4 - 5
FATMAP difficulty grade
Kebnekaise is Sweden’s highest mountain and is part of the Scandinavian Mountains.
The Kebnekaise massif has two main peaks: the southern peak and the northern peak.
The southern, glaciated peak is currently the highest with the official height noted on topography maps as 2,099m above sea level.
However, this does fluctuate depending on the amount of snow.
The northern peak is free of ice and is the highest fixed point in Sweden at 2,096m above sea level. This epic route describes the fabulous and challenging multi-day hike to ascend (and descend) the southern summit of Sweden’s highest peak via the western route (västra leden) from the trailhead at Nikkaluokta.
It is a long and tiring climb, mostly in high mountain conditions, but the incredible views throughout and the breathtaking panorama at the summit are the ultimate reward.
Roughly 10% of Sweden is viewable from the summit. It is suggested this "out and back" route is attempted over three days, as reaching the summit and returning to base camp on the second day will take between 10 and 12 hours.
The first and third day allow plenty of time to reach (and return from) base camp at the STF Kebnekaise Mountain Station (KMS) area, and even for some relaxation or exploration of the base camp area.
The KMS is perfectly placed at the mid-route point and offers pre-booked overnight accommodation on a board or self-catering basis for those wanting a more "luxury" and convenient experience.
Self-sufficient camping is the option preferred by the more adventurous hikers wanting the authentic, natural experience, and it's easily achieved here.
Camping is possible (and free) all along the route, although it does become more challenging higher up the mountain when the lush green meadows give way to bouldery rock.
There are plenty of flat, open, or tree-covered areas around the KMS to set up camp, the best of which is about 200-400m past KMS.
Water and toilets are available at KMS.
To reduce backpack weight during the hike to and from the summit on the second day it is possible for your camp to remain established, leaving just the essentials to be carried to the summit.
Although crime is unheard of here, do so at your own risk. The starting point at Nikkaluokta offers plenty of parking (at a small daily cost), well-equipped mountain refuge accommodation, water, cafe, space for camping, toilets, and the starting point for other hikes.
A regular bus service operates from Kiruna (closest town) directly to Nikkaluokta.
The trail is waymarked and easy to find past the refuge, following red painted stones or cairns all the way to the summit.
The 19km to KMS is easy going along a well-trodden, at times bouldery, trail, as the view along the valley and the massif unfold ahead with the southern peak appearing.
There is a payable ferry option to cut short the hike by 6km beside the lake; otherwise, the hike to KMS without stopping takes around 5 hours.
After establishing camp there is time to explore the area; the river through the valley floor, the flora nature-trail around KMS, or local trails.
Info is available to all at KMS.
Relax and recover before a tough, challenging day two. Of course, instead of continuing on to the summit on day two you may decide to enjoy the valley floor and return via the way you came. Sources: https://www.swedishtouristassociation.com/facilities/stf-kebnekaise-mountain-station/