Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions


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High Fens: Snowshoeing + Bivouacking

The highest spots in Belgium are to be found on the plateau of the High Fens, in the very east of the country. The region lies between Ardennes and Eifel and consists mainly of raised bogs, low grass- or wood-covered hills, moorland and forest. The highest point is Signal de Botrange, at a very modest 694 m. Despite its relatively low altitude, the area catches and retains quite a bit of moisture, which gives rise to temperatures that are lower than anywhere else in the country, by a substantial margin.

In winter there is often a quick succession of colder and warmer periods, and during cold snaps a snow cover of 20-50 cm (or more) can quickly, but temporarily, build up. During one of these cold snaps I spend a weekend snowshoeing and bivouacking the area around Baraque Michel. Temperatures are fairly steady between -4°C and -1°C, and snow lies 30-40 cm thick. The first day is rather bleak and foggy, but on the second day the sun gradually comes out and unveils a fairy-tale winter landscape!

Report > Belgium 2019: High Fens

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A rough and tough snow slog

Ever wondered about good ways to test physical fitness? Well, here’s an idea: consider a 20 km snowshoe slog through half a meter of freshly fallen snow … That’s what I did on Sunday on the high plateaus in the east of the country, and it was seriously tough.

I started my ordeal at Mont Rigi and plodded along the Polleur, Bayehon and Ghaster creeks. Especially the trail along the latter was virtually impossible, and at a certain point I had to give up by steeply climbing out of the valley towards a track in a more reasonable condition.

The weather was pretty murky with a couple of snow showers. Not overly cold though.

Mont Rigi – Polleur – Setai – Bayehon – Ghaster – Bayehon – Setai – Polleur – Mont Rigi

Pictures > Belgium 2017-01-15: High Fens

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Norway 2015: Rondane

The trip report and pictures of the last part of my Norway experience mid-June 2015 have finally been uploaded:

Report > Norway 2015: Rondane

During this part of the trip I made a 4-day solo hiking and snowshoeing trek through the Rondane Mountains, and probably enjoyed both the worst (high winds, snow and sleet) and best (glorious sunshine) conditions of the entire trip.

Spranget – Rondvassbu – Illmanndalen – Bjørnhollia – Langglupdalen – Bergedalstjønnin – Rondvassdalen – Rondhalsen – Rondvassbu – Spranget – Storulfossen – Spranget – Krokåtbekken – Rondvassbu – Spranget

Ice-free southernmost section of Rondvassvatn

Ice-free southernmost section of Rondvassvatn


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Norway 2015: Jotunheimen

The trip report and pictures of 3 beautiful and intense days spent hiking and snowshoeing in the Jotunheimen mountains mid-June 2015 have been uploaded:

Report > Norway 2015: Jotunheimen

Søre Brurskardknappen (hiking) – Valdresflya Nord (snowshoeing) – Knutshøe (hiking) – Steinflye (snowshoeing) – Valdresflya Sør (snowshoeing) – Sognefjellet (snowshoeing)

Camping on a snow-free island in front of Fanaråken

Camping on a snow-free island in front of Fanaråken


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Back from Norway & Sweden

Conversation at an outdoor outfitter in my hometown early June 2015:

  • Me: “Hi, I’m looking for a pair of showshoes”
  • Shop attendant: “Are you sure? This is hardly the season…”
  • Me: “Oh yes, I’m positive”
  • Shop attendant: “Alright then, I’ll see what we can do…”

Second and third week of June I am in Norway (and a bit of Sweden) enjoying a freak record-breaking early summer at higher elevations. Starting from 1,200 m there’s still about 1 m of snow east of the country, up to a staggering 15 m at specific locations (i.e. Folgefonn glacier) west.

First week of the trip I spend hiking and packrafting in the neighboring Femundsmarka (Norway) and Rogen (Sweden) national parks (at lower elevations, so snow is of no concern). Second week I then travel west and fully discover the indispensable nature of the newly purchased snowshoes up in the Jotunheimen and Rondane mountains.

As usual, a full trip report and picture gallery will follow.

Valdresflya (eastern Jotunheimen), mid-June 2015

Valdresflya (eastern Jotunheimen), mid-June 2015