• La Grave – The Art Of Getting “Extreme”

    La Grave Raw Tiina Kivelä

    Once upon a time in La Grave. 

    This past January I traveled to La Grave. The La Grave. For I needed a break, a holiday and to get “extreme” – steep skiing, couloir skiing and lagraving (who knows, knows).

    It was exactly as challenging and enhancing as I wished for. Worth the money, so to speak – and my kind of package holiday, definitely. I don’t say it made me a confident pro skier (I wish!) – but it did put me into the most challenging situations I’ve been on skis (and skis on my back and in the storage room when I had to get up 6am every single day on a holiday). Yes, I’m weird with my holiday preferences.

    There were a storm and Couloir Olympique (random video of it)– there were shaky legs and sketchy frozen avalanche debris and steep rocky slopes to traverse on – and there were many well earned beers and excited mornings before guide brief and three course french meals (and cheese!). Not to forget all the badass ladies in the camp, who nicely added some balance to the mainly male fellow mountaineers and guests in the lodge (women, please, do come do these kind of things more often – leave the boyfriends home for once and just do it.)

    I could repeat this next winter too.  And if you’re going, look for a guide named Erin Smart. She’s a professional you want to ski sketchy couloirs with. 

    La Grave Tiina Kivelä
    La Grave Tiina Kivelä

    La Grave Tiina Kivelä

    La Grave Tiina Kivelä

    Finally there was the great glacier run, smooth and straight, forever straight if your legs could hold it, your ankles locked, you running so low, leaning into the speed, dropping forever and forever in the silent hiss of the crisp powder. It was better than any flying or anything else, and you built the ability to do it and to have it with the long climbs, carrying the heavy rucksacks. You could not buy it nor take a ticket to the top. It was the end we worked all winter for, and all the winter built to make it possible.

    © Ernest Hemigway

    Where: La Grave La Meije, 05320 France

  • Appenzell
  • The Extra Mile

    Tiina Kivelä

    Almost right after I said I’ve had enough of Alsptein I went back to Alpstein. To hike the Altman. Though in the end I didn’t climb it all the way up. Just passed by. Hah.

    There’s a lesson in there though. I’ve learned that when there’s no other option (or well there is but they’re too expensive, risky or whatever) you just do things. And then you also don’t do things.

    There’s those days when you push a bit more, a bit further than you intended to go and a bit further you feel like really doing – you’re tired, hungry, your muscles ache, you just want to be home already – but still you continue. You go, because deep down you know you can make it and you didn’t come this far just to come this far.

    But then there are  also those days when you just say f*ck it, I’m done, no more, what’s needed to be done is done and I just go home/have a beer/cut this short now. For it would be too risky, too tiring and for you just don’t feel like it. or have better things to do.

    Lately I’ve learned that if it’s just about the steps, putting one feet in front of another, and so on, I’ll do it. If it’s not about the time, to be somewhre on exact time, if it’s more of just doing something than achieving something in exact time and exact way and if there’s not better then things to do with your time and energy, then I just go further on.

    And so I just dip myself in the lake on the way if that’s possible (Fählensee on this trip, highly recommended) on a hot day and just go as far and high as I need to and I can, to experience something awesome. But when it comes to sketchy mountain tops, exposed trails and possible serious fall incidents, and maybe someone’s waiting for me, I’ll pass if I’m not 100% sure I can do it without risking much. And so I cut it short, don’t climb higher, but run the last km’s to catch the bus to be on time doing something more important. Alive, healthy and happy.

    In other words, sometimes it’s good to be selfish and just do things for the sake of doing, and sometimes it’s good to remember that oh yeah, one needs other people and sharing is caring and not everything is worth of doing.

    I have no idea if this made any sense but well, there’s at least some pics from my latest Alpstein hike – up with the Schwebebahn to Säntis, along Lisengrat to Rotsteinpass, up to Altmansattel, down to Fählensee (and dip) and Bollenwees before a run all the way down to Brülisau and bus home.

    Where: Säntis to Brülisau through Lisengrat and Altmasattel (map)

  • Badi
  • Pizol 2844m And The 5 Lakes Classic In Heidiland

    Tiina Kivelä

    It’s the heatwave in Europe (like you wouldn’t have heard already). And there’s no air conditioning in the Swiss home, which also works as my office. Or “works” as working productively in 30°C  is simply impossible. And so, I’ve found cooling in the IKEA (also nice cabin role plays they offer) and mountains,  and so on Tuesday I found myself on top of Pizol (2844m) and speedhiking the famous (and super popular) 5 lakes trail in the Heidiland tourism region, Eastern Switzerland.

    Pizol is not in any way iconic peak nor in the alpine mountain category beautiful and famous like Matterhorn or Eiger. But it offers some nice scrambling on the bluewhite alpinwanderweg and excellent views down to the turquoise Wildsee lake, the second by the classic 5 lakes trail. There’s also something left of the Pizol glacier, though like every glacier in the Alps everywhere in the world, it’s step by step dying (stupid climate change).

    If thinking of going, you may reach Pizol from the Wildsee/Pizolhütte/5lakes direction, or take the less popular alpine hikingrtrail from the south, trailhead of which can be reached by bus from Bad Ragaz (in where there’s also nice baths to take care of the wellness side, as the name suggests).

    When taking the 5 lakes trail instead, please note that it’s a very popular route (can’t blame though – the lakes and views are awesome), especially during the holiday season and weekends. Crowded paths and easy pace is more than sure thing in here.

    To save your time and knees, you may also take the gondola and lifts from Wangs/Sargans to Pizolhütte and trailhead, and end your tour in the Gaffia lift station. My Tuesday route in here – for me it was about 5,5h with short breaks, but I would suggest you reserve at least 7h for the whole thing, the 5 lakes trail and Pizol. Oh and add more, if you’re gonna swim (in every lake).

    I headed home after the hike, though now in the sweaty home office I do think I should have never left these waters, ice and snow…

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Ps. Happy birthday dear Switzerland! I love you and for this a silly but oh so happy face of mine.

    Where: Sargans – Pizolhütte – Wildseeluggen – Pizol – Schottensee – Schwarzsee – Baseggla – Baschalvasee – Gaffia (map) – Sargans