Monday, October 12, 2009

Olhava the great

The view from Olhava's summit

Olhava never fails. It's the best cliff in Finland, even if it gets too busy, or you think you've done all the routes there you can do, or it's a bit too far to drive and a bit too far to walk, too difficult for a busy family man to fit into his schedule. Make the effort and it will repay you. Dave and I got there for sunset on Saturday. It's a touch gloomy down in the trees but high above the top of cliff is orange in last sunshine. I tie on, grab the gear and sprint up Mänty. Mänty is a good climb, easy enough to do swiftly, but not well protected enough to take lightly. I enjoy the sunset from the belay as Dave seconds. We rap quickly back down to the ground. Dave puts his head torch on his helmet and starts up Honey in the now thick gloom. He boulders through the steep start and by the light of the lamp he places gear, but its now really dark. I lower him off, and pull the ropes. We'll do it in the morning and get the runners back then.

I put my little tent up, Dave rolls out his bivvy kit then we wander over to the fire place to cook sausage, drink beer and chat with the other small collection of climbers who have braved the autumn chill in search of good climbing conditions. As people head to their tents around midnight I take the row boat out into the middle of the lake and marvel at the stars. The air is well below freezing and the now warmer lake is covered in a fine low mist. If a hand had appeared from the inky waters and given me a sword, it wouldn't have seemed surprising. Magic. I row back to the shore and head to my sleeping bag.

Morning breaks and with it being -6 getting out of your pit is a real struggle. I linger snug inside my little tent. Eventually I get out and start on breakfast - Dave gets tea in bed as reward for having slept the night out in his bivvy bag with just the stars for his roof. Then we make coffee, then some more tea, just putting off the need to take off our thick duvet jackets and start climbing. But the sun comes around the temperature inches out of the frost. We climb a couple of routes above the camp site but know we're still really avoiding the main issue - the main face. What Olhava is all about.

Dave starts up Josse, 6- (E1 5b)

After a quick lunch, we take the row boat out to island that forms the base camp for climbing on the main wall. It's Dave's lead. He picks Josse, a soaring crackline. He's done it before but a more than a decade ago. I've seconded it before as well - on my first ever trip to the cliff 12 years ago. I don't remember much beside abject terror and falling off the crux. Dave cruises it in the perfect afternoon sunshine. I second less smoothly but I don't fall. Now it's my turn.

Your correspondent on Suuri Leikkaus, 6 (E2 5c although see comments below)

The great corner of Suuri Leikkaus awaits, as it has for a decade. I've always found excuses not to try - mainly based on it being grade 6 and me not being able to climb grade 6. But after recent ascents, mates had assured me that I had at least a fighting chance. It's perfect timing, the shadow has inched away across the main wall as the afternoon has drawn on and finally even the two walls of this 45 metre high open book are golden in the low sun. Weighed down with all the cams and hexes we have between us, I lock a hand in the crack and pull up. It's a physical route and you want to be a confident hand and fist jammer, but it's not actually that hard. I have no idea how it gets grade 6, as all the 6-s to its left, as well as the 5+s, are probably harder. But it is superb. I arrive at the top grinning.

Dave seconds Suuri Leikkaus

The sun is soon to set so we ab down, jump back in the boat, row back to the camp area and pack up. What a day; I've heard woodpeckers tapping, seen a capercaillie fly by hooting, watched mist rise off a silent lake, sun glint through yellow and golden trees and done some great climbing in good company. What more can you ask for.

You can see a few more pics from the weekend here, including another climber who was there, Juha, doing a possible first ascent.


Anonymous said...

Hi Toby,

Sounds like a magic wee trip, and reading that gave me a real lift this morning. Thanks for keeping this blog, it's always great to dip in to.


Iain F

Zzzzzz said...

Over a decade ago Carl Whinam and I finished a VS on Borrowdale at about 2130, pretty close to midsummer.

We had the same orange glow and feeling of having done a really nice route, topping out to witness a glorious sunset.

Makes me wish I was somewhere else right now.

Jonah (UKC)

Janne said...

Hello! Nice post and photos, thanks for the links! It was indeed a weekend well spent.

Janne (from the Helsinki posse)