Soft powder and ease of lifts

Soft powder and ease of lifts

The sky shines light blue as I walk towards the ticket office with a snowboard under my arm. A good layer of new snow has fallen overnight and the morning’s chilly frost is pinching my cheeks. Excitement is bubbling inside – it’s powder day! I buy a ticket and slip it into the sleeve pocket of my jacket. I shout a cheerful thank you to the ticket seller halfway to my waiting friends. This is going to be a good day.

The previous day’s bills have trained my board after a short break. I feel confident. Still, we decide to warm up with a few breaststrokes and get a feel for the cat tracks. It’s loose on the slopes. In mid-winter, the frost and the low number of users keep the slopes in good condition until the evening. I make long, gentle turns down the gondola run and laugh out loud at the bumpy slope profile – the loose hills tickle my stomach. I head down to the gondola and snap the board off my feet. The gate beeps, showing a green light, and I place the board in its designated slot in the lift. The gondola is filled with excited chatter. We peer between the cucurbits that adorn the walls and plan our next descent.

Towards a pristine snow

At the top, there is a gentle breeze – just the right amount of light wind that doesn’t pile up light snow on the edges of the snowfields. A playground of flat, untouched snow opens up on the west side of the tundra. I climb over the fence trapped under the snow mound and sit down to fasten the board ties.

“Be careful not to drift too far to the right,” one of the team reminds me.

The little law serves as a good landmark. A little past it to the left, and you’ll come to the lift on the western boundary. There’s a long, wide descent to the Luosukuruunk, but we don’t want to end up in a cornfield waving a ski bus driver. The sun reflects off the ice crystals floating in the air to form a halo that glows in every colour of the spectrum. It’s like a magical world. I sit dumbfounded, staring at the mountain landscape.

“Are we going yet?” my friend asks, bringing me back to the moment. “Let’s go!” I reply, struggling to my feet.

Fluffing powder

The treeless part of the tundra would allow for long, sweeping turns, but the snow that fell during the night makes the twisting and turning fun. The board surfs the soft snow and the frosty snow dusts your face. I feel like screaming out loud – a little bit of happiness, excitement and the exhilaration of speed.

“So good snow!” I scream, just before I land on the mound lurking beneath the powder. The ground disappears under the board for a moment and I lose my balance. I roll in the soft snow and the light snow penetrates through the tiny cracks in my clothes.

“Are you hurt?” my friend asks worriedly.

I lift my snow-coated face and laugh. The powder is soft. I clean my ski goggles from under the layer of snow and empty my gloves and hood of snow. A tree line looms ahead and a forest adventure awaits.

Like a video game

When the open mountain landscape turns into a forest, it’s like stepping into a video game. From the right side of a pine tree, past a spruce on the left, under a fallen sled in a small dip, and down and up steeply like a roller coaster on the hills of the terrain. Over a small jump, maybe a big snow-covered boulder. Speed makes it easier to move, but quick turns in the woods require skill and, above all, quick reactions.

The descent is surprisingly long. If the longest slope in Finland, Ylipitkkä, is 3 km long, the off-road slope is at least four kilometres long. The video game has to be put on pause for a moment. My feet are so full of lactic acid that they’re shaking. I’m laughing. It’s just as much fun as it was as a kid.

The descent continues gently into the embrace of the cannon forest. The tracks of the boards make art in the snow. A ski lift cable appears behind the forest, and after a moment, a glorious slope appears in white in front of you. The raft jumps a little from the slope’s bank and lands smoothly on the tracks of a stampede still visible in the snow.

Up for cocoa

“A place for a cocoa break?” my friend suggests. Despite the frost, it hasn’t turned cold, quite the opposite. The soft layer of snow makes the descent not only fun, but also hard. But according to tradition, no one has ever refused a cocoa break.

First we take the lift to the western slope, then the Gondola to the top. Snow-covered Ylläskammi invites our party to the shelter of its walls. We sip steaming cocoa and plan our next descent. Perhaps towards Keskisenlake and the gorge wall to Jokerikuppila.