Jamtland Outdoor Experience 2015

Press play to view a slideshow of photographs taken during our 5 day trek Jamtland.

We would like to say a big thank you to all the instructors and fellow participants of JOE Winter 2015 tour which we have recently taken part in.  Jamtland, Sweden was the location, we were a group of 30 strangers from across Europe put into 4 tent groups of 8 people.  The aim was to learn about Swedish brands: Woolpower, Klattermusen, Lundhags, Hilleberg, Silva & Trangia.  Our classroom was the Jamtland National Park.

The trek began with began with us receiving our equipment and clothing which we packed into our backpacks ready for our first camp which had been prepared for us along with food (Reindeer chilli).  Next morning we took down our tents, loaded the pulkas and set out on a 4 day 40km trek on snowshoes / skis.  Cold temperatures (-20) and driving snow made it a real test of the equipment and also our outdoor skills.  Evenings were spent in the group tent melting snow on the stoves to provide drinking and cooking water for the next day and bonding as a group.  Funny stories about falling through the ice into rivers and setting Trangia stoves on fire, but we all helped each other to adapt and cope.  Walking on frozen streams, seeing the stars in the very clear night sky are memories to treasure.

Upon arrival at Ostersund airport after a long journey all the participants from across Europe were introduced.  We headed for a welcome lunch by a frozen lake and given a brief about what was ahead.  From there we visited Hilleberg who make tents and there we were provided with our clothing, footwear, stoves and backpacks.  Time was tight as we all packed our backpacks and we were then given a quick demonstration on how to pitch the group tents.  Then we visited Lundhags who have a long tradition of making outdoor footwear, most of the process still by hand.  Watching the boot makers “last” the boots was a reminder of what I used to see my father do here at the shop all those years ago.  Next stop was a hike with all our kit in the dark and heavy snow to our campsite, which had been prepared for us along with Reindeer Chilli.  The first night was rather cold and cramped in a tiny tent shared with Martin who works in an outdoor store in Stockholm.

The next morning we headed towards Are which is Sweden’s largest ski resort to visit Klattermusen, clothing manufacturer and then the 40km trek began.  A quick lesson on navigation with a Silva compass and we were off  in our tent group of 8 people.  We loaded up two pulkas and carried the rest of the kit in our backpacks, making it to our camp in the dark.  Putting up a tent which none of us had seen before with just a headtorch and temperatures well below freezing was  a good test of the group, we did just fine and soon bonded while melting snow on our Trangia stoves so that we could cook our evening meals.

Friday morning there was a partial eclipse, but we barely had time to absorb this as we needed to press on hauling our kit along frozen river beds towards our next stop high above the tree line.  We were also aware the local reindeer were on the move so had to be careful not to disturb their migration.  That night was so cold, beautiful clear sky.

By Saturday we had all got used to pitching the various tents, melting snow and pulling the pulkas (sometimes out of rivers…).  The banter in the group kept us all smiling along with the instructors who kept their distance but were there if required.  All the instructors were actually from the Swedish outdoor companies who organised the trek.  Their passion and commitment to the outdoors left a big impression on me.  Some were the actual company owners, something I doubt many of the leading UK outdoor companies would ever do, very impressive.

Sunday was the last day and we headed down the mountain using a frozen creak to navigate down.  It was a fabulous experience (apart from a few blisters) hearing the water flowing under the ice below us, seeing animal tracks in the snow and the total freedom provided by this wilderness.  Alas our trek was complete and it was hugs and big smiles all round at what we had achieved together and how complete strangers had become such close friends in a short time.  A mountain spa with sauna, hot tubs and a bar!  Despite our tiredness we all managed to party into the small hours.

Monday after little sleep soon came and was our last day, we had a quick tour of the Trangia stove factory to see where they had been made since 1925.  Then a visit to Woolpower, if any of you know me you will know how much I love Woolpower!  It was great to see it being made and meet all the workers.

Jamtland made a big impression on me and I hope to return and explore more, once again a big thank you needs to be said to Hilleberg, Klattermusen, Lundhags, Woolpower, Silva and Trangia.  This experience has enthused me so much and will certainly shape my business in the coming years.

We certainly learnt so much on this trek and this will further our expertise so that we can provide the best advice and kit for your adventures, John Slack.