Journey to his unknown country

Mr. Mec is back, not in Chamonix, but in Åre, on his own Swedish turf. The jewel in the crown of downhill skiing, Åre is the country’s oldest and most famous resort. Located 600 km northeast of Stockholm, on the shores of Lake Åresjön, Åre is the epitome of Scandinavian skiing, with its meticulous groomed slopes, magnificent horizons, capricious weather and supernatural lights. Mr. Mec came here in search of skiing and joy, and at the same time to test the consistency of reality in this little paradise, which in many ways seems to evolve in another galaxy.


Åre is known for many things.
The cauliflower snow. The terrible weather with icy winds, icy slopes and icy souls.
The sometimes amazing sunlight, caused by rays of light whose power never quite reaches beyond that of sunrise or sunset strength.

It is also known for being crazily, stupidly expensive.
For hosting large quantities of rich Stockholmers.
And, interestingly enough, a strong community of die hard, local, broke-ass shredders.

During a recent trip, I got to experience exposure to almost all of the above.

There were 14 of us. The stars had aligned and allowed for almost everyone within our
group of friends to converge in an amazing house (a castle, really) for a full week of skiing,
sauna and “santé!”

During this time I kept a journal to keep track of my own first-person-view of this legendary ski town. Would it really be that cold? Was it really going to be that expensive? Were the Stockholmers really going to be that rude, party-prone and detestable? And would I find any cool, weed smoking locals?

Chapter 1: Dancing girl

I am drunk again.
Somewhere between skiing, a quick shower and a snowy walk to the train station, I seem to have lost my ability to walk straight.

My ability to dance, however, is quite intact.
I have noticed this from an almost out-of-bodily perspective on the dance floor inside the club located right by the train station.

Why head for the train station, you might ask?

Because it is home to what I instantly recognized as a place for real people. No fake Stockholmers in expensive jackets and heavy wallets.
No prosecco. A place for lovers. And for beer.

It is Friday and the gods are with me.
Our drink of choice is neither cold beers, funky wine or ice cold vodka.
Instead, we choose Chartreuse as our lubricant for this night of nights.
Some kind of snowboard-techno-girly-duo is playing electronic music from a DJ-booth that seems to be constructed out bar chairs and duct tape.

I first notice the dancing girl thanks to her shoes.

They are glowing, twinking, radiating. They seem to be filled with a vast amount of party lights. Somehow.
Are they roller skates? I am not sure.

My shoes are not so interesting.

I am, however, wearing a mustache.

And wearing a mustache can be a weird experience.

You instantly get to judge by people reactions whether they’re fans or not.
And there does not seem to be any in-betweens.
Either they love it or they hate it. Either their eyes say “euuw, no” or they say “um, yes please.”

Hers said “daddy”.

I don’t remember how we made it to the next dance floor.
I also don’t remember how I lost her.
I only remember the text message she sent as I was finally making my way home with my friends.
She said I was welcome over. That I only had to call. I was even allowed to wake her up if I needed to.

But I already had a girl at home.

Multiple, actually.

And so I clumsily stashed my phone in my pocket and continued my way home with my friends.

A snowy way.
A hard way.
Ours was the house at the top of the hill. And the hill was not so easily trodden under all this snow.
We tumbled and laughed, we yelled, screamed and rolled around.
“Mr Mec could have been in a warm bed with the dancing girl now – but he is here with us in the snow!”

Before I go to bed, I check my phone and see that I have accidentally called her through my pocket. The record shows that she had been listening for… Six minutes.

Somehow this makes me feel sad in a multitude of ways.

Chapter 2: Super rich kids

Everything about the trip had been perfect.
Like truly, truly perfect.
My weapon of choice was the Corvus Freebird 188. This old companion who had seen everything from the northern slopes of the Buet, the slushy south faces of the Envers and the frozen plains of Katterjokk. (Also I obviously bring the Atris 189. Dream maker. Snow shaker. Lovetool).

I had been expecting drama to arrive at some point. 14 people together for a full week would surely lead to some kind of dispute. But honestly, the worst thing that happened was when I was making mayonnaise in the kitchen and some of the work-from-”home”-crew thought I was being too loud. Which led to a brief but feisty argument where I tried to show how absurd it was that the laptop-team wanted the chef to leave the kitchen instead of themselves by taking my mayonnaise-making-kit out onto the patio where it instantly splits due to the cold and forced me to re-enter the kitchen in a rage.

But yeah, apart from some minor shit like that the trip was free of speed bumps.

Until the last day, when our train got canceled.

Hundreds of passengers were stuck in the cold on the platform.

Luckily for us, a skilled friend managed to re-book us for next morning departure and securing spots in the hotel adjacent to the train station.

All was well that night until we left for dinner.
We chose one of the trendier restaurants in the center of town. A place with many appetizers and no soul.
Usually I don’t care about such things as long as I get a martini.
But something was off about this place.
It was so… Fake.
Fake and rich.
Yes, there was something wrong about the many groups of men seated at the tables.
They were too young.
Their clothes looked too expensive.
How could they afford to be here?
“Thanks to dad, I guess,” my buddy said with a shrug as I brought this up.
We were taking a small break in between courses to head to the bathroom.
I was feeling only slightly ill at ease when one of the young alpha-bros approached me in the toilet line.
“Listen,” he said, staring at me blankly, probably thinking I belonged to the staff. “I have a question.” he made a gesture towards his outfit.
“My jacket is expensive… My pants are expensive… My watch is expensive as hell… I don’t look bad. Why the hell are the ladies not all over me?”

My friend and I just stared at him.
What do you even respond to such a thing?

I decided that ignoring him was the way forward, and entered the bathroom stall to relieve myself.
On the counter above the toilet, were so many leftover crumbles of cocaine that I wasn’t even amused. Did these people have no shame?

Chapter 3: My brothers footsteps

I walk around town looking for something real.

It must exist.

An interesting thing is taking place right here, right now.
I am a tourist in the place my brother used to call home.
He was here for a long time. He made the city and mountain his own.
I once came to visit him, but that trip ended after four hours when I stupidlyyyyy decided to show my friends how fast I could ski – a decision that quickly led me to break my collarbone against a tree.

The collarbone is still disfigured, but the pain is gone.
I walk the streets and think of him.
I wonder where he met all the real people?
I know he made some really strong relationships here.
But surely not in that cocaine-infested, black slicked, fake hellhole of a restaurant.

I consider this as my friends and I finally find a bar to our taste.
It is located a bit to the side. In the dark.
No soulless beats emanating from the speakers. Instead: punk rock.
No Prosecco. Instead: cheap beer and whiskey.

Under the dim lights I finally meet someone real.
A Rastafari celebrating his 30th with a cold IPA.
A young Dutch designer infatuated with snowboarding.
A grumpy bartender who, when I ask if I can request a song, simply points to the big sign hanging over the bar. “Song requests:1000EUR”. Behind him – several bottles of
Chartreuses. A good sign.

I feel a bit better afterwards. I wonder if my brother used to hang out here?
An interesting detail: while I am walking around in his footsteps in Åre, he is simultaneously walking around in mine in Chamonix. So that while we are not together, we are still, kind of, together.

Text& photos : Felix Olsson

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