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robert

Maximum distance of 470 km

I can now confirm that our longer distance will be a total of 470 km. The time limit for this distance is 10 days. If trail conditions are great everybody should be able to finish way before the time limit. However, warm days or fresh snow may result in softer trails and greatly reduce average speeds. So, to kick it of, 10 days felt right.

I have also updated the Race Info section, including a table with approx. distances between checkpoints. Please note that there could be changes to this table, i.e. one of the checkpoints may not be used after all and/or a new one may be integrated. Distances in between checkpoints may also still change a bit.

Later in the year I will confirm where there are open and closed shelters that can be used for resting in between checkpoints.

The entry fees now are confirmed, too. For more information please have a look at the page with details on the Application. Anybody interested in signing up, please phone or email me. I should have the forms ready this weekend.

Regarding a marathon distance I hope to have news within the next couple of weeks.

MLAU 2022 will start March 6th

The Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra 2022 will start in Överkalix on March 6th.

At this point in time I can also confirm that we will have a distance of 185 km with a time limit of 4 days. Later this week I should be able to let you know the length of our longer distance and the time limit for it. After the trail scouting a few weeks ago two options have evolved and I am currently communicating with the Överkalix Kommun and local partners to decide which option we will go for. The general layout has not changed, i.e. the 185 km is a loop that starts and finishes in Överkalix. For the longer distance we will add a second loop further west that will again start and finish in Överkalix, i.e. in order to get the additional distance athletes do not have to do the first loop twice. Both distances will offer the type of terrain you would expect – a great mixture of trails on frozen rivers and lakes, through forests and more open areas.

If possible, we will also offer a marathon distance.

So, more information will follow soon and I hope to have the entry forms ready by this weekend.

Testing the SOTO Stormbreaker

For the Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra SOTO is one of our sponsors and their Stormbreaker is the stove we recommend. While I was trail scouting this February I had the chance to test it and I want to tell you about how that went and give you some general input when it comes to extreme winter adventures and stoves.

Know your equipment

Please note that the following information does not replace the need to carefully read the manual that comes with the SOTO Stormbreaker!

What is immediately notable with the SOTO Stormbreaker is a very high standard of quality. I do not consider myself an expert when it comes to mechanics but even to me it is obvious that SOTO did not compromise when it comes to the quality of components and how these are put together. I really like the flexible but robust fuel hose and the way it is connected and disconnected to the burner unit. I was able to handle everything with pretty thick gloves. I also like that there are small and easy to use covers for the hose and the pump valve when you disconnect the burner from the pump. That way no dirt gets into the wrong places.

The SOTO Stormbreaker is very innovative. It has got several unique features. One of them is that there is a pin connected to the pump that shows you when you have the perfect pressure to start it. The way it is set up it requires a bit more pumping than in most other stoves but it’s great to have a visual confirmation that now the stove is ready to go. To start the Stormbreaker there is no need for regular pre-heating. You turn the dial on the pump to „Start“ and can then light it. It’s important to light it quickly because if you take too long there may be too much fuel on the burner and you get a large flame. The start mode is using quite a bit of the initial pressure and in cold temperatures you may need to pump again with the bottle horizontally on the ground (as seen in above image). When the flames are a consistent blue – which takes about 40 seconds – you just turn the dial to „Run“.

Once you are done boiling your water you continue by turning the dial to “Air” which will allow air to flow inside the hose while shutting off the fuel flow. Then you put the dial to “Stop” and push it down to secure it in place. In case you want to take the pump out of the bottle for refilling, you can use the “Air” position again to get rid of any excess pressure in the bottle.

I went through the entire process about three times. Then I felt comfortable with it. After that, everything had become routine and really easy. However, you need to give yourself that time. Try out your SOTO or whatever stove you use, several times. You can’t unpack it, read the instructions and immediately be an expert. Every product is slighly different. Ideally, you also get the chance to train in various conditions – it’s one thing to handle your stove when you are not tired and it’s rather warm. It’s very different when you are exhausted and caught in a snowstorm and/or extremely low temperatures. Handle your stove with different types of gloves – the thicker, the better. Train different methods of lighting it – matches, lighter and fire steel – to make sure you have alternatives when one of these fails.

The coldest it got during my tests was about – 28 degrees Celsius. I had also left the Stormbreaker outside an entire night in these temps and used it the morning after at around – 25. That is in the above video. I had no problems. If you watch carefully, you will see that I am making two mistakes: #1 my burner is not really level (see also “Setting up your stove” below) and I am spilling water when I am filling my thermos. This was just a test and no big issue. However, if you are out there and it’s very cold, both can get you in trouble. Very often the screw tops on a thermos can freeze tight if there is water on it. Not to mention that you can get wet gloves. If you are careful you can easily avoid both.

In general, just because you have not had any problems so far, does not mean it will always stay that way. That’s why, before you go on a race or expedition, set apart some time to carefully read the part of the manual that deals with repairs. When you are out there and something is not working, you will want to know what it could be and if/how you can fix it. Maintenance is super important, too. You can get many years out of your stove if you take good care of it.

Using the SOTO Stormbreaker with a gas canister

The SOTO Stormbreaker is equipped with a generator that allows the use of both LP gas and white gasoline. You do not need to change any parts in the burner when you switch over to a gas canister. I did try a regular type gas canister (i.e. no winter gas) and was surprised that I was I able to get it to work at very cold temperatures. However, it is not efficient when extremely cold and also not recommended by SOTO. The nice part about it is that you could make use of this type of fuel if you happen to do your expedition in fairly warm winter weather.

Setting up your stove

The aluminum stove base that comes with the SOTO Stormbreaker is small but does the job. If the snow was deep I just compacted it with my feet and then the base worked. Spend the extra few seconds to make sure your stove is in a level and secure position. Once the stove is running and the snow is melting in your pot you would hate to start all over again because your set-up was not stable and you spilled everything. Also, you may burn yourself trying to correct it in a hurry.

There is no windscreen with the SOTO Stormbreaker. So, you either need to pick a spot with no wind or create wind protection with some of your gear. It’s not like a bit of wind makes the flames go out but having no wind when you handle your stove makes it more efficient and more pleasant.

Melting snow

In a winter race or expedition you will most likely use your stove to melt snow or boil water that you already have or get from a creek, river or lake. Since the latter are likely frozen or unsafe to venture out on, you will normally melt snow. Melting snow is time consuming business but if you go 12 or more hours a day you do need a lot of water and food. If you start to delay water and food intake because you can’t be bothered to melt snow again, your energy levels will drop and you risk frostbite and hypothermia. Therefore, make sure you have enough thermoses with you. In the MLAU 3 litres are mandatory. Think about when and how much you want to drink and eat. Figure out how much of this you can cover from your thermoses and how much you will need to melt snow.

Let me tell you a story … from my test hike that I did in Sweden. When I was out on my second day I had planned to reach Jockfall at around 8 PM – after 12 hours of hiking. Fresh snow slowed me down and at about 7 PM it was obvious I would not make it. Still I thought I will just keep on going and I won’t bother having a break. BIG mistake! My energy levels dropped right down. From about 4.5 km/hour I went to 3.5 km/hour and slower. I kept on going until I really felt uncomfortable. Sure enough, after a meal and some hot tea, things looked different again. I have not done the math on it but I probably would have arrived up to 1 hour earlier had I eaten at the right time. I am sure many of you will go through similar situations in your expeditions and races. Stick to your plan for breaks, eat and drink when your body tells you to. Don’t postpone a stop just because you think you will soon get to your current destination anyway.

Use the right fuel

This is so obvious! However, I still got it wrong. Instead of simply buying gasoline at the gas station in Överkalix I asked if they had something in bottles that serves as fuel for my stove. The answer was “yes” and I then bought a product that looked like the type of stove fuel I would buy in the Yukon. Just that it was not! When I tried to fire up my Stormbreaker for the first time it did not want to work. It took me a while to figure out that it must be the fuel. Luckily that was just in a training situation. Had I already been out there, my only other option would have been to build a wood fire.

Wood fires

Talking about wood fires … It is of course very romantic to be in a beautiful wilderness setting and actually use a wood fire for cooking or snow melting. In a race you will likely not do it because it’s time consuming. Just beware that if your timing would allow you to build a wood fire anyway, it’s not that easy. There obviously are large areas with forests in Sweden but it is not necessarily allowed to use the wood you see in front of you. That is why all locals take firewood with them if they plan on building a wood fire. Another obstacle for wood fires is the snow. You can’t build one on the trail and off the trail the snow can be very deep. Any open fire will quickly burn down through the snow. So, it’s better not to include wood fires into your plans when it comes to preparing meals and hot drinks.

SOTO Navigator Pot Set

An important part of your solution for melting snow and preparing meals is the pot you use. For my test I used the SOTO Navigator Pot Set and I loved it! The 1,800 ml pot is great for melting snow and the 1,300 ml pot is perfect for preparing expedition meals. I used the Firepot Expedition meals that come with compostable Eco Packaging. This means the meals need to be prepared in a pot. The great thing about the 1,300 ml SOTO pot is that it comes with a separate insulation. That way you can take the pot off the stove, put it into the insulation and your meal will still be hot when it is ready to be eaten. I must say I also prefer to eat a meal out of a pot rather than a bag – it’s less messy …

Last but not least, I liked the lids and the pot grip. The lids were great for scooping snow and of course a lid on a pot speeds up your snow melting/water boiling. The pot grip is vital when handling the pots.

Summary

To sum it up, I really enjoyed using my SOTO Stormbreaker and I am glad we have such a great partner for Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra!

Preparing for 2022

I just got back from an epic 3 week work trip to Överkalix. Together with local guides and experts Niclas Bentzer, Robin Landin, Henrik Drugge, Rikard Boudin and Daniel Cedering I went out to scout trails in the region. Special guest Peter Mild joined us as well. Like Niclas he is a Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra veteran and it was great to get immediate feedback from people who participaqte in winter ultra events. Linnea Nilsson-Waara from Överkalix Kommun had co-ordinated everything perfectly and we had the best possible weather conditions. Pretty much two weeks of sunshine during the day and about one week of Northern Lights at night. Temperatures ranged from about – 25 degrees Celsius to – 10 degrees Celsius.

In seven days we drove our snowmobiles for about 600 km, to check existing trails and connections between them, to keep track of distances, elevation, possible checkpoints, shelters, significant waypoints and much more. To summarize the experience: IT WAS INCREDIBLE! The trails around Överkalix have everything to offer we are looking for. Frozen rivers, lakes and swamps, forests and hills with landscapes that seem from another planet. So, that part is pretty similar to what I know from the Yukon. One of the differences is that there are more twists and turns in the trail and we have more ups and downs in Sweden. This means that temperatures at the Lapland Arctic Ultra will be less extreme but the trail is more challenging. This will especially be true if there is a lot of fresh snow. There are also more crossings of trails and community roads in some areas. Most of these are not ploughed and thus not dangerous but some do have traffic and a couple of times we will need to cross larger roads with traffic. There athletes need to be carful and pay extra attention.

We still have a couple of decisions to make on some of the trail options we have. Our shorter distance will likely remain at around 185 km. For the second and longer loop we will decide soon. The distance of the longer race will likely come in at around 500 km.

Initially, some of the trails we broke ourselves and they were very soft. At one point I was very sceptical that these trails would be possible for fatbikes. Luckily I had been able hike parts of these trails 1 week later. A few nights of – 25 degrees Celsius in between and I needed no snowshoes. When I was on the trails it was actually snowing a lot. I still needed no snowshoes because it was very fluffy snow but it sure slowed down my sled. What will still make it challenging for fatbikers is the elevation. Having seen Niclas and Linnea on their xc-skis I think the Lapland Arctic Ultra will be great for this discipline! In the Yukon I normally tell people to think twice. The extreme cold is just so hard on hands and feet with the guys on skis. In Sweden, with less extreme temperatures and ups and downs, skiing should actually be fun. Especially with fresh snow everybody on skis will be at an advantage. BUT just like in the Yukon, you need to have the right skis and boots and you need to know how to use them. I will soon write a bit more about what gear is recommended.

If you want to check out some of the scenery we came across, please have a look at my Youtube Channel. There I uploaded videos of days 2 to 7 of trail scouting. At the end of this week I will hopefully have images uploaded to our gallery, too.

I am already getting a lot of enquiries about when the Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra 2022 will take place. I would love to be able to answer that question. However, I am currently waiting for the Yukon Quest to set their date for 2022. Then I can decide on the timing for the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra and the Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra. I am hoping for a start in the Yukon on the first weekend in February and a start in Sweden in the second week in March. It’s just that this could change considerable if the Quest breaks with their traditional timing. Once the decisions are made I will put out an update immediately.

Your Swedish Lapland winter adventure

There won’t be a Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra this winter but you can still travel to Swedish Lapland and have an adventure on your own. Rimfrost Adventures will be holding the training course. So, if you signed up for it, you can still do it. If you are interested, please get in touch with course organiser, Per. He will let you know if there are any places left.

Also, Jockfall and Överkalix Camping have put together an offer for anyone who would like to get to know Överkalix, Jockfall and surrounding area this winter. Explore Jockfall joined in the effort and also put something very interesting together for you. So, here are the options:

#1

You book nights in your accommodation and then you add on some activities. For 5 nights stay you get 20% discount and for 7 night stay you get 30% discount off your cabin rental with Jockfall and with Överkalix Camping. You can combine the two places as you wish.

Regular prices Överkalix Camping:
4-6 beds cabin with fully equipped kitchen, TV, WiFi, WC/shower is SEK 1,595 per night. Extras are bedlinen and towels SEK 150 per person/stay and departure cleaning SEK 800 SEK (you can also chose to clean yourself).

Regular prices Jockfall:
6-bed lodge with fully equipped kitchen, TV, WiFi, WC/shower is SEK 1,800/night. Extras and cleaning as above.

Booking is via email to Sofi Holmgren (sofi@acmt.se) for Överkalix Camping and Robin Landin (info@jockfall.com) for Jockfall. When emailing them, please just mention the booking code “Lapland Arctic Ultra”.

Activities will be able upon request and you will also get information on trails you can use to get plenty of time for training outdoors.

#2

Another option is that you can book a 5 days (4 nights) package with Explore Jockfall. This package includes accommodation, all main meals and plenty of activities. It is available from SEK 13,900. Full details and possibility to book are online.

MLAU 2021 cancelled

Hi everyone,

the Swedish Government announced new measures in the fight against Covid-19. These measures will come into effect December 14th and replace any regulations currently in place in individual provinces. Unfortunately for the MLAU and many other races, the authorities decided to prohibit competitive sports events. I have discussed this with all of our Swedish partners who have helped so much in the planning so far and the conclusion is that, under these circumstances, the Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra 2021 needs to be cancelled.

We all knew it could happen but I believe both ultra event organisers and athletes like to think positive and that anything is possible. It’s especially disappointing because so many athletes, our sponsors and local partners have really embraced the idea of this race. But no use in looking back. We will try again for 2022 and I am sure it will be great!

If you would like to travel to Överkalix to get in some winter training, you can. Tourism is still possible in Sweden. You would be able to get time on trails and of course you can enjoy some activities like visiting reindeers, snowmobiling, guided snowshoe tours and others. Once I have more information, I will pass it on to you.

Rimfrost Adventures will continue to have the Survival Course. So, anybody booked for that, you can still do the course.

I will travel to Överkalix this winter for trail work. That way, in March I should have the full details for 2022. That’s also when I want to be able to take entries for next winter. In the meantime, I will try to find out when the Yukon Quest will start in 2022. Then I can set the dates, both for the MYAU and MLAU. The rough idea is to have the race in the Yukon early February and then Sweden early March.

Thank you for having been part of this journey. I hope that you all stay safe during this continued pandemic. 2021 should be the year we get some stability back in our lives. So we can plan and prepare for adventures that we know will to take place for sure.

Stay tuned! I will continue posting news here on this page and also on our website.

Best regards,

Robert Pollhammer

Introducing you to Överkalix Camping – Start/Finish/CP #4

Today I want to introduce you to Överkalix Camping where we will be hosted by Sofi Holmgren and her team.

Överkalix Camping has got a campground with 85 tent sites, 20 spots for caravans and 11 great cabins of different sizes. It is located right next to the Kalix River, giving you some stunning views!
In the summertime there is a heated pool, outdoor fitness, playground for the kids and plenty of space to explore – if you ever want to check Överkalix out with your entire family in the warmer months of the year. Like Jockfall it is also a perfect place to use as a base for winter adventures in and around Överkalix.

During the Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra, Överkalix Camping will be one of the places where athletes and crew will stay. Furthermore, it is where our race will start February 7th and it is right next to the so called Folkets Hus Överkalix, where we will have our checkpoint #4, the finish of the 185 km and a few days later also the finish for the 485 km race.

Firepot official partner for expedition meals

I am very happy to announce that the British company Firepot will be the official partner for expedition meals at the Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra.

I have tried out quite a few brands over the years and most of these were okay. Firepot meals stand out. They are exceptional!

Athletes who sign up for the race get a 15% discount on any orders via the Firepot website. Also, athletes can place an order with free delivery to Sweden. The meals will be received by us and are then either available for pick-up at race headquarter or delivered to the participant’s accommodation.

SOTO new MLAU sponsor

SOTO was founded in 1978 in Japan and introduced to the world market in 2010. Since then, they have been awarded five coveted industry awards for their flaming devices. Dedicated to generating and integrating the “Blue Flame” in every flaming device conceived, SOTO’s engineers have devoted their lives to creating products that reach a maximum sustainable flame in the least possible amount of time. Devices that can be trusted to function in extreme cold and chilling winds. Every effort is made to provide the highest safety and technical standards at all phases of production, resulting in an enhanced outdoor experience for end-users of SOTO’s products.

At the SOTO stove I recommend for the Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra is the Stormbreaker. I have seen quite a few good stoves over the last few years but the quality of the SOTO Stormbreaker is unique. When you get it out of the box you immediately can tell that someone put their heart and soul into developing this product and that there was no room for compromise on anything. It’s pretty amazing!

The SOTO Stormbreaker comes with some unique features, e.g. a dual-purpose jet that works with liquid gas and gasoline. So, no fiddling around if you need to change your fuel source. It is very powerful and yet efficient. Cookware sits low to a burner head that has of over 300 micro flames. It is stable, packs compact and does not need pre-heating. When you pump it there is a mechanism that shows you when there is sufficient pressure.

The SOTO Stormbreaker will be available as a rental stove for the MLAU. For detailed information, please in our section on available rentals.

For information in German, please check out: sotooutdoors.de