In the early morning there was still no change in outdoor conditions, but after breakfast some visibility had been restored to the east. After all guests had left – and they all left for Sälka – I went out to my logs, most of which I had to dig out from under the recently displaced snow first. I then checked on the gas canisters, one of which turned out to be depleted, so I changed it with some slight hardship. Just as I was about to sit down for lunch a pair of skiers came from Sälka, having proceeded in complete whiteout for part of the way. After seeing them in I went back to my meal and then went over for some conversation.
In the afternoon I started making another of my trademark crosswords, this time basing it upon the names of the STF cottage sites instead of a picture (available here, in Swedish). Then another pair arrived from Vistas, bringing slowly improving weather conditions with them. Also my dinner procedure was interrupted when three girls knocked on my door, having come from Tjäktja – the first to take that route this season. I spoke to them briefly – they had seen just a few meters ahead of them in the pass – and then ate.
After dinner I went over to the Vistas people for money extraction and talks, the latter of which extended for quite some time. Then I switched to the rest (separate rooms), where it was mostly the new arrivals who participated in the conversation. I made a few more additions to the crossword-in-progress before going to bed at 22, noting that the wind had all but ceased but that there was quite a bit of snow in the air.
The morning was white and snowy at first, but gradually this gave way to somewhat lighter weather. The pair who had come from Vistas decided to remain for another day, but everyone else was to leave. I went back to my crossword for a while, but then I heard the sound of a snowmobile outside and went out to greet Anders, one of the STF caretakers. I spoke to him for some time, reporting what I had discovered so far maintenance-wise, and then he went over to the storage building to relieve me of some of the past summer's garbage. The trio then departed for Sälka, happy to have a fresh snowmobile track to go by, and shortly thereafter Anders continued to Vistas. The clouds were now giving signs of imminent lifting, and the pair who had stayed behind were soon on their way out. So was I, starting to climb The Slope at 11.
Once up at the crest the haze started to give way for real, and I could see people on their way from both directions. I left my little rucksack at the rock I had employed previously and went down the usual way, finding snow conditions to be good indeed, so I immediately started another climb. Before going for the second run, however, I had lunch at the rock. While I was sitting there a total of four people came to the cottage from Vistas, and my two previous guests took off in the direction of the ravine. I then executed the second go, quickly checking in on the new arrivals (two Swedes, two Norwegians) before going up and down a couple of more times. The Norwegians also went out for an afternoon tour, passing the ravine and going straight up the ridge above it. Shortly thereafter the two Swedes exited the cottage as well, going off in different directions, and I myself returned home.
Back down I exchanged the camera's batteries and had a snack while a haze passed by, leaving some clouds around the peaks. Then another pair came from Vistas, feeling very good about that fact as they had been trying to get to Nallo for several years but always been thwarted by the weather. I talked some with them and one of the Swedes, and with the Norwegians who returned shortly thereafter; as it turned out the latter had met the avalanche-surviving Dutchman just before he had his accident. As to the present, they had just climbed Nállu, and later on the other Swede returned having done the same. The subsequent evening was cold and fair and the moon almost full, which necessitated some photographing before I went to bed in a somewhat tired state.
I woke up early, finding the clear and cold weather still to be in play. Both the Swedes and the Norwegians who were out and about the day before would be staying, and both would be attempting to scale the mighty Šielmmáčohkka, rising 1997 meters above sea level. The "old" Swedes were going to Tjäktja, and they departed as early as 8 as they knew they would be taking their time, having a heavy sled and all. The "new" Swedes were going to Unna Räita with the intent of spending the night, but they left open the possibility of returning if the standard of the little cabin would not meet their tastes. As for me, I planned on paying a visit to Tjäktja too, which I embarked upon around 08:45.
Back at Nallo I found a family of three – and Ulla, who was obviously not satisfied with just one winter tour, not to mention her upcoming wardenship in Pältsa in April. I also found a note at my door from Henry of Sälka, who had been on a visit while I was gone, and later on Ulla told me that Peter and his wife Göta whom I had met in Vistas had also passed during the day. The peak-climbers were back too, citing the experience as marvelous. A bit later a group of five came from Alesjaure via Vistas, which prompted some slight relocation inside so that they could get joint accommodation. Another very beautiful evening followed, which was mostly spent talking to the various guests, and even though I was tired after a full day I was the last to enter bed around 22.
I slept well through the night, arising to a rather cold but perfectly clear morning. The family was already on the move and the quintet announced their intention of staying for another night. Personally I prepared to go on another day tour, but first I waited for the Unna Räita pair to return – which they did in short fashion, having had a wonderful experience in that very special place. Now they were to have a long breaking of fast inside before continuing to Tjäktja, and we spoke a bit about the Šielmmávággi route. All the others were also on their way out, and I left at 09:45.
Three of the five were sitting by the wall, basking in the sun, as was a newly arrived Finnish couple. I talked a bit with the former, and as it turned out they had decided to split up, with the youngsters continuing to Sälka shortly, leaving the parents behind. One of said youngsters accompanied me for another run in the slope, and when we were halfway up I noticed that her folks had also started ascending behind us. Going down was somewhat tricky as the shadows cast by the sinking sun in conjunction with the cold air had already caused the crust to start freezing, but it was fun anyway. When we got back down the Finns were just leaving for Unna Räita (to return), and then the ones headed for Sälka also departed.
I sat down inside picking my dysfunctional binoculars apart, quickly locating the problem, but I lacked the means to perform a full repair. Bummer. Just then two people on snowshoes came straight out of the west, resolving into two young Frenchmen who had started in Tjäktja and then gone over Čeakčačohkka itself, which was not exactly what they had planned to, but once committed the terrain had left them little choice. The missing constituent of the five-group also came back at the same time, having indeed reached the summit of Šielmmáčohkka, and he had a quick meal inside before reluctantly chasing his companions to Sälka before darkness fell. The Finns returned after dinner, in an appreciable wind, and now some clouds had started appearing as well. The usual conversational rounds followed, and then the sheets were calling my name.
Yet another cold and clear morning – harbinger of yet another day tour. Before leaving, however, I decorated select parts of the cottage with some feathers and other stuff I found in a box, and I also put out a bit of candy as a greeting to new guests – it was Easter, after all. The French guys were about to leave as well, heading back to Tjäktja since they had forgotten some things there, but this time at least they would be taking the easy way. Me, I went off in the direction of Sälka after 10 o'clock.
The leader of the pack outside the cottage first mistook me for Jeppe, who was the warden the year before (and whom I actually met). This pack consisted of ten Swiss alpinists on randonnée skis, which explained their slowness in traversing the valley, and one of them spoke very good Swedish due to having a Swedish wife. Seven of them were just about to depart on an afternoon outing despite the bad visibility, using the by now rather well-defined tracks towards Tjäktja.
Having seen them off I went inside and washed myself, after which I talked a bit with one of the remaining participants in the group, who was surprised to learn that there was no shop in Nallo. Now the weather was clearing again, and once the excursing contingent was back they could relate that the second half of their little tour had been very good, even though the snow was somewhat rough; they had gone up onto the Čeakčačohkka glacier, which had been to their liking, and then come down in the usual slope, which now looked exactly like having been subjected to a group of alpinists.
I had pancakes for dinner and some dessert as well, but I got so full that I had to leave half of the latter for the next day. I then finished the yearbook before collecting payment, speaking a bit with the Swede-by-marriage. A westerly wind had picked up which ruffled the feathers, as it were, and one of them had actually taken to flight. All the Swiss had already gone to bed, and I did so as well after 22:15.
That no clouds were present when I opened my eyes did not surprise me in the least, and neither did the thermometer reading of –15°C. I had breakfast with eggs, shortly after which the Swiss departed, aiming for Unna Räita and Reaiddáglaciären on their way to Sälka. Since I had been out on tour for three days straight I felt no real need to do a fourth, so instead I started an extensive baking session, taking another crack at the log pile during fermentation. This time I had elected to use the oven-fitted stove rather than the frying pan, with rather excellent results. While the rolls were in the oven I prepared a chocolate cake mix to be inserted afterwards, and then I started lunch.
Just then two people came from Vistas, feeling rather cold from skiing in shadow almost all the way, and right behind them came two more, one of which was an American from California. I had lunch together with them, upon which another two came from Sälka (one on randonnée and one on telemark), and then yet another pair from Vistas who were just going to have a break. Some of the others were going out for an afternoon tour, and after I had taken care of the bread and cake I gave in and did so as well.
I went up the usual way, down the usual way, and then up past the crest, ascending the ridge from Nállu, from where I could see some fairly fresh animal tracks going up (or down) the glacier between peaks 1750 and 1884. The weather was still exceptionally clear and out in the full glare of the sun it was not that cold. I went down in good snow, passing the rando/telemark couple, taking a steep way towards the ravine before arcing back to the cottage.
There I received some help from the first arrivals to displace some of the heavier logs, after which I finished stacking the meter-lengths produced in the morning. I then spoke some more with them and the others who had remained inside, watching two more people (father-and-son, as it turned out) coming down beside the ravine in the usual unsteady style, complete with a few falls. Quite a bit more talking followed, and then it was time to prepare dinner; I had been invited by the "first six", two of whom had brought some rather atypical outdoor food to honor the holiday, and once I had my contribution ready I joined them for a communal – and genial – meal. We ended up sharing nearly a full evening, and I also had the opportunity to consume the rest of the dessert from the day before. Once again I was the last to go to bed at 22:00.
During the early night there was a bit of wind and also some weak aurora, but what transpired then I cannot say as I slept soundly through the rest of said night. It was clear and cold in the morning, of course – that same night Nikkaluokta had set another coldness record with an impressive –41°C, but at my location it had been perhaps half of that. I did, however, quickly learn from the son that the father had twisted his knee during the previous descent, and while it had not seemed very serious at the time it was serious indeed now – after it had had the chance to swell for a whole night, he could hardly get out of bed.
They were hesitating about whether to call for aid or not, and decided to wait until after breakfast before making the final decision on the matter; the alternative would be to remain for another day and hope for recuperation. Speaking of breakfast: since I still had quite a few eggs left I saw an opportunity to get rid of them before they would start going bad, so I simply asked all present parties if they would like a boiled egg with the morning porridge/coffee/whatever – and I was met by pleasantly surprised words of acceptance all around.
After breakfast the injured fellow had resolved that he did indeed want to get transported away, so I placed a call to the police explaining the situation. It is not uncommon for such communication to drag out, both due to technical difficulties as well as practical and formal such, and this was no exception, but eventually I received word that two members of the fjeld rescue service would come by way of snowmobile around noon. As the knee-man's predicament was not in any way acute I went out to saw some more wood while we waited, during which the other guests departed.
About half an hour before the announced time I heard engine sounds from down the valley, and soon enough the red dresses of the rescue personnel appeared in the distance. While they were going through the procedures a lone man with a sled came from Sälka, and he was meaning to tent outside. Then the rescue party left, bringing both the father, the son and all their gear down to Nikkaluokta, and just about then a group of dogsleds arrived from the other direction. They would not be staying, however, so I saw fit to go inside and have lunch...
...in the middle of which five foreigners (also with sleds) came from Vistas, but they would also only be resting for a while before going on. When I had finished a total of nine Germans came from the same direction, and they were to stay. I spoke some with them and the others, while the would-be camper went for a run in the slope, which he found somewhat tricky. He was now beginning to have second thoughts about his tenting plans, and in the end he decided to go for a bed instead. Then a group of three with a dog arrived from Sälka, and they at least were intent on pitching their tent outside. After they had done so they went off for a short tour, and I entered into a long conversation with the man – he had started way down in Hemavan and was to complete all Kungsleden up to Abisko, with this detour to Nallo. In fact, he said that Nallo was pretty much the goal of the trip, and the remaining few days would mostly be transportation.
Later in the afternoon a couple of Nikkaluokta residents came by on snowmobile, and I invited them in for some snack'n'talk. It was pretty cold outside but also very fair, with only a few wisps around select peaks. The evening saw more of the same, and inside the warm cottage we talked and read with good spirits. As the moon had gone darkness fell very strongly, causing myriads of stars to fill the heavens with their cold light – both welcoming and unforgiving at the same time.