Finnmarksvidda - big country

Right now the planning of mine and Joe Newton's trip across Finnmarksvidda is looming big. Only a couple of days before we leave for this giant, wide-open expanse at the top of the European continent. We hope to cross a large part of it during six days of skiing and rulking.

By Jörgen Johansson

Check out what my skiing partner Joe Newton has written about the plans for Finnmarksvidda here. I am really happy about him fixing us up with a SPOT tracker as well, I have been planning to familiarize myself with that kind of gadgets for a long time. Nice to have some sort of life line even if the statistics say we won't need it. After all, more people get hurt on their way driving to their backpacking destinations than from the actual hiking. Also, I think it will be a comfort for my family to know more of how things are going.

Finnmarksvidda is Norway's largest plateau. Not known for it's impressive peaks at all. The area is in fact undulating between 300-500 meters above sea level. But it is big; 22 000 square kilometers, or about the size of Israel, slightly bigger than Wales or slightly smaller than Belgium depending on your references.


There are roughly four towns connected with roads. At sea level there is Alta and Lakselv, and bordering the Finnish taiga is Karasjoki. Up on the tundra is 'the capital of the Sami people' which is Kautokeino. So, few roads and not many people and the coldest weather in Norway. Sihcajavri, close to Kautokeino, has an average yearly temperature of -3 Centigrade. This is colder than the Norwegian artic islands of Jan Mayen or Bear Island.

Can anyone blame us for being unable to stay away?

Joe and I will be leaving Alta after a hearty last lunch on Tuesday March 22. We plan to arrive in Kautokeino no later than Monday March 28 and take the bus back in time for our flight south on March 29.  We will be travelling west of route 93, where there is a huge area with no roads and not many trails. The route finding will no doubt be a challenge in this landscape that is not studded with easily identified mountains and valleys.

My gear will be more or less what served me so well in Sarek last year with a few minor changes. Like my ski bag, or whatever you call those longish things necessary when flying with your skis. I put one together the other night from some scraps of cuben fiber and silnylon. Beautiful? Not really, but light. 42 grams. I am pretty satisfied with that.

14 comments:

Geoff said...

That sounds wonderful, if the average yearly temperature is -3 Centigrade, what temperature variations do you expect on your trip?

Joe Newton said...

"Finnmarksvidda is Norway's largest plateau... But it is big; 22 000 square kilometers, or about the size of Israel... few roads... not many people... the coldest weather in Norway..." - I wish you would stop putting these facts in print ;)

My ski bag weighs 1247g. I'll be leaving mine at the airport...

Jörgen Johansson said...

Geoff,
Fact is, the forecast so far is reasonably benign, with -10 C at night and -5 C during the day. Chillier as the week progresses, the current forecast ends Thursday. Tomorrow some hard winds along the coast, but up on the 'vidda' chances for nice weather.
Bottom line, could be a lot worse, but you never know. But we both know our gear will work well down to -25 C. Lower than that and it'll be hot water bottles galore...

Martin Nordesjö said...

I'm a bit worried about you two. I saw this Norwegian documentary called "Trolljegeren", and it seems the government is hiding the fact that the area is inhibited by trolls. So just be careful.

Martin Nordesjö said...

InHABited by trolls, too.

Joe Newton said...

I'm more worried by the other Norwegian documentry I saw recently, Dead Snow.

I don't need to be able to ski faster than the trolls or zombies, just faster than Jorgen...

Jörgen Johansson said...

Joe, sounds like I am living on borrowed time and you on borrowed skis...
Anyway, I'm not worried about trolls, they are all stoned by dawn in my experience.

Martin Nordesjö said...

You might want worry about Joe, because I've heard the Brits are all stoned by dawn too.

(Sorry, just had to. I will stop now.)

Jörgen Johansson said...

Yeah Martin, you're right. He kind of looks like one of the characters in 'From dusk til dawn' as well :-)

Mark Roberts said...

I know I'm envious, and looking forward to hearing how you get on. It sounds like good weather - perfect for those undulating hills :)

Geoff said...

Would I be correct in assuming your 343 target weight, is for the summer, if so how heavy will your big three weigh on your Finnmarksvidda walk?

Jörgen Johansson said...

Geoff,
Yep. At least for me 343 is a three season method to lower pack weight. Who knows what Newton might be up to.

I'll be using the same gear as last year in Sarek (http://www.fjaderlatt.se/2010/04/across-sarek-in-winter-gear-list.html) and my three big ones then landed at 4127 grams not counting the Rulk and 5536 gram including the Rulk.
I also made some comparisons between my gear and Andy Skurkas in this post last year:
http://www.fjaderlatt.se/2010/03/skurka-alaska-yukon-expedition-is-on.html

Joe Newton said...

Like Jorgen I am over the 343 for this trip but we are talking about a 7 day winter trip off trail in the far north of Norway. It's the bag/quilt combo that, while hopefully coping with moisture accumulation well, creates the extra weight. I know of a couple of -20C rated down bags that would get me under 343 but could possibly collapse after several days and be useless.

Geoff said...

I’m very impressed with your 343 weights, over the last 2 years I’m managed to reduce my big 3 from 6.5Kg to 4.2Kg, but still have a long way to go to reach a 3 season goal of 3 Kg.

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