Thursday, May 29, 2014

Vigu Climbing Course

It was time for the climbing course of the Wilderness and Nature Guide education* I'm currently doing alongside my ordinary full-time work. Since I hadn't done any climbing at all, this was to be a very interesting course and four full days should enable a fairly thorough treatment of the basic skills.

We started with two full cars, 15 students and the course leader Danni, from Turku Tuesday evening. The night ferry took us to Stockholm and we drove to Stugun in Jämtland on Wednesday. We erected our tents next to a shelter provided by the climbing club of Östersund and stayed there for five nights. The first evening was spent chilling around the fire. Eddie had been fishing with some success.

On Thursday morning we got our equipment and headed for the rocks.

For the first part of the day we went through the equipment and practiced rope techniques and abseiling. Krister Jonsson, a Swedish top climber and mountain guide with a fairly exhaustive résumé, shows how it is done.

We used a prusik as a backup to the belay device.

Nicke goes down.

Krister and Christa.

Yours truly.


After lunch we returned to the rock to start the actual climbing. The abseiling exercises had been great in overcoming most of the fear of heights and falling. Our other climbing instructor, Oscar Wahlund, shows the climbing lines.

Dani (not to be confused with Danni) had already climbed a lot and showed how it was done.

My first attempts were rather clumsy and it took time to get a feeling of how much grip the shoes actually give and how much you can and should lean out from the wall. Photos by Simo.

Dangling stuff.

This was a good place to climb, with many routes ranging from 3 - 7. A good description is found here (PDF file).

Jakob climbs a more difficult route.

Belaying. Photo by Simo.


After the day's climbing, we went down to the camp, made dinner and just spent time there.

Simo had his hammock again. A good choice, at least the first nights, since the weather was rather warm.

A wooden schnapps glass for three.

Eddie had been fishing again.

Friday morning was again nice and promised a very hot day. We were back at the rock. Krister and Oscar took groups of one and two to climb on the big wall, with 100 m routes.

Dani climbs some more advanced stuff.

Christa does so as well.

Rest between the hard work.

My turn on the big wall. As far as I could figure out afterwards, we climbed the 65 m Röde Orm, a 4+ route.

Looking down.

The route doesn't seem to get climbed that much, since there are mosses and lichens on the wall reducing the grip. About 40 m above ground I slipped and fell maybe two meters, which was a little exciting.

Up there. This climb was close to my current limit and as I understood from others, Krister had also taken them on routes according to their skill levels. Nicke and Jakob came back rather humble after having been on a 6+ route on the big wall. This bigger climb was much appreciated by everyone.

The wall we just climbed.

A bath in the refreshing river felt great after the climbing and the water temperature of maybe 10C also worked well for cooling a beer.

The evening was again spent with dinner and around the fire, though despite attempts with a drill bow, the fire was lit with ordinary means.

During the night it rained, but by the morning the rain had stopped.

Before lunch the rock was too wet to climb reasonably on, but there are lots of other things to learn too.

Our instructors took the opportunity teach us anchoring techniques and how to use nuts and camming devices.

Oscar was always enthusiastic, this time about a camming device.

Practicing making anchors.

Nicke tests his anchor.

After lunch the rock was again dry and the climbing commenced. Simo is already up.

My turn. Photo by Simo.

Looking down..

A sweaty selfie.

Dani climbs on a different level again.

Simo belays Peik.

In the afternoon it started to rain.

It rained quite a lot and the tent was threatened, at least Jakob's side.

Jakob and Anna found a back rest under the tarp.

Even before the rain, we had decided to eat pizza in the village. We ate our pizza and after that went to sleep quite early. The Keron 4 GT tent provided plenty of place for me, Nicke and Jakob. Photo by Niklas Hollsten.

It rained through the night and continued on Sunday. We split into two groups, and I spent the first part in Oscar's group in the shelter, where we continued to practice knots and and anchors.

Pyttipanna for lunch.

The rain continued and the afternoon was spent on the rock with Krister, practicing anchors and nut usage as well as abseiling.

Andreas comes down.

The final exercise was rope climbing with slings and a prusiks.

I started from a mindboggling 10 cm above ground. Note that it takes two guys to keep me from going down.

Krister takes down the final equipment.

The actual course ended on Sunday afternoon, too late to make it to the night boat back to Finland. It still rained.

In the evening we all went down to the village to a pizzeria for pizza, beer and the Finland-Russia hockey final. Both teams played equally well, but with the referees being in the Russian team Finland lost. Not that Russia didn't deserve to win, they had played well in the entire tournament.

The next morning we woke earlier and packed to be ready to leave at eight in the morning. It still rained.

Packing down the tent.

Good bye, camp!

On the way back we visited Gränsfors Bruk, to buy axes.We took a visit in the production facilities, where the axes are pretty much hand made. The actual hammering is done by machines almost a hundred years old, with a craftsman holding the piece of hot metal under the hammers as needed. Quite interesting.

We made it to the night boat from Stockholm. I was back home at 8:30 in the morning and at work one hour later.

The course was again very nice and the company the best there is. Thanks a lot to the participants, to Danni who arranged the course and to Krister and Oscar, who where excellent and inspiring instructors.

* If you are interested in this education and speak at least a little Swedish, apply for the next course before 20.6.2014.

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