Still not completely at the other side of the tunnel, but January is officially over. Puh. Two research proposals have been sent in and half the course in microeconomics has been hammered into the heads of my students (I hope). Wohaah! I knew this was coming, so I shouldn’t complain, but having the flu during those last two weeks of hell made them, well, into a hell. The end of that hell deserved a celebration. While the rest of Umeå celebrated that we are the cultural capital of Europe 2014 (and therefore spend enormous amounts of money on shit and forget all things that are truly important. If you read Swedish, Po Tidholm wrote something right on the point about it), I of course celebrated by going in- and upland.
Time for a reunion with the Swedish backcountry, yay! First time in over a year. It felt a bit like going on a date with someone you were madly in love with a long time a go. I was definitely a bit nervous and didn’t really know what to expect. Would our love have rusted? Would my newly found confidence in skiing trees get totally crushed by the saxofon-bent-birch trees and the crouching spruces? Would the mountains greet me with bullet proof powder, or by a soft white hug? As always when you go to the mountains of Västerbotten, it can be heaven or hell, darkness and misery or just darkness and beauty (there is no way around the darkness this time of year).
Martin had been up to Borga the previous weekend, and during that visit conditions had been totally perfect. He even had the guts to get more face-shots skiing the sort-of-colouir on Borgahällan (which is ALWAYS bullet proof) than he got in Jackson when we were there this X-mas. Hrm, bastard. While he did THAT, I was working AND had the flu. No no no, no bitterness at all. Anyway, with stories like that in the car up, conditions were perfect for getting disappointed, so I tried to convince myself that the snow would be super shitty and that I would have an awful time. I’m very good at that. And I actually think that its a pretty good strategy. I always (almost anyway) get such a nice surprise when I wake up to a beautiful powder morning :).
On Saturday morning, the air was full of those little white things causing the I’m-stuck-in-a-glass-of-milk-feeling, so we hesitated going up to the Borga-colouir. In the end, we chose to ski the forest south of the cliff wall.
The snow in the forest looked magical. Super light, with a good compact base layer.
The snow up higher was way to soft and deep to ski the mellow terrain offered on this side of Borgahällan.
Further down in the forest, we found some good drop-offs (that Martin tricked me into actually dropping, well done!), but we wanted something with a bit more inclination, so we decided to do some exploration. And so we headed back up into the alpine terrain, and walked, and walked, and walked.
In the end we reached the south “peaks” of Buarkantjahke (888 asl). There, we found a number of really sweet pillowy lines. At the time, I didn’t look at the map, so I had no idea how far away we had gone from the car. I was just super happy that my body was not screaming at me, that I didn’t have to worry too much about avalanches, and that the snow was damn near fantastic. I felt all bubbly inside. I skied without any grace what so ever, but jumped everything I could see and giggled out loud while doing it. It was brilliant.
After three runs at the south side, it was starting to get dark and therefore high time to head back to the car. At first, we could ski through the forest, then we had to put on our skins, then we got to go downhill with our skins on, then we walked quite a distance again.
When we finally got to the snow-mobile track, I felt, puh! Now its almost over. Good, because I’m starting to get really tired. Well, I should have known. Martin was there. We were nowhere near done. I think we had about perhaps 6 km back to the car. After 3, my right skin chose to fall of my ski and refuse to attach again, so I skied with one skin on and one off the rest of the way (quite a bit uphill). I’ve never been so happy to enter a bridge on my own risk before (since this one was about 50 m from our car).
We spent the Sunday exploring the forest west of Borgafjäll. It was at first shit, and then it was glorious. I didn’t manage to get any photos though. Shame on me. Next time, because there will be one, soon. Old love never rust I think they say. When it comes to the VB-mountains and me, that is definitely true.