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?

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“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.

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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.

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Camping by the ice fall Big blue.
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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.

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Getting acquainted with the occasional spindrift in the Spoon Couloir. Photo by Max.
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What a lovely, relaxed day. Photo by Max.
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Liisa swinging her tools in the Spoon Couloir.
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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? 😉

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