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Cross country skiing

Cross-country skiing in Saariselkä

The cross-country skiing season in Saariselkä lasts from October till May, starting from artificial snow and ending on shining spring snow. There are 200 km of cross-country ski tracks which of 34 km with lights. Real time track information

Most of the tracks are maintained by a big track machine but some of the fell and wilderness track are maintained by a snowmobile.

Season from October till May

The skiing season in Saariselkä starts early in October thanks to artificial snow. The natural snow comes typically in the end of October or latest in the beginning of November. The longest wilderness tracks will be opened only after the polar night because when the sun doesn´t rise above the horizon there is not enough light to longer day tours.

Vaskoolihiihto, marathon ski event

Vaskoolihiihto is a marathon ski event which is organized in Saariselkä every year on Good Friday. You will find more information on the event from the website of Lapin Sudet, the organizing ski club.

The Gold Bottle race

The Gold Bottle Games is always the last ski race in Finland each season and it is traditionally organized during the last weekend in April. You will find more information on the event from the website of Inarin Yritys, the organizing club.

Back-country skiing in Saariselkä

If the maintained cross-country skiing tracks in Saariselkä are not enough for you, you can head towards the wilderness. In the deep snow you can ski with broader back country skis or telemark skis.

  • The normal narrow cross-country skis don´t work in the deep snow.

Find your own way on the spring snow

In the spring time when it is plus degrees during day time and minus degrees during nights the surface of the snow starts carrying the skier. When the snow is like this it is possible to ski on the frozen surface on the snow all day around.

If you are planning on a day tour outside the maintained track take a close look at the weather forecasts before. If the air gets warmer and the snow gets soft again it might be difficult to get back on the maintained skiing trails.

In the deep snow during the mid-winter

Wilderness skiing season on deep snow starts in November or December when there is enough snow in the forests and on the fells.

The moors and waters underneath the snow can remain unfrozen even if there seems to be a lot of snow. Consider this when you are planning your route.

While skiing on deep snow you should also consider avalanche risk which is the biggest in steep slopes and canyons. You can find the up-to-date avalanche forecast here.

Be prepared for everything

It is important to be prepared for everything when you are planning to do a long tour in the wilderness.

Always remember that the weather can change extremely and rapidly on the fells which is why it is important to pay extra attention to clothing! Check out tips for clothing section!

It is wise to prepare youself also with plenty of food. Sometimes it is necessary to stay in the wilderness for one ore more extra days because of bad weather or ilness. In this sort of cases it is good to have extra food for at least one day.

Tips for skiing and waxing

You should take the weather conditions into consideration when choosing the skiing style (traditional or freestyle). When it is really cold and the snow is new, it is not very fast. Then it is often easier to ski traditional style. Freestyle skiing is nicer when the snow is fast and temperature milder. Freestyle skiing requires a broad freestyle track while traditional skiing is also possible in deep snow or on a self-made track. For deep snow you will need broader (50-70mm) skis while on the maintained track also narrower skis (43-46mm) will do.

The skis are waxed according to weather and skiing style

For skating skis you will only need glide waxing. For traditional skiing you will need also grip wax in the middle of the ski.  For different snow conditions and temperatures there are different kind of waxes.

Waxing-free skis for different conditions

Nowadays there are also available skis that you don´t have to wax at all. In some waxing-free skis the base material of the ski includes both grip and glide elements so you don’t have to take care of the waxing at all. With this kind of pair of skis you can manage on different kind of conditions but they are at their best when the temperature is close to zero degrees Celsius and it is snowing.

Tips for clothing

Clothing is important always when doing activities outdoors. The task of clothing is to prevent warmth from vanishing from the skin and on the other hand to help the extra humidity and warmth to fade from the skin.

Layer clothing

For cross-country skiing the best way to clothe is to use many clothing layers. The idea of this kind of clothing is that the air between the layers keeps you warm and dry. The humidity is supposed to move through the layers away from the skin. This is how the body temperature stays even during the skiing tour.

1. Closest to skin -layer

The layer closest to skin moves the humidity away from the skin and keeps it dry and warm.

2. Mid-layer

The mid-layer is supposed to help with warmth adjusting, when it is colder the mid-layer should be warmer.

3. Top-layer

The top-layer protects against wind, rain, and snowfall.

4. Extra-layer

Besides, you will need an extra layer for breaks or extremely cold conditions.

The spring sun and sun glasses

Good sun glasses are one of the most important equipment for skiing in Lapland. Even if the sun isn´t shining directly you might start to feel nauseous, your eyes turn red, and start aching. If you start to feel this kind of symptoms you might be suffering from snow blindness.
Even if the symptoms might not feel extremely serious they should be taken seriously because the illness might get worse quickly and end up in blindness. In the spring time when the snow is white and sun is shining snow blindness can come very quickly.

The symptoms of snow blindness
Observe yourself for the following symptoms:
  • The first symptom is typically irritation of eyes and dazzling feeling.
  • You might also be feeling nauseous.
  • Feeling of sand or trash in eyes and they might turn red.
First aid to snow blindness

The most important remedy for snow blindness is staying inside and away from direct sun light. It is good to take it easy and forget about party night out. Sometimes rinsing the eyes with boiled hand warm water or going to sauna might help. Usually snow blindness heals on its own in 2-4 days but if it continues you should see a doctor.

When going for a cross-country ski tour, take with you:

  • warm and dry clothes
  • something small to eat and drink
  • matches
  • ski waxes
  • map and a compass
  • mobile phone

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