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With the fourth biggest vertical in Finland, the Pyhä complex is located right on the slopes in thick woodland and dominated by the all encompassing Hotel Pyhätunturi. Pyhä (pronounced "poo-ha" and meaning 'Holy Hill' in Finnish) is located on the edge of the Arctic Circle and within the Pyhätunturi National Park, a wilderness area of dramatic scenery encompassing frozen lazes, silent snow covered forests and rolling fells. If you're lucky you'll see the incredible northern lights during your visit. The resort was purchased in 1987 by the owners of another top Finnish resort, Ruka and has more than doubled its skier visit number since then. Given its northerly latitude the snow record is good and the resort has invested heavily in artificial snowmaking facilities. Pyhä is twinned with Jackson Hole in the USA. In common with other Finnish ski areas, lift pass tickets are cheaper than the Alpine norm, there are plenty of other activities besides skiing and boarding and it can be a tad cold and dark in mid-winter - but Pyhä is geared up for that and it just adds to excitement and romance of the place.

With the fourth biggest vertical in Finland, the Pyha complex is located right on the slopes in thick woodland. Skiing for all abilities on trails up to 1.8km (1.1 mile) long and a reputation for some tough skiing on slopes like the FIS registered 'Polar' and the Huttu-Ukko mogul slope. The resort was purchased in 1987 by the owners of Ruka and has doubled its skier visit number since then. There's a Nature Ski Trail through the local National Park

Mountain

Although the 12km (eight miles) of trails here may be rather limited for some, there is skiing for all abilities here on trails which are up to 1.8km (1.1 mile) in length. Pyhä has a reputation for some of the toughest skiing in Finland on slopes like the Huttu-Ukko, a mogul slope which is also Finland's steepest and has been a venue for the Freestyle Skiing World Championships. The Northern slopes, which are the most recent addition to the ski area, provide those with less experience in downhill skiing with an opportunity to relax and enjoy themselves. These wide slopes are accessed by chairlift up to the treeline, with a t bar continuing on to the top. There are also special family slopes easily accessed from the hotel, although served by a T bar lift - common in Finland but not always easy to ride for an inexperienced and unbalanced parent and child. Between these two extremes there are several intermediate trails including Polar, an FIS-classified slope known as one of the best in Finland. Unusually for any international standard ski resort, there are more runs graded tough and graded easy than there are of intermediate level. Lifts are open every day between 9.30am and 5pm. all season, however if you visit in low season you may not find all running unless there is what the ski area management determine adequate demand to justify it. For night skiing the lifts are open until 7pm. A joint lift ticket with the nearby resort of Ruka is available. Pyhä has 150km of cross country tracks, connected to nearby Luosto, and with some of the trails floodlit. A 12km long route around the ski area and through the National Park is particularly rewarding for its scenic beauty, but should not be attempotred by novices as because of the National Park, the track cannot be groomed, which makes it even more interesting and challenging for experienced cross-country skiers.

Families

Pyhä is very family friendly and even the nursery ski area, right in front of the hotel, is known as the "family slope." The slopes are very pleasant and safe and suitable for even the smallest members of the family to start skiing. The ski school accepts children from age three and there is daycare for younger children. Children's facilities include mini snowmobiles from age 4 and a full 800m snowmobile training track for children aged 11 and over. Most of the restaurants are family friendly with kids menus and facilities. Huttu-Uula for example, must be one of the few mountain restaurants in the world to have a special nursery room for children as well as the kids' menu. Of course there are the added bonus of the availability of family friendly activities including reindeer safaris and the unique chance to visit some of Santa's secret hideaways.

Eating Out

Pyhä has a number of cafés and restaurants where guests can enjoy both the delicacies of local Lappish style dining as well as international cuisine. Regional specialities made from local fish, game and reindeer are definitely worth trying. The Hotel Pyhätunturi offers four different restaurants which together can serve up to 1,000 guests per night in high season and offer most of the resort's catering in the one location. Glacier á la Carte is arguably the best eatery in town and is often booked up will in advance so advance booking is recommended, even before you depart for Pyha by phone or email if you're travelling at peak season. The Glacier specialises in Lappish delicacies and is separated from adjoining restaurants by glass walls creating a special atmosphere. If you decide you prefer Alpine food even though you've opted for Scandinavia, then the Racca restaurant is for you with fondues and raclette. Ski Bistro serves pizza earlier in the evening and during the daytime. The Huttuhippu restaurant is out of the main complex at the foot of Family Slopes. It serves donuts with coffee or hot chocolate or for lunch grilled steaks or pizzas. Huttu-Uula meanwhile is located at the foot of the Polar Slope and also serves steaks and pizzas as well as sautéed reindeer. The Tunturila's hostel's kitchen uses local foods, naturally grown and their menu consists of healthy and tasty foods, suitable for many tastes, but all low in milk or sugar products and with sauces which are gluten free.

Apres

The Carlsberg House right by the Polar slope is the official after ski bar open daily. Good drinks and good music can be enjoyed there after a fun day of skiing. The Hotel Pyha’s après ski bar, SkiBistro, is another option for after ski when the lifts close and often has live music. Pyha operates a bar and second floor lounge where everything from hot chocolate to Irish coffee or hot whisky are on offer.

Boarding

As with for skiers, the pisted facilities for boarders are limited; but again as for skiers; the tougher terrain is more exciting that at most ski areas of this scale and for beginners its a good place to learn, with a good school and unintimidating atmosphere. When the powder on each side of the T bar on the north slope is good, it's very good. After ski season 2008-2009 Pyhä Fun Park can be considered one of the best parks in Finland, which is not a surprise after all the hard work and effort put into it. The park is groomed daily and there are several new obstacles for all skill levels. A series of events called “Pyhä FunPark Sessions” was also launched and they will continue in ski season 2009-2010 as well as weekly sessions powered by good music. More new developments will also be done for ski season 2009-2010, including new rails and jumps. Pyhä Fun Park is located between the Polar and Blue Slopes Accessed by the triple chair and Polar T Bar. It has three different sections incorporating a big box, camel hump line and tabletop. The big box landing area is about 30 meters long and 25 meters wide. It has two entry points and with a bit of shaping the resort creates a 20 metre box. The Lower box also has two entry points with a flat section of 6-10 meters - a perfect place for trying out new tricks. The park is fully illuminated for night riding by skiers and boarders and also has a selection of rails. There’s an additional Junior Snow Park in the Family Slope area before trying out the big Park.

// HIGHLIGHTS //
Vertical drop
280m
Ski area
12
Resort height
214m
Airport
Rovaniemi
Train station
Kemijärvi
beginner
10%
intermediate
40%
expert
50%