Ice climbing in Tännäs


Frozen waterfall in Tännäs

Yesterday, I went ice climbing again. It's been a few years since last time, mainly because of the mild winters in Sweden - and the fact that I've usually been away to the tropics sailing during the coldest months of the year.

But this year is different, and here I am in Northern Sweden. The temperatures were at -26C in the morning as I was starting.

The main trouble has been the lack of ice climbing partners in my immediate area. This time, I looked for random people to climb with - and hooked up with a few friendly climbers who did not know each other either, but were in the vicinity and were determined to climb.

Approach to the frozen waterfalls at sunrise, -26C. Photo cred: Olivia Huerta,

Lollo, left, is a Board Member of Swedish Climbers Association. Emma, right, is an adventure blogger for Elle, preparing for a mountain guide career. She brought a photographer, Olivia, who documented the adventure. It was great, because during my solo trips I only manage the selfies. And even if there are two people climbing, you cannot just stop belaying and start snapping pics. So it was awesome to get some pro photos!

Approach, with icefalls at the background. Photo cred: Olivia Huerta,

The ice fall is located near the church of Tännäs. It's a short walk upwards, through the snowy paths. The falls are absolutely not the biggest ones in the area - but it was convenient, nobody else was there, and we had the whole place for ourselves. There was something for everyone, both easier and harder routes. Even Olivia the photographer, who never did this herself, got to try ice climbing!

Preparing for the first climb of the day! Me at the left, Lollo all set at the right.
Photo cred: Olivia Huerta,

Lollo is ready to start climbing, heading upwards. Photo cred: Olivia Huerta,

Had a very enjoyable time belaying in the morning sun. It warmed the air to maybe -20C, great stuff! Photo cred: Olivia Huerta,

Soon, Lollos friend Eva joined us - she's one of the few people who is employed full time at the Office of Swedish Climbers Association. We were now two climbing pairs, the more the merrier! We interchanged, leading some routes, and top-roping others. We shared laughs and encouraged each other. Such a great time - and we had never met before! Emma and Olivia were filming some material about female ice climbers getting out together, and I hope they got the essence of it - it was laid back, very fun, very friendly, and there was absolutely no machismo, although everyone was bad-ass.

My turn to climb, here leading a route. Photo cred: Olivia Huerta,

Lena Wilderäng, ice climbing
Photo cred: Olivia Huerta,

Lena Wilderäng, ice climbing.
Photo cred: Olivia Huerta,

I just got to the top - Emma is belaying.
Photo cred: Olivia Huerta,

Lena Wilderäng - Chatting with Lollo in between climbing.
Photo cred: Olivia Huerta,

We had a great time, and stayed until the sun was down and it was almost completely dark. Everyone seemed to be happy with the day. We finished off with some green tea, and talked about the day.

The sun setting over the snowy forests.

Last rays of the Northern sun.

In the dark, before everyone started leaving, Emma grabbed a torch and made some more interviews with us. We stayed in the coziness of Emmas adventure van for a while. Finally, I drove off eastwards, Emma and Olivia stayed in the van, and Lollo went back to her cabin. Eva had left to her destination, which meant first driving, and then snow shoe walking or snow-mobile driving for the last bit to get home. As I was leaving, the car's termometer once again showed -27C.

My hair turned into ice at the end of the day. What a great outing!

Here's Emma's blog post in Elle, with the photos and the story...

...and here's her vlog, featuring myself and the rest of the axe-swinging ladies! An interview and some great footage shot by Olivia