There are a lot of great climbing routes in the Kebnekaise massif. Pick a route based on knowledge and experience, or on what you feel like doing. One of the most well-known routes is the ‘Silhouette’ on Duolbagorni. A 1,000-metre wall. We’ll choose a different route for today.

We’ll go for the Northern Crater Ridge, one of the easiest routes in the area. It’s been a while since we last went climbing, it’s rained a little and the weather is a bit unstable. So instead of the challenging Silhouette, we decide on this easygoing route. There will be other climbing days in Keb.

Once we’ve passed Kittelbäcken the ascent begins. We walk on the south side of a mountain stream tracing its way down from the giant’s cauldron near the peak of this beautiful mountain. We quickly gain altitude and the view just keeps getting better the higher we climb. Towards the upper part of the stream we encounter rock rather than rolling gravel, so we get the kit out: rope, carabiners and harnesses.

Sometimes you’re lucky

We have our first coffee break up on the edge of the giant’s cauldron. Glacier Crowfoot (Ranunculus glacial) grows around the cauldron, a beautiful high-altitude flower rarely found lower than 1,300 metres above sea level, growing at the highest altitude of all flowering plants in the Nordic region. We keep walking, across the snowfield inside the cauldron towards the Northern Crater Ridge. The weather keeps getting better, no wind and clear blue skies even if the forecast was a bit dubious.

Sometimes you’re lucky. Down in the valley Kitteldalen, we can see some of today’s Kebnekaise climbers hike up the western route. A steady stream of climbers has reached the southern slope of Vierranvárris and far up in the distance we can make out the first climbers to reach Kebnekaise’s Southern Peak.

There’s a myth that says that Duolbagorni actually used to be called Giebmigáisi because Giebmi-gáisi translates as Cauldron-top in Sámi.

There’s a saddle between the South and North peaks of Sweden’s highest mountain, but it’s certainly no cauldron. There was some kind of mix-up between the Sámi and the surveyors. It’s a bit sad that we don’t know what Sweden’s highest peak used to be called by the Lule Sámi and the Northern Sámi. Instead, it became something to argue about, and Duolbagorni (Tolpagorni) was just given a new name. The most prominent peak in Sweden had to keep the name that had become synonymous with Sweden’s highest mountain.

A route that has been climbed for years

We tie-in and start climbing; it’s easy to find handholds as well as footholds. It’s perfect ‘scrambling’. This route has been climbed for many years, so there’s plenty of in-situ bolts and gear to clip into. The route is ‘airy’ in a pleasant way with a beautiful view of Láddjuvággi and Nikkaluokta. We work our way up pitch after pitch and soon we’re up where the ridge flattens out towards the peak. We walk the short distance to the top and have another round of coffee.

During the coffee break, we philosophise about Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest mountain. The South Peak is glaciated and during recent years an increased amount has melted and not grown back. In 1970 the peak was 2,124 metres and a 2010 map stated the height as 2,106 metres above sea level. In summer 2016 the height was measured to 2,091 metres above sea level, that is, only one metre higher than the Northern Peak. That’s the era we live in.

On the way down we descend the back of Duolbagorni and walk the so-called western route down to the mountain station. If it had been winter we’d have abseiled down into the cauldron and skied down following the stream, then gone diagonally down towards the mountain station. One of Sweden’s finest off-piste runs. But for now, we continue trotting downhill, towards the warm embrace of the mountain station.

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