Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ice is nice, but knocking the crap out of it is better

It's been a stressful week - some big downs, a few good ups, and too many things to do all at once. Not much fun really. This isn't an attempt to get sympathy, rather just the context to why Saturday was such good fun. If you have had a trying week, I really suggest finding a hobby for the weekend that includes smacking and kicking the crap out something. As I'm far too much of wuss to do mixed martial arts, instead of that something being a person, various large lumps of ice were the alternative. Cathartic violence is the only description for it. So English Tony, little Toni and myself headed to Lintojanvuori near Valkeala on Saturday and spent the day bashing up and abbing back down various icefalls.

G12s - classy classics

The first interesting discovery was just how good my general mountaineering crampons were on steep ice. After last week's crampon breakage, I was a bit worried that using my Grivels, normally only used for steep snow and neve when mountaineering, it would feel like I couldn't get my feet to stick on anything. Instead the opposite was true and they felt just as good as my normal 'poons. Admittedly conditions were in my favour, with lots of the ice being soggy and soft with temperatures only a few degrees below freezing, but still it was a real revelation and confidence inspiring that they will definitely get me up anything that my rather modest ability allows me to realistically try climbing.

Toni gets into the Groove, WI3+

We did six of seven lines each and as all the routes at the crag are about on average 20 mtrs high, I reckon I did 120 mtrs of steep ice. There aren't really easy bits on the cliff - you step off the ground on to 75 to 90 degree ice and then climb that until you mantle back on to the flat top-out. So that is actually quite a lot of steep ice - and my shoulders, biceps and forearms definitely let me know it when I woke up this morning.

Me belaying whilst simultaneously gear reviewing - clever multitasking eh?

In the past climbing as a three has been a bit annoying/relaxing as it normally involves some standing around waiting your turn. But yesterday we managed to turn it into an advantage that meant almost constant climbing. One person would lead to the top, belay and bring up the second. The second would wonder off and set up abseil on another tree with a spare rope as the leader brought up the third man. By the time the third man up, the second would be back down on the ground, racking up for the next lead. It also meant I could 'model' for my next UKC review of a RAB duvet jacket whilst Tony got to play fashion photographer! :-)

Toni gets stuck into the brutal upper pillar of Righthand Fall, WI4

Lintojanvuori isn't particularly high, but it is long and there are another couple of sectors with ice on them that we didn't even have time to get to yesterday. It's a good cliff - I'm not sure why it hasn't ever been developed for summer climbing. I'd be interested to know if anyone has done any summer routes there. There are few good looking cracks at least - somewhat Kustavi-looking in style.

Tony gets going on Main Area Right Fall, WI 3. Note the really too sexy carbon fiber BD Cobras

Tony's new carbon fiber Black Diamond Cobras were a point of interest for the day. They really are rather beautiful bits of engineering. I've not tried carbon fiber tools before, and its a slightly weird feeling - like riding an aluminum framed bike for the first time after only having ridden steel steeds. It somehow felt more 'organic' like the tools had wooden shafts. But at the same time they felt more hollow - a somewhat unnerving feel. Probably like changing bikes, it just takes a bit of time to get used to - although Toni after top roping a completely crazy free standing pillar with them seemed to be plotting a kidnap attempt and seemed rather taken with them. Just because I'm jealous and want to be a downer, any fans of sexy carbon fiber should check out this rather amusing blog first.

Higher on the same route

So all in all - a pretty good day and good to get away from town and all the head-stress. Cheers fellas. Lets just hope for sunshine and blue skies for the next trip. Update: If anyone is interested, there is a very quick photo topo of the area of the cliff closest to the car parking here. It forms slightly differently season to season, and I suspect that WI grades don't really work for short routes like we get here, but at least if gives an idea of how steep the different bits of the ice flow is.

And again

A 'big-up' to the young woman working at some uncivilized early hour at the service station in Liljendal. After hearing me and Tony speaking in English she immediately started chatting to us in perfect English and was that absolute model of friendly, good service - something that isn't necessarily the norm in rural Finland. She gave an otherwise perfectly normal coffee'n'donuts stop, a bit of sparkle and reminds you that if you just give someone a smile and kind word it can start their day on a good footing.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Super thanks Toby - I was really happy with my carbon bike until now!

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Opps. Sorry. But forewarned is forearmed and all that! :-)

Tony said...

I was really happy with my carbon axes. But don't think you'll put me off them like that.

Thanks for a great day.

Juho Risku said...

Hello,

Red your reply from ukclimbing.com discussion area on my question. Just wanted to thank you (they removed it, becaue I weren't registered at the time when I posted it and it had a link). You're absolutely correct, I didn't have enough self arrest experience, I had way too much speed (we purposely went in to slide - a bad idea) etc. :-) The video gave me a good picture of what to do... I'm going to practice it and learn (I did learn something allready there, and I don't intend the repeat the mistake, it was so close).

What comes to your question about lastyear's conditions in Tamok Dalen, it was just nice. No avalanche risk, atleast not such at the place we were climbing, that we could confirm or detect. Only problem really was a bit thin ice on upper end of the climbs.

Anyways, thanks for your reply.

- Juho Risku / http://www.climbingextreme.com

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