The annual Arctic winterhike took us to the Pyhä-Luosto National Park in Lapland, an area that we started exploring back in 2009. This park is one of the southernmost Arctic tundra plains. Southernmost is relative, it is still located 100 kilometers North of the Arctic Circle. To reach it we fly from Amsterdam via Helsinki to Rovaniemi. There we take the skibus to the Luosto ski resort, on the foot of the ‘Tunturi’, the treeless hills that form the National Park. We spend the first night in a very comfortable and typical Lappish cabin, which is part of the the Luostotunturi Hotel.
We start from our comfortable Lappish cabin.
We take the bus to the other end of the National Park in Pyhä. In the next four days we will ski through the entire length of the park, back to Luosto. In Pyhä we pick up some cooking fuel and off we go!
The route takes us around the Pyhä ski resort mountains and down into one of the deepest canyons in Finland, the Isokuru Pyhätunturi Gorge. A boardwalk leads over the bottom of the rocky gorge.
Before climbing up the steep slope on the other side of the Isokuru Gorge, we change from ski’s to showshoes.
On our snowshoes we climb Noitatunturi (538.6m), one of the highest summits in the park. The setting sun makes this a spectacular ascent.
The strange statue on the summit appears to be a heavily iced summit sign. We have a beautiful view over the flat tundras from here.
After the ascent of Noitatunturi we go down to the track and set up camp. We did not bring tents this time, so we pull out the bivybags, tightening them with our ski’s. While we build a campfire and cook some food the evening sets in.
Our campfire creates a magical orange glow between the Nordic Spruces.
We even spot a very faint Aurora towards the North, interfering with the glow from the town of Luosto in the distance.
The next morning we have breakfast and coffee and then continue along the skitrack in the heart of the park.
At the end of the second day of skiing we reach the Kapusta cabin. We decide to make a fire and spend the night inside this unmanned but very comfortable shelter.
Our cabin in the middle of nowhere. The ski resort, at about 15 kilometers from here, is well lit and creates a reddish glow over the treetops. The real world is never too far away in this park.
Morning inside the warm and cozy Kapusta cabin. Getting ready for our third day of skiiing.
The track leads around a large operational Amethyst mine in the middle of the park.
At the end of the third day we are behind the Luostotunturi Mountain, that we will climb tomorrow. There is a small shelter where we can build a fire. It is too small to spend the night, so we sleep in the open lean-to shelter close to this Ukko-Luosto cabin.
The Ukkoluosto lean-to shelter is open, but the wooden flooring provides some comfort. Temperatures drop to -15C during the night.
We prepare a hot breakfast and coffee over the fire in the cabin, before getting ready to climb Luostotunturi.
And up it goes. Snowshoes in ascent mode, ski’s on our back. The ascent from the cabin brings us from 280 to 514 meters, marking the highest point of the western part of the park.
Near the summit we cross a fairytale-like world of frozen and thickly iced trees.
From the edge of the trees we enter the barren flat Arctic summit area of Luostotunturi.
The summit is home to a lonely weather radar station, which makes for a dramatic objective of our ascent.
The weather radar station is completely covered in thick ice.
We descend on the shadow side of the mountain. This is steeper than it looks!
Upon arrival in Luosto we have a few nice beers below the ski slopes, before we get back into one of the warm and comfortable log cabins. It has a built-in sauna, after which you need to cool down…
The next morning we get back on the airport bus, that takes us back to Rovaniemi and home. We have had brilliant sunshine all week. Not much Aurora activity, but what a great trip to one of the southernmost Arctic plains in Scandinavia.