The photo aboves shows what the bathroom floor should look like in my house after an average weekend in winter. That the drying gear was noteworthy enough for me to think to take a snap of it, indicates how un-average this winter has been. YLE is reporting that according to the sea ice records that have been kept for the Baltic off Finland for three hundred years, this January has been in the top one percent of least icy winters. The sea ice is a bit too horizontal for my tastes, but us obsessive ice climbers are noticing the missing ice with equal alarm to the meteorologists, just inland and about 90 degrees more upright. Nevertheless, last week's temperatures had been bobbing up and below freezing in Helsinki enough to convince me a search inland for colder temps and ice might just pay off. Tony agreed to risk it with me so on Saturday morning we headed off towards Valkeala.
We went to Lintojanvuori first and were amazed to see lots of ice, although as the pic above shows at the top of the wall you could see rock and flowing water. I led the first route, 15 mtrs or so of steep-ish ice. The ice was chewy and featured making the climbing straightforward but on first strike it let of a resounding and deeply unnerving boom. The wall of ice had completely separated from rock by the thawing. I teetered up the first few metres, placed a screw, decided that it didn't feel unjustifiably dangerous, only mildly silly, and tiptoed up the rest thinking light thoughts.
Generation Kill" by Evan Wright whilst tucked into my sleeping bag. It's a great book but I was particularly amused by the parallel interests of Marines going into combat and ice-climbers sleeping in the snow with going to the toilet. It's not a very pleasant conversation but the Marines seemed equally fascinated in planning for the best time, place and strategy for taking a dump as you do when camping in cold and wild spots. There is a lot of thought that goes into the issue of pre-emption - the sort of thing you never have to think about when back in civilisation - and let's just leave it at that.
unbelievable ice like this leashless. In the linked photo Kenton is very much living up to his rather excellent surname. Tony who has spent the winter working hard on his fingerboard and at the wall, then did the same line with significantly less fuss and flapping than I had managed.
And both with family commitments to get back to, we were out of time. Just an hour and half of driving chasing an excellent sunset, and of course one more coffee and donut stop, and we were back in the metropolis. It was good to get on the lead finally this winter, but sadly I rode to work this morning through slush and over water-covered ice and it seems that another thaw is setting in which will effect most of southern Finland once again.