Monday, January 22, 2007

Ice climbing at Helvetinjärvi

(Click on any photo for full-size version) Finally some 'real winter' appeared last week so I started texting around to see who wanted to climb at the weekend. I caught Turku-Dave in a slightly inebriated state from too much corporate entertainment and persuaded him before his more sober, rational faculties kicked in. We met just south of Tampere on Saturday night, left one car and drove on up to Helvetinjärvi national park about 100 kms north of Tampere. I had been watching the forecast closely and they had been promising only around -9 oC overnight for Tampere, but already in the city its was -15 and as we headed out of town it just kept getting colder. By Ruovesi it was a ridiculous -23 oC. All I could think about was that my rather old sleeping bag is rated to -12, hmmmm...

Arriving at the National Park carpark at about midnight the car thermometer had risen to the balmy warmth of -18. On seeing the roofed and snow-free veranda of shuttered and locked summer guides kiosk, we gave up on the idea of using my as yet unused camping tarp. It was going to be cold enough as it was, and at least this would get us up off the snow. After a cup of hot tea and a good few slugs of Laphroaig (for internal warming purposes of course) we headed into our pits, taking water bottles and anything with a battery in it that you want to work the next day with us. I've had more miserable nights winter bivvying (in wet clothing having fallen through lake ice springs to mind!) but not many. It warmed up through the night and I slept a bit more towards morning, but getting out of my sleeping bag into the -15 temps was still rather unpleasant (see photo right). I had forgotten to put the gas cylinder in my sleeping bag so getting the stove to make a cup of tea was a hassle as even propane/butane mix doesn't work particularly well at those temperatures.

The promise of coffee finally got Dave to emerge from the depths of his sleeping bag, and after a stop at a petrol station for more coffee, donuts and chance blow hot air from hand drier in the loos down my clothing, we headed around to the other side of the national park for the day's real business - ice climbing.

It appeared that even this far north the mild weather had meant that there was limited ice on a cliff that is usually just a 50 mtr wide and 25 mtr high wall of ice. It looked slightly disappointing on arrival but actually there were some thin and delicate lines that could be strung together giving more sporting climbing than I've experience at Helvetinjärvi before, so not a bad day at all. And after a night like that, you definitely appreciate your warm bed more when getting home.

The start of a great day

Approaching the crags along the lake

The writer "gettin' some" (and trying not to get tangled up in someone else's toprope!).

Dave finishes the last climb of the day

And lastly a couple of video clips, the first shows Dave on the reasonably angled but rather tenuous central groove line, and the second is the team from Tampere dispatching the the rather delicate overhang in the centre of the crag in fine style.


Anonymous said...

Looks like a great trip Toby. Damn, I wish that I could have been there.

Did the Tamperese climber have any gear in the overhang? It's hard to see.


Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Two cams under the roof, but you'd still hit the slab below if you slipped off.