Thursday 29 December 2011

Kellostapuli - 500 something meters (maybe even 400 something)

In the last couple of months none of the mountain posts on this site have been on a mountain under 6000 meters. Well, I thought I had to change this fact to make the alps feel big again, so I went ski touring in Finland. 

Kellostapuli is a knoll just north of the finnish ski resort Ylläs in finnish Lappland. It could be called the off-piste mountain in this area and this is where I did my first ski tour a long time ago. I think I was almost fourteen years old and at that time these hills where real mountains to me. I remember the feeling of passing the ski area boundary all by my self on my telemark skis. It was a huge step to journey in to the unknown and ski the steeps for the first time. 

I was venturing on forbidden land. I don't think my parents even knew where I had gone, but it was all part of my breaking loose from my own mental chains. For every step up the mountain, what had been familiar entered in to the world I called my own, and it was one of the nicest feelings of freedom I had ever experienced. There was a laughter from inside of me telling me through sensation that; this is life! 

For the years to come i would climb this mountain innumerable times and then ski down the north and north west sides, get about two hounded vertical meters of skiing, cross the lake and then walk back to my family's cottage. I came to become the ritual that finished off every worthy ski day back then. 

Now, some fifteen years after my first ski tour adventure I were once again back where it all started for me. Being somehow used to fifteen hour ascents I was pretty relived when it now took fifteen minutes to get to the top. 

Looking at the surroundings, a smile came to my lips and I could remember the feelings of exhilaration I had a long time ago. 

After five turns down the north west face I hit the tree line and the stratugis changed to light powder snow. For a minute or so I enjoyed playing around the trees in perfect conditions before I arrived at the cross country track and the lake. 

Half way over the lake i turn around and look at my latest ski. It didn't look neither big nor steep anymore, but being on a mountain alone, whether it's big or small, always gives me feelings of peace and joy. For me thats two of the best things to experience in life. 

Ylläs seen from the approach to Kellostapuli

Ylläs seen from the top of Kellostapuli 

Kesänki seen from the top of Kellostapuli

The ski down the north west face

Kellostapuli seen from Kesänkijärvi

Ylläs seen from our porch 

Ylläs - Christmas above the arctic circle

Numb toes, burning cheeks and brain freeze - that can normally describe skiing in the north around christmas time. And of course i got my share of these extraordinary sensations this time as well even though it felt warmer than i remember is normal. 

The last time I spent the christmas in the finnish ski resort Ylläs must have been ten years ago, and I must say it felt like coming home. When i was a kid we always used to go there at least a couple of time every year to the cabin my grandfather built in the seventies. It was here that i first learnt to ski and where i did my first adventures in the mountains. It was here that I truly fell in love with skiing and it was here that I really learnt how much it means to spend time with my family. 

When I was free to do as i please, bigger mountains and adventures put their spell on me and I felt like I didn't have the time for the little knolls in the north. Maybe I felt the same thing for the family, but it sounds heartless to put it in to words. 

But things change, and so do people and in the same pace that the game is getting transparent, the feelings for what inherit value recur. Mountains can for sure bustle up the process. 

So this christmas I had the fortune to hang out with mum and dad, one of my cousins and her boyfriend, my once and his wife as well as my grandfather. It was a great gathering with lots of good food, wine, treats as well as early morning race training, long days in the slope, followed by some cross-country skiing and a short ski tour. Its simply amazing to spend time with the family, and I value it more and more the older I get. I can't wait for the next time! 

Check out the ski area at
And the best bar at

This is as light as it gets at this time of the year

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Saturday 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I wish all of you friends out there a great feast and a good start of the new year!


Winter white trees in a landscape of black and white in a place called home. Only the warmth shining from a house here and there is lighting up the countryside. This is a world without shadows. There are only contrasts from what’s here and there, nothing more, nothing less.
It’s a place born out of stillness, and some how it feels like it never started moving. The grey cluds are holding the villages and the forest in a firm grip to protect the creatures from the sun that barely manage to climb the horizon.

When I breathe I get a mild sensation in my nostrils of sticky cold from the lowlands blended with moisture from the ocean.  It reminds me of when I was a kid.

Yes, this is my roots, and I can sense the wave of memories wanting to overtake me behind every corner. But I’m trying to be strong; I don’t want to plunge in to the stream of remembrance and thought. It is here that I want to be, in this moment, and I want to enjoy the sensations of now, because they will pass sooner than later. Time is always short.

In between every grand adventure life takes me on, I want to land, it only for a day – where the seed of all dreams where planted.

I want to dive in to the familiar feelings and grasp the sensation of belonging to something. And even though external adventures are almost practically impossible in this choked winter landscape, that for me is standing still – I immerse myself in to an inner journey tasting of calm, distress and joy, half eaten by the rats and mice of time.

But I have to be fair to this place. In the greyness of tediousness my dreams galloped in the opposite direction and lifted me, took me away. In a world that meant nothing to me as a child I created my own little utopia and saved up the energy, just like a little boy saving up for his first bike, to someday fly to where I belonged.

Nowadays I thrive when I’m back home. I lean in to the past and I give a loving smile to that boy I once knew. I’m kind of proud of him.

Now though, everything has changed. What was once a prison leading to dreams of escape is now only a winter landscape dressed in grey.  When it doesn’t try to hold me back, I can see the beauty of it all and the meaning other people find in it.

I can see the beauty in a landscape of black and white, with warmth and love shining from houses in the cold; the beauty of the memories from the past or from the low clouds giving the countryside a hug, somehow trying to substitute the sun.

Contrast, cold, feelings of emptiness, memories once again trying to sneak in and a prison wall with marks from my escape. The old feelings have vanished. What’s left is only what I once called home.

Thursday 22 December 2011

The andes ski adventure - Episode 5, Aconcagua, Argentina

The last episode of our autumn escapade through the andes is here at last. In this one we are taking on Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside of Asia. We get to walk some gravel, endure some hard winds, enjoy some good falafels, freeze our toes of and finally actually ski some nice turns. 
If you like this move, check out more of Bjarne Sahlen’s great mountain movies at his video blog at:

Wednesday 14 December 2011

The forth episode on

The latest episode is up on US ski mag; Powder’s webpage. Check it out here follow us to Bolivia

Finnish ski blog is paying attention to our sandy ski of Nevado Sajama. Check it out here

The Bolivia episode on

The Bolivia episode is now up on Check it out here!

The andes ski adventure - Episode 4, Mercedario, Argentina

Finally, here it is, the forth episode from our adventure through the andes. After the longest approach in our lives we finally arrived at the south face of Mercedario - a face that we came to call the Dream face. And that, it truly was. Almost 2000 vertical meters of continuos skiing at a perfect quasi steep angle. It made up for the torture i experienced on the way up. 
Enjoy this one, and check out more of filmer Bjarne Sahlén’s mountain movies at 

Thursday 8 December 2011

Ojos del Salado - Awarded the most difficult and bureaucratic sand pile in South America - to get to.

 In the end we didn’t climb Ojos. We got to a point where we had to ask our selves if the play was worth the candle, and for us it just wasn’t. Yes, we could have tried to sort out the permits months in advance, but seriously, it’s just a pile of sand in the dessert and still it’s the most bureaucratic and expensive mountain in South America. If you like mountains, go somewhere else. 
After Aconcagua we jumped on the bus to Santiago, Chile, and stayed around for three days to work on the permits. As we where a bit short on time they finally promised to give us a permit on short notice, so we continued 12 h north to Copiapo. 
Finally there we learnt that the permits where not there yet and that we had to wait two days in town. We used the time to rest up after hours and hours of permit work and a long bus ride as well as trying to get ready for the expedition to come. 
Two days later we learned from the tourist office that everything was ready and that we could go up to the mountain with the papers we had and they promised us a free passage. 
Half a day later we arrived with our rental jeep at the police office in the dessert where they  received us in an extremely rude manner telling us that we should go home where we came from and that we had nothing to do in their mountains. Despite that we had the authorities in Santiago as well as the tourist office backing us up they wanted to show us their power and rejected every try to be diplomatic. 
Chocked at their cold welcoming and tired from all the work that had led us this far we turned back to Copiapo. In the car we started reasoning what to do next. We could probably have waited around a few days more and returned with the right papers in hand, but our urge to climb another sandpile was just gone. There was not to be any great skiing or challenge on this mountain where you can drive up to 5200 m. We had chosen to see this last task as the final test of the trip and we acted there after - giving it a good try. But we didn’t want to force anything either and we where prepared to treat a defeat as a defeat. If there is no love in what we do, what is then the inner reason for doing it? 
And in the end, if one live in ones head among thoughts and fables, on can say that we failed with our ambition to climb and ski the highest mountain in each of the Andes countries. But, if one looks at life as experiences and glimpses of reality heaped upon each other - it’s been hell of an adventure. 
The long comment of the adventure will come shortly and the episodes from Mercedario and Aconcagua is in production.
In the mean time, check out Bjarne’s cool films on: 

Myself waiting for the bus to Santiago... Photo: Bjarne Salén

Walking the mining town Copiapo

 Cooking on our rental Jeep

Two of the most rude polices we have met in all our travels through ought the world... 

Thursday 1 December 2011

JP playing!

Oakley team mate JP Auclair plays the real life city illusion to its end. A must see!

This is my winter - Full version here!

The full version of "This is my winter" is out on the web! Take 28 min of your day to enjoy the hard work done by friends Xavier de le Rue, Guido Perrini and Tero Repo with sidekicks such as Mathieu Crepel, Samuel Anthamatten and myself. Check it out - HERE!

The Bolivia adventure on

Check out Bolivia adventure with some sandstorm-a-neering as the boys like to call it - on!

Aconcagua 6962 m - The Savage Version

So here we are again. We are just back down after our last adventure on Argentina’s and south america’s biggest sand pile - Aconcagua. It was a great experience on a lonely mountain where we walked some gravel, skied some ice, ripped the tent in the high winds, froze our toes of and at last met some great people.

Aconcagua 6962 m - The highest mountain outside of Asia
The adventure started in Mendoza just after we got back from Mercedario. On the 15th of november in the morning we went to the tourist office and sorted the permits out. Later on in the afternoon we jumped on a bus to the sleepy town of Los Penitentes, close to the Chilean border. There we met up with Fernando Grajales, the owner of Fernando Grajales Expeditions. He talked us trough the procedures on the mountain before we, the next day, took of once again in to the mountains. 
We walked the fairly long approach to the Plaza Argentina base camp in two easy days only carrying light day packs. Arriving in BC we where the first people there for the season. Not even the workers or rangers had yet started the season and it was a great feeling putting up the the only tent in the otherwise so busy camp. 
On the third day of the journey we kept on gaining altitude and walked up to Camp 1 at 5000 m. It was really windy but we decided anyhow to continue the next day even higher and got within 50 m from high camp at 5900 m before we decided we had enough, left all our climbing and ski equipment, and walked back down. 
We used day five as a well earned rest-day eating falafels, Pringles and candy in the tent. I love the expedition rest days more than anything else, especially if we got lots of goodies to eat. 
The following day we had a difficult choice; go up or down. Well acclimatized as we where the altitude was not a problem it was more about which strategy to take. Its easy to become eager in the mountains and feel the urge to get it all done with, but waiting is usually the wise choice - as long as it’s not fueled by fear. 
So down we went. To stock up with loads of more food to be able to wait out what ever weather that could come in high camp. If we would not have gone done we would only have had two more days of food for high camp. Now, after an easy stroll day we had eleven days worth of food up high. 
I like Mark Twight’s saying: “Strategy is beyond technique, technique is beyond the tools”. That’s an easy reminder on what comes when, in the decision making and where the importance shall be put. No matter how good you are, its always the strategy that will save the day and keep you out of trouble. And of course, for all the whining skiers out there, it’s not the skis, its your technique that keeps you out of trouble. 
In Camp 1 we met some Germans and Austrians that lacked time. They went for the top the same day we descended to get more food. I think around three out of fifteen made it to the top. For us, with all the time in the world, that was unthinkable. With time, competence and strength Aconcagua’s easier routes are not something you can fail to ascend. 
After coming back to Camp 1 we continued the next day to high camp below the Polish Glacier. It was the seventh day of the adventure and the most beautiful day so far. It was a joy to walk up the gravel with the heavy packs with good tunes in the sun. 
But after the calm there is always some rock n roll coming in. On the eight day we tried for the summit, but we literary got blown down the mountain. We made it to around 6400 m before we just couldn’t get any higher. With my skis on the pack I got thrown back and forth on the trail and in the end I didn’t know if I where to laugh or cry. I could not walk with poles on the trail and we reasoned it would be really dangerous trying to ski something when the only thing we could do with control was to crawl. 
The following day was a well earned rest day in the wait for good summit-push weather. It was blowing harder than I ever have experienced that night. The doors of the tent blew open and I had to move as close to the middle of the tent as possible to not get hit by the tent moving in the wind. I just love these situations, they bring a spice to the everyday adventure life. 
On the tenth day it was calmer and the pressure was extremely high so we went for the summit early in the morning. But at around 6400 m again we had to turn around. There were just no way to keep warm. We walked as fast as we could and had all the clothes on, but could still not be close to warm. But we saw the sun had gained ground about hundred meters below us and walked down to huddle up behind a rock. By feet under Bjarne’s jacket and his under mine. 
After nearly two hours in the relatively warm sun we continued up, and from here on there were no stopping. Everything went perfect and easy. 
Bjarne realized his big goal of the trip and made it all the way to the top, breaking his last altitude record with almost a thousand meters. It was a great feeling to share the summit moment together for the first time. The weather was perfect with no wind and maybe twenty degrees in the sun. We took a nap and enjoyed the moment. 
For me this was also a great experience. One of my biggest goals with the south america adventure has been to see how I would work on relatively high altitudes. Aconcagua gave me the receipt that I can, when alright acclimatized, hang out on 7000 m without even the slightest trace of AMS. Thats exactly what I wanted for future projects and dreams. 
My big hope had been to ski the south face, one of the most amazing lines in the world. And on my recognizance trip on day three it looked like it where in very good conditions. But as it went on Denali, so did it here. A week of hard winds had ruined the snow and what had been totally white was now grayish and my gut feeling told me it would put me in to a situation I would regret - doing to much down climbing and exposing myself too long to objective dangers. 
I just leave the line saying that it looks like a great ski for future generations of rock n rollers to enjoy. 
Instead I dropped down on the ultra classic Polish Glacier in some sketchy conditions arguing its much more fun than walking down some gravel. Its probably one of the harder easy runs I have done in my life. After 300 vertical meters of easy ridge skiing the snow got thinner as it got steeper. But I managed to find a good way down to Piedra Bandera, did two raps with my 5 mm line and then traversed the face on foot and kept on skiing the direct line in good snow conditions. It all meant i skied around 900 m out of 1050 m. I was very pleased with that when I thought how bad the face had looked. 
After a good sleep-in Bjarne walked down to BC while I managed to ski most of the way in perfect corn. That was one of the most enjoyable ski moments of the trip!
At last down in BC the camp was nearly built up, but there where no other gringos. We hang out with fellow climbers Matoco, Cleo, Ariel and Pablo as well as the staff from the camp. It was a great time with a good dinner and a opening party for the upcoming season. 
We had a great time enjoying the presence of great people and good food. A day later we compressed the three day return in to one long day, slept another good night in Los Penitentes and then continued to Santiago, Chile. 
At this moment we are waiting to go north again to the high Chilean volcanos! The adventure continues...  

And yes, the shithead tournament is over. I took home the grand price of a pizza dinner with the score of 100 to 71! 
Check out Bjarne’s video blog at:

For more info on Aconcagua:
As well as Fernando Grajales expeditions, the number one name in expeditions to Aconcagua:

On the go from Mendoza to Los Penitentes

The sleepy ski resort of Los Penitentes

Fernando Grajales wonderful staff. If interested in going to Aconcagua, check their services out at

Fernando and Bjarne trying to find Aconcagua through the clouds

Bjarne starting the long walk in

The first camp that we passed

Our mules

The first glimpse

Bjarne keeping warm at camp the first night

My skis, a mule and the mountain

Photo: Bjarne Sahlén

Peluche loves to eat candy and pasta at altitude

Camp 1 at 5000m

The Hand

The view from camp 2 at 5900m. 

Photo: Bjarne Sahlén

Camp 2

The Polish traverse. We took the easy alternative as the glacier looked so shitty. 

Bjarne with the south face in the backdrop 

Bjarne and myself on the summit of Aconcagua. Photo: Bjarne Salén

Bjarne napping on the summit

Lets have some fun at last

Photo: Bjarne Sahlén

The life of a filmer, part 1

The life of a filmer, part 2

The life of a skier, part 1

The life of a skier, part 2. Photo: Bjarne Sahlén

Myself and the hyper friendly Grajales crew

Bjarne starting the walk out

Finally back in civilization! Photo: Bjarne Sahlén

The last glimpse


Portillo ski area from the bus...