Ice Planet

This page explains about the planet of Hoth as seen in Star Wars and its counterpart in real life: the village of Finse and the Hardangerjokulen Glacier.

Hoth (taken from

Hoth is the sixth planet in the remote system of the same name. It is a world of snow and ice, surrounded by numerous moons. Small meteorites that have wandered away from a nearby asteroid field constantly pelt Hoth's icy surface. This icy world has developed a number of indigenous lifeforms, including the wampa ice creature, and the tauntaun. The daytime temperatures of Hoth were bearable for properly dressed humans, but the Hoth nights are too hostile even for the native creatures.

As seen in The Empire Strikes Back

Following their victory at the Battle of Yavin, the core group of Rebel Alliance heroes had to abandon their headquarters at the Massassi temples of Yavin 4. Pursued by the Empire, they eventually set up a new base on the ice planet. Code-named Echo Base, this new outpost was under the command of General Rieekan. The temperature extremes required a great deal of effort from Alliance technicians to keep all their vital supplies from freezing.

An Imperial probe droid -- one of thousands dispatched throughout the galaxy -- eventually discovered Hoth. The Rebels were fortunate enough to learn of the droid, and began evacuation procedures immediately. The Empire -- in the form of the Imperial Death Squadron -- arrived in the Hoth system shortly thereafter.

History records the conflict that followed as the Battle of Hoth, one the greatest setbacks suffered by the Rebel Alliance. The Rebels barely had enough time to evacuate their headquarters and scatter from the pursuing Imperial fleet.

Expanded Universe

The five planets closest to the Hoth sun are lifeless, and a wide, chaotic asteroid belt occupies the only remaining orbit in the system. Hoth is barely hospitable, with its axial tilt, orbital position and atmospheric makeup causing the world to plunge into subzero temperatures. Hoth's daytime temperature high hovers around -32 degrees standard. At night, temperatures often fall as low as -60 degrees, with winds causing it to feel even colder.

Hoth's entire surface is covered by ice, but in various locations, volcanic fissures open up steam vents, depositing rocks and minerals in darker patches on the glacier plains. A few mountain chains penetrate the permanent ice shelves, and some of these are geologically active.

Along Hoth's equator is a deep fissure in the ice shelves, reaching hundreds of meters into what seems like another world. In this place, never exposed to Hoth's blue-white sun, is a cache of lumni-spice, a rare fungal growth valued by the galaxy's criminal element. Before the Alliance established a base in the northern hemisphere of Hoth, a pirate leader named Raskar attempted to seize the cache, only to be chased off by a creature known as a dragon-slug. Other rarely seen creatures in the Hoth wilderness include land scavengers known colloquially as Hoth hogs, and small rodents such as snowmice and ice scrabblers.

In Hoth's southern hemisphere, a massive ocean churns underneath the pressure of ice. The tidal pull of Hoth's three nameless moons cause fissures in the ice-layers, sending jets of ocean water into the freezing Hoth air. The intense cold freezes these jets into spires of ice, suspending primitive ocean algae in these tall columns. A species of annelids called ice worms carve their way through the ice to feed on the algae, leaving behind odd tiny holes.

Lieutenant Commander Luke Skywalker first discovered Hoth after the last remnants of the Alliance's forces left the Yavin system. In a daring escape from an Imperial blockade, he plunged his ship into the vapor trail of a transdimensional cometary body. His starship was caught in the hyperstream of the comet, and was dragged to the Hoth system, crash-landing on the frozen world.

Luke would have certainly perished during his first Hoth blizzard were it not for a kind young woman named Frija, who was stranded on Hoth with her father. Skywalker later learned that Frija and her father, an Imperial governor, were actually human replica droids developed as decoys by the Empire. Skywalker later contacted Alliance High Command, recommending Hoth as a possible base site.

Han Solo was already familiar with Hoth from his smuggling days. Solo, Skywalker, Chewbacca and the droids reconnoitered Hoth, and discovered Salmakk, the Mon Calamari smuggler, and his crew already there. After a short battle, the Alliance emerged victorious, claiming Hoth as its new home.

When the Alliance established Echo Base on Hoth, Lieutenant Commander Skywalker and Captain Solo were tasked with distracting Imperial patrols from their new outpost. To that end, the two used X-wing fighters to scout jungle worlds similar to Yavin 4 to trick the Imperials into thinking that the Rebellion was searching for a jungle world, and not an ice planet.

Behind the scenes

The Hoth battle sequences were filmed on location atop the Härdangerjøkulen Glacier in Finse, Norway. The locale was located about four miles (6.4 kilometers) from the ski lodge that served as production headquarters. Formed of stark blue ice, and 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) high at its summit, the glacier required very little visual effects work to transform it into the ice planet of Hoth. The production crew had to endure subzero temperatures, chilling winds and the occasional avalanche.

Of Finse, associate producer Robert Watts said, "In clear weather, the glacier provides the uninterrupted, treeless expanse we need for the Hoth scenes. However, a film location must also offer two other essentials: accommodation for the crew and a link with transportation to get people and equipment in and out. Otherwise, filming at the North Pole would be feasible."

After principal photography wrapped in Finse, many of the effects for the Battle of Hoth sequences were completed using matte paintings and miniature sets. The artificial snow for the miniatures was a concoction of baking soda and microscopic glass bubbles.