Discover Splitboarding episode 3. – Conquering the mountain

March 22, 2016 | 6:38 pm | No comments »

MiikkaHast-JaniKarppaPhoto-2220

Blåbaertinden south face, photo : Jani Kärppä

In the third episode we ascent and descent a mountain, Blåbaertinden, Tamok, Norway, from bottom to the peak. We will go through the basic techniques and information what you need for climbing and riding a mountain, a full tour. Everything from the essential planning, skinning and hiking techiques, on tour route finding to preparing for sudden changes while conquering a mountain.

 

 The most important in the mountains is to stay alert and pay attention to the surroundings and conditions at all times. Try to think well ahead while ascending and riding down too. It prevents you from getting into “what the hell I am doing here”-type of situtations, which happen easily in the mountains when conditions suddenly change or you lose your line for any reason. It is always good to have a back up plan.

How to choose a mountain to conquer then? If you are on an area you don’t know, the best way to start is ask questions and tips from locals, dig into touring guides and consider hiring a mountain guide who can open the gates for you.

Locals usually know a good place to start and something about the snow conditions but always trust your own gut feeling too. After asceding one mountain you will see more yourself and pick the next peak to climb and ride.

Touring guides are great help for planning tours. They usually point out the commonly used routes, difficulty and time estimate. It is not easy to figure out the starting point or estimate duration of the tour when entering new zones and the books provide this info cheap. Good planning will make the tour lot more relaxed.

Hiring a mountain guide is always the best option if you don’t feel comfortable stepping into new terrain by yourselves. They ensure the safety and you can learn a lot by just obeserving their routines and ways in the mountains.

Book tips:

For the Finnish readers there is a great book about freeriding and stepping into the mountains. Vapaalasku -kirja is highly recommended for any one interested about snow, mountains and freeride culture.

“Staying alive in avalanche terrain” by Bruce Tremper is a classic. The name pretty much sums it up.

Discover Splitboarding episode 2.

March 15, 2016 | 7:14 pm | No comments »

MiikkaHast-2347

Buttering. photo : Jani Kärppä

Many people, who I talk to, who are hiking on snowshoes and riding solids, still doubt the performance of the splitboards and shun all the “extra” gear that it takes. I personally never used snow shoes after I tried split for the first time years ago, except on snowsurf days. I felt that it is so much easier and more efficient to move around in the mountains with a split compared to snowshoes. Also, I discovered that the splitboard performs very well in various conditions. I trusted the equipment right away. In powder snow, I don’t feel much of a difference anymore between split or a solid. Of course it is not the same since the board is cut in half but once you have some speed it performs almost like a solid. I even feel comfortable riding freestyle stuff with a split.

There are lots of new gear that you have to get when starting splitboarding in addition to the basic backcountry safety equipment (first episode): the splitboard itself, bindings, skins, poles, crampons, etc,. It can be quite the maze which one to choose and the gear is quite pricy as well. There is an option to start with DIY set and cutting your old solid in half but the performance and durability will suffer.

Here are my tips for gear selection :

Board: there are lots of shapes to choose from these days. I recommend trying out the board before buying if possible. The powder surf shapes are very tempting, great fun and work well in good snow just like powder solids but they are maybe not for every day. So think about the terrain and conditions you are going to use the split the most. When I travel and can only choose one board I always take the trusted board shape  (Jones Solution) that can handle any condition. So if I was to pick my first split I would go with a shape that I could use in any conditions.

Bindings : Have come a long way too. When Karakoram came up with the quiver connectors (plate that connects split binding into solid) I stopped using regular bindings. Since I ride a lot with split and I feel most comfortable with split bindings I want to have the same feel on solids as well. Anyway, invest if possible on split bindings over the plates that you can use under the regular bindings on splitboard. The feel is from another world when you are closer to the board and it is much lighter. Crampons are good addition to the bindings. They help the hiking and climbing a lot on icy or slippery conditions and save a lot of energy.

Skins : Lots of different ones to choose from and basically the difference is in the glue and the hair. I trust regular glue that you can patch or replace completely if needed. Mohair versus nylon skin? Mohair glides better but loses on grip agains nylon. Mohair is lighter in weight. There are different mixes in the market that combines mohair and nylon which are best option, I think. Is the tail clip necessary? Not necessary but it is very handy specially if you are doing many laps or runs per day. It will holds the end part of the skin in place better when the glue starts to be wet or icy.

Clothing : Layering is the key. Start with technical first layer that keeps you dry when sweating. Then add a thermal layer depending on the temperature and cover everything with a good shell jacket and pants (at least 10000mm). I use Protest James jacket and Miikka Pants. Then I always have a extra puffy jacket in the backpack for warmth if the conditions change and it is nice to have on the top of the mountain.

Poles : Choose ones that fit inside of your backpack so they won’t hit or get stuck on anything while riding. And try to pick durable material (I use aluminium) so they will hold a lot of wear and bending.

Avalanche airbag/rescue bag : It is very good to have if accident happens but you should not trust it to save you or make you take more risks. Avalanches can be serious and deadly even if they don’t bury you. The airbag does not affect my risk taking at all. Even if I have it and I think there is a slight chance of a serious avalanche I turn around without hesitation. I use the airbag in case there is a unexpected slide which can always happen too.

Pocket camera : For riding navigation. If you approach your line from behind you should take a photo of the face since it will look very different when you are standing on the top. Even cellphones serve the purpose these days. They are also good if you need to call for help but keep in mind that the phone disturbs the beacon signal a bit.

Accessories : piece of plastic for clearing ice, piece of rope for tying up things or cutting snow, first aid kit, sunglasses, screwdriver/pocketknife

Second episode is filmed mostly in Pyhä Ski Resort and the freestyle stuff in Tamok and Lyngen, Norway.

 

Why do we consider change always as giving up on something?

February 17, 2016 | 12:53 am | 2 comments »

POW_logo_FI

Actions for Change

I joined POW years ago by donating 20$ for the organization. I got a sticker in the mail that I sticked on my computer and felt better. I was fighting climate change.

Years went by and I was still concerned about the climate but continuing to live a busy traveling lifestyle. I was more of a problem than a solution. My climate-invested twenty bucks was not compensating my enormous carbon footprint nor my conscience anymore, as if it ever really did. Fortunately Protect Our Winters expanded to Finland by two winter lovers and environmentally concerned men, Niklas Kaskeala and Arto Sivonen. I contacted them and offered help. I felt that through POW I could make my best impact on the fight. Many others felt the concern about winters and joined too. Together we have managed to launch POW into a great start in Finland. Media has noticed the growing movement and new partners are joining in. People have taken a positive interest and the recent bad winters are making the message tangible and real. People I meet and talk with seem to have one question that stands out: What do you personally do to fight the climate change and what could I do to help?

There are many obvious things that individuals can and should do but at the same time the whole climate change is so overwhelming and complex that individuals actions may seem almost useless. How could any of my actions make any difference when most of the people on the planet don’t know anything about the warming climate, can’t even afford to think about changing their habits or simply do not care. Why would I give up something, if majority of the planet’s population are not even thinking about the environment?

It is true in a sense. We all together should give up so much to be able to save the planet. But maybe that approach is the problem in the first place. Are we really giving up on something if we switch into more sustainable and healthier lifestyle or are we just afraid to brake old habits? Climate change is a negative thing but are the actions against it actually hurting us?

I started splitboarding originally because I wanted to ride new mountains and go deeper into the backcountry but it soon changed my whole perspective on snowboarding. Quality replaced quantity. Splitboarding opened up a new world of snowboarding where there was no rush or race to spots, no lift lines, no expensive lift passes or heli flights, no tracks and no crowds. It is a very immersive way to enjoy the mountains, nature and riding. You have more time to think, listen and learn about both the mountains and yourself . We had this revelation few years back in AK with Jonas Hagström when we took one awesome heliday on a splitboard trip. The day consisted of stable bottomless powder, sunshine and many great lines. It was just perfect. But still we felt better about the lines we chose, climbed and rode ourselves. Those were the best and most memorable ones from the trip. Since that, I have not taken many helirides or traveled obsessively around the world chasing powder. I try to choose the mountains closer to me believing they can give me as much, if not more, than any distant mountain if I just approach them differently and with a new mindset. So, through splitboarding I have cut my carbon footprint down a lot by not even trying! (notion to the critic : Easy for me to say; I did get to ride many places and lot of powder before this change and traveled around but still I claim that climbing and riding mountain yourself is more powerful experience for almost everyone than taking numerous rides up with machine.)

Years ago, I also started thinking about my consumer behaviour. I noticed that I was buying lot of things that I didn’t really use; cheap and bad quality things that needed to be replaced soon. I got some sort of child-like satisfaction from buying new toys that soon were boring. I was stacking up my apartment with things. This all hit me when I had to empty the place under renovation. I had so much stuff. I got rid of some and tried not to collect more. Then we moved together with my girlfriend. Again, I noticed and she pointed out that I still had a lot of stuff I didn’t use. I sold, recycled and gave stuff away. We ended up having more room, extra money and feeling better giving things to people who probably needed them more than we did. Still, I didn’t get rid of this strange attachment to material things completely. I feel that we are brought up to measure our success according to our stuff. It feeds the economy. I totally bought it and still partly do but fortunately there are ways to consume more sustainably. This though, might be positive and hopefully feed the more responsible economy. It needs to grow and might be the booster to the current economical crisis. So, I believe, on some level, it is good that we consume we just have to think how. Easy way to start is changing your electricity producer into eco-energy. This will not cost much more but will make you feel better and encourage companies to produce more eco-energy. Consuming is kind of like voting. In both the choices you make will also fuel the future. We need good choices.

One action that is the easiest to control and has a lot of impact on climate is your diet. This issue brings up a lot of emotions since we like to eat and we don’t like to be told what. Ten years ago I used to joke that plants are what food eats. My diet was based on meat or fish and maybe something on the side. I was shaking my head at vegetarians and wondering why make life more difficult specially when traveling. Since that lot has changed. First, I started switching from processed ingredients to more natural and raw ones. Then, I started to drop meat from my plate and experimenting more on vegetarian options. I soon felt much better, food was tasting better and it was way more diverse. I felt more light and energetic, my digestion worked better and my skin turned care-free. And I suddenly had lot of new flavors when I was not concentrating on the meat as a main ingredient. The change was entirely for the better. After a while, I was not craving meat at all. I actually felt little disgusted eating it after researching about the meat production. I basically dropped all processed meat quickly from my plate. The main drivers leading to the change were taste and how I felt, not the ideological principals based on animal cruelty or environment, those I learnt later on. Nowadays, I eat more plant based food but I still have fish and even game meat rarely on my plate and I eat too much cheese and other dairy products. I believe they might have the same kind of effect on my general feeling as meat. So, now I am experimenting on vegan dishes and changing more and more into plant based diet only because I want to give it a try and I believe I might feel better. I am probably not going to be a full vegan because I think it might be difficult traveling and not easy and tasty all year around in the cold arctic climate but I will give the change a chance.

So in the end, actions that I have taken to change my lifestyle have not felt like giving up at all. Actually, I feel like I am getting more and learning new along the way. Maybe change is not that bad after all. I think I will try to look at it from a positive perspective now on and encourage you to try it out too! I will share these of these experiences and experiments more here at Perceptions on board.

Fjordland in a mobile basecamp

March 12, 2015 | 12:01 pm | No comments »

Senjatripping (3 of 4)

This season I decided to ride more local and not chase snow all over the globe. It has been a dream to explore the nearby mountain ranges and wait for the conditions, not chase them. Also, the birth of our first-born reduced the desire to travel in to distant mountains and made the desicion natural. She was born at the heart of the winter. It has been wonderful to watch and share her first everything.

Most of the good mountains here above the Arctic have fairly short approach from the road but the winding roads are in desolated areas and there is no accommodation around. RV makes the perfect transport-basecamp combo in Northern Norway. During summer, I found a great one that has gas powered floor heating, good insulation and big trunk where I can store and dry snowboard and surf quivers, camping and fishing gear, other equipment and even mountain bike. A perfect basecamp which parks at the foot of a chosen mountain. There is no better way to start the snowboarding day than by gazing at your line while still sipping your morning coffee (while waves are breaking on the other side!!)

 

Senjatripping (4 of 4)

 The arctic sky put up an amazing northern lights show for us one night

Our (Me, Jani Kärppä and Miikka Peteri) plan was to scope out conditions and ride in Lyngen, Senja and Tamok. Forecast history didn’t promise much for the riding part since warm temperatures and high winds had been plaguing the regions but you never know what you are going to find until you go.

Season start in Northern Norway has been slow this year, like it has in many ranges all over the globe. Winters are turning weird, or worse solid winter seems to be fading. Winter jumps from early season straight to late season. Consistency of winter conditions is lost. At least, this is how it appeared to us again on this trip.

tooth (1 of 1)

The forecast history was pretty much spot on. Conditions seemed more like late April than mid February. Snow pack was fairly thin and it was wet even higher up or really wind beaten. Our trip turned out to be more scoping and less riding. On the positive side, it is early season in these latitudes and  the base is solid now. We found  lines that went straight to the hitlist and all they need now is a new cover.

fugl (1 of 1)photo: @jkarppa

The weather continued to be warm and windy through out the week. We drove around in different regions but conditions were more or less the same everywhere. We  stuck to poking snow, exploring new places and enjoying the scenery, wild life and camper life.

Karvis (4 of 5)

I also wanted to catch some surf while exploring the coastal mountains. There was a big swell approaching but winds were a problem again. Good swell waves were ruined by high cross shore winds that generated small wind waves against the good ones. Yet again, arctic winter surf turned out to be more of an beautiful and raw experience than good surf.

arctic surferphoto: @jkarppa

We almost decided to leave and return only after the conditions got better but the suddenly weather at least calmed down. You can’t pass a sunny spring day in the mountains with the ocean below. We were scratching our heads to find a sheltered couloir that might still have some good snow. We ended up in Lyngen after some detours and cloud dodging. Our pick of a south facing couloir turned out to be great surprise with some soft and dry snow at the top part. It brought back the good feeling of climbing and riding pow. Now, let it snow and the season to begin in the Arctic.

 

Karvis (3 of 5)Miikka Peteri putting in some steps for the turns

Senjatripping (1 of 2)

 

Maypow – the long wait for the right conditions

November 5, 2014 | 11:13 pm | 1 comment »

Big plans were made already before the season had even started. I wanted to get in to alpine terrain and ride bigger lines than before. My goal was to ride lines in Japan, The Alps, Alaska and Norway – My dream locations. On paper the plan and schedule looked perfet. I was aiming for my best season ever and I was ready for it but Nature didn’t get the memo. Season 2014 turned out to be a lesson of patience. Everywhere we went the conditions forced us to change the plans. It was either snowing too much or not enough for the alpine terrain to open its gates to the dremy lines. It was May before I got to drop in to terrain I had been planning on.

 

I spent half of March and April in Tamok and Lyngen filming with Approach&Attack crew. We had good snow and great times but got only glimpses of the bigger lines. The conditions were just not right for the bigger stuff like it had not been in Japan, Alps or AK. I started to give up on the hopes of riding bigger stuff. It just was not happening this season. I went home end of April with thoughts of maybe still coming back from some spring snow. But then the forecast turned around. Cold low pressure hit northern Norway bringing lot of new snow still this late in the season and after a cold high pressure was supposed to roll in.  I contacted Jonas Hagström and Justin Lamoureux and gave them the thumps up. The end of the long wait was in sight finally.

 

MayPow (4 of 8)

Backside of Lakselvtindane – the famous Lyngen massif

It was still snowing when we met up in Tamok. We decided to start straight with the Tamok classic, Öksehögget, since it was protected couloir and didn’t need clear skies for visibility. Conditions proved to be as good as I hoped. Month in the area had given a knowledge of the snowpack.  The next day the strom cycle moved on, skies cleared and the snow was stable. It was on now! The warming may sun was the ony thing we had to watch out for. In May it didn’t really drop below the horizon anymore. We shuttled between Lyngen and Tamok day and night riding classics and possible first descents of the area. “Good things come to those who wait” – proved to be correct. We rode and hiked two lines and over 2000m of vertical on the best days. Season truly climaxed at the very end!

Öksehögget (1 of 1)

Öksehögget (english: axe cleave) – Tamok classic. 500m vertical of narrow and consistant 40-45degrees couloir.

 

 

Check Justin’s blog  for his take on the trip as a first timer to Tamok and Lyngen.

SPLITLINES.com
SPONSORS
SPLITLINES.com
© 2017 All Rights Reserved