• 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

    La Grave Tiina Kivelä

    La Grave Tiina Kivelä

    La Grave Tiina Kivelä

    La Grave Tiina Kivelä

    La Grave Tiina Kivelä

    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 Hemingway

    Where: La Grave La Meije, 05320 France

  • BLOG

    Tiina Kivelä

    There are these places which just have to be visited; places like Verbier. For me, it all started years ago, when getting really into freeskiing and learning of these legendary places like Chamonix, Verbier, St. Anton etc. Where mountains are big, where extreme is the real extreme, and where the after ski is really deserved.

    I still haven’t done any proper ski bum season in the Alps, as I planned some years ago, and for which I tried to learn French and German without much luck (but someday, baby, someday). There came other dreams and other plans, but still, the places were always there, especially in my dreams. And then I moved to Switzerland. Not for bumming really, but at some point I ended up bumming in Verbier, for a while at least.

    It was, or well should have been, the FWT finals on that weekend in the end of March; Swatch Xtreme Verbier 2017. Unfortunately, for the lack of snow and for the strong winds, they could only run the junior race during that weekend, and we had only the weekend free to stay there. Nevertheless, it was a good trip. Drinking very good wine, eating very good burgers, and meeting the legends, the world champions and other weekend warriors, and dancing the night away. It was lovely and krhm. very Scandinavian, as Verbier is, and I sure need to get back there for some more of the good vibes.

    Below you may see Bec Des Rosses, which you should know if you know anything about the hardcore freeskiing. I don’t think I’ll never ski it myself, but en place it really impresses, and scares, even the mere spectator, giving that funny feeling in the stomach, just by watching it from distance… And I can only imagine how it feels to really ski it down; huge respect for the ones who can do it. Nevertheless, the other slopes and off piste areas of Verbier offer nice moderate challenges for us who are more for the comfortable kind of skiing.

    Verbier is about high-level extreme, but it’s also about high-level life quality. So if you are like me, or even less interested in the skiing, the wine and food and party scene are also more than nice to keep you entertained. Just remember to save some money first.

    Eat & Drink Verbier:

    Le Shed, Rue de Medran 5

    Pub Mont Fort, Chemin de la Tinte 10

    Offshore Café, 27 Rue de Medran,

    Sleep & Relax:

    W Verbier

    Wine: Renaissance

     FI: Muutama päivä Verbierissä maaliskuun lopulla. Hyvää viiniä ja ruokaa, legendoja ja skandimeininkiä. Menisin uudelleenkin.

  • BLOG

    Tiina Kivelä

    This Swiss life. It’s soon been almost a year already. And still going strong.

    Spring has arrived, but as sometimes it snows in April, the cold winds and snow came back during Easter, and this weekend warrior doesn’t put the skis away yet. Or maybe I did last weekend, after a sunny day skiing down Schilthorn with the best people. Nevertheless, the running shoes and bike are already out for the spring, and evenings are spent running along rivers and to the lakes, and biking to nearby villages like Lauterbrunnen (have I already said how awesome it’s that this fairy village is less than an hour bike ride away?).

    At this point, it’quite pointless to point out (not many posts the past months…) that the official winter season (it’s called spring skiing now) was an intensive rollercoaster of feelings and work and weekend adventures. Eat, drink, sleep, work, ski, repeat. Days, weeks and months passed, and mostly it was the simple survival mode which kept me going. And even though many stories were born, only a few of them were written down, and some never realised; because I always thought (wrongly) that I’d have time later on…


    I’ve even forgotten to publish these pics from an awesome trip in February; from a tour which I thought was just the beginning. But then the life and incredibly warm spring happened and this might have been the last big tour of the season. Nevertheless, it was awesome and something to tell to the future grandchildren (disclaimer: these winter trips weren’t “how I met your father”, but quite close still...)

    That day, we stayed up until the lifts closed, and boot packed the extra meters to get the best seats for sunset. After some tea and chocolate and hesitation, we skied down in the dark, only light coming from our headlamps and stars. Then down in the valley, we were the last customers at Busstop, and had the most chilled after ski ever, just two skiers, a beer, a silhouette of the magnificent Eiger, a fire and the stars above. A dream tour, definitely.

    And yes I know how romantic this sounds. I don’t normally do cute, but oh boy Switzerland, mountains and some people have made me quite a romantic this past year.

    Tiina Kivelä


    After that weekend, weeks went like a roller coaster ride though. But finally the storm has calmed and there’s even time for free writing and reflecting on what has really happened and what have I learned. In an example, I’ve realised that it’s better to feel the fear and do it anyway, rather than settle on something which does not feel good enough.

    The days like this have felt good. I’ve been scared. My heart has been beating. But I’ve felt good, especially afterwards. It’s like with travelling and running; you think you can’t make it until you make it, and many times you even realise that you can go even further. Maybe one day I climb that Eiger even. Or Mönch. Or at least Jungfrau, which I see from my window (lucky girl). After all, I’ve also been to Verbier (about which and other trips some other time).

    You may fall, but you may also fly. As you never know what would have really happened, if you’d chosen differently.

    2017 Tiina Kivelä

    * Where: semi-secret spot above the Oberjoch lift, Skigebiet Grindelwald-First 



    Sveitsin talvi. Lyhyt mutta vähäluminen. Kuin Lapin kesä siis.

    Viime viikonloppuna saattoi olla viimeinen laskettelupäivä tälle kaudelle. Sen kunniaksi ja 50+ suojakertoimesta huolimatta poltin kasvoilleni aika huvittavat pandarajat ja join illalla yhden Sambuca – shotin liikaa. Mutta niin, se talvi, se oli sen shotin arvoinen. Ja hyvin lyhyt näin lappilaisiin talviin tottuneelle; nyt elämme jo aikaa jolloin eteisessä huomiosta taistelevat sukset, juoksukengät ja maastopyörä. Kotilaaksokin näyttää taas viidakolta, joka sijaitsee vain muutaman tunnin ajomatkan päässä välimereltä.

    Talven aikana olen valitettavasti unohtanut, enkä oikeastaan edes ehtinyt, kertoa monta tarinaa. Mutta nyt onneksi aikaa on taas enemmän ja voisin kertoa vaikkapa tästä illasta kuvissa; eräs ilta helmikuulta Grindelwalding yläpuolelta. Kun odotimme hissien sulkeutumista ja haikkasimme ylimääräiset metrit ylös parhaille auringonlaskun katselupaikoille. Aurinko laski, seuralainen uskalsi haikata hieman korkeammalle kuin minä, ja tee oli kuumaa. Lopulta laskimme alas otsalamppujen ja tähtien valossa ja saimme viimeisellä minuutilla oluen alueen parhaasta afrerski “baarista” Busstopista, jonka sitten nautimme kaksin nuotion ääressä tähdet ja massiivinen Eigerin siluetti kulissinamme. Oli aika romanttista, pakko myöntää.


    Tämän illan jälkeen elämä kuitenkin tuntui sitten lipsahtavan vähän liiankin hurjaan vuoristorataan. Oli paljon liikaa töitä, väsymystä ja sekasotkua, mutta kuitenkin hyviä viikonloppuja, pikku reissuja ja erinomaisia keskusteluja. Simpukkaillalisia, racletteillallisia, ystävien uusia ihania asuntoja. Uusia alkuja ja umpikujia.

    Ja vihdoin elämä on taas hieman rauhoittunut. On aikaa kirjoittaa, istua järven rannalla ja pyöräillä iltaisin vaikkapa Lauterbrunneniin. On tuntunut kotoisalta ja aurinkoinen parveke on paljastanut sisältäni kehittyvän viherpeukalon. Ja kalenteriin on merkitty ensimmäiset pidemmät vuosilomat ja jopa lentoliput Espanjaan on buukattu.

    Ei kaikki silti täydellistä ole eikä lähelläkään helppoa, mutta ehkä juuri siksi parasta ikinä. Tämä elämä saa sydämen lyömään ja mielen keskittymään oikeisiin asioihin. Niihin joilla on oikeasti väliä. Kuten nämä mahtavat vuoret ja ihmiset.