Saturday, December 6, 2014

Holy - Pyhä



"This is your last chance, Neo. You take the white door—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the orange door —you stay in the Holy land, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more."

But what Morpheus left out is that there is a third door, the dark door. One that leads to the true reality, the hard darkness.

This is a story of those three choices in Pyhä. Holy, as it is called in English, is a special place far up beyond the arctic circle. So special that national ski teams from all over the world flock to it at this time of the year. So far up north that those who like night skiing can enjoy it all day long.

The three doors are at the race start hut, at the 540 meter top of Pyhätunturi. The white door leads to a strangely mixed world, the yin & yang domain. A icy run straight down the mountain with high-speed race tracks showing the way. But it is also lined with safety nets, it is access controlled, groomed and cared to perfection that does not exist on the other side of the safety net. The black Piste Palander. It is also the way home, to the bed in Hotel Pyhätunturi.

The orange door offers a warm contrast to the harsh, controlled white world. A domain of fun. It embraces everyone. It is always open. It leaves you in charge of selecting your destiny in the arctic scenery. The red Polar Runs. And yet it keeps you in its grip, funnelling you through that final steep that slings you back to the base at high speed.

But the black door opens up the ultimate reality. The door to everything else. Even the orange world exists in a bubble of human control. A bubble of light, for instance. If you back away from the two orange and white doors, you'll find yourself in the completely open domain. Darkness. Thin and uncertain snow cover. Rocks. I found this domain the most interesting, even if there was indeed very small amount of snow. My skis kept hitting the rocks and I had to watch where I'm going. I enjoyed a ski run in the fresh snow on the closed Blue Run, the area between the Blue run and the Polar Runs, and the Hotel Runs, a rocky area above the hotel.

The possibilities are infinite; it was too early in the winter to enjoy all those possibilities, but there are big mountain class off-piste runs and ice climbing, for instance. Recommended! Note that Pyhä is unlike most other places in Finland, in that there are big mountain dangers as well, including falls and avalanches. Be careful out there.

I really liked Hotel Pyhätunturi, by the way, for its location among the beautiful trees on the steep side of the mountain. I should also mention that Tsokka - the restaurant at the top of the mountain - serves the most excellent soups and crepes. Reindeer meat features prominently on their menu. Also, in 1990s I was on a work trip at Pyhä, and it turned out that I could take my kid to the local community daycare while I worked, and then pick him up in the evening and ski the rest of the day. Everything seems to work well in this small mountain community.
















Photos and videos (c) 2014 by Jari Arkko and Janne Arkko. Tämä blogi löytyy myös suomeksi.

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