The winter season on the route Abisko-Nikkaluokta has begun!
STF Kebnekaise Mountain Station opened up its doors on March 3, and thus all the STF mountain cabins on the popular route Abisko-Nikkaluokta have opened for the season.
The 110 km-long route between Abisko and Nikkaluokta is one of the best known and most popular trails in Sweden, both in summer and winter. Many skiers start their journey at STF Abisko Mountain Station, but it is equally rewarding to do the opposite and start the adventure in Nikkaluokta. Whichever direction you choose, you will experience a magnificent and wild mountain landscape in the most high-alpine area of the King’s Trail – at the Tjäktja Pass you pass the trail’s highest point, at 1,150 metres above sea level. For most part, however, the trail goes round the mountains rather than over them, and there is only little climbing involved.
The route Abisko-Nikkaluokta mostly follows the King’s Trail, which means that the trail is well marked and that mountains cabins belonging to the Swedish Tourist Association (STF) are located at regular intervals along the trail. The distances between the cabins vary between 12 and 20 km, which is a moderate day’s journey if you have a normal fitness and set off early in the morning.
At STF’s mountain cabins you stay in rustic but cosy self-catering dormitory accommodation. There is no electricity or running water, and as a guest you are expected to chop fire wood, collect water, do dishes and clean. Most of the cabins have a sauna where you can relax at the journey’s end.
The principle of the mountain cabins is that everyone is guaranteed a roof over their head. Most often there are beds available but sometimes it may be necessary to sleep on a mattress on the floor, or in a sleeping bag on a sleeping pad. The cabin manager makes sure that there is room for everyone and that guests with dogs are also able to sleep indoors. For cross-country tourers, it is reassuring to know that you are always welcome in the warm cabin, but if you feel uncertain about how far you will be able to travel each day, it may be wise to bring along a 3-season tent as an extra precaution.
What type of skis you choose depends on the current snow conditions but a common choice is touring skis with steel edges that provide stability and durability during a longer trip. On the route Abisko-Nikkaluokta there are usually snowmobile tracks to follow, but early in the season or after a snowfall it may be necessary to ski in untracked terrain, following the trail markings.
An alternative to skiing is snowshoeing with poles, which is an increasingly common way of exploring the King’s Trail. With snowshoes you don’t have grip problems and can control your speed in the downhills. If you’d like to try your feet at snowshoeing before you set out on an extended tour, STF Abisko Mountain Station offers lovely day trips in the Abisko National Park.
For those who have limited time but still want to experience the Kiruna mountains up close, it is possible to book a snowmobile transport from Nikkaluokta to STF Kebnekaise Mountain Station, or to mountain cabins like Singi and Sälka. Departure times and contact details can be found on Nikkaluokta Sarri’s website. With Enoks in Láddujavri you can also experience the alpine scenery around Kebnekaise on guided snowmobile tours with pick up in Kiruna or Jukkasjärvi.
A mountain tour should always be preceded by careful planning and in winter this is especially important. Test your equipment on shorter trips and study the weather forecast before you set off. From February 2017 you can record your route information digitally via the Mountain Safety App. Read more on www.fjallsakerhetsappen.se.
Have a good trip in the Kiruna mountains!
For more information
STF mountain cabins: https://www.swedishtouristassociation.com/staying-at-an-stf-mountain-cabin/
STF Kebnekaise Mountain Station: https://www.swedishtouristassociation.com/facilities/stf-abisko-mountain-station/
Snowshoe hike in Abisko National Park: https://www.swedishtouristassociation.com/activities/abisko-snowshoe-hike/
Nikkaluokta Sarri: http://nikkaluokta.com/en/
Enok in Láddujavri: http://www.enoks.se/en/
Photo: Andreas Långström.