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

Friday, January 27, 2012

Airport Ice climbing!


Jody Leading
Yesterday a bunch of us went out to climb some ice near the airport.  Despite Juppe's train losing power we managed to get to the crag for his first ice climbing experience.  Jody was very kind to lend him some boots that fit and some crampons.  Seems like everyone in Finland has small feet or something!

Once we got sorted out, Jody and Toni J did some climbing on their own.  Toby, Juppe and I sort of formed another group.  I took the first lead up this small ice fall that led to a bit nervy of a top out.  There was a good six vertical meters or so of deep snow on top of rock.  At the top I also had to tunnel though a small cornice which felt a bit funny in Finland.  In any case Toby seconded the route and after Juppe followed.  He seemed to enjoy it although his hands got pretty cold.  I then top roped a mixed line next to this one and stupidly fell off.  Felt kind of dumb so I just asked to be lowered off. 

The next route Toby led up the middle.  The ice was very good here but he still did a good lead.  I seconded the route and felt pretty comfortable.  Nice to get another clean climb after just falling off.

Toby then took the reigns again and tried to lead a pretty steep route further on down the cliff.  Despite being halfway up he decided to back off due to the thin ice.  So then I took over on a line just next to this one which looked like it had some thicker ice.  With two ice screws I managed to the top.  Once I was at the top I started to belay Juppe up.  Halfway up he twisted his crampons off!  I decided just to lower him off and abseil down.  It worked out okay but a bummer for Juppe as he was feeling good on the route.

My Lead
Then the funny part began.  I didn't realize that Jody had moved my car so it didn't get ran over by a dump truck.  So after the panic subsided and they teased me a bit I realized that there was still some of my equipment at the top of the cliff.  So after some funny scrambling to the top and a nice 2km(exaggerated) walk I came back to the cars.  Nice little jaunt!  hehe.  Then once we jumped in the cars and sped home I realized I had sometime lost an ice screw!  :(  Bummer!   Hope I find it in the next days.

Overall it was a great day of climbing.  Thanks to Jody for lending the shoes and crampons!  Thanks to Toby for being so patient and to everyone for the good company!  =)  Can't wait to get out again on the ice!  Thanks for reading and stay tuned! =)
Topping out

A Week of Adventures with Johan

Greetings!                                                  (Pictures a bit unclear.)

Me Jumping
Over the past week or so Johan and I have had some pretty funny adventures.  Sometime at the beginning of last week we decided to try and fly our kites.  We went to Tuusula on the lake and despite the forecast for strong winds ended up with a dud.  So instead we looked for some roads that had enough snow to do car snowboarding.  We didn't really find any due to the rocks laid down on top of the snow.  After our unsuccessful searching we decided to head to Kerava where there is a big hill and do a little snowboarding.  Good fun and saved the day!

The Next day we met to play hockey with Johan and Anton.  It was awesome and we had a really good game.  Felt really great to play some hockey again! =)

Johan Gearing Up
Then later in the week Johan, Jocke and I tried our kites yet again at the same place.  We were schooled again by the wind and then we ended up in Kerava again!  This time though after snowboarding a bit I decided to try out my new Scarpa Ski mountaineering boots with my skis!  They worked brilliantly and I even managed to downhill ski pretty good although I still feel more comfortable telemarking with them.

Between all of these things I got some cross country skiing done from my front door.  It has been pretty good now to ski next to the sea and through the arboretum.

Then after a break in the weekend and some ice climbing we decided to give our kites another go on Tuesday.  We decided to go to the farm fields near Vikki since it is close to the sea and should give a pretty good breeze.  We arrived with a brisk wind and it looked good!  An hour later and lots of cursing I somehow couldn't get my kite to stay in the air which was strange due to the strong wind.  Then after some careful evaluating I found three center line power settings and set it to max power!  Then both of us managed to fly across the field pretty quick just sitting on our butts!  Probably looked pretty funny!  then I tried the snowboard and for awhile was flying the kite with my face in the snow.  Then finally at the end I managed to fly across the field pretty quick on my snowboard! =)

Finally after so much struggling we managed to fly our kites properly!  Now we just need more wind and the sea to freeze.  can't wait for more kiting adventures!  Unfortunately we didn't manage to get any footage or pics of our kite flying adventures.  Next time we will for sure though!  Yesterday we had a good session of ice climbing...more to report later! =)

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ice Climbing in Muurla

Greetings!                                                          (Short Video Coming Soon!)

Toby Leading
Last weekend Toby, Jody, and I went to a place called Muurla in Salo.  The day started off fine with a quick coffee break at the gas station.  Once we arrived we got packed up and walked down the road a few hundred meters and then started crashing through the snow and the forest.  The stream that was normally frozen was completely open and too big to jump.  After some searching we found a felled tree that crossed the stream.  After a balancing act and some humorous shimming along the tree we all three headed to the cliffs.  There was quite a lot of ice around although apparently not as much as normal.

Toby decided to lead the first line up this formed ice sheet.  He seemed to be doing okay but then he reached a section where the ice was hollow so he decided to traverse around the side.  Jody and I in turn seconded the route which felt good.

Once on top we decided to set up a top rope for this short but steep route.  They did a few laps on the steep ice where as I only went up it once.  It felt okay but maybe I needed to get a little bit more training in.

Jody doing laps
Toby testing a jacket

The next route we decided to top rope as well.  We had no idea of what the route was or how hard it was going to be besides that it was going to be mixed.  I went up first and realized that the first section was already overhanging.  I managed to jam my ice axe into anything I could find.  The bottom section felt okay.  I then found a spot where I could sort of rest although it was not the best spot.
Jody on the M6+
The next section felt even more like a struggle as it was overhanging again but again I managed to jam my whole ice axe into the rock.  I then used the blade as a handhold.  Seemed to work pretty good but once I got over the overhang the route was basically done if I could just swing my ice axe into the frozen ground.  With no strength and some frantic swinging I managed to get a purchase and clambered up.  Pretty happy that I was able to do the route clean.  Then Jody and Toby went up the route after me with a similar struggle.  We didn't know what to grade it but M6+ seemed to fit pretty good.

After that epic route we decided to take a small coffee.  After our little break I was keen on leading something.  So we had a look at this fairly easy groove up the wall.  With a few tips from a local guy who just went up it I started off.  I got two cams into the exposed rock in the bottom.  After that there was only the chocked up ice crack in front of me.  I struggled for the longest time to put a ice screw in to realize that one of the blades was completely flat!  Then I realized I had forgotten to bring quick draws!  So I down climbed a little ways and Toby threw some up.  Once I got them I got two 'okay' ice screws in and went to the top.  At the top I got a nice long ice screw in and felt relieved and then belayed Toby up.  It was all a bit of a sketchy lead mostly my fault but it was still fun!
Struggling with an ice screw
Me Leading

 We packed it in and followed a better trail out me flopping through the trees with my mountaineering skis.  Once we reached the car we shoved it out of the snow and headed home.  The warmth immediately set in and I dozed in the back seat on the way home.  Thanks to Toby and Jody as it was a great day out and hope to get out again soon!  Yesterday we flew our kites again and this time successfully and will report soon!  Thanks for reading and stay tuned! =)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Wintery Weekend in Sysmä (Himos)


The weekend began with Annina and I frantically trying to get out of Helsinki after work on Friday.  With some high winds and lot of snow our drive which should have taken one and a half hours ended up taking three.  Maybe because it was Friday the 13th or something.  The first gas station we stopped at lost their power so we could not get gas or air in the tires.  Then the second gas station we were able to get gas fine but then the air pump was frozen.  So we continued on and finally found an air pump so we could get the spiked tires all exactly the same pressure.  After that it was much easier to drive on the snow/ice roads.  We finally arrived at Annina's Dad's(Erik) house in Symsä and had a nice warm sauna.  It was great to jump in the snow between the steamy breaks.  Then after a nice meal that Erik and Iria had prepared we called it an early evening and snoozed away.

We awoke the next morning to head out to Himos to do some Snowboarding/skiing.  We finally arrived and were pretty excited.  Although the ski hill is about the size of the lowest lift in Montana we were ready to go.  Annina had her new skis and we both started to get into our groove.  After a nice lunch we decided to try and go check out the other side of the resort.  So we went to the farthest lift and took the downhill-diagonal path across the forest to the northern part of the resort.  When we finally got there we found that the other side was completely closed.  Now we were 2km from the other side.  So after deciding what to do we plowed our way back up the hill to the other path.  Full of sweat we headed back to the opened area.  It was sort of a funny mistake although Annina did not find it amusing with her heavy ski boots on.  So we continued the day skiing on the slopes we had visited earlier and I even managed to get some small air off the jumps... It has been ages since I have been snowboarding properly.

 After another hour or so of relaxed cruising we decided to call it a day and head back to Sysmä.  It was a very relaxed nice day with pretty good weather and even some sun!  The next day I was planning on testing my kite but the wind did not want to cooperate.  It was absolutely calm and the sun was shining brilliantly.  So instead the four of us went strolling around the village and had a look at the beach on the lake and the ski paths.  It was a fantastic day.  After relaxing for the afternoon watching the ski races on the TV we started heading home.  It was one of the most relaxing weekends I have had in a long time and was so nice to be someplace with a proper winter.  Felt so good and really fueled my energy.  Thanks to Erik and Iria for such a great weekend! =)

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for further updates! =)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Winter Adventures Start!


Yesterday my winter adventures really started.  It was a turbulent fall finishing up my school work and becoming an engineer.  I can finally relax and start having fun again!  =)  Last week we played hockey outside for the first time with my friends Johan and Denis.  It feels really good that winter has finally arrived after such a wet December.  Then besides ice bouldering next to my house there has been the regular practicing with the kite and playing floor hockey.

Yesterday Toby and I reluctantly headed out to Nuuksionpää to do some soggy ice climbing.  It felt a bit funny but Toby led the first WI3 line very well and I seconded it.  It felt really good and I felt surprisingly relaxed even though my crampon twisted off when I was rappelling.
Toby Leading a WI 3 Line
I led the next line a pretty easy groove up the left side of the wall.  Despite easy climbing it was very hard to place gear anywhere due to the thin ice.  In 25m(82ft) I managed to place 2 ice screws and one sling around a 1inch(3cm) thick tree.  Despite this it was very fun and I felt very confident.  I made a small video of my ascent here.
Lastly we both decided to top rope one more line before we turned into sponge bobs.  It was a nice WI4 but had a bit too thin of ice for a confident lead.  All in all it was great fun and even though we were both soaked we left with a good feeling.  Can't wait for the temp to dip which it should this weekend.
Me Climbing - Photo By: Toby Archer
Toby Archer testing a New Jacket
This weekend Annina and I will head to Himos to do some ski/snowboarding.  Hopefully I will be able to test my kite while I am there too.  Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the adventures from the weekend! =)