Local mountaineers take on Arctic adventure

Alistair and Roger on the highest point of Finland.
Alistair and Roger on the highest point of Finland.

Veteran local mountaineers and members of Stonehaven Mountaineering and Hillwalking Club, Alistair Beeley and Roger Owen, continued with their epic adventures last month by climbing the highest mountains of Sweden and Finland, both in Lapland and inside the Arctic Circle.

Kebnekaise, at 2100m the highest point of Sweden, required a 19km trek to a mountain hostel although 5km of that included an incredibly scenic boat trip along a lake surrounded by snowy peaks. The next day saw Alistair and Roger climbing Kebnekaise by the more technical route option which required a glacier crossing, a traverse along a rather steep and airy snow field and a climb up a ledgy rock face which had an anchored steel cable most of the way.  They rejoined the normal route, and possibly more normal trekkers, at around 1800m before ascending the final summit snow arête and celebrating success.  After trekking back out again the two of them drove another 350 miles into the far north of Norway and the tiny settlement of Birtevarre. Taking the advice of Swedish trekkers they were smart enough to import an essential  supply of beer into Norway bearing in mind both the huge price difference and their Scottish financial acumen.  Having negotiated with local man Jonnie to take them 26km along a mountain road in his beat up Lada four wheel drive, along with his very excited dog, Alistair and Roger then set off to walk from Norway into Finland to climb Halti, the highest point of that country. At 1380mHalti is not that high but it is very remote and the scenery was stupendous. As far as the eye could see to the Norwegian North and West were ranges of glaciated and sharply pointed peaks while underfoot was a truly arctic landscape of boulder fields interspersed with short grasses and reindeer moss. There had been dire warnings of the perils of navigating up here where blizzards could arrive out of nowhere and compass work had to bear in mind a magnetic deviation of 10 degrees. But 40 years of Scottish hillwalking is great training for those conditions! In the event the weather was fantastic and the views from the summit superb. At the cairn marking Halti the guys met a Finnish climber who had taken 3 days to get there from Finland! These two arctic peaks were well worth the effort in getting there and it was another successful expedition for two older mountaineers who just keep on going.