Adventure to the highest peak in Sweden - Kebnekaise

To summit Kebnekaise, the highest peak in Sweden is probably on many outdoor enthusiasts do-to list. At least it has been on mine for a couple of years now and this summer was it time. Together with my girlfriend Elin and good friend Marcus did we set out to do this challenge and hopefully bring back some nice memories of a grand outdoor experience.

To get from Gothenburg to the start of the Kebnekaise hike, Nikkaluokta required to days in the car and our first night did we spend nearby Högakustenbron. We found a small campsite that left more to desire about the facilities but its location, at the end of a small bay with a sand beach made up for it. The campsite was also very close to the start of the hike to the peak of Valkallen which we had planned to do the next morning before continuing our drive north. Valkallen offered great views over a big part of Höga kusten and was a perfect morning hike prior to a long drive.

Nikkaluokta did we reach that same evening and we raised our tents by the parking lot before it was time to make dinner in the common kitchen in the service house. From Nikkaluokta to Kebnekaise mountain station, which is part one of the hike to the peak, is about 20km of hiking which we covered in a little over 6 hours at a moderate pace. If you feel that 20km is a bit to long to hike or you simply want to save yourself for the summit hike is it possible to cut the distance by 6km by taking a boat or you can skip the hike completely by taking a helicopter. Since we choose to hike the complete distance did we experience the shifting nature along the way and in the beginning did we hike in the typical birch forest found in the Swedish mountains. After a couple of kilometers did the forest become sparse and now we really got a good look at the surrounding mountains and in the far distance ahead could we see the characteristic shape of Tolgarning which indicates in what direction the mountain station is located. The trail was at first a wide gravel path which then after a couple of km turned in to a typical high alpine trail where you all the time had to watch your step so you didn't trip on any rock poking through the ground or fell off the footbridge. Once we felt that it was time to eat lunch did we find a nice spot by one of the alpine lakes next to the trail and the views we had quickly made you forget about the heavy backpack you soon would have to put on again once the break was over.

When we reached the mountain station was it time to find a spot for our tents which we found a bit passed the station on top of a hill with a stunning view but a bit exposed. But since there were only fair weather and no strong winds in the forecast did it work out fine. In order to get to the service house at the station did we have to walk a bit but this is something to expect since there are many people fighting for the best spots. Kebnekaise's mountain station were very nice och the service house made our trip a lot easier than we had planned for thanks to the big kitchen and in the evenings could we enjoy a beer from the bar in the big common room.

 

After waking up the next day to a view, not even the best hotell could offer you and with a proper breakfast in our bellies was it time to tie our hiking boots and start our hike towards Kebnekaise's southern peak via the western trail. Our packs were far lighter today since we only needed daypacks with lunch, snacks, water, and extra clothes and everyone's spirit was on top since the weather was close to perfect. The hike was very easy in the beginning and the elevation gain was moderate but as we came closer to Kittelbäcken did it become steeper and steeper and more rocks started to poke through the ground. Kittlebäcken flows at the bottom of the mountain pass leading up to the foot of Kebnekaise and the whole way do you walk on the slope with the glacier water crashing down the river next to you and at the top of the pass do you start to sight the mountain you have as your goal to summit. Since Kebnekaise is to steep to walk up for from this pass does it turn left to cross Kittlebäcken just as the trail begins to flatten and with the help of a steel bridge do you get across without getting wet and you begin your ascent of Vierranvárri. If you want to refill your water bottles is this the last chance before you come back down the mountain and it can be a good idea since you still have many meters left to climb. Because of how the mountains surrounding Kebnekaise looks do you first need to summit Vierranvárri before you can start to hike up Kebnekaise and unfortunately did my journey towards Kebnekaise's peak end on Vierranvárris summit. My right knee had started to ache on the way up and in an attempt to fix it did I rap elastic bandage around it. But once we started to descent down Vierranvárri did I realize that it wouldn't work since it hurt so bad I could barely walk downhill. So with 7 out of 8km done towards the summit did I take the tough decision that it would be better to turn around to not risk making it worse and Elin and Marcus got to continue without me. It was a really hard decision to make but considering how much I had to struggle in order to get back down the mountain was it definitely the right call.

For Elin and Marcus did the hike continue on and after descending a good couple of meters on Vierranvárris north side was it finally time to start climbing Kebnekaise. The hike is just as rocky and steep as Vierranvárri but the beautiful views of the mountain tops around you give extra energy to your tired legs. Before you reach the peak do you walk past Toppstugan which offers shelter in case the weather would turn on you and it is also a good place to leave your bag if you don't want to carry it to the top. From here you can also see the snow-covered peak that you struggled so hard to reach and the only thing you can do is to take the last meter of ascent in order to reach the peak where you are treated with 360 degrees of incredible views. When you feel that you had enough of the views is it time to hike back to the mountain station and it is the same trail down.

 

Since my knee was still aching the next day did we realize it wouldn't be possible to hike back to the car and instead did we take the helicopter back. Not only did it go considerably faster than hiking but it also gave us a whole new perspective of the landscape that we 2 days earlier had spent more than 6 hours in. So unless you think that 850:- is way too much will this totally be an awesome end to an incredible outdoor experience.

This was the first part of our summer adventure and once we landed in Nikkaluokta was it time to pack our car and continue our drive towards the Lofoten Islands in Norway to see if it really is as beautiful as social media portrays it. But this adventure has its own section which you can find here

Tips for this hike:

- There are 2 different accommodation options at the mountain station. Either do you bring your own tent to sleep in or do you book a room to sleep in. If you bring your tent is it okay to place it anywhere as long as it's more than 150m to the closest building but keep in mind that there are a lot of people camping which means it can be hard to find a good spot. For rooms in the station is it a good idea to book these well in advance since they are popular. 

Click here for STF:s bookings site.  

- When it comes to the hike between Nikkaluokta and the mountain station do I strongly recommend to take the boat if you're not used to hiking these kind of distances with a heavy backpack. The cost of 350:- is definitely worth the money and in hindsight do I regret not taking the boat since that could have meant that I could have pulled off the hike to the summit.

Click here for the boat's departure times.

 

In order to summit Kebnekaise are there 2 different trails you could take. If you want to do the hike on your own is it the western trail that you need to take. It's an 8km long hike with a total elevation gain of 1800m where a couple of hundreds of that elevation is from climbing Vierranvárri. This trail is very rocky and in some places steep enough that you need to use your hands to get up or down. The eastern trail is slightly shorter and all the elevation you gain does take you closer to the summit. However, this trail requires a guide and climbing equipment that you either book ahead or book on sight. 

Click here for more info or booking.

No matter which trail you choose will it be physically demanding to summit Kebnekaise which means it's a good idea to do plenty of strength training and hiking before coming here. The time it takes to complete the hike to the top and back is very hard to predict but plan for at least 10-14 hours and adjust your food, water and snacks accordingly. 

 

- The mountain stations service house is great and offers a big kitchen where you can cook all your food which means you can leave your camping stove in the car. There are also showers and sauna so you can freshen up after a day out hiking. You will also find plenty of outlets to charge your phone, camera or other electronics. In order to get access do you pay 250:- if you're an STF member or 350:- otherwise and this gives you access for 24 hours. 

Gear list:

  • Rain jacket & pants

  • Hiking boots

  • Trekking pants

  • Excercise t-shirt

  • base layer

  • Fleece jacket

  • Thin down jacket

  • Hat

  • Gloves

  • Scarf

  • Spare hiking socks

  • Undergarments

  • Towel

  • Tent, sleeping bag, mattres (if your camping)

  • Food & snacks

  • First-aid kit

  • Blistertejp and bandaid

  • Water bottle / hydration pack

  • Map & compass
     

Do you miss anything in the Gear list?

Click below to buy it! (Affiliate links)

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