This article is part of the series “2020-03: Ski tour Jämtland II”.
8 March – Vålåstugan
The weather forecast was right. After a calm and sunny day yesterday it looks very different outside. It is grey and the wind has become stormy and gusty.
All people consider their plans. Among others a group of four decides to remain. They wanted to continue to Helags, round 22 km in the southwest. They would have got the stormy wind straight from the front.
Other skiers plan to return to Vålådalen. It’s Sunday, their last holiday. They ask each other to team up and they exchange phone numbers with Olle, one of the wardens. I do not envy them being out in rough weather with increasing wind speeds with squalls up to 27 m/s in the afternoon. While they equip themselves with balaclavas and ski goggles Annika and I keep inside, peeking through the window that starts to be covered with wet snow.
After all skiers have left Vålåstugan it’s very quiet inside with 10 people remaining. Most of them are on their rooms, only one man seems to love cooking. Until noon he has baked fresh bread, made popcorn and fried pancakes. We are invited to popcorn and get part of the pancake powder so that we can make our own ones. If I’m inside the whole day my interest in eating dramatically increases.
While we spend most of our time reading and being lazy the benches on the sun terrace start to snow in. That’s however nothing compared to the other side of the cabin. A metre high snowdrift has started covering the marked way to the outdoor toilet until Olle relocates the waymarks to a less snowed area. At the same time it has became quite warm, slightly above zero.
In the afternoon the other skiers start to ring. At the end of the day it is clear: All of them reached Vålådalen without any harm. We are quite relieved because we read and heard stories about serious (and even deadly) incidents in the mountains in winter time.
We are equipped with a metal shovel, with warm down bags and bivy bags, but even good equipment is only of limited help when the weather is too severe or there is no snow to dig in.
Tomorrow we want to ski to the mountain cabin Lunndörren. According to the forecast it will be slightly colder, sunny and less windy. Good to know, then we dare to continue our tour.
9 March – Vålåstugan – Lunndörren
The next day the skis in front of the house are wrapped in wet snow, now frozen again. I’m glad that my skis are inside. Yesterday evening I glued the long climbing skins under them because we may have to climb many snow drifts today. The weather is fine and it promises to be a sunny day.
At 8 o’clock we say hejdå to the stugvärdarna – the wardens – Olle and Amie. We shall greet the stugvärdarna at Lunndörren. We put on our backpacks, mount the skis, I put on the belt that is connected with the pulka and then we depart.
The first part is easy to ski and extremely beautiful. At every branch tip of the birch trees small pieces of ice are hanging and sparkling in the sun.
We spot a reindeer. When you see one, there are probably others around, too. And so it is. Five reindeers that carefully look at us. They gather in a small group until we come nearer and they walk away.
The first 4 km the snow is perfect. There’s grip for the skis and even with the climbing skins we can glide effortlessly other the snow.
Then it gets more difficult. The plains are so exposed to the wind that they are almost snow-free. Sometimes there’s a visible path, sometimes we have to ski around.
Then the snow gets so hard and slippery that everything starts to slide and it’s near impossible to break. Yesterday’s warm weather and today’s frost have created an icy crust on top of the snow. Sometimes the pulka runs more beside than behind me. When it goes downhills I take large detours to flatten the slope avoiding becoming too fast. Beside of my problems skiing this snow can look very beautiful, especially against the sun.
Later the snow at the surface is as icy as before but the underlying snow doesn’t bare the weight any longer so that we break through. Several times I am run over by my pulka while my skis are stuck. My left wrist still hurts a bit from one fall, one of the less nice memories of this fantastic ski tour.
At last it was snowmobiles that have improved the situation for us. The tracks they have left have broken the icy crust and here we can ski quite well even though I have to unmount the skis for some of the steeper parts. We want to arrive anyway. It’s Annika, who spots the flag of the STF, the Swedish Tourist Association. And there it is: The mountain cabin Lunndörren!
Here Jonas, Arne and I seeked shelter from the storm 17 days ago. Now we are first welcomed by the friendly cabins in the sunshine and then the friendly wardens.
Lunndörren has a highlight we have been looking to for days: A sauna! Already at 17:00 Annika and will sit there enjoying the heat. But before taking a sauna we take another opportunity. Former guests asked for permission to cut a hole into the ice of the small lake by the sauna some days before. Therefore Lunndörren has an ice hole this season. Of course we have to take an ice bath before the sauna. (Taking it after sauna is considered cheating by winter bathers.)
If you ever want to take pictures of a person making faces: Throw her or him into icy water. Four examples (Photos: Annika Kramer):
After 95 °C in the sauna we took a shower. No, not a normal shower with shower head and and chrome valve, just a bucket full of hot water. But it’s enough to wash your hair and yourself. We feel so fresh again afterwards!
Later that evening I stroll around in the full moon. This will be the last night of the ski tour. Tomorrow we will ski back to Vålådalen, where I parked my car only seven days ago.
10 March – Lunndörren – Vålådalen
It’s always a bit strange, the last tour day. Car keys get more important than the pocket knife and mobile internet becomes normal again. Fortunately it’s much easier to ski today than the day before and comfortably we follow the red crosses marking the winter path. After a while we see the first cross country ski-runs and more people around. At the end we have to navigate, because there are so many possible ways. I decide to take the bridge over the river Vålån, the very same bridge I used on the other ski tour three and a half weeks ago. And almost suddenly we are standing on the parking place next to my car. We unmount the skis, load the skis and pulka into the roof box and fill the car with leftover food, sleeping bags, snow shovel and other equipment. And since we were quite fast today we even make it to lunch.
Tack för turen, Annika. Thanks for the tour. Where do we ski next winter?