“Dear Facebook, I’m searching for the tiniest needle in the biggest haystack of them all. Does any of you know of a mountain cabin being in desperate need of people living in it over the easter holiday?”
According to my religion (i.e. live life like an otter, not like Martin Luther (which rhymes in Swedish but sounds ridiculous in English, I know)), easter should be celebrated by eating enormous amounts of good food and drinking gargantuan quantities of nice beer after having skied uncountable vertical meters of blower from top to bottom, and by being extremely merry exactly because you are doing all of that. Last year, I did nothing of the kind. With two broken legs, I was more or less bound to the appartment, and with a partner who spent his easter in north Norway, I must admit that I felt just a tiny bit bitter (ok ok, some very foul words did occur in my head from time to time). In other words, my easter celebration was a complete disgrace. No mountains, and no merriness.
With my damn leg and Martin’s damn post mycarditis, I didn’t have high hopes for this year’s easter celebration either. But our humongous victory in Borgafjäll two weeks ago showed us that perhaps, perhaps, perhaps? But then again, where would we find a cabin over easter? The probability of finding an available mountain cabin around easter in Sweden is as likely as finding a miniature needle in a giant haystack. But I did exactly that. Or to be correct, sir knight in shining armour Annika Sandström did it. She produced nothing less than a proper easter miracle – a cabin by the foot of the Mars mountains. Hurray!
In my view, Kultsjödalen is one of the (if not THE) most beautiful mountain valleys in Västerbotten. It also seems to be one of the least explored, at least by ski enthusiasts. I have long nourished a dream of doing some proper ski touring in the Mars mountains. With a cabin located by the foot of the mountains, we (that is I and humble and Dumble, a.k.a. Martin and Jenny) were in all respects dressed for success.
As with many other mountains in Sweden, Marsfjällen consists of a set of relatively low mountains on a wide alpine plateau. In other words, you get to walk a fair amount of approach meters for every vertical. With mountains on each side and narrow crests at the end of the valley, the wind usually gets to roam freely on the plateau. On the other hand, the place is so damn beautiful that I would gladly walk a few km extra in full storm just to be there.
For our first day, we hadn’t completely set our mission since we didn’t know how Martin’s body or my head would react. By the look of the map, the eastern gully down Rovpentjahke, the western gully down the north summit of Gahkagaesjientjahke or the eastern run on the other side of that mountain looked like decent alternatives.
A much better map that I keep failing to embed: http://www.hitta.se/kartan!~65.06981,15.38361,13z/tr!i=ZElBl4mF
After a 4 km approach into the valley, we all felt a strong need for a second breakfast, so Humle and Dumle took out their shovels and did what they (well at least almost) like best, to dig pits.
I mostly enjoyed the view, of the mountains and of their work… In any case, we got a pretty good view over Rovpentjahke during our breakfast/lunch brake.
The run down from Gahkan was too far into the valley to get a good eye on. But we could see that clouds were hovering over the top of the mountain. Since we didn’t know the terrain going up there in a whiteout didn’t seem like such a good idea. Our main alternative was therefore to skin up the gully of Rovpen and ski down the same way we came. Now I know that the gully doesn’t look like anything near being scared of, especially from this angle. For a normal person, hiking up that path would be a walk in the park, but all I could see was wind loadings and an inclination that at least in places was steep enough to avalanche. Since the person saying “no” had veto, I knew that I was the one calling the shots on whether to go or not. I really struggled. On the one hand, I know that I’m not all that bad at spotting risks and I also know that I am terrible at saying “no” when others say “yes” since I sometimes doubt my rationality. On the other hand, I doubted my rationality: What was rational caution and what was irrational fear? Not a trivial question when you know that you are always at some risk and when you are an infinitely risk averse person who still want to be out there.
After having fighting life instead of living it for a while, I agreed to at skin up to the foot of Rovpen and take a closer look at the run. Once there, it was evident even to my hysterical brain that this was a walk in the park.
But even the park walk took its toll on my head. I had to talk calmly to myself to focus on the facts and not let my heart run off as we walked up the slope: mellow inclination, no cracks, no whumps, no obvious dangers close above us. Still, I have to admit that I saw the mountain coming down at me several times. Ghosts in the shell.
But, although the snow was full of surprises (all kinds of pow, from pow pow to bullet proof), and although I still ski like a proper ass, it was of course worth every second of my fights with those ghosts. God, I love them mountains.
And God, how I don’t love snow mobilers. Don’t get me wrong, we all have the right to enjoy the mountains and I am still immensely grateful to the cowboy saving us from that mountain side in Kittelfjäll, but I can’t help thinking that walking up or riding down mountains accompanied solely by the sound of snow and wind and breathing clean air, is so much nicer than smelling fumes to the tones of roaring engines. As we were skinning towards the top of Rovpen, two snow mobilers came up the same way as we had come and traversed the wind loaded mountain side next to us. They were totally entitled to do so, but I must admit that their presence ruined that pristine feeling of the place a bit.. In any case, in spite of the fumes lingering in the air, I still loved every second of our run down that variable snow.
We celebrated our achievement (me winning over my head, Martin winning over his body, and Jenny enduring our company) by shoveling enormous amounts of snow down from a roof, drinking beer (and wine) and eating reindeer stew (and mashed potatoes, and candy).
And by playing with eggs. A very proper celebration of the Good Friday in my view.