Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

The Week in Review


News & Various:

Devin from the boilerworks went to visit the shop where the Backcountry Boiler is being made.

If you're a ham-fisted klutz or cloth-headed nincompoops, stay away from Mark's MYOG video for an alcohol stove.

Grizzly Adam wrote a very instructive "How To: Backcountry Ski" Guide, here is Part One and Part Two.

In that same vein but for more flat and rolling terrain, I introduced the skis, bindings and boots I'm using for my backcountry cross country skiing.

Robin made a ULA Ohm Mod worth checking out.

Chris Wallace started a new blog under a new domain, OutdoorsWith.Me. Go have a look, say hello and update your RSS feed.

Gustav recommends you go out and try making a quinzhee and I totally agree with him. Tomas on the other hand prefers Igloos.

Johan from Nordic Bushcraft discloses some information on being comfortably in the cold.

Planning to walk in the hills and mountains? An ice axe is a useful tool to have, and here's a REI Guide on how to choose an ice axe.

The year started with an interview of Jotaro Yoshida, the owner of LOCUS GEAR. Learn where Jotaro takes his inspiration from when designing his gear, and what his philosophy is.

Brawny elaborates on How Much Money one needs to hike a Long Trail, while Ryan explains Through-Hike Resupply Planning. Mandatory reading for all thru-hikers to be.

Joe elaborates on running.

Jon shares the Photo Tip of the Year. You take photos? Read this tip.

Patrick asks "What do you get from a Walk?"

Nick has some photos from Tuesday's Partial Solar Eclipse up on his blog.

Carsten calls out for the UL Community 2010 Awards.

Phil writes about the Joy of Standardised Connectors. I wish I could share his joy (Do you read that, Apple et al.?).

Mr. Howell writes about The Human Race and its Stewardship of the Environment. Call yourself an outdoorsy person? Read this.

Nick calls out the "No More Gear Year". Are you on board?

Solar Eclipse 014

Trip Reports:

Miguel wrote a stunning post, accompanied by serene photos. Cold Dry Wind is a recommended read.

Ben walked the Appalachian trail in 2010. His photos from this epic journey are some of the finest from the AT, and you should most definitely check them out.

Another top-notch trip report is from Eugene's hike in the White Mountain Wilderness.

Alberto went for a freeriding session in the Dolomites. Gorgeous.

John shares a snowy desert scene with us. It is stunning.

Jim had a New Year's day after Hike.

Joshua hiked to Ka'iwa Ridge to watch the sun rise.

Kurt and Jadder went the Rennsteig in Winter. Beautiful German winter scenary.

Dan and Meena present Chapter 6 of The Nepal Chronicles.

Alex went for an ascent of Stob Coire nan Lochan.

Joseph found The Glow on the way to work on a sunny November morning.

Peter and Toni went for the first bikepacking overnighter of 2011.

Fraser went Snowshoeing in the Ochils.

Kicking the shit off his shoes is Peter.

Solar Eclipse 010

Fear of the Gear:

Andy reviews the Amazon Kindle 3.

Mr. ULG takes a look (and a video) at the Titanium Goat Vortex Cylinder Stove.

Damien shares with us his first impressions of the Altra Adam minimalist shoes.

Mr. Turner likes to play it save, and hence carries an Adventure Medical Kit. Check out his review on three different kits - and yes, there's an UL version available!

Roger shares his observations on gear which he used on his last winter trip. Planning to go winter camping? Then have a look.

New Spot Connect - Turn Smartphones into Personal Satellite Communicators.

Grannygear has some new bikepacking gear: A 'Layered' Shelter approach.

Dave explains awesome underquilt attachment to hammocks.

Izzy wrote a very in-depth article on Pocket Knives (for Kids): When, How To Introduce & What Kind.

Backcountry Cross Country Skiing

In case you didn't know - and you may be forgiven, as governments, train companies, and people in general seem to be surprised every year again - it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere. As I live in Finland, winter, snow, ice and -20°C temperatures are not so much a surprise to me, but business as usual - roughly from the beginning of December till the end of April, longer the further north you go or the more global warming (cooling ?!) advances. What does that mean? It means to travel at an efficient speed in the backcountry, skis or snowshoes are a must - except you're a masochist who enjoys potholing in hip-deep snow. I shall have a look at the former today.

A loipe on the lake going off into the distance, on a fine sunny day.

Have a good look at that photo above. That is the freedom and beauty of winter backpacking. Crisp temperatures, the sun is out, likely not a lot of people around, the sound of birds in the forest, making your own trail where no one has gone before. Winter backpacking is epic. One just needs to kick the inner laziness and get out. Getting out is all that it's about. Gear helps. Like skis in winter.

I am sporting a pair of <a href="http://www.madshus.com/skis/glittertind-mgv-plus"target="_blank">Madshus Glittertind MGV+ Ski</a> in 195 cm lenght, including the <a href="http://www.rottefella.no/en/Products/BC/BC-Manual/"target="_blank">Rottefella Backcountry Manual binding</a> they are 1270 g per Ski or 2540 g for the pair. As far as I am concerned, that is fairly light and optimal for my needs. Speaking of needs, I will be skiing on prepared tracks and off-piste with these, through forests and in the fjells of Lapland. No Alpine stuff thus. Besides my (near) daily rounds on the lake and hill next door they will see seven solid weeks of action up north. So once the snow is gone - in May - I will report back on how they performed.

The Sidecut is 68-55-62 mm on these babies, the tip rise is a bit over 8 cm and they have a full length steel edge.

The Rottefella BC binding, chosen for its ease of use and being lightweight.

The MultiGrip Vario+ (MGV+) Wax-Free Base. I'm lazy, carrying and playing around with wax is none of my interests so I went for a wax-free base version.

To ski you needs boots. I decided to stay with Madshus and took a pair of <a href="http://www.madshus.com/boots/glittertind-bc"Target="_blank">Glittertind BC Boots</a>, as they're made for the backcountry and the skis I chose. They're 802 g a piece (Size 43), or 1604 g for the pair. While on the screen that looks heavy, in the snow on the skis they're not. Why? Because when I ski it is a kick-and-glide, kick-and-glide move where lifting feet is not an issue - you lift your feet so minimal that they weight is not much of a factor - even if making my own trail in virgin snow. They're also spectacularly warm with the Thinsulate inner. They have a lace cover which is breathable and keeps the snow at bay, very, very handy. In the front they have a little sort-of D-Ring, which works very well to hook my MLD Snow Gaiters in. For the skiing they're perfect, walking is a bit odd - but that could be down to me now being used to boots anymore. I like them.

The Glittertind BC Boots worn and open with a look at the inside, and mounted.

Now we're almost ready. What's missing? Poles, right. I use an old, hand-me-down pair of skiing poles from exel, which come in at 201 g per pole or 402 g for the pair, which ain't shabby. They have a fixed length of 150 cm and are perfect for me. No photo of these, sorry.

In the loipe I made the previous day. The Glittertind skis are slightly wider than normal cross country/ loipe skis, but I have no problems with skiing in it. I usually go for a kilometer or so on the loipe, and then make my own trail and head back (You can see my skiing trips on <a href="http://www.everytrail.com/profile.php?user_id=244271"target="_blank">my EveryTrail profile</a>).

Breaking trail. Frozen lakes are sweet.

In comparison, my fiancée's cross-country skis, a good ten to fifteen years old, weigh in at 864 g per ski (1728 g/ pair) and her boots (they're actually more like sneakers, very low cut) are 457 g per boot (914 g/ pair). They're lighter, but solely for the loipe - making your own trail with these is a pain in the butt and you have wet feet asap. No multipurpose.

Respect the Loipe - don't walk on it. I will hit you with my skiing poles if you do.

So that is my skiing gear. In the two and half weeks I have used them now I am super happy with them, but the long term test coming will tell more. May, I reckon, a review will go up. Yeah. The skis came recommended by <a href="http://thunderinthenight.blogspot.com/"target="_blank">Mr. Newton</a>, so I expect they will be Tuff Stuff!

If you're living in Finland and want to enjoy the snow, have a look at your local <a href="http://www.partioaitta.fi/tmp_partioaitta_site_1.asp?lang=1&sua=1&s=13775&q=y"target="_Blank">Partioaitta</a> shop, they have the whole setup I have. <a href="http://intersport.fi/"target="_blank">Intersport</a> and <a href="http://www.sportia-pekka.fi/"target="_blank">Sportia Pekka</a> as well have Madshus skis, and if none of these are close to you check from <a href="http://hjorth.fi/"target="_blank">Hjorth</a>, the Finnish Distributor, where you can find a pair. Those abroad should check the <a href="http://www.madshus.com/"target="_blank">Madshus</a> and <a href="http://www.rottefella.no/"target="_blank">Rottefella</a> websites for a dealer near them. In the USA REI has the above <a href="http://bit.ly/17xrvCk"target="_blank">skis</a> and <a href="http://bit.ly/19VKuw6"target="_blank">boots</a> while <a href="http://bit.ly/131V0vk"target="_blank">CampSaver.com</a> should have them soon again (and for a very low price, too!)

Saw a Yeti here in Finland - imagine!