Monday, August 22, 2005

On Top of Sweden


After two days and a 45km hike and climb through howling winds and snow storms, I finally made it to the top of Kebnekaise, Sweden's highest mountain!
A full report, including near-death experiences, sharing a tent with a flatulent Englishman, elk sausages and what it's like to drink in Kiruna's only pub to follow.
But right now I need a bath, some sleep and a doctor........

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Grin and....

Ok, so as if climbing the mountain wasn't dangerous enough, I've just come across the following on a Lappish nature website...

"The whole northern part of Sweden is a magnificent nature experience. Clean air, untouched nature and unexploited rivers. Here the word wildlife gets its true meaning.You have all the big animals represented; wolf, bear and lynx as well as nonpredators as reindeer and elk .

"Sweden's largest predator, the bear, can be seen in both the forests and the mountains. They can be 2 metres tall and weigh over 350 kg. Bears travel across large areas and live mostly alone. They go into hibernation when the first snow falls in the autumn and come out again in April or May. Bears live of plants, roots and berries. As with all predators, they avoid humans and are not dangerous unless they feel threatened. That's is why you should be careful if you see a mother bear with her cubs".

So let me get this straight. I'll be sleeping in a tent that's practically falling apart in the middle of nowhere where bears, wolves and lynx are 'represented'.

Great. Just great....

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A bit 'Tent'ative

My father-in-law has just dropped off the tent. I thought it would be wise to put it up before heading off up the mountain to ensure no vital parts are missing.

I discovered it's covered in patches of brown parcel tape, which I assume is not a good thing.

May God have mercy upon us.

Monday, August 15, 2005

A mountain to climb....

I feel like a 'lifer' who has been unexpectedly granted parole.

Tomorrow, after two months of paternity leave with my two children, they finally return to dagis, where those saintly men and women will once again preside over the daily entertainment of my offspring.

I simply can't wait.

I know I shouldn't feel this way. But I do.

The last two months have taught me a lot of things. I am now on first name terms with all the Fimbles, know how to reduce bumps with the back of a cold spoon, understand the mystical anti-screaming power of ice-cream and realise that no matter what you do, you can never get fresh blueberry stains out of your children's most expensive clothes.

It's also taught me that children exhaust me. And I don't mean they just tire me out. I mean I barely have the energy left over to brush my teeth and climb the stairs to collapse into bed.

I now realise that looking after children is a full-time job. Which is why for the first time in my life I'm thoroughly looking forward to becoming unemployed - filling my day with far less taxing tasks, such as trying to earn some money.

But before I re-enter the rat race, there is the small matter of a mountain to climb. On Wednesday evening I'm flying up to Kiruna to meet up with my English mate Ollie, and then onwards to the base of Sweden's highest mountain, Kebnekaise.

I have to confess that with just two days to go I'm rather ill-prepared. My plans to train for the climb by undergoing a strict diet and exercise regime are still just that – plans.

The equipment I’ve managed to beg and borrow for this expedition is also rather lacking, consisting of:

A backpack (from my mother-in-law – so god forbid I get it wet/damage it/drop it in reindeer shit)
A sleeping bag
Some Tupperware boxes
to keep supplies in (If I get round to buying supplies that is)
A map of Kebnekaise dated 1965 (I’m hoping things haven’t changed that much)
Some new walking boots I bought last Thursday (that I’ve even been wearing to bed in order to break them in)
A really cool magnesium fire lighter kit I couldn’t resist buying that emits sparks at 3,000 degrees Celsius (which was both incredibly expensive and completely meaningless as I also have matches)

And that’s about it. I’ve been promised a two-man tent – which is rather essential to any successful summit attempt – but it hasn’t turned up yet.

But with the ‘never mind, let’s have a nice cup of tea’ attitude the English are so good at we’re going to climb the bloody mountain anyway. According to our plans, we should reach the summit on Saturday lunchtime.

If I don’t post anything by next Tuesday, then please send out the search parties*.

Wish me luck!

Darren

*Helicopters only please - I'm allergic to St Bernards.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Lost Dad Comes Back From the Dead - "I've Seen Elvis"

When my wife started receiving bereavement cards in the post and bunches of flowers started getting left on our doorstep I knew it was high time to set the record straight.

I'm not dead - at least not yet, although it’s fair to say during the past 6 weeks of paternity leave with my two children that I’ve come dangerously close to topping myself.

It’s just that our summerhouse doesn’t have internet access, hence my enforced 'cyber'-nation.

But I’ll be back next week, with my head crammed full of bits and blogs to post. And of course it’s only two weeks to go until I climb Sweden’s highest mountain. As of writing I still haven’t got any proper shoes, a tent, suitable clothes, a map of how to get there – in fact I haven’t even got a clue.

So see you all here, same time, same place, next week.

Enjoy the last of the summer!

Darren