Sunday, September 06, 2009

Kakarsberget, Kauhala: "Grand Opening"

Yesterday was the official "opening day" for the "new" crag of Kakarsberget in Kauhala, Kirkkonummi. Of course you can't really have an opening day for a cliff anyone can go to at any time, and it's not exactly new as the first climbs were done at Kakarsberget in the early 90s (I first climbed there in 1997) - but nevertheless it was still a fun event. Kakarsberget is perhaps the Helsinki region's most forgotten crag. Lots of people seem to have been there over the years and thought - "there's a lot of rock here!", maybe top roped a line or two, and then promptly forgot about the crag, or never went back. I did my first ever rock climb in Finland there in April 97 - Vesa and I had been ice climbing at the much better known icefalls on the other side of the valley and stumbled through the snow and trees to find the cliffs, plus evidence of other climbers in the form of a few bolts scattered about for top anchors. We climbed one easy crack line - my introduction to Finnish climbing: pulling lumps of moss off and digging out the crack with my nut key.

(click on any photo for a bigger version)

The view from the top of Kakarberget cliffs

I made a few visits early in this decade, and then in 2005 a bunch of us went and climbed a collection of routes, thinking they had been climbed before but perhaps some of them hadn't. Last summer I went back with Simon and found a new, mysterious sports line bolted at the far right of the cliff. It turned out that another bunch of Helsinki climbers had begun visiting the cliff again and saw its potential. Kimpi, Ossi, Jan, the two Peters and others have put in loads of effort, cleaning and bolting - but perhaps most importantly getting a great access agreement from the landowners, Helsinki Recreation Department - perhaps the best landowners climbers could want.

Vaccinium myrtillus - bilberries

Kimpi is now maintaining the Kakarsberget website where all the (excellent and easy to use) topos can be downloaded for free. The new enthusiasm inspired me and I've cleaned and added a few new routes, and Jody has cleaned and improved by removing some loose blocks - his route from 2005; now renamed Ruuvipenkki 6- (see photo below).

Apologies to climber pictured above making an onsight attempt (unfortunately wet holds necessitated a rest) because I didn't catch your name!

In particular the guys have really realised the full potential of what is now Sector 3 (see pic above for a sense of size) - a wall up higher up the slope and further north than the main area (sectors 1 and 2). Along with a few decent trad routes, this wall now has probably the best concentration of mid-grade sports routes in the capital region. They're aren't too high, and they aren't too steep but you better bring your best 'fingers of steel' and tidy footwork. Jody put in a very impressive effort yesterday onsighting Peter Holmberg's rather smart new 6b, Näkkileipä, without even doing a warm up first.

Avaruushissi, 5+/6- (photo above) is one of Sector III's trad routes. I tried onsighting this in 2005, and got totally spanked and was rather sceptical of Ossi's suggested 5+ for a the grade (around UK HVS or E1) after his first ascent, but Mr. X who did is yesterday reckoned it was around that grade.

Avaruushissi again. The rock is still settling down a bit in this area, it's very good quality and interestingly featured granite, but as with all climbs that have only seen a couple of ascents, expect the odd few crumbly edges for you feet.

Another view of Sector 3 above. The weather wasn't perfect yesterday, with rain the night before meaning a few wet patches, slightly muddy underfoot and holds feel a bit greasy - suggesting that autumn is well on its way. But the crag has been bone dry for much of this summer, so don't be put off by current conditions. Kakarberget is quite a shady crag, so its not a bad mid-summer place to escape the heat.

Yesterday's organising stars had even arranged a raffle for everyone who turned up to try the climbs! Two of the lucky winners are above. Below is a video of me doing a first ascent last weekend:

And if all of that wasn't enough to tempt people to go and try the routes, Kakarberget's final attraction - some superb berry picking. Blueberry pie anyone?


Jonas said...

Hi, Mr.X here. Thanks for snapping some good pics! I'll have to return soon for a clean ascent of Ruuvipenkki :)

Jonas Broo

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Thanks Jonas, I should introduce myself properly next time. It was a good effort to try it in the not too perfect conditions!

I'll try and do another post soonish - with a collections of other photos I have from other Kauhala visits over the years.