Thursday, April 28, 2016

Serious Sports

Taking sports seriously. Or Siriously. Sirious Sports is an adventure place in Pyhtää, Finland. They have skydiving and surfing simulators.

The skydiving simulator was something that I had experienced once before, a huge fan blowing air through a funnel where you can float in the air flying past you. The remarkable thing about this is that skydiving always looks so easy. But it turns out to be pretty difficult, for me at least. Controlling your movements so that your hands and legs are in balance is tough. Fortunately, the simulators come with instructors that will catch you and help you balance. That was definitely needed even on my second visit to a simulator. Olli and Janne had their first visit in a simulator.

Now we all are wondering how it would feel if we practiced it a bit more. Pyhtää is an hour and half from Helsinki, so it is not that far, but still a drive. There's also the issue of cost. Surfing is relatively cheap at Sirius Sports, 25€ for an hour per person in a group lesson. As a part of a group, you'll get to surf enough, and fall enough, so that this is more than enough. Flying is more expensive though, just two minutes costs 60€ for a beginner. That being said, I was sore after one minute of flying and an hour of surfing...

In any case, the costs do come down for the non-beginners and for groups. We should return some day. This is also a great destination for company team events, kid's parties and the like.

But a surfing simulator was a totally new experience for me. I couldn't even figure out how it would work. I imagined a giant wave generator in a pool, but it turned out to be something far simpler and easier: water being sprayed at high speed along a surface formed like a wave. If you fall, the water will carry you to the top of the "wave", water disappears in the drain, and you walk to the side.

And surfing on this nice, soft surface was a lot of fun. And surprisingly easy, though wobbly at first. Much recommended!

Photos and videos (c) 2016 by Jari Arkko and Olli Arkko. This blog is also available at the TGR site. Tämä blogi löytyy myös suomeksi Relaasta.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Smuggler's Cave, Salo

Salo, southern Finland. More than an hour away by car, and we've been in the forest for an hour now. The cave is nowhere to be found. I have coordinates, but in the wrong coordinate system and Google isn't co-operating to interpret them in the right way.

Finally, however, Janne sees the cave as we walk in circles in the hills in the forest.

Rosvoluola [1,2], or the smuggler's cave, turns out to be interesting. Once again we find ourselves in a cave that is large by Finnish standards. The actual cave is said to be 25 meters, all side channels included, but there is a long route under boulders leading to it, perhaps another 20 meters, and there are crack systems running horizontal and vertical and on many levels.

The cave can be easily reached by driving a forest road here, and the coordinates of the cave itself can be found here.

Photos and videos (c) 2016 by Jari Arkko and Janne Arkko. This blog is also available at TGR. Tämä blogi löytyy myös suomeksi Relaasta.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Paraguay on miniskis

Have skis, can carry snow, will ski anything. First descent of Paraguay's highest mountain, Cerro Tres Kandú.

After ten days of meetings in Buenos Aires, I was so exhausted that I spent the day after pretty much unable to move from my hotel room sofa. But, after only a day of rest I was itching for an adventure, and I still had another day before my flights to the next meeting.

I have skied many places in South America, but I had never been in Paraguay. Is there something I could ski? The rational answer would be "no", given that the country lies mostly in the tropical plains. However, the are a few hills in the eastern side of the country, Cerro Tres Kandú being the highest point at 840 meters.

Maybe there's a way? After some phone calls and Internet searches, I had flight tickets, a hotel, and a driver for the 10-hour roundtrip to the mountain from Asunción. Definitely a crazy adventure with no certain results, and two far too early wake-ups for flights. But, hey, we only live once.

It was very unclear if I'd be able to find ice, or what the conditions on the mountain would be. My hotel's concierge thought there was a small walk of about a kilometer to the top. Which, of course turned out to be a 600-meter vertical climb through the jungle. That took three hours...

On the positive side, I had acquired plenty of ice from a gas station along the way. And I was very glad that I had a good driver. Even with our four-wheel drive van, the road was barely passable. I would not have had a chance with a regular rental car.

Once we reached the end of the road, I packed maybe 15 kilos of the ice onto my backpack, and headed up. The path was walkable, though with some difficult sections with climbing over rocks, holding on to lianas and cables, and some no-fall places above cliffs. On the return it was more difficult, with the darkness and slippery mud making things more complex.

At the top there is an abandoned communications link and army station. The view that opens to the other side of the mountain from the station is incredible, however. The mountain rises from the surrounding plains, and I was standing on top of a vertical cliff, overlooking a sunset.

I emptied my ice bags at the top, skied a few meters, and headed down in a hurry before the darkness fell. Fortunately, I had a headlamp as the it became very dark as soon as entered back to the forest.

Was this the first descent of Cerro Tres Kandú on skis? Probably. The only time there's been ice on ground on it? Probably. Or any descent in Paraguay? Possibly. Unfortunately, the form of the mountain did not allow me to make a longer ski run, like I had done on Gunung Agung and other places. But you get what you get.

I'm very happy about making this visit, the view into the sunset from the top in particular was spectacular. I'm also happy that the broken ribs seem to be healing well enough that I can do this kind of climbs. On to the next adventures!

Photos and videos (c) 2016 by Jari Arkko. This blog article is also available on TGR. Tämä blogi löytyy myös suomeksi Relaasta.