VARGEVASS Siberian Huskies
With the intention of buying a Greenland dog to accompany him on hikes in the mountains, Karsten ended up with a Siberian Husky puppy from one of the earliest litters born in Norway. In 1965 he came across an advertisement of Helge Ingstad in a local newspaper, stating; "Siberian Husky pups for sale from Leonhard Seppala's famous lines". Although Karsten had never heard of Siberian Huskies nor of Leonhard Seppala at the time, he had read every book by Helge Ingstad, Norway's well known archeologist, explorer and writer. Ingstad was the first breeder of Siberians in Norway and bred numerous litters out of Rip (Taj x Bryar's Sepp) and Bryar's Sindy. Out of one of these litters Karsten acquired the female Ruski and one year later her younger sister Laika. In 1969 Laika was bred to the first Anadyr dog imported to Norway; Alaskan's Tannik of Anadyr. From this combination came Peik who would become the foundation for the kennel.
To prove Siberians could still perform in harness and as a way of selecting the future stock of the kennel, the dogs were started in competitions. In the beginning of the '70's only pulka and skijøring style races were held, dominated by setters and hounds. Karsten helped to organize the first sled dog style race in 1972 (Nome-style) and has been competing ever since. The first twenty five years mainly in sprint and mid-distance races, and from 2000 til 2014 in distance racing.
The last sprint race he put on his name was the European Championships of 1994 in Andermatt, Switzerland. In later years, the focus was on Alpirod in 1995, Pirena in 1997, 1998 (1.) and 1999. In 2000, Karsten (semi-retired) and his team were rookies on the Femund500. In their second running of the Femund race they placed 3rd. forcing 'Mr.Femundløpet' Robert Sørlie into 4. place. Sørlie won few years later the famous Iditarod twice. Karsten has always been interested to test his purebred Siberians against the best teams, independant of breed or type. This means entering the open races in the unlimited classes, as this is where the elite of the sport is competing.
While competing with purebreds comprehend the restrictions of a closed genepool, it has always been considered important to use a variety of the performance tested purebred blood lines within the breed; Alaskan Anadyr, Igloo Pak/New England and Seppala, rather than focusing on only one. Some of the imports include Talitta of Kolyma (1972, Anadyr/Igloo Pak) Arctic Trail's Fang, Yeso Pac's el Diablo (1978 - Igloo Pak/New England), Ash of Markovo (1985, Seppala) and Alaskan's Ping Ping of Anadyr and Alaskan's Chanel of Anadyr (2001). These dogs have contributed to establish a sound line of working Siberians, appreciated by many breed fanciers, be it as working dogs and or family members/companions.
The team winning the Scandinavian Open Championships of 1986. Kermit and his half sister Libra Libby in lead (by Yeso Pac's el Diablo). Photo by Bengt Ellis.
Fifty years have passed since Karsten acquired his first Siberian Ruski. The kennel's first litter was born in 1969, producing foundation male Peik out of Ruski's younger sister Laika. Her line is still represented in the current Vargevass dogs, proving the longevity of the line. Numerous litters have seen the light of day since. Vargevass Siberians can be found all over Europe nowadays. It is one of the very few strains left in Scandinavia and Europe without the disputable Zero line in the background.
Though the kennel is home to a rather small pack of ca. 25 dogs totally and strives for a main string of 16 dogs, workability and performance remain the breeding goal. The success in races shows that quality can be kept without quantity.
Major distance races like Femund600 are no longer on Karsten's 'to do' list after he turned 75, but shorter races like 120 km. or 300 km. are still part of the fun, purebred only and open races alike.
On a much smaller scale than Femundløpet and Finnmarksløpet, but from a purebred point of view rather interesting race is Polar Distans in mid Sweden. This 300 km. race in south west Sweden is organized by the Swedish Polar Dog Club and usually attended by all the four FCI sled dog breeds; Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Samoyedes and Greenland dogs. Karsten participated for the first time in 2003 and took first place in a field of 10 teams from various countries. The last time he entered the race was in 2012, again taking 1. place as did Eveline in 2013. The Vargevass team has started the 300 km. class (Karsten) and/or 160 km class (Eveline) of Polar Distans at ten different occassions and have won all of those, incl. the WSA European Championships Long Distance of 2016 hosted by Polar Distans.
We will keep on racing and breeding Siberian Huskies as long as we think it is still fun. As of the season for 2017 there are only 14 dogs in training of which 3 yearlings/rookies. This number has not been so low for many years. Goal for 2017 is WSA World Championships Long Distance