Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Ice

 The frost that started last week, carried on all this week - with many parts of Finland recording some of the coldest November weather for decades and in a few cases, a century. On Tuesday the wind to whipped up and brought more snow, but it was still pretty cold and the snow was light and feathery meaning a blizzard all day as the wind blasted it about. The trams were all in a total mess after a crash so I ended up having to walk the last coupled of kms to work.
The height of the storm corresponded with the office Christmas party that evening. This turned walking from the restaurant to the bar afterwards into something of an epic Arctic style expedition. Helsinki normally looks pretty and seasonal in the snow, but that night it just looked wild.
Waiting for the bus home was character building. Fortunately Helsinki buses are pretty good at running to timetable so as long as you know when the last one leaves, you can minimise your time standing outside at the stop!
But by the end of the week the winds had died away, the sky cleared and the temperature dropped further.
Friday morning dawn (which means 8.30 at this time of the year!)
 So once the weekend arrived it was time to go ice climbing. I climbed with Sari, the two Janis and Ville. We started off trying Nuuksionpää. The easy left hand line was OK and I led it placing a few screws. There was less ice on the upper section than normal, so that was less pleasant climbing not very safe frozen vegetation rather than ice.
Placing my first ice screw of the winter 10/11!

Jani tries the main wall.
The main wall at Nuuksionpää isn't well formed yet (see the photo of Jani climbing). Jani tried leading it, but there was no protection possible yet. We all top-roped a couple of lines though.
Ville at Kauhala

After that we drove round to Kauhala. The left-hand fall was climbable and I felt the ice was thick enough to happily solo it a couple of times. The others put a rope down it and did a couple of different lines.

Heels down Sari!
 I was climbing in the Climbing Technology Nupste crampons that I'm reviewing for UKClimbing. They aren't really designed as a steep ice crampon, more of an all-round mountaineering crampon. You have to really push your heels down to get the secondary points to engage, but actually that makes you focus on your feet in a positive way. So, with that in mind, Sari then had to put up with me continually reminding her to keep her heels down to get her crampons to engage better. I'm sure I would make a really tedious instructor... sorry mate!

A chilly stroll home

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