Finland

: Halti (1328 m)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halti (traditionally called “Haltiatunturi“) is the highest mountain in Finland (1.328m
above sea level), or it is rather a fell, “tunturi
in Finnish. Halti comes from the word “haltija,” meaning a fairy. The Sami (traditional
people of Lapland) name for Halti is “Halditsohkka.”

The very summit of Halti is actually on the Norwegian
side (at 1.361m called Haldefjäll),
about 50m from the summit is a spur that is the high point
of Finland.
So, Halti is to Finland
what Monte Bianco is for Italy:
the high point of the country, although a spur of Mont
Blanc. The highest mountain fully inside Finland is
called Ridnitsohkka, (1.316m) about 10km ESE from Halti.

Halti is located in the extreme North-Western
panhandle of Finland, and it
is on the border with Norway.
It is quite a popular trek during the summer months and climbing is not
difficult since it is a walk-up mountain. The terrain itself is made up of
large rocks with little of no earth visible. So, while summiting Halti itself is not difficult, getting there is a bit more
demanding and it will take you several days.

 

 

 

 

The Käsivarsi
Wilderness Area (2,206 sq.km) is the second largest
wilderness area in Finland.
It is situated in the north-westernmost part of the municipality of Enontekiö. The Haltitunturi fell, which is the highest fell in Finland at 1,328 metres, is very
popular with hikers. Metsähallitus has six non-reservable and four reservable
wilderness huts along the trail. With the exception of Saanatunturi
fell, all twenty fells in Finland
that rise above 1,000
metres are situated in the Käsivarsi
Wilderness Area.

In the north and the east, the border of the wilderness area runs along the
national frontier between Finland
and Norway.
On the northern side of the wilderness area lies the Norwegian Reisa National Park. The nature and the
cultural heritage of the Käsivarsi (käsivarsi = arm) area are unique. The great fells of the northwestern part of the area are the only area in Finland that is
a part of the Scandinavian Caledonides divide. The Käsivarsi Wilderness Area is roadless,
but not uninhabited.

 

 

 

 

Halti is located about 55km from the
small town of Kilpisjärvi,
and this is the best place to start. The normal route begins from Kilpisjärvi (South-West), and is very well marked. Halti is also accessible from the Norwegian side, so some
trekkers prefer to do this and approach Halti from
the North-West, and return via the normal route back to Kilpisjärvi,
or vice versa. If you don’t like to see any people on your trek, go from the
Norwegian side.

 

 

 

 

Halti can be climbed year arround, but because of the extreme arctic conditions
during winter, the most popular time to trek to the mountain is during the
summer months from June-August. If you go before June, it’s extremely wet and
there’s still snow on the ground. If you go after August, the temperatures are
already a lot colder and the weather can be unpredictable.

 

 

 

 

Camping In Huts or
Tents

 

 

Camping is the only way to go since
there are no hotels or huts with services on the route. Most people prefer to
use their own tents since this guarantees you accomodation.
Besides, it’s more comfortable sleeping in your own tent because you have more
privacy and there is more oxygen while you sleep. You need to have good
equipment though, since nights can get cold. Have a sleeping bag with a rating
of at least -15 degrees Celsius.

There are several modest huts on the route as well. These huts are owned by the
Finnish Government and are free of charge to everyone. However, they can only accomodate up to 10 people, so not everyone is necessarily
guaranteed a place. If everyone wants to sleep at a hut, then you have to
negotiate on who stays. Obviously, if someone doesn’t have a tent, he is
allowed to stay. And, of course, someone can always sleep on the floor.
Huts are usually divided into two parts:
1) “Autiotupa” (in Finnish a hut that is
deserted/not occupied ) is a side of the hut that is
free and anybody can sleep there if there is room available. A list of autiotupa’s on route to Halti:

Saarijärvi, sleeps 10 people

Kuontajoki, sleeps 10 people

Meekonjärvi, sleeps 10 people

Pitsusjärvi, sleeps 10 people

Halti (old hut), sleeps 6 people

Halti (new hut), sleeps 10 people
2) “Varaustupa” (in Finnish a reserve hut)
is a side of the hut you can reserve for yourself only, but for this
“luxury,” you have to pay 9€/person/day to the Metsähallitus
(Finnish Board of Forestry). They have a small office in Kilpisjärvi
called “Luontotalo,” nature house, from
where you can reserve these cabins and get the key (tel. +358 (0)205647990 or
if it is closed, Tunturi-Lapin Luontokeskus
in Enontekiö +358 (0)205647950). All of the huts
listed in the “Autiotupa” section have a
reserve side to them except the old Halti Hut.

 

 

 

 

Sleeping in your own tent is the
best way to go. It can be difficult at times finding a suitable place to put it
because of all those rocks everywhere. Sleeping in a tent means you sleep
better at night because you get more oxygen and you can relax in privacy.
The
photo shows Lake Saarijärvi
in the background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shown here are the most popular
routes to reach Halti. “Retkeilykeskus
( Camping Center) is the beginning point in the town
of Kilpisjärvi
(just above the big lake). This is where all the services and stores are. The
normal route, called “the

Halti Highway

” is shown
in red and runs via Saarijärvi, Meekonjärvi,
Pitsusjärvi (this is the lake you can fly to) and
finally, Halti. You can come back via the

Norwegian Route

 

,
but note that all the huts are on the Finnish side. DO NOT mistake “Urtas Hotelli” for a hotel, it’s actually just a big box, where 2-3 people can
sleep.

The triangles depic peaks (with elevation in meters)
and the squares huts. It typically takes 3 days to trek the 55km route, roundtrip
in maybe five days, depending on how fast you go. I would recommend 15-20km per
day – anything over that is really pushing it, and you don’t enjoy it as much.

 

 

 

 

 

Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), “Poro” in Finnish, during late summer in the Halti region.

 

 

 

 

Pitsusköngäs on the route from
Kilpisjärvi to Halti.
Though not the highest fall is Finland (17m),
but definitely the most beautiful!

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

South slope of Halti
during June 2003.

 

 

 

 

North Face of Halti
(from the Norwegian side) during summer 2000.
Note
the summit is not
visible from this angle.

 

 

 

This is what you will find at the
top of Halti, the boundary marker 203B. This means
you are now at the ” Uhuru Peak” of the Republic of Finland!

 

 

 

 

Descending from Halti towards the Halti Hut (not
visible) during summer 2000.

 

 

 

 

Lots of mosquitos during the summer, so be prepared with mosquito
repellent- and lots of it.
In Finland,
you can even buy t-shirts that say “Mosquitos,
The Finnish Air Force!” so do take this warning very seriously. Mosquito
hats are OK for camp, but not good with carrying a 20kg backpack in variable
terrain. It will enevitably get in your way.

Rubber boots are also a must (rather than hiking boots) since the terrain is
wet and you have to cross many shallow streams on your boots. Sneakers good for camp.
Be sure to take warm clothing with you even during summer, since temperatures
can drop to nearly 0 degrees Celsius, especially during nights. Be also
prepared for rain or sleet, somethimes for days. But
if you’re lucky, the weather can also be nice: as hot as +30 Celcius during July-August! Have enough food for the
several days it will take you for the trip there and back (110 km). There are no shops
on route, so you cannot suppliment your supplies.
Incidentally, you will not need to carry any water with you, since you can
drink from a stream: guaranteed to be the cleanest and coolest water you have
ever had (forget Evian here)!

 

 

 

 

 

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