Explorers Connect

Solo Wilderness Ski Expedition

OtherJames Hipkiss

Few places in this world are without wifi and mobile signal, Lapland (arctic Norway, Finland and Sweden) is one of them. My expedition was solo. Heading off into the isolated tundra and mountains, the only inhabitants pockets of Sami reindeer herders. I skied through approximately 800kms of Europe's last wilderness. It would've be nice to go further afield, but this is right on our doorstep. No expensive permits, nor long haul flights. It's just leaving home and then being immersed in silent ice. Or not so silent. This nature is full of birds, moose, reindeer, even wolverine. And the howl of the wind. May was full of blizzards and cracking ice. I imagined that as time drove, the weather would improve. Not so. Winter raged on, and visibility remained limited. When the world opened up, frozen lakes extended for Swedish miles or huge mountains ringed national parks.

The only company other than wild animals was the occasional snow mobile or dog team. Otherwise I traipsed on, pulling a laden pulk. Inside my sledge was everything I needed to survive: multiple maps (I used the old school method of map compass), tent, stove to melt snow for water, food, down clothing and headtorch. By May, the nights became short. Occasionally I skied long days until 3am or overnight and although I often preferred not to use a torch, it also proved useful for tricky navigation.

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