Alpine training – In Finland?

Since my return from Japan, I have been working hard to get my mind, body, and skills in shape for some upcoming alpine climbing adventures. While previously I was spending much of my training time focusing solely on becoming a harder, better, faster, stronger rock climber, now my goal involves much more cardio and full-body fitness.


Lots of time spend riding now makes for easier approaching later. Photo by Katja Silomaki.

To help give my training some direction, I have been following the basic principles and concepts from Steve House‘s book, Training for the New Alpinism. Until recently, this has worked great. Running, cycling, weight lifting, and moderate amounts rock climbing have been easy enough to participate in when required. That was, until last weekend. Last week, the training program called for “one day of alpine climbing”. Alpine climbing, in Finland; in your dreams.


While Finland is certainly beautiful, it is not known for its mountainous terrain.

Having to get creative, I drew on my past experiences. To replicate alpine climbing I would have to first complete a long, weigh-baring cardio workout (long approach), followed by many meters of moderate climbing (the route). After an hour of research on Google Maps, I had a plan.

Step 1: Bike from home to Mustavuori Ski Hill

The bike ride, about 15km, offered a nice warm up to the day.

Step 2: Hike the ski hill for a total of 500 vertical meters


Janne at the beginning of another round.

Surprisingly, there were MANY people out walking up and down the single-run ski hill. One man even ask if my partner and I were training for Kilimanjaro. Apparently, the previous weekend he had met some folks who were hiking up and down the hill 40 times for training. Yikes. For my part, eight times up and down was enough. I kept a slow and steady pace as I hiked, carrying rocks with me on the way up and discarding them at the top, in order to save my knees on the descent.


Watch the pile grow! Photo by Janne Ruuskanen.

Steps 3 and 4: More biking to the climbing area. Climb!

After the hill, we once again mounted our noble steeds and pedaled to the Melo Crag where we climbed all but one of the routes on the wall.


Janne leading one of the area’s more difficult routes.

Step 5: Bike home.

In total, we cycled about 50km, hiked 500 meters of vertical, and climbed 120+ meters. While it might not be exactly alpine climbing, it is about as close as one can get in Finland, and a nice way to spend a beautiful, early summer day.



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