After I had heard about this mad project, I easily convinced some friends in my hometown Kiruna (in north Sweden) to try to make it to the confluence point 68N 20E. The choice of point was easy as it is the primary confluence closest to Kiruna. Furthermore it is one of two confluences farthest north in Sweden.
The confluence point is located about 25 km west from Kiruna, and about 3 km from the closest road. Reaching the confluence during summer could be tricky as a quite big river (Rautas) and a lot of wetlands have to be passed. So one advantage of going in midwinter was that we could use snowmobiles.
However there are also a couple of disadvantages.
1) Risk of low temperatures. Although the temperature normally is about -5 to -15 degrees Celsius, it sometimes goes down to as low as -40 degrees and worse.
2) Darkness. The sun is not visible for about a month during midwinter at this latitude.
By starting the expedition at 11 AM we could avoid the darkness, but unfortunately the Christmas this year was a cold one. The 22nd of Dec we had decided to go, but in the morning we cancelled the expedition as we thought it was a little bit too cold, -15 degrees. The days after became much colder and the 26th were our last chance to go. So on the 25th we decided to go the next day regardless of weather conditions!
So our expedition started by going by car to Rautas Ã–stra, where we unloaded the snowmobiles. The car thermometer showed -32 at the parking lot where we should start! We also had a "hand held" thermometer but it was too cold for it so it didn't show anything at the moment.
But we where determined and decided to go. The trip to confluence went quite rapid. The only problems we had were that we discovered that we needed to change the map datum at the GPS from the datum used in Sweden to WGS84. Thomas almost lost his fingers while fiddling with the slow working GPS. And close to the point Lasse's snowmobile started to give us trouble.
But we reached the confluence, and got some pictures.
After the "been there, got the pictures" we were not so keen to stay any longer. At the way home my and Florian's snowmobiles also complained at the harsh conditions, but we managed to reach the cars without loosing any snowmobiles, finger, toes or anything else!
While defrosting in Kiruna over several cups of coffee, we all agreed that the expedition was well worth the effort. And we now plan an expedition to the other primary confluence at 68N in Sweden.
Expedition members: Anders Forsberg (storywriter), Lars Forsberg, Mats Larsson, Thomas Niemi and Florian Stamm.