The White Ribbon – a Beautiful Accomplishment
“I have learned a lot about myself. I realize that I am strong both physically and mentally, and can do so much more than I think. That I can really be positive every day, and face adversity in a good way. And that I feel best when life is simple and nature is close by.”’
On February 11th, Sara Wänseth took the first slide towards what would be a tough, challenging and self-developing ski trip through the Swedish mountain range. A few days before Easter she was, tired and proud, finally able to jump up on the Easter-yellow concrete block at the Three Country-Cairn – where she had taken herself, completely on her own and without any outside help, from Grövelsjön in the south. After 60 days of solo skiing she had officially completed The Mountaineers White Ribbon!
How did it feel to cross the finish line?
“A little strange and with feelings of both pride, relief, sadness and happiness. I had imagined my meeting with the Three Country-Cairn with sun and some April heat. Instead, I got wind and cold, and didn’t stay longer than necessary. Now a few days have passed and I can look back on the fantastic 60 days that somehow went both fast yet felt like a very long time.”
What has been the absolute toughest?
“My very last week, the distance of 180 km from Abisko to the Three Country-Cairn. Storm winds from the north, a biting cold and heavy snowfall made it the coldest and most difficult week. I had a steady head-wind during my 55 km over Torneträsk and everything was white, I had to use a compass to even ski in the right direction. And the wind up on the big, open plateau made tenting a stupid idea so some days I had to walk long distances to find shelter.”
What has been the best part?
“Nice ski days when the body was strong, and the skis fast. And of course – the nature and the views which have been absolutely fantastic! The Swedish mountain range offers so much, there are so many incredibly beautiful places. I have enjoyed every day, in some way. Encounters with wonderful and sincerely friendly people have also been great experiences.”
What have you learned?
“I thought that I would find all the answers about life on my trip, that it would just ‘click’. That might not be the case… But I have still learned a lot about myself. I realize that I am strong both physically and mentally, and can do so much more than I think. That I can really be positive every day, and face adversity in a good way. And that I feel best when life is simple and nature is close by.”
Do you have any tips for inspired adventurers?
“I think that many would manage this kind of trip, as long as you are prepared, have some knowledge and experience, and have the right equipment. Setting intermediate goals instead of thinking about the whole distance is wise. An intermediate goal can be after a tough ascent, or when you get to eat a good lunch, or rest at a mountain station.
Another good thing could be to practice on the downhill slopes, so that you are able to enjoy them instead of them being a pain on stiff legs. I saw many who took off the skis downhill and that feels a bit unnecessary. Then I think that rest days are very important on such a long trip. The body needs to recover after several tough days in a row. Also, I think going alone gave an extra dimension to the trip. I felt very good about spending that much time with myself.”
Do you have plans to complete the Green Ribbon as well?
“Not right now… I think of bogs, mosquitoes and rain… But on the other hand, I am already eager to go on a longer trip again, so you never know! And the mountains in the summer are absolutely fantastic!”