© Martin Kull

Selfie 1979 vs 2015

Two selfies, the first shot onboard the ice breaker HMS Njord, during my military service in 1979. The second is shot 2015 in my kitchen using the Christmas gift from my wife: A vintage Helios 44M (58 mm, f/2) manufactured, at the time of the first photo, in former USSR!

Lenses do not seem to age as fast as people ;-)

Hiking in Crete

Our love for mountain randonnées has taken us high and low (. . . or mainly high!). In October we were on a mission to Crete to photograph for Langley travel. The weather is still nice this early in the fall and the temperatures are ideal for tougher tours in the mountains or along the winding costs of Crete. We climbed Mt Giglios and Mt Volakis, at 2 000 m, high above the Samaria gorge. Beautiful coastal day tours along the south coast mixed with walks in more secluded gorges made another fantastic hiking week.

View over the Samaria gorge, coming down from Mt Giglios.

Stockholm Photo Marathon 2015

For the second year I participated in the Stockholm Photo Marathon; 24 given photographic themes to be shot during 24 hours in one of the last bustling summer days in the city. This year was equally hard as last year, the organizers gave us themes like "Domino-effect", "Tabu", "Diva" and "Jack-in-the-box", the sun cast a hard light during the daylight hours and the city was crammed with people enjoying the last day of the Stockholm culture festival.

The toughest challenge is not to walk or bike for a full day, nor staying awake that long, it is the mental exhaustion keeping your mind focused around the clock. One of the rewards is that you get to experience the citys' different moods and phases. The difference between the intoxicating hour 2-3 am and the ghostly emptiness just an hour later is dramatic.

I took a series of black and white photos inspired by one of my favourite genres street photography. See the series (as shot, straight out of camera, since no editing is allowed) here. Each of the 24 photos are commented (in Swedish only) to share some of my struggles.

Diva

Glacier training in Jostedalsbreen, Norway

During our Nordic summits project we have encountered glaciers several times. We realize the danger with deep and hidden cravasses, ice or snow slides and other difficulties. In paricular our Iceland adventure on Hvannadalshnjúkur made us understand that, to continue climbing on high altitudes, we had to gain more knowledge.

Therefore we had arranged for an intense three day glacier training in Jostedalsbreen, Norway, Europes second largest glacier after Vattnajökull in Iceland. Jostedalens breförarlag engaged the experienced glacier guide, climber and artist (!) Steinar Laumann to help us out.

Day one we practiced crampons and ice axe techiques for walking on the blue ice glacier Nigardsbreen. It was a long day in the fantastic ice landscape. Day two we learnt a few cravasse rescue techniques and how to securely move on snow covered areas on Fåbergstölsbreen. Steinar was the perfect tutor and pushed us to take all desicions in the group. We finished with a longer hike on snow and ice and we were gently guided to our limits. Indeed there was an unplanned fall, but with the proper rope technique all went well. As dusk set in, and after a total  of 14 hrs outdoors, we were tired but filled with new experiences and knowledge.

This adventure will last long in our memories and calls for more glacier encounters!

See the photos from Jostedalsbreen here

Steinar and Måns take the last steep slope up onto the snow covered glacier

Nordic summits III - Möllehöj, Denmark

To complete our strive to climb the highest peaks in the Nordics countries, we only had Denmark left. There is a controversy whether Möllehöj or Yding Skovhöj is highest, so we decided to go for both.

Yding Skovhöj (172.54 m above sea) is actually three bronze age graves well hidden into the Danish woods. We had to use GPS to find the middle grave and to take the selfie was a challenge with dense bush woods all over the place.

Since the graves are more than 2 m high and considered man-made, Möllehöj 170,86 m is the highest natural point in Denmark. We prepared for the worst, in climbing harness, only to find that Möllehöj is an idyllic barn area. Celebrations after climbing the last of the Nordic summits after Keb and Akka in Sweden, Galdhöpiggen and Glittertind in Norway, Halti in Finland and Hvannadalshnjúkur in Iceland included Champagne and Danish strawberry cake.

On the descent we already prepared our next project - "Project S". Stay tuned

Into the wild!

All photos from the Danish expedition here

Nordics summits II - Hvannadalshnjúkur, Iceland

The project to climb the highest peaks in all Nordic countries started in 2012 and has taken us to fantastic hikes and climbs; Kebnekajse and Akka in Sweden, Galdhöpiggen and Glittertind in Norway and Halti in Finland. This year Icelands highest summit Hvannadalshnjúkur 2110 m was our goal.

The planning and preparations have been ongoing for almost a year and first week of June we flew in to Reykjavik and set a base camp in Hof below the impressive Vattnajökul glacier. After waiting two days for decent weather conditions we finally met with our guide Fannar at Sandfell 100 m above sea level, 4 AM and started our ascent.

And so it begins

The first slope took us to 400 m and the last water fill. For the remainder of the climb all water had to be carried. The forecast said -10 deg C and strong winds at the top so warm clothes also added to the load. Half of the climb is on the Hvannadalshnjúkur glacier, so at 1300 m we tied in and continued up a steady rise "the slope of death" to 1800 m. Along this slope we also saw the weak morning sun rise behind the dark clouds.

Finally dawn

Fannar sensed a guiding record within reach (10 hours back and forth vs more normal 15 hrs) and kept a quick pace. After 1800 m the climb leveled out and we crossed the huge glacier plain in very strong winds and snowfall. Finally the summit was visible and we took a short break to prepare crampons and Ice axes. The last 200 m were steep and heavy for tired legs.

After 5 hrs and 50 mins we reached the top and we were rewarded as the wind calmed and even the sun broke through the clouds. Ten minutes later we started the descent.

Back on the glacier plains we were hit by a snow storm and got a bit disoriented, with the result that we were in a zone with more cravasses. In two minor incidents team members fell down into cravasses covered by a thin snow layer. We were still tied in of course and all went well. Back to 1100 m we had the first meal, weather conditions calmed and we made the final rush down to reach the base in exact record time 10 hours!

See all photos from this, the most adventureous of the Nordic summits here.

Iceland is also a fantastic landscape for outdoor life and in particular very photogenic. In early June the intense green moss has not yet developed, but still I captured some great landscapes, see them here.

Skógafoss

See the finale of our Nordic summits project

Corsica Randonée

Still in preparation for the summers hike to Iceland we did a week of Randonée in Haute Corse. I knew there were steep mountains here, but I did not expect it to be that alpine! In seven days we walked and climbed in total 75 kms and gained 5 250 m in altitude. Those vertical meters really did good to our legs. Corsica also offers a great variety of hikes by the seaside, in dense woods and in the mountains. During the week we reached the peaks Capu d'Ortu 1 294 m, A Muvrella 2 184 m and Monte Astu 1 535 m.

Lessons learned:

  • When the old villagers says "if you go there they will need to get you back with a helicopter" - don't go there
  • When the French map says difficult path, it is practically non existing and impossible to pass
  • When hiking early in the season, north faced slopes above 1 700 meters are still covered with lots of snow
  • The Corsican brier is indeed impenetrable
See all the photos here and read my forum post at Utsidan here (in Swedish)
Walking on the edge