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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Our Christmas at the Cottage


We headed to the summer(winter) cottage for the Christmas holidays.  It was just Annina and I, but we had six days off so we decided to spend a quiet Christmas at the cottage.  Although we were a bit bummed since I had lost my camera we still managed to get some pictures from our cell phones.  We also got some nice videos from my helmet cam which I will try to make some compilation sometime this next week.

In any case when we arrived it was a balmy -19'C(-2'F).  We skied in like normal except the sled this time must have weighed 100kg(220lbs)!  I am not sure but it was pretty heavy as we had all the Christmas food, Christmas decorations, and loads of wine and beer for six days.   Overall though it wasn't too bad and after 4 or 5 hours we got the house warmed up.  We immediately cut a Christmas tree from the forest and set it up.  It was fun as we found a very nice tree and we had enough decorations to decorate it.  =)   
Then the next days seemed to pass by fast before Christmas.  We skied on the lake everyday and it was fantastic!  We also made a gigantic snow angel on the lake from our ski tracks.  The ice was surprisingly rather thick as two weeks before the ice was only 4cm(1.6").  Now it was 25cm(9.8") and really hard.  It was so hard that the ice drill had a hard time to penetrate the ice.  We also found that the wolves had come back for the winter.  I tried tracking them a few times as they made fresh footprints every night.  One day it was interesting as there were fresh sets of moose tracks and the two wolves were tracking the moose.  I didn't go to far but followed the track for awhile on my skis. Someday I hope to catch a glimpse of them!  The neighbor saw them once last winter so hopefully! It was good fun and it was fantastic weather!  It was the first time we had seen the sun in over three weeks!  It was a bit funny though as we had to ski to the other side of the lake to get any sun.  At noon the sun was barely above the trees.  Then at 12.40 or so the sun set.  It was fantastic while it was up!  

Then just before Christmas day we made a nice Gingerbread house from scratch.  It was good fun as I haven't made one for many many years.  Then for Christmas eve dinner instead of the traditional ham we made a nice beef roast.  We also added some spruce to the roast for a nice flavor.  It turned out to be awesome and was very good.  We also had made the traditional Christmas porridge for the morning.  Every day we made the sauna and it was the same on Christmas day.  We made the sauna listened to Christmas music and drank Glög(Hot mulled wine).  It was very relaxing.  It was a perfect Christmas.  Then it seemed that the six days just whizzed by and it was time to go.  We packed up full of good memories and food and headed home.

Overall we were very lucky with the weather and it was just wonderful to spend Christmas at such a special place.  I sure miss all of my family though and hope soon that I could spend Christmas with them again.

Then last Friday after we had come back Juppe and I headed to Solvalla(Nuksio) to do some ice climbing.  There was some nice easy ice falls to climb and the ice in general was pretty okay although a bit fragile due to the big temperature changes.  Even though I had finally got a new camera I didn't take it but Juppe got some nice pics from his cell phone.  It was a fun day and can't wait to get out again!

Thanks for reading and I wish everyone a happy new years!  It sure has been an interesting year in 2012!  All the best to everyone in 2013!  Take care and stay tuned for updates!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Snowy Weekend at The Summer Cottage


Last weekend Annina and I headed to the summer cottage for a four day weekend.  This was due to Finland's Independence day on Thursday and then we both took Friday off from work.  When we arrived on Thursday morning we found surprisingly that there was not too much snow and we were barely able to drive the car in.  We decided to watch the weather very carefully so we did not get stuck at the cottage.  After about 4 or 5 hours we finally warmed the house well and settled into watching the Independence Ball.  It is held every year at the presidents palace and usually most Finns watch it.  I was surprised we were able to watch it on my phone live!  It was a funny feeling sitting next to the fireplace but was nice to see it and gave the feeling of Independence day.

The next morning it started to snow heavily so we quickly moved the car out and then had to ski back to the cottage with the sled.  We were just in time as the bottom of the car was dragging the whole way out.  Good thing we have good spiked tires!  When we came back I made a nice ice hole in the lake.  The ice was fairly thin at 4cm and you could here it crack when I was standing on it.  So we made the hole very close to shore in a hope of swimming later while in the sauna. Each evening though while we were in the sauna the weather was very windy and snowy so we passed the swimming up.  In the end I ended up just jumping in the snow instead to cool off!

The days seemed to fly by and we skied in the days and had look around the forests close by.  We were looking for signs of the wolves that were there last year but we didn't find any tracks.  We didn't see many animals around except a funny flock of birds and a funny looking squirrel.  Even though we didn't do that much during the time the main goal of the day was to cook dinner and warm the sauna.  So simple and nice.  We even managed to smoke a Norwegian Salmon one evening.  mmmm.   The time zipped by way to fast and then it was time to pack up and go home.  It had snowed almost 25cm (almost a foot) or so since we had come. Luckily I had my expedition sled so we stuffed it and headed out.  When packing up the car the local farm dog sort of snuck up on us and gave us a funny visit.  She was very kind and inquisitive and gave us a goodbye.

It was a wonderful and much needed relaxing weekend.  We plan to return for Christmas and spend it there.  Should be fun as we plan to decorate the place and cook a grand meal.  We already have started by decorating with porch lights.  Can't wait and I am sure there will be more adventures between now and then!  The rest of the pictures are below!  Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cassin X-All Mountain Pick Review

picture from www.backcountry.com
The Cassin All-Mountain Pick paired with a Cassin All-Mountain axe is great.  I had a solid season last winter on one set of picks.  I was surprised at their durability as they are a B-rated pick.  I climbed everything from WI5 to M6+.  They were just as adept on rock as on ice.  On cold hard ice there is nothing that can beat them!  Also they were great on thin sheets of ice where delicate one time placements were necessary.  They are a dream on all kinds of ice.  The only downside is that you have to be careful not to bash rock too much as they dull fairly easy.  Overall though a great reliable pick with a great value!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Winter Arrival and Fun Times


Winter has finally set in and we finally got a blanket of snow all in one day. It dumped about a foot to a foot and a half of snow.  Is pretty awesome feeling that winter has finally come as the scenery is that muich brighter now. Last Thursday Juppe and I sampled the first part of winter. Was an awesome night of climbing as I managed to lead my overhanging project which I graded as M6+ due to the pumpy difficult roof crux at the top. I named it Truck Stop due to the large cave and ledge at 2/3 height. It is an awesome route and was nice to finally lead it and was protected mostly with small wires. Would be nice to climb it again sometime in the daylight when I can see everything. We also led another easier route that was about M4. Pretty basic off-width crack but hard to protect and took awhile.  Good fun and was a nice evening!
Me on Truck Stop M6+
Juppe climbing M4

On Saturday morning I awoke with a small hangover from the Christmas party from my work and headed out for a ski with Annina. We went straight from the house and went around through the forest next to the sea and by the horse farms. It was a kick as it felt awesome to be cruising around on skis.  It was also nice to see our new area in the winter which looks completely different.  Was beautiful and felt like Narnia as we cruised around the forest on our rock skis.
Annina in Narnia!

The next day Johan and I headed out to another crag to check the ice conditions. After a hefty snowshoe in we checked the area out. We found one place in the wall that looked like a WI2-3 ice fall that looked like it had formed. So I jumped straight on it without really checking it out. It turned out to be a muddy, snowy, and icy M4. Was pretty scary as the placements were quite thin. The top chimney also proved to be a small challenge in itself. I managed to get to the top though and then we top-roped what looked like a good route again. Once again it turned out to be a slippery fest with unconsolidated ice. Johan decided to wait until there was better ice but was really patient to belay me.  I think we were a few days to early but it looks promising for the weeks to come. After some nice snowshoeing on a beautiful sunny day we headed back.
Johan enjoying the sun
Me on Broken Slab M4

Later in the eve I again went cruising around on my skis. Was a fantastic feeling to ski down the beach and along the shore. Was very dark but quite exciting as the terrain is constantly rolling and there are no groomed tracks. So much fun! In the next days I am sure there will be more winter adventures! This weekend Annina and I are heading to the cottage for four days for a wintery weekend! Can't wait! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for updates! =)