Tours › 2014 › Vistas › Day 35

Friday 15/8

Stage map 35

Kaskavagge – Tarfala

Horizontal distance:8 km
Vertical distance:+640 m, -400 m
Time:5 h
Lunch break: 30 min
Dinner:Pasta Carbonara
Night accommodation:Cottage
Stage classification:Medium/Hard
Map points:Kaskavagge, Tarfala

The night was considerably chillier than the ones on my trek to Vistas, but no worries; somewhere around 7°C. The morning was cloudy, and a fresh layer of thin powder was in evidence higher up. As I prepared to start breakfast procedures the clouds sank further, but the Tarfala pass was not yet in any danger, so to speak. However, after a cloudberry-fortified morning meal said clouds began breaking apart slowly, and more and more of the peaks emerged – especially, as before, Niibbáš. As I finished up the pack over at the shelter I observed the duo making their way across the bridge, and by the time I was ready to leave they had reached the top of the slope. Looking down the valley I also saw a quartet coming along the trail, having just passed the steeper section, but rather than waiting for them I started my own walk at 09:45, wearing the wind jacket.

Tent 5
Mist in the valley still
Shelter 4
Some sun
Gaskkasvággi 6

After passing the wide and deep Gaskkasjohka ravine on the bridge I found that the continued path was just that: a path, marked with cairns. The wind shifted as I made my way up the slope, partially over rocks, and it was a bit warm. Above the crest the ground was better, but the path worse, and the intermittent cairns led to a collection of very visible stone walls where people had obviously been camping. From there the cairns changed direction, heading up to the right over rocky ground, but there were also stretches with moss-covered dirt and the like which facilitated progress. Around here I caught sight of another hiker moving down a few hundred meters higher up, and soon I also saw the other two further ahead.

Shelter 5
Better shelter view
Gaskkasvággi 7
Going up
Gaskkasvággi 8
Cairn 4
Niibbáš 2
Niibbáš across a tarn
Stone wall 1
Stone walls...
Stone wall 2
...along the route

At the top of the gentle rise I had been climbing the rocks were flatter, and I now had a full view of the imposing moraines marking the (previous) end of Darfálglaciären. The others were climbing to the top of the first of these while I continued to follow the cairns below, which was easy enough. The start of the glacier stream was covered by a large snowfield, and I followed another one of those up alongside the second moraine, taking to the rocks when it grew icy.

From there I made my way up onto the ridge when the slope permitted, and was greeted by a mesmerizing view of a melting glacier. Getting off the ridge again was a bit tricky, and after that the cairns soon ended, but here the rocks were easy to walk upon. The wind was rather cold owing to the ice, but soon got better as I left it behind. Out on a flat region below the pass I found a suitable rock to sit upon, and had my lunch at noon. As I sat there clouds started drifting in over the glacier, coupled with a few very light drops. The clouds shifted, and the obscuring of the top was only temporary; soon the sun came back out in full, having been diminished or hidden all day.

Fjelds 1
Darfálglaciären 1
Darfálglaciären and its moraines
Čievrraláhku 1
Snow 4
Up on snow
Darfálglaciären 2
Čievrraláhku 2
Nothing but rocks

I then headed up towards the pass, walking over nice flat rocks, finding some large cairns closer to the crest. Suddenly Södra Klippberget appeared beyond the far edge, but the higher peaks were all enveloped in a large, billowing cloud covering the whole massif. I passed by a meteorological sensor unit and proceeded down a bit on the western side, to where I had a good (as in fantastic) view of Darfálvággi and its alpine surroundings, sitting down on a large slab of rock to see if the cloud was on the verge of letting its grip go. It wasn't; even though it lifted a wee bit it kept reinforcing itself in the steady wind, so a full view of the Giebmegáisi massif – or even one of its summits – was evidently out of reach this day. Still, the view that was offered was no less imposing and titillating, and the feeling was spoilt only by the frequent passage of helicopters through the valley.

Fjelds 2
Čievrraláhku 3
Last bit up
Glaciers 1
Glaciers appearing
Panorama 10
Panorama of the glaciers from the pass
Tarfala research station 1
Tarfala research station
Tarfala cottage 1
Tarfala cottage
Isfallsglaciären 1
Storglaciären 1
Upper Storglaciären
Halspasset 1
Giebmebáktiglaciären 1
Gaskkasčohkka 4
More glaciers on Gaskkasčohkka

The wind was chilly and had really gone to work on my hands, so before continuing I put the gloves on, for the first time this summer. The slope mostly consisted of large furrows of loose rocks and gravel, and I followed natural passages through and between them wherever I could, keeping a careful eye on where I placed my feet. This was why it took some time for me to discover that Giebmebákti was now actually in the clear, if only barely, but the main peaks were still completely hidden. The continued descent was tricky, and I sought out grass and moss where possible, eventually coming onto more contiguous grassland after a region of larger rocks. I had been aiming more for the Tarfala cottage during the latter half of the way down, but now I stayed with the grass on a direct westward heading until I reached the marked trail, where more rocks took by for the last stretch.

Tarfala research station 2
Closer to the research station
Tent camp 1
Tent camp below Storglaciären
Darfálčorru 1
This is where I came down
Tarfala cottage 2
Approaching the Tarfala cottage
Isfallsglaciären 2
Passing Isfallsglaciären
Tarfala cottage 3
Rocky end

At 14:45 I arrived at the guest cottage, outside which three people and a dog were resting in the quite considerable wind. Lars the warden, whom I had previously met before my Nallo stint, was just walking over, and he recognized me pretty much at once as well. Two of the others (and the dog) were campers, and decided to put up their tent on one of the cleared patches closer to the lake, whereas the third was a Kebnekaise employee heading back down, so I was the only indoor guest at the moment – apart from three friends of Lars's who were currently busying themselves with carrying in some candy and the like that had been delivered by helicopter. I moved inside and had some afternoon tea, during which the two men from before finally arrived, also opting for the cottage. The wind was now really hitting it, and a helicopter that flew by overhead had visible problems adjusting for the sudden gusts – Tarfala in a nutshell.

Tarfala cottage 4
Warden's cottage
Gaskkasčohkka 5
Gaskkasčohkka behind the privies

Still I went out to look over the premises, ending up in Lars's cottage for some warden talk. The occupants of the large military-looking tent camp I had seen from above turned out to be just that, and were now heading back from a day on the Giebmebákti glacier. The wind was not to be toyed with at the moment, and the clouds were lower again, so I just returned inside and prepared dinner. The two duos soon came in to do the same, and I spent the time reading in an information binder.

Tarfala cottage 5
Guest cottage
Tent 6
Tent among the rocks
Isfallsglaciären 3
Cold light on Isfallsglaciären

It was a cold evening, not only due to the wind, and later on two tired-looking guys came walking around the lake, eventually coming inside to have a couple of warm beds for the night. Good for them. As I was going to bed the wind had dwindled to weak, but now it was actually snowing, and the temperature was down to 2°C – the summer highs really lay in the past. Feeling tired I went to bed at 21:45, not bothering with a fire despite the chill.

Tarfala cottage 6
Lighter in the evening
Tarfala research station 3
The research station close by
Evening 1


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