Sunset on Pyhäkero – Enjoying Skiing in the Evening

Sun very low on the horizon, with reddish light
Sunset on Pyhäkero

Often when I’m skiing I’m passing by Pyhäkero fell, but I hardly ever make it up to the summit during winter time. This time I decided to make the peak of Pyhäkero the goal of a short skiing trip, and to enjoy the sunset from up there – since soon there won’t be a sunset for a long time.

Taking the Sammalvaara skiing trail up to Pyhäkero, this was a nice approximately 40 km round trip, with an altitude difference of about 430 m from lake Ounasjärvi up to the summit.

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On my way back from Hannukuru the other day, I really felt the urge to leave the skiing tracks and to ski up the fells. While I went over the summit of Rouvivaara, there are also other beautiful fells I liked to ski up to. Especially Pyhäkero is one of the fells in Pallas-Yllästunturi national park that attracted me a lot.

Fells in reddish sunlight in the late afternoon
View toward Ounastunturi

Obviously Pyhäkero is the closest peak to Hetta and also can be seen from many places in and around Hetta. In summer and autumn I have hiked up a few times in the evening, to either enjoy the sunset or to go for a swim under the midnight sun. And also when skiing, I often passed by or took the skiing tracks that run over the fell – even though not reaching the summit. Thus I thought it would be a nice idea for a day trip to ski up to Pyhäkero, especially as long as the snow conditions are as great as they currently are, with the hard spring time snow layer on top that allow skiing off tracks even with regular cross country skiers.

Skiing tracks and hill landscape
Skiing tracks and Sammalvaara in the background

In about two to three weeks the polar day will start and the sun won’t set for about two months. Considering this fact, I planned to reach the Pyhäkero summit in the late evening for enjoying the sunset there. I left, however, early enough to have some time at the Postitupajärvi lean-to shelter on the Sammalvaara skiing trail, to make a small fire and grill some semi-delicious makkara. I really like to take the Sammalvaara skiing trail if I have a few hours to go for a short trip. Often though, I left in the afternoon and have been skiing in the shadow of the Sammalvaara hill. This time I had sunshine all the way long. So while I always thought I would be leaving too late, I think I was wrong: I was too early. Not from the time of the day when I left though, but from the season. :-) Now, that the sun is staying out as long as about 11 pm, in the late afternoon also the Sammalvaara skiing trail is still in the sun.

Cross country skiing tracks with some ice
(Icy) Skiing tracks

Generally the end of spring is becoming more and more obvious – and this not only because of the long days. Along the skiing track there were already some places where the snow has melted, nonetheless this was only in very few places and the majority of the tracks were still in good condition. In some lower elevated places, like near to lake Ounasjärvi and especially on the lake, the tracks were, however, icy. On the other hand, the fresh snow from the day when I returned from Hannukuru (after I came back home) covered many parts that already were icy before, and thus skiing was quite a pleasure most of the time. Another sign that summer is getting close was the fact that I have seen the first couple of swans this year, flying over my head, which means that the melting of the river and lake ice must already have started. And indeed I also discovered some brooks with open water along the way.

Lean-to shelter with fire place
Postitupajärvi lean-to shelter

In any case, I once again took the Sammalvaara skiing trail, and didn’t meet any person the whole day. As planned I had a break at the Sammalvaara lean-to shelter where I had my supper. When I reached the tree line when skiing up Pyhäkero, the sun was already pretty low and I speeded up a little bit to not be too late for the sunset, though there was no hurry. I really enjoyed skiing in evening, as the reddish light of the low standing sun painted the snow covered fells in wonderful red/violet colours. I decided to ski up the highest point of Pahäkero, even though from there you can’t really see down to lake Ounasjärvi and Hetta (because of two smaller peaks in-between), since this gives a wonderful view also toward the Pallastunturi further south. After reaching the summit it took maybe 15 to 20 minutes until the sun actually set. The colours were amazing: The sky, the snow, the horizon ..

Fells in violet light after the sunset
Ounas- and Pallastunturi after sunset

However, it also was really cold up there and windy, thus I didn’t spend much time on Pyhäkero, but soon after the sun set I turned around and skied back down. Since the skiing tracks toward and especially after the Pyhäkero open wilderness hut where more icy, I reached lake Ounasjärvi really quickly. In the end I felt very happy that I had decided to be on the top of Pyhäkero for the sunset. Not only because there won’t be any sunsets for a while pretty soon, but especially because the lights and colours are so beautiful at this time of the year. Nonetheless, with recognizing that the snow is disappearing and will most likely be gone in a short time, I am also already looking forward to November or December, when the snow and night comes back, and the next skiing season starts.


Icy Tracks
Open Water
Skiing Tracks
Skiing Tracks
Sunset on Pyhäkero
Ounastunturi Before Sunset
Sunset on Pyhäkero
Sunset on Pyhäkero
Pyhäkero in the Sunset
Sunset on Pyhäkero
Skiing Tracks

Pyhäkero from near lake Ounasjärvi


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