We had been looking at the weather forecast with some concerns because it looked like it wouldn’t get nice at all this week. Our original plan was to ski from Gåsen to Sylarna and then back to Helags, but with the atrocious weather, there was no point in going to Sylarna. For one thing, there would be nothing to see because of the snowing, and for the other, we would risk getting snowed in and towards the end of our vacation, we really didn’t have any snowed-in days to spare. Which only left us with one option – cut our losses and go home ahead of schedule. We really had bad luck with the weather, it’s very unusual for the middle of the March that it would be this cold, snowy and windy. We may have started out with a plan to have a photography trip, but we settled with getting richer in experience. And with the weather like it was today, it was an experience like never before!
But let’s not get ahead of the events. In the morning when I got up, the sky was still almost clear (I think I forgot to mention that it was a stunning starry (and cold) night last night) and I could see the peak of Helags again. I’ve never seen it from this angle before, and the bowl that contains the glacier can be seen very clearly from here. But then as we were having breakfast, the weather turned for the worse and by the time we set out, it was snowing and the wind had picked up.
When you take the trail from Gåsen to Helags, at first you go down (Gåsen is at 1100 MASL), then up, and then ski on the high plateau, go down to the wind shelter, then up again, and another long trip on a high plateau. All of that leaves you very exposed to the elements and we both felt that we had very little safety margins with us. Up there, in those temperatures and in that wind and snowfall, you’re just a broken ski or injury from a life or death situation. Initially when we set out, I was wearing a woolly first layer, thick fleece for second layer and shell jacket; my face was wrapped in a face mask and I was wearing a cap with ear flaps and a hood. I had woolly gloves and windproof mittens and two layers of underwear and shell pants, and I froze! At the half way shelter, I added a down jacket and a balaclava to my clothing and I still didn’t start sweating when we were going uphill. That’s how cold and windy it was.
The snowing got worse the further away we got, and my face was blasted. Again the snow kept freezing to my eyelashes because the face mask was directing my warm breath up my face (lesson learned – get goggles) so every once in a while I had to stop and pull off the ice, and I probably ripped out a good number of eyelashes in the process.
Anyone who reads this blog will know that I’m not a selfie kind of a person, but when we got to Helags I just had to get a picture of myself. It was that bad.
When you get to the mountain stations or cabins, they give you a warm glass of juice to welcome you in. Plain old strawberry juice tasted like nectar from gods after this trip!