Tell us about you? Who is Paolo Peralta?
-I’m 26 and grew up in the concrete jungle of New York City. Having a Swedish mom, being a Swedish citizen and speaking the language got me to move here 6 years ago for college. Always loved nature but wasn’t great at camping/hiking, signed up to Fjäll & Vildmarksledarlinjen at Malungs Folkhögskola not even knowing what a Fjäll was. After 2 years there I worked 4 season at STF Ritsem where I got my equipment dialed in I grew my skills and got used to being alone in the mountains. Came for school, stayed for the Fjäll!
You completed the White Ribbon 2021. How did you come up with that?
–I fell in love with Nordic Ski Touring on my first ever winter trip in 2016 and knew this is what I wanted to focus my outdoors career on. Met a lot of people doing Vita and Gröna bandet in Ritsem over the years including best trip-mate Paul Loss. Vita Bandet always seemed like a safe starting point for getting experience for real expeditions, I’d like to ski to the South Pole some day and every bit of experience with equipment and my own body I can get before then will help.
Photo: Paolo Peralta
Tell us about the The White Ribbon. How was the adventure?
What an AWFUL winter 2021 was, barely even counts as winter. Weather is always a huge factor, but even more so last year. After 2 weeks of cold I had rain, sleet and temperatures rarely below -5C for the next 6 weeks which made for wet clothes, slow progress, low morale and negated many of my equipment choices.
I had a day where I fought for 8 hours and only gained 8km because the snow was so bad, stuck to the sled and skis like cement, needed to be scraped off every 500m. And my boots were full of water that day to top it off, I had sunk to the thighs in slush while crossing a marsh, took 4 days to dry out the boot liners which is why I carry a spare set of liners now.
But it wasn’t always awful, with the warm temperatures and being a person who runs very hot I think I hold the record for most time spent shirtless on Vita Bandet. The highpoint of the the 89 days my Vita Band lasted was when I had 5 days from Kvikkjokk to Ritsem on an abbreviated Padjelantaled. Didn’t see a single cloud or feel a gust of wind the whole time, it was mid April with long days and I skied in my underwear until I ran out of sunscreen. And I didn’t use a tent for those 5 days, slept in the open every night, would just take off my boots, crawl into my sleeping bag and eat dinner looking at the evening sky fade into stars
Any gear you want to put a spotlight on?
One thing that worked amazingly was my kitchen set up, I have 0 complaints about it and the only changes I’m making to it are swapping out the plywood I used for a base with a sheet of carbon fiber for weight savings and changing the aluminum windscreen to .2mm titanium foil for durability. Also, my down booties, will never go on a winter trip without them again.
On a long trip like this an Arctic bedding bag is a game changer, you save 20-30 minutes a day and it’s wonderful not having to fiddle with straps, stuffing a sleeping bag into a stuff sack and inflating/deflating pads. But commercially available ones are not waterproof and not even wet snow proof. I had a nightmare of a time when the rain was at its worst, sleeping in a damp down bag for 3 days isn’t fun at all. I’m hoping to have finished some prototypes of an improved bedding bag that will keep out a modern Scandinavian winter out for testing next winter.
Hands: I used 3 gloves this trip: Thick Hestra mittens for -15C or colder, GWS fleece gloves for -10C to +10C and synthetic liner gloves for when I was in camp and needed to handle small items. But this system didn’t work well for the slushy snow and rain. Since then I have started using Showa 282 gloves for wet weather and they are fantastic. Carrying 4 pairs of gloves might seem like overkill, depending on the weather changing daily over the course of a few months, it might actually not be variety enough.
If you where about to skii the White Ribbon again, what would you do different?
Beeline through Jämtland until Hotagsfjällen. Helags was great but going via Storlien cost me 2 weeks of struggling through forests with deep snow and seldom a snow mobile track to ease the going.
I’d want to make things more interesting, start on New Years Day at Treriksröset or something like that, get to see some more aurora, enjoy the cold and dark hopefully.
And bring a frying pan for January/February, there’s so much time spent in the tent then that you might as well spend it cooking real food; pancakes, hashbrowns, quesadillas and meatballs would have been a treat.
Pablos tips fore future White Ribbonears?
You don’t need as much fuel as you think.
You don’t need as much food as you think but you can never have enough diversity in snacks.
Bring the comfort items along at the start, you’ll have lots of tent time and will enjoy the chair/book/kindle and you can always send them home when they days grow long and you spend less time awake in camp.
Other than extra socks don’t bring more clothes than you can wear all at once.
Good prescription glacier glasses are worth the money, lived in my Julbo sunglasses the last month of the trip except when going indoors. Invest in a dehydrator, make your own meals and try them all before you head out.
While weight isn’t as critical as in summer, you will feel the difference between 20kg and 40kg when going uphill, try to save weight where you can.
Ease of access to stuff you know you’ll need during the day is huge, make it so you don’t have to dig through your sled to find stuff you use every day.
Starting set up:
Base Weight 28kg
Finish Line set up:
Base Weight 20kg