Winter ski tour through Sarek National Park – Sápmi / Swedish Lapland

  • Trip report
  • Travel season for ski touring and hiking in Lapland
  • Gear list and short gear review
  • Food for a backcountry ski tour
  • Traveling to Lapland by car
  • What would I do differently next time?
  • If you’d like some music while reading, this would be the song to go with: John Butler Trio – Wait for spring to come

Trip report: 11 days along the Padjelantaleden, through Sarek National Park and along the Kungsleden

It’s early for Sarek is the reaction we get from most locals when we tell them we’re heading out for a ski tour through Sarek National Park. It’s only February. A lot of snow… And cold! While Sarek is often called one of Europe’s last wildernesses, for the Sami people, whose land this is, it isn’t “wild”, for them it has always been home for the summer. It is where in May their reindeer will give birth to their calves and will spend the short snowfree time up in the mountains, growing strong for the cold and dark winter. Sápmi stretches from northern Norway, over northern Sweden and Finland, all the way to northern Russia. A tundra landscape north of the arctic circle. In winter the sun barely touches the horizon and snow covers the bushes, lichen, mosses, birch and pine trees. It’s the land where the Gods speak through Northern Lights high in the starry sky…

While we normally would head South in winter, this year things come differently. Ever since surgery life has changed. Instead of sweet I eat savory breakfast, instead of getting up at the crack of dawn I stay in bed till the birds are long done singing their morning song, instead of traveling South I travel North. Never before had I really felt the pull of the nordic landscape, but when we couldn’t agree on a place to go to South Dan suggested Sarek and everything in me said Yes. Maybe because doing the opposite of what I used to do feels good. My life has been turned upside down, my body is no longer fully abled, but my sense for adventure has survived. The past half a year I’ve lived with the question “How do I live my life well, really well, even with chronic pain?” Continue reading

Unesco Höhenweg Bettmerhorn – Eggishorn / Eggishorn Via Ferrata

aletsch01As I had never seen the Aletsch Glacier (the longest glacier in the Alps) before (unlike Roots, who has climbed almost all of the 4000ers around and has spend a few nights on the Glacier), we decided the glacier should be next on our “to visit” list.

We only had one day left in Switzerland so we took the cable cars up to Riederalp (We got a day pass for 45€ each…damn). If you only wanna hike the Unesco Höhenweg /Unesco High Route you can take the cable cars up to Bettmeralp, but we thought that’d be too short of a hike and we wanted to stay up on the rim as long as possible. So we started our hike at Riederalp, hiked till Bettmeralp and then got on the Unesco Höhenweg.

The Unesco Höhenweg between Bettmerhorn and Eggishorn is considered an Alpine Route. It do is quite exposed and it involves some scrambling and climbing, yet for us it wasn’t really “alpine” (as in “alpine glacier crossing crampons and ropes and stuff”). It’s a fun hike with incredible beautiful views on the Aletsch Glacier, the Jungfrau Massiv, the Rhone Valley and the Wallis Alps. Definitely worth it, even if I’d rather have stayed a few more days and climbed some of the mountains around.

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Dayhiking around Zermatt: Täschalp – Leisee – Täschalp

taschalp19Hiking close to Zermatt normally is expensive. I don’t like expensive. Zermatt is car-free, which I do think is not the baddest thing, however… It’s a moneymaking machine… It doesn’t feel like all the efforts made are about the environment but much more about making as much money as possible. They even call it “Matterhorn paradise” for the tons of tourists that take the cable cars up to Sunnega and the Görnergrat. Feels a bit like Disneyland. I don’t like Disneyland either.

Anyway, we found a way around the moneymaking machine and had a wonderful dayhike with great views on the Matterhorn, away from all the so called paradises and crowds in never worn urban outdoor clothes.

In Täsch you normally have to park your car in one of the big parking buildings and then take the shuttle to Zermatt. We decided not to do that, instead drive up to Täschalp and start hiking from there. Täschalp is a small “village” where the cows roam freely. Continue reading

Sardinia: Raw and wild and beautiful!

sardinia28My little brother Ruben who used to say “I’ll never get married” got married. He happens to live in Sardinia, in a beautiful traditional village called “Ulassai”. He and his wife, together with 4 friends, have turned their dream into reality. They bought a big old house in the centre of Ulassai, worked their asses off and opened a climbers hostel called “Nannai climbing home“, additional to bolting tons of new routes in the rocks around Ulassai. Man I tell you it’s paradise! Sun, climbing, beautiful but affordable rooms, good company and only half an hour drive to the turquoise colored mediterranean sea, where you can hang your hammock between some pine trees and let your soul float.  Continue reading

Hiking on the Canary Islands ‘La Gomera’ and ‘Tenerife’

Gomera Playa de Iguala
In an attempt to flee from the European winter we decided to jump on a plane to the Canary Islands and go on a 2 week hiking trip through Tenerife and La Gomera.  The Canary Islands are located in the Atlantic Ocean, west of Morocco and the Sahara and most of all: they’re having a mild climate year round. It was our best (and at the same time affordable) chance to get some sun in the dark european February.

For the first time in years I decided not to journal. I needed time off. Off media. Off. Just off! So I didn’t bring my phone, didn’t bring a journal. I only brought some small blank papers for a “just in case” bright aha-moment (which indeed happened once. Oh it was wonderful to write something down underneath the pine trees… just for me.) While hiking the PCT I experienced some pressure in “having to” journal, “having to” blog and something that I loved turned into something that I felt like I “had to” do. Not journaling on this trip through the Canary Islands took away a bit of the pressure and that one time I wrote something down I really really enjoyed it and it felt like a relieve.

TenerifeAs for gear, we brought our regular lightweight set up. This time bringing a Zpacks cuben fiber camo tarp though instead of a tent and I used the Gossamer Gear Pilgrim backpack, cause my Base Pack Weight was some 3,5 kg, sub 10 pounds and there was no need to bring the bigger Gossamer Gear Gorilla. (Loved the Pilgrim by the way… I’m gonna try to do a little gear review about it soon ;c)

Anyways. This is gonna be a small trip report. Not too much details, mostly pictures :cP Those who want more infos on hiking on Tenerife and La Gomera are welcome to get in touch and ask. As you know I’m always happy to help.

Also I’ll add some tips and infos for hiking on the Canaries. You can find them below the day by day trip report and pics ;c)

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Gear review Haute Route

I’ve been postponing and postponing and postponing this gear review. First because I just didn’t have time to write. Second because o well I’m not the one to write those superlong detailed gear descriptions and reviews. So as always: Don’t expext too much details and technical information, I rather just give my opinion and thoughts. Maybe it’s useful to some, maybe it’s not :cP Anyway I still learned some things while hiking in the high Alps that I wanna share.
I pretty much took the same stuff I took on the JMT in 2013 and on my hike across Tenerife last spring.

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The Walker’s Haute Route: Chamonix – Zermatt… or… How things never go as planned!

Day 1: Monday 30th June 2014: Freiburg – Cabane Albert I, 2745m/9005ft

The alarm rings at 7am. I am awake already, the rain falls down heavily on the roof of Angelika’s sheperd hut. „I should have brought my rainpants,“ I think. Fuck! I can’t believe I’m having vacation. It doesn’t feel like it. It’s raining. It should be warm and sunny. I take the umbrella, step outside in my undies, my trailrunners and my puffy and I pee under the umbrella (never done that before haha :cP) Big Badger is going back and forth whether he should take grandma’s woolen socks or not. I say: „Hell no, you got 3 pair of socks already!“ So he leaves them there and we head over to Angelika to have breakfast. While I have breakfast and chat with Angelika, Big Badger arranges our membership with the „Bergrettung“. At least when I fall down a crevace, then they’ll come and save me and I don’t have to pay tons of money for an unwanted helicopter ride. At 8.15am Angelika brings us to the railway station. Ow fuuuck her car doesn’t start. Praise the fucking lord my car is there, so I give her the keys and off we go. It’s a bumpy ride with Angelika driving my car for the first time haha. In 4 hours the train takes us to Martigny, where we buy tickets for the Mont Blanc Express. I’m not used of speaking French anymore and I have a hard time finding my words.
First days of travel kinda always suck. I feel stressed and hungry. I know it will be better as soon as I start hiking. So I tell myself it’s ok to feel like this.

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Getting ready for the Haute Route / High Route Chamonix – Zermatt

When we were kids our parents took us hiking in the Alps. We loved Switzerland and when we left the flat and tiny country Belgium is and drove to those majestic mountains, each year again our mouths would fall open, we’d rubb our eyes like as if we couldn’t believe something like that really existed.

Now when I write hiking, I mean “real hiking”. Na a not to the nearest swimming pool, but rather we’d hike high up to snowy passes, across glaciers, … We’d get up at 5 in the morning and start hiking at first daylight to make sure we’d be able to cross the glaciers before the midday sun would make the ice all mushy and soft. We weren’t fast but hell we always did it and we were proud as can be when we reached the pass, the hut or the summit. One time we climbed towards Cabane de Bertol and met a belgian climbers team hiking the Haute Route. My brother (who was 9 or 10 back then) joined them towards the hut and reached the hut first. Man he rocked it!!! Anyway that was the first time I heard about the Haute Route. At the age of 11 I actually never thought I’d ever hike the Haute Route myself (even though my dream back then was climbing Mount Everest haha).
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Hiking across the Teide National Park – Tenerife

Cat about to rock the Teide!

First decent hikingtrip of the season: Check! First camping on a snowfield at 3400m (11154ft): Check! First sunburn of the year: Check! First cactus fig picking and eating: Check! First time nauseous of gaining too much elevation meters in one day: Check! My hikingtrip across Tenerife was a trip of “firsts”. And it was a trip of “finally-s”: Finally, I’m hiking again! Finally, I’m out in the wild again! Finally, my feet do what they are ment for again! Finally, I’m eating shitty backpackers food again! Finally finally finally!
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