Korpijaakko

– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Category Archives: guiding

Farewell to winter?

Why are you leaving so early again, dear winter?

15-02-22EOS 6D9604_600It seems that it’s time to say farewell to the winter who is leaving the Southern Finland too early again. Way too early. The winter here was short but not as bad as the previous one either: We had a decent amount of snow and the lakes did freeze but the temperatures zig-zagged around zero… But it was still pretty good winter. Most of my time outdoors was spent on guiding and instructing the Ankarat avotunturit courses. The time in between was spent mostly doing administrative work and preparing for what is to come.

My outdoor year started with some hunting in early January and included spending a night in open (though not public, but still free to use if you find it!) wilderness hut. My friend got the fox and an hour later I shot the manged raccoon dog. Traditional sit and wait hunt with not-so-traditional tools. No luck with hare the following day but a great start for the year anyway!

15-01-09EOS 6D9250_600 15-01-10EOS 6D9263_600 15-01-10EOS 6D9265_600The first Ankarat avotunturit introduction course was held at the Syöte National Park. It’s a great location with open marsh plains and deep spruce forests framed by rolling hills. And with a guarantee of snow!

This time too, the snow was plenty but unfortunately the temps were around zero. I started with a solo overnighter to scout the conditions skiing with my OAC Kar 147s first from the visitor center to Ahmatupa hut (Great hut! Rent the key for the reservation hut to use the sauna if you visit it!). The next day I continued scouting the trails to and from Toraslampi doing a bit of bad orienteering as I forgot to take my map from the car the previous evening and thus missed the coffee and donuts at visitor center…

15-01-16EOS 6D9329_600 15-01-16EOS 6D9333_600On the course we skied from the visitor center to Toraslampi and back spending a rather wet night in tents. Thanks to Hotel Iso-Syöte for the course venue!

15-01-18EOS 6D9346_600 15-01-18EOS 6D9362_600The next weekend we had the training trip of the Svalbard expedition crew (Huippuvuoret 2015). This was held at Padasjoki at Päijänne National Park which offered awesome surface for skiing, mild temps and a cooling breeze that helped to keep our tents dry. The crew did really well and I’m sure we will have a great expedition in Svalbard! The Kelvene area also inspired me to plan some packrafting adventures for the closing summer…

15-01-24EOS 6D9374_600 15-01-24EOS 6D9387_600Then I had two more introduction courses. First at Taipalsaari skiing on the frozen Lake Saimaa. Again mild temps, wet snow and a fair wind in the evening which added a bit of challenge to pitching the camp on the ice. Good training.

15-01-31EOS 6D9418_600The second course was again at lake Päijänne but this time at Jämsä. Conditions were very familiar: overcast, mild temps and a bit of wet snow. The kind of winter we’ve had. Luckily I had a nice group of wilderness guides, students and teachers to add a bit of colour to the otherwise grey conditions.

15-02-05EOS 6D9428_600I was also instructing on the Ankarat avotunturit special courses related to safety training and first aid and expedition medicine. You can read more about them and see a few photos in the Avotunturit blog.

At the end of February I had time for an overnighter with N. We decided to explore the surroundings of our new home at Riihimäki. We had visited the groomed ski tracks and slopes of Riutta before for training and had noticed a map which showed a groomed ski track to some nearby shelters and fire places. We didn’t know anything but what was on the map. But that’s enough for a little adventure! Especially when you go without a map or compass only checking the map at the beginning of the trail and trusting that your phone will save you in case you get lost…

So, late on Saturday afternoon we packed the gear and headed to the ski track walking trough the dark slushy streets and drizzle. The winter seemed to be about to leave. The groomed track to Riutta was easy going but from Riutta there was no groomed ski track marked on the map. Just the signs of summer trail “Ilvesreitti” (click “Kesäretkeily”, “Retkeilyreitit” and “Riihimäen reitti”), but we assumed it would take us to the right place and after some open streams, road walking, forest walking and even a bit of skiing we found ourselves at the first shelter and called it a day.

15-02-21EOS 6D9590_600 15-02-21EOS 6D9592_600Nice dinner by the camp fire followed but the night was slightly uncomfortable as I had to sleep on me side because the benches at the shelter were too narrow for me to sleep on my back… Clearly ment for day visitors only. The morning welcomed us back on the trail with more rain and occasional shower of snow. In the daylight route finding was easier and we could ski a bit more but still had to walk every now and then to spare our skis. The snow was melting fast and the next week the only places to ski in would be the prepared tracks and open fields.

15-02-21EOS 6D9597_600 15-02-22EOS 6D9602_600 15-02-22EOS 6D9608_600We were back home wet and with new scratches in our skis but happy none the less. The most important thing is to get out!

15-02-22EOS 6D9612_600So, I managed to fulfill the first two months of the #twonights challenge! Six nights in January (counting the 31.1.-1.2.) and two in February. And even though the challenge is “closed”, you are still free to join for peer support and pressure to make sure you get a healthy dose of nights outdoors every month!

– – –

So it seems like it would be time to say farewell to winter.

But I don’t want to.

Hear this winter, I’m not finished with you yet! There is no mountain so high, cave so deep or wilderness so cold that I wouldn’t find you!

I’ll start from the fjells of Sarek in early March. And should you try to escape, I’ll be searching you from the cold shores and jagged peaks of Spitsbergen in April. And I’m pretty sure that in May I’ll find you from the glaciers of Iceland.

I’m not finished with you yet, winter!

Guided trip for 2015! / Opastettuja vaelluksia 2015!

This is again a bilingual blog post about guiding services I am offering. / Tämä on jälleen kaksikielinen tiedote tarjoamistani opaspalveluista.

This post is also to serve as a “commenting area” as the comments on pages are disabled. / Tämä tiedote palvelee myös kommentointi- ja keskustelualueena, sillä info-sivuilla ei voi kommentoida.

Templet, Svalbard. Would you like to go there? I can help! - - - Templet, Huippuvuoret. Haluaisitko sinne? Minä voin auttaa!

Templet, Svalbard. Would you like to go there? You can join me for expedition in April 2015!
– – –
Templet, Huippuvuoret. Haluaisitko sinne? Lähde mukaan retkikuntaan huhtikuussa 2015!

Winter 2015

My winter 2015 will be mostly spent guiding for the Ankarat avotunturit ski expedition program. In 2015 the program offers selection of short courses, one-week ski tours and longer ski expeditions to the fjells of Lapland, to Vatnjakökull the largest glacier in Europe and to the cold shores and jagged peaks of Svalbard. And if you dare, you can join us on these memorable trips!

Most of the programs will be guided in Finnish only but we have a tailor-made, all-in-one program guided in English: The Crash Course in the Arctic Expeditions (click for more information)!

I will be personally guiding set of trips. As said the main language will be Finnish but except for the introductory courses you can get away with very basic understanding of Finnish and we can discuss things in English in addition.

More information available on the Ankarat avotunturit website but again in Finnish only.

Tailor made programs in English are also available on request.

If interested, please ask for details with e-mail!

avotunturitmerkki_perus_rgb_300

Talvi 2015

Talvi 2015 kuluu pääosin Anrakat avotunturit -koulutusohjelman kurssien, vaellusten ja retkikuntien toteuttamisessa. Suuntana ovat siis pohjoisen jylhät tunturialueet, Euroopan suurin jäätikkö Islannissa sekä Huippuvuorten kylmät rannat ja terävät huiput. Ja myös sinun on mahdollista lähteä mukaan matkaan!

Minut saa oppaakseen ainakin seuraavilla kursseilla, vaelluksilla ja retkikunnissa. Ja  todennäköisesti olen mukana myös monilla muilla kursseilla.

Katso myös tiedot muista kursseista ja vaelluksista www.avotunturit.fi sivuilta! Olen mukana mm. useilla erikoiskursseilla.

Minun lisäkseni Ankarat avotunturit -koulutusohjelman kursseja pyörittävät Kari “Vaiska” Vainio ja Carissa “ADQ” Lehtolainen. Mikäli minun tarjoamani päivämäärät eivät sovi kalenteriisi tai joku toinen kohde kiinnostaisi enemmän, katso muu tarjonta Ankarat avotunturit -sivuilta!

Nordic nature at its best! - - - Pohjoisen luontoa parhaimmillaan!

Nordic nature at its best!
– – –
Pohjoisen luontoa parhaimmillaan!

Packrafting at Kymijoki

A couple of weeks ago I was guiding a packrafting course at Kymijoki and had great time first alone and then with a nice group. Packrafting seems to be almost always great fun.

I went to the river a day ahead to check the water level and scout the rapids I’d been paddling only with considerably higher water level. I got at Kuovinkallio shelter, my starting point and shelter for the night, little late but was on the waters in 15 minutes after parking the car. I paddled around the area wondering the low water level and polishing plans for the days to come. Except for the roar of the water it was silent and even the roar was somehow soothing.

During the hasty start I had forgotten to take my headlamp and had decided I should stop after the sunset to have enough light for the short walk back to the shelter and to set the camp. Paddling alone in the maze of islands was so fun I ended up getting out an hour after the sunset and took an adventurous shortcut back to the shelter through the dark forest without my headlamp…

I met a local fishing supervisor and outdoors man at the shelter and had a great chat with him about the life by the river, local hunting and fishing and so on. After he left I started preparing late dinner and enjoyed the dark and silent surroundings under the stars. I fell asleep on my packraft thinking I should probably do solo trips more often…

The next morning I met the group on a breakfast at Aholan Lomalaidun and soon we were on the shore getting to know the tools for the weekend. The plan was to paddle to the nearby lake for starters but the headwind made our upstream paddling efforts useless. But as everybody had some previous paddling experience we changed the course and headed downstream for some swifter water. The day was spent learning basic techniques for moving water and at the end of the day we walked and paddled upstream back to Ahola for dinner and some self-rescue training with sauna as a reward.

The next day we paddled and floated again down the river, doing some training on the way towards bigger rapids. Despite the very low water level (it apparently hit the all time record low on Sunday) there was still plenty of waves and excitement on the Martinkoski rapids. There is sort of a “water guarantee” on Kymijoki, there’s always something for almost everyone, even enough to cause an involuntary swim…

On the way back we had the wind on our back and one of the group got a chance to try his Windpaddle Cruiser sail. Even with very light wind he was as fast as I was paddling an Explorer 42 as a solo boat with quite some effort. Sails do make sense and Packrafting-Store is now stocking them as well! After the hard paddle against the current it was time for good-byes.

It was a good course with a nice group. And at least one new packrafter was born on the currents of Kymijoki which makes me super happy. You can find Erkki’s blog post (in Finnish) here and some videos here and here. There will be more courses in 2015 for sure.

– – –

As usual, some more photos in my gallery.

– – –

PS. Remember the First Finnish Packraft Gathering!

It’s turning into an international event with participants coming also from abroad. It’s turning out to be quite popular event and if you have even slightest interest in packrafting I think it’ll be a blast! So, if you have the time on 3.-5.10.2014 and have or can get a raft, make sure to be there! With only one portage the route we’re planning is doable even with a PVC pool toy but for th best experience I’d recommend a real packraft. If you don’t have one, you can rent one from Backpacking North or Packrafting Store.

Wet Winter Tour in Sarek

When a one-week winter ski tour starts with heavy wind-driven rain you have to remind yourself why you like that stuff. This far I’ve always managed to convince myself that I’m doing what I really like and, fortunately, this time wasn’t an exception. In early March I was in Sarek National Park guiding the Advanced Course in Arctic Ski Expeditions with a great group of nine people. The tour was good but conditions were very unusual and quite challenging.

Rock Ptarmigans (Lagopus muta) in storm on the second day of the tour.

The conditions got interesting already on the approach to Ritsem. While we were enjoying a late hamburger-based dinner at Gällivare one participant, driving ahead to Ritsem, called on the way to report some serious winds and banks of spindrift. Little bit later he called again reporting flying gravel, wind ripping apart the ski box on top of his car and that he decided to bail and wait for us… Wise decision as the close-by weather station measured 35m/s average and 47m/s gusts!

A couple of hours and one serious heart-to-throat spindrift bank push-through later we met at the Stora Sjöfallet hotel, ditched the broken ski box, repacked and headed towards Ritsem. The wind had calmed down a bit and we managed to push to Ritsem were it was eerily calm as the big valley protected the area from the stormy winds.

The next morning we got our gear organized and started to ski across the lake Ahkkajaure.  A local couple on snowscooters had ventured out early in the morning and returned before we left all soaking wet reporting “terrible weather”. What a great start for a course in demanding ski expeditions! And an hour later the weather hit us on the open lake ice: high winds and heavy rain. SKiing in slush getting soaked by rain. Very Arctic indeed. But the fantastic group just soldiered through in marvellous manner despite some of them being dripping wet down to their base layers.

Towards the evening the weather got better for a little while with moments of sunshine and it all felt right again. Once we were pitching camp in the cover of the birch forest showers of wet snow and gusts returned. But by that time we were camped and sheltered, wet but happy.

The next day dawned in reasonable conditions as we broke camp and headed towards the big uphill push. It looked windy higher on the fjells and once we got further up on the shoulder of the Ahkka fjell then wind and snow really hit us. The steep bank requires a push with the heavy loads even in good weather and now we got a little extra challenge on top of that. But once again the group did great. The terrain got easier and we got little protection from the worst of the weather by taking a route down in a ravine. After one more push up from the ravine it was time to set up camp.

The third day was probably the best day of the tour weather-wise. We made good progress but some health issues in the group and a forecasted storm loomed in the back of my head. When we arrived to the point were we had to choose whether we try to do a longer tour and take the shortcut the answer was quite obvious as the latest forecasts warned us about serious storm with wind speeds over 30m/s.

Shortcut it was.

At the end of the day we set up camp and fortified it with some unusually robust snow walls (I rarely bother…)  to protect our tents from the predicted high winds. As a bonus I managed to break the leeward main zipper from the Hilleberg Kaitum 3 I was using and after several repair attempts I had to sew the door shut and turn the tent around in the wind and snow… Later in the evening the wind grew into a proper storm and our tents played us the characteristic lullabies of flapping silnylon.

In the morning the weather was still bad and the forecasts predicted even worse weather towards the end of the tour. We waited for couple of hours and as the wind died down we broke camp and skied a short stint to a place suitable for digging snow caves. We arrived little late and the group really worked hard to get the snow shelters ready before the dark and soon we were sheltered behind half-a-meter of snow, sipping Jägermeister and trying to get warm in our damp clothing.

As the forecasts threatened us with no-go weather (loads and loads of snow with over 30m/s winds) for the next day we decided to ski out from the high fjells a day early for a sheltered camp spot at the birch forest at the shores of lake Ahkkajaure. Skiing was good with reasonable visibility, warm temps and no wind, though we did get again some rain on the lower elevations. There hasn’t been anyone on the snowscooter trail before but the wind had packed the snow reasonably well so going was easy but rather monotonic. During the week Luc Mehl’s recipe of dance music on iPod and yellow lenses became known as the “Alaska prescription” and turned out to be quite popular. It really helps to cope with sub-optimal conditions. Add some hard candies and you become invincible to the elements…

Our last camp was well protected from the winds but the serious gusts still shooked our tents in the evening and it looked like serious weather up on the fjells as you could hear the wind howling even while camped on the low ground and the fjell tops were all covered in a thick veil of snow rushing through the air. We got our part of the snowfall with about 60 cm of fresh snow covering our tents overnight. I woke up around 5 a.m. as it was too quiet and noticed my tent was mostly buried under snow muting the characteristic flapping the tent fabric makes in high winds. I was too lazy to get up in the dark and waited until the dawn before getting out for some serious shoveling.

As the weather was supposed to get better in the evening we spent the last day mostly resting in camp wondering the constantly changing weather swinging from sun shine to full-on blizzard every five minutes. It was important to time the calls of nature accordingly. It turned out to be nice and relaxed day fixing equipment, frying bacon and pancakes, listening to iPods, etc. It’s not for everyone but it’s part of the game.

Towards the evening the weather got better and after late evening nap we woke in a frost covered tent for the first time during the tour. Even though the last stretch towards the lights of Ritsem  is always a long one the conditions made it more tolerable: calm, little below zero and partially cloudy letting in some moonlight painting the scenery we didn’t really get to see on the tour.

After such an ending  it’s always easy to convince yourself that you actually liked it and want to go for another round. Especially after a sauna, dinner and some quality beer in good company.

– – –

More photos from the tour can be found from my gallery.

Antti’s trip report from the climate change simulator is also worth reading and can be found from his blog. Highly recommended blog anyway. As is his photography work from the Arctic and sub-Arctic at anttihaataja.kuvat.fi.

Marko took also great photos on the tour and you can find the photos with captions here. The creative man also shot a short video from the stormy night at camp number three:

Worst Winter Ever

We are having quite terrible winter here in the Southern Finland. Saying it’s the worst ever is probably exaggerating but it’s horrible compared to the previous few winters.

There’s not much snow to ski on, two weeks of above zero temps have turned the lakes into slush fields and generally it’s not very inspiring for someone who likes the cold and proper winter. This is also partial reason for the quiet time on the blog but main reason is that I’ve been also busy with other projects…

14-01-26EOS 6D4351_900

Black ice at lake Saimaa in late January.

The bit of winter we had

At the end of January we had a short period of proper winter which was great as I was instructing a Basic Course in Arctic Ski Expeditions. I was fortunate to have a great group of 12 people and we had a good course covering the basics needed for longer Arctic ski adventures…

14-01-26EOS 6D4354_900

The course also got some flattering media coverage:

– Juha wrote a blog post about the course (in Finnish only) but at least take a look at the awesome photos!
– Also Riikka covered the course shortly in one of her blog posts (in English).
– And the major Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat published a lengthy article and a nice little video of the course which is awesome. It’s in Finnish only but comes with photos and video.

14-01-26EOS 6D4356_900

But that’s past now and there are other exciting things coming up…

Greenland, baby, yeah!

The big thing that’s kept me busy since last autumn is my upcoming major expedition of the year. I’ll be going to Greenland!

There has been a lot of work related to the project but now we are at the point where we can publicly say we’ll be skiing across the Greenland icecap starting in mid-April: Group of five friend, around 30 days on our own and some 600 kilometers of skiing through the white wilderness.

14-02-08EOS 6D4390_900

About to get windy…

14-02-08EOS 6D4391_900

Practise makes perfect. Pitching tent in ~30m/s wind.

14-02-09EOS 6D4453_900

More practise.

We also got our blog online and it can be found from AcrossGreenland2014.com.

The blog will be mostly in Finnish but there’s a Briefly in English section to cover the basic background information and all the blog posts will include a short English summary. In addition I’ll try to cover some topics in English in my personal blog for more in depth views. If there’s something you want to know, feel free to comment!

We are also on Twitter @Pohjoisemmas and Facebook AcrossGreenland2014. The content will be again mostly in Finnish but also some in English and plenty of photos.

Other things coming up…

Even though I occasionally feel I’d need all the 24 hours of each day for the Greenland project alone there’s some other stuff coming up too. (And I guess that’s good for my (questionable) mental health too…)

The first week of March I’ll be guiding another one-week husky tour at Taivalkoski for Husky Center Kolmiloukko. There’s a proper winter up there and I can’t wait to get back working with the furry little rascals!

2013_02_20_9999_97_900

Guiding a husky tour a year ago.

And straight after the week of touring with the dogs (and clients) I’ll head to Sarek National Park in Swedish Lapland to guide my Advanced Course in Arctic Ski Expeditions to prepare the group for bigger and bolder future expeditions. At least I should be getting a decent dose of winter during these weeks. 🙂

IMG_8510_900

Guiding in Sarek the last year. It was a such great tour!

And in addition to getting all set for the Greenland expedition, and of course being in the outdoors, I’ll also try to get some content in the blog and avoid the one-month radio silences…