Julis Rebell

Oskar Kihlborg is a versatile adventurer and mountaineer who was both the first Swede to climb Mount Everest but also has a heart for leading people with various disabilities up mountains. Oskar is a climate fighter who does many things for the environment, not least saving our Swedish glaciers with wool.

OSKAR

WHAT DID YOU EAT FOR BREAKFAST?

What did I eat for breakfast? I ate crackers and drank green tea. I do not drink coffee.

WHY GLACIER BLANKET?

I guided groups on Kilimanjaro for several years and saw how 80% of the glacier that has been there for 11,000 years had disappeared in the last 100 years. I could see for myself that the glacier was getting smaller and smaller every year. One sunny morning, when we had been hiking all night and the sun was just starting to rise over Kenya, I realized that, well, Oskar, you are actually contributing to this yourself by flying groups here. I decided right then and there that now I'm going to stop doing this. Even though I made good money on those trips, I felt that I myself was contributing to the disappearance of these glaciers.

"One sunny morning, when we had been hiking all night and the sun was just starting to rise over Kenya, I realized that well, Oskar, you are actually contributing to this yourself by flying groups here."

When I came home to Sweden, I started thinking about what can be done about the glaciers in Sweden? There are 250 glaciers in Sweden. I had seen how pressings were laid out on glaciers in Chamonix and in the USA which were mostly of fossil material. I was thinking about alternative materials like wool, we throw away a lot of wool every year in Sweden, wouldn't you use it on glaciers?

YOU WORK WITH THE GLACIER FELT ALL YEAR ROUND CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO WITH THE FELT IN SPRING/SUMMER/AUTUMN/WINTER?

In the spring, we put out the blanket on the glacier. The glacier melts away in the summer and builds up in the winter, and when it gets thick enough, glaciers form. Then we let it remain during the summer, that's when it protects the glacier from rain and too much melting. In the fall, in September, we roll up all the blankets and take them back to dry in a hangar. During the winter, the glacier is built up by the snow. In the spring we put them out again, we can use the blankets for several years.

TOP 3 GLACIER MOMENTS IN YOUR LIFE?

1) The first top moment was when I proposed to my future wife on the southern peak of Kebnekaise, which is also a glacier.

2) Of course, it was a top moment in 1990 when Mikael Reuterswärd and I managed to become the first Swedes on Mount Everest. When we got down to the base camp then we celebrated!

3) September last year 2023, when we removed the Glacier felt on Björlings glacier on Kebnekaise and the wool felt had protected 1.5 pure blue ice on an area of ​​200 m2. It was awesome.

"Of course, it was a top moment in 1990 when Mikael Reuterswärd and I managed to become the first Swedes on Mount Everest. When we got down to the base camp, we celebrated!"

WHAT DO YOU PACK TO GET EXTRA OPPORTUNITY UP THE MOUNTAIN?

I don't have anything unnecessary with me. Rather, I look at what I haven't used and what I don't need to bring next time. Not the healthcare kit but something else.

BEST FOOD YOU HAVE EAT ON A GLACIER?

Last year we ate a risotto in the tent at Kebnekaise, it was absolutely magical. But I have also eaten on a glacier in Pakistan. Then we ate sour strömming. We were gone for three months when we were going up K2 and had with us a Pakistani cook and a can of sour stromming. Suddenly we heard a scream and the chef ran straight out onto the glacier. Then he came back and served the fermented Baltic herring on a stainless silver tray. He had stuffed paper in his ears, nose and mouth and we asked why. He pointed to the jar and said "Bad spirit is living inside".

YOU SHOULD HAVE RESPECT FOR GLACIERS, THERE ARE SOME RISKS. WHAT PREPARATION AND KNOWLEDGE DO YOU HAVE?

On a glacier there are crevasses that can be dangerous. They can be hidden by snow, like a snow bridge, it looks like flat ground but it's a glacier crevasse underneath and it's something you definitely need to have knowledge and respect for. Therefore, we are always bound in ropes and harnesses and have equipment to be able to climb out of a crevasse.

I've fallen into cracks myself, not that my whole body has fallen down, but I've definitely fallen down with my legs and hung on with an ice axe.

WHAT HIDDEN TALENT DO YOU HAVE?

I can play "Saltkråkan" on harmonica.

WHAT IS THE MOST REBELLIOUS THING ABOUT THE GLACIER BLANKET?

The most rebellious thing is that it is wool that would otherwise have been burned up or wasted and that we instead use for something that hopefully makes a difference.

BEST WOOL MEMORY?

I have so many wool memories. Especially when we struggle with these wool rolls up Jökelbacken, the steep valley up Kebnekaise. Together with a group of equally enthusiastic climate fighters like me, we winch up the wool rolls. I think that's the coolest thing about this, everyone who shows up even though it's really tiring and hard and is so positive and has a good attitude.

WHEN DO YOU USE YOUR WOOL REBEL VEST?

Always. I use it regularly. It even had a little hole in it but fixed it with repair tape. There is no weather when you cannot have it.

"For me, glaciers are like a living entity that has been built on over thousands of years and is like a symbol for the mountains, for our climates and our planet."

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE WITH THE GLACIER BLANKET?

There is no final, it is an ongoing project. I'm going to keep doing this until I'm out of the loop and then we'll have to hope someone else takes over. It is about visually showing what is happening to the glaciers and that everyone who passes the woolen blanket at Kebnekaise can see what it means. It is nothing new that glaciers melt in the summer and build on in the winter, but now they are melting more than they are built on and we want to show.

For me, glaciers are like a living entity that has been built on over thousands of years and is like a symbol for the mountains, for our climates and our planet. If they are slowly disappearing then I feel that humanity is also disappearing.

However, I would like to do the project on a larger scale. Maybe not cover an entire glacier, but a critical part of a glacier, to prevent the dams that could threaten infrastructure such as roads, railways and villages. It's clear a bigger project would be a lot of fun to be able to do that.