To the Top of the world9/3/2015 3:06:52 PM

IMG_1839_thumb.jpgIn the evening of May 17th we heard that Carina Räihä had reached the summit of Mt Everst. Motivated by her example we woke up early in the morning of 18th. The morning routines we know by heart now and we perofmed those quickly. We headed out with a head-mounted lamp showing us the way.We reached C1 in approx. four hours.Timo decided to camp there for a while. Mika took a rest for the hottest time and decided to continue to C2 in the afternoon. When the clouds rose to cover the sun, Mika climbed to C2. Timo instead arrived to C2 in the 19th. When climbing in a high altitude it is imporant to save your breath - recovery is almost impossible in the higher altitudes. So we basically rested in C2 without doing anything. 

In the morning of the 20th we headed out to Camp three. It was a sunny day and things looked bright. We optimistically dressed with nothing but shell-clothing and packed our thicker gear into the backbacks. We ascended towards the Lhotse wall and reached it after about 1,5 hours. Just like a replay of the previous time we were here, a strong wind stirred right below the wall. We dug the down jackets from the backbacks, struggled in the wind to get dressed - and did not incur any significant losses. We started ascending the Lhotse wall, which has a 40-60 degree incline. It took us about 2,5 hours to climb to Camp three - just to realize that the wind last night had broken the two tents in the camp. The resourceful sherpas from Asian Trekking erected two new tents and we decided to fit David in our tent as well. Our lodging was very well air conditioned and had a great view to all the way to the top crest of Mt. Everest. We spent the evening performing our well known routines: preparing food, coocking water and chatting. When the night fell, the winds from the stratosphere rose and the tents were flapping like crazy. We could not get much sleep in that noise. One cannot underestimate the powers that lie in the nature.

In the morning we continued our journey - but not feeling very rested after a restless night. This time we carried only minimal gear in our backpacks and our breathing was eased by a top-out mask. We set the oxygen flow to level two. The first shock was quite an experience for the scandinavian skin - the down jacket felt hot and the oxygen felt weird. After the first 5 minutes we opened up the down jackets and took of the masks- with a comment.. After a small break for thinking we continued towards the Yellow Band, which is the rock formation that separates the Lhotse wall and Geneva Spur. Crossing these formations proved to be the most technically challenging task for the day. After crossing the Geneva Spur we arrived to Camp four. It took us 6 hours of hard work to get there. We ate quickly in the camp and tried to catch some sleep (with the oxygen masks) before it was time to push to the summit. We decided that we will target to take off at 21:30, but at 21:00 the sky was filled with snow and wind, which made us rethink the whole idea of reaching the summit. The sky cleared as fast as the snowing had begun and it was suddenly clear skies all the way. We donned the down jackets again and moved out as fast as we could - for us this meant 23:00 in the evening. The rout took us straight up the mountain to a southern ridge called Balcony. Here we exchanged new oxygen bottles and drank some hot liquid. Our normal water bottles were frozen solid and the cocoa we had in the thermos was only lukewarm. At the Balcony there was about 5 m/s wind and the temperature was a crisp -36 degrees celsius. The coolness of the air did not slow us down when we headed to the southern summit. The rock formations before the southern summit were challenging ones and we had to wait for other climbers here and there. Since today there were "only" 50 climbers trying to reach the top, the queues were cleared quite fast from even the hardest spots. We crossed the southern summit only to see that the summit of Mt. Everest was close, but so painfully far away. We descended a few meters from the southern summit and reached the Hillary Step. Before the Hillary Step we could see both China and Nepal, in a place were China lies 3 kilometers below us. In contrary to our expectations the Hillary Step was not very challenging, since it was pretty much cleared by the wind with rocks visible.

After about nine hours of hard climbing work we finally reached the top of the world - and yes, we did cry tears of joy.

...

Tears of Joy - 8850m9/3/2015 3:06:31 PM

IMG_1772_thumb.jpg

We will write a more detailed story on how we reached the summit in a few days. We arrived today safely in the base camp, even though it snowed the whole day and the ropes were frozen slippery. This made descending the Lhotse wall a very challenging effort.

At the summit the scenery and the environment was pretty much what whe had expected. I have to admit that we did cry a few tears of joy when we reached the top of the world. We spent almost two hours at the summit since the wheather was (by local standards) very good.

All is well!

...

Finnish Rock and Roll9/3/2015 3:06:20 PM

IMG_1633_thumb.jpgWe have many times commented that food can be prepared without adding spinach and garlic everywhere, as the Nepalean kitchen usually cook their food.

To emphasize this, we decided to prepare a dinner for the whole camp yesterday. The “operation” gathered interest from the cooks of the nearby camps as well as the National Geographic. The raw materials were not perfect to start with, but our “sous-chef” was surprised to see all the plates empty very quickly. The Finnish cuisine did appeal well event to the international standards present here.

 

Our menu

The Starter:

Champignon soup, hard rye bread and eggbutter (Karelian spread made of butter and hard boiled eggs)

The main course:

Mashed potatoes, brown chicken sausage sauce, smoothened with ketchup

The Dessert:

Warm pineapple rings

 

The most important thing is that the wait is over. We will start our ascent tomorrow at 03:00 to try our guts. According to today’s information, we will try to reach the summit on 22nd of May. We plan to leave camp 4 the previous evening at 21:00. You can follow the climb via our Facebook-site. We will document our experiences in a diary after the push as soon as we are up to it.

The work does not stop by descending to the Base Camp, rather than after the descent we rush towards Lukla to make our return flight back. The price of the chopper ride seemed to be on the high side – so we decided to take the alternative; a two-day trek with a good pace.

 

All is well

...

The pain of finishing a project9/3/2015 3:06:09 PM

IMG_1628_thumb.jpg

According to a very recent weather forecast the wind velocity will decrease around 22nd or 23rd of May and the summit window is opening. The window – based on today’s knowledge – may be open for a while, maybe as long as 30th of May. Our forecasts that we have gathered from different sources agree on the change of the wind velocity around the peak. Wrong decisions can be costly here, since we will have energy to do just one push to the summit, whether we make it to the top or not. We will of course base our assumptions on the fact that we will make it. This is the moment when we must dare to complete the climbing phase. There may not be a single correct decision, we must adjust with the weather around us. As you know, time slows to a crawl when you wait for something to happen!

A reporter from the National Geographic asked us a question:” What things do mountain climbing and business have in common?”. I said: “In the business world the targets are depicted as the company vision, which is then broken into strategic steps that the company shall take. These steps are then broken into targets and measures that can be achieved. This gives the business its direction as well as all the relevant milestones for its actions. You then track the milestones systematically and see whether you’re headed to the right direction. In mountain climbing – as well as business – the summit cannot be achieved with one step, rather than the target is broken into smaller pieces. We then build our success on top of making all of the smaller steps happen.”

We now feel the tension building up for the next couple of days. If we target to reach the summit on 22nd of May, we will head towards that target on 18th of May. During the ascent we will not be able to update the blog, rather than our Base Camp manager Marshall Thompson will update our progress via a radio link to Ascensio’s Facebook-site. If and when you’re interested to see our progress, do add yourself as a fan of Ascensio. In the picture for today’s blog you can see the South Col (approx 8.000 m; Camp four) and to the left of it is Mt. Everest. The summit is hidden by the clouds. This picture was taken from the summit of Kala Pattar.

All is well.

...

First Summit9/3/2015 3:07:18 PM

IMG_1627_thumb.jpg

 

 

First  Summit 5650m

No News from the hills of Himalaya.
To celebrate the Friday, we decided to flex our limbs that were numb from all of the rest that we’ve gotten. So we did a little trek for a day. We decided to trek to the Gorak Shep mountain village, that lies at about 1,5 hours walking distance from the Base Camp.

Mikko from Lhotse-Everest group joined us, while Tomi and Joni selected to go to Kala Pattar. Moving after a five-day break felt really good and the trek was a very relaxed one. In Gorak Shep we planned to use the Internet café’s services to do some internet banking and to manage some insurance services. Not excluding, of course, the updates in Facebook and in this blog. The bandwith in the Internet Café is much better suited for moving larger chunks of data than the limited satellite connection we use in the Base Camp. You could have read the disappointment from our faces when the lady at the Café told us: “Internet closed”. What made us feel a little better was that this was no one-time issue, rather than they had been offline for the previous two weeks.

We enjoyed a Coke in the sunny terrace and decided to head back to the Base Camp (5.545 m) via the summit of Kala Pattar (5.650). This summit, we agreed, had now to serve as our first summit. JIIHAA!!

In about an hour, we did climb on top of Kala Pattar, but to our misfortune, the clouds did gather up to hide the Himalaya View that we planned to store in the memory cards of our cameras. We tried to make the best of it and started trekking back to the Base Camp with a very gusty wind following us all the way.

 

The discussions during dinner turned toward the Everest and all the epic stories from the hills of the mountain. Some tails, tragic as they may be, showed us really well how strong the belief within the locals is: the mountain and the Gods of the Mountain decide who gets to climb the mountain and who doesn’t.  We all have our beliefs, but here, surrounded by a different culture, we do place our faith on the broad shoulders of Mother Nature. The weather forecasts seem to push the summit date further and further away, but we’re hopeful that the weather will favor us and that we get to keep the dates of our return flights. According to our information, the Finnish ladies Carina and Anne-Mari have started their way to Camp 3 with the target to reach the summit between 16th and 17th of May. We follow the progress of the ladies with great interest and wish the all the luck and Godspeed for the summit.

All is well.

 

...

Gear - there's a lot!9/3/2015 3:05:34 PM

IMG_1060_thumb.jpg

To pass the time, we decided to write a list of all the gear that we've required during the expedition. For those of our readers, who are planning similar trips yourselves, this can serve as a reference. Some parts of the gear listed here is personal and some of them can be rented at will. This listing will also give quite a good overview of all the stuff that one needs to conquer the top of the world. The whole nine yards weighs about 100 kg. Oxygen bottles as well as all the foodstuff are missing from the list here. If you want to ask anything about either the gear or about the trip, you can reach us via  info@ascensio.fi or from our Facebook-site.

Use

Description

Product

Shoes:

Trek/Base camp

Waterproof  low trekkers

Vaude  Men´s boulder

Trek/Base camp

Hiking boots

Scarpa Lakshda

Trek/Base camp

Sandals

Teva / Camel Active

For climbing

High altitude boots

Scarpa Phantom 8000

Jackets:

Middle layer /

Fleece

VaudeArosa IV  Polartec 200

Insulation layer / Basecamp

 Light Sensofill

Vaude Thulium  jacket

 

Climbing BC-C2

Soft Shell

Vaude Platinum Jacket

Climbing C2-C4

Shell  jacket    

Vaude Argon series

For summiting

Down jacket

Vaude Argon series

Pants:

 

 

 

Trek/Base camp

Light/ polyamide trek pants

Vaude Farley Zip-off pants

Climbing BC-C2

Soft Shell

Boron Pants

Climbing C2-C4

Shell pants

Vaude Argon Series

For Summiting

Down pants

Marmot  8000

Gloves:

 

 

 

Staying/trek

Liner/ merino

multiple

Climbing BC-C2

Leather

Vaude Paltinum Glove

Climbing C2-C4

Alpine gloves

Hestra  Army Heli XCR

For Summiting

Mittens

Vaude down/ North Face Summit Series

Under and middle layer

 

 

 

Climbing

Thin tights/ merino

Icebreaker / Devold

High camps

stiff tights / merino

Ruskovilla / Devold

Climbing

middle pant

Vaude El Cap Tight II

Climbing

middle shirt

Men’s Vienci 2

High camps

Alpakka wool pants

designed and made by Silja Pitkämäki

Head covers:

 

 

 

Trek / Base camp

buffs

multiple

Climbing

wind stopper  hat

Vaude

Climbing

Alpakka wool hat

designed and made by Silja Pitkämäki

For summiting

furry hat

Unknown Sponsored by Safartica

For summiting and bad weather

balaclava, fleece /neopren

Vaude  stormcap

Vision:

 

 

 

Trek/BC

Basic sun glasses

Arnette / Vissio

Snow/Ice

Class 4 sun glasses

Julbo XL

Bad weather

Storm Glass

Spy

Backbacks:

 

 

 

Trek/Climbing

Day backpack 

Vaude powder 38/ Ice Rock 35

Trek/Carry

carry system

Vaude hard rock 55+10 / Millet pro light Expe 55+20

Garco

Duffel sack

North Face water proof XXL

Sleeping bags:

 

 

 

Basecamp

Sleeping bag  

Vaude Serniga 800

High camps

Sleeping bag  

Vaude Ice peak Extreme

Camping:

 

 

 

BC

Tent

Vaude Space K2

High camps

Tent

North Face VE25

Restpads

Restpads

Thermarest Z rest /Thermarest Ultralite +4

Stove

High camp stove

Markill Peak Ingnition

Drinking bottles

 

Wunnersdorf

High camps

Down socks

North Face

Communication, photographing, electronics

 

 

Photographing

Compact camera

Olympus µ tough 3000

Photographing

System Camera

Canon D 500 /18-200/Fisheye

Video

Helmet camera

Contour HD 1080

Navigation

GPS

Garmin Colorado

Measuring

Wristcomputer

Suunto Core, Suunto X10

HB measuring

Wristcomputer

Suunto CT6

Internet/storage

Mini laptop

Samsung NC20

Music

Ipod

I pod nano

Solarpanel

Recharging

Brunton solar 52W foldable

Invertter

Changing 12v/220v

Vaeco Pocket power IS 102

Communication

Satellite phone

Thuraya

Internet Connection

Satellite modem

Bgan explorer 500

Communication

Radiophones

Icom IC-V8 (+repeaters)

Climbing gears

 

 

Poles

 

Comberdell

Harnessess

 

Petzl corax, Black diamond

Ice axes

 

Edelrid Gladius pro 60 hammer / showel

Crampons

 

Edelrid  samba  (modified)

Helmet

 

Edelrid

Ascenders, hms,carabiners,screws

 

 

Edelrid/BD

Slings, widgets

 

Edelrid

Socks

 

 

 

All socks

 

MUND

...

Preliminary decisions9/3/2015 3:07:33 PM

IMG_1613_thumb_alustavia päätöksiä.jpgWe get weather forecasts daily from Seattle. Some expeditions have ordered weather updates from a Swiss meteorology and in addition to these, there are some sources that are examined regularly. We get a good overview to forthcoming weather, by combining different weather forecasts. Now we have made preliminary decisions; we are heading up on 14th May and hope to go for summit push couple of days later, 17-18 May. Temperature is about -36 degrees, but the wind is forecasted to be less than 10m/s. If the weather remains as forecasted, our chance for summit push is here soon. Everything is ready!  

Nice news from media side. National Geographic has been interviewing and following us and the documentary will be shown also in Finland.

Regards! ...

Forecasts of forecasts9/3/2015 3:07:45 PM

P5010232_thumb_EnnusteetEnnusteista_12052010.jpgWe woke up before 6 am to the sound of a helicopter. It tried to get higher (without any success) from the base camp in order to pick up a dead Russian climber from camp 2. Wind is very strong and seems to continue for some days. We anticipate that suitable weather for summit push could be around 23 May, but forecasts change almost on daily basis.  

Today early in the morning Sherpas were detaching bodies of some unfortunate climbers from the glacier and moving them to some place more appropriate. These climbers had tried summiting Everst quite a long time ago and bodies had moved along the glacier about 1 km / 4 yrs downwards  

There is a charity poker game at the camp today. Only Everest summiters are allowed to participate.  

Waiting, waiting, waiting.   ...

Happy Mothers Day9/3/2015 3:07:58 PM

P5080269_Thumb_Äitienpäivä090510.jpgStep is light and scenery changes, making climbers feel rested.
Boys have left mothers’ hems, heading to high peaks of Everest.
Although we are here far away, mother is in our thoughts anyway.  

Happy Mother's Day!

-Sons

...

Yak meat and other things of current interest9/3/2015 3:08:12 PM

IMG_1571_Thumb_Jakinlihaa_070510.jpgHere we are in Periche, resting and filling our energy reserves. Fried yak meat and onions with local version of mashed potatoes was delicious and creates certain familiar feeling to this environment. Meal times determine rest day schedules and there no other compulsory things to do. We were thinking whether we leave for Dingbotche for a nice cup of coffee and buns or stay here and enjoy a 100% rest day and yak snacks instead of ½ hour walk. Both very tempting options.  

Kathmandu has been restless with Maoists marching on the streets and organizing a 6-day strike. There has been some shooting when local police has tried to calm the situation down, but the good news is that there has been no victims.  

We have a plenty of time here which often gives the imagination wings. As a result of Iceland’s volcano eruptions, and inspired by aviation blocking volcanic ash, we planned alternative route B in order to get back home, in case air spaces are shut at the time of our return.  

Plan B: Nepal still produces good old Royal Enfields (even in British race car green, wow!), which are very reasonably priced. Two of these, same amount of old leather helmets and a good selection of spear parts and we would be ready to the road. Our baggage weighs 100 kg, but no worries, we have learned excellent techniques how to pack by watching Sherpas. Then filling the petrol tank and at the maximum speed towards northwest to India. From there we would head through the ‘stan countries to Russia towards the eastern border of Finland. Border formalities may take a longer time, because we have no visas, but we are positive that everything works out. The journey would be of about 7500km of length and it would take 30 days if our average daily journey would be 250 km. By doing this we would arrive to Finland early July with classic bikes, which have been broken-in well.  

Well, let’s anyhow hope there are no volcanic eruptions and that planes keep flying.

...

Resting in Periche - 4200m9/3/2015 3:08:21 PM

P5060260_thumb_Periche_070510.jpgWe took a 6-hour hike downhill when we descended to Periche for a rest. At the supper one could hear ‘Finlandia’ been sung very loud. It was a sign that the majority of Finns at the Everest region had gathered together for the evening. We were caught in a conversation until very early hours in the night, although the restaurant was supposed to be open only until 9 pm.  

Climbers come, climbers go and there are plenty of thing to watch at.  


Regards!

...

Third rotation 9/3/2015 3:08:33 PM

IMG_1593_thumb_kolmas_rotaatio.jpgWe stuck our heads out of the tent on 30th April at 3.30 am and took off an hour later. First hundreds of vertical meters felt very strenuous before muscles warmed. We ascended to camp 1 in four hours and continued immediately to camp 2, which took another 3 hours. Altitude difference between camp 1 and 2 is about 400m. The temperature felt like being above 25 degrees, which made us to hike slowly.  

We intend to rest one day in camp 2 and head to camp 3 on 2st May early in the morning. Even resting in upper camps is more challenging that at lower altitudes. Some have a habit of staring the ceiling of the tent, others read and some keep busy with some kind of chores. Sometimes it feels that getting out of the tent is an accomplishment. I read for a good while and thought how Labor Day celebration went at home.  

Contrary to the weather forecast, the wind got stronger and it started snowing on Sunday night. In the morning we had over 20 cm of snow. Lhotse wall has been blue ice so far, but fresh snow makes it easier to climb as long as the wall is stabile. We decided to stay in the camp one more day and see how the weather turns out to be the following day. Waiting in 6500 m consumes a lot and therefore we tried to make the decision as soon as possible.  

Morning of the 3rd May way excellent, no wind and the sun was shining. We had made our way to about 7000 m when the weather took a quick turn to worse. Climbers on Lhotse fall tried to cover themselves from strong winds and some descended with the most possible long leaps they could. This time we did not reach camp 3, not to mention staying there overnight. We did not want to stay and wait for another chance to climb to camp 3, because we had consumed a lot of energy. Instead, we came to BC today on the 4th.  

We are ready with acclimatisation now. Everything has not gone as planned, but there are not such changes in plans, which would prevent us going for the final objective. The weather has bigger role from now on. Tomorrow we head with Timo about 1 vertical km to Periche, where we plan to rest and supplement energy reserves. We will return in some days, well before the anticipated summit push.  

We heard that there had been rather unusual visitors in the base camp. An expedition from Brunei intended to break a record of playing a chess game at the highest altitude ever. Part of the team had turned back before base camp. The rest arrived to BC by riding horses. Soon there was a helicopter taking AMS suffering expedition back to lower altitudes. Horses could not of course be flown back, but there were people who took care of them and saw that they got back.

...

Killing time9/3/2015 3:08:42 PM

IMG_1582_thumb_KillingTime_28042010.jpgThe older one gets the harder it seems to be to adjust to changes. Comfortable bed and thick pillow is a thin memory as well as peaceful nightly rest. Last night was the first time during this journey when I was able to sleep peacefully and almost without waking up. This is a good basis for the next acclimatization ascend. Our goal is to ascend to camp 3 (about 7300m) and possibly even higher if possible. According to our plan we have extra oxygen to our disposal from C3 onwards, but it would be interesting to try ascending without any extra oxygen. Depending on the weather we plan to descend back on the 2nd of May.

Killing time between rotations is always not easy and being able to speak mother tongue makes it easier. It does not matter how well English is spoken; I consider the possibility to discuss in Finnish with Timo and other Finns important. Being totally cut off busy everyday life and being in totally different environment where social network has to be built from scratch is surprisingly challenging. Same goes for communications technology, which is understandably almost non-existent here. There is now urge to keep moving, react and have business calls 24/7 – there is only time. On the other hand, moving here makes heart race and breathing hard. I think it is very important to have moments when one feels like this.  

How do we spend our time then? I have read George H. Stein’s book about certain wars history. In upper camp I have more easygoing book, Vares, to read. We have had interesting conversations, and of course gear maintenance fills part of spear time. Our camp has learned to play “tuppi”, a popular (Northern) Finnish card game with Timo’s lead. Today we also gave an interview to a National Geographic document on Mt. Everest climbers.

Electricity is mainly produced by solar panels. In addition, almost every camp has an aggregate and camps have agreed to use aggregates at the same time, 3-6 pm, when all electrical equipment, like laptops, iPods, cameras etc. are charged. Because of the low air pressure, some equipment breaks from time to time. This means full employment for local technicians. Our aggregate has been repaired for two days now and it seems that repairing will take one more day.

Tomorrow is still a rest day and on Vappu Eve (Labor Day’s Eve) we will head towards next challenges. We won’t have the possibility to wish you Vappu then, so we do it now: Hauskaa vappua to you all! I have spent last Vappus in Ylläs, so I propose that friends raise a toast to C3 in Ylläs Bar Kaappi on Vappu’s Eve.

...

From sick bed to the first rotation - 6752m9/3/2015 3:08:51 PM

P4250189_THUMB_1Rotaatio_27042010.jpgI had a cough, which was caused by inflammation, but now that situation has stabilized it was time to head towards camp 1. After forcing the breakfast down we took off towards the icefalls. Some 20 minutes later I had an odd feeling that made me wonder if I had all the necessities. I went through the list of necessities in my mind and uttered some not so nice words when I noticed that I had forgotten sunglasses. I went through the contents of my rucksack which confirmed my forgetfulness and meant hike back to Base camp.  Short extra hike washed remaining feelings of sleepiness away and journey through the icefall went smoothly.  

I stopped at a secure place for a cup of tea and weetabix, which have proved to be the safest source of energy from what is available for us. I felt good and soon after 9 am I was in C1 melting snow. Time went annoyingly slowly and for a moment we were thinking about continuing to C2. We naturally decided to stick to the agreed plan and continue journey with Mika, who was resting in BC and due to arrive C1 the following day. Matate, who took off at the same time from BC, arrived to the camp at noon. We had lunch and tried to kill time, mostly by resting. I had radio contact to Mika in the evening and we revised next morning’s schedule and program.  

Mika and other members of our expedition arrived to C1 at 9 am we continued towards C2. Mika told that he had not slept well and had not had breakfast, which made him feel a bit shaky. We decided to continue journey at our own pace. We arrived to C2 (at 6500m) after a 2-hour trek, which meant long day without anything particular to do. However, we have learnt that one must not do much, but instead concentrate on resting. Even a few steps in high altitude makes heartbeat rise almost above anaerobic level and trekkers puff like steam trains.  

The air pressure is half of that at the sea level, therefore, recovering from a strenuous physical exercise takes considerably more time. Air preasure is even more weaker in upper camps and changes to get a altitude sickness grow. Due to this, climbers do rotations between camps in order to get used to thin air and to get necessary rest.  

Mika arrived to C2 three hours after me and told that he will rest the following day. We had not accepted some facts, which though we have acknowledged. It had been only 1 ½ days from Mika’s last rotation and there had not been enough time to recovering. Short, uneven sleep and non-existing appetite did not actually facilitate recovering. The reason for Mika’s short rest is that he wanted to reach C1 before the weather is forecasted to get worse.  

On Saturday morning Indian Arjun and I ascended towards the beginning of Lhotse wall. We were thinking about ascending the wall for a while in order to get some experience of the frightening mass of blue ice, which ascends 1200 m to 8000 m varying from 40 to 60 degrees. However, we decided to give space to climbers, who aim at reaching camp 3, which lies in the middle of Lhotse at 7300m.  

My neck was very stiff after the inflammation and the stiffness and pain made me sleep poorly. The return journey to the base camp from my part begun with very annoyed feelings. Mika was feeling energetic after one day rest and descended fast jumping over crevasses. We stopped in C1 to pick up our human waste bags and continued towards the icefall. I caught Mika and a sizable group of other climbers at icefall’s blue ice. We descended 10 m from the surface of the glacier into a crevasse and ascended along aluminium ladders back to the surface. First 2 climbers were tangled with their climbing gear to ropes and were not able to release themselves without help. Everyone, who understands physics of a glacier understands that we are on a very unstable and dangerous spot. As if it was a reminder from glacier, a car-sized serac fell crumbling into a crevasse, thankfully without harming anyone. Deep sounds and shaking mad us to move faster. Mika overtook other climbers by taking “outer curve” without pausing at the critical spot.  

We discussed in the evening how easily expeditions take members to their groups. It feels as if groups rarely set any kind of skills criteria for member. Of course we cannot claim to be experienced climbers ourselves, but we have sufficient basic climbing skills and ability take care of ourselves in demanding circumstances.  

Acclimatisation has gone well so far and we have been able to follow planned schedule. Later this week we continue acclimatization and take a couple-of-days climb to upper camps and take equipment to C3 where we rest and wait for suitable weather for summit push, which will probably take place during the second week of May. ...

Camp 1 ready - 6150 m9/3/2015 3:09:11 PM

IMG_1523_thumb_Leiri1_22042010.jpgMika took off on the 20th April to higher altitudes with some other Asia Trekking’s climbers and Timo stayed in BC to recover from cough. Mika was accompanied by two Sherpas and a 16-year old Indian boy Arjun, who aims to be the youngest Indian ever summited Everest and third youngest ever.  

We departed at 5 am and the climb proceeded along an icefall, which has three parts; beginning, Popcorn and blue ice. Popcorn means that part where ice blocks are popcorn-shape like (diameter 1-5 m) and which can be rather unstable, because lower parts are usually only tens of centimeters wide and therefore poorly attached to the glacier. The sun reaches these parts of the glacier at 10.30 and after that the risk of collapse grows. On the other hand there is always a risk. Right on the popcorn, we heard sound of collapse and avalanche. There was no danger for us, but the sound made us to focus 100 % on getting forward. We reached the top of the icefall at 8.30 am and camp 1 at 9. After a brief break we started setting up tents and cooking. Sherpas are able to carry very respectable amount of stuff, double of the amount I can carry, but they are not often blessed with cooking skills. We saw Everest and Lhotse routes from that point and it was confusing that Lhotse wall did not seem very steep, more like walkable and not a blue ice wall, which steepness is 60%.  

We retired early and that night we experienced strong mountain winds for the first time (30 knots/s). Our tent made horrifying noise. I was glad that the tent was attached to the snow with half meter aluminium anchors. We had radio contact to bc in the morning and according to the weather forecast the wind got milder. We took off and climbed nearly to camp 2 at 6352 m. After reaching day’s objective, it was time descend. Air is so thin that even descending does not go very quickly. We left camp 1 as it was.  

Upper part of the icefall was even fun when it was possible to slide down at certain points. However, all the fun was away and we got more serious when we saw that one big serac had collapsed. It had left such marks that we shut up and proceeded as fast as possible through that area. We heard afterwards that the serac had not caused any damage to any climbers.   We walked down the lower part of the icefall in a very hot weather, but almost all tiring experiences were away after nourishing meal at base camp. I think that we have to put more emphasis on getting enough nutrition in the future. Timo ascended to camp 1 on 21th and I will follow the day after. The following day we will continue to camp 2. That climb lasts for two days and we plan to go to see the Lhotse wall. According to the original schedule, the route to the camp 3 will be ready today.  

And then some information on ’fauna’. There are two dogs at higher altitudes of the Everest; one, called Mellary, on the northern side and one, Hillary, here on Nepalese side of Everest. Hillary is the particular dog I saw during our last Puja. He lives in Himalaya Rescue Association’s camp and accompanies fellow climbers even up to camp 2, where he has his own bowl and food. I was told that Hillary’s pawns have adjusted to climbing; he is very skilled and can climb to c2 without any help, but routes are not always those ice doctors recommend. Hillary’s audition is excellent, he hears glacier’s movements and simply refuses to go to areas, which he thinks can collapse or are dangerous in other way.  

This blog will hopefully be updated around the 26th April. After that we have only one climb up to the next camp where continue acclimatization. At that point we aim at climbing to 6800 m.  

Everything is going well. Regards!
...

Acclimatisation at 5600 m and 5800 m9/3/2015 3:09:20 PM

IMG_1452_Aklimatisaatioharjoituksia.jpg

At the breakfast Mika had a cup of coffee and Timo chose something else, which was very wise. At 5 am we were on our way along the Kumbu icefall. The morning was magical; the sun rose at 5 am and it highlighted glacier’s deep blue colors. Our goal was to ascend and start return at 10 am at the latest. Climbing the icefall made us think about our camp’s location on the glacier. Several times in the night we hear glaciers movements as sharp snaps. The icefall is literally in continuous movement.  

Ascend was accompanied with heavy breathing and scruntching sounds of crampons. Getting used to half of sea level’s oxygen pressure takes time, but this a good start. Seracs got bigger and we did not feel taking it too slow, but tried to thread between them and keep up comfortable pace. It was exciting to cross crevasses along ladders, especially with crampons. Helmet camera video gave more interesting picture of the crossing. At times it would have been better to have eyes on something else that ladder attachments. Our journey continued until Mika enjoyed his lunch inversely at 5 600 m and he decided to return, because the same ascend is due on 20th April on our way to camp 1. Timo continued couple hundreds of meters upwards.  

Tomorrow we will get a mountain puja and after that we will bring next camp’s equipment up and stay there overnight.

...

Mountain puja on Khumbu glacier9/3/2015 3:09:45 PM

IMG_1497_thumb_C1.jpgWe got our last blessing on Khumbu glacier. Puja was slightly different from previous ones and nature added its own effects to the event; a serac on a nearby mountain wall came grumbling down making impressive sound. It was very impressive.

The puja itself proceeded familiar pattern, but with additional festivity like dancing, refreshments and most of all, happy spirits. The end of the puja was more social, a mix of several languages buzzing over the glacier. Other Finns, Tomi, Mikko and Joni, attended puja and after that we exchanged experiences.  

Soon our attention was caught by a mix-breed dog, which ran towards the base camp followed by its owner. My understanding did not quite comprehend how the dog had made its way over all crevasses. It felt also improbable that the owner would have carried sizeable dog at 5 400 m.  

Apa Sherpa was there and nice coincidence was that our partner Suunto is also Apa Sherpa’s partner. We decided to take a picture of three of us. The contrast was interesting; first timers and a man who is on his 20th climb to Mt. Everest.  

Next camp’s equipments are packed and tomorrow we will have an early wake-up call at 4 am. We should be arriving to camp 1 by 9 am. The camp lies at 6 100 m and it will be our first night there. Next blog update can be expected on Wed evening or Thu morning.

...

Base camp 5 360 m9/3/2015 3:10:09 PM

IMG_1438_BaseCam.jpgWe arrived to base camp on the 15th April in the evening. During that day we have been thinking about the basic meaning of this journey and purpose of subjectively set objectives. When departing Lobutche in the morning, I felt weakening impact of both fever and thin air. A headache added to the experience and during the trek I had plenty of time to think how it might feel if after 3 yrs training I could not reach base camp for example due to altitude sickness.  

Lama Geshi emphasized in his prayer the meaning of wisdom and how there always is the stronger and wiser person. It is worth while listening to wisdom. I also remembered my father’s words “the track will be beautiful when skiing slowly” and this goes also for trekking. The objective of this journey is daring when thinking about our background. Training has required commitment, which will be measured in physical and mental strength. Reaching high altitudes is not one-time achievement, but outcome of many long-term factors.  

We do not think about the summit, but we set clear goals and try to proceed as planned where possible. First goal was to reach the base camp in a good health and we partly succeeded; we reached the base camp, but there have been some minor temporary health issues. The next goal is to climb Khumbu icefall to 5 900 m, which is the one of the most dangerous parts of the whole climb. Also circumstances start to challenge climbers; the temperature drops to minus 10-15 degrees in the night and rises to +25 degrees by 10 o’clock in the morning. We hope to wake up after good night sleep at 4 am tomorrow. Early start is essential, because at that hour the temperature is at its coldest and the icefall more stabile.  

There are 11 Finns at the base camp at the moment and at the arrival we met three of them. It is hard to estimate the total number of climber at the camp, but rough estimation is 300. Two Canadians from our group decided yesterday to return back. The other has been on every continent’s, except Asia’s, highest mountains and the other one climbed 100 m away from Mt. Everest summit two years ago. These decisions made us very silent.

...

Snow9/3/2015 3:10:19 PM

IMG_1413_Thumb_16042010.jpgLast couple of days have been dusty. Sand dust particles are very small and if there is any wind, the dust goes to ears, eyes and nose. I presume that this does not necessarily make ascending to higher altitudes easier.  Someone might have heard my thoughts, because when I opened my eyes in the morning, the ground was covered in white and there was no dust! Snowfall had cleared the air. The sun was extremely bright, reflecting from the snow to such an extent that I had to put on already level 4 sunglasses and despite of the protection I had to squint.  

We ascended in a calm pace from 4 400 m to Thukla at 4 600 m. From there we had a pleasant ascend to  5 000 m, where we were greeted by a stunning scenery towards Tibetian plateau, Pumor, Nuptse and several other mountains.  

When we arrived to Lobutche (4 950 m) and had a nap right after checking in. This is the last stop before the base camp and also the last night in a guest house. We will be establishing the base camp on the 15th April and hopefully I will be able to update the blog then. The base camp is a popular, but also challenging destination on treks; about 25 000 trekkers visit the camp every year.  

We woke up hearing a helicopter and witnessed how one trekker’s journey ended in Lobutche. The diagnosis was altitude sickness and the trekker had to be transported to lower altitudes. Thin air is not challenging to humans, but also machines; the helicopter took off extremely slowly.  

We are doing ok. 

...

Dingpoche – 4410m9/3/2015 3:09:55 PM

IMG_1367_thumb_13042010.jpgLast light was very windy and it made buildings’ loose parts to rumble is such a way that I hoped that I would have slept in a tent. Later in the night the wind calmed down and at the breakfast we got beautiful views to Mt. Everest and Lhotse.

This is a remarkable day; sherpas and trekkers go to get a blessing before continuing to the mountain. We were given a blessing by “High Lama” Geshe who lives in Pangpoche village at 4000 m. The ceremony was very impressing and each one of us got a blessing. Lama Geshe is highly educated Buddhist, an elderly gentleman. The reason we went to see this particular Lama is that he is specialized in blessing expeditions. All Sherpas, who have gotten blessing from the Lama, have survived the mountain. In addition to blessing, the Lama gives instructions. One advice is to show a written blessing to the mountain before summiting.  The ceremony continued with discussion despite of the language barrier and Lama told us Buddhism. Discussion was in Sherpas’ own language, translated to Nepalese and then to English. Dawa Sherpa’s thought that some parts were a little bit too “Buddha technical”. As a summary it can be said that good will is present everywhere and in everyone. Lama’s wish: ”Give up all intension to harm others from your heart and do your best to benefit them all. If each and everyone feel the universal responsibility to do so, we will enjoy the feast of peace!” Instead of the usual Puja a prayer was said, which wished us success to climb to Mt. Everest and which meant to protect us from evil. Without Puja Sherpas do not want overnight on the mountain. When the ceremony ended we went to the oldest monastery in Khumbu region (over 600 yrs) to give our scarves to gods.

We continued slowly towards Dingpoche and arrived there in time accompanied by rising wind. The scenery reminded us of Finland’s Kilpisjärvi region and especially Lake Somasjärvi despite of the surrounding 8 000 m peaks. I got a headache which was mended by couple cups of tea. Moday is the acclimatization day. We ascended to 5000 m according to Suunto monitors. Everything is going well.
 
PS. One detail about previous blog (Khumbu), which has caused some discussion about places and their meaning. Officially Khumbu belongs to Solu-Khumbu region (Solu means lowland and Khumbu highland), which opens from Kathmandu towards Mt. Everest. Regional administration locates in Solu Saller, which is the capital. However, when we talk about Khumbu, it has not official capital and Namche Bazar is said to be Sherpas’ capital. Earlier Khumjung was the capital of Kumbu Sherpas. Sherpa called Namche started to do business in his home region, couple of hours away from Chumjung. Little by little Namche became the central market place of Khumbu region and was called Namche Bazar. The village became Sherpas’ capital. Sherpa (Sher=east and Pa=human) means nation that came from the east, from Tibetan highlands. Therefore, it is natural that in spoken language Solu Saller is not held as a capital. ...

Tengboche 3847m9/3/2015 3:10:28 PM

AlamäestäYlämäkeen_IMG_1315_thumb.jpgI woke up almost soaking at 6.30 am and wondered what is going on. It took a while to understand that fever I got last night had gone and I had sweated a lot. The fever might have been body’s natural response to stomach flu I had gotten earlier. I thought about resting for one day to get rid of the flu, but finally I decided to continue with others but listen to my body and rest whenever necessary.
 
efore departure we took an admiring look at a 7-ton garbage pile which was behind the guest house. What’s in garbage to admire? Perhaps not in the garbage itself, but the work 2 previous EcoEverest expeditions’ Sherpas have done when bringing such a great amount of garbage back from the mountains. Garbage is mostly from camps 1 and 2. It cannot be said that Sherpas would do this because of earnings, compensation is 100 rupees/kg (1euro = ca. 94 rupees).   

Approximately at 10 am we had already gone the half of today’s trek. We had descended about 500 m to a valley between Chumjung and Tengboche and ascended 500 m after lunch. At 11 am it got windier, which got dry land’s dust swirling again around us.  

We arrived in Tengboche in time and visited a monk monastery during their afternoon prayer. History of the monastery dates back at least 350 years and the building has been renovated after 1989 fire. After the prayer we got back and saw Mt. Everest south summit for the first time, locating 5 km higher than we.

In the evening we enjoyed luxurious amount of 10 litre bathing water, which was welcome to wash away three days sweat and dust. Evenings are already routine: supper, one cold beer, no not really, instead of a cold drink we try to update the blog before retiring. ...

Acclimatisation continues – 3850m9/3/2015 3:10:38 PM

IMG_1255_thumb_09042010.jpgWe left Apa Sherpa’s Guest House at 9 am, but Apa had it very busy and barely got going. Everyone in the village wanted to wish good luck and wishes were accompanied with different kind of rites. Apa’s brother, monk Dhawa gave us Buddhist blessing and we were given also silk scarves, which is a Khumbu way to say goodbye.

 

We walked along the same valley as yesterday. Timo was about 50 m behind Mika, who managed to scare some kind of mountain goat. The goat sprang across the path, just front of Timo, who was at least as startled as the goat. It was a pity that I did not have my camera ready, Timo’s expression and moves were something to remember. We arrived in Khumjung right after noon.

 

Our purpose was to remain at the same altitude, at 3800 m. We haven’t had symptoms of altitude sickness. Heart rate in rest is below 50 and oxygen level high. Everything is going as well as it can be. We are eager to ascend higher, but it is better to stick to the plan. Tomorrow we have a long day, because we cross the valley and ascend back to 3800 m.

 

We will proceed as follows:

10. Tengboche 3870m

11. Dingboche 4343m

12. Acclimatisation

13. Lobuche 4915m

14. Acclimatisation

15. Base camp 5380m

 

From the base camp we start our six-week trek at Mt. Everest.

...

Apa Sherpa's home - 3800m9/3/2015 3:10:48 PM

IMG_1239_Thumb_08042010.jpgWhen thinking about this day it seems that nothing significant happened, but when thinking again:

 

We departed quite late at 10 am, because today’s trek was not that long. We ascended to the top of Namche Bazar’s neigbouring top, from where we had a great view to the village and nearby mountains. I was pondering about dimensions and thought that summits rising over 6 000 m seemed very respectable, but some one commented them to be “small mountains”. We continued through a bushy valley edge towards Thamo, where we had lunch.

 

Lunch conversations covered varied topics from world issues to Finland’s history, Arctic Circle and of course the Santa Claus. Tiny Finland’s worldwide known brands, like Suunto and Nokia, rose interest and amazement. One interesting topic was innovative energy production possibilities for villages like Thamo. MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is developing technique that transforms water into energy by separating water molecules. The device would also purify water by using solar power. These type of solutions would solve world’s future energy crisis, or cause other problems.

 

During the day we ascended to Apa Sherpa’s Guest House at 3 800 m. In the beautiful evening light I tried to take some pictures, but did not succeed very well, because the new polarized filter was not quite what I thought it would be. Good to know at this point. I wrote this blod in Guest House’s dining room, where hang Guiness World Record’s certificates of merits: “Apa Sherpa (Nepal) reached the summit of Mt. Everest Xth time”, and so on. Supper was welcome and now it is time to retire. Tomorrow we trek at same altitudes before ascending higher.

...

Our first day towards Mt. Everest9/3/2015 3:10:57 PM

06042010_thumb.jpgWe woke up before alarm clock, right after 5 am and after packing we were ready to go about one hour later. After two days in Kathmandu we felt impatient and were anxious to get going towards our goal. Along the journey the mix of several languages was accompanied by growling sounds of our bus.  

At the airport everything happened in a brisk Nepalese way and baggage piles were divided into two categories: those which are sent directly to the base camp and those that are needed during approaching the BC. This is Apa Sherpa’s 20th Mt. Everest climb and understandably the happening attracted quite a lot media to the spot.   As we watched loading the plane we estimated that baggage will take all the space in the plane and that there will be another for passengers, but this was not case. After baggage was loaded, we boarded and were given cotton and candy to make the short journey more comfy. The flight took about ½ hour and flight altitude was above fog cloud so that we were able to admire beautiful mountain range. We had heard expectations raising stories about landing at Lukla airport . Landing was professional, but still rumble very interesting, because the runway incline is over 10 %.  

We had breakfast in Lukla and after that we climbers and yaks took off towards Mt. Everest. This time our steps were anything else than fast and we moved like in a slow motion. Taking it slow and trying to avoid unnecessary physical stress is essential, especially in higher altitudes. After this first 3 hr trek we arrived in Phankdung.

...

Towards Namche Bazaar9/3/2015 3:11:07 PM

IMG_1180_Thumb.jpgIt might have been a snow leopard that made guest house’s dogs bark like crazy very early in the morning, or that’s what we would like to imagine. We tried to get some more sleep for a while without much success. First symptoms of stomach problems occurred in the night and this time Mika was the first to get sick. After morning chores, tee and pancakes we continued to the halfway of today’s trek to Tawa where we had tasty pasta lunch.  

Journey continued in comfortable +25 degrees warmth. Soil was very dry and we were surrounded by a dust cloud which felt deep in our lungs despite wearing a scarf to block most of the dust. There were also forest fires, which generated a lot of smoke and reduced air quality even more. At 3 pm we felt that good that we would have passed today’s guest house in Namche Bazaar unless Dawa Steven Sherpa hadn’t directed us to the right place. Shower, laundry and a nap and it is time for supper.  

Namche is literally means trade center of Sherpas. 98% of Kumbu region’s (which capital Namche is) inhabitants are sherpas. Despite of the location there is the same selection of trekking and climbing gear as it is in Kathmandu.  

This blog was sent from Budha Cyber Café. Internet seems to be part of almost everyday life here.

...

Let the adventure begin9/3/2015 3:11:21 PM

IMG_1079_thumb.jpgOn Friday, the 2nd of April, we hoped that the luggage scale at Rovaniemi airport would show some reasonable numbers, but that was not the case. Timo and I had to pay quite a lot for overweight to get all our gear onboard. At our arrival in Kathmandu it was nice to see the sun shining and above all, warming after long and cold winter in Finland. Everything went smoothly and soon we were on our way through Kathmandu where seeing and smelling the open crematorium and graveyard caught our attention again. What a different world. In Kathmandu we met

Elizabeth Hawley, a history researcher who keeps up a database of all expeditions on Himalaya. In the evening we headed to Thamel area and eneded up having supper in legendary Run Doodle restaurant.

Today we met Dawa Steven Sherpa and Apa Sherpa who holds the world record of reaching Everest summit 19 times. This is Apa’s 20th climb and understandably it raises a lot of interest. In the meeting we got more detailed information on practical arrangements and climbing to the base camp.   Tomorrow we will purchase some more supplies. On Tuesday, the 6th April at 7.30 we fly to Lukla from where our journey towards the base camp officially begins.

...

Powder in the north9/3/2015 3:11:30 PM

IMG_0843_thmb.jpgLast weekend we headed to Lyngen, Northern Norway to test gear for the last time before our Everest expedition. One week before the trip we were not sure whether to go or not. Lyngen’s snow situation has been rather unstable with big avalanches recently and we did not want to take any unnecessary risks. We red forums on local snow situation in relaa.com and checked weather forecasts. On Monday Henttonen wrote on the forum that in Lyngen there is “super snow, and surprisingly rather stable” and that was it. On Thursday evening spirit was high as car was packed with snowboards, skis, backpacks, tents and all kinds of gadgets.
After one night in Kilpisjärvi we took off towards Lakselvbukt while the sun was rising. Edges of the road indicated at times that the snow cover of the Lyngen peninsula was somewhat thinner than last year this time, but there anyhow there was plenty of snow. We ascended to the familiar rock about 300 m from the car and after setting up the camp and noodle lunch we enjoyed the most beautiful spring day by continuing towards the slopes of Holmbuktinden.
Feelings of joy took over when we reached the coulouir befor the top, “superbahn” as we call it. Snow was superb and powder layer was even thicker than last spring. Weather was calm without a single cloud which gave excellent setting for shooting and testing new cameras.

On Saturday morning the alarm woke us up at 7.45 and while setting the alarm to wake us up later I noticed a SMS which was sent at 5 am “We passed your camp and are currently in the beginning of the couloirs. CU tomorrow or in a while ?”. I thought it was a joke and that the rest of the group, that arrived later in the evening, had stayed overnight in the car. I sent the guys a SMS while melting the snow and inquired their schedule. Soon it became clear that they really had ascended in the night to the spot they told. They had not noticed our camp and continued until the beginning of the valley.

On our way up Vinski and Antti joined our group. Weather forecast had been very accurate; after midday wind became stronger and it snowed heavily. Group of Norwegians that were right after us turned back, but we continued to Hombuktinden saddle as planned. There we dug a snow shelter so that we could have lunch and wait for better weather.

The weather did not turn any better and descending was more or less skiing blind. On the top of ‘old’ powder there was a fresh 10 cm from last night. Can snow be better? Probably not. Vow, what a ride! At Vinski’s and Antti’s camp we pondered next moves and decided to drive to Troms for the night and look for other places next day.

Changing the place was the right thing to do; Sunday morning was awesome with clear blue sky. Decided to drive to Blåtinden and at 11 am we were ascending steep hill covered with small birches. The weather showed some signs of change and we ascended without any unnecessary breaks. After couple of hours we packed skins to rucksacks and challenged each other to descend “full speed”. It was joyous to feel the powder and to be able to enjoy stunning views white snow and bright blue Arctic Ocean. Last 300 vertical meters we tried our own version of ski cross style next to a mountain brook’s couloir. It was a good combination of excitement, speed and risky situations, but none of us did want to slow down.

During a six-hour drive back home we checked new possible routes and wondered how quickly snow and weather changes from area to area over there next to Arctic Ocean. Six hours, is it a long way or not? I did not feel too excited about six hour in a car right after long day at work, but IMO it is nothing if you get experiences like this. ...

Green(ish?)9/3/2015 3:11:38 PM

IMG_2484_thumb.jpgEnvironmental issues, like climate change, pollutions and other related subjects are on the table all the time, like it should be. One question to ask is that are people becoming bored and saturated with all the green talk? Hopefully not.

 

Ignoring environmental impact of one’s own actions is irresponsible, whether at home or while travelling. Responsible traveler estimates his/her trip’s environmental impacts in advance and aims at minimizing any harm for example by using ecological transportations options.

 

Ascensio has tried to act environmentally responsible while planning and executing the trip. Our gear suppliers work constantly on diminishing their production’s carbon footprint. While in Nepal in addition to our own waste we gather and bring down from the mountain waste left there by previous trekkers. All electronic components and stoves using solar panels. Furthermore, we are looking for a Nepalese environment conservation project which we could assist financially.

 

Unpolluted environment and decelerating climate change are very important issues for Nepal, which welfare is partly dependent on successful nature conservation. Please take a minute to read Nepal Mountaineering Association’s greetings here.

...

Lappish hour9/3/2015 3:11:46 PM

IMG_0683_thumb.jpgLast weekend was an excellent example of so called Lappish hour. Here one hour is not always exactly 60 minutes, but something between 60 and 90 minutes. It is possible to reach many interesting Lappish resorts from Rovaniemi within that time span, whether you are looking for trekking or adventure.

We drove from Rovaniemi to Posio’s Korouoma on Saturday and descended 125 vertical meters to the canyon. There are two very inspiring ice falls in Korouoma, of which the other is a fall that requires leading. That fall has several routes of various difficulty up to level 5. A little bit further away is the Mammoth Fall, where setting upa top rope enables ice climbing without any previous leading experience. Mammoth Fall’s routes are shorter, but there are some challenging ones.

On Sunday morning we headed to Pyhätunturi and took one lift ride to the top of the fell.  We skied to the edge of Isokuru (‘Big Couloir’) and down to the couloir. From there we continued to Ukonhattu peak. There was some fresh snow, but the ideal moment for some telemark skiing would have been one day before. Very strong wind, which was said to be 25m/s, challenged us on the top, but it was not cold, only -8 celcius. Once again I feel very lucky to be able to combine variety of hobbies and work in such an inspiring place as Lapland is.

Distances:
Helsinki           Lappish hour
Korouoma      Lappish hour
Pyhä              Lappish hour
Luosto           Lappish hour
Suomu           Lappish hour
Ylläs               a little bit over the Lappish hour   25 days to go ...

Testing, choices, pondering and practicing9/3/2015 3:11:57 PM

IMG_0406_thumb.jpgYear 2010 begun with testing gears and training in cold temperatures. Arctic nature has shown its best with long cold period, temperatures varying from -20 to even -35 according to Suunto X10. Testing has taken place mostly in Ylläs fells and Rovaniemi surroundings, both offer versatile circumstances for testing.  We have been mostly skiing when testing the gear, which can be seen from our track diary. We have been able to train as planned and achieved targets we set us.

One important part of preparations is reading up on literature and researches on functioning at high altitudes and comparing research results to our physical performance. Mostly theoretical reading, but very interesting, see for example  Karinen, Tikkanan and Mustonen’s article on oxygen uptake http://www.lts.fi/filearc/193_s113-117_Karinen.pdf.  The average oxygen uptake of the sample group was 15ml/kg/min on the top of the Everest. Sample groups uptake at sea level altitude was 62 ml/kg/min. For example Mika’s maximum oxygen uptake is the same 62 ml/kg/min, so if everything goes well there are theoretical changes to reach the Everest using additional oxygen.

Only 7 more weekends to go. ...

Back to Pokhara and time to summarize9/3/2015 3:12:35 PM

We rested at Annapurna base camp for a few hours and after having lunch we headed towards Nayapyul. Mika has been on a diet for five days, because of stomach problems. Even though it was bittersweet to take the last look at Tent Peak, we are convinced that decision not to ascend any further yesterday was right. It would have been too risky, because of possible landslides.

Despite of physical stress of last days, we descended fast, passed Machu Puchare base camp in 40 minutes and we arrived at Bamboo around 5 pm. We spent evening with familiar routines and fell asleep at 9 pm. In the morning we woke up at 6 am and took off after one hour morning chores. We traipsed fast to the path which leads to Chamrong and climbed 400 vertical meters in burning heat. After lunch we continued steep descend and ran across to a local home appliance delivery, which gave some perspective to climbing overall.

In the afternoon we followed spectacular river Modi Khola and got shade from trees in the river valley. It would have been wonderful to take a white water rafting trip on the river. Accompanied by rafting thoughts we spent the night in the Tea House. On Saturday morning we woke up at 6 am and stone steps from previous days were just a memory. Soon we were in Nayapul where our return ride to Pokhara waited for us.

Overall, we are satisfied with the trip despite the fact that we did not have as much time we would have liked. Our guide told that he has not met a group that has done ABC (and even further) in such a short time. This was excellent training and a good introduction to some risk factors and local culture. Cleanliness and getting used to Nepalese diet is very important. Insufficient hygiene can quickly cause diarrhea. No need to say, that stomach problems lower energy levels very fast, which is not desirable when a lot of energy is needed. Mental wellbeing goes hand in hand with physical wellbeing.

During this trip we wanted to learn more about our limits and bodies’ reaction to high altitudes. Therefore we ascended rapidly. On Tuesday morning we were at 2340 and next night we spent at 3700m and the night after that at 4450 m. On Friday morning we took off at the sun rise and were encouraged to make good progress. From 4650 m we were not able to continue due to circumstances. At that point we had reached the edge of the glacier, which was surrounded by seracs. Due to lack of time we did not have the possibility to build a route through seracs. This altitude caused headache and had some impact on our ability to function. All in all, our systems adapted to altitude very well until 4000 m, but from that point onwards it is very important to reserve enough time for acclimatization.

...

Worst headache ever 9/3/2015 3:12:45 PM

I feel yesterday’s 800 vertical meters when our alarm clock wakes us up at 5.30 am. I have the worst banging headache ever and pulse is over 70 instead of normal 40+. Despite of short 3-hour sleep and tearing headache I manage to remember that our tent lies on a few square meter cliff, which is surrounded by steep 10-meter drops.

Yesterday we continued ascending from the base camp. Our original dream was to summit Tent Peak, but due to foggy circumstances we decided to ascend to Annapurna South Glacier instead. After breakfast bars and some water we headed forward with a goal to reach 5 000 m. We reached glacier at 4 651 m after a lot of zigzagging and effort, but felt immediately a little bit moody after noticing that we do not have enough time to search for safe route forward. Therefore, this was the furthest we were able to go this time. Even though we did not reach our target, we are rather happy with this training. Our ascend speed was excellent and despite of fast ascend we were able to maintain our ability of function. Now we start descending towards Pamboo.

...

ABC – 4130m 30.9.2009 11:11:13 9/3/2015 3:13:41 PM

Finally the satelite found us again! As being originally Ostrobothnian* I have to say that there are some big hills over here! In the morning we ascended forward from Machu Puchare Camp to Annapurna bace camp (4 130 m). Movements get slower even at this altitude, but we are satisfied with how everything is progressing. We will continue towards Tent Peak if we stay fit enough to ascend without any medication. The weather is moderate at the moment.

Mika Pitkämäki

*Ostrobothnia: part of western Finland, terrain very flat, highest point 231 m.

...

Head in the clouds9/3/2015 3:13:50 PM

Two stomachs, one throat and a knee are not doing so well at the moment. After some pills, our group is on the path again. Mornings are crisp and normally we would wear something warmer than a t-shirt and shorts, but we rely on the warmth of the rising sun. In addition, today’s ascend seems steep enough to keep good sweat on.

At the lunch time we heard really sad news from a Sherpa we met. Two Koreans were caught by a avalanche during their ascend towards Himchuli (6 441m) couple days ago and they have not been found. The group is staying in their camp next to ABC and continuing search, but possibilities to find the climbers are particularly non-existent. There has been avalanches on the mountains near ABC every day now.

The weather changed dramatically at 3500 m while we were reaching the clouds. The temperature dropped nearly 10 degrees and fog and breeze added the feeling of cool. Our target today was Machu Puchare camp (3 700 m), which we reached at 4 pm. We would have the energy to reach ABC today, but due to short acclimatization we spend the night at lower altitudes. After a meal at a Nepalese tea house, the non-electrified base camp and surrounding clouds cradle us to sleep at 8.30 pm, literally head in the clouds.

 

Mika Pitkämäki

...

Life is all about choices 9/3/2015 3:14:07 PM

-25 degrees, strong northern wind and perhaps blizzard or relaxed one and a half our full service lunch break in comfortable temperature in a casino? Circumstances vary a lot when we start ascend to one of the world’s highest mountains. These choices are nothing compared to those we will meet later along our trip and those we will encounter next year while trying to achieve our ultimate goal.
While packing lots of layers and ice gear it is hard to imagine that our journey toward towards on the highest mountains starts from such a comfy circumstances. But so it is. The sun is sinking and coloring nearby summits in red, but the scenery will soon be covered with dark clouds, thunder and heavy rain. This is a perfect example of rapidly changing weather that I have only heard of.
In my thoughts I am already living the next day.

...

Katmandu9/3/2015 3:14:16 PM

Before we headed to Katmandu I read an article called ‘Mystic Katmandu’. After our arrival I immediately saw and felt why the article was named as it was. We arrived at Katmandu after a night in a plane and stayed in a cozy hotel in Lazinbat area, which is located near the buzz of Thamel.

We had a quick tour to Katmandu’s center while the evening sun was casting its magical light to nearby mountains. We popped in to some stores which were filled with mountaineering and climbing gear. The city felt even more mystical when the night got darker and headed to Durbar Square temple plaza.

Check out the recently opened Nepal photo gallery.

...

Pokhara9/3/2015 3:14:25 PM

We have left the burning sun and smog of Katmandu behind us and are heading towards the mountains. The number one festival of the year, Dashain, mixes up our schedule. People are celebrating or hope to be celebrating. Dashain equals Christmas in Christian cultures.
After intense negotiation with airport security personnel about bringing poles to the flight and 1 ½ hours delay we took off. We were warmly welcomed to the flight. Landing at recently paved runway and +29 fresh mountain air lifted our spirit.
Shangri La Hotel’s pool and chilled Everest beer made our day. After gear update at Lakeside trekking shop we enjoyed dinner with our local friends Ailsa and Ganga. We are giving in the sandman now and looking forward to starting our ascend to Annapurna.

...

Gears, apparels, clothes in one bunch. 9/3/2015 3:14:34 PM

I was a bit smiling while watching bunch of gears at my home. During last month we agreed team co-operation with essential partners like Vaude, Edelrid, Scarpa, Suunto, Mund, Komperdell.

Next actual activity is to go to Nepal and negotiate all services needed in next spring. After that we will fly to Pokhara and trek (or almost run) to basecamp of Annapurna (4130m). If the weather allows, the team will try to reach the Tent peak (5615m) during one night. Time window is very short and we won’t have time to wait if the weather is bad. Without decent (Long enough) acclimation, the ascent will be quite rough.

The team will attend to Ski Expo and have few lesions during weekend 30.10-1.11.2009. We will have at least one session about preparing climbing to Mt. Everest around theme “Real life Fight club”. Actual agenda and schedule will be announced in this site later.

...

Some more training: rafting, running and adventure9/3/2015 3:14:43 PM

The world championships rafting team took part also to the national rafting championships in early June. We defended our last year's win and succeeded. During midsummer festival Mika took part to the Finland's most chanllenging half marathon in Ylläs sport resort. The route ascended 178 m, which had to be run twice. Mika's time was 1.40:00, which is ok considering the tough route. Mika took part to the Arctic Circle 24 extreme competition on 10 - 11th July (www.arcticcircle24.com). You can check the route and each team's performance and progression on the map at GPS Follow up . Mika's team was called Kukkulan Kuninkaat (Kings of the hill). Timewise the team was the third, but because of a mistake during the last orienteering route the team was disqualified. The team entered prohibited area by mistake. The 24-hour adventure, which consisted of mountain bikiing, rafting and orienteering, was good practice in endurance and it took more than 11 000 Kcal of energy.

...
Bookmark and Share