Sunday, October 04, 2009

More climbing photos: Kakarsberget and Muurla

No climbing this weekend - other things I had to do, plus crappy weather. But here are some pics from a couple of weekends back that I never got around to putting up. Any Helsinki climbers reading might be interested in some pics of a couple of new (well sort of - see below) lines at Kakarsberget, Kauhala - which is well on its way from being neglected esoterica to the best collection of mid-grade routes in the Helsinki region.

Jody climbs Pelkkiä Mustikoita (Fin. 4/Sev), that I had done the first ascent of just a week before. The clean slab partly visible to the left is Jody's new sport route Baby Steps 6a+, a really nice addition to the cliff.

Another view of Pelkkiä Mustikoita, showing its offwidthy nature. The route is probably the easiest offwidth I've done in Finland - so if you want to get some practice in the dark arts of the wide, borrow some big cams and get stuck in, literally and metaphorically.

Thanks to Jody for this picture of me on the crack of "Piton Route". "The Pool Cleaner Guy" heads up to the thin crack on the headwall at this point. "Piton Route" carries on to the up right. This is one of the Kauhala mystery routes; in that it has had a piton in it, and has done for as long as I can remember, despite no one seeming to know who placed it and whether it was climbed as an aid route, a trad route or perhaps even a winter line. Anyway I've called it "Piton Route" for the want of a better name. It goes at about 5- (VS 4c) and I found it rather 'old fashioned' in that hexes were more useful than cams. If anyone knows the history of the piton I'd be interested to hear.

La Sportiva Cliff 5s that I have as test shoes for UKC. They are a bit punter-looking, but I have realised a) I'm a punter anyway, and b) they are actually bloody good. A full review will be on UKC at some point in the future.

Gekko, a ferociously fingery 6c

The photo above and those that follow are from Muurla. Muurla is one of those odd Finnish crags that seems to have fallen out of fashion – if it was ever truly in fashion. It is a long, sunny, south facing escarpment above the old Helsinki-Turku highway. The bits of rock that stand proud of the forest below are very clean by Finnish standards. The cliff became famous amongst old school Finnish climbers because of the presence of what is probably the country’s first sport climb – Baby Face, an impressive, overhanging 7b put up by Henrik Suihkonen in 1989. But the Baby Face area is by no means the only one – there are some other sports climbs dotted about. They look a bit dated now: expansion bolts and bent-sheet Petzl hangers whilst the modern norm is chunky glue-ins. The bolting is also of the relatively minimalist 90s school. I’ve never found out for sure but always presumed this was because the of the cost of bolts back when people were paying for them out of their own pockets allied to the difficult of drilling Finnish granite (it takes a rapid toll on drill bits and batteries), rather than any real minimalist bolting ethic. It does mean however that the second bolt is often high enough to make taking a fall whilst trying to clip something you really want to avoid.

Pataässä, a spooky looking 6b

But Muurla is not only about sport, we climbed two trad lines, one very easy but pleasant up a natural ramp and crack feature, and another up the wide crack in the corner at the left end of the Baby Face. I presume these will have been climbed in the past although there is oddly no record of any trad lines done at the crag. There are numerous other possibilities along the length of the cliff for those willing to do some cleaning.

Dave on what we thought was Mefisto 6b+, but isn't. I think it's called "Spedestalli" although puns are well beyond my meagre Finnish spelling skills. It might also be about 6c.

If Muurla is going to have a little renaissance in the style that Kauhala has this summer, the thing that might do it is the at long last completion of the Helsinki to Turku motorway. Not only is the crag now much, much quieter with probably 95 percent of the traffic that used to pass by below it now over the hill on the motorway, you can get there in less than an hour from Helsinki. So for those climbers bored of the same old routes around the Helsinki region – get yourself a brush and get over to Muurla and find yourself some first ascents.

You can't win 'em all


Anonymous said...

Never been to Muurla, looks like cracking crag. Will definitely get over there next spring. BTW: Like the last pic.



Anonymous said...

I havent ever climbed at kauhala (kakarsberget) at summertime, but we used to visit it sometimes during spring when there was still some ice to climb at the end of the season. So, (most) of the easy and obvious routes have been climbed in boots or even rockclimbing shoes, end some steep and narrow cracks have been climbed with winter gear. So, my guess is that it might be some forgotten piton from some winter climb?