Video from our Svalbard sail&ski trip with Ice Axe Expeditions
Video by Lauri Aapro
Ode is a UIAGM/IFGMA certified mountain guide and a member of SBO (Swedish mountain guide association). With over twenty-five years of experience in skiing, snowboarding and climbing, with friends and with guests, Ode has developed a philosophy that riding and climbing should ultimately be as safe and as much fun as possible.
Steepness, grade and difficulty do not matter as long as the snow is good and the spirit on the team is high. Ode is more than happy to teach skills and techniques as well as provide unforgettable memories and unique experiences in the mountains.
Ode is a highly experienced and safe guide for everything from multi-pitch sport routes to alpine granite and classic alpinism. Climb everything from ice or mixed to big north faces, or why not the search for deep, fresh powder in the trees or beautiful ski tours on the peaks and glaciers? Courses on glacier travel, avalanche safety, climbing and freeriding can be custom tailored to the client’s needs.
Prices for guiding start from 360€ per day + expenses.
Prices for bigger and more committing climbs are in line with the local guiding bureau.
Freefly coaching and load organizing on demand
Send an email and let the dream happen!
The drive to the mountains and freefly skydiving has been strong and interests various. Besides guiding in the mountains, Ode has done some beautiful first descents on snowboard and skis in northern Norway, first snowboard descents from Mont Blanc’s Col de la Brenva and from Mount McKinley’s West Rib route.
As for climbing, Ode has climbed a couple of 8a sport routes, M8+ mixed routes and WI6+ on ice.
In the mountains, some of his biggest achievements have been the Heckmaier Route on the North Face of the Eiger and the Slovenian route on the North Face of Les Grandes Jorasses.
In freeflying, Ode holds a Finnish national record (20 way) in 2011 and Nordic record (39way) in 2011 and European record (96way) in 2013. Ode is also coaching freeflying in the legendary freefly camps FlajFlaj in Elsinore,California, Dynamite Days in Romania and Voss Freefly festival in Norway.
Despite all these achievements, Ode still believes the most important thing is being safe and having fun in the mountains with nice people, doing whatever the conditions are good for and experiencing unforgettable times.
Video from our Svalbard sail&ski trip with Ice Axe Expeditions
Video by Lauri Aapro
Skitouring and wild adventures on the Antarctic peninsula.
Photos by Tucker Patton / Triplepoint Expeditions
Antarctica has always been my dream. The last frontier of wild, untouched nature. The ocean, the mountains and more ice you’ve ever seen in your life, as far away from civilisation as one can get. A hard place to get to and unforgiving to live on even during these modern times. A place where explorers go, where there is still new wonders of nature to be discovered. Until last year, I never really figured out a way to get there reasonably cheap and still experience the nature how I want to experience it: by skiing and climbing.
The Antarctic cruise is a unique opportunity to experience Antarctica’s mind-blowing nature and to set foot and ski on this world’s wildest and most pristine continent. The trip is organised by Californian company, IceAxe Expeditions. The founder of IceAxe Expeditions, Doug Stoup, is the world’s leading polar explorer and has skied to North- and South poles more than anyone before, done first descents all over the world and is now leading expeditions to both poles as well as other exotic locations and doing all kinds of good things for the environment, science, charity and all of us fellow skiers who get to ski the Antarctica and the world with him.
Long time ago, after visiting the peninsula for the first time, Doug had a dream to charter a boat and come back with a bunch of his best friends and ski these beautiful peaks and glaciers. And here we are, over 10 years later, skiing these wild, beautiful mountains off a luxury ship. A dream come true for many people.
The adventure begins from the Southernmost tip of Argentina, the mythic city of Ushuaia. Beginning of November we pack our bags and head towards South. We recommend people to arrive in Ushuaia a few days early to make sure all the luggage arrives in time and to go skiing and training on the near by mountains and glaciers. It’s funny to start the skiing seson in spring conditions in the beginning of November when Europe is preparing for the winter. The program in Ushuaia is normally a few days of nice skitouring with fellow guides to shake off the stiffness after 30+ hours of travelling, enjoying Argentinian food and wine and getting to know the people. There’s a guide’s orientation meeting, training day with clients and a general get together with everybody.
Day 1, The cruise starts from Ushuaia. We pile all the equipment, bags and skis, onto a huge mountain of gear in the hotel lobby, from where it is taken to our cabins on our ship, the Sea Adventurer. We will set sail and cruise through the Beagle channel, towards the Cape Horn and the open waters of the Drake passage. We start the action with lifeboat and emergency training as we travel through the Beagle channel. It is an easy start to the sea voyage, waters are calm and people get used to being on a boat. Captain’s welcome cocktails and dinner set us happily on the way.
Our ship, the Sea Adventurer, was built in Yugoslavia in 1975. She is a 1A class ice reinforced ship and perfect for the wild and unforgiving waters of the Antarctic and Arctic. The ship is owned by a Canadian company, Quark Expeditions, who are the leading operator in the Antarctic and Arctic adventure cruises. The Sea Adventurer can carry around a 100 passengers and almost the same number of crew, sailors, expedition staff and hotel- and restaurant personel. All the staff on board are fantastic! Super friendly and professional, happy and helpful. You have a feeling of being in a five-star hotel but still visiting and experiencing the wildest nature in the world. Our captain has more than 30 years of experience on the icy waters of extreme North and South and Quark Expeditions being the best there is, we were in good hands.
During the first night on board we will hit the open waters of the notorious Drake passage. This 800 kilometers long stretch of open ocean is the meeting point of Atlantic-, Pacific- and Southern Oceans and one of the stormiest corners in the world’s oceans. Antarctic Circumpolar Current, world’s biggest current, flows around the Antarctic continent and this keeps warm ocean waters away from Antarctica, enabling that continent to maintain its huge ice sheet. The Drake is rich with nutrients, krill and plankton, which attracts fish, whales, seals, penguins, albatrosses and a wealth of other species. Wildlife spotting on the Drake is phenomenal. During our crossings we have Albatross and Petrels to keep us company while effortlessly soaring over the ship and swooping the waves. Last year we came across a pack of 30-50 Humpback whales. Our captain stopped the ship and the whales were curious enough to come see us and to give us quite a show for half an hour.
The Drake crossing takes us three days. The life on the ship is full of interesting events. Besides eating 3-4 times a day and watching birds and whales, there are also interesting lectures by the mountain guides or Quark specialists. The Quark Expedition staff are awesome! Their job is to run day by day operations during the expedition, drive the Zodiacs, take us to shore to ski, organise wildlife watching and to keep us safe and in line. They are the real experts in polar expeditions and nature. Among them there are marine biologists, ornithologists, historian, geologist, medical specialists, kayak- and wild water guides, boat captains, park rangers etc. Their experience and knowledge is unbelievable and through out the trip they shared their knowledge about history of the Antarctic, polar expeditions, whaling, adventures, wildlife, ice, rocks, snow and water. They really help you to get best out of your trip, super interesting! There are also mountain guides from all around the world and their experiences and stories from the mountains around the world are quite something also.
This year we were the first expedition of the season so all the ice- and weather conditions were mostly unknown. We would have to take it step by step following the conditions given, nature sets the rules and we are just visiting. As we were approaching the peninsula it became clear that this year the amount of sea-ice was greater than usually and floating masses of ice and icebergs slowed us down considerably and made us a bit late for the next day’s skiing objectives. Big waves, a snowstorm and a huge looming low pressure system on the Drake on our West side added up the spice with the ice. We were all quite relieved to arrive to the sheltered waters of the Antarctic peninsula.
Day 4. First ski day. Chiriguano Bay. Mt. Victoria and the Farm. The day started off with lowest of the low pressures imaginable. According to the weather maps and barometer, we should have gone through a hurricane but finally being sheltered by the peninsula it was not too bad. We did spend most of the morning on a weather hold though. High winds, 60 knots in the gusts, and white-out kept us on the ship until lunch. When the captain with 17 years of experience starts taking photos of the barometer, you know there’s something special going on. The needle of the barometer dropped below the charts and was actually resting on the metal framing of the meter, that’s how low it went.
Around noon it cleared and calmed enough for the Zodiac drivers to put the boats on the water and start driving the ski groups through the drifting ice on to the shore we we could actually start to put our skins on and start going uphill. We started off from the Mt Victoria in a reasonably good conditions. Well it was a bit of a white out but still kinda ok visibility. It had snowed the night before, which it does not often happen in Antarctica, so we actually had some fresh turns. We skinned up towards the summit but the bad visibility and a threatening seracs stopped us after a something like 400 meters of skinning. After a decent powder run in ok visibility we called in a Zodiac and changed the location to the other side of the bay to go ski at the area we call the Farm. We got to shore with a welcoming committee from the Gentoo penguins, had a shot of Yhden Tähden Jallu (famous Finnish drink) and got going in a deteriorating weather. We got on the way and after something like 500-600 meters of skinning we got in to a full on blizzard and were forced to turn back because we could barely see our rope team of 5 people. Actually the skiing was good! Visibility was a bit limited but hey, when ever you get to do powder turns in Antarctica it’s da bomb! So the game is on: first day of skiing in Antarctica in the pocket and spirits were high!
The contrast between the life on the ship and skiing on the mountains is extraordinary: Every day you see and experience some wonder of nature you’ve never seen in your life, something new, beautiful and unforgettable. We get to ski some of the wildest terrain imaginable, huge mountains and glaciers, more ice and snow one can imagine, cruise between the icebergs with a Zodiac, see penguins and seals and whales and be far away from everything else in the world. But when we have had enough of skiing and glaciers for the day, we call in a Zodiac pick-up to take us back to the ship where there is awesome food, water, warmth, shower, dry clothes and five star service to answer your needs. Normally in an environment like this you’d be living in a tent, melting water from snow to drink and eat, trying to stay safe and warm and alive while camping out on the snow. But we are very lucky and spoiled to be able to enjoy and experience Antarctic this luxurious way and still ski.
Every morning between 0400-0600 we started the day with a guide meeting. We would go through the day’s objectives, plan the day, assess the risks, study photographs and see the conditions and prepare ourselves the best we can for the day of skiing. Guiding on the huge glaciers over the water can be tricky sometimes. Lots of crevasses and hanging seracs everywhere, big terrain, big exposure. We send out two Zodiacs first thing in the morning to scout out the landing sites where we can actually start bringing people onshore. Sometimes we needed to shovel a lot of snow to be able to go ashore, sometimes the swells were too big to safely land. As we are very far from the nearest rescue service and a potential accident can have very serious consequences, we were happy to take the exposure- and risk level as low as we possibly could.
I love those early morning Zodiac scouting missions between the icebergs and floating ice. It’s a real feel of adventure while you’re cruising in a small Zodiac, trying to find a way through the ice that’s hitting the boat on all sides and bottom, snowing, waves, weather, it’s fucking awesome! One morning we stepped onshore, thigh deep powder, just to find a Fur seal stick his head out from the fresh snow just 5 meters from us and a Gentoo penguin hanging out next to him. Wonders of nature one can only come across in Antarctica.
Our 5th. morning was sunny and beautiful. Everybody headed out early to enjoy nice spring day of skitouring and skiing. Bluebird day and good snow, what more can one ask..? In the afternoon we go for a Zodiac cruise to see an old Swedish whaling ship Governören, that shipwrecked in the area. Of course we see a few seals, penguins and cormorans on the way. We also picked up some old glacier ice to take to the bartenders, who make ice sculptures to go with our cocktails when we get back to the ship. It’s just crazy…
We were cruising with a ship on the western side of the peninsula, sheltered in between the islands. We would spend the day in anchor, skiing and doing our thing and then start moving towards the next destination in the evening and over night. Where we could go, depended solely on the winds and the sea-ice. We could never know in advance, it’s all weather dependant and comes down to the Captain and his judgement. I was happy not to be in his shoes, lots of decision making to do. We had the coolest captain who wanted to take us to places so we were all good!
On our 6th morning we woke up to a full on blizzard. It was obvious that we would not be skiing any time soon. We did manage to get some Zodiacs in the water and to go scout the landing to Port Lockroy. After some serious shovelling in a snowstorm and strong wind, we managed to establish a landing and get onshore to this old research station, nowadays turned into a museum. Port Lockroy is not generally open to public but we got a special permit for a visit, as long as we would shovel the living quarters clear of snow for the staff arriving a few days later. Port Lockroy area is an active Gentoo penguin colony and it was funny to see these little creatures wonder around in the blizzard doing their penguin business. It was not as funny to shovel one year’s worth of penguin guano mixed with snow. Penguins don’t have any natural enemies on land so they were fearless and curious. It’s funny to sit down on the snow and let them come to see you and check you out.
In the afternoon we headed South towards the famous Lemaire channel. Lemaire is a narrow strait surrounded by very steep and impressive mountains: big walls of snow and ice, seracs, summits, couloirs, rock walls and glaciers. Lemaire is ofter blocked by sea-ice this early in the spring but now it was relatively free of ice and we managed to traverse to the other side where there is some amazing skiing terrain and famous summits.
We spent the evening eyeing the lines and taking in the scenery. There were some remarkable lines and summits around us everybody was quite amped up for the next day. In the morning we realised that the floating sea-ice on the shore would stop us in many places and prevent us from going ashore, which was a bit disappointing but nature sets the rules so we look elsewhere. We did manage to get on shore on one of the main objectives on the foot of the famous Mt. Mill. The captain and our expedition leader Alex, were keeping their eyes open for the fast moving sea-ice throughout the day. We skied a full day but we were on alert all the time because of the huge amount of sea-ice that was constantly moving and might move in and block our return route through Lemaire channel. Luckily winds stayed the same and we got a full day of skiing in on Mt. Mill.
Mt. Mill starts as a nice and mellow glacier skin straight out from the water. As we skin up, it continues to get steeper and steeper on this nice open glacier face that ends up on a nice shoulder with a steepening pitch towards the summit ridge. The snow was firm and at some point we put our skis in the backpack and switched into crampons and ice axe. We did not ski from the summit because it was steep and icy but we did climb up to the top to take a look and hang out on a summit for a bit. Such a cool experience to take a look in to the other side towards the South pole and the immense glaciers that continue as far as the eye can see. We took it easy skiing the steep parts but when we got down to the lower angle stuff we could open up a bit and cruise fast down this pool-table-flat surface of grippy cold snow. Such a pleasure! Mt. Mill was also the Southern most part of our trip this time, we reached 65° 15” degrees South. We start to make our way North.
As we travel through the Lemaire we come across a unreal sight. A family of five Orcas are travelling the same direction as us. The captain slows the ship to their speed and we travel side by side for twenty minutes, sharing the same waterway, us going skiing towards North and the orcas travelling to their family heritage hunting grounds further East. Another dream come true to see these magnificent animals from so close and have our marine biologist Jimmy to tell us more about them and their habits. In the evening we anchor close to Danco island and it’s Adelé penguin colony. After dinner we go to ashore to watch the sunset with the penguins. Yes, how sick is that!? Sunset watch with penguins in Antarctica…
The day number eight lands us straight back to the weather hold with snowstorm and white-out. Fresh powder on the deck is looking promising and as we do our scouting we come up with almost a meter of fresh pow. Serious avalanche danger to take into consideration and limits our terrain. We do manage to find some super good Antarctic pow on a good terrain and everybody skis a full day. A rare powder day down South! Stoke is high. As we come back to the ship, the crew have prepared us a polar plunge, meaning a refreshing swim in the sea. The water is cold. The program for the evening is the White Party! Everybody would jump into a white costume and party hard until dawn! Big fun!
The next morning dawned early for me, scout boats out at 0500 and go get some fresh air and spot landings for Zodiacs, not too much sleep but good life. Half of the people were on a slow motion after the party and quite a few people started the day by visiting the near by Chinstrap penguin colony and get some fresh air before skiing. After we got enough of the chinstraps we headed over to the other side of the bay to go skiing some very interesting terrain with ridges, faces and couloirs. Definitely the most enjoyable skiing terrain so far on the trip. We skied a few cool lines on a good snow and headed back to the ship happy but at the same time a bit blue because the next thing was to head back North towards the civilisation.
Magnificent sunset and towering icebergs wish us well on the way over the Drake passage and towards Cape Horn. Nice sunset was just calm before the storm. Luckily this time we did get a proper Drake shake in a form a solid class A storm with over 10 meter swells and strong winds up to 80 knots. I woke up in the middle of the night being trashed around in our cabin with other flying objects and Einar from Iceland around me. I tied myself to the bed with a sling and tried to sleep. Always good to witness the immense forces of the nature and still be reasonably safe in a solid ship. Experience not to be missed. Even these modern days it’s no joke to sail the Antarctic waters. A fellow ship, Ocean Endeavour, was cruising the same waters when hit an iceberg at 14 knots just before leaving to cross the Drake passage, but had to stop for 16 hours of repairs and still were forced to cross the passage with a hole in a hull. Another ship suffered a fire in the engine room and had to be evacuated by British Navy.
Besides a good shake, our crossing was uneventful. We did enjoy interesting presentations and slide shows, ate well and rested in-between the parties. It was a bit sad to arrive in Ushuaia and say good bye’s to all the amazing people. We stayed a few days in town, visited museum and went hiking in a beautiful Terra del Fuego national park.
It’s hard to describe the experience with words. I have travelled to many remote corners of the world but this remains as one of my favourite destinations and wildest experiences. I hope I can go back and I highly recommend it to anybody who loves wild nature and skiing.
Big, huge thanks to Doug Stoup and Karyn Stanley for putting this together, Quark Expeditions for taking care of us, fellow guides for good times and the team Make, Mikko, Jeff and Carl for being awesome and all the rest of you who made it possible and unforgettable!
Special thanks for:
Rossignol skis and snowboards
This summer in Chamonix has been short for me, too much travelling. I managed to pull off few little climbs here and there, some work, some not. We have been following Rebuffat’s and Contamine’s footsteps on good granite, ticking off alpine classics and every once and a while enjoyed little Italian treats. Here a few photos from the Alps this summer.
Airspace Sequential is this super cool invitational freefly event in Belgium organised by Airspace Indoor Skydiving and Steve and Magali Braff. I got the invite and of course went to fly! The jumps were organised by Matt Hill and Mike Wittenburg. The plan was to invite about 24 flyers and go do cool skydives. Mike and Matt had planned some really nice jumps for us. Sometimes the group cut in half to do 12ways and sometimes we did 24ways.
We would try one plan one or two times but then move on to a next one, that way we got lots of different types of flying going and not get frustrated of same plans. It worked really well and everybody had a good time. The ambiance was relaxed and people were laughing a lot and the flying was good. Sometimes the plans were more technical and sometimes more relaxed. It was so nice to be organised for a change. The people were sick flyers and everybody worked well together. I hope this thing happens again!
Thanks Airspace, Steve, Maggie, Jonas, Mike, Matt, Kim, Heffie and all you great people!
Video by Ewan Cowie and Gustavo Cabana
Still images by Gustavo Cabana
We finally got to go to Aiguille du Grepon East face to climb one of the ultra classic granite routes in the Mont Blanc range: Grepon-Mer de Glace with Sami Modenius and Cyrilde Pic. It’s a long, easy and beautiful route on a big and complex face. The route follows ledges and weaknesses and if one stays on a good route, it’s not hard climbing, more like fun 850 meters of good, fun granite. For me it’s been one of the classic summits in the Mont Blanc range but not until now I got to give it a try. Weather forecast looked good and everybody had the time so up to the Envers hut we went. We hiked slowly to save energy and not sweat too much. Our gardienne Eve took good care of us as always, fed us well and showed us our room for a few hours of sleep. Evening was beautiful with sun and the moon playing together and the night was cold and full of stars. Snow at the glacier was freezing so everything looked good for the early morning start.
We woke up early and hiked in the dark, being at the rimaye just as it was getting bright enough to see without headlamps. Rimaye passed easy and the first slippery and cold ramps took us well on the way, still in the dark shadows. Climbing was easy but fun, the rock good and route finding went well. We stopped for a second breakfast on a good ledge few hundred meters up to enjoy the sunrise.
The route continued nice and easy and the rock got even better. It was so much fun to move on a good granite with nice, constant pace and just enjoy climbing on a classic route with good friends. Nice, warm weather, nobody else on the mountain, good rock, good wibe.
Towards the end of the route the climbing good really good, the pitches steeper and after the legendary Knubel crack the Madonna greeted us on the summit. And what a cool summit! Small, flat with a rock to sit on and a madonna to watch over us. So nice! Thanks Sami and Cyrilde!
Haute Route is a classic high alpine skitour from Chamonix or Verbier to Zermatt. We started from Verbier and had planned to do the trip in 5 days. Bad weather greeted us un Verbier and after trying to get on the way in the white out and storm, we decided to go around the storm and start the trip from Arolla. Mountains require flexibility and our gamble paid off. We go back on track through Arolla and got well on the way. Easy day took us to the Cabane de Dix where we stayed a night and enjoyed a nice sunset. The next day was a summit day of Pigne d’Arolla with beautiful views over Swiss Alps. The day started nice and sweet but then of course it turned into full-on white-out and snowstorm when we were closing the summit. Nice beautiful skitour turned into a nice storm and a bit tricky navigation. Luckily the storm cleared off enough at the col to ski down with reasonable light and the descent to Vignette hut was nice and sweet.
The day from Vignette hut to Bertol hut was beautiful. Sunny and nice all day with some of the most spectacular views over Valais alps. The way up the first part was nice and flat with only 600 meters of vertical and few kilometres of distance. The skiing on the other side was long, nice and smooth with lots of room for fresh tracks. A good, fun run. The day was still far from over because we still needed to 800 meters of vertical to the hut and the temperatures were high. It was a sweaty afternoon but it made the cold beer taste even better when we reached the hut. The hut is in a quite spectacular spot high up on a ridge and the sunsets are mind-blowing. We got lucky.
The last day of the Haute Route is the one. It’s long, beautiful and can be complex if the weather is not good or the glacier is tricky. We woke up to a beautiful morning, sun rising, no wind, a little bit cold, perfect. The way up was easy but beautiful. A little lunch at the col watching the Matterhorn Dent d’Herens and we started our descent towards Zermatt. First in powder, then in perfect spring snow. The skiing is good, terrain fun and interesting and you can choose from a few little variations. It’s a long, fine descent passing through some very impressive mountain terrain. Highly recommended! The end of the run is quite adventurous and of course we ended up doing a little bushwhack but finally managed to ski all the way down to the village of Zermatt and well deserved pizza.
Thanks Adventure Partners, Make and Teija, Henkka, Kari, Jatta and Kirsi! Good times!
Photos by: Jaka Skorjanc, Cyrilde Pic, Marco Gaiani and Ode Siivonen
I flew from Los Angeles and 2 weeks of skydiving under the Southern California sun, straight to snowy Petropavlovsk in Eastern Russia in a mind numbing 35-hour travel. Quite a contrast in culture and landscape but such a nice feeling to finally see a little bit of this mythic place I have heard so much about!
Kamchatka turned out to be a trip of a lifetime! Imagine heliskiing in some of the wildest terrain in the world, landing on active volcanoes puffing smoke just next to you with one meter of soft, light powder snow, couloirs and beautiful faces, magnificent forest with nice features and jumps and cool lines to ride as far as the eye can see. Skiing untouched powder all day long until your legs are burning, have a little luxury field lunch by the sea or a river. Salmon, meat, cheese, soup, cafe and chocolate next to the helicopter and sometimes champagne before flying back home. Getting spoiled. Dipping into a wild, volcanic pool somewhere in the middle of nowhere during or after a skiing day, seeing bears, seals, eagles and other wildlife. Just an unreal experience!
We’d start the day with early breakfast and guide’s meeting where we go through the weather and the day’s options. We prepare the equipment and lunch for the day and get picked up by the helicopter outside our hotel. We flew with 3 helicopters but with good planning and communication we barely saw the other two. Still it’s good to know they are there if ever we needed one. The area where we can fly is huge and the possibilities where to ski are almost endless. Lead guides know the area well and their powder nose hunted down some very fun terrain and snow to ride. We can choose between huge volcanoes, stunning fjords, couloirs, faces, spines, forests or even an volcano island outside the main peninsula. Or if one wants, it’s even possible to do a few days helicopter safari where you fly all over the peninsula and explore even further. I think we did up to 16 runs per day. In a nutshell: Amazing skiing and snowboarding!
Cyrilde pulled out her speedride canopy and enjoyed a few nice flights on one of the big volcanoes. It looked so much fun flying in the air and sometimes cruising in deep pow. We did some follow cam filming and got a few good images and fun riding. Speedriding seemed to interess a lot of people so in the future we hope to see more speedriders cruising down the volcanoes.
At the hotel we spent our evenings eating, chilling, drinking and socialising. I got to meet cool and extremely interesting people, guides and clients, with so many different experiences in life that it was very exiting and entertaining to hear all the crazy things people have gone through. We had a party with a local band, enjoyed champage and strawberries and of course vodka and caviar, ate giant crabs and amazing seafood. During a bad weather day we went to see the city of Petropavlovsk to go bouldering indoors and also did a nice skitour and a dogsled safari. Sauna, two volcanic swimming pools and a cold water pool at the hotel guaranteed a daily chill out relax experience to the max.
All the amazing terrain and nature, skiing and snowboarding and friendly people definitely made this trip one of the most memorable trips I have ever done and I hope to return!
For more info email me or contact www.vertikalny-mir.com/en/ or www.heliski-russia.com
Big thanks to professional crew of Vertikalnyi Mir and Heliski Russia for having me! Lead guides Nikolay, Marco, Ralf and Jossi as well as the local Russian aspirant guides Max, Nikita, Victor, Sergey and Maria and Ludmila and other staff members to make everything run safe and smooth. Chapeau!
FlajFlaj, two weeks of phenomenal fun in the air and on the ground with 120 skydivers from all over the world! Need to say more?
Once again the one and only Peter Nilsson and his amazing crew and Skydive Elsinore put together the biggest skills camp there is. What a ride again! We jumped monday to friday up to 9 jumps a day with different groups, sick fun, sick flying. For the coaches it’s a great event, you get to fly with lot of people and the DZ makes sure everybody gets to jump a lot and every evening the coaches get to fly together for a jump or two. For the participants it is particularly interesting because the coaches line-up in amazing with many multiple world champion flyers and some of the best flyers, coaches and organisers in the world! So if you ever feel like flying a lot and want to learn new things about flying your body, you should definitely do yourself a favour and sign up for next year’s FlajFlaj!
During the weekend people spread out all over SoCal doing different things. We finally made it to one of the most legendary rock climbing spots in Unites States, Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua Tree is on the Mojave desert in Southern California and the park is named after the actual Joshua Trees. It’s almost 3200 square kilometres of desert filled with rocks, blocks, boulders and small walls of yellow, very good quality rock that makes a climber run around like a madman and wanting to climb everything. I had only shoes and a chalk bag with me and I ended up running left and right, bouldering where ever I found a nice feature to climb and solo up easy, little stuff I knew I was not gonna fall off and just generally being very exited about all the beautiful features to climb and rock to touch. Different shapes and forms of rock and the beautiful holds just makes you want to climb everywhere, touch all the soft scoops and stick your fingers into cracks. Watching the sunset in the desert from the summit and seeing the bright stars and moon come out made the experience very rich and I hope to go back soon.
This autumn has been a very busy and incredibly amazing in all aspects. In the beginning of October I started getting ready for three different trips and activities around the world. At first the plan was to have a family climbing and beach holiday in Croatia and then have some time off before heading to Argentina and Antarctic where I’d work guiding ski touring for Ice Axe Expeditions. Things started to get interesting when I got a message from my viking freeflyer friend Marius Sotberg from Team Berserk, who invited me to do a week of freely coaching at his famous camp, The Berserk camp at Skydive Spain, Seville. I was very happy to be invited for this and of course could not say no to an offer like that. I knew it would require some serious organising to pull off the schedule like that but it all sounded so good that I had to try my best to pull it off.
So, I ended up skydiving in Seville, followed by a family holiday in Italy and Croatia and after that I’d travel straight to Ushuaia, Argentina and from there to Antarctic! Pretty sick! Between these three trips I’d have only a very limited time at home so I had to pack the gear for all the trips before to be able to bag them all. So after a few days of running left and right and packing I was standing on top of three piles of gear and ready to go big.
Berserk freefly camp at Skydive Spain, Seville
At the Berserk camp the plan was to do five days of jumping, 7 jumps a day with good briefing and debriefing so the people would get the most out of it. We were three coaches, Marius, Kim Törnwall and myself. We’d be jumping 8ways with the same group and then switch the groups every few days. It was so much fun! We had very good flyers and people participating on the camp and the Skydive Spain staff did an amazing job making us fly as much as we could despite some bad weather and unexpected holding because of the Spanish Air force. The camp was a big success and people were happy, me probably the most. Huge thanks to Marius and Kim, you guys are the best! Skydive Spain staff Ana, Corine and Carlotta for getting us up in the air and all the participants who were going Berserk! I hope we can fly and spend more time with this crew because it was for sure very good flying and very good times!
I got home from Seville at Sunday night and the plan was to jump in the car with the girls and start the holiday roadtrip the next morning. I was happy to have the bags packed already and just load them in the car. We headed off in the morning towards Venice, Italy to see some culture and ride in a gondola. Venice was kinda nice but very expensive and touristic. But still it was cool to see some very old history and cruise in a gondola with an original gondolieri who was singing and telling history and stories about the old town and buildings.
Croatia beach and climbing
From Venice we drove to through Slovenia to Croatia and to the national park of Paclenica. We rented a nice apartment from Mr. Dinko and went climbing to this nice canyon with hundreds of routes with very easy access. Super nice spot but catabatic winds from the East were somewhat lessening the experience and we had to dress up like in winter. No drama though since the climbing was so nice, though somewhat polished. But easy access with kids and nice scenery were totally worth the visit.
The real gem of the trip was the island of Hvar and this lovely little resort called Cliffbase. www.cliffbase.com. This very friendly Slovenian dude called Miro had put up the place some 13 years ago, built a refuge in the old harbour and bolted some 130 routes on this amazing sea cliff. It’s like a little climbing paradise by the sea and there’s amazing limestone. Just perfect little spot. You’d have your cafe and watch the sunrise by the sea, tape the fingers at your couch and then walk 5 meters to the cliff, put up a toprope for kids, climb a bit, swim, climb more, eat lunch, climb more, play, swim, climb and repeat. There’s kayaks and canoes to play with as well as a 300 meter traverse above the water with some amazing sculpted limestone. Just perfect! Super easy with kids and very stress free. Holidays.
Antarctic peninsula with Ice Axe Expeditions
November 5th we set sail from Ushuaia, Argentina with our vessel, Sea Adventurer. Double rainbow on the Beagle channel got us happily on the way towards the notorious Drake passage, 600 nautical miles of open water between Cap Horn and Antarctic. Two day cruise on the Drake was very calm and enjoyable with Wondering Albatrosses, Petrels and a pod 20-50 of Humpback whales who were very curious and gave us an amazing show. On the morning of the 3rd day we woke up to a breathtaking scenery of mountains, huge icepack, sunshine, sea and icebergs. We had arrived to Antarctic!
I have been travelling left and right but Antarctic peninsula is by far the wildest and the most beautiful place I have ever been. The scenery is just unreal with more ice and snow than I have ever seen in my life and incredible mountains to ride and climb all over the place. The first day turned out to be the best weather-wise and luckily we got the best out of it. In the morning after a scouting mission we did a nice little run from the shoulder of Mt. Victoria on hard but grippy snow and after a five-star lunch at the ship we hit “the Farm” for the afternoon laps. Excellent spring snow and surprise powder pockets on a very impressive ice-sculpted terrain hit the spot nicely for everybody and down by the Zodiacs there were bunch of happy campers ready to get some more. What a welcome!
Our concept was a mix of ski- and snowboard touring in the wildest imaginable terrain on big mountains and glaciers and then at the same time high-class living on a luxurious ship. We slept in our comfortable cabins on the ship and then in the morning the very capable staff of Quark Expeditions took us to the shore with Zodiacs to ride basically untouched mountains. The contrast of the wild, unspoiled landscape of the Antarctic compared to the high quality accommodation and living on the ship is just an unreal combinaison. A real wild adventure with five-star luxuries and red carpet treatment. Getting spoiled big time.
Our days started with a guide’s meeting at the top of the bridge at 05:50 where we took a look at the mountains and areas where we would be skiing and then we’d continue the meeting with some discussion about different options as well as what kinda hazards there were to take into consideration on each particular spot. We’d send out some scout boats to check the Zodiac landings and coordinates for safe return in case of bad weather etc. There was a lot of weather, swell, tide and wind to take into consideration when planning the day and in order to play it as safe as possible. Our expedition leader Alex was well on top of things and from the bridge of the Sea Adventurer, he ran the logistics and communication centre between all the guides and Zodiac drivers. We were in very good hands. Normally in the morning we’d ski something somewhere, then return to the ship for some lunch and go out again for the afternoon laps in an another spot. This year we had quite a bit of weather, snowstorms and high winds topped up with bad visibility so we were forced to play it very conservative but still managed to get some good fun runs in and even quite a bit of Antarctic powder, which is a rare gem because it does not snow a lot there.
Skiing can be challenging because snow can ofter be hard and icy, the glaciers are big and sometimes very exposed with risk of slipping and sliding on a hard snow, crevasses everywhere and huge seracs hanging all over the place. No letting the guard down here but with safety in mind and playing it safe, one can have some mind-blowing riding in an amazing setting of ice, snow, glaciers, sea, icebergs, whales, seals, penguins and good friends! Don’t expect to ride the best powder runs of your life but the overall experience is something indecent! Here you have to take the difficulty and exposure down a few notches, here you don’t want to fuck up and hurt yourself, the help is far and there’s no helicopter rescue around the corner. But play it a bit conservatively and as safe as one can and enjoy the ride!
Antarctic cruise is not just a skiing trip. It’s more of an experience not to be missed! Besides touring and skiing we had a lot of interesting things to do and see. Every day on the ship we would have very interesting lectures from our Quark crew. From Hadleigh about history of Antarctic expeditions, life on the sea and ice and history of whaling in the Southern seas. Our ornithologist Santiago gave lectures about penguins, albatross, petrels etc. We learned a lot about whales and sea life by our good marine biologist Jimmy. Thanks Hadleigh, Santiago and Jimmy! Awesome stuff! Also lectures and slideshows by other guides were really interesting with some very cool stories and experiences to be shared!
And of course there was a happy hour at the bar at around 17:00 with different themes like Margarita, Mojito, Hot Rhum and a lot of little finger food like sushi etc. before dinner. Oh yeah, the food. Well, this is the only ski touring trip where you will come back home with a heli belly. So yes, food is amazing and there’s a lot of it. “Sir, would you like a 5th dessert..?” “Sure Richard, bring it on thank you!” And a word of warning… There is also the legendary and notorious Black and White party, no more info about that, just come and see for yourself…
And when we wanted or needed to go see some penguins or seals or look for whales or find old, clear ice for our cocktails in the bar or just go for a cruise in-between the icebergs, our fantastic crew of Zodiac drivers took us there for a fun ride! They also showed us some amazing driving- and seaman skills during some very hairy storms and windy weather. Extremely good handling Christian, Sean, Alison, Emily and all the rest of you amazing people!
Did we see penguins..? Yeah, a few… thousand! They were everywhere we went. We’d go to the shore and they’d be there waiting, looking what we were up to and waddling to see us or hop into the sea for some swim and fish. Funny little creatures, they will put a smile on your face, guaranteed! It’s a funny feeling to go up skiing through the penguin rookeries and to see those guys wondering around the icepack doing I don’t know what in the storm there.
For me the trip was just unreal. It’s difficult to come up with enough positive words to describe all the experiences, endless fun, emotions and beauty that we run across during the journey. Next year’s dates are online so waste no time if you want to get a seriously unforgettable experience that’s gonna blow your mind!
It is on! 7.-19. November 2015 http://www.iceaxe.tv/expedition/antarctic-peninsula-adventure-cruise-2015/
Huge thanks for Ice Axe Expeditions, Doug Stoup and Karyn Stanley for putting together this amazing journey and taking me along, Quark Expeditions and especially Alex for their extremely professional organising, working hard to get us onshore and also excellent lectures! Thank you colleague guides for your experience, talent and professionalism and taking a rookie under your wings! And most of all, big, huge, thanks for Mikko, Esa and Kjesti and all the people on board who made the trip as MEGA as it was!
In the meantime, if you want to snowboard, ski or climb in Chamonix during the winter, freefly at the legendary camp FlajFlaj www.flajflaj.com in California in March, take part in the Ice Axe’s Spitzbergen or Greenland ski- and sail expeditions or go heliskiing in Kamchatka with Heliski Russia, just give me a shout and we’ll make it happen. Don’t be lazy, get in there!
All right, be safe, be good, speaks later!
Please don’t hesitate to contact me via email or the phone.Email. firstname.lastname@example.org +33 6 12 53 16 09