snow here was still quite deep and soft and we were thankful for the good
track they made for us to follow.
The dog teams made good tracks for us to follow, the pictures make it look flat, in actual fact this was quite steep.
Sunlight glinting on the ice under the cornices, again pictures do this beautiful place hardly any justice.
We came out of the valley and up into a keen wind on the plateau, the way across, about 2k, was marked with birch branches, very useful in bad weather, Then back down into a sheltered, picturesque valley. This marked track we were following goes from Finland to Signaldalen, one of the north western valleys, and care is needed not to follow it too far,
as I did a few years ago when I came here with Neil Skip, another WMC member. One has to leave the track and turn south up the hill, we eventually came to Gappohytta in late afternoon, tired but contented.
Don’t be distracted by the scenery, you must leave the trail & turn south up to Gappohytta.
Evening light on the loo with a view at Gappohytta
Inside, the hut is warm and cosy, outside the weather is cold, probably about minus 10C, or colder, and clear. We have peace, quiet, and stunning scenery. Surely I am too young to be in heaven.
Guy relaxing in the lounge at Gappohytta, it’s difficult to imagine such luxury several days
away from the nearest road. There is only a simple lock on the door. We know. We once
lost our key and had to pick the lock!
Again we decided to have a day off, well it was Sunday, and Guy went out alone to explore. He skied up a local hill where he could get a good view of the hut. I was a little worried for him to go out alone, so we decided he was not to go out of sight of the hut so I could watch his progress. Guy had done remarkably well, he was a very quick learner and was now quite
confident on his skis.
Looking down on Gappohytta, from the cairn on Rundfjellet. This cairn marks the border
between Norway and Sweden. Note the antler & wind scoured rock & Ice. Picture Guy Oliver
Monday, the start of a new working week. Today we are skiing to Paltsastugan, the most northly building in Sweden. Its a very grey, cold, and threatening day. But however bad the weather gets we should have no problems. Once we cross the border, only about 1k away, the trail will be marked. And I mean really marked, there will be a two metre pole every
100 meters, with a large red cross on the top of each pole and every time the trail changes direction there are two crosses.
Looking towards Sweden from Gappohytta, it is just possible to see the border notice in the distance welcoming us to Sweden. Paltsastugan, our next hut is the nearest habitation 12k away.
And to make it even easier most of today is gently downhill. I find it a little boring travelling on the main trails in Sweden, just skiing to the next red cross doesn't do much for me. Having said that, for a novice just starting out, Sweden would be a nice safe place to tour, the main trails are usually busy with snow scooters, and folk are generally very helpful if you get into any kind of trouble.
Two pictures of Paltsan, the Matterhorn like mountain I climbed on my own some years ago, I got quite a buzz doing it all alone, it was stunning weather and there were spectacular views from the summit, I think the others in the party were a little jealous, but I was unable to get them to admit it, and I am sure they had a good day out, exploring up to the col at the head of the valley.
Paltsastugan was quite expensive with lots of people, and seemed all hustle and bustle after the peace and quite of Norway. There was a guided party of about eight skiers led by a lady guide. I saw her looking out of the window at err... my mountain... So I casually mentioned it was easy to climb it from the back side. No. No. She wasn't going to have that, she insisted it was impossible for a skier to climb it. I tried to explain I had left my ski and just walked up using my ski poles, but she would have none of it so I dropped the subject.
I think we were both keen to get away into another glorious day the next morning and head out of Sweden towards Norway and Rostahytta.
Well that’s episode two done. If you liked it, click the heart, leave a comment, if you're a member and I will upload episode three soon.
© Pete Dutfield, January 2021