Last night the weather forecast had promised sunshine all day and even on Sunday. This morning it said that it would get cloudy in the afternoon and rain in the evening. Yikes! I didn’t feel like having a long breakfast, I really wanted to get going so I could reach the peak before the clouds did.
When you get inside the “bowl” of the Helags mountain, you’ll find a lot of nice surprises waiting for you. The first one is a small delta at around 1220m where the brooks meet to then fall down from the bowl towards the mountains station. I’m guessing that this delta will be dry later on in the summer when the snow has melted, I’m not sure if the glacier melts enough. Although the glacier is shrinking, just like all other glaciers in the world.
A bit higher up at 1350m you’ll find another shallow pond, which I could see had already lost a lot of water this summer and was also probably going to disappear by the end of the summer. But as it was now, it gave me a chance to shoot a reflection, even if didn’t get completely calm. But still, this is surprisingly calm, considering the place! Normally I’m annoyed at people building cairns all over the place, but here they had had another idea – they had used the rocks to spell words in the mud. Huge words which were barely legible when you stood next to them, and a bit later when I was standing higher up, I saw that there were a lot more words written on the other side of the puddle but now I would have needed binoculars to read them. Oh people… you’ll always find ways to ruin a good landscape.
After that, the hard work begun. It got very rocky so you had to watch your feet, but there was also beauty among the rocks – glacier buttercups! I was so happy to be able to shoot these flowers with an actual glacier in the background!
At 1600m (which is already way higher than I have ever been in Sweden), you suddenly come across a reindeer fence. It seems like an unlikely place for a fence, but yes there are reindeer here – I saw a small herd of them on the glacier. Literally, a cool place to be!
Now you’re walking on the ridge, going around the glacier on the south side. It gets more and more rocky the higher up you get, but if you dare, you can walk right at the edge (if you don’t mind the 200m drop on the right side) which occasionally provides more solid than loose rocks. Walking across this field of rocks requires such concentration that when you finally see the conical weather station on top, it’s like, oh I’m already here! When I was standing next to the cairn, I would have fistpumped the air if it weren’t for the other people on top. 1796m, I own you!
Getting to the top took me three hours, that’s including a whole lot of photo breaks. Incidentally, going down also took me three hours, with many breaks, but also with such steep parts that slowing down only seemed like a smart idea. However, the northern ridge has much more solid cliff than loose rocks, so I would say that it’s an easier route. Less photogenic though, because then you miss all the nice stuff in the bowl.
For the last 150m (altitude), I had company, which I really appreciated. I always have this dilemma, how far outside my comfort zone do I dare to go in order to do things I want to do? If I always had company, I could do pretty much anything. But alone, I really have to dig deep to break out from my highly sensitive introverted shell with my brain screaming “danger danger” at every unforeseen thing, whether real or imagined. I have wanted to do Helags for years, hoping year after year that I could find someone to do it with, but the fact is that I’m too introverted to make any connection with other human beings, while my high sensitivity keeps me from doing things on my own. This may sound like a strange thing for anyone who is not 1) an introvert or 2) a highly sensitive person, but for me it’s a daily struggle. Going to Helags on my own was a big personal victory and I wouldn’t have hesitated on the last approach to the peak either, but having those people with me… it was like having a security blanket, while being a painful reminder of how lonely I feel sometimes when I cancel some big plan because at the last minute I just don’t have the guts to go through with it.
Wow, well that was a sour note on a brilliant day! But I just had to say it, it’s been weighing heavily on my mind as of late.
Anyway. That weather forecast this morning, it was spot on. The clouds moved in while I was having lunch on the peak, and it started raining when I was having dinner at the mountain station. Yesterday, when the forecast still said it would be sunny, I had been planning to do an evening walk to shoot some evening light, but there was no light to speak of and it would still be cloudy in the morning. But I had achieved what I came here for – I conquered the highest peak of Sweden south of the Arctic Circle. It really didn’t matter if there was no opportunity to take out the camera again on this trip!
1796m. From now on, every time I see Helags, I’ll be thinking – I was there!