It is no surprise to most climbers that Finland is not much of a rock climbing destination. Sure there are some sweet places to rope up, but on the whole, it is often viewed as a bit lacking. Beware though, Finland does have at least one ace up its sleeve: its collection of high quality offwitdhs. Much like flannel and fixies, offwidth climbing is seemingly trendy now. So, for those of you looking to break into the “scene”, may I present Mamu Allu’s Select and Incomplete Guide to Finnish Offwidth Climbs.
Kustavi is a collection of crags centered around the south-western, coastal town for which it takes its name from. Many of the climbs here are short, but powerful, and ascend the sharpest granite I have ever had the (dis)pleasure to touch. Two of Finland’s best wide cracks can be found here, and a nice warm up.
If you haven’t had much practice with shredding your ankles to ribbons and hunting down enough #5 cams to make any offwidth safe to lead, Kaunokainen is a great place to start. At 5+, it is the “easiest” on the list. While the crack is wide, much of the burliest offwidth climbing can be avoided by using face holds, making it perfect for the uninitiated.
Next, comes Kylmä Hönkä, checking in at 6c. This might be Finland’s most oft-tried offwidth testpiece, and for good reason. Think: lots of #5 and #6 camalots, heel-toe cams, and classic arm bar/crimp/grimace combos.
If you are still feeling spry, head on over to Uhrikallio and test your wide pride on Kirnu, a lesser-known 6c+ offwidth. Short, steep, and powerful. This crack starts with rattly fist, and ends with a full-on squeeze chimney. Nice thing is, it requires only three pieces of gear. Rumor has it that some years back, a contender fought so hard on the upper part, that they passed out mid-route and were held in place by the chimney – way to save the onsight!
Olhava is unquestionably the most iconic climbing area in Finland. Therefore, it’s only fair that Finland’s most iconic offwidth be located here. Eklipsi; the name alone strikes fear into the hearts of all but the fiercest offwidth warriors. Graded at 6c, it offers 40 meters of sustained, wide crack combat. When you get on this route, you better be ready. It will take all you have to give and then some.
Now this is where people angle their heads a little to side and say “Mitä?”. The climb is Kodiak and it goes at 6c+. Overhanging and powerful, the business section is mercifully short and located low on the route. The area, Kyrkskär, is located on a tiny little island in the Turku archipelago. Remote and hard to access, getting there is definitely part of the adventure.
While this list isn’t long, it sure is strong. For all the climbs I have ever done, only on three have I pushed myself so hard that I was sure I would throw up. On the above list are two of those three. When the time comes for you to climb these, let me know; you can always borrow my big cams!
– If I missed a classic Finnish offwidth, please comment below!