Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Why I climb

YES, FRIENDS, I SENT THE THESIS! I WILL GRADUATE. It has been a long process, three years. During that time climbing has become, not just a form of recreation I love to do, but a way of life. For the past three years, I have devoted most of my time to climbing or working to save up, so I can go climbing. My climbing partners have gradually become my family and my priorities in life have changed tremendously. I used to have ambitious career goals but none of them seem important now.

I am very fortunate for getting my education in climbing in Oregon. Adapting to the blissful, stress free life style while living in Eugene made me realize what makes me happy. I was inspired by people who chose their jobs based on what their ambitions outside of work life are. In Finland, I had done the exact opposite. I had no time for sports other than running because I was committed to school and work.

This is what commitment is today:
cleaning boulders in Pinsiö, Finland in 2013.
Photo by Tuomo Turunen.
I learned to love indoor climbing. Photo by Mika Silander

For me, climbing has always been about doing what I thought is impossible for me. I love challenges. I love being scared. I love not knowing what is ahead of me. I love getting humbled by climbs. I love long, committing days on rock. I love the adventure. I love my dirty, smelly self after not showering for a week. Or a month.

Climbs I thought were impossible. This is the Hulk in 2014.

I love the nights spent under the stars. I love wrapping my cold, numb fingers around a hot cup of coffee in the morning. I love living out of a car. I wish I had a bigger car. Oh well, I live out of other peoples' cars. I love to make my climbing partners laugh. At me or with me, I don't care, as long as people around me are having fun.

I love waking up in random places like this. The Alabama Hills!

I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. I am blown away by the friendliness and hospitality of the people I have met along the way.

Lauri and I preparing dinner for the gang in Kustavi. Photo: Rami Valonen
This is what hospitality is like in Turku. Thank you Matti!

I've been asked how I've manage to support this life style financially. It has not been easy to get to where I am now, but I would not change a day. For the past three years, I have saved up every penny and learned to get by with a very little. I have worked three jobs at a time. I have chosen climbing trips over new clothes, proper gear, movies, dining out, job security, and having my own place to name a few. I have a long list of things I used to think are necessary for my happiness. As it turns out, they are not.

My spork. Photo by Max.
My pants. Photo by Max.

My gear is swag, used, borrowed, or bought because it was half off. In March 2015 I got a pair of Black Diamond Down Patrol climbing pants. That day I realized, for the first time in my life, I had bought a piece of clothing designed specifically for climbing.

I tried sending the French Blow in my cool climbing pants. No send. :D
Photo by Rami Valonen.

I have been injured. I have cried because I thought my body would break. I do PT exercises. Every. Single. Day.

Getting ready to climb in Pärkänvuori, in Kustavi. Photo by Rami Valonen.

I have struggled with fitting into the grade driven climbing culture in Finland. I climb because I love climbing. Not because I want to send or because I aim for the hardest grade. It is the key to my success and my strength as a climber. I work hard to be free from the fear of failure. Unless the gear is really bad, the fall is not safe, or the weather is coming in... hehe.

Every day spent outside, climbing with my friends is a win.

Two weeks ago I was having a blast in Bohuslän, Sweden.
Climbing Mallorol in Bohuslän. Katja, imagine if I had not gone to Oregon!

My next goal is to take a tiny break from this laptop. I'm off to Norway with Rami, Alan, and Liisa. Our goal is to find dry climbing. Cheers!

The belay-granny says greetings Bohuslän!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Klara Vappen in Kustavi!

"Asuttekste täällä?" is what the Kustavi local Matti first asked me and Hanna when he passed us at Hopia. "Hehehe, it does seem like we live here."

The Tampere trad chicks had taken over Kustavi again. We were supposed to go to Olhava but we ended up bailing to Kustavi since the probability of dry climbing was better there. Kustavi does not disappoint!

The May Day team spandex.
Talven kuivattama lähetys-kuikka.
A black-throated diver.

It was really cool to see many people out at Hopia on Friday. The Kustavi locals are super friendly. I am very grateful for the gear and beta, thank you!

Liisa working on her project Kylmä hönkä (6+).

Matti working on a project.

I climbed most of the day with Riikka. She devotes most of her time to bouldering. In two weeks she is embarking on a kayaking adventure with our climbing buddy Alan. They are kayaking across Finland.

The only new route I tried was Astronautinto (7-). I gave a surprisingly good onsight burn and hung twice at the bottom. Then I took a whipper on Pasuuna (6), from a perfect hand jam close to the top. Great success!

Riikka seconding Pioneeri (5).
Arno on Dead Ringers eng (7),
Piri on Pasuuna (6). Pic: Hanna
Suvi sending Pioneeri (5+). Pic: Hanna
The flamingos say hello to Alan from Lootholma! Pic: Hanna

Saturday we headed out early because rain was forecast according to, Foreca, and Ilmatieteenlaitos. Me and Liisa started at Nostalgia. After the warmups we practiced crucial skills for Norway; climbing fast by alternating between free climbing and french freeing. Read: We came no way near sending, so we had to come up with an excuse for why we where french freeing a classic finger crack.

Soul sisko (6-) is good, Peura (6-) is excellent!

Nostalgia (7-) is very nice. Pic: Hanna
Nostalgia did not go free.
A doughnut from Talouskauppa. Thank you Joonas!

Still no rain so let's continue to Uhrikallio.

Riikka seconding Sähköpaimen (5+), the best hand crack in Kustavi if you ask me.

I have never climbed an offwidth before. Offwidth is for climbers who don't like using holds and who enjoy getting bruised up. Or who want to climb a classic like Freerider (5.12d). Dream big! I managed to climb up the offwidth Kirnu (7-), which was the highlight of my day. Emma's long journey was captured by Piri and Riikka.

Rack for the Kirnu: #5, #6, and a double sling+draw
Ajovirhe! Asetin jousilaitteen liian lähelle reunaa. Hups, ajovirhe! Suomea!

I got stuck many times at the top because my helmet would not fit in. I was suggested to loose the helmet. I thought long and hard about doing it. And then I thought about my mum. Thinking about mum while climbing is the worst! Sorry mum. I decided to stick with the helmet. It is awkward, but doable.

It finally started raining when I was making last moves in Kirnu. I was soaking wet after I got to the top. I tried walking, but the wet moss made the top slippery. I literally crawled 9ft to the nearest tree. Not my proudest moment. I came down to change my clothes and Henna went up to belay Hanna. Hanna was doing great, taken into account that she has never climbed offwidht before either. The rock was still wet so, after giving a good effort, she decided to come down.

Hanna got lowered with the help of Arno, Joonas, and Riikka. Great work team! No harm done to the rope.

I feel you Henna.
Arno shows us how it's done.

Arno is the offwidth machine. We gave him a trad name for it. And yes, we all have trad names, but I'm saving them for later.

Joonas belaying Arnoffari. Pic: Henna
Arnoffari in an Offline-simulator. Pic: Riikka
Piri sending Sähköpaimen (5+).
Piri in Sähköpaimen (5+) and Henna in Kirnu (7-).
Meeri sending Sähköpaimen. It's just so good!
I recommend checking out the beach. Pic: Riikka

Sunday we visited Hooperi, Vartsalan Vanha Koulu (huge doughnuts and cinnamon rolls!) and Pohjavuori.

In Hooperi I climbed Lohikäärmetee (6) and in Pohjavuori I ate a cinnamon roll.

Hanna fought her way up Hullu Hevonen (6).
Hanna's spooky hands.
Sima, a traditional May Day beverage.
Thanks Meeri!
Liisa climbing Hullu Hevonen (6).
Joonas giving Oinas (7-) a go.
Arno climbing Unohdus (6+).

Time to head home. Next week we go to Bohuslän!

The lovely ladies, Hanna, Piri, and Liisa on their way to the mainland.