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Padjelanta National Park
There are 29 national parks in Sweden, one of them being Padjelanta in the very north of Sweden. It is the largest national park in Sweden and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Laponia.
Photo credit: Hans-Olof Utsi/

Renata Chlumska - Adventure athlete

Adventure athlete who became the first Swedish woman to climb Mount Everest and the only person in the world to circumnavigate the lower 48 States of the United States by own power. Renata travels the world but her base is Jönköping, in the middle of Sweden.

Renata Chlumska is one of these latter day professionals. As an adventurer and mountain climber she has seen more of the world than most. Much of her preparation is done on home turf.

”If I didn’t live in Sweden I would feel more confined. To me, the freedom to roam is such an unquestionable thing, that even if you own the land it is something people should have access to and be able to utilize,” she says.

Chlumska was the first Swedish woman (and Czech, she has dual citizenships) to conquer the ”Seven summits” (the highest mountains on each of the seven continents). In 2005 she embarked on her ”Around America Adventure,” where she used only a kayak and a bicycle to circumnavigate USA:s lower 48 states. That feat took – ouch! – 439 days. It wasn’t always easy to find refuge from the waves when sleep called.

”In other parts of the world I have to be careful and use a bit of stealth… In the U.S. I sometimes camped where I wasn’t supposed to and slept with a knot in my stomach. Access to fresh water can be problematic as well. When I’m out kayaking on the West coast in Sweden I don’t even have to consider who owns this or that small island when I choose where to land,” she says.

Renata Chlumska was raised in an apartment in Malmö, capital of the South if you will. She grew peas on the family’s miniscule balcony and wished for a house with a garden where she could sleep in a tent. She now lives that dream in Jönköping, strategically located by the shores of Vättern and roughly equidistant from Stockholm and Malmö and even nearer the dotted small islands of the Western archipelago.

Chlumska does not limit her perspective to her own needs. She lists horse riding, mountain biking and similar activities – some of them often arranged as commercial ventures – and concludes that things would be very different if they weren’t as accessible as today.

The conversation turns to what we were given and what we had to fight for.

”I value nature more now. I used to take it for granted. In terms of being careful or mindful I think about the animals, the birds … Somehow you have to take the viewpoint that nature is where they live, it’s their home, and we have to respect that,” she says.