At the beginning of February, students and alumni of the Tartu Students' Nature Conservation Circle got together on their 25th anniversary hike of the Snow Lynx (Lumeilves). Nearly half a hundred hikers skied on the twenty highest peaks of Estonia in the Haanja nature park.
Taavi Pae, the then president of the Tartu Students' Nature Conservation Circle and now an associate professor of Estonian Geography at the University of Tartu, recalls the early days of the hiking tradition:
‘The year was 1998 and Estonian geographers had got their hands on GPS devices. Among other things, it also meant new and more accurate elevation data about the peaks of Haanja. A year earlier, the map sheet of the Estonian basic map for the Haanja area had been published. Motivated by the aforementioned circumstances, we decided to ski to the top of the twenty highest peaks in Estonia with the students of the Tartu Students' Nature Conservation Circle.
The statute stipulated that ‘Every man or woman who, in winter, with or without skis, climbs to the top of the twenty highest peaks in Estonia in two days by their own efforts, shall be declared a Snow Lynx’. The Snow Lynx award was modelled after the Snow Leopard (for those who had conquered all the peaks in the USSR with elevation greater than 7,000 m). The first Snow Lynx hike took place on 4–5 February 1998 and since then the format has offered the joy of hiking to many people.’
Nearly half a hundred hikers took part in this year's anniversary hike, a dozen of whom were also present a quarter of a century ago. The wonderful Haanja with its snow enchanted everyone and it can be said that our highest elevation is the best place for skiing.
You can watch a video overview of this year's hike by Silver Eensaar on YouTube: LINK.