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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jaanankallio climbing day


Yesterday Johan and I visited Jaanankallio. We both decided to take a day away from work and school. Escpecially since I worked double time on tuesday. Johan came and picked me up and we headed to Hyvinkää (50km N from Helsinki) where the crag is located. I wasn't so sure we would find it but I had the GPS coordinates but the batteries were dead in my Garmin device. So we stopped for a quick breakfast and I tried to buy batteries. I can't believe that the gas station didn't sell AA batteries and then when I went to the store next door they said I couldn't buy them because I didn't have a company. Craziness. Well we had the directions so we just had to hope we could find the place. Luckily we could easily see the crag from the road and there finally was no need for the GPS device anyways. The walk in was rather short and a bit funny as we skirted around the edge of this farm field. It was somehow really beautiful with it's bright green colors.
 The weather was fantastic as we started to head up some routes that we have never seen before.  The crag is about 18m or 59feet high.  The first climb (Supernova S 4a) was a bit awkward but really nice Trad climb.  Trad climbing is where you place your own gear into the rock as you go up the face in order to stop a fall for those who are unfamiliar with this term. The weather couldn't have been more perfect.  The next climb (Rev it Up VS 4c) was a bit strange but really nice.  The first part of the climb I free climbed due to not many places to put gear and the first bit of gear I put was about half way up.

Then a bit higher in the climb I found a bunch of strange stuff...first I found a cam that someone else had got stuck in the crack.  Then I found a place where someone had put a sling around a rock and it looked like it ripped!  Hopefully noone actually fell from there.  Once through a few hard moves to the top it was fantastic sunny view and could see the field below full of swans.  Pretty peacfull place.  Then Johan succesfully came up after me with no problems as I soaked in the sun.

We continued on climbing the next route Zombbari HVS 5a which was another fantastic climb.  Then afterward we attempted what we first thought was a route called Paskaräni HS but we had no idea how the route went I came to what we thought was the crux and I fell 3 times on a small wired nut(metal wedge jammed in a crack) before I bailed.  We realized that we were on a different route called Woodpecker F6c which was much harder and were supposed to go more right and use the fixed bolts.  Well we successfully climbed the easier route afterwards.  It was my first real fall in trad climbing but in some ways pretty good as now I know the equipment works.  We then did one more easy route called Paskat Marjan Varation VS 4c before heading home. 

The walk out was again pleasant as we walked over little streams and these little yellow flowers were starting to bloom.  The birds were chirping again and I tried to take some more pictures but the camera didn't seem to want to work.  The day was successful as we managed to get some climbs in and was nice to get my confidence back after some scary moments a few weeks ago.  Such a beautiful day as we were climbing in our t-shirts and hope this weather continues for Vappu (big party day in Finland) this weekend!  Thanks for reading and stay tuned! =)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter weekend

Hello again!
Our long 4 day easter weekend started with a late night trip to the summer cottage.  Annina and I didn't know the condition of the road so we decided to be prepared if it was still snowed in.  Luckily when we came upon the begining of the small road it was clear of snow.  We almost made it all the way down the road untill about 50meters from the normal parking place where the road was full of deep snow.  It looked like it continued all the way up to the cottage so we decided to pull out the sled and gear up and ski the rest of the way. 

We were hoping to take all of our stuff into the cabin in one trip.  As soon as we started the snow ended as soon as we reached the first cabins.  We felt a bit silly but decided to just pull the sled the rest of the way across the grass.  I guess that was my last official ski(world's shortest) of the year.

The next day we began the day relaxed with fantastic weather although a bit cloudy.  The lake still had some pretty thick ice but most of the snow was gone. 

Then once we got the energy Annina started to pull up the weeds like mad.  There was a pine weed that was taking over the whole area and killing the blueberrry bushes.  So the whole weekend we worked slowly but managed to take out a huge amount of the weeds to find little blueberry bushes trying to grow underneath.  It also brightened up the place a bit.  We also started collecting Birch syrup courtesy of Tom and Nancy whom gave us the tree taps.  We managed to get three liters of the syrup in two days.

Later in the day we decided to throw my Tomahawk a bit.  A tomahawk is a native american tool for general work not really for battle for people who do not know what it is.  It is very similar to an axe but a lot smaller and lighter which is really great for hiking.  Annina did quite well and it was really fun to throw it again as it has been a long time.  It came back quite quickly as we were both able to stick it many times. =)

Then our day continued with several other funny happenings.  One which included pulling out my ice climbing gear and try to chop some branches down.  Some seagulls have been trying to make a nest near the cottage in this one tree.  Last year they stole another birds nest and kicked out the eggs.  They were also quite aggressive.  I noticed they were thinking of building a nest again there so we decided to cut the top branches off.  The problem was there was no branches at the bottom so I climbed the lower section with my ice axes and crampons.  Was really funny but successfull.  Maybe I found a new way to train for ice climbing!

We also gave badmitton a go.  It was quite strange as the temperature for all of the days were 18'C and sunny.  So it felt funny to play in a T-shirt and next to the snow.  We also just took it nice and slow and was relaxing quite much.  Also since I had my expedition sled I gave it a water test.  It managed to float with all 90kg of me in the sled!  It was pretty close to capsizing but a good laugh.
Everyday went something like this and of course we had the obligatory evening sauna every night before dinner.  It was fantastic and also went for some cold swimming.  I also managed to get on the thin ice which was definitely interesting. Also for you American readers I took a quick picture of the temperature inside the sauna...and yes it is correct! 96'C or 204'F shown in the picture. =)  It is a pretty normal sauna temperature for a lot of finns.

With the fantastic weather we were also able to see the forest really waking up.  There were so many birds and other animals waking up from their winter slumber.  One of the first things we saw was a pretty big forest frog scrambling through the brush.  Then we also saw many Sisiliskos(Finnish lizard) running around the yard.  They are pretty funny guys and really docile.  Annina even managed to pet one.  The forest was always ringing from the woodpeckers.  I managed to take a picture of one though binoculars.  They are pretty cool birds.  We also saw many different varieties of butterflies.  Fantastic as summer is not far away!
The weekend was filled with fantastic memories and one of the nicest easters I have ever had.  Every night was a fantastic sunset and the sky was filled with stars.  It was nice to get away from the bustle and hustle of Helsinki and just relax.  I could really just have stayed there but I suppose I have to get back to work and pay the bills.  Perhaps someday we will be able to be in nature everyday!  I hope erveyone had a fantastic easter!  Thanks for reading and stay tuned for further posts!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New Blog...

I finally got a blog up and running!  This week has been a whirlwind of running around in Nuuksio and completing a climbing project.   First of all the week started with Annina and I going out for a quick climb at Rollarit as she started her climbing season.  We did a few routes before the place was swarmed by other climbers on a beautiful day. 
Annina climbing Koff at Rollarit

Ther next day Christian and I decided to go bouldering at Taivaskallio.  We soon lost motivation due to the nice weather and decided to go for a nice cup of Joe' instead in the old part of Arabiakeskus.  It was fantastic weather and we enjoyed the sun a lot after a long winter without sun.

Rainbow over the dam at Arabiankeskus

The next day we headed out to Nuuksio and did a short 8km hike around the park.  The weather was fantastic and was nice to see that the forest was waking up after the winter.  The birds were out as was the sun and even though there was still snow the green grass was poking out.

Lake in Nuuksio

Now that the spring is here it seems like everyone has a big smile on their face.  The weather for the weekend is supposed to be nice so it will be interesting to spend the next 4 days at the summer cottage.  We are not sure of the conditions but the road still may be blocked with snow.  So it may be back to skiing but we will have to see!  Stay tuned for my easter report!  Have a happy easter weekend! =)