Pyhä Backcountry

THE WORLD’S BEST PLACE TO TRY FREERIDING

Freeriding areas in Pyhä and surrroundings are the most unmatched in the Finnish scale.There are seven distinctive freeriding areas in the proximity of the fell and the Pyhä-Luosto National Park. These offer challenging skiing even for the most experienced skiers. Find your own favorite areas or check out the Pyhä Backcountry guided tours from the Pyhä Ski School.

  • Explore the terrain

    Inspect the snow conditions

    Check out the safety and other gears

  • Snow Safety By Antti Autti

Freeriding opportunities at Pyhä are incomparable on Finland’s scale. Seven different freeriding areas in close proximity of the fell and the Pyhä-Luosto national park offer challenges even for the well-experienced rider. Find your own favourite area or explore freeriding on a guided tour.

Pyhä’s freeriding areas have been divided into seven areas, which are situated on the different sides of the fell. Some areas are located in Pyhä-Luosto national park area, so you are kindly reminded to respect the national park and obey the area specific rules and restrictions on where to go.

Before heading to backcountry, it is important to check the current conditions. The Finnish meteorological institute (Ilmatieteenlaitos) compiles an avalanche forecast for Pyhä-Luosto area, which shows the probability of an avalanche on a five-step scale. 

PYHÄ X ANTTI AUTTI

Collaboration between Pyhä and snowboarder Antti Autti brings Pyhä Backcountry areas into the Antti’s films and video series.

Anttisworld

The Pyhä ski school’s guided tours

Pyhä Extreme –backcountry treks were extremely popular in the 1990s when freeriding was making its breakthrough in the fells of Lapland. Now you can again access the most amazing backcountry routes with a guide. We offer the following freeride courses and treks: 

Pyhä's nearby off-piste routes

Get to know off-piste riding in the guidance of the Ski School. We ride nearby off-piste runs that are accessible with ski lifts and learn freeriding techniques.

Get to know rando

Introducing rando-skiing and the nearby routes of Ukonhattu safely in the guidance of Pyhätunturi’s Ski School.

Freeriding treks in Pyhä-Luosto National Park

On this trek you will get to know the rounds and gorges from a close distance and experience the landscapes of Noitatunturi and Ukonhattu fells. You will find the safe riding routes in the guidance of Pyhätunturi Ski School.

Additional information and reservations:

Pyhä Ski School

Freeriding map of Pyhä
Safety first!
Nearby off-piste runs
1. Jackson
2. Hotel Slope
3. Saunakuru
4. The backside of Saunakuru
5. Aittakuru
Pyhä’s backcountry
6. Basic route to Ukonhattu (Kakkonen)
7. Three fell round
More adventures in the national park
Ski school’s backcountry products

Freeriding areas in Pyhä have been divided into seven different areas. You will find descriptions for each off-piste and backcountry route in Pyhä from the adjacent links. You are kindly reminded to take into account snow safety on your off-piste treks and to respect the rules of the national park when in there. Welcome to the world of freeriding!  

Remember these instructions when heading to freeriding areas

  • Do not ride alone outside the marked and groomed slopes.
  • When moving in the slope area outside the opening hours of lifts, pay additional attention especially to work appliances. Some of our snow cats are equipped with a cable wire, which is attached to a pole located on top of the slope. While the machine is working, the cable wire can be hidden under the snow, but the machine can abruptly tighten and lift up the cable wire in the air extremely fast, which evidently increases the possibility of an accident.  In general, we advise you to pay attention to maintenance work and other actions taking place there when moving in the slope area outside the opening hours.
  • Check the weather forecast and conditions before riding outside the groomed slopes. Danger of an avalanche can be real. Even if the slope is not big, a small avalanche can gather a remarkable layer of snow on the bottom of a steep sided gorge.
  • Be prepared with valid gear.  Always bring avalanche safety gear with you to backcountry (avalanche transmitter, shovel and probe), first aid kit and phone, warm clothes, something to eat and drink. Remember to learn also how to use your gear. Fancy gear won’t be of use, if in case of an accident you don’t know how to use them. It is not the right gear, but your own decisions that makes backcountry riding safe.
  • Estimate the conditions in relation to your own skills. Do not hesitate to back off, if the conditions seem questionable.
  • Get a map (e.g. Pyhä-Luosto outdoors map 1:50 000) and familiarize yourself with it.
  • Before the trek tell others where you are heading and when you are planning on returning. Let others know when you get back.
  • Download a 112 app on your phone, so you can send an emergency notification and you are also able to see your exact coordinates.
  • In case of an emergency always call 112.

Pyhä’s nearby off-piste runs are incomparable on Finland’s scale: diverse freeriding options are only a lift ride or a short walk away. You can curve through ancient pinewoods right by the sides of Kultakero, drop pillow lines from one stone to another or ride descending side of the gorge.


Jackson is The classic of Pyhä’s nearby off-piste runs 

The wide forest section left between the borderline of the Old chairlift and the national park got its name already in the 1980s, when Jussi Heinilä, a K2 team rider at that time, went on a skiing trip to Jackson Hole, USA.  "That same spring we were riding powder snow in Pyhä in the forest next to the Old chairlift and I noticed that it was just like Jackson Hole.”

Jackson is easily reached from the top station of PyhäExpress. First you head towards the slope at the Old chairlift and then continue your ride under it.  At this point it is recommended to stay as high as possible to achieve a maximum altitude difference for the actual run.

Jackson is not a single run, but a vast forest area. The few clearest lines are fast ridden and worn to moguls, but with some creativity you will most likely find some good fresh snow to ride. Above Jackson, however, the open fell is often wind beaten crust – frankly speaking, tor rocky ground. Exiting Jackson is easy, as there is a path running beneath the forest between the slope area and the Isokuru’s lean-to. The lower part of the forest is quite gentle, so especially snowboarders are recommended to keep up good speed. By poling along the path you will easily get to the Old chairlift’s base station or the following Family slopes. 

Easy to reach

The upper area of the hotel, meaning the forest area between Huttu-Ukko and Piste Palander –slope is descending and easily reachable. In terms of trees, this ungroomed slope resembles the Jackson area. The area can be reached either from the upper parts of Huttu-Ukko or Piste Palander.

Since PyhäExpress is easy to reach without any kinds of transitions, the early birds can enjoy nice rides and quick rounds above the hotel after snowfalls.  Due to its availability, the area is quickly scoured through. Be careful at the beginning of your ride, since above the tree line the fell is really rocky. Please remember to mind other riders in the lower part of the forest when crossing the transition route from Polar-lift to Family slopes.

Jibbing Saunakuru

Saunakuru is not an actual run, but instead, a traditional jibbing spot. On the north side of the Blue slope, parallel to the slope, runs Saunakuru, which is pretty flat, but its sides are steep. This makes the gorge a good place to practice drops. Please remember to check and get to know the drops before hand: in some drops the landing is unnecessary flat and others have formed a snowcap. You don’t want to end up on the bottom of a steep sided gorge and have two truckloads of snow falling on top of you. There’s also a surprise lurking in the bottom area of the gorge: Saunakuru ends to the rocks and ice walls of Tajukangas. For this reason, remember to get yourself up from the gorge to the right (from the rider’s viewpoint) in good time.

The backside of Saunakuru

Saunakuru might not have that much to ride, but its backside, more familiarly called Perse (eng. Arse) can offer few nice turns and drops.

The easiest way to reach Saunakuru’s backside is from the level of Top lift’s base station. Ride away from Blue slope, drop to Saunakuru and hike up to the opposite side. Ski the side of the fell without losing altitude difference and spot the preferred riding line. Close to Saunakuru the runs are quite rocky, but the further away you move, the less drops there are along the way. Rides in Perse are not spoiled with length. You will pretty fast reach a maintenance road, which leads you easily to Tajukangas and by the Blue slopes.

Aittakuru is the most demanding of Pyhä’s nearby off-piste runs

The gorge has few short open launders, different sized cliffs and bushes, which open up further down. There’s plenty to choose from. Please be careful with the rocks of Aittakuru and the snowcaps in the top area of the gorge. 

Aittakuru is easy to access. Ride the right side of the North slope from the top station of PyhäExpress and curve just before the tree line to a maintenance road on the right. The road first ascends slightly, so build up speed. On top of a small uphill you can continue the road forward or in case you do not want to lose altitude difference by riding on the road, ski the side of the fell to the right for a short time.

When riding along the road, continue straight to a gently sloping forest as the road turns to right. As you have ridden the side of the fell, ride across a small snowfield and a maintenance road to the gently sloping forest. Both routes take you on top of Aittakuru. Don’t be surprised as the gently sloping forest turns fast into a descending one.

The gorge is pretty steep, so even if it is easily reachable, it is not a place for beginner freeriders. You can begin with exploring the gorge by riding past it from its west end, from the North slopes’ side.

There are many riding options in this steep sided gorge. Closest to the gorge’s top or west end (on the left side of the rider) there’s least altitude difference and in the east there’s more. At its biggest the run is at Kuruteatteri. To exit Aittakuru you can follow the bottom of the fell to the left and hike up from its west end. From there, it’s only a tiny ride to the North slopes’ base station and for a break at Wursti.

Pyhä’s backcountry

Pyhä is a part of a 35 kilometre long fell line – that actually doesn’t have a single fell named Pyhätunturi! The slopes of Pyhä spread out on the slopes of Kultakero. At the north end of the fell line one can ride on the sides of Ukko-Luosto on the slopes of Luosto.

The most interesting adventures for a backcountry skier are found nearby the slopes of Pyhä from Kultakero and from the next two fells of the fell line, Ukkohattu and Noitatunturi. More familiarly, Kultakero, Ukonhattu and Noitatunturi are known by the names Ykkönen, Kakkonen and Kolmonen.

The specialties of Pyhä-Luosto national park are the steep gorges formed between the fells. The biggest and most famous of these is the gorge Isokuru, between Kultakero and Ukonhattu that has an altitude difference of 220 meters. For those approaching Pyhä from the direction of Pyhäjärvi, Isokuru reveals itself as a tempting silhouette. This gorge should, however, be avoided: its steep faces are often beaten bare by wind and are dangerous in terms of snow safety. Even bigger avalanches are not a rarity in Isokuru. The walls of this gorge also belong to the restricted part of the national park: moving in the restricted part of Isokuru outside the marked routes is only allowed with the permission of State Forest Enterprise (Metsähallitus). The restricted zone is marked in the terrain with signs. More information about the restricted part of the park is available at Visitor Centre Naava. 


Basic route in a few hours

The basic Pyhä backcountry route starts with a hike up via Karhujuomalampi’s day hut to Ukonhattu (Kakkonen). The trek takes first a lift ride to Kultakero (Ykkönen) and continues then with one ascent by hiking all the way to Kakkonen. You should reserve at least three hours for this trek.

First go up with PyhäExpress, then ski towards the top station of the Old chairlift and continue past it to the right towards the fence of the radio mast. From next to the fence, you can choose your line towards northwest. Gently sloping, sparse, hilly forest will in all cases lead you to the outdoor route passing beneath the slope.

Ride along the path to the left. The beginning is flat, after which you will encounter a small ride to the north end of Isokuru. At this point, it is worth to put the skins on your skis and ski little less than a kilometre to the Karhunjuomalampi’s day hut.

The actual hike to Kakkonen starts from the hut. The most natural route to the fell runs on the right, on the west side of the pond. You can first ski hundred meters along the track base towards west and then cut to the bushes. By heading northwest you soon arrive on top of Kuorinkikuru and further on to the north end of Pikkukuru. Here you need to make a decision, whether to continue to Kakkonen or Kolmonen.

When ascending Kakkonen, you continue your hike to the left and ski up the gentle northwest slope of Kakkonen. The top of Kakkonen is vast and it actually has two peaks. Thus, don’t be hasty with altitude difference. You can ski up the hill slanting, because the purpose is not to ride down until the east peak.

When you reach the east peak, the mighty Isokuru opens up in front of you. You are, however, not allowed to go there, as it belongs to the restricted zone of the national park and it is not allowed to ride its slopes. Thus, head to southeast. The run includes similar forest as in Kultakero’s Jackson, but less ridden and more descending.

If you haven’t reached the south end of Isokuru by the end of your run, ski for a moment to the left (to east) and soon you will find yourself around familiar corners. Continue up the stairs to Isokuru lean-to and ski the path running beneath Jackson back to the ski centre.

Three fell round

For the ones yearning for a day trip longer than the basic route of Kakkonen, we recommend heading to the highest peak of the fell line, Noitatunturi (540m). The beginning of the trek follows the same route as when ascending to Kakkonen. At the Pikkukuru’s end the paths diverge. From there the hike goes towards Kolmonen rising on the right. The hike is quite gentle and easy with the skins. The top part of the fell is usually wind beaten, and, therefore, we recommend that you ski the east side of the fell. For coming back down, you can choose either to ride to the east to Pikkukuru or to the forest on the south side. The smoothest ride runs to southeast to Oravalampi. The hut there is an excellent place to take a break.

From Oravalampi, at the south end of Pikkukuru, the hike goes on top of Kakkonen. There’s no sense in trying to climb the steep walls of Pikkukuru, since an easier route goes on the south side of the fell. The way is also long when hiking this side of the fell and the ride down doesn’t usually start until the east peak. In other words, there’s no rush in gathering altitude difference. One can ski slanting in the shelter of the trees especially in windy weather. But if the snow is good, it is worth riding the south slopes to leave your tracks there and take one additional hike up.

When you have reached the peak of Kakkonen you can again follow the guidelines of above described route: ride to southeast towards Isokuru’s south end, go up the stairs and ski the flat path back to civilization. 

Pyhä-Luosto National Park

The rounds and gorges of Pyhätunturi national park offer many other options for backcountry adventures too. When the secrets of the first three fells have been explored, one can continue the fell line forward. After Kolmonen you will meet Sarvikuru, Laakakero, Peurakuru and Peurakero. And if you decide to ski all the way there, you might as well grab your sleepover gear with you and get to know the desolate hut of Huttuloma. In this way, the day trip turns into a bigger adventure.

To get more information and tips go to Pyhätunturi Ski School at the hotel level in the middle of the fell!

The ski school’s guided tours

Pyhä Extreme –backcountry treks were extremely popular in the 1990s when freeriding was making its breakthrough in the fells of Lapland. Now you can again access the most amazing backcountry routes with a guide. We offer the following freeride courses and treks: 

PYHÄ'S NEARBY OFF-PISTE ROUTES 

Get to know off-piste riding in the guidance of the Ski School. We ride nearby off-piste runs that are accessible with ski lifts and learn freeriding techniques.

GET TO KNOW RANDO 

Introducing rando-skiing and the nearby routes of Ukonhattu safely in the guidance of Pyhätunturi’s Ski School.

FREERIDING TREKS IN PYHÄ-LUOSTO NATIONAL PARK

On this trek you will get to know the rounds and gorges from a close distance and experience the landscapes of Noitatunturi and Ukonhattu fells. You will find the safe riding routes in the guidance of Pyhätunturi Ski School.

Ask more and book your courses via Pyhä Ski School >