I put down my huge pack in the snow and looked around me. What a setting! The mountains look almost like they do in the Alps. High snowy peaks all around me, and it feels a bit like I'm standing in a massive, deserted castle hall. It has taken a long time to get here and I realise there's only about 30 minutes of daylight left until dark. It's the end of February and the beautiful spring sunshine hasn't had time to break through yet. I am struck by the silence and desolation. We are truly alone. The feeling is both wonderful and frightening at the same time.
I watch the others dragging their headlamps, shovels and tents out of their backpacks. We have to build a base camp with the tents protected from the wind. Large blocks are cut out of the snow and placed in a ring around the tents. More and more blocks are piled on top of each other, and in the end we've built high walls. After we've all been working on cutting out the snow blocks for about an hour, I look up. The sky isn't black anymore, it's neon green. The best chance of seeing the northern lights is during the cold months, not every day by any means, but we're in luck today. The sky is fully lit and green chunks are dancing around like carefree fairies. It feels like watching a film with no plot and no ending.
There are many beautiful mountains to ski on around Nallo, and Sielmatjåkka is one of them. The mountain is XX vertical metres and sweat drips down my back while I slowly climb all those metres towards its peak. We've planned our upwards route carefully from the foot of the mountain, to be as safe as possible. We walk with a gap between each other. This is to avoid the whole group being pulled down into the snow if there were to be an avalanche.
We need climbing irons on our feet for the final vertical metres. The snow which was previously soft and fluffy, has now felt the effects of the wind and is hard. We take a well-earned break on the peak, and it's like standing on a roof. We can see in all directions, with no other mountain obscuring the stunning views. It's usually windy when you're standing on a peak but today, stillness.
On my previous tours of the Alps, it has always felt a bit unreal looking out from a peak. It usually feels like I'm a visitor in someone else's dream world. Just about all I see from Sielmatjåkka's peak is Swedish mountains and it feels like "home". A back garden that's been mine all my life - but I've never been there before.
We finally click into our skis and I get the honour of going first. A few cautious turns before I get down to the soft powder snow. The wind howls in my ears and I increase my speed. A feeling of complete and utter freedom fills me. I am one with nature, one with my skis and time stands still. I take a mental photograph, I don't ever want to forget this moment. Click. I stop when I get to the bottom and call out to the others to follow. Get my system camera out to take a picture of my friends who are also flying down at full speed. When they reach the bottom, we don't say anything. We just laugh at each other and our rides. Freedom!
It might not be the best snow I've ever skied in, but it's one of my best ever overall ski experiences. We are all alone. We live in tents and we climb peaks under our own steam. The feeling of being at one with nature is palpable, and I feel all warm inside.
When I crawl into my sleeping bag later on that evening, I take out my mental photo and look at it. The area around Nallo and my home Kiruna really is as great as I imagined. It's my first trip to the area, but definitely not my last. We have climbed one peak, but there are hundreds more left to climb.