"Dreams are the touchstones of our characters" -David Thoreau

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Start of Fall with the First Freeze and a Migration

Greetings!                                                                 (Click Pictures for full size images)

This last weekend was really relaxing at the summer cottage with Annina.  On the way we saw some really pretty scenery and was nice to see the green had returned after such a dry summer.

We arrived late on Friday to experience some wonderful fall weather.  We were greeted by a flock of 30 cranes heading south.  It was quite a sight as I have never seen so many cranes in one place.  Their calls were also quite beautiful.  Then awhile later we saw a Grey Stork and of course the Loons.  After a late night sauna and a brisk swim we called it a evening and relaxed next to the fireplace.

The next day was marginal weather but we made the most of it and did a few chores around the cottage and I made an attempt to fish.  I know what the small fish like for bait but I was trying to fish for the Pike.  After some unsuccessful attempts we then started the sauna and had a wonderful night with a campfire and watched the moonrise.  Crazy as it has been so light all summer it was the first real darkness in awhile.

In the middle of the night I went to answer the call of the wild and almost slipped and fell on the stairs!   They were covered in a thin frost!  Crazy that the first frost came so soon!  With a high pressure system arriving in the night we had beautiful but chilly 11'C sunny weather the next day.  Really felt like fall.  All the birds really thought so as well.  We again saw the grey Stork and then saw a regular stork as well!  We also saw a flock of swans heading south signaling the beginning of fall.

Overall the weekend was so relaxing.  The sounds of fall and the coolness calmed our hearts.  It was a nice way to start our vacation as tomorrow we head out to Paris and Spain.  Will be quite a transformation as we head to warmer climates!  Can't wait and am excited for our adventure!  Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Norway Adventure!

 Greetings!                        (Click Pictures For Full Versions)

One week ago I went to visit my Austrian friend Michael in Bergen, Norway for 5 days.  When I arrived there the weather was splendid once again.  This was I think my 6th time being in Bergen and every time I had been there it has been sunny.  I always thought this a bit funny as it's supposed to be the rainiest city in the world!

Once I arrived I waited for Michael at the local coffee shop.  I forgot how much the prices are in Norway! :P  After a 20€ sandwich and coke he finally arrived after his classes.  It was great to see him as we haven't met since almost 2 years ago!  We immediately decided to use the nice weather and go straight to this climbing wall in Morvik.  After a pretty short ride on the bus we arrived at the wall.  Although we could see the large 92meter (300ft) wall we soon realized it would still take about an hour to reach the bottom.  There was no really clear trail so we ended up bushwhacking through the brush and rock gardens.

Once we had finally arrived at the bottom we quickly got ready to climb.  I gave Michael a quick briefing on how to use the rope ascenders and also to belay me on lead.  I was pretty nervous since he has never belayed someone before.  So some very tentative and overhanging climbing led me to the first bolt at about 10meters.

I clipped in and gave the rope some good jerks to make sure he would hold me.  It seemed he got the idea and then I relaxed a bit.  Although as soon as I started climbing above the bolt I realized there was no more bolts and a lot of blank rock!  I ended up climbing the next 15meters without any pro.  Not a very good feeling although the climbing was pretty easy.  I got a cam in a bad placement which gave me some kind of comfort.  I continued up and at about 35meters I finally got a bomber cam in.  Once that was in I cruised relaxed up to the first belay anchor.

 I relaxed and tied the rope off to the anchors and michael started coming up.  I guess he had a little trouble with the rope ascenders.  What should have taken 5-10 minutes ended up taking an hour and a half.  Even so he was a trooper and kept coming up.  It didn't matter actually how long it took as we were having fun anyways.  Once I had him tied off and me on belay again I started heading up the next pitch.  The protection again was awful but somehow I felt relaxed as I knew I wouldn't hit the ground from here.  The first 20 meters of the next pitch I somehow placed some small wired nuts in the crack but not sure if they would have actually held a fall.  After the first 20 meters I finally got a bomber cam in and then I cruised up to the top of the 92m(300ft) cliff.  My first official Norwegian climb was done although it was a rather easy one.
After waiting almost an hour and a half again Michael arrived just before sunset.  Good that we both made it!  I was hoping to do another harder route here but we ran out of time so we quickly descended down before the darkness set in.  Once we hit the ground we quickly hurried through the brush back to the road and after a bouldering problem on top of the bus stop we caught a bus to his house.

The next day we decided to go on a small adventure.  Michael had asked around and found some DNT huts that you don't need the key for.  A bit silly as I had the key back in Finland.  In any case it was a bit rushed as we departed in the afternoon with his friend Artur from Brazil.  We all three arrived at a small town called Dale with a population of 988.
It seemed much more of a town like 200 people and was a bit strange when we arrived.  This small little picturesque town was booming with disco music!  Strange as we couldn't really tell where it was coming from as it was bouncing off the mountain walls.  Once we found a room to stay in we found out it was a children's disco.  Pretty funny as you would think it was a real disco from the sound of it!  The place where we stayed had a small pub downstairs.  Luckily for us there was almost all the people from the town there!  So we had a good time and met a lot of funny local people.  All of them were very nice and Michael and Artur seemed to get more and more nervous about the hike and the rain.

We awoke pretty late and started off to look for the start of the trail.  After asking a few people they kept telling us to get a map.  I knew the general direction so for me it didn't bother me that much.  Once we started it was the start of a long rainy day.  We climbed for the next two hours to almost 1000meters(3280 feet) above the town.  Michael and Artur looked pretty tired from the previous evening but kept coming up the mountain.

Once we arrived at the top we found the vague trail heading in the direction of the cabin.  I was freezing all the time but could not really figure out why as I was wearing quite much but I thought it must be the rain.  The trail was marked with the normal red T's and I went ahead to find the way.  It seemed I just got colder and colder but really couldn't figure it out!  We got lost twice and then backtracked to the trail and continued on.  We finally came to some cabins that I thought might be the right ones but they were locked.  We saw a sign towards Høgabu and tentatively continued on fording probably about 12 small rivers on the way.
 With fog setting in, the red cabin of Høgabu beamed into sight and we finally made it after another half an hour.  We quickly started up a fire in the stove and tried to warm up.  We decided to check the GPS on how far we had walked.  It was 16.9km and it took us 8h20min!  Then I saw my stopped time meaning the time I was just standing in one place... It read 3h15min!  No wonder I was freezing if I was stopped for that long!  Both of them did very good as they kept going all day without a break and made it!  It was a bit funny walking all day though a scenery like the Lord of the Rings and seeing random sheep running everywhere.

 The next day we had two options and I decided for us it was better to take the shorter and easier one so we didn't have a repeat of the day before of maybe making it or not.  We made quick decent of 400meters in an hour and a half and reached the small mountain road.  We soon realized it was going to be a boring 10km walk downhill to town to catch a bus.
 So after a little while we tried to hitchhike from the cars coming down the mountain.  Luckily two guys coming from their cottage picked us up.  They asked if we lived in Dale...and we said no we (Michael and Artur) live in Bergen.  Then they said they were going there anyways and offered us a ride.  It was pretty good luck.  They told us some pretty funny stories about Ole Bull which used to live right across from the one guy.
Aparently he used to be quite a womanizer and bought his own island and built a small palace on it.  It was pretty cool as we were able to see it straight from the guys house.  They told us that he had paved his roads with small white pebbles and used to ride a black horse and call out to the girls.  Apparently the girls loved it but all the guys in the area didn't like him... surprise!  It was all a bit random.
 Once we had dropped him off we continued with the other guy whom was an engineer himself so we talked quite much.  I should have perhaps asked him for a job but I decided not to at the last minute.  After he dropped us off and refused our gas money we headed home in good spirits.   The whole adventure was a lot of fun and was great to spend time with Michael.  Reminds me of the old random days when he was here in Helsinki.  Was also nice to meet Artur and become friends.  The next morning feeling a bit tired I quickly left for the airport after a short breakfast. 

As I took off I felt as I was leaving the mountains to which feels so comfortable again.  I hope soon to be living back in the mountains! =)  I have to thank Michael for a fun trip and hope to do it again soon!  Thanks for reading and stay tuned as soon we head to Spain next week for another adventure!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Climbing at Rollarit (video)


It's been awhile since my last entry as the summer has seemed to zip by.  There has been many events which I will report on in the next few days.  Yesterday I put together a video of 3 of my favorite routes that I have trained on many times.  Hope you enjoy! 
Thanks for watching and look for my new updates soon! =)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Some Pretty Fun & Easy Routes in my Week of Bouldering (Video)


Last week I spent 3 days of training on small bouldering problems near my house.  I found a new area and made some first ascents as well.  It was good fun and is really good for training for 'real' climbing.  I was a bit limited in some cases since I don't have a crash pad so I climbed pretty calculated.  All of the routes were fairly easy that I was training on but here in the following video was my favorites from last week!  Hope you like the movie!  '

My thoughts go out to Norway and the people of Norway regarding the horrible tragedy.  Thanks for reading and watching!  Stay tuned for further updates!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Cottage Weekend in July (video)


This is my first attempt at a video diary.  The full HD was not able to be downloaded for some reason.  Click the below link to access the video!  =)

A special thanks to Annina and Merja for the wonderful gift as in a new camera!  I really appreciate it! =)
Thanks for watching and stay tuned for further updates!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

30th Birthday and a Day of Camping


Last Sunday I turned 30 and to be honest it feels a bit strange.  I am not sure where all those years have gone.  It feels like I still have so much to accomplish in life.  I hope I can manage to obtain all my dreams.  In any case at the last moment last Saturday we decided to head to the summer cottage.  We arrived quite late and Annina's relatives were already there.  We had a quick sauna and then called it a pretty early evening after some nice discussions.

The next day we kind of just relaxed the whole day inside as there was a bit of thunder and lightening.  It was kind of a close call as I went with the motor boat by myself to go check the island where we were thinking of camping.  Once I decided to come back of course the engine decided to keep dying.  Not to fun to be in the middle of the lake with thunderclouds rolling in and seeing lightening strikes in the distance.  Luckily I milked the engine back to the cottage but at a very agonizingly slow rate.  Once back it was a relief to be indoors and we snored the afternoon away.
Once we got the sauna going we went for a nice long sauna as the thunderclouds had passed.  It was gave us a beautiful dramatic view of the sky.  Once done with the sauna and a quick grill we hopped in the boat and headed to the island for the night with Annina.  Once we arrived since it was my birthday we uncorked some bubbly and pitched our camp.  We had a beautiful relaxing sunset and chatted the night away next to the campfire.  What a relaxing way to spend my birthday! =)

The next morning we awoke to a pretty hot stifling tent.  I slept like a log and then we packed up and left to find a little frog that wanted to come along! =)
 Once back to the cottage we agian slept the afternoon away and went swimming a few times ass the water was a balmy 25'C.  We also picked so many blueberries.  There were so many it would take many days to pick.  We picked until we couldn't anymore and then took it easy.  Fantastic weather and then we enjoyed a very long sauna before we headed home.
 It was a quick journey to the cottage but a very nice way to spend my birthday.  Still can't believe I am the big 3 - O!  When I look back at the last 30 years they have been interesting in many different ways and am looking forward to the next years as there are more adventures to be had!  Today again we will be heading to the summer cottage and I will try and work on my canoe mold.  Thanks to everyone for all the birthday greetings!  Especially Merja and Pekka for their very nice celebration at home! =) Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

2 Ton Falling Rocks and a Bouldering Marathon


Last Wednesday Johan and I decided to head to Mäntsälä to check out this new crag.  I have seen the crag from the motorway many times but never stopped to check out the climbing conditions.  Once we were there we got a little lost on the small roads but realized we were right below the crag the whole time.  Once we found a place to park the car we decided to walk straight to the bottom of the cliff.  The heat was sweltering and we plowed through the bushes and trees eventually arriving at the bottom.  We dropped our bags and did a small exploration of the crag to find that it was maybe 400m long and about 20m high most of the way.  Quite nice but needed a lot of cleaning.  Then once we were there we realized you could drive almost to the base of the crag.  Once we found two routes that we liked we decided to clean them.  When we got to the top we found some anchors!  Crazy as it looks like no one has ever climbed there before.  We put in some ropes and started cleaning with huge amounts of dirt and football sized rocks coming out of  the cracks.  Makes me wonder if they use this area for winter climbing instead.  In any case once we were down we were a mess!
We decided to top rope both routes first to see how they were.  On my route lower down some small holds broke and more small rocks came down.  It was deceptively hard as well to climb up the cave and over the roof.  Then Johan quickly climbed the route and changed the rope over to his route.  He made the first technical section okay.  He then came to a part where he needed to mantle this huge block.  When he just made the huge lunge to get to the top it all of a sudden detached from the wall and came on top of him!  Luckily he was on a top rope and it swung him out to safety.  The block looked about 2000kg (4400lbs) and it crashed down the side of the cliff making this awful burnt rock smell.  Luckily nothing had happened to either one of us as it was by chance that I wasn't standing directly below him.  We were both quite shaken up after that!

After that incident it took us a little while to collect ourselves and I ended up leading both routes now that most of the loose rocks were now knocked down.  Makes me even more sure that no one has climbed those routes before.  Hard to say but in any case I led them fine but still not brimming with confidence.  We decided to call it a day after that and take a dip in the lake nearby.  It was really nice to wash away all the sweat, grime, and dirt.  Felt really refreshing and was nice to cool off on such a scorching day.

We decided to head home and had a nice stop for ice-cream.  In the end it was a pretty eventful day and thankfully nothing serious happened.  Definitely a nice day that I spent with Johan as I haven't seen him, in awhile.  We decided next time we will go to a very clean well known place to get our confidence back.

Yesterday I decide to go on a solo bouldering marathon near Kerava.  It was a pretty fantastic place and felt a bit funny as I had no crash pad and was alone.  I guess I am pretty used to it but I realized that when I climb in this way I am very calculated.  For example this once 6c route I just decided to have a look and started correctly.  I was so focused on every hold and exploring the possibilities that all of a sudden I ended up at the top of the route by accident!  A bit funny as many of the routes seemed to go this way.  I also completed my first 7a route!  It was this overhanging roof which then led to a small face.  I finally got though it cleanly after about 15 tries.  Felt really good and nice to see some personal progress!

Once I had moved on to different sectors I came upon this very easy problem that was only rated 4.  I realized then how mental climbing is as I seemed to struggle and barely made it to the top.  Once I got to the last sector I completely ran out of steam and was not able to climb anything anymore.  I was wondering why I was so tired and then when I checked my tick-list from the day I realized I had completed 20 routes!  Most of them were on-sight too!  Meaning that I have never seen or knew how to climb them and just started climbing them and completed them so called blindly.  I was very satisfied and headed home after a very successful day.

Today we will head to the summer cottage again as tomorrow is my birthday.  Can't believe I am going to turn 30!  I don't know where the time has gone! :P  Crazy!  Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more updates!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hot Day of Climbing


Last Tuesday Christian and I decided to head to Jaanankallio for probably his last day of climbing in Finland.  It was a balmy day as we weaved our way through the fields towards the crag.  The feelings felt a bit different than a month ago as the grass was very high and I was a bit nervous about stepping on a Black Adder.  Once we arrived to the bottom, we did the classic 'Rev it Up' (VS) route as it was Christian's first time to the area.  It was so hot as the rock radiated heat!  It was a bit funny to find more cams stuck where two others are for a total of 3 cams stuck in one place!  I wish I could have got them out as it would have been nice to add to my rack!  Anyways I decided that if I clipped into all 3 it would be pretty safe.  Then I easily finished out the route and belayed Christian up. 

Once we finished up that route we abseiled down with the belay devices getting a little hot for my comfort!  I was a bit worried they would melt the rope!  Christian then led his first real trad route called 'Supernova' (S),  a pretty easy one but still good.  Once he was at the top I came up behind to find most of the protection well placed but a few that would have not held any kind of fall.  I guess practice makes perfect.  Despite this he did very well on his first real lead.

Next we climbed a route called 'Invivta' (HVS) which is a run out crack.  I was leading and the start was really awkward and off balanced as I moved through the roof moves.  It was somehow pretty scary and this guy at the crag warned me that it was a 'crappy' route.  Once I moved through the crux I quickly realized what he meant.  The top was a big slab without much protection and mossy holds.  Pretty scary and I am sure I will never climb that route again. 

Then we were planning on climbing another easy trad route but someone decided to top rope as soon as I was ready to lead.  So we quickly changed spots and did this sport climb called Velli (F5).  It was pretty fun and short.  Then Christian climbed it once to get the quick-draws back and then headed back down to get our bags.  It was a bit funny raising our bags up the route almost like we were climbing a multi-pitch route!  Hehe.  The other people climbing there looked at us a bit strange but we managed okay and started to look for a place on top of the crag to Barbeque.  We quickly found a place and even a grill to make our food!  Fantastic!

Once we started up the grill with the wood we found nearby we reminisced about Christian's time in Finland.  Had some funny adventures and such.  We drank a beer and chatted the next few hours away while we grilled our food.  With fantastic food on the open fire and perfect weather it was pretty relaxing.  Also it was a bit funny to be soaking up sun rays at 10pm!  Then it was time to head home as we packed our bags and quickly abseiled down the cliff.  It was a fantastic day and a good way for Christian's last day of climbing in Finland to end.  In the end someday I probably will climb with him again someday.  A great day and pretty good climbing!  Thanks for reading and stayed tuned for more updates! =)