Over the storm-beaten Norwegian fjell

Day 16 – about storms, waiting long, a dead battery and Northern Lights

Today I left Tromsø and tried to reach Abisko. But I couldn’t say if I should reach it today since two parts of the mountain road were still closed.

The first part was extremely windy and I could feel the squalls shaking the car. Again the question – was it smart to drive a car in this weather? But soon when I came to Fagernes and started crossing the mountains – the fjell – it got much better. Then I arrived in Bjerkvik where one road goes to the Vesterålen and the other to Narvik and Sweden. Just after I left Bjerkvik, after a tiny bend the storm stroke again. I left the road to Narvik and turned left following the E10 to Sweden. The car climbed the steep passage up and than I saw a queue of cars. Stop.

I switched the car off (Bad idea, Olaf!) and waited. What’s happening? Are we waiting for a convoy? Is the road still closed? I waited. After half an hour it got cold in the car – outside it was stormy and -9 °C – and I turned the car key to start the car again. No reaction beside of half a second light on the dashboard and some disturbing noises. I tried again, and again. The car was dead! “Sh**!” was my thought.

I asked the car driver behind me. No, he doesn’t know anything about cars. The next one. Yes, I should check the contacts of the battery first. That’s what I did but they looked ok. While considering what to do next, the guy came to look as well. He checked the battery contacts once more and came to the same conclusion. Just seconds later a big red car approached from the back, stopped some centimetres beside of mine, a guy jumped out, two jumper cables in his hand, fixed them to the batteries of our cars, asked me to start and my Saab started like a charm! I just could say “tusen takk” – Thousand thanks and back in the queue vanished the red car. This guy is my hero today! I was both grateful and very relieved.

Now I focussed on not stalling the engine under any circumstances. As all other cars I continued waiting. After about two hours of waiting some really official looking cars came from the back and minutes later a guy picked all the “normal” cars to follow. We had to wait another fifteen minutes (“do not stall the engine!”) and then we could follow a snowplough.

Even now where the road was open and ploughed it was an adventure. You could see snowdrifts everywhere and the strong wind still blew loads of snow through the air. Sometimes you could hardly see the hazard lights of the car in front of you. Some new snowdrifts started to cover the road again. It took time until we crossed the Bjørnfjell – the Bear Mountains and came to the Norwegian border where another long car queue waited on the other side for their turn.

Now I was in Sweden and the other road segment was already ploughed and open so that we quite easily could continue driving, still minding the snowdrifts and the stormy wind. Finally I arrived in Abisko where I am in the same room like two weeks ago –it  seems like ages ago.

It really feels like home being in Sweden again – the Swedish language, the Swedish mobile internet without expensive data roaming and – last not least – the Swedish prices! After a short rest a went to a restaurant and ate and drank for 85 SEK, less than the half of what it would cost in Norway.

After that I took a photo tour. The sky had cleared up and a long band of Northern Light covered the sky over Abisko.

Translations:

EnglishGerman
squallSturmböe
dashboardArmaturenbrett
jumper cableStarthilfekabel
stall the engineden Motor abwürgen
ploughedgepflügt, freigeräumt
snowdriptSchneewehe
hazard lightsWarnblinker

6 comments to “Over the storm-beaten Norwegian fjell”

  1. Annika 2015-01-31 00:57

    “Stall the engine”–ein wichtiger Begriff… :-/

  2. way-up-north 2015-01-31 08:52

    Hoffentlich nicht, Annika ;-)

  3. Ma HB 2015-01-31 10:20

    Dear Olaf, I believe, in this situation I would get a heart attack!!
    Great the “hero” und the red car. May be, that other people sometimes have problems too in this area in winter.
    An experience – I think, you don’t wish once more so fast. Or already forgotten??
    Yours Ma HB

  4. Ricarda 2015-01-31 13:36

    Wie aufregend ! Nur gut, daß es doch noch hilfsbereite Menschen auf dieser Welt gibt. Da wünsche ich Dir nun eine gute Weiterfahrt und daß Dir nicht zu viele Schneestürme in die Quere kommen.

  5. Elijah 2015-01-31 23:06

    …over 2 hours waiting by running machine – an ecologists nightmare! I wonder if everyone had enough fuel. Sounds quite adventurous, your journey, and also a wee bit dangerous, hopefully all your friends keep their fingers crossed for you!

  6. way-up-north 2015-02-01 21:25

    Ma HB: I was nervous, but more that it could be embarrassing for me, not at all dangerous. Driving in a convoy was safe and sound, no problem if it should happen again.

    Ricarda: Der Schneesturm ist gerade zu Hause in Skellefteå und Skelleftehamn, dort kommen laut Facebook wahre Schneemassen herunter. Schon ein bisschen schade, das hätte ich auch gerne mit erlebt.

    Elijah: Yes, that’s why I switched off the motor. But beside of battery problems the inside of the car will get really cold and all windows will be fogged. The only solution: A better information strategy. I could have stayed in Bjerkvik instead of waiting in a car queue.

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