Feedbacks on an expedition through the National Park of Sarek, an adventure near the Artic Circle.
To travel through hostile lands, far from any civilization, in total autonomy but also with a group of friends, is an epic rich in teaching. Well protected with our CAIRN equipment, our 6 officers from Saint Cyr military school, all mountain lovers, tell us about their expedition to the heart of this wild nature. #MarkYourWay
The Sarek, in the heart of Lapland, is not described as the "most beautiful natural area in Sweden" for nothing! It is the most mountainous area in Sweden, with 19 peaks higher than 1900m, which extend over more than 2000 km². It welcomes a very limited number of visitors, you quickly feel very isolated and charmed by the greatness of nature!
Our goal: to cross the Sarek River, linking Saltoluokta in the East and the village of Ratsem in the Northwest. Nearly 150km in complete autonomy, in the snow and with significant differences in altitude, you will need to have warm clothes and not forget your ski gloves and beanie!
We are 6 officers from the Military School of Saint Cyr, aged from 20 to 23 years old. On the picture, from right to left and top to bottom there are: Ralf, Alban, Clément, Quentin, Thomas, Loic and Adrien. Szolt Osztian our guide was converted into a photographer for this time and is behind the camera. We are also accompanied by Ralf Graf a German military, Passionate about mountains and with a taste for challenge we are accompanied by Ralf Graf, a German soldier passionate about mountains and taking challenges !
It is because it is difficult to access, but also because it is a total change of scenery that we wanted to take up this challenge together! For this reason we followed a strict training in the French mountains, between the Alps and the Jura, in order to prepare ourselves as well as possible for this lost environment. Finally, it was physically and mentally ready that we arrived in Lapland!
All passionate about mountains and true ski-lovers, we have developed a real group cohesion. This very strong cohesion clearly contributed to the success of our expedition, each member giving the best of themselves to fulfill this adventure ! Solidarity was a real strength and the desire to discover this environment was a strong motivation.
One of the things that had impressed us the most when we arrived was the vastness of this snowy territory, the feeling of being really isolated from everything, totally cut off from the world. When even our satellite phone was not receiving properly without the possibility of a call, it totally illustrated the isolation of the Sarek.
Each climb of a pass, although difficult, offered us magnificent images. And when we finally reached the top, we were witnessing images that we will never forget! Imagine snow-covered mountains, as far as the eyes can see, like a desert of snow above the clouds, it was really fantastic!
One thing that also marked us during this cross-country skiing expedition was the relationship to distances. The plains are so vast and open that with the snow we had the impression that the passes were only a few hundred metres away, whereas it sometimes took us ages to reach the base. Finally, for those who still think that you don't get sunburned by snow, lost in this ocean of snow, it was better to wear sunscreen and sunglasses.
Although we have been well prepared for this expedition for several months, the brutal confrontation with this environment has not been easy and has required us to adapt quickly. We will long remember that first day in the Sarek:
The day starts off rather well, at 8am we leave by snowmobile from our cottage in Saltoluokta towards the entrance of the Sarek. After 2 hours of travel our pilots wish us good luck and leave for Saltoluokta while we pprepare our equipment, ski gear and ski clothes.
Finally at 11am our pulkas were ready and we started our first kilometers in the Sarek, until the first bivouac. While everyone was setting up their tents, we hear a sound like metal hitting another one followed by a growl... human growl! It was Ralf who, while setting up his tent, broke his tooth against a post that, badly fixed because of the cold, had jumped in his face.
After eating and setting up camp, we wanted to make our first ascent: Mount Spijka. Once we reached the top we were completely caught in the fog, it was cold and there was very little visibility. As the fog intensified, we had to get back to the camp quickly, we put on our skis and started the descent, except that, from the first bend one of us fell... it was Ralf whose binding had given way in the first few minutes... It really wasn't his day... Then comes a troubleshooting operation and system D to fix his ski to his boot!
Finally, when we arrived at the camp, one of our comrades realized that his pulka sheet had flown away with the wind. He began the search, while the others melted snow and prepared the meal. Loïc never found the tarpaulin but met some wolves on his way. Needless to say, he didn't take long to get back.
This first day was tough and reminded us that even well trained, you never know what the mountains hold in store for you.
We had a unique experience. We come back full of beautiful snowscapes images in our mind, but also with precious teachings such as solidarity and humility. A whole set of lessons that can be applied on a daily basis, so that each day will be like crossing the Sarek again : a successful adventure.
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