I had started the solo skiing trip by crossing Sarek nation park. On the way, I passed Alkavare Chapel, and then continued past the Sarek border, to Padjelanta. It's a national park as well, without trails or roads, also very large and full of wilderness and snow.
My objective was to visit the Inaccessability Pole of Sweden - and actually of the whole Western Europe. It's the point on the map that is furthest away from civilization, that is to say cities, roads, and other infrastructure. This point has been measured by Claes Grundsten. It's located near the lake of Rissajavrre, in the arctic wilderness of Padjelanta, near the border to Sarek.
|Already while packing up the night camp, I saw the weather conditions worsen.|
During the Corona pandemic, it's been important to keep a social distance. For me, this was the peak of social distancing - being here absolutely alone, after several days of skiing in this remote area, and on top of that reaching the point that is furthest away from all civilization. It was quite a feeling! Here's the Easter greetings video I recorded there, hoping that others also would keep away from others during the holidays.
The weather was deteriorating fast. Apart from the high winds, there was the precipitation in the form of snow. The clouds were low, effectively forming a fog. The wind wipped up the snow and blew it in drifts. The united action of all of these factors resulted in a very poor visibility, almost a complete white-out.
|The big white.|
The navigation was tricky due to the visibility, also it was hard to see the gradient of the terrain, quality of the snow and the optimal approach around the ridges. I had to rely on the compass, the sense of balance, and on what I saw a meter or two in front of me. Oftentimes, I could only tell the slope tilt by the behaviour of the skis. So I had to be particular about holding the same height even though it was not always the straightest line to where I was going. During the worst moments, I'd throw some snow in front of me and see whether it would roll down or not. It did not help though, because the wind just blew it away. I just had to take it easy, go slow and take precautions to stay safe.
|Snow melts into the ski and the fog, and there are just a few navigation points left.|
The fog opened up at times and got denser some moments. I was a bit worried abut not finding the actual point of inaccessability, but there was a small but distinct cairn, and my navigation was precise enough to see it despite short visibility distances. This place was very inaccessable indeed!
|Lena Wilderäng, Point of Inaccessability of Western Europe|
I was happy for all the navigation training and bad visibility training I've done this season, otherwise this would be even more tricky and even dangerous. During weather like this, especially when there is a weather warning, it's often best to dig into the snow, make a safe camp and wait for better conditions. However, I knew that conditions would not improve for quite some time, and I did not have enough fuel to be stuck in the literal middle of nowhere for too long. Therefore, I took advantage of all and any visibility to move further on.
|Snow is flying through the air, and the Most Inaccessable Place is bathing in fog and clouds.|
The navigation was a bit like helming a boat in complete darkness, which I've done many times - both during Sydney-Hobart, Brisbane-HI and of course while sailing around the world. Sometimes, you may catch a glimpse of light from the sun or the moon. Sometimes, you can navigate by the wind on your cheeks. And sometimes, you just pick a course and hold it. An importan t part of this was that I had an idea of the terrain, had seen the landscape from afar and knew what to expect. I would not do the same thing near gorges or cliffs. Padjelanta is generally less steep than Sarek, the hills are undulating and m ore predictable.
After stopping for a moment and enjoying that I reached the Inaccessability Point, I continued further into Padjelanta. Next post is on the way!