Summer slowly starts to turn into autumn when we reach Sulitjelma in late august. From this point my route takes a sharp turn towards the east, and starts its longest section without resupply. We will first cross the wild Sulitjelma range, cross the Swedish border, hike through the vast expanses of the Padjelanta National Park, and eventually reach one of the most renown mountain clusters in entire Scandinavia: Sarek, Europe’s last wilderness. It is presumably the stretch I have looked forward to most before and during my trip. As it is the longest stretch without resupply (9 days), our backpacks are also at their heaviest of the entire trip. I haul about 22kg up the winding gravel road up the hill when we leave Sulitjelma the following morning. Fre, who has no packrafting gear but whose pack and camping gear is heavier than mine, won’t be far off.
Unfortunately the fine weather has come to an end, and our traverse into Sweden brings many dull and windy days, cold temperatures, and the first snow on higher ground. In Sarek low clouds obscure the views of the majestic summits for all but a few hours.
As I don’t have a lot of time to write these days, I’ll make this an entirely visual part of my report again, with some remarks below the pictures. Enjoy!
Climbing away from the mining town of Sulitjelma
Crossing the high passes between Storelvvatnet and Sorjoshytta, a section which offers hours of rocky terrain – and which could also offer great views on the Sulitjelma range in finer weather
Approaching the Sorjoshytta, where we will spend the night
I hoped to explore the wild area around the Skagmadalen the next day, but the cloudbase remained very low with regular drizzle, so in the end we just continue east on the Nordkalottleden. While walking along the Sarjasjavrre the clouds start to break and views onto the peaks of Sulitjelma open up
Peak 1663m on the Swedish-Norwegian border, as seen from the shores of Sarjasjavrre during clearing weather
Retrospective view towards the Sorjostjahkka peak in northern Sulitjelma as seen from the outflow of the Sarjasjavrre near Sarjasjaurestugan
Pancake break in the cozy Sarjasjaurestugan cabin
Reindeer on the Nordkalottleden while appoaching Staloluaktostugorna
View back through the magnificent Stalojahka valley, a battlefield of old moraines. The peaks of the Sulitjelma range loom in the back
Sami shop in Staloluoktastugorna
The church of the Sami village of Staloluoktastugorna, at the shore of the vast Virihaure lake.
Swedish helicopter humor at Staloluokta
East along the Padjelanteladen, the peaks of Sarek are coming closer…
View back towards Virihaure from the Padjelantaleden between Stalolukatostugorna and Tuottarstugorna
Camp a few kilometers short of Tuottarstugorna during a bright spell between numerous showers
Off-trail approach of Sarvesvagge at the entrance of Sarek National Park
Entering the Sarvesvagge in western Sarek – the weather is set for rain and low clouds
This must have been the most miserable bivouac of the entire trip, with rain and sleet, around-freezing temperatures and a howling wind all night long.
Continuing east through Sarvesvagge on a cold and rainy morning
The first long bushwhacking section in Sarvesvagge are coming up…
The rocky bed of the river often allowed easy progress compared to the thick willow bush deep in the valley. Retrospective view through the Sarvesvagge, with the freshly powdered summit of Naite (1620m) in the back
The weather finally starts to clear in the evening hours and we climb up the valley slopes for this retrospective view through the Sarvesvagge
Bivouac in the lower Sarvesvagge
After a first freezing night of autumn, the morning hours offer some splendid hiking through the lower Sarvesvagge
The vast alluvial plains near the confluence of the Sarvesjahka and the Rahpaadno rivers. Here I inflate my packraft for a few kilometers on one of Europe’s finest rivers
Packrafting the Rapaahdno!
Through the birch forest in Rapadalen
Views back on the Rahpahdno river, with rain kicking in again
Bivouac along the Snavvajavvre. We really wanted to climb Laddebakte (1537m) from this point for the incredible views through the Rapadalen, but the evening as well as the following morning bring more rain, wind, and low clouds
Magnificent views through the upper Rapadalen while approaching Spokstenen – on yet another wet and windy morning
The Rahpaadno river as seen from Spokstenen
Hiking east through the easy Bierikvagge valley
Evening view of the delta of the Liehtjijavrre lake, with the summit of Slugga (1279m) getting some sun in the back, as seen while swapping Sarek National Park for Stora Sjöfallets National Park
Bivouac in Guhkesvagge
Morning clouds near the Guhkesvakkjahka, the main river in the Guhkesvagge valley
The long section towards the Suorva dam offers quite some bushwhacking and boulderfields. As it is another dull and rainy day, we make a long 32km day in order to reach the Vakkotavare cabin
Boulderfields while descending to the Suorva dam
Bear shit in the forest near the Suorva dam
Getting out of Sarek is actually more difficult than hiking its wilderness!
The start of a stormy night along the Suorvajaure, as seen whili walking towards Vakkotavare along the rain. The mighty Ahkka (2015m), can be seen in the back
23/08/2012: Sulitjelma – Sorjoshytta (17km, +1120/-420, 5u05)
24/08/2012: Sorjoshytta – Jiegnaffojahka (19km, +70/-200, 5u15)
25/08/2012: Jiegnaffojahka – Forfallan stuga (25km, +300/-180, 5u50)
26/08/2012: Forfallan stuga – Sarvesvagge 900m (19km, +320/-240, 4u50)
27/08/2012: Sarvesvagge 900m – Sarvesvagge 650m (15km, +130/-380, 4u10)
28/08/2012: Sarvesvagge 650m – Snavvajavvre (11km, +460/-130, 4u00)
29/08/2012: Snavvajavre – Guohkesvagge 840m (16km, +150/-290, 4u45)
30/08/2012: Guohkesvagge 840m – Vakkotavare (32km, +140/-530, 8u10)
Map Sulitjelma – Vakkotavare