Fire and Ice 2017: Transition from Mountains to Villages

Today is a transition day from the mountains through villages to the train that will take us far from snow and ice for a few days. We took the scooter from Kebnekaise to Nikkaluokta this morning. It took about an hour and was a wee bit of a cold ride.

We then had a few moments to claim our duffel bag and ski box from the aptly named “Buss gods” and get the skis into place. We had a few moments left to enjoy a display of Sammi art. The Sammi are indigenous peoples of Northern Sweden who have herded reindeer for millennia. The pieces above and below caught my eye.

I also spied this photo from 1905 of Kebnekaise from Tarfala. We skied there two days ago and we can tell that the glacier has retreated significantly. There is a very long running glacier research station at Tarfala that is making measurements every year to track the changes.

This is likely the last year that the south summit of Kebnekaise will be the highest. It has a small glacier on top and had dropped 30 centimetres in the last year. During the ski mountaineering championships, they took a banner to the south summit thanking it for being the highest. Next year, they will place a banner on the north summit welcoming it as the highest peak in Sweden (its summit is rock covered so is not dropping in height).

We took the bus from Nikkaluokta to Kiruna train station. Kiruna is a mining town and the entire town is being moved 5 kilometres away because the current town location is at risk of falling into the mine shafts drilled beneath the town. Some buildings are being moved and some will be abandoned to become a ghost town of Kiruna past.

Near to Kiruna is an ice hotel called ICE HOTEL 365. They recently figured out how to keep the hotel from melting in spring using solar energy so now folks will be able to visit year round.

We had a few hours before our train so we repacked our bags and now are poking around the train station (which is a temporary one while the new one is being built in the new town).

We’re excited for another trip on the night train and we will wake up in Stockholm tomorrow. Until then, Team Fire and Ice out.

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