– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Category Archives: recommended read

Recommend read: Adventures on Antarctica

The season of science, adventure and publicity stunts is about to start once again at the Antarctica. Quality armchair adventuring is great for the quiet shoulder season and I enjoy it just as much as everyone else. Here are some chosen adventures happening on the great white continent of superlatives right now or about the start very soon.


Not from the Antarctica but from Vatnajökull in May 2013.

Scott Expedition

After 10 years of planning and hard work Ben Saunders is now on the ice trying to complete Scott’s original route to the South Pole and back unsupported and unassisted. This means 2900 km of skiing. That’s longer than the previous unsupported and unassisted ski expedition to the Pole and back, actually the longest unsupported and unassisted ski expedition ever! Ben and Tarka have been on the ice already for over three weeks and the daily distances are growing and conditions seem to be getting better. Monumental expedition in making and they are using state of the art satellite communication sending daily reports and photos for us to enjoy!

To Deep South

This one isn’t a world-class ground breaking expedition but a cool one none the less: unsupported and unassisted solo ski expedition to the South Pole by Finnish Vesa Luomala. At the moment Vesa is in Punta Arenas (Chile) preparing his kit but soon he will be at Antarctica skiing 1100km from Hercules Inlet to the Pole. When Vesa reaches the Pole he will be the first Finnish to do so solo and also complete the longest solo expedition by a Finn. Vesa’s blog is both in Finnish and English.

Huippu Etelämantereella

Finland’s only professional explorer and adventurer Patrick “Pata” Degerman is again heading back to Antarctica. The three men team will be heading to Queen Maud’s land for a 22-day climbing expedition to climb previously unclimbed peak. Pata and Pekka Holma did a scouting expedition to the area in 2012 and chose 2525m high “Sukkertoppen” as their target. Unfortunately the blog is only in Finnish but you can always try to translate and at least enjoy the photos!

Cycling to the South Pole?

As fatbikes have evolved the idea of pedaling to the South Pole has gained popularity during the recent years. Eric Larsen gave it a try the last season but turned back as the going was too slow (my hat is off for trying and finishing in good style). Now American Daniel Burton is giving it a go on his South Pole Epic trying to cycle from Hercules Inlet to the Pole with resupplies on the way. Another contender for the “first” is Spanish Juan Menendez Grandos who hopes to complete the journey without resupplies. This autumn Huan crossed Greenland with guided Norwegian group cycling some parts and mostly pulling his bike in a pulka. This raises the question how much you have to cycle to say you’ve cycled to the South Pole? All the way? 90%? 50%? 10%? I don’t know but it’s interesting to see what the fatbikes can get you.

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And as a little bonus video from Pekka Holma’s take on Denali in 2010: The Sarah Palin tribute expedition! Good (?) sense of humour required:


Highly Recommended Watch: Packrafting 101 Videos!

You really want to take a look at this! (At least if you have any interest in packrafting or boating rivers in general.)


Whitewater packrafting at Kymijoki in October 2012.

I spotted the Packrafting 101 video series by Media Feliz from Dave C’s excellent blog but in my opinion they are so good they deserve a post of their on – and few comments.

As packrafting is gaining popularity there has been a screaming need for a simple introductory video series on. Roman Dial’s book Packrafting! is a great resource and worth getting but for teaching boating technique a video is way better format than text. Although personal teaching from a guide or experienced boater is the best way to go, the high quality video series is very helpful – and even completely free!


Packrafting in Reisadalen in September 2012. I’ll be returning there in a week!

The first video is about getting ready for the river: how to inflate your raft, get into the boat and into the water. It’s showing the new Alpackaraft Whitewater Spray Deck but with the Cuiser Spray Deck things are actually even simpler. Personally I prefer inflating the seat and backrest before inflating the boat itself but I guess this is a matter of personal preference.

The second video is about the basic strokes, eddy turns and ferrying. Very good stuff, though I consider the eddy turns in the video to be beyond basic skills as packrafts are very stable and unless you turn into very strong current not much special maneuvering is needed. But of course, it doesn’t hurt to do the things in the proper way from the beginning. Ferrying is an important skill and I’d like to highlight also the usefulness of back ferrying (i.e. back paddling to slow you down and at the same time reposition yourself in the current to navigate obstacles or to get to the line you want to run).

The third (and final?) video is about river navigation which is maybe the most important skill for any river boater. In my opinion the video could start from even more basic things (like the “Vs” in the water, etc.) but it’s still very good stuff. Pay attention to dangerous obstacles, swimming in current and self-rescue with a packraft, which is surprisingly easy and useful technique! And remember, it’s never wrong to portage!

“Packraftafari!” 😉

PS. There’s also the Kickstarter funded Learn to Packraft! project by Ryan Jordan. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to back the project at the time so I don’t know what’s the situation of it but I’m expecting veru helpful super high quality outcome. And good news is that the 3-hour introductory level part will be available for free via American Packrafting Association.

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Update, 2.9.2013:

In case you are into more advanced stuff and found the contents of the Packrafting 101 familiar, Luc Mehl has added a good Class IV Packrafting introduction on his great website. Good stuff and I think a lot of it is usefull in class 2 and 3 white water as well. And I agree with Luc, I highly recommend taking a course and going out with more experienced boaters. To my knowledge, beer works for kaykers all over the planet, not just in Alaska. 😉

Luc’s article also lead me to NSR’s Youtube channel which has a video series on Safety and Rescue. Worth taking a look if you’re interested in more serious whitewater packrafting as the safety perspectives are basically the same in packrafting and hardshell boating. I guess one of the few differences between hard shell boating and packrafting is in the self-rescue: Wet re-entry self-rescue with a packraft is quite easy and very usefull and naturally not mentioned in hardshell boating videos so you want to keep that in mind as well. Again these videos are something more for inspiration and ideas than actually learning skills. Skill are learned in the field so take a course and/or get out with experienced people.

(The above video is the first of 12 episodes, a good way to spend you lunch break today…)

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And a little unpaid advertisement:

– In Finland and interested to try packrafting? Rent one from Mark at Backpacking North!
– Would you like to learn packrafting in safe and efficient way or go for an epic packrafting tour in the Northern wilderness? Hire me as a guide!
– Living in Europe and wanting to buy a packraft (or cool accessories)? Packrafting-store.de is what you are looking for!

Recommended read: Inspirational blogs

Some more selected posts worth reading and inspirational blogs worth following – and a non related photo.


Sunrise over Huuskonselkä on packrafting trip at Pyhäjärvi.

Escape life in Canada” is a blog by Finnish-French couple Piia and Julien. At the moment they are writing about their epic, epic journey following the Great Divide Trail through Canada. 1300 kilometres in 37 days and what scenery! Plenty of awesome photos. Oh, and did I say it’s epic?

Parts 1, 2 and 3 are online. (And also available in Finnish! / Tarina löytyy myös Suomeksi!)

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Totaalisen pihalle / Totally out” is a truly bilingual (all posts in Finnish and English / kaikki kirjoitukset suomeksi ja englanniksi) blog by Lauri Hilander from the very South-West of Finland. But he doesn’t limit himself in bouldering and sea kayaking in Åland Islands but also climbs around the world and ski tours in the North. Great guy with big visions. He’s blog is definitely worth following!

As someone into ski expeditions my pick would be the little different trip report from Sarek from winter 2013.

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Backpacker’s Life” is a hiking blog by Ryan Grayson from the promised land of long trails and thru-hiking. I stumbled upon it on Twitter as Ryan is writing a series of posts on Nutrition for Thru-hikers interviewing sports dietitian Tavis Piattoly. Great information on nutrition for longer trips.

Parts 1 and 2 (out of three) are already online.

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I’ve recommended Forrest McCarthy’s blog before and I’ll do it again. It’s a great blog with reports and photos from great trips and also helpful posts on gear and technique, especially regarding packrafting.

As examples of epicness and great content see: a report from a 24 day ski Traverse in Mongolia and Packing for Packrafting.

Recommended Read: The best outdoor mags online?

This is the second time I’m recommending you to read these two online magazines (sorry for that) but they are really good and there have been also some updates/changes so it’s worth reminding you of them.


The summer solstice sun setting at lake Saimaa.


Sidetracked is arguably the most inspiring online travel and expedition magazine there is. And it’s completely free! They have launched a new sleek site just some time ago. And the latest issue is also out so it’s worth taking a look. There is a new Explore area that allows searching and sorting the articles by Adventure, Content Type, Continent and Transport which is very useful. And there is also a new Survive area for advice, reviews and the like information. Not much content yet but I’m sure it’ll grow to be a good resource.

Sidetracked Magazine is an online journal featuring a limited collection of personal stories of travel, journeys and expeditions. The concept is simple: to capture the emotion and experience of adventures and expeditions throughout the world… and to inspire.

Due topical reasons my personal favourite on the latest issue is Ben Saunder’s Following Scott article. If the summer is little too hot for you, it should help you to cool down. 😉


Click to read more!

Mountain Pro Mag

My other recommendation is probably the best online outdoor professional magazine: The Mountain Pro Mag which has also launched a new website since the last time I wrote about them (and for them) and the latest issue went online just this week! Plenty of quality content and good information, and in my opinion, not only for mountain professionals but for everyone spending time outdoors. On the new website there is also a competition where you can win a McMurdo Ranger PLB. Sorry, I won’t tell you the right answer as I want to win that myself.

The free online magazine for outdoor professionals

I’m a little biased about my favourite article as I wrote about Technology For Extremes for the latest issue (Go and read pages 23-25!) but there are also other very good articles. Go and read it!


Click to read more!

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On other news a friend of mine and five other guys are at the moment doing the Tour de France with kickbikes!

No pedals but incredible fitness and plenty of willpower. They’ve done now the first seven days covering over 1100km. I bet they’ll have their bottoms in damn good shape after the tour. Alpo is blogging along the way so you can follow the project on his Kick le Tour blog. Or, if you’re more into Facebook, then Follow Kick France on Facebook.

Recommended Read: Arctic Adventures and Bonus Video

While I’m guiding a group on the mountains of Sarek in Northern Sweden, the mysterious forces of the Internet automatically publish this little post of some things I consider worth reading and/or following. This time most of my picks are in Finnish ony but there are some in English too, and a few videos.

Fjell tops in Sarek, March 2013.

Fjell tops in Sarek, March 2013.

PS. I’ll be carrying a SPOT tracker in Sarek so starting on March 2nd you should be able to follow the tour in Sarek on SPOT shared page and also via the awesome Social Hiking.

A blog

The first tip is a blog of a local (at Taivalkoski area) musher and outdoors woman: the Wander Woman. And it’s even in English! Lots of information on outdoors with the family and dogs. And as this post goes online are Anu and his husband (who used to be guiding husky tours as well) are ski touring around Kebnekaise with their dogs Mora and Miilu (whose sister and brother are working here at Husky Center Kolmiloukko). Here’s a little video of their final rehearsal on top of a local hill called Jänisvaara. Windy and cold i.e. good training.

Activity on Arctic areas

The next tips are about Finnish activity on Arctic areas later this season. Vaiska is guiding his sixth expedition (!) to Svalbard along the same route I was doing in 2011. The expedition has a blog but unfortunately it’s only in Finnish: Huippuvuoret2013.

Little later in the season the two middle aged man (their own words) of the Ice Cap Crossing 2013 expedition are trying to cross the Greenland icecap along the “normal route”. I was instructing them on a basics course in 2012 and they’ve been for example developing an interesting tent with with Finnish outdoor company Halti and adventurer Pata (nice and helpful guy and also a great speaker).

The third interesting project is by Finnish adventure runner Jukka Viljanen who is also crossing Greenland along the same route but instead of skiing he will be running across Greenland! And the site/blog is in English.

PPS. In most cases Iceland and Vatnajökull glacier are considered as Arctic areas so I could add my forthcoming Vatnajökull crossing on the list but don’t really have anything to share about it yet… We will be on the ice 11 days starting on April 27th and will ski roughly 150km across the glacier or maybe more if the weather and conditions permit.


Views on Vatnajökull, March 2012. Hoping to get more of this and less freezing super-cooled rain with wind…

Some books

Quality Finnish outdoor books are not too common (it’s a small market) but every now and then few are published. Big news is that the long waited mammoth project of creating the first ever Finnish Off-piste skiing handbook is finally completed and the final product is now available. Of course it’s only in Finnish but those who are interested in steep snow-covered places and manage written Finnish should take a look at Vapaalasku.com.

The other book news is that Kari “Vaiska” Vainio has secured a book deal on series of instruction books on traveling in demanding conditions. The first book will be available at the end of 2013 and will be about winter travel on Arctic areas and above the tree line in Lapland. With 50 years of outdoors experience and having lead over a dozen of demanding expeditions it should be quite something.

And the bonus video

The narrative on the bonus video is also in Finnish but it’s quite awesome anyway. It’s digitalized archive material from a journey to the remote village of Kilspisjärvi in North-West Finland… done in 1947 with dog team, horse, skis and hiking. It wasn’t an easy journey before the road was built! Nowadays you can get there easily by bus or with your own car.

Click yourself into the archives!