Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Climbing at Luhti

Old footbridge

In 1945 Finland was an overwhelmingly agrarian country, something like 75% of people lived and worked in the countryside. Now that figure has flipped with a large majority being urban. It was also a very poor country meaning that the houses people lived in on the land were both small and poor quality. This has led to a strange phenomenon of abandoned houses, buildings, and gardens all across the Finnish countryside - just left to slowly rot away back to nature. As you walk up to the crag at Luhti you go past such an abandoned building - who knows why it was built and when its owners' stopped going there, but now probably very few but the climbers know it is even there.

This can be a little spooky on a dark autumn afternoon, but the spring weather on Sunday morning was so glorious, that you could only see the riot of nature: flowers, bright greens, birdsong, and could ignore the sadness of the decaying rural culture.

Luhti is an odd crag in many ways - most Finnish crags face south, an accident of post-glacial geography, Luhti faces north hence only sees the sun in the morning. Virtually all Finnish crags are granite, Luhti isn't - none of us are geologists but we think it gneiss, leading to huge sharp edged holds uncommon with granite. It is steep meaning you need those good sized holds!

Jody starts up Mineral-P, F6a+

Mineral-P is the easiest of the sports routes which means it tends to get used as the "warm up". But it actually isn't easy, and the bolts are spaced with the cruxes seeming to come between them not by them. Every time I do it I scare myself silly and decide to spend the rest of the day climbing trad routes where I can stuff another nut in above my head when ever I get scared.

The exposed crux of Mineral-P

All in all, Luhti on a warm spring day has to be perhaps the best climbing experience in the capital region. The new Finnish guide book is coming out soon, and the crag will be in there along with lots of new routes, it's not just a place for hard sport climbers either with some fine trad climbs in the 5- to 6 range as good as any others in the country.

From the 2005 archive: My first attempt on Keema, 6 (E1 5b/c?) at Luhti. Possibly the best trad line in the south of Finland.

I fell off just above that point, but have since been back with bigger cams and led it ground up, even if I blew the onsight on the day pictured. Another top tip is don't wear shorts if you want to use the knee-scum rest!

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