Camp at Unna Reitas
What a marvelous hiking day!
The rain had stopped sometime during the early morning hours and when I woke up I wiped my tent to let it dry in the wind while I went through my morning routine! Around 9 am I was ready to start the tour, by then Anders had already passed by my tent and said good morning on his way uphill for his day trip.
Once I rounded the lake the first ascent starts right away and carries all the way up to the top of the first pass. It’s strenuous enough yet never really steep or difficult and there’s a real trail to follow more or less the whole way up.
Once at the top, passing Gaskkasjavri on the south side, there’s a stretch of rocks slowing down the pace, then the hike gets less technical again. On the pass, there is a memory plaque for the crew of a helicopter that crashed many years ago around here.
Descending to Guobirjavrrit is comparatively easy, just remember to take it slow as some rocks might slide a little, and the river crossing east of the lake is normally effortless. This is also an awesome spot for a water break as the next ascent is pretty much completely dry!
For the climb up the next pass leading into Kaskasavagge, there is no trail and only a few random stone markers. Pretty much this part of the tour boils down to take and aim at the top of the pass and start climbing. This is the steepest part of the day and the whole ascent is generally very stony with lots of rocks, most of them stable and some that start moving when stepped upon. Slow and steady is the best advice for this part, it takes time to get to the top of the pass, and the view, both looking back down at Goubirjavvrit and forward into Kaskasavagge is absolutely worth the effort!
The descent into Kaskasavagge is less steep and there are often snowfields that can soften the track.
Coming down into the valley I first met two Finnish guys and then a Swedish couple, all heading for Tarfala – pretty crowded for this stretch of the mountains. In the middle of the valley, a couple of streams are found and this is a good place to stop for a cup of tea and some snacks. I was lucky and had my break in the midday sunshine! Here in Kaskasavagge are a few decent campsites to be found, no soft grass, but pretty even and flat. This is the time to decide if the last pass should be done the same day or saved for tomorrow. It’s a pretty strenuous climb so be honest with Yourself and Your company! On this tour, I was lucky enough to identify a snowfield that I could use for the majority of the climb.
So much softer for the feet to walk on snow, and also easier to pick a direct route up the slope. Still, there’s a downside in going straighter uphill – and that’s the greater physical effort that needs to be put forth. I had to make brief stops to catch my breath every once in a while during that ascent, providing the opportunity to enjoy the magnificent view!
On the northern side of the pass, there’s a huge snowfield covering most of the downhill slope. Today it was a little treacherous as parts were frozen and other stretches pretty mushy, so I had to take it really easy on the descent. Once at the bottom of the snowfield only a short hike over loose rocks remains before reaching the ‘cabin’ of Unna Reitas.
It’s more of a shelter and in pretty bad shape, I find it useful to get out of the cold wind for cooking and dinner and be able to sit up straight.
Sleeping is better in a tent, and there are a few spots that are useable, yet pretty much consistent of gravel and a little tricky to use. I arrived already just after 15:00 (3 pm), really early compared to my plan, and decided to stay for the night anyway. A few hours later two guys arrived to do the same tour the other way around the next day. Turns out one of them, Patrik works as a guide at Keb station, and his friend, David, is doing his first mountain hike ever. What an amazing experience to do these three passes right away on his first hike! We had a very pleasant conversation in the cabin, lots of laughter and good stories and it was later than usual before I hit the tent tonight!