The weather forecast for easter had promised sun and clouds for Friday, mostly clouds for Saturday and pretty shitty weather for Sunday. Friday was windy, but much better than we had expected, and when we woke up on easter Saturday, all the blue birds in Västerbotten were singing on the top of their voices, and tree crowns were completely still. No wind. No wind at all. That is like not possible in the Västerbotten mountains.
My ankle screamed as I shoved it down my ski boots, and I could see that Martin’s body was telling him to give it a rest, but we had no other choice, we just had to call it a summit day.
The previous day, the top of Gahkan had been covered in clouds and we had therefore refrained from going up there. This Saturday, neither wind nor clouds were in our way. In addition, it is forbidden to drive snowmobiles to the east of the foot of Gahkan. It sounds perfect. And it was perfect.
The ascent to the northern summit of Gahkan is similar to that of Klöverfjället: very low angle, very beautiful view. All you need to do is to put one foot in front of the other and celebrate life.
The weather at the top of the mountain was so nice that we decided to wait 1.5 hours to say Hi to Henrik and Cecilia who had woken up by my text message that we were starting our approach :).
While at the top, we discussed our options for going down. We could either go down the way we had come up, go down the eastern side of the mountain, or go down the north western gully. As is probably pretty evident from the photos, the snow and inclination of the way we had come up wasn’t overwhelmingly tempting. The valley to the east looked scoured and very flat at the bottom. The north eastern gully was the big unknown. Less exposed to the wind, a whole lot steeper and almost completely unseen. We had seen parts of it when we were up on Rovpen, and from the look on the map it looked really good. In addition, by the look of the high side tracks of the snow mobilers on the western side of the valley and our own observations, conditions seemed fairly stable. But still, we hadn’t taken a close look since the outrun was so far into the valley so we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. In the end, we decided to ski down a few vertical meters to get a better eye of our run. We were all clear on that we might skin up again. As we got down, we could see parts of the run, but not all, the terrain was too convex.
After having traversed from one side to the other and seeing different angles of the run (at least most of it), I once again found myself in the position of calling it a go or a quit. At first, I wanted to turn back. It just seemed so completely stupid to go down something that we couldn’t see were it ended – like a school book example – but then again, I also felt that going up that convex would be just as stupid and scary, and from where I was standing I could actually see almost everything of the run. My main concern in any case wasn’t cliffs, but rather the risk of avalanches, and getting away from that risk would be fastest if I skied down. So I decided to do just that.
How did it feel? Exhausting, exhilarating, heart pounding, heart warming, heart screaming at the top of its voice – THIS IS LIFE!
So was it smart to go down? Was I right to say yes? I still don’t know. I know that it went well. That the snow was much better than anywhere else in the valley. That I my best turns so far this year and that I had a huge grin on my face as I came down. But still. The run was blind, even when we started going down. We had not been there before. We knew that there had been strong winds the day before. No snow, but wind. Were we right or were we lucky? I still find it so hard to answer that question. I don’t know if I will ever feel confident in making these decisions. I have to think more on the risks that I’m willing to make in order to live the life I want to live.
Regardless of whether my mental wars was right or wrong, I was so full of adrenaline and endorphines when I reached the bottom that I was almost unable to give Martin the high five he so rightfully deserved for having pushed his wretched body up and down that mountain.
We started the day at 8.30 and were back at the cabin at 5 pm at the afternoon. After a whole lot of pasta, some necessary calories from our stack of candy and some soothing beer and wine, we collapsed in our beds at 9 pm. It was a very good day.
Sunday didn’t greet us with a clear blue sky, but it didn’t matter that much because our mission that day was to revisit my old hoods in Grundfors for some tree skiing with Henrik and Cilla. In my previous life, I used to spend my easters skiing Gemon – a loaf of mountain stretching from east to west along the lake of Gikan. I have ever since dreamed about the scarce big mountain birches covering the north face of the loaf. It is as far from rad as black is from white, but who needs rad when you can have all fun and games? In addition, it doesn’t matter if the sun heats up the air to 15 °C in the valley, there is always pow on Gemon. This year was no different.
After one run down the mountain, the corner of our mouths were reaching our earlobes, so we transitioned and did another one. And when we got down from that one, we did it all over again.
We finished off by sweating out the last of our water reserves in Cilla and Henrik’s sauna, and by eating very salty salmon. God damnit, this easter turned out good! Big chunks of love and all that to Martin, Jenny, Henrik and Cilla who made it what it was, and to Lennart who (on a snowmobile..) saved us from a slog of an approach to Gemon and back.