New for 2020! – Kebnekaise is the highest mountain in Sweden and lies 150km north of the Arctic Circle. The surrounding mountain ranges offer some of the best alpine touring terrain in the country and are served by a network of mountain huts. This is a remote region, with access and exit usually made via skidoo.
This is a remote trip, with 6 days of skiing for fit and experienced ski tourers, who already have previous hut to hut touring experience and are up for the challenge of some bigger (up to 1500m) skinning days. The terrain is extensive, with both north facing powder slopes and south facing spring snow slopes in the region. The trip also involves some long skinning distances and we need to be more self-sufficient than on a typical ski touring trip to the Alps (see suitability notes below).
NB This is an ‘off the beaten track’ ski trip to a remote arctic area, so a flexible mindset and sufficient fitness and experience to deal with unexpected challenges are a pre requisite for safety and enjoyment on this type of holiday. Although we plan to access and exit the area by skidoo, if conditions prevent us from doing so, then we may need to make a longer approach/exit on foot. A number of the huts are self catered, which means we will be carrying all of our own food for three nights – you need to be aware of these factors before considering joining the tour.
Skiing in Kebnekaise
Kebnekaise (2098m) is the highest mountain in Sweden and the surrounding mountain ranges offer some of the best alpine touring terrain in the country. The area gets more clear and sunny days than adjacent coastal ranges in Norway, which is perfect for creating good spring touring conditions. April is an ideal time to visit the region, as the snowpack is usually well stabilized, with spring snow slopes on southerly aspects and often still some powder around on higher north facing aspects – especially if it snows.
Skiing in the area offers an overwhelming sense of space and vastness in the Arctic wilderness, with fewer alpine ski tourers around than the Alps (most visitors use nordic touring/telemark kit and ski along the valleys). This is also a big region for Reindeer husbandry, with a good chance of seeing reindeer herds during the week.
It’s a remote area, so access is a key part of the trip: the standard approach is to use a skidoo transfer in and out of the range. The skidoo trails are a well established means of travel, but obviously they are conditions dependent – so you need to be ready for the contingency of a longer approach or exit on foot if required (by following higher ground, it’s usually possible to travel in and out from the road head on skis most, or all of the way).
This trip travels on Friday out/Friday return, in order to make use of the best flight combinations.
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This is an advanced level trip. To take part you should be at Fitness Level 3-4 and Tech Level 3-4 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines below). You need at least 3 weeks touring experience, including multi day hut tours and advanced level tours in order to join this trip. If you haven’t skied with us before, then a reference from a ski tour leader or guide will be required. You must be able to handle all off piste conditions whilst carrying a fully loaded multi day touring sac, plus experience with ice axe and crampons is also needed. The trip includes 5-8 hour days with sections of skinning on steep spring snow slopes, so you need to be safe and confident doing kick turns on icy terrain and the summit day on Kebnekaise involves a steep roped climb wearing crampons, so you need to be happy moving on foot on such terrain. Typically we’ll be doing 1000-1500m of ascent a day, at up to 400m per hour ascent rate – so you can expect to be skinning for 4-5 hours a day. Type of ascent: 100% skinning on this tour – approx. 7000m of skinning up 7000m of skiing down.
NB This is an adventurous tour in an arctic area and we need to be more self sufficient than on a typical ski touring trip to the Alps. The local mountain rescue team are well equipped and trained, but in the event of poor flying conditions, access could take longer than in the Alps, so we will be carrying a rescue sled for emergencies and we need to know that you are fit and experienced enough to deal with any unforseen difficulties, such as poor weather or snow conditions.
Three of the huts are self catering (with an equipped kitchen and fuel provided), so we will be carrying all of our own food for the first 3 nights of the trip – this will mean an extra 2-3Kg of pack weight for the first half of the tour.
One IFMGA guide skiing with 6 clients, or 2 guides skiing with 8 clients.
Included in price
- 6 days of guiding
- All guides expenses
- 2 nights accommodation in Kiruna, including breakfast
- 5 nights accommodation in Mountain Huts, including breakfast and evening meal (3 nights self catering, food provided)
- Return transfer from Kiruna to Nikkaluokta road head
- Skidoo transfer into and out of the range
Excluded from price (see course factsheet for extra cost estimates)
- Evening meals in Kiruna
- Drinks and Hill Snacks
- Taxi to/from Airport
- Equipment hire
Our hotel in Kiruna is the excellent Scandic Ferrum Hotel, situated in the centre of town. The Scandic is one of the best hotels in town, providing a great breakfast and is very close to shops, services and local bars and restaurants.
Huts in the region vary from the large, fully catered Kebnekaise Fjallstation – which has electricity, showers and restaurant service, like a well appointed alpine hut – to the smaller Nallo and Tarfala cabins, which have just 11-25 bed spaces, a warden and a self catering kitchen where we need to take our own food. To quote the STF website: “cabins offer simple, self catering accommodation in the mountains – they have no electricity or running water, and the toilet is a dry toilet. The rooms are of different sizes and are usually heated by gas stoves. You sleep in bunk beds. There are blankets and pillows available, but you need to bring a sheet sleeping bag liner. There is often a wood-fired sauna also. Everybody lends a hand with household tasks – as a visitor you will chop wood, fetch water from the stream or lake, wash up and clean up after yourself.”
NB In self catered mountain cabins in Sweden, it is not possible to pre-book bed spaces: in the mountains, no one is turned away – but if all the beds are already taken, then you may be allocated a sleeping place with a mattress, blankets and pillow for the night – communality and inclusiveness is the Scandinavian tradition!
Hotel details can be found on our Accommodation page.
Fly from Uk via Stockholm to Kiruna in Northern Sweden, taxi to our hotel in Kiruna. Evening Briefing – your guide will run through kit checks and safety routines, before going on to discuss the current weather and mountain conditions and how these affect our plans.
AM 1hr transfer from Kiruna to road end at Nikkaluokta, then 2hr skidoo journey to the Salka Hut. The Salka hut is one of the larger self catering cabins in the area, lying on the famous Kungsleden long distance trail, so is popular with nordic touring skiers. We leave our food supplies and excess kit here, before setting out for a day tour from the Salka Hut – numerous good spring ski touring options are available in the mountains surrounding the hut: 800-1000m ascent and descent.
Salka Hut to Nallo Hut. A day traversing the Arctic wilderness: it’s possible to follow a number of different routes and summit options between the two the huts – we’ll choose the best one for current snow and weather conditions. The Nallo cabin is smaller than the Salka and sits in a spectacular location, surrounded by dramatic peaks that are popular with rock climbers in the summer. ~1200m ascent, 1100m descent.
Nallo Hut to Tarfala Hut. A big day, requiring an early start to traverse across several cols following the famous Jojo Leden route – with the possibility of climbing a summit along the way. All the principle descents are south facing, so expect spring snow skiing today. The Tarfala cabin is another smaller sized hut, set in a high alpine valley surrounded by glaciers. 1400m ascent, 1200m descent.
Tarfala Hut to Kebnekaise Fjallstation. A big glacier skiing day, or if conditions are good, this is our first chance to climb Kebnekaise before heading to the comforts of the Kebnekaise Fjallstation – where hot showers await! Later, we then enjoy a filling meal in the restaurant. 1000m ascent, 1400m descent.
Ascent of Kebnekaise, 2098m. A big, technical ski mountaineering day, climbing Sweden’s highest mountain. The route up Kebnekaise involves traversing a glacier, before climbing a steep couloir on foot using fixed ropes to reach the final summit ridge. Overnight at the Kebnekaise Fjallstation. 1500m ascent and descent.
Final mornings’ ski touring, before making the skidoo and road transfer back to Kiruna. 800m ascent and descent.
Overnight in Kiruna.
Early morning taxi back to airport for flights home.
Your meeting point for this trip is Kiruna (KRN), situated in northern Sweden.
The most convenient way to reach the Kebnekaise region is fly to Stockholm, with connecting flights on to Kiruna airport.
From the airport, it’s a short bus or taxi ride to the hotel in town – taxi costs to be shared between the group.
Transfers to and from the road head at Nikkaluokta and skidoo transfers into and out of the mountains are all included in the trip price.
SAS offer flights from the UK, the best being Heathrow to Kiruna via Stockholm.
Outward – departing Heathrow on Fri 17th Apr 2020 – fly to Kiruna (KRN) airport, with SAS from Heathrow. Early and later flight options are available: LHR 06.40 – KRN 13.20 and LHR 13.55 – KRN 22.35 (flying with SAS via Manchester is also possible, but the connection times in Stockholm are not ideal). Check Skyscanner or Google Flights for your best option.
Return – returning to Heathrow on Fri 24th Apr 2020 – earlier and later flight options with SAS are available: KRN 06.05 – LHR 12.55 and KRN 15.00 – LHR 19.55 (NB we don’t recommend the 13.50-17.50 option, as this gives under an hours’ transfer time in Stockholm).
Flight costs are £250-350 return with skis.
Further information and travel links can be found on our Travel Planning page.
To enjoy this trip you should be comfortable operating at Fitness Level 3/4, and Ski Tech Level 3/4:
Fitness Level 3
You do 3-4 hours cv training/sport per week. At this level you are happy doing a 5-6 hr hillwalk, 50ml cycle or 3-4hr mountain bike ride without being totally exhausted. If you are into challenges – then the thought of doing a road sportive, or training to do a 1/2 (or maybe even a full) marathon, wouldn’t seem too ridiculous. On foot: you should be able to do the full Langdale Horseshoe: Langdale – Pike of Stickle – Angle Tarn – Bow Fell – Crinkle Crags – Pike of Blisco – Langdale in a day without finishing up exhausted. On skis: you can skin uphill at 300m/hr for 3-4 hrs a day (ie 8-1200m of ascent each day)
Fitness Level 4
You do 4+ hours CV training/sport per week. A 70+ mile cycle ride, or 20+ mile hillwalk on a weekend would hold no fears. If so inclined, you might be the kind of person who has done longer road sportives/challenge rides, a ~3.30hr marathon or other similar endurance events. Keen hillwalkers who happily knock off 3-4+ munros in a day also have this kind of fitness and endurance. On skis: you can skin at 400m/hr or could handle 4-6hrs skinning a day. (ie 1000-1400m+ of ascent each day).
Tech Level 3
Confirmed Off Piste Skier. You can put down a reasonable set of tracks in powder, but difficult snow types – eg heavy wet snow, crusts, poor visibility or 40dg slopes – can all cause problems (though you can cope with them safely, if not elegantly!) *Equivalent to Ski Club of GB Off Piste Level: Purple – Advanced*
Likely to say: ‘I’d like to handle difficult snow/steep slopes more confidently in better style’
Our Advice: Off piste coaching still useful. Intermediate off piste weeks are at your level too. If you want to get into ski touring, try a touring course or intro level ski tour. If you’re an established ski mountaineer, then intermediate level tours are generally suitable.
Tech Level 4
Advanced Off Piste Skier. You can put turns in through heavier snow and on icy 40dg slopes, but difficult breakable crusts and skiing a fresh track off piste in zero visibility are still somewhat challenging! *Equivalent to Ski Club of GB Off Piste Level: Gold – Expert*
Likely to say: I’ve been skiing ten/twenty years – I’d like to do your ‘……’ tour.
Our Advice: You will enjoy our advanced level trips. If you are new to touring – then you could do a Haute Route with two or three days of skills training beforehand (but don’t overlook the physical fitness needed as well). Mileage is the best way to improve your ability level.
To view all of our Ski Fitness Levels and Off Piste Technical Levels, please visit our Ski Ability page.
If you need to top up your fitness for this trip, please see our Ski Touring Training Advice page.
Hut to Hut Touring Equipment List
Just remember, every extra kilo on your back knocks 10% off your enjoyment on the descents – so try and keep the weight down!
- Waterproof Jacket – preferably lightweight and breathable
- Overtrousers/ski pants – preferably with side zips
- Fleece mid layer – or equivalent
- Socks – specialist ski socks or a warm loop lined pair of mountain socks
- Wicking thermal top – not cotton please…
- Thermal leggings or ski pants
- Thin inner gloves
- Warm ski gloves or mittens, if you suffer from cold hands
- Warm hat
- Spare fleece/lightweight duvet jacket
- Water container – at least 1 litre
- Personal medications and blister kit – regular meds, zinc oxide tape, compeed and painkillers etc
- Lightweight head torch
- Ski goggles
- Sun glasses – CE rated 3 or 4 with side protection
- Sun and lip cream – factor 30+
- Wallet, passport, Alpine Club/BMC card (hut discount) and insurance docs
Hut Overnight Items
- Small wash kit
- Spare lightweight t-shirt/socks/pants
- Silk sheet liner
- Ear plugs
- (Hut slippers for indoor use, blankets/duvets and pillows are provided by the huts)
- Rucsac 35/45l – try and avoid ones covered in too many features, just ski and ice axe attachments required
- Ski mountaineering boots
- Skis with touring bindings – some ‘freeride’ bindings are also suitable
- Velcro ski strap – to keep skis together on your rucksack if we need to carry them
- Ski poles – with good size 5cm+ baskets (telescopic poles are not needed)
- Climbing skins – they come with the skis if you hire your kit
- Harscheisen (ski crampons) – they come with the skis if you hire your kit
- Metal snow shovel – must be a full metal shovel (plastic blades don’t work in real avalanche debris!)
- Avalanche probe
- Avalanche transceiver – must be a modern digital model (older analogue models are now obsolete)
- Harness, with 120cm sling and locking karabiner
- Crampons – lightweight model
- Ice Axe – lightweight model
Your guide will have all other safety kit, first aid and survival equipment.
Recommendations and Advice
Visit the Knowledge Base section of our website, where we publish an annual review of the years best new skis, boots and touring equipment, plus a range of other interesting tips and recommendations. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please get in touch!
Backcountry UK in Ilkley offer an excellent ski boot fitting service, one of the best ranges of ski mountaineering equipment in the UK and top notch advice.
Please visit our Equipment Hire page for recommended hire shops in your resort, and Alpine Guides hire equipment price list (safety equipment is provided free of charge on certain courses – please consult price inclusions).
What happens to my deposit if I book a trip, but it isn’t confirmed to run due to insufficient bookings?
You may transfer your booking to different dates, a different course, or choose a full refund.
What happens if the weather or snow conditions are poor, or the avalanche risk is high?
We will make every effort to stick to the itinerary, but sometimes its necessary to change plans and ski in a neighbouring area or even further afield. Many of our itineraries are designed with flexibility in mind, and it’s usually possible to ski in most conditions with some careful alternative planning.
What happens about accommodation, if the weather is very poor and we end up spending extra nights in the valley instead of in huts?
We will make any necessary last minute bookings for the team. On trips taking place outside the Chamonix valley, any extra valley hotel nights will be on a BnB basis rather than half board.
Does Alpine Guides ski with customers from overseas, including the USA and Canada?
Who goes on our trips?
We climb and ski with a broad range of ages and experience levels, and a large number of our customers come back year after year. We’ve guided 10 year old Ollie up the Old Man of Hoy in Scotland – now the youngest person to climb it. And 70 year old David has climbed the Matterhorn with us, as well as out-skiing people half his age!
How do I book a ski trip?
For scheduled ski trips it’s easy to book online, directly from your course page. For hire a guide/bespoke courses please get in touch for a quote.
Is there an age limit on any of our ski trips?
Under 18’s must be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian. There is no upper age limit, but please get in touch to discuss suitability if you are concerned about your age, with regard to fitness and pace.
How do I rent ski equipment?
You can rent certain items of specialist equipment from us, and the rest can usually be hired in resort.
What happens if I need to cancel my course?
If you wish to cancel you must notify us in writing, where upon the following charges will be applied from the date we receive your notice of cancellation:
- More than 8 weeks (56 days) before start date – loss of deposit.
- Between 4 and 8 weeks (28-56 days) before start date – 50% of course fee or loss of deposit, whichever amount is greater.
- Less than 4 weeks (28 days) before start date – full course fee.
Can I book a single room on my ski trip?
Yes – this can be done during the online booking process. Please add the single room option to your order, and we will confirm availability asap.