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.

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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.

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I’m climbing Huokaisee (4) which is also the down climb. Olli is on Jälkitärinä (6b). Photo by Juha Suikkala
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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.

“Nothing.”

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.

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

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

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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… 🙂 🙂 🙂

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Rami is digging a hole in the snow pack so that we can asses the layers.
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Why is Rami so far away?
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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.

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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.

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Rami climbing the second actual pitch of Hægar (6+). I bailed halfway because I couldn’t do the moves and place decent pro.
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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!