Erik's challenge is climbing Kebnekaise
Role in journey: Coach
Hi, my name’s Erik. I'm an adventurous 33-year-old who loves nature above all else. I also love good books, films, and all types of games — and I exercise regularly to give my body what it needs for my future endeavours.
It's important for me to show, not only to myself but to others, that even though I have severe haemophilia A, I can carry out the same challenges as everyone else.
My latest challenge will be trekking Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest mountain. And as soon as I make it back down again, I’ll get going to the next one. Somewhere in the world.
Towards a new adventure.
1st BLOG POST
Midsummer, preparations and moves
June, summer and heat. A season when it becomes reasonable for us who are no longer kids to jump into the water. This summer will be a lot about just being, but also about renovating, working, exercising and socialising.
Celebrated midsummer in quiet Misterhult on a picnic blanket with some fruit and berries. The elderly dressed up in traditional Swedish folk costumes and danced around the midsummer pole, just like it should be. So far it has been a typical Swedish summer with a heat peak of 35 degrees and a low of 11, so no surprises there:)
Preparations for the climb
In my first conversation with Ida we mainly talked about how we should set up my training before the hike up Kebnekaise. We talked about running and walking, about intervals both uphill and downhill. Intervals are a form of exercise I have always appreciated, you get a lot out in a short period of time. You really get to push yourself to the max. Nothing makes you deserve a little rest more than a heavy interval session.
The training has gone a bit so and so but at least the mosquitoes have kept me motivated to run fast. There are a lot of insects out to get you in the summer time. The best motivators are the “Älg flugor”(deer flies), you don’t want to let them get you:)
Time for a move
It’s soon time for a move, just have a little plastering, sanding and wallpapering left now and then I will be able to relax a little. As relatively inexperienced in renovation, a lot of cursing has been going on. Things don’t always turn out the way you want them to and some of the materials seem to have a will of their own.
Starting to feel that the climb is approaching. I feel in good form, remains to see what the weather will be like.
2nd BLOG POST
Time flies! Finally done with the move and apartment renovation, and the final result’s not too shabby.
Now there’s time to focus more on preparations, enjoying the outdoors and going on a few jogs. And maybe that’s just what’s needed. After all, you never know how tough a challenge is going to be until you’re facing it. And it’s not like you can travel without supplies either.
We’re planning on taking the Abisko-Nikkaloukta route, passing by Kebnekaise near the end. At the moment, it’s almost as hot in the north as in the south, but Ida’s recommending warm clothes and shoes with plenty of grip, because you never know. Getting really psyched now - not much time left. But until then, I hope you all enjoy the rest of the summer!
3rd BLOG POST
Ended up taking the train so I’d get to see some parts of Sweden you wouldn’t otherwise visit. But so far, things aren’t going very fast - after all, it’s quite a long journey. Once there, the mine loomed up ahead - it’s massive and an attraction in itself. Parts of Kiruna were actually moved because of it.
I recharged with some breakfast. Later, we’re heading out to buy some last-minute necessities before making our way to Abisko. That’s where our journey will start, whatever the weather’s doing. Kebnekaise is just a few days away. There might be radio silence for a while - I’ll have to see how good the reception is. But I’ll do my best to give you some beautiful pictures of the Swedish mountains.
Ida wished me good luck one more time and asked me to make sure I’ve got all the essentials with me.
4th BLOG POST
We arrive in Abisko by bus at 3:57 p.m. on July 16, get ourselves a membership with STF (the Swedish Tourist Association), weigh our packs and get moving.
For the first leg, we walk along a canyon where the river surges forward. We meet a number of mosquitos who appear happy to see us. Of course, we are not so impressed by the mosquitos.
The sky is overcast, the path is relatively easy to hike and we are able to keep a steady pace. We snap some photos, stop at a spot for mediation (of which there are many along the trail) and keep walking over to Abiskojaure, which is our first stop. Here we pitch tents, have a sauna and go skinny-dipping for the first time in the cold water of a jokk (brook).
We slept reasonably well in the tent. It’s raining. One or more birds thought our tent was a toilet. So, understandably, we start off the day with a bit of cleaning.
There is a small cottage where you can cook breakfast and aromatic outhouses for your morning routine. We pack up quickly. Today’s trek will be about 2.4 mil (15 miles) and is the leg of the hike where the mountain scenery really kicks off. As it turns out, the path swiftly turns upwards and out of Abisko National Park. The weather continues to keep us damp but we are fooled by a moment of sunshine.
Now we can see far into the distance, there are high mountains and long valleys. There is a beautiful lake just east of the trail and an enclosure for reindeer husbandry to the west. The wind is blowing, the path is rocky now and the hiking more complicated. From time to time, we pass happy hikers, call out a greeting and maybe exchange a few words.
This leg of the hike takes longer, but with a spring in my step, I make it to the camp full of energy and ahead of my partner.
After socializing in Alesjaure and stocking up on provisions, we discuss whether to do one or two legs. Maybe it’s the pull of Kebnekaise that makes you want to keep a brisk pace or just the challenge of seeing how far you can walk.
With the weight and the path, there is added wear and tear. But it’s sunny now and the heat is noticeable. A slightly older man approaches at a quick pace a way down the track. He’s forgotten his thermos and must now walk another extra kilometer. Unfortunate, but it happens. The path is surrounded by greenery and full of flowers typical of the mountain.
We are headed for the highest pass of Kungsleden, the Tjäkta pass, which is located about 1,160 meters above sea level. It always looks more alien the higher up you get. There are now lots of rocks to pass, you can barely see the path. There are patches of snow we need to walk through. But we will soon be heading down again on our way to Sälka.
This leg of the hike is hard on my partner, who now has blisters on her feet, so we get some well-needed rest in Sälka.
Today I hike up to Kebnekaise. The only tricky part was deciding which route to choose. Most had chosen a different leg and a different strategy and I’m about to find out why. We’ve changed our plans slightly, as Frida will not be able to reach the top. So, I convince myself that I will trek Sälka - Durings Led - Västra Leden - Kebnekaise - STF Kebnekaise. It shouldn’t be that hard.
But I was kidding myself. When Durlings Led enters the valley, there is no longer a path. There are rocks and slanting valley walls, it’s difficult to get through and is hard on the feet. It does have its advantages. I pass a beautiful meadow of flowers in the valley. People have set up camp here and I’ve been told I should do the same.
But being stubborn...
I continue up the trail without an end in sight, stop for a fika break and meet a Dane who suggests that it’s too far to walk, too great of an altitude difference.
He will end up being right to some degree. At the end of Durlings Led, I must cross some snow. Every other step, I drop through the sharp crust and my feet become wetter and wetter. There is now a steep incline at the end towards the western trail.
Once there, it’s a steep climb of just over 400m. There are rocks and gravel, so you need to work hard to gain your footing. I’m tired, the sun has been out all day, and I realize I haven’t brought any salt. But there’s only one way to go - forward.
The road to the top is heavy and slow, but fortunately I encounter other hikers and am given some salted soup by a cheerful Norwegian couple on the plateau. I can now see the snow-covered cone that is the southern tip of Kebnekaise. We got the weather we wished for. It’s a nice view. It’s incredible to be up there, and even if you’re tired, it still feels easy once you’re there.
You can slide down the tip, but you have to be careful as the sides are steep and you can’t relax just yet. After all, it’s a long way down to STF Kebnekaise. The Sälka - STF Keb route was around 3.3 mil (20 miles), an altitude increase of about 1,600/1,800 meters (there’s a very annoying pass at Kaffedalen that requires a new steep altitude increase of 200 meters on the way back) as well as a hike back down. I think it went well. It was tough and definitely not what I expected. I thought it would be easier. The path is more a struggle against rocks than an easy hike.
But the views were amazing and I hope everyone will have the opportunity to visit Kebnekaise one day.
5th BLOG POST
It’s always a little tough when you finish a hike; you have a few aches and pains and a certain sense of relief. But from experience, I know that each hike gives you a taste for more; you want to get back out there, you want to see more. There is something magical about standing atop a peak and looking out over the landscape; for a moment, it feels that everything is right with the world. I felt that way after climbing Kebnekaise. Yet it was more grueling than I had expected, and it surprised me a little. Of course, there were easier routes up the mountain than the one I chose. I feel quite content. I’ll be back again when I get the chance.
But now it’s time to unwind. Thank you for taking the time to read, everyone! Wishing you a great year ahead.
Dislcaimer: Before starting your own physical challenge, it is important to discuss it with your treatment team first.
It is possible to live a life beyond haemophilia.
Download ‘My Voice, My Care’ to understand how to get the most out of conversations with your care team.