Atoklimpen - Sami cultural heritage
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Atoklimpen - Sami cultural heritage
Atoklimpen - Sami cultural heritage
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Atoklimpen - Sami cultural heritage

Atoklimpen is a large hill rising high above the surrounding landscapes. It is part of the Sami cultural environment and provides an insight into how the nomadic Sami reindeer herding practice has effected the landscape over the centuries. It reflects the cultural heritage of the Sami and the conditions for survival in a mountain environment. You can join one of the arranged guided trips on wednesdays in July and August, or if you are a group book a guide from Country Council Administration (Länsstyrelsen). Make your requests at Hemavan Tärnaby Tourist Office.

A beautiful trail that winds its way from the Atostugan cabin up to the summit of Atoklimpen (1006 m). Passing through birchwood, the trail splits at the tree-line, heading up east to the summit or continuing south to the cultural heritage reserve. Close to the summit is a small tarn: the perfect spot for taking a break. All running water is drinkable.

The curiously formed Atoklimpen hill (Aatoklimpoe in Sami) used to be regarded by the Sami as a very holy mountain. The mountain has many geological and botanical features that are worth seeing. The word “Ato”, in “Aatoklimpoe”, means “that there” in Sami. The mountain was deemed so holy by the Sami that it could not be referred to directly by name. There have been numerous places of sacrifice here.

Lenght: 7 km return trip
Elevation change: 400 m
Level of difficulty: Red (3 km/hour varied terrain, sometimes steep)

A modern place of sacrifice will be found 10 metres below the summit of the first steep hill out towards the mountain. The stone slab here is in the form of a large hemisphere. The idea is to drop a coin or two into the chinks of the stone for good luck. It may be wise not to risk the fearsome accidents said to await those who remove a sacrificial offering! Atoklimpen hill consists of a volcanic rock type, peridotite, which has converted to serpentine stone, asbestos, talc and soapstone. A hike up to the ridge and onto the actual cairn at the summit offers a strong possibility of finding a variety of fine stones.

The rock slabs of the cliff have been softly rounded by the inland ice and preserved by the weathered surface - “elephant hide” as it is nicknamed - of the rocks. The rock is red-coloured by algae in several places. These red algae are typical of peridotite mountains like Atoklimpen hill. They are therefore called Routeke in the Sami language, meaning red-coloured mountain. The Atoklimpen hill is also very interesting from the botanical standpoint. This is because of the special bedrock, which contains several unusual and poisonous metals and is strongly basic. The alpine catchfly, a plant resembling the sticky catchfly, is common among the weathered gravel. This is a sign that there is copper in the rock, see also the heading Copper mine below. A guest book in a metal box is kept at the cairn marking the summit.

A few hundred metres from the Atostugan cottage down towards Risbäcken brook lies an ancient reindeer rounding-up and sorting ground. The Sami used to collect their reindeer together here in order to separate them from those belonging to other families within the Sami community, or to brand the calves which had been born during the summer. The wooden fence has collapsed so that the posts have fallen outwards in their original order. Accordingly the division into a larger field and several smaller ones can be clearly seen. The rounding-up procedure was for the animals to be guided into the larger field. One by one as they were captured and branded they were herded into the smaller fields. The earliest rounding-up
enclosure was erected in the 1890s. Prior to that, when the reindeer were tended in the old-fashioned way, individual reindeer would be separated out at the grazing-ground or on a neck of land while the herd was resting.

On the mountain there is a Sami grave, that of Soejvengeelle, the Shadow-man. The shadow-man seems to have been so nicknamed from the fact that he was as tall as his own shadow. The grave is under a grave-slab and is much-mentioned in local tradition, not merely as a grave but also as a cult centre. An archaeological dig in 1950 revealed a 30-40 year-old male, 160 cm tall, lying directly on the ground in an ackja (a type of Laplander’s sledge).

Three km to the northeast of the summit of Atoklimpen hill, alongside the brook from lake Autjejaure, the pit of an old coppe

During the summer there are guided tours to Atoklimpen, book the tour at Hemavan Tärnaby Tourist Office