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Expedition Sweden

from Abisko to Hemavan
Written by Jimmy Sundin, Photography by Jimmy Sundin

Why risk freezing to death? Why risk being caught in an avalanche? Why risk getting stuck in a storm? These were common reactions when we talked about what we were going to do. With magazines and movies focusing so much on expeditions and adventures that are extreme to the point of life or death, such reactions are perhaps not that surprising. Adventure becomes associated with athletes who put themselves in extreme situations in extreme places; it's all about the danger and the risk. But is that really what adventure is all about?

The whole idea for the project was born when I got to know Linus. We met in Kalix, Sweden, where we studied film and TV production together. While we were talking one evening, I told him about my plans to ski between Abisko and Hemavan, with my friends Jason and Julien.  Linus said he had always dreamed of doing something like that, but he had never had an adventure even close to it. I asked Linus if he would be interested in coming with us. After some hesitation he asked, "Do you really think I could handle it?" To which I replied "I don't know, but it would be an exciting documentary." That idea fired us both up and we immediately started brainstorming. 

For someone like me who is familiar with this type of challenge, it wasn't extreme, but for a rookie, I can understand it seemed daunting. That was probably why I felt that I could take Linus along and be his mentor. I felt confident enough about what we were going to do, to take responsibility for Linus at the same time. For Linus, this was all new. He had no experience whatsoever, so for him this was the challenge of a lifetime.

We were both pretty nervous about how he would handle it, since we were now filming as well. Jason and Julien both have a lot of wilderness experience, so I knew they would adjust quickly to the winter conditions; they had the "mindset" for how to deal with being out in nature. The other thing I was nervous about was the filming itself. There wouldn't be any team to follow us and document it all. We would be filming it ourselves. This turned out to be tougher than we expected. Our luggage was much heavier than usual, as we were pulling all the camera equipment on sleds ourselves. It was really hard work pulling out the cameras when we were already tired, and our only thoughts were about food and sleep. Everything takes a lot of time in winter, and the filming stole time we really didn't have.

Location: Between Kaitumjaure and Saltoluokta
Photographer: Jimmy Sundin

Photographer: Julien Zimmerman

Linus and I were aiming to complete the entire journey. Jason was coming along for the first half and then switching with Julien, who was taking over for the second half. This was purely because they were having trouble finding enough time. The downside to this was having specific meeting places on set dates that we had to stick to, so they wouldn't miss their flights.

The plan was to ski Kungsleden from Abisko to Hemavan with a detour to climb Kebnekaise. We had everything we needed to manage by ourselves, but we decided to stay in cottages when possible, and sleep in tents the other nights. We brought along our own food and fuel that we were to replenish at predetermined stations.

We had a range of qualifications and experience among us. We were tested in different ways. Linus' biggest challenge was to have the courage and determination to embark on this journey. My biggest challenge was to be responsible for my friends, and share my experience. Jason and Julien were to experience real winter for the first time. We each got our own personal adventure. For me, the adventure was about daring to take on new challenges, be it skiing a long way or deciding to sleep in a tent for the first time.

"Adventure is not just for professionals; it is something for everyone who enjoys a challenge."

Of course, the challenge has to be in line with the ability for safety's sake. But you're often capable of more than you think. We hope the film is an inspiration for anyone who wants their own adventures. You don't have to be super fit or take unnecessary risks to find an adventure that suits you. We also want to showcase what Sweden has to offer. Sometimes it's as if we forget what we have right on our own doorstep.

Jimmy Sundin:

Comes from Luleå. Has always had a passion for outdoor activities and photography. For the past ten years, he has traveled around the world concentrating mainly on hiking, mountaineering and photography. Two years ago he decided to start studying film, so he would be able to work with what he is passionate about.

Linus Adolfsson:

Comes from Lycksele. He is a trained graphic artist, particularly interested in computer games and design. He decided to move up to Kalix to study film directing.

Julien Zimmerman:

Comes from France. He works as a civil engineer, but climbing and mountain biking are his main interests. He met Jimmy eight years ago when he was an exchange student at Luleå University of Technology. Ever since then Julien and Jimmy have been close friends, sharing numerous adventures all over the world.

Jason Carter:

Comes from New Zealand, where he works as a nature guide. Of the four, he is probably the one who has spent the most time in the wilderness, but never in the winter. He met Jimmy when they worked at the same nature reserve in New Zealand five years ago. Jimmy and Jason have been talking about this trip for years, because he always wanted to experience the Arctic winter. 

Read more at www.expeditionsweden.com/