Skiing in Kilpisjärvi A black and white adventure

Our goal was to reach ski from Kilpisjärvi to Halti (the highest fjell in Finland) and back. When we set out, the sky was still bright blue. Later on, the weather would degrade. We were hit with storm winds and near zero visibility . After the trip, I found neither the blue skies nor whiteout inspiring. So the photographs from the adventure went unprocessed for almost two years.

It was a whisper in the back of my mind, almost a whim really, that lead me to try a black and white conversion on the photos. Some of the photographs already lacked color. Others were almost too basic. A giant blue sky is magnificent when you experience it, but bland in a picture. Taking away the color seemed to provide a spark of creativity for the pictures. So that's what I did.

This is the result: a set of black and white photography from the 2017 ski trip to Kilpisjärvi Wilderness Area. This is the story of a trip that did not quite reach it's goal, but was an enjoyable and educational nonetheless.

Cottages nested on the foothills of Salmivaara, as seen from the slopes of Saana Fjell.

After an eventful trip north, we managed to set out from Kilpisjärvi in the afternoon. The first day we took it easy, skiing a few legs, basking in the magnificent sunshine and blue skies.

The snow, manipulated by the elements, takes on magnificent forms

As darkness was falling, we made our first camp while still in the foothills of the Saana fjell. This would turn out to be the only night in we slept in the tent.

At night, we got the change to witness the aurora borealis.
The fence tells a story of reindeer husbandry. During winter time it was easy to cross.

The second day of skiing was the first full day. We rested a bit on the Saarijärvi hut but decided to continue on towards the Kuonjarjoki hut.

Reading the map at Saarijärvi hut

I was still recovering from a flu and Aleksi already had a week of skiing under his belt, so we were seriously pushing our strength when continuing towards Kuonjarjoki. We sure were glad to see the Kuonjarjoki hut become visible from the mist.

For the second night, we made our way to the Kuonjarjoki Open Wilderness Hut

As we approached the Kuonjarjoki hut, we saw that there were already people present. The hut was warm, two German guys having already settled thehre for the night. At that point we were glad to enter a warm hut.

After the meal, Aleksi is about to open a bottle of fine rum

The next day the winds were so fierce, that I my pulka was flying like a flag, held in place by the ski poles. We were glad to sleep late and wait for the worst wind to blow over. While waiting, a couple arrived with dog sled. They were heading to Kilpisjärvi for the night and kindly provided us with left over beer. It became our treasure. We set out at mid day, and soon realised that the winds were coming from our back, actually making the skiing easier.

As we were setting out, we helped the couple turn the dog sleds towards Kilpisjärvi

The skiing with the wind on our backs was easy. We made an uneventful few hours to Meekonjärvi. Visibility was terrible, but occasionally the mist and snow would reveal a lone peak or a visible rock.

The descent down to Meekonjärvi was magnificent, even in the poor visibility.

The Megonbakti was seriously imposing

At Meekonjärvi, we held a short pow wow and evaluated our options. As we were late to set out, we were running out of time. We decided to cut the day short at Meekonjärvi and turn back the next day.

We got to enjoy some clear views of the Meeko valley, but the next day the weather again turned seriously windy. Our trusty snow mobile goggles were again put to good use.

We ski'd from Meekojärvi back to Saarijärvi, where we stayed the night at a rather full hut. The last day was a few hours' skiing from Saarijärvi to Kilpisjärvi and we set out to enjoy a sauna and prepare for the drive back to Southern Finland.

As we were pressed for time and first time in the area, we made good use of the open wilderness hut system , which is seriously good on the Kalottireitti. Staying on Kalottireitti and in the huts means you get to meet people. Mostly this did not bother us, a hut only became crowded on the last night. In Meekonjärvi we had the hut to ourselves and the Kuonjarjoki hut was plently large enough to accommodate the four of us staying there.

Afterwards, we have discussed our decision to turn back at Meekonjärvi. It is possibbe that we could have reached Halti and gotten back within our time limit. But we do know there was also some seriously bad weather after we left, so we still consider it a wise decision. Halti is not going anywhere, but we surely will be skiing to Halti in the future.

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