Ingvar Loco Nordin & Anna Nygren
Lisa's Helmet Hike
(Mårma - Three Pass Trail 2011)

The pass between Kaskasavagge and Kuopervagge in the aftternoon mist

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Chapter 16

Yellow line shows the distance covered in chapter 16, which also is the total hiking distance of the day.

7 August 2011

In the morning we were fogged in, and there was no use going anywhere so we spent most of the day inside our tents, reading and dozing off into periods of trance or torpor.

Anna and I took turns going over to the closest little lake or pond, a few hundred meters off, to get our necessary water.

At 4 PM it had cleared up enough for us to see the pass across from Kaskasavagge (Gaskkasvággi) to Kuopervagge (Guobirvággi), so we got on our way across the valley, our bodies feeling tired from the days prior, not quite ready yet to accept all the slippery rocks we had to balance across, approaching the new ascent – and the damp, wet, misty weather didn’t make spirits any higher. We’d been wasted with such good weather up till this day.

Near the pass, on the Kaskasavagge side


Higher up in the pass


As we got closer to the pass, the slope began getting steep, and when we got into what looked like a rock chute, taking us upwards into the pass high up, it got really strenuous. I stopped to breath – yes, pant! – now and then, resting on my sticks.

Anna in a view back down Kaskasavagge


At about 5:30 PM we stepped onto the highest point of the pass, suddenly staring down into the mighty Kuopervagge (Guobirvággi) Valley with its Lake Guobirjávrrit, looking turquoise deep down below us.

Looking down inro Kuopervagge (Guobirvággi) Valley with Lake Guobirjávrrit


The way down looked hard, over slippery, huge, smaller and all size rocks, some of them with lichen on them, making them highly treacherous. I had a hard time descending, bit by bit, step by step, rock by rock, while Anna made it with some more grace and elegance! I recall I had a tough time ascending here with the German in 2008 as well. I never liked this pass. The views from it, though, are incredible, down into Kuopervagge (Guobirvággi) and across to The Tarfala Pass and with giant Gaskkasbákti Mountain (2043 meters) to the left (east) and The Dragon’s Back Mountain (Drakryggen) straight across, with an unnamed glacier hanging just above the passage used by hikers.

Stunning scenery across Kuopervagge to The Tarfala Pass


We had originally planned to round The Guobirjávrrit Lake on its left (east) side, but found an easier descent leading us down by its right (west) side, so we decided on that. I was very slow here, and tired, so Anna suggested she’d go down a little faster and wait for me down by the lake with hot water for food, which she did. We saw a lone hiker wearing an orange jacket approach along the other side of the valley toward its dead end under The Tarfala Pass.

Anna in her rain poncho, descending on slippery rocks





We had our dinner by The Guobirrjávrit Lake, and then got on our way along the south side of the water body, traversing the slanting rock fields below The Dragon’s Back, in order not to have to fight our way straight up the very steep incline later on. We saw below us that the lone hiker had pitched his green Hilleberg Akto tent on a flat area just by the lake.

At the final approach to the pass we did encounter severe steepness anyhow, maybe for just fifty or seventy-five meters, but draining us greatly.

The weather started to deteriorate a this stage, fog blowing in speedily, and the trail, which isn’t visible on the ground except for some cairns, got completely lost by the small glacier lake up there below The Dragon’s Back’s unnamed glacier in the tightening weather. I’d hiked that same direction up there twice before, and the opposite direction once, and Anna the opposite direction once, last year, so I felt assured and safe. As we’d covered the first small incline above the glacier lake and were about to engage the last, but larger, rocky ascent to the actual Tarfala Pass (you think of the place above the long steep ascent from Kuopervagge (Guobirvággi) as the pass because that is the difficult part, but it isn’t really the pass) the fog got very dense, and the winds started blowing high; a strange combination. It suddenly was a lousy situation, and although I knew the area from previous hikes, I didn’t know exactly where we were. Direction got lost, and rocks took on strange shapes that I didn’t recognize. We looked at our compass to find the general direction of our ambitions, but we were lost on the spot.

After a confused while we suddenly stumbled upon the memory plaque for the three Mountain Resque men that died there when their helicopter’s rotor blades hit the side of The Gaskkasbákti Mountain about ten years ago. Now I had a better grip on directions, and we stepped on a few meters to be able to look down to The Black Lake (Lake Gaskkasjávri), which we had to approach on snowfields and then climb up to a small flat plateau from the side of the lake, to be able to get out on the side of The Giebmebákti Glacier and descend along its edge for maybe 150 meters, in order to step on to the giant side moraine that’d take us down in The Tarfala Valley. We could hardly make out the close side of the lake in the weather, which kept getting worse, wind still rising, rain falling and the mist tightening, while it was getting cold. We made up our minds really fast to pitch my tent and stay inside it, both of us, during the night. We quickly found a possible place, visibility just about ten meters, and helped each other get The Hilleberg Nallo 2 up as fast as possible, having every connection to the sticks secured by boulders that we assembled.

The wind was getting colder, and we felt the chill when we stopped to pitch the tent, as the sweat from our climb evaporated. We retorted to our sleeping bags as fast as we could, the wind tearing at the tent. Although our bags are high quality ones, made to withstand much colder weather, it took us an hour to get warm and comfortable inside them. It was late, perhaps about 10 PM, and for the moment the weather had us stuck.


To chapter 17