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To say the cabin was self-service would be an understatement. Without running water, electricity or an indoor toilet, for a short time, daily life transformed into a back-to-nature ritual that required the group to step up their self-discipline and synchronize with the deeper rhythm of nature. When they weren’t out exploring the surrounding landscape on skis, their time was spent tending to the fire, melting snow to get water for drinking and bathing, cooking meals, and checking maps, weather and winds to plan the next touring session. Once the sun went down, they would rely on the fireplace and candles to light up evenings inside. And when it grew so dark that not even the light from the candles, fire, stars and glistening snow was enough to guide their sight, they would put on their headlamps to find gear—or their way out to the toilet. Clothing was hung up to dry every night so they could repeat the whole ritual again the next day.
When getting ready for your next ski touring session, it’s important to check the weather and use the map to plan your route in advance. Pack your backpack with snacks, extra insulation, extra gloves, sunglasses or goggles, a GPS, avalanche equipment, and something warm and cold to drink. And be sure to keep all your gear neat and tidy at base camp so you don’t have to waste time searching for things when it’s time to head out.
You have a shared responsibility to look after each other. Anything can happen— weakness, hunger, shoe chafing, hygiene issues—and you have to be proactive to ensure that everyone stays healthy and safe. When deciding who to bring along with you, make sure you form a group with enough collective knowledge and experience. Some people can still be beginners but then the touring plans need to be catered after their experience level. Bringing along a guide is always recommended.
Be prepared for changeable weather in the mountains. The temperatures can run from warm to cold, and the winds can grow strong and change the chill factor dramatically. Dress in layers so you can adapt as needed to stay warm and dry. To stay dry, make sure you wear the right technical clothes. Bring extra gloves and an extra layer for yourself or a friend, an extra beanie and a down jacket to wear on top of your shell jacket whenever you stop for a break.
After a day on the mountain, there is a risk that you are either wet from the weather or sweat. For that reason, it’s very important to always have a set of dry clothes ready to change into once you arrive back at base camp. It could be a dry set of base layers, wool socks, a warm beanie and a cozy fleece jacket.
STF fjällstugor are simple mountain cabins situated across Sweden’s mountainous region that anyone can book for a stay. Open for only part of the year, most of them are unreachable by traditional roads and to get to one you typically have to either hike or ski in. Their spartan character means that you must pack along your own food, sleeping bags and other gear you might need. In case of emergencies, be sure to read up on the nearest emergency cabin or room in the area you’ll be skiing in before you head out.
Learn more about staying in STF mountain cabins here: