Finland is a bit sad country when it comes to mountains. The north of Europe can boast of a unique landscape including deep fjords, large glaciers, high mountains and thousands of lakes. However, Finland can offer “only” the lakes from these. It’s Norway and partly Sweden who has the high mountains. The Finnish highest point Halti is only 1,324m and its peak is not even lying in Finland. The actual peak is situated a few meters behind the border in Norway and it is 1328m high.
Date of summit: 26th August 2018 12:05 Traveling mode: Hiking with compass Height of the peak: 1,324m Hiking distance: 6.7 km Time to ascend to Halti: 2 hours 02 minutes Elevation climbed: 626m Map of my hiking journey to Halti: Movescount Personal rating of the mountain: **** (6 stars maximum) Beer on the peak: Tromso 13 Saison ***** (6 stars maximum)
There are two routes leading to the highest Finnish mountain Halti. The first and longest leads from Finland from the village of Kilpisjärvi. It takes 5 – 6 days for a return trip. This route would certainly be more appealing in terms of exploring the Finnish nature. However, I didn’t have much time so I decided for the shorter route leading from Norway, the lake Guolasjárvi. This journey was supposed to take only one day.
Before I comment on my hike I would like to make a few remarks what happened before. I took a long flight from Geneva to Narvik via Oslo and I was looking forward to seeing my girlfriend Joanne after two long months. Fate, however, decided to make my traveling difficult. After landing in Narvik, I waited in vain for my backpack with all my equipment.
When all the passengers had left the airport and the belt carrying the luggage stopped, it was clear that my backpack was lost. Because it was the last flight of the day, I was nervous that I would not only end up without a backpack but also without the opportunity to get to Narvik. The last bus to Narvik was supposed to leave in a moment. I was running around the airport to sort out both my luggage paperwork and to keep the bus waiting for me. Fortunately, the lady at the counter helped me to finally persuade the bus driver to wait.
Norway is crazy expensive
When I paid 280 NOK (28 EUR) for the bus trip to the city center, I could finally relax a bit. Without all the warm clothes that I had left in my luggage, I did not feel the most comfortable, but I was warmed by the idea of meeting with Joanne soon. However, she got some stomachache and instead of a romantic reunion we went looking for some medicine.
In the morning I contacted the airport and I was told that the baggage would arrive in the evening. That meant the only thing: time to go shopping. I bought stuff for 5000 NOK, thinking I’d get the money back. According to the rules, passengers can buy necessary clothes in case of lost baggage. We were about to see how it would turn out. I wasn’t going to freeze outside all day or wait at the hotel.
Fortunately, the baggage arrived in the evening. Joanne also felt better, so we could plan our next days. The weather played the most important role in the planning process. There is no trail to the Finnish highest mountain Halti from the Norwegian side so it would be advisable to go to the top in good conditions not to get lost. As the forecast for the following day showed fog, we chose to visit the Norwegian town of Tromsø near the Halti mountain instead. We did not regret that choice, because the weather was much better there and we could at least test Joanne’s new hiking boots.
The view over Tromsø from a nearby mountain (where you can get by a cable car Fjellheisen) was beautiful as it is typical in Norway. The view over fjords and high mountains around was simply amazing. I got a bit disappointed at the moment, that the Norwegian highest mountain is not in the EU. But what could be done?
Climbing Halti from Norway
We were looking forward to the Finnish summit where we headed the following day. The plan was to camp at the starting point. Unfortunately, there was some maintenance work in the tunnel the night before so we had to settle for camping by some random fjord. We didn’t really mind. Norwegian nature is beautiful simply everywhere. In addition to the view, nature served us a lot of raspberries growing right next to the tent.
When we woke up we were hidden in a deep fog. As I mentioned, the only problem with conquering the Halti mountain from the Norwegian side is navigation. There is no path to the top from Norway, so one must rely only on the map and on his own instincts. I didn’t want to get lost in the fog somewhere in the Finnish mountains, so we waited until the noon for the weather to get better.
It paid off. The path along the rocky terrain was a pleasant change from the beaten paths on the previous mountains. After the initial three-kilometer climb we found ourselves on a plateau with smaller peaks around. One of them was the Halti mountain.
I checked my location according to the map and we marched to the mountain, which was supposed to be the highest point of Finland. Just to be sure, we cheated a bit and used a phone app called Mapy.cz, which confirmed to us that my presumption was correct. I highly recommend this app by the way. All hiking trails are perfectly marked there.
We were standing on the Halti mountain soon. The sad news for all Finns, however, is that the summit of the mountain doesn’t lie in Finland, but in Norway. The highest point of Finland is a few dozen meters away and a few altitude meters below. Fortunately, in this nice weather,we couldn’t miss it. It boasts of a stone-built pillar and a Finnish flag.
The last beer in Ylko’s life
As usual, I grabbed my summit beer to celebrate the ascent when one Finnish guy suddenly climbed to the top from the Finnish side. I wanted to make a toast with him but Mr. Ylko stopped me: “I don’t drink alcohol anymore.” He then confessed that he had decided to summit Halti to put an end to his drinking. He told me he had drunk 6000 beers in the last calendar year, and because his wife wanted to leave him, he decided that he’d rather stop drinking. Symbolically, he brought the last Karhu beer can to the highest peak of Finland. He poured the beer on the ground in front of me as a gesture of the end of his drinking period. From his determination, I felt that the resolution to stop drinking would end up well. I hope he has not been drinking since.
My tips for climbing the mountain Halti:
- GPS navigation is necessary for the successful summit. There is no marked path to the top from the shorter Norwegian side.
- I recommend high quality hiking shoes. You have to walk through difficult, rocky terrain.
- If you have more time consider a trip to Halti from Finland. The return hiking trail is 89 kilometers long.