Twenty km south-east of the village of Sukkajärvi, in the west Karelia hills of the Karelia region of Russia, is the mountain of Vottovaara. This region was once covered by a huge ice sheet, several kilometers thick. About 10,000 years ago as the glacial ice retreated, it left behind a scraped and boulder strewn landscape with strange rocky features. One of the most striking feature at Vottovaara are its balancing stones, consisting of a large boulder propped up by smaller stones. Another interesting rock looks like a flight of stairs, while another one looks like a precisely cut pool. Persistent winds, stunted pine trees growing on the shallow and sometimes swampy soil, and lightning-induced fires have given this land a character quite different from other parts of Karelia.