Considering the amount of snow just two weeks ago, I was convinced that this year skiing season would continue until mid-May. Alas, the May Day brought sunshine and a heatwave that left us in a wake of huge puddles and quickly vanishing snow. However, yesterday we found out that if you go even further up the mountains, to Biedjovággi which is 40 km from Kauto and where there a few decades ago was a gold mine (!), the skiing is simply awesome. It was almost a ruovdecuoŋu (“iron-crust,” the hardest kind of spring snow crust, hard enough to carry a car) so it was possible to ski wherever you liked. The quiet vast open space that opened in front of our eyes and the gufihtar-eallu (a reindeer herd of the underground people) which we could hear but not see…

The May Day Puddles …

There’s no shortage of snow terminology in Sami. Here is a sample related to the late spring:

Aškkas: a thick sheet of ice, especially on the road or on a cliff, from melting snow turning to water
Ceavvi: hard, compact snow
Cuoŋu: a strong crust on snow

(Not suprisingly, Cuoŋománnu is April)

Geardni: a thin crust on snow
Moarri: a brittle crust of snow (thicker than geardni)
Skávvi: a crust of ice on snow, formed in the evening after the sun has thawed the surface during the day; a thin crust that begins to form on snow, following a mild weather
Čuohki: ice crust on pasture
Skárta: thin, ice-like layer of snow frozen on the ground
Moarádat: a condition when the frozen surface of the snow does not bear a person/animal etc.; snow which doesn’t have hard enough surface to bear a person etc.
Dobádat: sticky snow; heavy, wet snow

Njáhcu: thaw
Saŋas: thawed, free from ice or snow (of utensils, tools, vehicles etc.)
Seakŋut: to get granulated (of snow)
Seaŋas: granular snow at the bottom of the layer of snow
Sievlla: a condition when the spring snow is so soft that one sinks through
Skoavdi: a spring condition of a thin layer of snow
Soatma: slush of ice or snow on water (river or lake)
Soavli: very wet, slushy snow
Spoatna: hard, firm snow to drive on (when there is little snow)
Šláhtta: sleet
Šlávzi: wet snow, soaked


Source: Jernsletten, Nils (1997). “Sami Traditional Terminology: Professional Terms Concerning Salmon, Reindeer and Snow.” Sami Culture in a New Era. The Norwegian Sami Experience. H. Gaski. Kárásjohka, Davvi Girji: 86-108.

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One thought on “Skiing in Biedjovággi

  1. I was hoping to find a name for the kind of snow that is being melted by hot sun forming dagger-like shapes or the name for those shapes themselves. There has to be one, those shapes are too remarkable to ignore.

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