Thursday, February 12, 2015

Vigu Ice Skiing

A traditional Vigu course for first year student's is the four day ice skiing trip in the archipelago around Replot and Björkö outside Vasa. I couldn't attend last year, but still wanted to do it this year instead, even though I'm not really a beginner when it comes to winter camping and skiing. You always learn something, though, and it is great fun anyway.

The others met up and packed on Friday evening, but I came to an agreement with my tent mates that they could do the packing while I would arrive just in time for the start on Saturday morning. We got started a little over nine in the morning, just in time for the sunrise.

My tent mates Ina and Anna.

The weather was quite warm with a temperature just above freezing. The wind was hard, though, and would get harder.

There was a record number of participants this time and our instructor Henka had scrambled every pulk he could get and used a pulk for pulling children himself.

A first break.

Back on the ice.

Some places were a little soft and wet.

During our lunch break at a sheltered spot the sun came out.

The ice situation was not great. In the sheltered inner archipelago there was ice, but the places with currents were often open. The outer archipelago had no ice at all. Care and preferrable local knowledge is needed on the ice in circumstances like these, since it is often not obvious from the map where the currents and weak ice is. During our little trip two snowmobiles went through the ice in the vicinity, fortunately without casualties.

Ville had a big pulk.

We set camp early this first day, in a very sheltered place, since a storm with 25 m/s winds was forecasted for the night.

There was still time for some extra skiing before the sunset.

The dinner was an excellent vegetable Thai curry.

A lazy evening.

The weather wasn't as hard as forecasted and we had no problems during the night. The next morning was colder with a temperature of maybe -4C.

Those poor souls without waxless skis never had a good grip, despite their efforts.

Going again just after sunrise.

For the first leg we had pretty hard head wind, but the weather was otherwise nice and refreshening.

Lunch break.


A short section in a snowmobile track seemed to cause the skis to become out of line with the skier.

On the ice again.

Yet another spontanous break?

This time we set camp around sunset, after around 18 km of skiing.

A good dinner starts with chili and garlic. The excellent chili sin carne was followed by Irish Coffee for dessert, though without cream and coffee.

Another beautiful morning.

Our second instructor Danni had a home made pulk

Most had the school's Fjellpulken pulks...

... though there was also a few Finnish Paljakka pulks.

Skiing again just after sunrise.

Yours truly taking shelter from the wind behind a rock during a short break. Photo by Anna.

After lunch we were to have a short introduction to dog sledding, but due to some logistical problems it did not happen and only one dog could make it there. A short demo still followed, though.

It now started to rain slightly, but soon stopped, since I put the Gore-Tex anorak on. Otherwise I had been very comfortable in my polycotton anorak, which breathes a lot more than ordinary shell fabrics.

The last leg of the day went quite rapidly and we again set camp before sunset. A nice evening followed.

Danni plays with his kite.

An excellent dinner was followed by Irish coffee, this time with both coffee and whipped cream.

The final morning was again very beautiful.

Everyone packs their pulks.

Henka went without pulk this time.

I pulled two pulks this last day, since I wanted to try it and the girls were less eager to again have a pulk. It wasn't really any harder with this little snow on the ice.

Passing under the Replot bridge.

Around here were strong currents with open water, which we strived to avoid.

Danni tried his kite again...

... but soon gave up.

A final lunch.

The last leg. It was now enough water on the ice to soak the ski boots thoroughly.

Afterwards we had sauna and a real dinner, which tasted great. A great course again, thanks to the participants and intructors for all the fun.

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