Hetta-Pallas hike, part 6: Overcoming Salomo

As I mentioned in part 5, our hike from Hannukuru to the Suaskuru shelter was, though snowy, manageable. It was windy and the snowfall was pretty fierce but we came out the other end fairly dry.

After lunch and after a chat with fellow hiking parties, we marched on, although the situation looked bleak. But we had already come so far and only a half a day’s hike away from out next destination. We also knew that Nammalakuru wilderness hut would have a drying room and that a couple of hikers were already there, so there’d be a fire going.

We started ascending the Lumikero fell. Wind picked up, snow began falling harder and even sideways and gathering on the ground. I felt safe just putting one hiking boot before the other and my hiking gear in general made a shield against the elements. But I was worried about the rest of my crew.  I needed to stop every now and then to prevent myself from falling but failed once – the wind was really strong. But I was ok.

As an added bonus to all this craziness, I didn’t have a beanie or a wool cap nor did I remember to bring any gloves.That’s not to say my hands were freezing, the jacket I was wearing had long enough sleeves to give my fingers protection. Thanks to my amazing peripheral circulation my hands are almost always warm but you know, gloves wouldn’t had hurt. Instead I had left them in the car. Then again, afterward my companions told me that gloves only made things worse after getting soaked by the snow and ice. No one had proper gloves, is what I’m saying. My hoodie was wet to my elbows when we finally got to Nammalakuru. Instead of a beanie I used a tube scarf (shout-out to my employer, sometimes corporate gifts can be useful!) and the excellent storm hood in my hiking jacket was more than necessary.

I’m not sure if it was the adrenaline but hiking one step at a time in the blizzard made me feel stronger than ever. I was also super grateful for my proper hiking attire- they worked like a charm. I felt respect for the storm and even though I was hoping it wouldn’t knock me down more than it already had, it couldn’t hurt me, not when I was feeling invincible. I was not going to freeze to death or anything, I had more than enough strength to finish the hike. The only risk was that if one of us was to twist an ankle or slip. I am fully aware that no one in their right mind should’ve gone on a hike in the fells in such conditions. But there we were. A risk probability calculator was whirring in my head but I couldn’t help but laugh out loud thinking:

Isn’t there anything we can do in a normal fashion? Our first light Summer hike has a blizzard, for Pete’s sake.

Atop Lumikero there was no time for selfies. We tried taking cover behind a pile or boulders hikers had built but cowering next to it only made the snow fly into our faces.

Between the reindeer grazing associations there was a fence – the wind stopped completely as we got near it. I threw my backpack on the ground and dusted it off from all the snow and ice that had gathered on it. The rain cover didn’t entirely serve its purpose. We checked the map, had a bite to eat and re-hydrated. Only Vuontiskero fell was left to cross and we’d be at the Montell hut. We had no interest in staying the night there, not after hearing the Nammakuru one had a drying room and that it was built in 2013.

The snow was falling harder – sideways. Thankfully the wind was coming from behind us or from the side. I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like facing the wind the whole hike. After the fence we spotted a few reindeer but they paid no mind to us. They had better things to do, I suppose.

As soon as we laid our eyes on the Montell hut, we ran to it. In hindsight, it was a mistake, at least on my part. Nammalakuru was only 1,2 kilometers away and I couldn’t maintain the heat inside my clothes – the ice started melting all around my clothing and for a moment, it was really cold.

I try to avoid waterproof attire because they don’t typically breathe very well and then you end up being wet on both sides of the clothing. My Fjällräven Keb jacket and pants, accompanied by my merino wool undergarments barely kept me dry but they did, for the full 13,3 kilometers we marched in the blizzard. I’ll be doing a more extensive review soon. The snow was just that, snow. Had the hike been any longer, I would’ve had to switch into my rain pants (they’re sort of Goretex but not quite) at Montell. But I knew our real destination was close.

 

Once we got to Nammalakuru, we just shed our clothes and hung them to dry. Which filled the drying room to it’s capacity. And knowing a couple of hiking parties were still to join us, we shoved more wood into the stove, hoping our clothes would be dry enough by the time the others arrived. We brought our hiking boots straight into the cottage room because we needed them to be dry the next morning. The lovely hikers that came before us had a fire going so we could start cooking right away. The hut was packed by the end of the night. Keep in mind the Nammalakuru open wilderness hut has room for 20 people. Let’s just say earplugs are your ally, okay?

We were more than half way there and already the hike had been one to remember. The next day would be our last in the fells. More on that later!

//Anne

 

We took on the Pallas-Hetta hike (from Hetta to Pallas) in early June 2016. We chose the Hetta-Sioskuru-Tappuri-Hannukuru-Nammalakuru-Pallas route. We’ll be presenting the hike in small portions of ten posts. I’ll also be talking about the gear choices we made for this trip. Everything concerning the hike can be found by using the identifier hetta-pallas hike. If there’s anything you’d like to know about a specific destination or if a certain part engages your attention, please don’t hesitate to comment! We’re happy to tell you more. 

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