Welcome to follow the live content from Arctic Lapland! You can enjoy the daily photographs by Thiago Diz and event updates below, as well as on Instagram and Facebook accounts. If you are interested in registering for the next edition 9-15 February 2025, please fill in this form.

Finland Arctic Challenge: Pre-Event Update 

Sunday, 11 February 2024

Here we go, the first update from above the Arctic Circle in the Finnish Lapland: The host town of Levi was buzzing today! People from all around the world were enjoying the sunny Arctic weather of -25°C /-13°F degrees and most of the Finland Arctic Challenge participants arrived in Levi!  

Some of them have been here for a few days enjoying different winter activities, snowboarding, skiing, etc but by late afternoon the rest have settled into the hotel to enjoy the atmosphere of their Arctic host town where Riitta and Anniina from the Arctic Escapades team welcomed everyone. 

The first meeting, clothing, and gear check, followed by the event briefing took place this evening. It was wonderful to finally meet everyone! The Arctic weather is new to most, but most people have the necessary items. The nearby sports shop provided the Arctic mittens, balaclavas, etc that some still needed. The participants tested their winter suits and boots provided by the organiser and they received their souvenir jackets and of course, a block of Fazer chocolate from Finland, much-needed energy for the coming days – Arctic weather is energy-consuming, not to mention the soft snow that everyone is up against!  

Trilby White from Hong Kong was particularly delighted: “Finally an adventure where chocolate does not melt!” That is spot on: Much of the advice given to the participants today included tips on how to keep their essentials warm, including food and drinks but of course also fingers and toes.  

Tomorrow we’ll start with a good filling breakfast at the Sokos Hotel Break and will then depart to the course by bus at 9:00. The first stage, snowshoeing through the frozen wetlands to the Aakenus Lumberjack cabin will start at approximately 10:00. 

You can follow the daily updates from the Finland Arctic Challenge which are posted around 19:00 Finland time from 12 to 17 February at the @arcticescapades Facebook and Instagram account, as well as here on the event website.  

Finland Arctic Challenge: Stage 1 

Monday, 12 February 2024

  • Departure: Levi
  • Weather and temperature: -30C°/-22F °
  • Stage: Snowshoeing from Pyhäjärvi lake to Aakenus
  • Arrival: Aakenus cabin

Glorious sunshine contrasting extreme cold!

Our Arctic Challengers embarked on the initial snowshoeing stage in chilly conditions, with temperatures plummeting to -30°C / -22°F in the morning. For individuals worldwide unfamiliar with the Lapland winter, the focus today was on addressing extreme cold. One of the bravest, Nalinthorn from Thailand, encountered a temperature difference of about 60°C upon arrival on Sunday!

Starting near Pyhä Lake, most of today’s path followed the frozen wetlands of the Aakenus Fell. Beginning with a journey through a snow-covered fairytale looking forest, the landscape transformed into a mesmerizing winter scene. The Aakenus Fell by their side throughout the stage, participants were able to get the feeling of the soft powdery snow – without snowshoes, they would have sunk a meter, even with snowshoes the going was tough at times.

The cozy bonfire set in halfway was where most people sat down and took out their thermoses and snacks to enjoy the warmth of the fire. Timo, a local team member skilled in crafting art and furniture from snow and ice, made this snow patio with seats for them to rest.

As you can see in the photos, Finnish nature showed its best today by creating some very frosty looks on participants’ faces and hair. Despite the extreme appearance, this state exudes happiness: their bodies released energy through the heavy exercise, expelling warmth that freezes upon contact with the cold air.

After the introduction to the Arctic, the snowshoers were welcomed at Aakenuspirtti, an old Lumberjack cabin nestled below the Aakenus Fell. A bit of rest, steaming hot berry juice and local mushroom pie, they were ready to indulge in a traditional wood-burning lumberjack sauna experience.

Stepping into the cozy wooden cabin, they first entered a small changing room and then proceeded to the sauna room, filled with steam from the water container and sauna stove fueled by hot firewood. In that moment, the last remnants of city-life routines faded away. The serene atmosphere of a true authentic sauna is so unique! Participants discovered traditional practices from adding the right amount of firewood to preparing their washing water by mixing icy river water with boiled water, to get the optimal “löyly” (by water thrown into the sauna stove).

Everyone also accepted the much-awaited challenge… about 80 meters from the sauna, there was an ice hole drilled through the 1.5-meter-thick ice cover and long ladders that lead the adventures to cool down in the icy water of the Aakenus River! As scary as the first dip was, many enjoyed the experience so much that they took a dip three times, returning to the sauna to warm up in between! These 3-time daredevils included Jo, Barty, Bob, Pete, Trilby, Roberto, and Liz! The trick to ice dipping? Wearing wool socks or booties and a warm hat makes the whole experience feel warmer!

A tasty ending to a great day was a traditional dinner: locally hunted moose meat with roof vegetables and lingonberries. It’s now 21:30 and everyone are in bed.

The Finland Challenge continues tomorrow at 10:00 am with a 25km run / hike along the snowy trails and the remote Aakenus road.

Finland Arctic Challenge: Stage 2

Tuesday, 13 February 2024

  • Departure: Aakenus cabin
  • Weather and temperature: -26C°/-13F °
  • Stage: Half marathon from Aakenus to Peurakaltio
  • Distance: 25 km/ 15.5 miles  
  • Arrival: Peurakaltio cabin

Another splendid day in Lapland! Today’s challenge was the 25km “half-marathon,” spanning from the east side of the Aakenus Fell to the west. At 7:30 at the Aakenus Cabin, early risers were welcomed by a hearty breakfast spread featuring porridge, cloudberries sourced from local wetlands, fresh bread, cheese, and steaming coffee.

The stage kicked off at 10:00 with a brisk warm-up session led by Anniina from the local team. And then they were off! Participants set off traversing a vast frozen wetland through a 2 km / 1.2 mile single track, followed by a 7 km / 4.3 mile snowmobile path, and then on a 16km / 10 mile stretch on the remote Aakenus road. The initial leg, covered in packed yet powdery snow, posed a challenge for all participants, met with a mix of feelings from silence to banter from Pete, Liz, Trilby, and Derek. Gricha and Nalin walked much of the tough section together, focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.

The solid road surface proved more manageable and quicker. The air was illuminated by the sun’s cold light with helo effects that a treat for both runners and walkers as they approached the half-way point, a shelter tent with a stove inside. Along the route, the runners were treated to wildlife sightings, including a young moose sprinting ahead of the pack.

Today was still a bit of a learning day: Which shoes to wear, winter boots or running shoes was the decision that the runners in the group battled with after Riitta’s morning briefing. Despite the -26C° reading, Bob, Roberto, Jo and Linda chose speed over comfort but their pace was enough today: no frozen toes.  

Others took it more steadily and mainly hiked or shuffled through the stage. The final arrivals at Peurakaltio today were Pete, Trilby and Liz. This evening at Peurakaltio has been charming: relaxing in a lumberjack sauna and the hut tub next to it, where some were even able to see the Northern Lights!   Johanna and Kalle, the hosts of Peurakaltio served us tasty chicken stew and sweet blueberry  pie. A bit of red wine with the dinner and everyone is happily in bed already. 

More updates tomorrow!

Finland Arctic Challenge: Stage 3

Wednesday, 14 February 2024

  • Stage: Husky mushing and entering the frozen Narnia
  • Weather and temperature: -17C° / 1.4F°
  • Distance: 23 km/14 miles
  • Base: Peurakaltio lumberjack cabin

Day 3 started with a stunning array of colours, starting with deep blue hues at 6am, that turned into the first morning light by 7am and finally beautiful shades of red sunrise at 8am Experiencing the shifting light in Lapland is a captivating spectacle: each day, mornings and evenings grow 8 minutes longer. Spring is well underway after the Polar Night.

The day started with a hearty breakfast. Everyone filled their stomachs before donning winter gear and embarking on husky sleighs for a 20-km / 13-mile section in the foothills of the Pallas fells in the northern part of the Pallas-Ylläs National Park. Despite a bit milder -17°C (1.4°F), coupled with biting winds, snowfall, and wetlands, the mushers’ covered faces and layers of warm clothing were a welcome shield.

The caravan, led by six husky packs, traversed frozen forests and wetlands, with the majestic Pallas Fells providing a picturesque backdrop. Post-ride, a cozy gathering awaited at the Kota (Finnish fireplace). For the mother and son team Linda Quirk and Jason Bennett this wasn’t their first time but experiencing husky mushing in the Finnish Lapland was a very unique experience. Their friend, Bob Seebohar from Colorado was on his first ride. Based on everyone’s excitement, this will unlikely be the last time mushing for this group!

Fuelled by classic salmon soup, a Finnish staple, participants conquered the Äkäskero fell on snowshoes in the afternoon, an added challenge for the day. Scaling an additional 200 meters from the Peurakaltio Lumberjack Cabin revealed a wintry wonderland unique to Lapland’s fells, which resembles a frozen Narnia. Among the snow-laden Tykky trees atop the fell, even Thiago Diz, our Brazilian photographer, was left speechless. Linda, 71, found her Finnish Sisu (stamina) as she navigated waist-deep snow, scrambling the steep ups and downs of Äkäskero.

After dark at 18:00, the group descended to Peurakaltio, and straight to the steamy lumberjack sauna. Dinner featured a hearty game meat casserole with lingonberries, followed by Lapland’s traditional dessert: cheese bread paired with arctic cloudberries.

Tomorrow’s route passing by the sacred site of the indigenous Sami, will be traversed on backcountry skis.

Finland Arctic Challenge: Stage 4

Thursday, 15 February 2024

  • Departure: Peurakaltio lumberjack cabin
  • Weather and temperature: -14°C / 7°F
  • Stage: Back-country skiing from Äkäskero to Elämänluukku
  • Distance: 8.7 / 11 km = 5.4 / 6.8 miles
  • Arrival: Elämänluukku lumberjack cabin

Light snowfall that began overnight and persisted throughout our morning preparations created an ideal terrain for today’s backcountry skiing. It also added a bit more cuteness to our base in Peurakaltio, making it look like a site for a perfect white hideaway. Our hosts, Johanna and Kalle, joined to support everyone with the first task of the day: getting familiar with back-country skis, learning how to fall in deep snow – and most importantly how to get up. The unfamiliarity with back-country skis added an element of fun and challenge for all. Once everyone had attained a comfortable balance, the group ventured out on today’s trail, which had two options – one longer and the other slightly shorter.

The trail swept through frozen wetlands and old Taiga forests with old “Kelo” trees and up and down ridgelines. The narrow track wasn’t always easy to ski and there were times when the participants felt like being a giraffe on skis. Nevertheless, the Arctic Challengers had the freedom to blaze their own trails through the powder for an added challenge, a bit like walking in deep water as described by Trilby, or like skiing in whipped cream. Roberto, a Swiss native, decided through his competitiveness away today and he spun around the slower pack of people helping them find their balance through the powder.

Midway along the route, the wafting aroma of smoke from the Kota fireplace signaled lunch. The arrivals could enjoy their hot meal by the ancient holy site of the Sámi: a secluded area encircled by towering cliffs and a colossal Seida rock, once a site of spiritual reverence and offerings. The Sámi are the indigenous people of Lapland and the only indigenous people in Europe.

Post-lunch, participants found themselves grappling with the undulating terrain between ridges. As Derek humorously (but truthfully) noted, “some of the falls were a nightmare to get up”. For the amusement of the organisers, nearly everyone decided to tackle a wooden bridge that was nothing short of technical, with their skies! There were some notable falls that Thiago witnessed while flying his drone on the other side of the river, one of them by Jo Eades who embraced the soft snow nose first! Nonetheless, everyone did make it through the day. Pete got a special mention for his determination. He was the last one across the finish line at the Elämänluukku lumberjack cabin at 17:20 where the team cheered him in for a hot drink and exchange of stories.  

Back-country skiing was completely new to all participants. As a reward for the hard day, the group enjoyed their last wood-burn sauna surrounded by large mounds of snow where they rolled in between “löyly”. And finally, an exquisite three-course meal at Elämänluukku, featuring tasty starters with fresh local fish, creamy reindeer carbonara, and chocolate cake with raspberries. The owner of Elämänluukku, Keijo, shared stories about the history of lumberjack life and this cabin, once a base for logging managers and lumberjack life in the Finnish Lapland.

The final stage, fat-tire biking through the Pallas-Ylläs National Park starts tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Finland Arctic Challenge: Stage 5

Friday ,16 February 2024

  • Departure: Elämänluukku 
  • Weather and temperature: -8°C / 19°F
  • Stage: Fat-tire biking to Äkäslompolo 
  • Distance: 16 km /10 miles
  • Arrival: Äkäslompolo 

After a well-slept night at the peaceful and remote Elämänluukku cabin in the winter wilderness, the FAC participants faced the final challenge of the week: fat-tire biking through the southern side of the Pallas-Ylläs National Park. The fells along the route, Kukas, Pyhä, Lainio and Kesänki were in the mist when participants pedaled towards Kotamaja. The 7km / 4.3 mi uphill section tested their endurance on the snow-packed trail and proved to be tough for every single person from the fastest to the slowest. Bob was the first one to Kotamaja while Linda and Jason steadily ascended, reaching the hut after 2.5 hours of determined climbing.

Kotamaja is one of the most traditional wilderness cabins nestled in between the Pyhä, Kukas, and Lainio fells. The tired folks enjoyed steaming reindeer soup, and sweet and savory goodies fresh from Sarita’s kitchen. With that energy they then tackled the rest of the route which turned out to be exhilarating: all downhill to the finish in Äkäslompolo! Pete, recovering from a long day of back-country skiing, appreciated the support of the fat tires, while Nalin found solace in the comparatively warmer -7 degrees temperature, a welcome change from the frigid -25°C / -13°F they had been enduring. Stage 5 felt almost balmy in comparison!

Once all the 15 participants had reached the finish line, it was time for celebrations! The return trip to Levi was hilarious accompanied by local spirits (salted liquorice and tar schnapps)! A traditional Sami-style dinner at Saamenkammi capped off the evening perfectly, featuring flamed salmon from the Arctic Ocean, reindeer meat prepared in various traditional styles, and forest delicacies like berries and mushrooms. Last but not least were the nominations… But what happens in Lapland, stays in Lapland. Lots of laughter and stories tonight. A perfect evening and ending to the Finland Arctic Challenge.

The local team: Riitta, Timo, Markus, Laura, Anniina, and Jokke would like to thank everyone who joined the event this year, as well as all of you who were following the live coverage from home. We can’t wait to share more of Lapland with you next year!

We will be posting more photos of the Finland Arctic Challenge, as well as the upcoming events and tours at the @arcticescapades Facebook and Instagram account. 

If you would like to secure your place for the next Finland Arctic Challenge that takes place from 9-15 February 2025, please submit a pre-registration form here: