Hurdle Skiing: When the Ice Disappears and the Snow Quickly Melts

Hurdle skiing around Rautujärvi
Hurdle skiing in April

Since a bit more than a week, the plus degrees (Celsius, of course) have taken over, leading the snow and ice to melt quickly. While there is still enough snow to go skiing, the melting of the ice, especially on the rivers, makes skiing increasingly difficult because of certain barriers that the holes that are left behind: Crossing rivers by following the regular tracks became impossible. However, going through some kind of hurdle skiing, it is still possible to ski toward Pyhäkero, in the Pallas-Yllästunturi national park. After one colder night and a sunny day, we thus decided to make a short trip to the lean-to shelter at Rautujärvi, to enjoy our dinner while looking at the Pyhäkero fell.

 

The Situation

Hurdle skiing over Närpisöjoki
Water flowing over the skiing tracks on the Närpistöjoki river

The days have gotten long, and the darkness during the night already disappeared. The sun currently rises before 4:30 and sets around 22:30; these 18 hours of day give the sun a long time to warm up the surface, and let the snow and ice melt quickly. Although, according to the Finnish meteorologic institute (FMI), in the average of the past 30 years the ending date of the permanent snow cover has been at the end of May, this year already by now the first brown and green spots appear between the snow. Nevertheless, on the skiing tracks still is enough snow for decent skiing, even though some days in the past week the warm temperatures made the snow really wet and unpleasant to use for such purposes.

Snow cover map
FMI snow cover map

More than the snow itself, the rivers are seaming to set an end to the skiing season. At least where we live at the moment, we have to pass Närpistöjoki (a few times) to be able to get on the skiing tracks or to reach the lake Ounasjärvi. The latter also already starts to open up, further contributing to make skiing more tricky than during the winter season. But on the Southern side of the lake, toward and in the national park, the skiing tracks are still in a rather good condition – as they also are over the lake. If you once found them.

 

 

The Trip

Skiing tracks
Skiing tracks were still in good condition at many parts

The last week brought warm temperatures (up to 6°C, with even during the night not going below freezing), and also occasional rain showers. Thus, within a few days the snow cover shrinked from about 80 cm to appr. 40 cm – although, after checking the snow cover map from the FMI, I realized that we are the lucky ones, living in the place with the highest snow cover that’s left in this country.

 

Lean-to shelter at Rautujärvi
Grilling at the Rautujärvi lean-to shelter and looking at the Pyhäkero fell

The combination of the first colder night in a while and a sunny day left us no other choice than to wax our skiers and to go for a short round. As mentioned, we soon discovered that crossing the river wasn’t as easy any more as it used to be just a week earlier, and even on the big lake we discovered a big hole in the ice. After finding our ways around, we finally reached the skiing track on Ounasjärvi, from where we went to Rautujärvi, to make a little fire and have some dinner. Unfortunately the tracks are already getting ruined (again) by snow mobiles (since they are not really maintained any longer), but in general they were still quite OK. The frost of the last night made the snow hard and even with a thin, warm, and wet snow layer on top during the afternoon, the tracks worked pretty well. Just, whenever we had to cross rivers, we had to find a snow- or ice bridge, as at many places the ice was already broken where earlier the tracks were crossing. Anyhow, as for now, it still is possible – and this in a very enjoyable way, to use the skiing tracks up to Rautujärvi or Pyhäkero. If it shouldn’t be too warm during the next week, then there is still hope that this short trip didn’t have to be the last skiing trip for this season!

 

Picture Gallery

Närpistöjoki
Närpistöjoki
Närpistöjoki
Närpistöjoki
Lake Ounasjärvi and the Pyhäkero fell
Skiing tracks on lake Ounasjärvi
Skiing to Rautujärvi
Skiing to Rautujärvi
Skiing to Rautujärvi
Pyhäkero
Lean-to shelter at Rautujärvi
Grilling at Rautujärvi
Kuukkeli (Siberian Jay)
Rautujärvi
Skiing tracks
Skiing to Rautujärvi
Pyhäkero
Gap
Gap
Mind the gap!
Skiing to Rautujärvi
Ounasjärvi & Hetta
Snow cover map from the Finnish meteorological institute
Description

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