Kebnekaise 2017

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Heinäkuussa matkasimme länsinaapurin maille, Pohjois-Ruotsiin. Meillä oli tavoitteena huiputtaa Ruotsin korkein vuori Kebnekaise, mutta olimme huolissamme vallitsevasta säästä. Säätiedotuksen mukaan oli luvattu paljon sadetta ja huonoa näkyvyyttä. Mietimme jopa vaihtoehtoja meidän suunnitelmiin, mutta päätimme kuitenkin käydä paikan päällä katsomassa tilannetta.

Hyppäsimme perjantai-iltana autojunaan Helsingissä ja matkasimme yön läpi kohti Oulua. Kun olimme purkaneet auton junasta, suuntasimme kohti Haaparantaa ja siitä edelleen kohti Kiirunaa. Kiirunassa hankimme viimeiset ruokatäydennykset, ja ajoimme vaelluksen alkupisteeseen Nikkaluoktaan. Kello oli jo yli viisi kun olimme vaihtaneet vaelluskamppeet päälle ja rinkat heitetty selkään. Sää oli kolealla puolella ja pilvinen, mutta poutainen. Ensimmäisen päivän urakka olisi n. 19 km ja se toisi meidät Kebnekaisen tunturiaseman lähettyville.

Ensimmäiset 6 km olivat helpohkoja ja polku muistutti lanattua mönkijätietä. Tien loppupäässä oli venekuljetuksen laituripaikka sekä uudehko ravintola. Venekuljetuksella olisi voinut säästää 6 km tallustamista, mutta 30 euron hinta ei meitä houkutellut. Tästä tie muuttui poluksi, ja paikoin aika mutaiseksi ja kivikkoiseksi. Pidimme matkan puolivälissä ruokatauon ja huomasimme samalla että hyttysiä oli jonkun verran liikkeellä… 18 km jälkeen olimme jo Kebnekaisen tunturiaseman lähettyvillä. Kello oli jo ehtinyt vierähtää seuraavalle vuorokaudelle ennen kuin olimme pystyttäneet teltat. Teltanpystytyksestä tuli kiire kun taivaalta oli ruvennut tippuamaan vettä. Vettä ropisi teltankankaalle läpi yön.

Aamulla heräsimme myöhään, mutta kuumuus pakotti meidät lopulta valveille. Keli oli aurinkoinen ja tuuleton. Aivan! Säätiedotukset eivät olleet pitäneet paikkansa! Meille tämä oli upea yllätys! Päätimme siis lähteä huiputtamaan, koska emme voineet antaa tällaisen tilaisuuden mennä sivun suun. Pääsimme matkaan klo 11. Pidimme lounastauon ennen ensimmäistä kunnollista nousua. Polku muuttui paikoin kivikentäksi, mutta reitti oli hyvin merkitty maastoon punaisilla maalitäplillä. Nousimme Vierramvaren huipulle joista näimme tulevan koitoksen nousevan vielä korkeammalle. Laskimme alas Kaffedaleniin jossa täydensimme vesipullot ennen viimeistä nousuosuutta. Kun saavuimme Kebnekaisen huipulle oli sää vielä aurinkoinen ja tuuleton. Olimme ylhäisessä yksinäisyydessä huipulla, joten meillä oli hyvin aikaa ikuistaa hetkeä kameroilla. Alastulomatkalla pidimme vielä pidemmän ruokatauon Vierramvaren huipulla, ennen kuin pääsimme takaisin leirillemme klo. 03.00.

Seuraavana päivänä nukuimme pitkään. Teltoissa oli kumminkin liian kuuma, joten raahasimme aikaisin aamulla makuualustat ulos raittiiseen ilmaan. Kun olimme loikolleet tarpeeksi, kävimme tunturiasemalla yhdellä kylmällä juomalla, ja palasimme leiriin päivällisaikohin. Päivällisen jälkeen purimme leirin ja suuntasimme kohti Nikkaluoktaa. Pystytimme teltat kun olimme kävelleet matkasta noin puolet. Aamulla jatkoimme ja saavuimme Nikkaluoktaan puolenpäivän jälkeen. Tästä alkoi kotimatka autolla kohti Etelä-Suomea.

 

 

In July, we traveled to northern Sweden. We were aiming to summit Sweden’s highest mountain Kebnekaise, but we were concerned about the prevailing weather. According to the forecast, we were going to have a lot of rain and bad visibility. We even thought about alternatives to our plans, but we decided to go ahead and go for Kebnekaise region.

We took the train from Helsinki on a Friday evening and travelled through the night to Oulu. When we had unloaded the car from the train, we headed towards Haparanda and further towards Kiruna. In Kiruna, we got the last supplements and drove to the starting point for our hiking, Nikkaluokta. The clock was already over five when we had switched to hiking clothes and thrown our backpacks on our backs. The weather was chilly and cloudy, but dry. The first day’s distance would be about 19 km and it would bring us near Kebnekaise Mountain Station.

The first 6 km were easy and the path was wide. At the end of the wide path, there was a boat dock and a new restaurant. The boat transport could have saved 6 km of walking, but the price of 30 euros did not attract us. The route then turned into a more narrow, muddy and rocky path. Halfway through we had a short food break. At that point we noticed that mosquitoes for the first time… After 18 km we were already near the Kebnekaise Mountain Station. The clock had already run over to the next day before we were able to set up the tents. We had to hurry because the weather was turning fast. The rain was pouring down over the night.

In the morning we woke up late, but the heat forced us to get out of our tents. The weather was sunny and windless. Yes, that’s true! The weather forecasts had not been accurate! For us this was a great surprise! We decided to go for the summit! We started the hike from our camp at 11am. We took a lunch break quite early. The path was really rocky, but the route was well marked with red paint dots. We ascended to the summit of Vierramvaren. We descended down to Kaffedalen where we filled our water bottles before the last ascent. When we arrived at the top of Kebnekaise, the weather was still sunny and windless. We stood at the summit for a good time, and we had the luxury to be there for our own. On a descend from the summit we enjoyed a longer meal break at the summit of Vierramvare before we got back to our camp at 3am.

The next day we woke up really late. The tents were, however, too hot because of the sun, so we took our sleeping matresses out into the fresh air. When we had chilled enough, we went to the mountain station for one cold drink and returned to the camp at dinner. After dinner, we put our camp together and headed for Nikkaluokta. We pitched the tents when we had walked half the distance to Nikkaluokta. In the morning we continued and arrived in Nikkaluokta after noon. From here started a journey home to South Finland by car.

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Prepping & packing for Kebnekaise

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Nokka kohti Pohjois-Ruotsia! Suunnitelmissa on viiden päivän kesävaellus Ruotsin korkeimman vuoren ympäristössä. Jos säät sallii on myös vuorenhuiputus ohjelmassa, mutta tämän blogitekstin kirjoitushetkellä sääennuste näyttää aika vetistä taivalta… Saa nähdä jos suunnitelmat tulee muuttumaan…

Reissua varten olen tehnyt erilaisia valmisteluja. Ruoan puolesta olen paistanut hirvenjauhelihaa, ja sen jälkeen kuivannut sitä kuivurissa. Saman proseduurin pystyy myös tekemään uunissa jos ei omista kuivuria, vaikka se onkin hitaampi tapa saada liha rutikuivaksi. Ja hirveä siksi, koska mitä vähärasvaisempi liha, sitä parempi se kestää säilytystä. En myöskään käytä yhtään rasvaa paistamiseen. Olen myös kuivannut mangoa, mikä mielestäni on loistava snacksi pitkiä vaelluspäiviä ajatellen.

Valmisteluihin kuuluu myös kamppeiden pakkaaminen. Minulla on yleensä seuraavaa systeemi, jotta mikään ei unohtuisi: Teen listan kaikista varusteista ja vaatteista, jonka jälkeen kerään ne yhteen paikkaan. Pakkaan varusteet vesitiiviisiin pusseihin, jonka jälkeen pakkaan ne rinkkaan. Siten ei haittaa vaikka kaivaisi rinkasta jotain kaatosateella, kun kaikki on vesitiiviisti pakattu.


We are soon heading towards the north of Sweden! The plan is to do a 5-day hike in the surroundings of Sweden’s highest mountain. If the weather is on our side, we are going to try summit Kebnekaise, but at the time of writing this blog, the weather forecast seems to be quite wet… Let’s see if the plans are going to change…

For the trip I have done a variety of preparations. For food preparations I have baked minced elk, and then dried it up in the food dehydrator. The same procedure can also be done in the oven if you do not own a dehydrator, even though it is a slower way to make the meat dry. And elk because low-fat meat is better for preservation. I do not even use any fat for frying. I also have dried some mango, which I think is a great snack for long hiking days.

Preparations also include equipment and clothes packing. I usually have the following system so that nothing will be forgotten: I will make a list of all the equipment and clothing, and then collect them in one place. I pack the equipment into watertight bags, and then pack them into the backpack. So, it does not matter if have to, for some reason, empty my backpack in pouring water when everything is watertight packed.

 

Kayaking in Espoo/H:ki Archipelago

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Tällä kertaa suuntasimme Espoon ja Helsingin merille. Espoon Otsolahdessa toimii Otsolahden Melontakeskus, mistä vuokrasimme kajakit. Päiväksi oli luvattu aika tyyntä, joten päätimme suunnata ulos merelle katsastamaan eri retkisaaria. Sää ei ollutkaan niin tyyni mitä oltiin odotettu, mutta muutama aalto ei meitä haittaisi lainkaan. Otimme suunnaksi Tvijälp-saaren, mistä kartan mukaan löytyisi tuulelta ja aalloilta suojattu poukama. Kaisla oli kuitenkin valloittanut koko lahden, ja ainoa hyväksi havaittu kalliomainen maihinnousupaikka ja taukopaikka oli jo muiden retkeiljöiden käytössä.

Meloimme siis etelään, kohti Varsasaarta. Saaren etelärannalla on iso hiekkaranta, mikä varmaan houkuttelee kävijöitä helteisinä kesäpäivinä. Meitä ei kuitenkaan kiinnostanut jäädä pidemmäksi aikaa, koska eteläinen tuuli puhalsi suoraan rannalle. Jatkoimme matkaa melkein suoraan itäänpäin, kohti Käärmeluotoja. Rantauduimme Läntiselle Käärmeluodolle, jonka pohjoisrannalta löytyi hyvä hiekkaranta rantautumiseen. Lähellä rantaa sijatsi myös keittokatos, mutta tämä oli tällä hetkellä poissa käytösta palovaurion takia. Muuten saari on korkea kalliosaari, joten hyviä paikkoja maisemien ikuistamiseen löytyy monta. Pidimme ruokatauon jonka jälkeen paluumatka kohti Otsolahtea alkoi.


This time we headed to the sea in the Espoo and Helsinki area. We rented our kayaks from Otsolahti Canoe Center in Espoo. The weather forecast said the wind was going to be quite calm, so we decided to head out to the sea to look at the various islands. The wind was not so calm what we had expected, but little waves and wind would not hurt at all. We took the direction of Tvijälp Island where we, according to the map, could find a bay protected from wind and wave. However the reed had conquered the whole bay, and the only good landing and resting place was already in use.

So, we steered south to Varsasaari. The southern shore of the island has a large sandy beach, which is sure to tempt you in hot summer days. However, we were not interested in staying longer, because the southern wind blew directly into the beach. We continued our journey almost straight eastward, towards Käärmeluodot. We paddles to the Läntinen Käärmeluoto. On the north shore there was a good sandy beach to go ashore. Near the beach there was also a cooking shelter, but it was currently out of use due to a fire damage. The island is a high rocky island, so there are plenty of places to admire the landscapes. We had a lunch break, after which the return journey towards Otsolahti started.

 

Purtavaa Melontaretkelle

Päätimme ystävien kesken toteuttaa melontaretken. Eväiden nauttiminen olisi silloin isossa roolissa. Pakkasimme kajakkeihin polttopuita, ruokaa sekä juomista, ja suuntasimme kohti taukopaikkaamme Siuntiossa sijaitsevalle järvenrannalle. Alla olevalta videolta voit katsoa retken fiiliksiä!

We decided to take a kayak trip with my friends. The enjoyment of food was going to play a big role. We packed some firewood, food and drinks in the kayaks and headed for our camp fire place on a lakeshore in Siuntio. Watch the video above!

 

 

Leivonmäki Winter Adventure

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In the early spring we did a short trip to Leivonmäki National Park in Central Finland. It’s known for swamps, shores of two lakes, forests and ridges. I would say that Leivonmäki is a very versatile National Park. Here you can go hiking and kayaking in the summer, and in the winter you also can go cross-country skiing. I you choose to go kayaking or skiing it gives you the opportunity to visit the camp sites on the islands. Here’s a map for the area: Leivonmäki (luontoon.fi).

We arrived in Leivonmäki late in the evening when it was dark. Our base camp was a small hut, at Harjunlahti, without electricity. Our first plan was to just ski away to a camp site, but the hut looked so cozy, that we decided to stay indoors for the night. The problem was that we had planned to eat some sandwiches, grilled over open fire, wrapped in aluminium foil. But now we were inside, with a heating stove, so no open fire. Well, we found out that we had a disposable grill with us, so we just turned it into an oven! We placed the oven on the stove’s top. The oven sandwiches were super! We also made some product development, and for breakfast, when we also ate warm sandwiches, the oven was equipped with an additional bottom, so the sandwiches wouldn’t get burned.

In the morning we skied to the actual National Park, to the lake Rutajärvi, Keskisenvesi. We were really surprised how empty the park was, and we saw only a few others on the ice. We skied eastbound towards the other lake, Kirkkoselkä, but we had to ski through a narrow strait to get to the lake.

As we imagined the strait was an open water channel, so we skied on the shore of the strait. It was a little bit challenging with the pulk, especially in the forest, but we managed to get through to the other side.

We found the camp site and shelter Halttunen on an island, where we prepared some food. We had a really long lunch break. It was still early in the day, so we decided to ski to another camp site to put up tents for the night.

We skied back in our own ski tracks, and when we reached Joutsniemi ridge, we took a short cut over it, so we got to the to camp sites on the west side: Joutsniemi and Lintuniemi camp sites. At Lintuniemi you can also find a shelter.

I the evening we decided for some night skiing, and we had got a little bit lazy. We skied back to our base camp at Harjunlahti for the night. Next morning we had got some new snow! The winter was back!

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A Bunker From the Past

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Meiko is a nature reserve in Kirkkonummi, Southern Finland. The surroundings of the lake Meiko are popular for day trip hikers. We took a short trip in the sunny winter weather. The aim was to find the bunker located at Meiko’s southwest shore.

We were initially uncertain to take us out on the ice, but after we found an open fishing hole, we found that the ice was thick enough to hold our weight. We took a coffee break before we walked away west across the ice.

Because we knew there was a Geocache near the bunker, it was easy to navigate to the right place with the help of the Geocaching app, even though we didn’t follow any official trail. We were a bit unsure when we arrived, because the snow covered the ground, and we didn’t at first got a sight of the bunker. But the unnatural shapes of stones turned out to be concrete! So, we had found the bunker we were looking for!

At first we found some round concrete structures, and then we found the entrance, which was a narrow vertical drop with steel bars as a ladder. The odd thing was, that it wasn’t pitch dark in there. It turned out that the light came from the actual entrance, which was at the end of a long corridor. So we had taken us in the hard way …

There are several bunkers in the area of Meiko, and they are all from the Porkkala parenthesis period. The area was leased to the Soviet Union in 1944, and was returned to Finland in 1956.

A Mouse Problem in Nuuksio

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In mid Oktober, it was time for our annual autumn hike with Emmi, Henrik and Lisa. This time we headed for Nuuksio National Park, not far from home, simply for not having to sit in the car for so long. Our plan was to stay for two nights. The focus was on good food and enjoyment. Besides the usual breakfast we had packed pork fillet, vegetables, sausages and ingredients for hot sandwiches in our backpacks.

On Friday, we arrived quite late to Nuuksio. We left our car in Solvalla, where we threw our bags on our backs and walked away to the east. We had aimed to hit up camp at Urja or Valkialampi. After an hour of hiking the sun set down, and our walk turned into night orienteering. After wandering through rough bushes and shrubs, hills and valleys we found the first campsites. There was a full house, and we decided to go ahead. At Kattilajärvi we finally found an empty fireplace. In the darkness it was still pretty challenging to find the perfect tent place in the bumpy terrain. The dinner, or rather supper,  was the big program number for the evening. Another program number was the little mouse that ran around our tents, but even at that stage we did not know how much attention the mouse would finally get…

At breakfast the next morning, Emmi claimed that something had chewed on the cheese container. The rest of us were convinced that the chewing marks were not caused by any rodent or any animal in general. The food had been inside a closed backpack for the whole night! Well, this will continue later … Sadly… So read on!

We wandered off against Luukkaa area and took a lunch break at Kaitalampi west side. We went ahead and rounded the lake from the north and camped at a fireplace by the eastern shore. The tents we pitched on a hill with a nice view over the lake. We spent the evening  cooking hot sandwiches and grilled sausages. Then it was time to seek out the sleeping bags for the night.

04:50 a.m. it happened! There was a hard rustling in our vestibule! Drowsy, we tried to find out the origin for the rustle. When we opened the zipper to the vestibule it went quiet, and when we put our heads back on our pillows the mysterious rustle started again. We woke even our tent neighbours when our detective maneuvers became too loud. But in the end we got the culprit in the act! A mouse was standing in the spotlight of the headlamp on my backpack! We started to check our bags, and it was at that moment we noticed the devastation! The mouse had gotten into Lisa’s backpack through an opening with velcro and then chewed through a thick waterproof bag! The mouse had found our breakfast bread and it was like someone had taken a mega bite from each slice of the bread! The whole bread package flew out of the tent, and in the end we managed to sleep undisturbed the rest of the night.

In the morning we ate breakfast without any bread … Only cold cuts and porridge … It had clearly been a mouse also the first night when someone had chewed on the cheese container. What we do not know, is if it had been the same mouse that had traveled around in some of our backpack?  This was the first time I experienced an animal thief on a hike. Maybe I should be more hawk-eyed next time!

An island on an island

In Espoo archipelago there’s an island on the sea called Pentala. On this island, there’s a lake. On the lake there’s an island. That was our destination!

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There are couple of reasons why we wanted to visit this island. The first introduction we got of this place was from a board game that we played many years ago with my friends. The board game was published in 1992 by the kayaking club Canoa for their 60th anniversary. In the game you are kayaking around and collecting bird observations. The rarer the birds are, the more points they are worth. There is also a dodo in the game, and since it is extinct since 1700 it’s worth the most!


In the game you can carry your kayak on land, for example if you want to visit the island on Pentala. So, it was from this game we got the idea to do this same thing in real life!  We were also assured that we were going to find the extinct dodo on this island! We also knew that there was a geocache on this island, so we definitely had to log that as well!

On a sunny day we jumped in our kayaks and started paddling towards Pentala. We started our tour near Hirsala, so it didn’t take a long time to reach our destination. We stranded on a beach in the south of the island Pentala. From there we took a path towards the lake carrying on one kayak. We chose the wrong path, because we ended up climbing over the highest point before we reached the lake. The distance was about 400 m. But it was really worth it!

The lake was surrounded by green leafy plants, the water was completely still, except for a few waves a pair of swans caused. And there on the lake, we saw our destination: the island! In turns, we jumped in the kayak and paddled around the island. We also stranded on the island and logged the geocache, as it was one of our goals. 

On the way back we found the right path, and it was so much easier to carry the kayak that way! Sadly, we didn’t spot any dodo birds, but now we can check one item from our bucket lists 😉

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Happy after the trip!

Winter Gear That Matter

The summer is around the corner,  but it’s time to look back at the Svalbard winter expedition for one final time. The focus is now on the gear I used during the trip.

On my final equipment list for the Svalbard expedition, I had 126 items. Some of the list’s items, which belonged to the category unnecessary, I removed during the planning phase. The removed items were most spare clothes and spare equipment. The rest of the equipment on the list was more or less important or necessary. Some equipment belonged to the category comfort, but those equipment contributes greatly to how you enjoy the journey.

You can download my equipment list for the Svalbard 2016 expedition:
Svalbard2016 GEAR (PDF)

Below I have listed the top 5 equipment that I experienced that contributed to how comfortable and successful the journey was. I would absolutely take with me these equipment again on a similar winter expedition.

Top 5 Winter Expedition Equipment:

1. Inflatable Mattress – Thermarest NeoAir All Season

A month before the Svalbard expedition, I did a short winter tour in Koli National Park. It was the first real winter test for my Thermarest NeoAir All Season mattress. I had used it several times in the summer, autumn and spring, but never in the winter. It was under that trip I concluded that it’s a thousand times more comfortable than a foam mattress and I was really rested in the morning. On Vatnajökull, for example, I slept directly on my Thermarest Ridgerest Solar foam mattress, and I remember that my arm got numb every night and my back hurt in the morning. It was easy to take the decision to bring the mattress to Svalbard. I like the mattress because it’s light, warm, comfortable and when deflated it doesn’t take much space. In the winter it is not good to inflate the mattress by blowing, because the moisture is collected inside the mattress and then freezes. Therefore I have a small battery powered electrical pump to the mattress, but to Svalbard I borrowed a pump sack from a friend, because the electrical pump is not so efficient. The pump sack worked great after you got used to it after couple of days. Under the NeoAir I had the Ridgerest foam mattress, just for safety’s sake, if the NeoAir would have gone flat.

2. Vapour Barrier Socks – Rab VB Socks

First some information about VB socks. The idea is to dress a pair of liners on your feet as base layer, on top of those these waterproof VB socks, and outside of those a pair of thick and warm ski socks, and of course the ski boots on top of that. In this way the moisture will not get through from the feet to the warm socks and boots, and that prevents freezing condensation and they hold heat better. These Rab VB Socks was the equipment that I was most skeptical about, but because the socks weighed almost nothing, I decided to take them with me. I had heard very good reviews about them, but I hadn’t had time to test them properly before departure. Once we set of skiing on Svalbard I decided to give them a try, and I was really, really surprised how well they worked. I was worried that the socks would cause chafing or blisters, but in the end I think they prevented that. Under the whole trip I got only a few small blisters under my big toes and a small blister on one of my heel. With some sports tape I easily fixed those problems. The ski boots and the thick ski socks were dry throughout the whole expedition.

3. Ski boots – Crispi Stetind GTX

Last year, during the expedition on Vatnajökull, I had a pair of ski boots (Alpina BC 1550) that weren’t so good. Actually they were horrible. I got some nasty blisters on my feet, which affected negatively my skiing. They weren’t waterproof at all, so I had soaking wet boots throughout the whole trip, except for couple of days I dried them directly over the cooking stove. In the early winter I bought a new pair of ski boots, Crispi Stetind GTX. I was first worried that I wouldn’t have time to break them in, but I had time to make a few ski trips with the boots before the expedition. In most of my shoes and boots I use custom made insoles, because it’s really difficult for me to find shoes that fits my feet. For some reason the insoles in the Stetind boots fit perfectly my feet, and they were really comfort. The boots are very steady and sturdy, but enough soft for skiing. The thing I like most is that they are waterproof! If you like to go uphill with crampons, the Black Diamond Contact Strap fits perfectly on these boots.

4. Devold Merino

Under a winter expedition you don’t change your clothes so often. Therefore you have to wear really comfortable clothes, especially for the base layer. I haven’t tried many brands of merino wool garments, but I have been really satisfied with the Devold Expedition brand. On Svalbard we changed our base layers once, except for our underwear that we changed more often.

5. Durable spoon – Sea To Summit Alpha Long Spoon

The Sea To Summit Alpha Long Spoon is the best spoon when you are eating directly from freeze dried food bags. Because of the length of the spoon, it is easy to get all the way to the bottom of the bag. One more thing is that it’s really durable. I hadn’t thought much about this feature, but in harsh expedition conditions it’s proved to be an important feature. To Svalbard I had with me one Alpha Long Spoon and two Light My Fire Sporks. I use Sporks when eating in the tent. Both of my Sporks broke into two pieces. The total amount of broken Sporks in our three person tent, during our expedition, was four! Well, the cold temperature and the frozen food may have had something to do with the breakage of the Sporks, but now I understand why some spoons are made from strong aircraft aluminum alloy. Maybe I will til the next expedition get a Spork Titanium? The cons of the aluminum or titanium spoon is that it’s not Teflon friendly.

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The Alpha Long Spoon compared to the two broken Sporks.

 

If you are interested in the winter clothing, I have written a separate blog post about Layers For the Cold.