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Author Topic: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia  (Read 3950 times)
Kyle Miller
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Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« on: 04/25/17, 01:09 AM »

I've found myself residing in a place called Rovaniemi, Finland on the border of the Arctic Circle where our claim to fame is Reindeer, Santa Claus, lakes and mosquitos. Geologically speaking the land is quite flat with over 150km of Crosscountry trails in town but we are surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountains I've had the good fortune to see. 5 hours to the west is Abisko, Sweden with another 3 hours to Lofoten, Norway, to the North 6 hours is the Lyngen Alps and to the East 2 and a half hours is a little land called Russia.

Industry is booming

Hanging in the town center of Apatity

One night I was messing around with Google Earth as I normally do hoping to find some random 5,000 foot mountain among the tundra I stumbled across the Khibney mountains on the Kola Peninsula in the far NW corner of Russia.  The more I studied the more I came to realize that these could be the closest potential for big mountain riding from our home and from there I persuaded my wife that we had to do a week long road trip to check out the mountains and the city of Murmansk. The region is a very strategic place for Russia, being the only ice free port into the Arctic Sea year around and there is a small bit of bitterness between Russia and Finland over the region from the Winter War of 39 and the Continuation War of WW2 where Finland lost 10% of its land and Russia lost about a million soldiers and a bit of pride. In preparation I learned about the history of the area (AKA the Russian revolution and the strong holdouts of the white army) the exploration of the area (be it Sami people or early Finnish explorers) and most importantly the geology of the area.

Out of the flat tundra and into the alpine of the Khibney's

The Khibney was once a massive volcano that was scoured and eroded over time leaving vastly rich mineral deposits and some of the most vital mining operations in all of Russia. From a mountaineers point of view it held massive steep faces with flat summits that one could compare to the 3rd Burrough in Mount Rainier National Park and there are what seems like over a hundred different peaks with different personalities. Road side couloirs...check massive sweeping open bowls.....check endless options on endless aspects.....check.....SOLD!!!

Into the heart of Kirovsk

Road side avi swaths

As our time was short my wife and I spent 4 nights in the town of Kirovsk which is a beautiful location in the heart of the mountains and close to two different ski resorts. One named Big Wood which I found to be a bit boring but had 3 massive bowls you could access via an easy 20 minute bootpack and in the right conditions (powder) these would keep you busy for a long time. There was a highbred Gondola/six person chair lift and pretty much everything else was Tbars but for 25$ a day it was more than enough to keep us happy skiing groomers and hiking out to wind transported powder taking in the views of the Khibney's and the White Sea.

Busy day at Big Wood

A whole lot of T bars. Some abandoned some still work

But it is these bowls that got my attention in the first place

20 minute hike

For big open terrain

Lots of easy access options


Weather was hit and miss so after a early morning drive down to Appetite (which I don't recommend) we went to a resort called 25KM. Now this place is next world... 2 Tbars take you up almost 2,500 feet and there is one groomer from the top but you have endless options for backcountry faces in all directions. It's steep and 100% wild with a slogan being "If it is safe it isn't fun" We had a blast traversing out of the resort and riding steep open faces of wind transported pow than traversing back to the ski resort, no skins needed but if you chose to use them the option just multiplied by 10. This place is a gem and has almost a NZ club field vibe. There is no glitz here as there are abandoned buildings at the base but they have something special and for a little over 20$ a day it's a solid deal.



The bottom

The top

Left side you ride to a road, right side you ride back to the resort

Terrain across the valley

looking back toward Kirovsk

Easy access big terrain

After our 4 days in the Khibney Mountains we went North to Murmansk and was surprised to see a densely populated town of 300,000 people in Soviet style blocks. The landscape reminded me of Norway but the culture was  a thing of its own. As a nature lover this is a great place to be but as a city person it seemed as if people just wanted to get out of the North as pay was low and well....it is the Arctic. I had the good fortune to meet up with a local who briefly showed us around town and brought us to a view point that is only accessible if you have Russian car plates. It was fascinating hearing what could be the general opinion of his generation about the world abroad as well as the history of Russia. Since this is a ski forum and not a political or historical website I will keep it in line with that.....and now for the weather.

Murnmask



The Khibneys get a predominately Northern front cycle which actually is warmer that the Finnish Laplands and averages negative 5 degrees Celsius during winter with well over 2 meters of snowfall annually which lasts from November to mid June. It seems the wind was a constant as it is in general a massive bulge surrounded by Arctic tundra but I think this could also be a great corn snow playground before the Midnight sun arrives in Mid May than it is just unconsolidated slush (No good, No fun) but the summer hiking would be amazing.



All in all the land is cheap and it is a unique cultural experience so I will be getting a 3 year multiple entry visa sooner rather than later and spread my time between Finland, Sweden, Norway and the Kola when in the Nordic Lands.

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In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
andyrew
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Re: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« Reply #1 on: 04/25/17, 07:46 AM »

Wow, now that's off the beaten track.  Thanks for the Tuesday morning dreaming.
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skibacks
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Re: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« Reply #2 on: 04/25/17, 10:40 AM »

Wow!  Thanks so much for sharing this glimpse of your life!  Love of the mountains
is a universal language. 

How does the public transportation compare to Metro Transit's I-90 East run?

Best wishes
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skibacks
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Re: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« Reply #3 on: 04/25/17, 05:54 PM »

Wow, that's a different land--appreciate you taking us there.  Not having been, I've always thought of Finland as relatively flat; didn't occur to me that you are in reasonable striking distance of all kinds of arctic-exotic alpine goodness.  (Separately, actually am interested in learning the local's perspectives, should you find time to share.)

Thanks for taking the time to share this.
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tabski
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Re: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« Reply #4 on: 04/25/17, 09:56 PM »

thanks so much for sharing, kyle. incredible adventure awaits!
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Pete_H
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Re: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« Reply #5 on: 04/25/17, 10:31 PM »

Wow. Very unique. Does beg the question how you came to live in Arctic Finland?
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Stügie
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Re: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« Reply #6 on: 04/25/17, 11:53 PM »

So sick, brother!  Way to be slaying - always.  Looks like some sweet potential in such an awesome find!  Nice work.  Planning to get some of that corn, or off to the Lyngen?
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"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambitions to achieve; they are cathedrals, where I go to practice my religion."  -Anatoli Boukreev
Kyle Miller
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Re: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« Reply #7 on: 04/26/17, 06:03 AM »

How does the public transportation compare to Metro Transit's I-90 East run?

Well......the bus stops are a little bit run down, the roads are a bit beat up and the buses are pretty crowded but I would imagine it task about half the time to go twice the distance in Russia. Wink




Wow, that's a different land--appreciate you taking us there.  Not having been, I've always thought of Finland as relatively flat; didn't occur to me that you are in reasonable striking distance of all kinds of arctic-exotic alpine goodness.  (Separately, actually am interested in learning the local's perspectives, should you find time to share.)

The meccas are a ways away but after spending a small bit of time in Australia where it takes 6 hours to get into the Old Snowy Mountains I would much rather have the options available to us.

Perspectives.......This is what absolutely fascinates me. Wilderness and the outdoors in general is everything to the general Finnish person. It holds the last great unspoiled wilderness in Europe and has some of the cleanest air in the world. Finns are very quiet and humble people and a great example of this is that they have been skiing the Lyngen Alps since the 70's but never boast about first descents, that is something that has only started happening in the past decade. The contrast between 1 hour of light at Winter solstice and 3 month of Midnight sun makes for very hardy and proud people not to mention there fighting for and retaining freedom pre WW2 (The relatively unknown Winter War) which gave birth to the 10th Mountain division in the U.S. Another interesting way to look at what is and what could have been is when Russia was having its revolution during and after WW1 it was the battles of the Red army and the White Army with the Red winning, Finland was a stronghold of the White Army and one has to wonder how Russia would have turned out if the White Army one. We could chat for hours, days if not weeks about perspectives but this should probably be done through PM's or emails (kylemiller411@gmail.com) I extend this to you or anyone who would like to know more.

In a sense I've moved from one country that distrusts the Russians to one that distrusts them more but from what I can tell the average person seems to be very kind, on that same sense I'm not exactly running around Russia boasting an American flag as if I did that I think people would treat me differently.

Wow. Very unique. Does beg the question how you came to live in Arctic Finland?

A road trip from Innsbruck, Austria to the Lyngen Alps of Norway left me accidentally staying overnight in Rovaniemi where I met my total opposite.There is nothing like a feisty, dark humored Lapland girl Wink

So sick, brother!  Way to be slaying - always.  Looks like some sweet potential in such an awesome find!  Nice work.  Planning to get some of that corn, or off to the Lyngen?
Thanks Stugie!! I'm actually packing my bags for a 2 week ski traverse of the Lyngen leaving in 2 days and will post a TR on how it goes.

thanks so much for sharing, kyle. incredible adventure awaits!

Thanks Drew and Andy Looking forward to many new and different styles of adventures in the near and far future.
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In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
Oyvind_Henningsen
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Re: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« Reply #8 on: 04/26/17, 02:09 PM »

great adventures Kyle - very best of wishes for a fantastic time!

Oyvind
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Lytt til erfarne fjellfolk!
Chamois
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Re: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« Reply #9 on: 04/26/17, 02:13 PM »

Kyle-

Thanks for the narrative on another out-of-the-way place.  Slopes look pretty cool too.  How long are there?  cheers.
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SKIER-X
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Re: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« Reply #10 on: 04/26/17, 02:33 PM »

  Ghostly and erie !  Like the Dark Side of a skiers moon . Any glowing one eyed snow snakes ? Bizarre , not so parallel universe.  Aspen may look like this someday unless we "Make America Great Again" Thanks .  Xth. Mtnr. 
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Stefan
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Re: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« Reply #11 on: 04/28/17, 08:57 AM »

Sui generis!!!
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sprice
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Re: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« Reply #12 on: 04/28/17, 10:00 AM »

Nice!

Your weight is always on the cutting edge
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ryanl
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Re: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« Reply #13 on: 04/28/17, 12:11 PM »

Great post Kyle, thanks. Your search for and appreciation of adventure in all its forms is inspiring. Safe travels!
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Kyle Miller
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Re: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« Reply #14 on: 04/28/17, 12:17 PM »

Thanks guys! I was only there for a week and have been back in Finland for the past week.
Leaving tomorrow for 3 weeks in the Lyngen Alps including a 2 week traverse from the South end to the North. Will post the results when back in Finland. Smiley
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In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
wcurchin
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Re: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« Reply #15 on: 04/28/17, 07:24 PM »

Spectacular! Always appreciate your updates and words
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kciari
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Re: Khibney Mountains, Kola Pennisnula, Russia
« Reply #16 on: 05/04/17, 04:18 PM »

What a great write up Kyle! Having skied in the Lyngen Alps now I'm totally stoked to go back there and tag Russia on too! Thanks for sharing.
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I love skiing in a tutu. Find me via #tutusallyear.
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