Early morning, the air is crisp. A couple of minus degrees. The goal of today is the top of Sån mountain. The husky is expectant, and impatient. He wants to go, but I have to put on the the snow shoe first. It want be easier with a husky that pulls toward the trail. But of a sudden the snow shoes is in place and we can go. I really enjoy the fresh air and the knowing of having no time to fit. The beginning of the trail is steep so I get warm fast. We continue up towards Sodo valley and soon we got the winshelter in sight. From here I take a bearing to the peak, and slowly start uphills. The husky turn to both right and left but not uphills, I have to stear him. But soon he understand his direction and can pull me a bit. The last 100 m to the top is a bit steep, and I breath heavy. But after about 30 minutes we reach the top. The cloud is full with snow, so we dont mess around at the top more than a couple of minutes. And it is time for going down. Step by step, telleng the husky to take it slow SLOW!! of a sudden he understand and adjust his speed to mine, and we are friends again. Down at he wind shelter we taking a couple of minutes to rest. I decide to take the trail around Valm mountain, it will be about 5 km longer. Said and done, we are on the track. We passes the Sodans Valley and this is a well knowned avalache area. And as you can see at this picture there has been an avalanche…We walk the tour and finnished. 18K in about four hours withe tour to the peak of Sodo mountain. Thats nice. This morning we woke up at 04.30 and at 06.00 we were on track. The goal of today was the Sodo Valley. The weather was perfect. A couple of minus and crisp snow under the snow shoes. What stuck me this morning was that how easy it is to forget how nice the pre-mountain forest is. It is like a portal to mountains. With the old dry twisted pines, the path that winds, meanders up towards the mountains. It is all like a fairy tale…So dont forget the portal to the mountain wilderness…
When it comes to winter equipment there is a couple a things that really is needed. I’ve been talkinga about shovels before so that is not necessary. But when it comes to tent equipment there are two things that is important. First of all winter pegs, you will not use the skiis for this. With the steel edges it is easy to get the tent string cut off. It is also easy to get a couple of birch stick to use. Dont forget a water bottle, it is easy to forget to dring during the winter. The windshelter shall always be with you.
When it comes to equipment I can now present the result from the fieldtest of Silva Expedition and the tactical compass. Today I would never buy a compass without clinometer, you really need this for being able to avoid avalache terrain. Both of the compass got this. The differance is that the silva got it build in. The silva is easy to use and also got a good distance check within the leach. The other is a real bearing compass. I am used to use it in the army and if you ar skilled it is very good. But you really need to be skilled and comfortable for using this type of compass. So from a usage point of view I will give the Silva (NLA,NLA,NLA;NLA)Proster Multifunctional Compass (NLA,NLA,NLA) Really good price for what you get…
And while we are on the area navigation I will talk a bit of it. I have been orientering a lot the last week. For feeling comfortable and safe you need to be skilled. The best way of getting skills it is good to start with micronavigation.
Start with a 10.000 scaled map. Take a bearing between two points and look into details you will pass during the navigation such as height curves, stones, cavities etc. Also notice the distance.That way, you will be good at judging how long it takes between your targets. But you also must try other scale of course as well….
The car is parked. The snowshoes has been fitted, and the back packs is in place. The sun is shining while we walk among the trail towards the Kesu lake, We stop a couple of times to take nice pictures with the sun and snow. The snom is crisp and hard, so it is easy to walk with the snow shoes. The target for the day is the Helags mountain station 12K ahead. Normally it isnt any hard walk. A couple of snow mobiles pass us and give us a greeting. Soon we have walked over the ice, and its time for the first hill. When we reach the top, the wind hit us. Now the sun does not go the power to warm us anymore. The wind is in our faces, and it is hard to hear what the neighbour is talking about. The snow swirls in the air, but the seight is still good. After 6K and halfway there we take a short break. I suggest us to take something to eat, to be able to take the last 6k in head-wind. We struggle on and soon we reach the winter trail from Faltjagarstugan. Now we now it is just 1K left. So we keep up the good speed and reach the mountain station. It is nice to get inside after the tour. The day after we have the Helags peak as our target. But the wind and sight have other thoughts for us. As we waked up and looked out from the window, the doubt of the possibility to get there made it self remind. But the will is the half way, said and done we should at least try. In the valley into the glacier the seight in sudden dissapear, and in the next second it was back. But after struggle upphills for twohundred heightmeters we decided to get back. A vice desicsion. With a broken hope, we were back to the mountain station. The other went to bed for resting while I decided to try to get up to the nearest peak. The weather cleared up, and I got a real nice view of the valley and the mountain station, but the next second it was white out. As a guide I have taking a bearing to the mountain station and that was a real good decision. The problem with a real white out is that you will be having trouble even to understand that what is up and down etc. The next day it was time for going home, (Photo Ulf Bergman How glorius a greating the sun gives the mountains/John muir) and of course the weather was perfect. But hold on, I think it is because that is the moment you will remember:-). So over all a nice trip to Helags…
When it comes to equipment, I will be testing to different compasses this week. One ordenary and one bearing compass. Both got clinometer for checking the inclination. A must if you are in avlanche areas. For me it is important that it should be easy to use in both daylight and in darkness. So it will be interesting to give this two a report.
When it comes to workout it has been a real good week. A lot of orienteering and running and also fighting. So it will never be boring…
Sunday, and soon we will step into April. A lot of good workout this week and also a first review of the Mountain Equipments Fang 42 back pack.
From my point of view, back pack can be devided into to different camps. The expedition pack with a volume from 70L and above. The other area is day or short tour pack. The volume here is from 25 and above. I’ve been testing and checking a lot of back packs in this area and the optimal is hard to fine. 35L is a bit to small for me as guide, and 50L will be to large.
The Fang 42 from Mountain Equipment is a very good back pack. With the 42L it is optimal from my point of view. It has a big pocket inside were you can put a shavel etc. It also got long straps, which is very easy to work with even with gloves. The fabric is tough and can withstand chafing from cliffs etc. The lid is easy to take off, and can be adjusted when needed. So what is the disadvatage then? Well, a back pack with this price I think shall have gear loops. From my side I also expect that a build in wistle in the bracket…So 4,5 is a very high grade, and it might be my favourite on my back.
When it comes to winter skills it is a wide area. You have to have significtantly more skills and experience comparing to Summer adventures. The cold in hand in hand with the wind will become a challange for us. The snow that cover the ground also means that we need to have even a better control ov our navigation focus and skills. There is also a lot of other equipment we neéd to know how to use.
So were to start to become a good winter adventurer? First of all, study and understand how weather works. Follow the weather in the area where you are going to. Ok, so now you have start to understand the weaterh good that step one. Now you need to learn how the cold will effect your body. For example, when huttering which is a normal behaviour when you are cold, you really need to take in more energy to your body. This meaning you must have exta or emergency food in your back pack. Knowledge of how the body will react you can read about on the internet. But, get out when its cold and discover it by yourself. Windshelter is one thing you must bring, but you also need to understand how it works. And as I describe the training in the 1930s you need to understand the soul of the equipment you use. Not just how it works. This meaning work with it during tough circumstances. Why not try it with blindfolded eyes in hard wind…Navigation, practice micro navigation. You use a 20 000 scaled map, and move from short from piont to point. This will give you a good selfconfidence, and that you will need in the mountains during winter. Always remember KISS= Keep It Simple Stupid. That will help you out. Also use COLD= Clean, Overheating(avoid)Layered, Dry. During the winter, you also shall take care of each other and looking for ”white” spots. As you understand it is more demanding during winter comparing to summer. But as you can see, it is duable to train and get skills even if you are living at sea level…
March is good, a long weekend in Salen Sweden. Snow mobile, free heel skiing and sledge dog pull what can be better…
Salen delivers, ok it is not wild mountains but it is really nice to be here. Snow mobile cross country driving, really fun.
Early morning, the sun is shining in trough the window. The husky is already awake. Putting his wet nose to my face, telling me to get up and enjoy the sun rise. I get up dressed myself fast and get out for a walk with the dog. Passing the mountain bakery and bying some new baked bread for the breakfast. Gettting back to the cabin. The family is still sleeping. The breakfast is done when the wake p 30min later. The husky is eager to get away. So just put on his harness, and get him into the car. Time for a nice tour towards Granfjällsgraven. We have become a åpart of the establishment this time of year. The waitress recognize us insantly. So after a cup of coffee it was time to get on track again. So after the sledge dog pull, it was time for some free heel skiing. IMG_0165 A happy mountain leader in the piste. Two days with this schedule cant make anything than happy. (Ulf Bergman a happy mountain leader)
Same local beer is also always nice:-)
This weeks suggestion of book will be a guide to taverns and skiing in Dalarna.
When is the best time of year to go to the mountain? I should say -anytime.
Here follows the description of all seasons of the mountains and what advantages and disadvantages.
January, normally this is the cold mounth. This time you will be almost alone. Few have discover the icy world with the blue light. The first snow cover the ground, and now you can start look into the base layer of the snow for the upcoming winter season. But you have to plan good, the daylight is short and it will be dark early.
(Kittelfjall in January Photo Ulf Bergman)
February, at this time the enthusiasts have starting to appear. But still not crowded anywere. Do a real good planning and got a bit of luck, you can be skiing in the moon light. Still a bit short day and long nights but you can get really good skiing.
March, now everyone is going to ski. Now it will be queues both on the roads as well to get to the cable cars. But now the light help us up and its much easier to plan the days. With a bit of thinking out of the box, you can find your own spot for a playground. With more people and a sun that can warm up, you have to be even more aware of the avalanche risk.
I will continue next week with April, May and June.
Today I will give you antother suggestion of mountain reading. Bernhard Nordh In the shadow of the March mountain(Sv. I marsfjällets skugga), is a book about a sattler in the mid of 1800 . With a challnge from both the samis and the locals they live a really hard life in the outskirt. In this book we can follow there life. I Marsfjällets skugga – Bernhard Nordh – Häftad (9789174636727) | Bokus
Fjallraven has some new apparel coming up for this season. The Abisko lite trekking jacket is a good solution. For you who likw speed hiking this will be the choice. This is a comfortable jacket for summer hiking in warm conditions. Made from G-1000 Lite Eco with back and side panels in stretch fabric for good ventilation and freedom of movement. You can also open ventilation zippers in the sides to release excess heat on intense treks. Adjustable hood and hand pockets that are accessible even when you have a backpack on.
The seventh of March. The spring winter is here, and it is just to enjoy it. With a ski weekend ahead and a mountain tour to Helags in a month life is so good.
Today I will present a new acquaintance. Aksel Lindstrom was born in Rossbol, Lockne. In his twenties he moved to USA, and after a couple of years he went back to Jamtland. Here he took the jamtdogs side, and saved the breed from disaperaring toward the grey dog. He founded the ski factory Kalevala at Aspas in Jamtland. In 1936 Aksel moved to Storlien. His mission here was to lead the mountain rescue with his dog team. With his experience from Alaska this duty suit him perfect. He had himself nearly died in a snowstorm in Alaska, but was rescued by a friend, who thanks to the dog team found him where he was ready to die in the Arctic snowstorm.This experience would now come in hand. With a good agreement with the manager of Storlien Hotel, this included the responible for mountain rescue during the winter and painting during the summer. But the manager died in a sudden and was replaced of a ex officer. Aksel didnt like the militair and become enemies. The ex officer forbade aksel to have dinner together with the guests,but the worst was that his paintings was sold to lowest bid.
Now Aksel decided to quit, and stared to write a book about the event. But as luckily some of his friend stopped it. At that time he could have been acused for defamation, a crime that has cost him a couple of year in jail. Whatever he continued to write and 12 novels. The Beast (Sv. Vilddjuret) is the book that describes the Storlien period of Aksels life. And I found a part that suites the time when we train the first IML:s of Sweden.
The main charachter in the book is Guttorm, a young sami.
Now Guttorm is about to become a real mountain leader. Ten men from different parts of Sweden is gathered at Kodbas for a two week training of the art of leading tourist trough the dangers of the mountains. Guttorm will be the eleveth participant. He has got the oppertunity due ti the Barons good will. Two weeks is a short time to catch up with something so extensive, and the trainer Leopold Froststierna is lonly to train the group. Leopold assumes all the participant has a good experience from mountain experience and all needed equipment. But as he says; it is not enaugh to now the name of the equipment and what it should be used for. You also must know its soul. Slowly he takes a ski in his hand. -this is a ski with a attached binding he begins. For a mountain leader the ski is the most important equipment during the winter, and which you all must know everything about. He keep on by lifting the ski in all parts, even tough it is whole piece of wood. He explain that the front is called the brattet, which is suitably built to glide easily on the snow. The course also contained the knowledge of how to build snow biouvaqes. A very important part of the mountain safety that a mountain leader must master fully.
The spring winter is here, and the sun rise early in the morning. The husky wake me up early for his walk. The morning is crisp and the sun are on its way up. I really enjoy this mornings. My whole being starting to live and the mind starts up its adventures.
One of the trails that is interesting will be the one from Kolasen towards Anjan in Skackerfjallen, Jamtland. If you going straight ahead the distans will be 34km. The first part of the trail will be hiking in untouched, wild and lonely trails. In this area you really need to have good skills in navigation. A map and compass is a must. I will also recomend, a deteur to the peak of Sockertoppen. Here you can also use the windshelter if needed. Also take a hike through Strydalen and rest your eyes on Strynån and fantastic waterfalls.If there is stormy weather, there is also a windshelter.When you feel for it turn your head towards Anjans mountain station. Here you can enjoy a nice meal and then get help with the transport back to Kolasen.
When it comes to good equipment the slope angel could be a good choice. With thermometer and clinometer and alitmeter, you got all in one for being able to calculate and forecast a avlanche area.
As you could read at 3 of January, every month there will be a longer blog. In January it was about leadership, and today (February) it will be about avalanches.
To begin with, this area from my perspective can be devided into two parts: How to avoid avalanches at all (without enter avalanche areas and the other; be and ski/climb etc. in areas with avlanche risk but avioding them. For the first part, you need to understand in which area avalanches can appear, and learn how to avoid the areas. In the second case, you need to be much more skilled.
To understand avalanches you need three parts. A human, snow and terrain. A avalanche is collapsing snow masses down a slope. Avalanches can be devided into four diffrent types. Slab avalanche which is the one that causes 99% of the avalanche accidents. It contains of many different layers, and it is when the layer collaps the avlanche starts. Its like a domino effect. The insidious with this type of avlanche is that you dont need to be where the fracure edge is located for starting the avlanche. With a area of 10x10m with a fracture edge of 30cm will enter up with 90 cubic meters. With a speed of up to 50m/s it will be a real danger for a human. How can a slab avalanche start? It can be trigged in two ways. First by increasing of the weight of the snow. This can be triggered by human or natural. The other way is the layer get weak until it breakes of its ow weight. The second type will be the loose snow avalanche. Often you are above of the avalanche or can ski out from the cone. The Wet snow avalanche will be the third, and this one often appears in the spring. This can be compared to a torrent. The forth will be haning drift. This one is treacherous, due to it is hard to see. It appear whens now drifts and the temperature increase.
If you are in avalanche area you always shall bring: Transcivier, probe and shovel. While skiing you also should carry a backback with air bag. What is important to know that time is the most important thing while rescue avalanche victims. Within 15 minutes, you have good chances to survial a avalanche.
This is why it is so important to train the transcivier search. If I should go skiing with a team, I really should secure the teams ability to use all of the avlanche equipment. Not just wearing it. So be on the safe side. Do the group check, and control that all the members of the team now what to do when a avalanche appear…
Also a lot of new gear and others help us to be more safe. Checking thr avalanches prognosis will be a good help.
A fantastic week in Bydalen and Fjallhalsen, Jamtland.(Photo Ulf Bergman)
What is the diffrence between summer and winter guiding? Well the most important thing will be that a small failure can lead to a big disater during the winter…
Friday, we started with train the trainers (practical)and started the planning of the week. Saturday and Sunday we continued the planning. Sunday evening it was time for the first lesson for the week. The included: leadership, safety, navigation, Ice axe technique, snowshoe technique, avalanche safety, rope technique, snow shelter. So it was a really full week. Practical work combined with lessons. The week ended up in a ”mini” expedition with overnighting in snow shelters.
Snowshoeing technique…(photo U Bergman)
Navigation at winter got its demands…(photo Ulf Bergman)
Digging snow shelters (dont forget to mark the place so a snowmoble cross your roof)(photo Ulf Bergman)
Is there difference between winter and summer leadership?(photo Ulf Bergman)
Avalanche safety must be trained and trained again…(photo Ulf Bergman)
So after 60 hours of training what is the conclusion? Well, first of all I am so thankful for being a part of this process. On one hand beeing a instructor and on the other hand learning process over the whole time. One other thing is small thing matters. Dont forget to check and control your participants, it is easy to miss if someone missing a thing or getting a frostbite. Being prepared means you have to practice and practice again. So tigh the knots, digging the shelter as often as you can. Use the transcivier, and the probe so you feel comfortable…And beeing in the mountain environment is so nice, so energyzing even if its tough hours:-).