The Ladies’ Climbing trip to Yosemite

Katja and I have been to Yosemite together once in 2012. Back then we didn’t understand what it means to climb long routes or big walls. Katja had just climbed for the first time in her life at the Red Rocks near Vegas. I had climbed at Smith Rock about four times.

After the first visit Yosemite became the goal for me. I was inspired by the beautiful surroundings which reminded me of home. Everything was just much bigger: the trees, the pine cones, the squirrels, and the rocks. Today other climbing venues have become just as inspiring to me but Yosemite is special because it was the first place that got me invested in trad climbing. After the trip I bought a set of nuts and biked to the Columns in Eugene to practice placing gear.

Katja is happy because we are back in Yosemite climbing things.:)

Back to 2016. The total cost for a two week Yosemite climbing trip for two ladies was about 2400 euros so 1200 euros each. We traveled from Tampere to Yosemite. We like living cheap but we also like good food.

Here is the break down in euros:

  • flights Finnair HKI-SFO 450 per person
  • ESTA 12 euros
  • car rental 1000 euros (including gas and insurance)
  • food 250 euros
  • the National park pass 50 euros
  • other travel expenses 200 euros (two nights in the Desmond hotel in San Francisco, taxi, Bart, train)

We both purchased the Gouda Super travel insurance for 160 euros. The insurance we have through the Vertikaali climbing club does not have enough coverage in the US.

Sleeping. We slept in a Lost Campers rental van. I highly recommend it. The only downside with sleeping in a van is you have to drive out from the park every night. Parking on pullouts in BLM land or Forest service land work unless there is a sign that prohibits camping.

Studying topos in bed.
Having wine almost in bed.

Food. We planned dinners beforehand and bought groceries in the Bay area (mostly from Trader Joe’s). The grocery selection in the Valley is great but some items are expensive.

Milk. Have you found UHT milk or something that corresponds to it (and does not have high fructose corn syrup in it) in the US? If you have I would love to know. We used the powdered stuff.

Cooking. The equipment we needed was included in the van. We used my Jetboil for making breakfast. We ate out every day.😉

Breakfast by the Leaning tower.
Katja, we know it’s you.
Breakfast at El Cap.


Lunch at El Cap meadow.

Bears. Keep food and scented items (tootpaste, lotion) hidden during the day and in a bear box during the night. Save the bear.

Photo 6.5.2016 4.00.29

Water and bathrooms. Are everywhere.

Gas. The closest gas is either in El Portal or right after the park entrace on 120. We spent almost two tanks in the Valley because we drove in and out every day. Fill up before entering the park if you are running low.

A relaxed rest day trip to the glacier point turned into… (next pic)
Photo 11.5.2016 2.03.33
Skriik skriik skriik!!!

Red killer ants. Avoid trees and wear socks over your pants when rappelling. If you get attacked, strip all your clothing and ask your partner to help remove the ants.

Climbing topos. We had everything in our phones; the Yosemite Valley Free Climbs and the Mountain Project App. The Supertopo website has more up to date information.

Photo 9.5.2016 7.06.59

Navigation and maps. For driving we used Google maps in offline mode and for the hiking we used the Gaia gps. Make sure you download the areas in a place that has good wifi. I put the tracking on if I was worried about hiking back in the dark.

Weather. The updated forecast is printed out in several places. There is a lot of options for wifi so it’s easy to check the weather on your phone too. The service is very spotty so you can’t count on your phone much.

Photo 7.5.2016 1.50.06
The weather is coming in on Half dome and I have a blister in my little toe. Sad day.

Rope. The pitches are generally 40-60 meters long. We climbed with a single 60 meter which worked perfect. We had a 60 meter half rope as a back up for the routes which required two ropes to rappel. We could have had a 65 meter static pull cord too, but we ended up choosing the dynamic rope in case we needed a second lead line.

Rack. We usually had a double rack up to #3. We brought a #4 if the topo suggested to bring gear up to 3.5. Sometimes we brought triples in the sizes that the crux pitch asked for. The gear beta was from the Mountain Project and the Supertopo.

A single rack was perfect for the Sunny Side Bench Regular route.

Alien cams. I understand now. The Totem ones.

Bailing and emergency. We brought bail biners and cord so we could back up wonky anchors. I backed up anchors with rusty bolts several times. Max took a 17 meter fall on Golden Gate (on the move pitch) because a bolt came out. Scary. I recommend visiting the National park service website about climbing in Yosemite. In case of an emergency call 911.

Photo 10.5.2016 3.44.44
The gully descent from the Middle cathedral took us almost two hours. We woke up at 5am (jet lag made it very easy) to make sure we have enough daylight for the descent.

Rest days. We hung out and did absolutely nothing.

Photo 1.5.2016 17.30.15
A slow morning picnic.
Photo 7.5.2016 18.42.22
The Half dome village coffee shop has huge cinnamon rolls.
We had some hard cider and took turns in braking this chair.
We hung out at El Cap until dark and watch the headlamps go on. Max and Pedro are the highest dot in the left.

The climbing. Katja and I climbed mostly classics which in my opinion are all worth doing. My favorites were Super Slide and the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral rock. We did the climbs in this order. The sector is mentioned in the parenthesis. The routes are anywhere between 15 to 400 meters long.

Commitment 5.9 and Munginella 5.6 (Five Open Books)

Approaching the The Five Open Books climbing area.

After Seven 5.8 and Nutckracker 5.8 (Manure Pile Buttress).

Snake Dike Hike 5th class. We bailed at the base because of the potential storm. In the evening Katja climbed the first pitch of After Six 5.6 (Half Dome and Manure Pile Buttress)

A view of the Liberty cap from the Vernal fall trail.
One of the highlights of our 24km Snake dike hike: a green furry thing!
Hello. I am not afraid of you. Give me food.

Random 5.7 bolted slab. I bailed this one. We got eaten by mosquitoes and endured a lovely poison oak bushwhack. Great day. How about a rest day tomorrow? (at a random cliff next to the Cookie cliff)

Photo 4.5.2016 23.18.04
“Katja, do not touch anything green, ok?” “…but, it’s all green Emma.” Skriik skriik skriik!

Lemon 5.9-, Jamcrack 5.9, and Sunny Side Bench regular route 5.5 (Sunny Side Bench)

Katja is getting ready to send first pitch of Jamcrack.
Katja is laughing because the Sunny Side Bench Regular route is just so good!

Super Slide 5.9 (KILLER ANTS!), bouldering at Camp 4, and top roping Generator crack (Royal Arches, Camp 4, the highway 140).

The P3 and P4 of Super Slide can be linked into one beautiful 60 meter hand crack. This is one of the best pitches we did.
V4 traverse right behind Camp 4.

1/2 Reeds Leads 10b (KILLER ANTS, I BAIL. Really I bailed because I couldn’t find pro. Maybe I was not on Reads Leads?) Salathe 10c, and Sacherer Cracker 10a TR (El Capitan Base)

The first pitch of Salathe.
A very, very cool pitch.

The East Buttress of the Middle Cathedral 5.9 A0. This was my favorite route. It had everything from a bolt ladder to chimneys. (The Middle Cathedral)

At the base of the East Buttress 7am.
The incredible 5.7 flakes on P5.
Photo 9.5.2016 20.44.25
The chimney pitches were our favorite. Our poor haulbag is stuck.
Katja is hating life in the second chimney.❤
Photo 10.5.2016 3.13.09
We are about to rappel from one rusty bolt with one rusty hanger. “Katja, try not to place any weight on this anchor, please.”

The end.

Stop whining and start climbing

Hellooo, long time no blog. Over the winter I was busy with work and didn’t have as much time to climb as I’d like. Now I’m starting to get back out. Slowly. I was fortunate to get 10 days off around Easter. What to do with all those days? What is the best way to unwind from work and relax?


“Do you know how to place it, Emma?”

“Yes… I mean no. But I’ve seen people do it.”

That conversation sums up my trip to Senja, Norway. Some call it a vacation, I’m calling it an alpine climbing course.

Approaching the Spoon Couloir.

We had four climbing days. I actually had six since I begun my holidays by participating in the ice climbing instructor course (JKO) in Korouoma, in Northern Finland. I went back and forth about whether to participate this year or not.

I visited Korouoma with Liisa in January to see where I’m at. It took me two and a half hours (and more takes than I care to admit) to get up the easiest line at Jaska Jokunen. Way to get a boost of confidence for the season! Ice is a terrifying element… since it is just water. The trip was the high point of my busy winter but at the same time I went through a low point as a climber.

Why am I doing this? I remember having fun ice climbing last year. Right now I’m so scared I don’t want to move. What if my crampons fall off? This is stupid. I don’t want to climb anymore. This is my weekend off. I should be doing something fun. What if I drop my ice tool? Why am I not using leashes? And now I will think about the letter I got from my sister a few months back. Oh god, I might as well start crying right now.

Emma, stop thinking so much about climbing and simply climb.

Or as my friends in Oregon would phrase it: Stop whining and start climbing.

And so I did. After the Korouoma trip I went back to top roping as much as I could whenever I could. It paid off and I passed the course but I was totally pooped after. More importantly though, I realized I was having fun too.

Back to Norway. I’ve done climbs in the alpine terrain but I have not had this winter combo before: avalanche hazard, mixed ice/snow climbing, spindrift, and winter camping. In addition, I’ve never had this little information about the area I’m going too.

Camping by the ice fall Big blue.
The last belay of the Big blue was in a cave.

We went with the recommendations of a local guide Bent Vidar who operates the Senja Lodge & Mountainguides. We climbed the Spoon Couloir (400m/III, AI3), the Cave Couloir (600m/III, AI3) and an ice fall called the Big Blue (160m/WI4+). The routes are in the Top 12 list of the Senja mini guide. Bent told me that the guidebook for the Senja area is in the making. This place doesn’t get much traffic yet but I’m fairly sure that will change.


Getting acquainted with the occasional spindrift in the Spoon Couloir. Photo by Max.
What a lovely, relaxed day. Photo by Max.
Liisa swinging her tools in the Spoon Couloir.
Bye bye Norway!

It’s my 29th birthday today, hurray! My birthday present to myself this year, in stead of climbing 29 pitches in a day, is to go climbing in Yosemite. Maybe we will try to get 29 pitches in in two weeks. Katja?😉

Kirje siskolta

Kun rakastaa kiipeilijää, pelkää.

Me istuimme vuosia vierekkäin siinä samassa vanhassa nojatuolissa. Siinä me olimme turvassa, meidän pienessä maailmassamme. Siihen maailmaan ei mahtuneet pelot eikä surut. Mutta mikään ei kestä ikuisesti. Jokainen meistä kasvaa aikuiseksi. Myös me.

Mutta kun sinä lähdet kauas, palaan siihen hetkeen, siihen samaan vanhaan kauhtuneeseen tuoliin, jossa me molemmat olemme turvassa. Tuudittaudun sen vanhan tuolin tuoman tuoksun rauhallisuuteen. Ja tiedän, että olet vahva. Toivon, että se riittää. Tiedän, että olet taitava. Toivon, että se pitää sinut turvassa.

Ei voi kieltää toista tanssimasta, jos itse rakastaa sitä yli kaiken. Ei sillä pitäisi olla merkitystä, tanssitko lattialla vai seinällä, jalat maassa vai ilmassa. Mutta kun rakastaa kiipeilijää, pelkää.

Emma ei harrasta kiipeilyä. Emma on kiipeilijä. Emma kiipeilee vuoria, märkiä kallioita, tunteja putkeen, yöllä, väsyneenä, kaukana kotoa ja aina vain korkeammalle.

Kiipeily on kasvanut osaksi Emman identiteettiä. On ihanaa nähdä, kuinka toinen on löytänyt itsensä ja oman paikkansa juuri siitä, kädet verillä halkeamassa, haastaen itseään, uhaten painovoimaa, kallion kanssa tanssien, selviytyen voittajana.

Kun rakastaa kiipeilijää, pelkää.

Pelon kanssa oppii elämään. Se tulee helpommaksi, tiedottomuus siedettävämmäksi, luottamus toiseen vahvemmaksi. Toisen onni tekee sen sen arvoiseksi. Pelko on silti läsnä. Koska silloin kun sinä lähdet, se ottaa paikkasi. Se hiipii mieleen hiljaisuuden vallitessa ja tekee pesänsä minun sydämeeni.

Olethan siis aina varovainen, pysythän aina turvassa. Jos sinun joskus tarvitsee tippua, ethän tipu korkealta. Paikataan pienet haaverisi ja puhalletaan yhdessä pois mustelmasi. Ole onnellinen ja elä unelmaasi!

Sinä olet minun kallioni. Emma, rakastan sinua.





Nauti hetkestä

Kuuntelin kesällä kahvipöydässä kuinka perheelliset, työssäkäyvät ystäväni nyökkäilivät toisilleen, että: “Emma, sulla on varaa huonoihinkin reissuihin, koska sä voit reissata milloin vaan.”

Kaksi kuukautta myöhemmin valmistuin, sain töitä ja aloin taas ymmärtää mistä tässä työntekijän arjessa on kyse.

Arkena minun tärkein hetki on aamukahvihetki. Tuijotan ulos ikkunasta. Joskus tuijotan Hannaa. Pöytää. Kahvikuppia. Mitä siinä edessä sattuu kulloinkin olemaan. Tuijotan vaan. Se on ainut hetki päivässä, jolloin on ihan hiljaista. Minäkin olen hiljaa.

Sitten olen töissä.

Minulla oli tänä syksynä viisi päivää lomaa ja kolme vapaata viikonloppua. Kiipeilyreissujen suunnittelu ei ole koskaan ollut näin tarkkaa hommaa. Viikonloput vietin yllätys yllätys Kustavissa. Viikon loman vietin yllätys yllätys Bohusläänissä.

“Kippis Emma! Sä oot nyt vakituisesti töissä.”

Kun lomaa on vähän, joka ikinen hetki lomalla on suunnattoman arvokas.

Juodaan aamukahvit, lauletaan, ajetaan kalliolle, lähestytään, eksytään, lähestytään, kiipeillään, lounastetaan, kiipeillään lisää, höpötetään, lauletaan, etsitään yöpaikka, pystytetään teltta, laitetaan ruokaa ja tuijotetaan tähtiä.

Kivointa on, kun hetket täyttää hymyillä ja nauruilla.

Parhaista hetkistä tulee kivoja muistoja. Tässä muutama hauska muisto syyslomasta Bohusläänissä.

Laavapeli. Säännöt: hytin lattia on laavaa.
Katjalta lämpimät träd climbing -terveiset Ruotsista.
Onneksi meillä on omat slingurat matkassa.
emua räkätää 12167493_10153707308554421_1208347727_n
Räkkäyshetki. Ollaan lomalla, kiire on! Kuva: Katja Silomäki
Kiipeilyhetket ovat tärkeitä. Katja leikkii Granitbiteniä.
Emu ja Katja leikkivät 90 asteen kulmaa Hallindenissa. Kuva: Lea Antola
Sisällä ei olisi tätä(kään) ongelmaa.
Pettymykset kuuluvat elämään. Minulle luvattiin 800 eri sorttia. Kuva: Katja Silomäki
Rakastamme auringonlaskuja. Kuva: Lea Antola
katja auringonlasku1_167197905_n
Emun ja Lean tuijotushetki. Kuva: Katja Silomäki
Iltapala ennen iltaruokaa. Munaleivän sommitteli Emma.
Atk-hetket ovat tärkeitä… (oikea alakulma) Kuva: Lea Antola

Kiipeilyreissulle on aina kiva lähteä, kun tietää, että edessä on hauskoja hetkiä.

Toisaalta, yhtä ihanaa on palata takaisin töihin.


Mukavia hetkiä toivottaen,


Miksi minä en pelkää

”Kai toi kiipeily on sulle helppoa, kun sä et pelkää.”

”Etkö sä pelkää?”

Pelotti. Tipuin. Prusikoin köyden ylös. Reitillä On the Lamb Tuolumnessa, Yosemitessa. Kuva: Max Tepfer

Olen pakittanut tänä kesänä monta kertaa, koska en uskaltanut mennä eteenpäin. Minua pelotti.

Pelko on luonnollinen osa elämää ja kiipeilyä. Myös minun elämääni.

Pelkoa voi kuitenkin hallita. En välttämättä kykene suoriutumaan fyysisesti kaikista kiipeilyyn liittyvistä haasteista, mutta en anna pelon estää minua yrittämästä. Sivustakatsojille se ehkä näyttäytyy pelottomuutena.

Kerron teille nyt miten minä hallitsen pelkoani.

Olen oppinut lapsena äidiltäni kolme tärkeää asiaa, jotka helpottavat pelkojen hallinnassa.

Yksi. Me luomme todellisuutta puheellamme. Me puhumme toisillemme, kuvailemme asioita ja tapahtumia. Mielikuvista tulee todellisuutta. Jos sanon, että reitti on pelottava, siitä tulee pelottava.

Kaksi. Lahjakkuus ei ole synnynnäistä. Lahjakkuus on sitä, että tekee aivan järjettömän määrän työtä ja lopulta tulee taitavaksi. Taitoa pidetään yllä harjoittelemalla. Pelon hallinta on taito siinä missä kiipeilykin. Kiipeilemään oppii kiipeilemällä. Pelkoa oppii hallitsemaan…

Kolme. Mene pelkoa kohti. Aina kun kohtaan jotain, mikä minua pelottaa, menen sitä kohti. Kun tutustun pelkoon paremmin, se ei yleensä olekaan niin pelottava.

Matkalla kotiin Kustavista. Hymyilyttää, koska me voitettiin pelkoja.

Minulla on aivot. Sinullakin on aivot. Aivoilla voi analysoida asioita. Tunnistan erilaiset pelot ja käsittelen niitä. Sitten juttelen niistä ystävieni kanssa.

Jaan omat pelkoni yksinkertaisesti kahteen. Näin voin käsitellä niitä vielä silloinkin, kun veri on paennut aivoista lihaksiin työtä tekemään ja päätöksiä pitää tehdä nopeasti reitillä.

On järkevät pelot ja on turhat pelot.

Järkevät pelot ovat niitä, jotka pitävät minut hengissä. Niitä kuuntelen. Järkevä pelko on järkevä, koska se on seurausta todellisesta vaarasta tai liian suuresta riskistä.

Turha pelko tulee osata erottaa järkevästä pelosta. Turhat pelot ovat nimensä mukaisesti turhia, joten en anna niiden vaikuttaa kiipeilyyni. Hallitsen niitä.

Pelkoja kohti: Tarkastelen reittiä. Räkkään. Sidon itseni köyteen. Vaihdan kengät. Kiipeän. Kuva: Katja Silomäki
Katja ei malta odottaa, että pääsee kohtaamaan pelkojaan.

Aivan ensimmäisenä selvitän itselleni mistä pelko johtuu. Onko pelko järkevä vai turha?

Tässä yleisimmät turhat pelot joita kohtaan sekä keinoni niiden hallitsemiseksi.

Minua pelottaa itse reitti. Olen pelännyt reiteille lähtemistä aivan suotta, koska olen kuullut reitistä pelkopuhetta. Reiteistä puhutaan ja puheesta tulee todellisuutta. Reiteistä tehdään mörköjä. Tähän minulla on kaksi ratkaisua. Ensinnäkin, menen itse katsomaan mitä pelottavaa reitillä on. Ihmiset ovat yllättävän usein väärässä. Toiseksi, en kiipeile ihmisten kanssa, jotka pelottelevat reiteillä.

Negatiivinen ajattelu ryhmässä luo pelkoja. Me osaamme olla todella negatiivisia. Sataa, tuulee, on kylmä, on kosteaa, ei huvita, on nälkä ja jano, sattuu sormiin, sattuu varpaisiin, ei ole nahkaa jäljellä ja tämä on viides päivä putkeen. Negatiivisuus aiheuttaa pelkoa. Huonoina päivinä jään kotiin. Jää sinäkin. Ei pilata muiden päivää.

Pelkään tippua. Ensin selvitän miksi tippuminen pelottaa. Onko reitillä huonot varmistukset, hylly, tontti, släbi tai terävä reuna? Jos voin tippua turvallisesti, teen sen niin monta kertaa, että pelko menee pois. Jos en keksi turvallista tapaa kohdata pelkoa, pakitan. Näin tein tänä kesänä muunmuassa reiteillä Hypernova Pärkänvuoressa, Hægar Nissedalissa ja Halvmånerisset Baugenilla.

Pelkään, etten osaa varmistaa reittiä turvallisesti koska reitti näyttää vaikeasti varmistettavalta tai topo sanoo niin. Otan varuiksi muutaman ylimääräisen varmistuksen mukaan ja menen katsomaan olenko väärässä. Topoissa on virheitä.

Minua pelottaa, että en pääse reittiä. Tämä on ehkä kaikkein turhin pelko Suomessa. Jos en pääse reittiä, voin vetää varmistuksesta itseni vaikean kohdan ohi, laskeutua hakemaan kamat pois tai pakittaa varmistuksesta. Kaveritkin auttavat mua mielellään.

Olen teknonnut alaspäin enemmän kuin ylöspäin.

Esimerkki reitistä jota olen teknonnut, koska mua pelotti: Dead ringers Kustavissa. Kuva: Rami Valonen
Erityisesti toppaus pelottaa. Kuva: Rami Valonen

Minua pelottaa, että epäonnistun. Ja nolottaa! Hölmö Emma, mitä sinä nyt semmosta pelkäät mikä ei ole tapahtunutkaan vielä.

Epäonnistuminen on välttämätöntä, jotta kehityn.

Pelkään, mitä toiset kiipeilijät ajattelevat minusta tai tavastani kiivetä. Tämä on kinkkinen. Toisten ihmisten seurassa tulen araksi. Ratkaisu on kuitenkin helppo, valitsen kiipeilykaverikseni ihmisiä, joiden seurassa minun on hyvä olla.

Nämä ovat minun keinoni. Yleensä ne toimivat. Opettele tunnistamaan sinun turhat pelot. Älä anna turhien pelkojen estää itseäsi lähtemästä reitille ja nauttimasta kiipeilystä.

Nautinnoista puheen ollen… nauttikaahan syksyn viimeisistä kitkoista. Kohta meinaan draikataan sateessa.


Liitteenä pelkopuhetta.

“Tuohon ei saa yhtään hyvää varmistusta ekaan viiteen metriin” (Kanto 6-, Havukallio) Sain varmistuksen.

“Tosta se meinas tulla tonttiin. Tosta jos pannutat, niin tuut hyllylle.” (Vankkuri 5, Hopiavuori) Tipuin, mutta en hyllylle enkä tonttiin.

“Se reitti on todella vaikea. Sekään ei päässyt sitä.” (Miehuuskoe 6c, Olhava) Tää on varmaan helpompi mulle, koska olen lyhyt nainen.

“Siinä on tosi vaikea ja pelottava loppuboulderi.” (Säkkipilli 6-, Kustavi) Tämän ovat varmasti kaikki kuulleet. Mielestäni turhaa pelottelua.

Tuolta ylhäältä ottaa hirveet lennot, jos mokaa. Ja sormi menee. Kruksissa on tosi vaikea, terävä sormilukko” (Dead ringers 7-, Hopiavuori) Laitoin kyseisestä sormilukosta #0.2 ja kiipesin toppiin. Ennen toppausta laitoin vielä yhden piissin, koska muistin, että tältä reitiltä kaikki ottaa lennot.

“Se on sitten todella vaikea kutonen. Sekään ei päässyt sitä saittina”. (Stone Temple Pilot 6, Bohuslän) Kuusi kiipeilijää varoitti minua tästä reitistä. Miksi kukaan ei sanonut, että tämä on hienoin reitti ikinä!

“Siellä on tosi ilmavat pulttivälit. Tulee tonttiin, hyllylle tai ainakin ottaa kunnon lennot.” (Rämön vanha puoli, kaikki reitit) Olen ottanut kaikki mahdolliset pelottavat lennot ja tippunut tonttiin ennen ekaa klippiä. Varmistukset on siellä missä pitää.

Things that make us smile

The past month I’ve been busy with relatively time consuming projects. I’m either working 12 hour days or climbing so much in one push that I need a full week to recover.

It’s been a month since I last went out climbing or doing anything without being tied into a schedule.

One of the many projects. Gotta have them T-nuts straight ladies!

This past weekend I finally got a break from schedules and projects. Katja and I spent two beautiful days in the Turku area bouldering in Maskutalo and climbing and camping in Kustavi.

I’m climbing Huokaisee (4) which is also the down climb. Olli is on Jälkitärinä (6b). Photo by Juha Suikkala
Optimisti boulder has about 15 problems, all in the 6a-c range and all excellent. Bring an extra pad. Photo by Juha Suikkala

Driving to Kustavi is like driving home.

Katja is smiling. I am smiling too. I asked Katja what she is smiling for.


We both started laughing. We are smiling because we are doing what we love to do: exploring new places with friends, challenging ourselves, having chocolate and cookies for lunch, petting dogs, listening to the same song from the YOUNGHEARTED in repeat, having dinner under the stars (more cookies), sleeping in a car, and being outside in the crisp fall weather.

Vans are overrated. We spent the night in Katja’s golf. Photo by Katja Silomäki
Bye bye birds. We stay right here. Photo by Katja Silomäki

Once again we had the whole Kustavi to ourselves: Uhrikallio, Hopia, and Riskelä.

Emu was not feeling well. Katja carries everything.

Minor set back was me coming down with a cold Saturday night. Sorry Katja for waking you up every hour and using all our toilet paper for blowing my nose. Another rest week for Emu.

The forest is full of lingonberries and beautiful fall colors. Go play outside!

And find something that makes you smile like so…:):):)

Emu and Katja’s Tampere Link-up

The past six weeks Katja and I have spent about 40 hours scouting routes, cleaning routes, climbing together, and figuring out the logistics for a fun link-up. Our goal was to climb 30 routes each in one push around our hometown Tampere. To make it easier we agreed that we would only lead routes we’ve climbed before.

Hola, We are Emu and Katja! We want to send big.
Hola, 14 sent!

I had spent several days climbing in the Tampere area the month before so I decided my goal was to try leading everything. Katja had a list of routes she wanted to lead and the rest she would toprope.

Katja cheerfully getting ready to send Masterbation at Rämövuori.

Saving time is easy if you figure out the logistics beforehand. We saved time by bringing two ropes and climbing at least two routes in a row. The time spent transitioning from a climber to a belayer was cut in half. Better yet, if the climbing is really easy like at Rämö 2 take turns in climbing the whole wall.

We climbed the hardest routes in the daylight and the easiest in the dark with a few exceptions (Tessun kuuraketti and Jorma).

The small things matter too. Katja learned to pee without taking her harness off which saves about five minutes. The boinky straps in the back of the harness allow you to take your pants down and pee quickly and safely without opening the straps or removing the harness. Ladies, pee safe on multipitch climbs!

We didn’t run or hurry. We were efficient.

“Which song do you want to listen to next Katja?” Efficient is relative.

The highlight of the day was actually the night. We bailed from Melo because it was pouring rain. At Mustavuori we had a light drizzle. Jere asked if he could come and take photos of us climbing in the dark. Absolutely!  Thank you for sharing the photos Jere.

emu solmii
I’m getting ready for the warmup Zig Zag at Mustavuori. Photo by Jere Toivanen
Climbing in the dark was surreal. I felt like I was in a light bubble. Photo by Jere Toivanen
emu lähettää
Emu in a bubble. Photo by Jere Toivanen
Team tanks, team socks, team crocs, team jackets. Photo by Jere Toivanen
Mustavuori is a beautiful climbing venue by night. Photo by Jere Toivanen
Late night dinner (more ryebread with cheese) and gear shuffle at the car. Photo by Jere Toivanen

After it got dark we had eight routes to go. We knew we have until 4am until it starts raining so we decided to take it easy. It took us 45 minutes to climb six routes at Ketara in the daylight and two hours to climb three routes at Mustavuori in the dark. Climbing in the dark is usually avoided at all cost but this time it was exciting and fun.

Cheers team! One more crag and five more routes to go. Photo by Jere Toivanen

The dark and wet climbing continued at Viitapohja between 1am and 3am. Don’t trust the weather forecast. The first time I felt tired was when we got out of the warm car, hiked into the dark, chilly, rainy forest, and started climbing the 26th route. We got wet and our stuff got soaking wet. Fortunately the climbing is steep so the routes stayed relatively dry.

Nätti Jussi was our 30th route. Neither one of us had climbed it before. At the top we laughed, hugged, and did all sorts of weird fist pump/high five routines. We sent our link-up!

On our way back to the car I fell into the trench by the road.

Thank you for the inspiring, fun day Katja. And thank you to all our friends who supported and cheered for us!

Emu and Katja’s trip report from Tampere (by night) link-up. It takes about 14 hours to complete from TK to TK by car.

Route list:

Ketaranvuori (sport/mixed/trad)

1. New eye 5c 2. Erittäin vaikee  4+ 3. Pc 4+ 4. Varpaat 5 5. Greek II 6a 6. Hollyfield hävis 6a 7. Tuuletus 6a

Rämövuori (sport):

8. Yksiö 6a 9. Rancho relaxo 6c 10. Umpipari. 6a 11. Kraateri 6a 12. Musta-aukko 6b 13. Veenus 5c 14.   Masterbation 6b

Rämövuori 2 (sport):

We climbed 8th different bolt lines and the 6a+ variation. I climbed from right to left and Katja from left to right. The routes could be:

15. Bogie 16. Eagle 17. Birdie 18. Par 3 19. Par 4 Variaatio  20. Hole in one 21. FORE! 22. Backtee

Mustavuori (sport):

23. Zig Zag 5 24. Jorma 6b 25. Tessun kuuraketti 6a

Viitapohja (trad):

26. Kultainen keskitie 5 (sport) 27. Vasen väärä 4+ 28. Nojaa 5 29. Lapinleikkaus 4+ 30. Nätti Jussi 5

Nine months later

I am not having a baby. This is a story of the day when Emma epiced at the crag BIG time.

Max and I went to Spain last November. What happened the second to last day of our seven day trip has taken me a long time to digest and recover from. Nine months to be exact.


First, I hurt my shoulder while I was climbing a route in Margalef. Second, I did it in the worst manner possible.

We had climbed several days in a row in Siurana so my muscles were already exhausted. Based on my climbing routine at home before the trip (two days on two days of) I should have known better.

I should have taken a rest day after four days of climbing and in between those four days.

But every time I go to the crag I want to climb as much as I can. That’s how it’s always been with me and climbing; go big or go home.


After climbing four routes I got tired but I still had my draws up on a climb. Max suggested he could get the draws down if I’m not feeling it. Right. Like I would let my BOYFRIEND get the draws for me.

Truth to be told, If I was climbing with a friend I would have gladly said yes. Please get the draws for me, I’ll buy you a beer. But I was there with my boyfriend and I knew I can get up this climb. So I refused the offer three times and reluctantly tied in and made my climbing partner, who just happens to be my boyfriend too, watch me epic.

Three clips from the top I pull on two tiny crimps and smear my feat up the smooth limestone. Right before I’m ready to lock of for the next move I realize I can’t move. Next I hear my right shoulder crack. Everything happened so fast I can’t say for sure what happened, but I believe my right shoulder gave in because I had placed too much weight on it.

Later I learned that my shoulder joint sublexed which means a partial dislocation of the shoulder and is common in sports that entail overhead activities such as volleyball, swimming, and climbing. I’ve never suffered from an acute sport injury so I got scared.

After sobbing for about five minutes I was able to calm myself down. Despite of what had just happened I was determined to go to the top.

The minute my feet touch the ground I start crying again. I don’t even know why I kept crying.  I was relieved and happy because my shoulder was intact and pain free.

Photo by Max
Photo by Max

The pain finally came a week later at work. I was unable to lift my arm up to the keyboard. After seeing a physiotherapist the real problem started reveling itself. Climbing for three years had aggravated a problem I’ve been developing in my right shoulder since I first laid my hands on a computer.

I found a physiotherapist through my work. She pointed out the imbalance in my shoulder joint and arms too (my biceps are to big, poor Emma) and explained that my right shoulder should look like my left shoulder. During the winter months I climbed at the gym just an hour at a time twice a week.

The climbing did not cause this, but it sure did not help.

The physiotherapist explained to me which muscle groups I need to strengthen and which I should stretch. She also told me to pay more attention to my posture. I am very grateful for her. My shoulder is not perfect yet but it is better.

This upcoming weekend Katja and I are giving a first go to our Tampere linkup. The original idea was to climb the linkup in a day in one push but the only decent weather window is between Friday and Saturday afternoon.

Katja, get psyched and bring your headlamp!

Emu and Katja’s Tampere (by night) -linkup. As many as we can is the goal.

A Tribute to Indoor Climbing

I was about to tell you about my last trip to Kvaløya, Norway. The new places I visited, the fun moments I had climbing and bailing with Liisa, and the crippling fatigue that slowly wore us down. But it sounded so blah that I didn’t post anything.

Even though I was happy to be back home at the same time I also desperately wanted to go back to this.

Liisa and I had to shed layers mid-hike. This is freedom. Photo by Liisa Peltonen

Then something unexpected happened. A couple days after getting home I found myself smiling happily at the freshly painted plywood walls at TK, my local gym because I had just had the most relaxed and enjoyable climbing experience I’ve had the whole summer. Climbing plastic holds and clipping fixed draws was incredibly fun. Wait, what?

And most importantly, why?

It took me about five minutes to come up with twenty-five reasons why.

  1. No approaching.
  2. No slippery wet slabs.
  3. No loose rock.
  4. No sketchy snow.
  5. I was not cold while I was belaying.
  6. I was not afraid of a hold breaking or the protection failing. The bolts and anchors are tested and safe.
  7. No route finding.
  8. Did I just drop something? No worries!
  9. I know what the route is like by looking at the holds. No scary routes!
  10. No rappelling.
  11. No tangled ropes. No stuck ropes. No core shots. And even if I end up with one of these, no worries!
  12. In-house first aid kit.
  13. I can fill my Nalgene in the bathroom as many times as I like to.
  14. Gotta poop? No worries!
  15. I forgot my spandex. Lost and found box. No luck? The climbing shop!
  16. My fingers and toes are dry and warm.
  17. Why did I not study meteorology when I had the chance? Or physical geography? Had I known. Oh well, I learn now.
  18. No hiking with heavy backpacks, no climbing with heavy backpacks.
  19. Gear loops! I almost forgot I have them. Nothing is dangling from my harness, so nice.
  20. This carpet is incredibly soft.
  21. My phone died. No worries!
  22. I dropped my phone. No worries!
  23. I can hear my belayer. My belayer can hear me.
  24. I’m tired. I don’t want to be climbing anymore. No worries!
  25. I can tell my mum exactly what I was doing this afternoon. She worries so I often feel guilty about pursuing a lifestyle that has inherent risks.
Climbing long routes means we take the first weather window we get, skip one night of sleep, and climb/scramble 18 hours straight. In the photo Liisa and I are almost at Storstolpan. Photo by Liisa Peltonen
Liisa and the Ståra Blåmann. Her haul bag weights so much she can’t stand straight. Hehe.
Climbing long routes means I say goodbye to the cute gym look and organize trad gear in itchy, uncomfortable wool and/or technical layers. Familiar with the atopic eczema? No? You are very, very lucky. Cotton would be so much better, except COTTON KILLS! Photo by Liisa Peltonen
Climbing long routes often means that you approach for several hours.
Sketchy snow and loose, wet rock are my favorite combo!
I forgot one! You smell terrible, especially your socks! Liisa forgot hers at the Baugen hut. It seems like someone found them.😉
Heading back home. I was very happy to find cairns this particular day. An hour hike to the car, then a cheerful 16 hour drive back to Tampere.

I promise right now, that I will never again complain about climbing indoors. I don’t have to be there if I don’t want to. I can bail anytime, at any point of the day and no harm is done.

I’m happy as long as I have the option for both indoor and outdoor climbing. Here are a couple examples of what me and my friends do for fun indoors. Please, always consult the staff before rigging setups like these in the gym. Cheers!

Even my most devoted boulderer-friend Riikka knows how to set up a portaledge. Big boulder, big wall, it’s all the same.
The Birthday bingo challenges Hanna to aid a trad route. First step is to practice aiding bolt ladders.


After spending a week in Kvaløya, Rami and I continued to Lofoten. A crazy thing happened while we were strolling down the streets of Henningsvær looking for a shower. We run into Morgan who I met in the Needles in California about a year ago. It was fun to catch up!

The weather in Lofoten was not looking good so we decided to continue South to the Stetind mountain. Stetind was still covered in snow. We hiked in almost all the way up to the base of Normalveien but decided to save the climbing for later.

Stetind is the National mountain of Norway. Photo by me!
We hiked in to see if we could climb the easiest route Normalveien (4+). We bailed 300ft from the base.
Cooling off. Photo by Rami Valonen

We drove to Jotunheimen and went skiing instead. The photos make it look like we had the perfect weather. In reality we were being chased by rain every day.

Rami has cooler spandex than I do.

Unless you did not know, cross country skiing is a national sport in Finland. I grew up skiing and later snowboarding. Then I turned 15 and decided that I don’t like it anymore. Ten years later I went skiing again in Oregon. In Finland I go cross-country skiing every now and then (read: twice in the past three years). I’ve been wanting to try touring knowing I’d love it. Norway offered the perfect beginner venue. The terrain was friendly and Rami was a patient ski guide.

Rami and Liisa skinning somewhere in Kvaløya. I went for a run.

Ski touring is a new game for me so I learned a lot. The boots adjust so it is possible to cross-country ski surprisingly easily. The term skinning comes from the skins. Skins are hairy pieces of cloth, which are shaped to fit the skis and placed at the bottom of the skis. The skins add friction to the skis so it is easy to ski uphill.

The competence in assessing terrain, weather, and navigation are very important in touring. Rami thought me the basics: how to test the snow and how to use the beeper, probe, and shovel.

Rami is digging a hole in the snow pack so that we can asses the layers.
Why is Rami so far away?
Just like cross-country skiing. Photo by Rami Valonen

The weather didn’t look promising for the next couple days so we continued driving South towards Nissedal.

Zoom in to see (one of the many reasons) why my photos are not as good as Rami’s.  Photo by Rami Valonen

Ski touring was super fun! What actually fascinates me the most about skiing in the mountains is that it is much faster than hiking or running. Skis would be sweet for the approaches! Yes, I just got it.

Percs of driving 5000 km in two weeks in Norway over the summer; many, many beautiful sunsets by the sea.
Perks of driving 5000 km in two weeks in Norway over the summer; many beautiful sunsets.

Nissedal is a cool place and the climbing on the famous slab face of Hægefjell is definitely worth traveling for from Finland. Especially if you want to climb long (350-500 meters), relatively easy trad/mixed routes.

Rami climbing the second actual pitch of Hægar (6+). I bailed halfway because I couldn’t do the moves and place decent pro.
The fourth pitch of Hægar is amazing. If only there were more of these!

Now I’m off to Kvaløya with my lovely friend Liisa. See you in a week!