Wednesday, May 6, 2015

London Ice Climbing

Have ice axe. Will travel to London to go ice climbing. My cab driver thinks that is the weirdest thing he has heard his customers do. I think that if it is true, then his rides have been pretty boring.

But here I am, in a basement under Covent Garden, trying to climb overhanging ice. Can't remember when I climbed on ice the last time, it could be more than ten years. My skills have deteriorated, if I had any to begin with. And gained too many kilos. It is hard. And the ice is fresh, made yesterday. Tuesdays are the hardest climbing days, because the ice gets refreshed on Mondays. The route is solid ice.

I am at Vertical Chill, a climbing facility in the lower floor of Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports. It is minus six degrees Celsius, but I am sweating with the hard climb. And my light crampons are not suitable for this type of a climb. I'm sure I would have otherwise succeeded in passing the overhang :-)

There is one practice area and three main routes, the corner, straight up, and the overhang. There is also a dry tooling wall. The height is about 8 meters.

Vertical Chill offers one-hour climbing sessions at 50 £ per person or at 35 £ if you bring your own equipment. The price includes the instructor who will be belaying you. Recommended!

This must also be the only place where you can ice climb and use the free WiFi. Good for those selfies on the wall?

Photos and videos (c) 2015 by Jari Arkko, Alexa Morris, and Vertical Chill. Tämä blogiartikkeli löytyy myös suomeksi. And see also the video at Teton Gravity Research.

Monday, May 4, 2015


Week and a half in Hawaii in a meeting, properly dressed. For some reason people stared when I visited the beach. 

Seriously though, once I got off the black shoes and pants, what could I do? Worth taking my skis? Definitely, but since I had no time to exit the island of Oahu, my choice of slopes of somewhat limited. A bit of sand on the beach.

My real dream is to some day visit Big Island at the right time - when it snows on Mauna Kea. The Hawaii ski club, however, refrains from recommending skiing there due to "health concerns". In any case, snow is a rare phenomenon, and conditions where I could get to the top when there is snow are even rarer. Living nearby would make it easier, but for us non-Hawaiians it is difficult to arrange.

But back to Oahu. In addition beaches, there are amazing, lush green mountains. I did not get to visit them either, but I managed to sneak out on one of the nights to see a waterfall with the only light sources being my headlamp and the stars. Magical! I can also recommend visiting the Diamond Head, near Honolulu. The top of this ex-volcano, ex-military base can be reached by an easy walk, and has both amazing views and historical interest.

And of course, I also had to try surfing - for the first time in my life. (Thank you Ari for taking me.) But I have to say, it was difficult. How can one simultaneously be terrified by the waves and not have big enough waves to surf? And in front of our hotel in Honolulu, the surf is about half a kilometer out, and the hand-paddling to get there was... hard. With the (small) waves hitting my board, the hits and abrasion caused my chest muscles to remember the exercise for weeks afterwards. But hey, I tried surfing! Maybe again some day.

Photos and videos (c) 2014 by Jari Arkko and Tero Kivinen. Tämä blogiartikkeli löytyy myös suomeksi.