1,300Km ‘White Ribbon’ Skier Passes Halfway Point in Sweden

One American skier is well on his way to finishing what’s arguably Sweden’s most famous ski route.

Few set out to cover all 1,300 kilometers of the “White Ribbon” (or “Vita Band” in Swedish), an ambitious enchainment that traces Scandinavia’s mountainous backbone.

Chicagoan Elijah Ourth is one contender.

skier standing in front of a route map and commemmorative plaques

Ourth registered for the ski trip, posing with the list of confirmed White Ribbon finishers. Photo: Ourth


The adventure photographer kicked off his journey in early January, and yesterday reported he’s reached Hemavan — the route’s snowy, spiky 700km halfway point.

Despite stiff challenges from storms and deep drifts, Ourth sounded plucky in an Instagram update. After churning through stubborn powder at 1 kph in Gäddede, he was excited for a pizza-tasting respite.


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A post shared by Elijah Ourth (@eli_wingit)

Notably, Ourth is not tackling the trail in its traditional solo, unsupported style. But a team or group strategy has become more common in recent years.

This approach actually reflects the trail’s genesis in 1997, when Torkel and Annica Idestrom undertook their “Around Sweden expedition.” (Anecdotally, the White Ribbon’s first passage actually happened backwards — from northern Treriksröset, where all three Scandinavian countries meet, to Grövelsjön in the south.)

The route’s website counts 97 total White Ribbon finishers since 2010. It hosts an unusually strong contingent this year. Ourth thinks it’s a record winter for attempts.

One recent solo, unsupported skier to complete the trip was Sara Wanseth. The former Secretary General of the Scandinavian Outdoor Group knocked out the White Ribbon in 60 days in 2022. As Lundhags reported, she triumphantly posed on the bright yellow pylon of the famous Three Country-Cairn when finished.

yellow cone-shaped concrete structure at a mountain lake.

The Three-Country Cairn, northern terminus of the ‘White Ribbon.’ Photo: Ninara via Flickr


Ourth now no doubt anticipates that same validation — but doesn’t seem to be in a rush to experience it.

“I’m really looking forward to being even more in the high mountains and above treeline which is the environment I really like, and is super pretty! And it will be fun to get to share some parts with my friends who are along,” Ourth told ExplorersWeb.


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Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.