In 1997, The swedish newsmagazine Expressen noticed a rather unusual achievement. An achievement that later founded the idea for which became Fjällfararna’s White & Green Ribbon. During the expedition “Sweden Around -97”, Torkel and Annica Ideström made their own way around the country’s borders. The tour started at Treriksröset, with skis to Grövelsjön, and then switched to cycling to Svinesundsbron for the start of the Blue ribbon of the Sea paddles (HBB). In Haparanda, the mode of travel was again changed to bicycle to close the circle at Treriksröset. Since HBB has been an accepted challenge for many years, Torkel and Annika felt natural to manifest an equivalent challange for the mountain range. Then with two different variants, one each for winter and summer respectively. The White and Green Robbon was founded.
Today, the Ideström couple live in a house in the small mountain village Östra Vålådalen in Jämtland. From here they now run the White and Green Ribbon and annually inspire more and more people to go on long expeditions. It feels natural to start our series of articles about the White and Green Ribbon here, meeting the adventurer behind the adventure; Torkel Ideström:
What’s the White and Green Ribbon (WGR)?
-The idea behind the ribbons is that you can make your own way from Grövelsjön in the south to Treriksröset in the north, or vice versa, a distance of about 1300 km through our Scandinavian mountain chain. The journey shall be carried out without a long stop and without outside assistance. The tour can be carried out all year round. The color of the bands indicates the season in which the tour was conducted. We try to draw attention to the fact that all hikers should respect and consider the environment, nature and culture they travel through. It’s an approach when you’re going to execute the band.
Are there any rules?
It is important to point out that WGR is not a competition. There are no times that you have to keep as long as the tour is carried out in a succession, without breaks. In order to avoid excessively strict rules, there are no restrictions on modes of travel, except that you should pass west of a number of places (see map below) and that you are not allowed to travel motorized. The use of dogs, kite, is allowed but will be registered as such variant. This is so that certain comparisons can be made and that it is also easier to draw experience from a particular mode of travel.
Can anyone do it?
-The challenge requires both physical and mental strength, as well as a healthy “public conscience” and safety mindset. At the same time, it is up to each mountaineer to complete the tour entirely based on their own circumstances, which means that those who complete the tour get a fantastic experience for the rest of their lives. Our youngest participant who has passed the band is 11 years old and the oldest is 73 years old. However, the severity should not be underestimated.
Tell us about the 2021 season?
-It has been a fantastic year, when many people chose to stay in Sweden because of the pandemic. Provided the perfect opportunity to complete a real adventure and a great experience at home. Admittedly a bit messy with accommodation in cottages and crossings across borders on, but which most people still took with peace. An adaptation on our VGB’s part was to approve Abisko as a start or finish place, as the possibility of reaching Treriksröset was considered too tough as you could not enter either Finland or Norway. For 2022, however, order has been restored. The Treriksröset is and remains our outpost to the north.
What does the future look like?
-One of the goals has been to establish The Ribbons as a real outdoor classic, which it has really become. Interest in long-distance tours looks to be growing steadily and is just right in time for a sustainable transition. The great adventure is on our own home mountains. Long all-inclusive flights don’t have to be our biggest dream. In order to further facilitate the Bands and strengthen the local, Svante Sundelin at VGB’s assignment has made a large compilation of so-called ” verified pit stops” that will be posted on the Banden website shortly. We have also headhunted Sara Wänseth, former CEO of SOG (Swedish Outdoor Group). First and foremost, she will now be project manager for FJÄLLTRÄFFEN in Grövelsjön this spring. More information will be provided about the ;). Sara’s going to “just” ski her White Band this winter, too. We have been telling you for some time that we are going to introduce the possibility of making the Bands in STAGES. The idea now is also that it will be in RELAY form. Well, it might be a little while. The technical challenge, and therefore the economic challenge of putting this into a functional platform, is not small. So work is underway to find funding and as soon as we solve it, the initiative starts.
Do you have any tips for those who are going to walk the green ribbon?
– Do your homework! This is an expedition, so prepare by finding out the facts, gaining experience and training. Then the mental preparation also comes along, which is crucial if you are to succeed.
· Think about the importance of weight! The tour is about. 1,300 km and approx. 20,000 meters in height. Weight makes a difference. Do what you can with the budget you have. Since this year we have a collaboration with Backpackinglight.se that fits as a hand in the glove. Relevant lightweight equipment and professional know-how needed to implement in a fun, safe and responsible manner.
· Have air in the schedule for spontaneous whims. A meeting might be well worth spending extra time on. Many have made a friend for life or met their love during their turn.
· Thoughtful depots are good, but not always necessary. It is possible to shop along the way and thus support local shops. This also opens up to change your luck in the meantime, as you are not locked to certain depots.
· Let the body get used to it. Add shorter day lengths at the beginning. Most people who break do it in the first part. Healing out an overwork during the tour rarely succeeds. The body’s hardness increases over time, as does the ability to absorb food.
· A couple of bonus tips – dishcloth to condensation in the tent and a “quick” (light, sound-dried) towel is great!
And to those who are going to take turns the white ribbon?
-(The above, the tips for the Green Ribbon, of course also apply to the White Ribbon)
-Bring a retaining wax. Do not only trust your skins, in case of strong cold they can let go. A green cold wax can also keep the clatter away from the skis when nothing else helps.
Moisture barrier in the boots. Thin wool or synthetic stocking closest to the foot, then (ordinary) freezer bag, over it a warmer wool sock. Most often it is the moisture from the inside that soaks down the boots – and wet, icy boots in the morning are no hit. Alternatively, boots with loose lining e.g. Lundhags Guide Expedition, where you can change.
-Thin hooded windbreaker. Then the shell jacket can mostly be in the sled. Protection of the face. Find a good system of goggles and face mask that doesn’t leave the nose or cheekbones alone. In addition to the obvious danger of ostracized, when this works well you become less stressed.
Fun Facts about the WGR
RECORD YEAR 2021 In the current year 2021, the following “Band record” has been broken:
Number of notifications GR: 93 pcs (approx. 60 pcs 2020)
Number of GR completed: 71 pcs (40 pcs 2020)
Fastest on foot: Simon Österlin La Mont, 22 days (21 days 7 hours and 38 minutes. 6.5 hours faster than previous record) Gröv-Treriksröset.
Fastest cycling/running: Jörgen Johansson, 16 days, Grövelsjön-Abisko.
Youngest: Karl Nordborg, 11 years old (with his father), 65 days, Grövelsjön-Treriksröset
Farthest: Peter Bergström 63 years, 76 days, Gröv-Trer-Gröv. 1,500 miles. – “yo-yo hike”
Most GR: Peter Bergström, total – with this summer’s “yo-yo” – 5 times Gröna Band.
Most Bands: Lina Hallebratt, 7 times (6 Vita, 1 Green, of which 2 pcs in winter 2021’s yo-yo expedition). Lina has twice been named ADVENTURER OF THE YEAR for her tours of the White and Green Ribbon.
Number of nationalities of approved “Bandare”: Germany, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, England, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Greenland, USA, Austria, France, Sweden.
Completely a total of 265 approved Green Bands have now been implemented (in 2011-2021), of which 38% were women and 62% men, aged 11 to approx. 73 years old. For the White Ribbon the corresponding statistics are 81 approved bands (2010-2021), of which 32% are women and 68% are men. Of the notifications received to Green Ribbon is estimated approx. 65-70% complete the tour in its entirety and the mountainfarer has received his diploma. The corresponding figure for the White Ribbon is slightly lower and is about 60–65%.
At Backpackinglight.se you ca read more about recommended lightweight and robust gear that will hold through out the long hike. What has been used before and so on. Also, all future participants on WGR get a rebate code if they need to upgrade some gear. Have a look here
Booking, more info
For more information about the WGR, please visit their webbpage: https://www.vitagronabandet.se/en-GB