During the late night the wind increased to hard, and unfortunately the forecasts had been correct – it was all overcast in the morning and it was snowing lightly. When I had taken care of the early visit to the privy after 7, however, the sky was almost clear directly overhead and the route to Nallo was mostly visible, but heavy clouds hung around all nearby and far-off peaks. After breakfast conditions continued to improve to the east and especially the north, which had been but a wall of cloud earlier. The clouds were a-changing, with an overall inclination towards lighter weather, even though darker banks seemed to be approaching from the south, riding on a chilling wind. I waited for a bit longer inside, observing the shifts, before eventually setting out simultaneously with the group at 9.
I had decided to have the climbing skins on from the start – the incline itself hardly merits it, but the cold night had turned the half-melted crust hard, and with the skins I didn't have to compensate for slipping all the time. In a nontrivial wind I passed over the rise which constitutes the northwesternmost outrunner of Čeakčačohkka, and after the crest I turned up Šielmmávággi. Behind me the sun shone upon Ážik and the fjelds beyond, but further up the valley it was still cloudy, even though the pass was entirely visible all the time. A seemingly fresh set of ski tracks intersected my line of travel, but I elected to stay higher up in the slope rather than skiing down near/on Šielmmánjira, as the stream has carved out a bit of a ravine in that part.
A little bit later I came upon another set of tracks, and these had a much more preferable heading. The wind had subsided substantially, and it was almost warm; clouds were obscuring the peaks to the southeast on and off, but it seemed to get lighter in that same direction as well. As I neared the pass point the nearby clouds lifted a bit, whereas the previously sunlit areas to the northwest were slipping into shadow. In the pass itself it was very windy, but it was blowing at my back, and the view ahead wasn't too bad, even though it is considerably grander in clear weather. I took off the climbing skins and set off downwards, over uneven rough snow at first, and then turning off onto an old snowmobile track that ran down to the next stream. When I reached the precipice above a small beautiful lake (at least in summertime) I looked things over, and came to the conclusion that the northern passage would be the easiest – or, the least difficult.
I cut straight across this slope, descending only slowly; the snow was very hard and the slant very steep, so my thigh muscles had to work intently. I made a long, gentle turn, coming down onto the lake near its far end, traversing it to the flattened crest on the other side. From there the view was pretty good, especially through Stuor Reaiddávággi to the south, but going down the slope to the Nallo cottage was far from simple; the snow was such that the motion of the skis was most unpredictable, and I had several benign falls. At 11 I was at the cottage, where a woman with two dogs and a sled was just about to leave for Sälka.
Inside there was lunch to be had, and outside the wind kept changing back and forth while the clouds did not budge at all. I spoke some with Jeppe, the warden, and handed over a letter addressed to him that had reached Kebnekaise earlier – in the fjelds any and all mail service is voluntary and handled by those who travel in the area, and since I would be going this way I brought it with me when I left the station. Two of the STF caretakers arrived by snowmobile with some goods, and as the clouds lowered themselves two dogsleds came up from Visttasvággi and stopped outside the cottage. When I was preparing to leave the "dog lady" came back, declaring that conditions to the southwest were bad enough that she didn't trust her ability to reach her destination safely, with the sled and all; she said that she had literally been blown down. I didn't let that scare me, though, so I gave Jeppe a cinnamon roll – which was very well received – and then set off up the slope towards Reaiddájávri.
There was snow in the air and as I rounded the western end of Reaiddáčohkka a southerly wind picked up, but it was getting worse all around. I proceeded almost straight across the lake, and the weather was rather bad with low visibility and a headwind which was at times tough to move against – and the hard snow particles blowing at me didn't exactly help either. I frequently saw some old tracks in the snow cover even though the wind had concealed large sections of them, but things never got so bad that I couldn't see where I was going anyway, albeit often only barely. As for the wind it did nothing but increase the farther along I got, and so did the snowfall, and at worst it was really bad – I sometimes had to stop entirely and just bend my head down to get some relief from the full-frontal assault; the gales were very powerful.
Eventually I chanced upon a snowmobile so fresh that given the weather it could only have been made by the caretakers, and by following this I didn't have to look up to face the wind so often. Going was still demanding, naturally, and not at all enjoyable, and as if to add insult to injury the snow started to adhere to my skis. When I at length caught sight of the Sealggá massif I left the track behind, aiming straight for the supposed position of the cottages. In Čeakčavággi visibility was much better, and when I had a clear line of sight to the buildings I observed a group arriving, coming down at 14:15 myself.
The first thing I did was to go inside the service cottage to talk to the wardens; the group I had just seen turned out to be an STF-led one of eight people, and later on they were expecting the KE group. I got to choose in which cottage to reside, and as the latter party had been assigned the larger building in which I had found myself on every visit thus far I chose the STFers – change is good, eh?
Outside a westerly wind with a southerly component was blowing, including strong gales – both of which are somewhat unusual for Sälka. I took it easy while the STF group had an afternoon snack – they had arrived the day before and had spent today digging emergency shelters in the snow and suchlike – and then I walked over to the mini-shop to acquire a few items. I then had a snack of my own, and through the window I could see that visibility had improved and that there was even a small blue hole above. I rested and played some solitaire, and then it was time for men's sauna (when there are many guests a schedule is usually adhered to). This time it was rather good, and I saw most male members of both groups come and arrive. I even got a chance to elicit a "Crazy Swede!" comment from one of the Americans during a not-so-swift run out into the whirling snow – I suppose the journey was pretty exotic in all respects for them.
After the sauna the wind had increased and it was white in all directions, with much drifting snow. Back in the cottage we all had dinner at the same time, and then the wind died down a great deal. I read for a while and then sat down at the others' table to join in the conversation until it was time for my evening snack. The wind was then only moderate, and in the late evening the sky cleared almost entirely, revealing stars and moon – 'twas another one of those beautiful winter nights, and I spent quite some time outside photographing, watching, and feeling. I went to bed at 22, opting not to go to the trouble of lighting a fire in the heater.