Saturday, December 16, 2006

Weekend climbing "photo essay"

Little Toni had an afternoon shift so we made an early start with me, him and Jody managing to be at the crag by an impressive 10 am! All the roads were coated in black ice; the result of a hard frost overnight following on from the seemingly incessant rain we've had recently. I was very glad I had put my winter tyres on back when the first snow came at the end of October.

The Nuuksio road at 10 am, still covered in black ice

We went to Solvalla in Nuuksio National Park as it was going to be dry if anything was. Of course it was mainly wet but there were a few dry (or dry-ish) lines to go at. Little Toni zoomed up "Indiana Jones" so fast that his fingers almost didn't freeze; this was in comparison to Jody and my not quite so efficient leads of the route - both of us ending up with completely numb digits. You had to keep telling yourself that even if you couldn't feel your fingers, at least the friction was good and you could trust your feet.

Little Toni cruises "Indiana Jones" F5+

Toni did one of the trad lines in the same area and then I led "the Last Crusade" VS 4c, a route that Jody had probably done the first ascent of a couple of years back. I've done it once before but years ago and couldn't remember any of the moves. It has a slightly committing section where you get out a little from your gear, meaning a big potential fall, and whilst moving up is by no means desperate, reversing those moves would be. Of course I did this section to find myself in the top groove where everything was mossy, dirty, very damp and with no way to reverse out of this predicament. After some minor panicking and much scraping muck out of cracks to place some more gear, I tettered unconvincingly upwards but managed to top out without any disasters.

Approaching the crux of "the Last Crusade" VS 4c.

Big Toni and Erik had joined us by this point. After top-roping another harder line which I surprised myself in actually getting up after just one fall, we decided that this was enough of frostbitten fingers and that it was time to move on. Big Toni, Jody and myself obviously felt we had something to prove so headed across to Bemböle for some bouldering. The boulder wall was also pretty wet but we gave one dry problem a few half-hearted attempts before calling it a day.

Bemböle bouldering. Jody climbs, Toni spots.

After all that "exercise" we were just too close to what must surely be Espoo's best café, the Kaffestuga, to resist the siren call of coffee and donuts.

The place were calories burnt are immediately replaced

So that was that really. It would have been a very unremarkable tale of Helsinki rock climbing if it had not been for the date. The 16th of December is definitely the latest I have ever rock climbed in something like eight pretty active years of climbing in Finland. According to my logbook I started ice climbing on the 11th of December last year and some other past winters we have ice climbed from November onwards. But there have been plenty of other winters where that ice hasn't really formed until around Christmas, so although the weather is warmer and wetter than average this late autumn, from a climbing perspective it's nothing too unusual yet. I'll be in the UK over Christmas so hopefully the ice will be here on my return to Finland at the New Year, and at least I've managed two days of ice climbing already this winter - even if it is a bit freaky how everything has melted since then. The ice climbers' grapevine is suggesting that it's not much better anywhere else in Europe, even the very reliable Rjukan in the Norwegian mountains has not much ice to the surprise and consternation of local and visiting climbers alike. Scottish conditions seem to be picking up though with climbs getting done in the last week (and another sad death from a fall), but they are 3500 foot higher than our wee cliffs. Oh well for the desperate and rich European ice climber, there is always Canada.

A Bemböle toadstool. I thought I'd include this because I'm such a fungi...

...tumbleweed blows past...

1 comment:

Akinoluna said...

Tumbleweeds make me laugh. :-)