Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Missed a window

Missed windows. I just arrived in Bangkok, for a working conference, with exciting technical topics filling the next nine days. But I had also been looking forward to escaping the meetings for an hour or two and skiing at the local indoor ski hill, Snow Town. But sadly, I missed it just by few months... it opened only in 2015 and closed in July.

Snif. A missed window.

Photos (c) 2018 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Frankfurt is an alien space station

I got stuck at an elevator in Frankfurt the other day.

I tend to think of Frankfurt as an alien space transit station, so big it takes a long time to crawl through the station to another docking port. Sometimes a wormhole opens up that allows you to transfer more directly to your port, but you don't know if the wormhole takes one flight of stairs or a thousand year journey.

One must also be careful of renegade gangs who may set up "security check-point" at any random location. Or the merchants who'd rather see you wonder in their corridors forever, spending your precious space euros on some yellow alien drink. And pretzels.

Photos (c) 2018 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Mustavuori photo tour

Today I went to Mustavuori to get a small hike and too see the tunnels and canyons.

I've been there, but I think long time ago... was like new for me. With a headlamp and rubber boots, it was nice to explore.

I also tested (again) multiflash photography in a cave-like environment... trying to practice.

But I wasn't sure if there was more than two tunnels, the Helsinki city map of the area seemed to say there was another one further to the north, but despite searching for it I didn't find more than a lot of trenches carved into the rock.

The coordinates of the two tunnels (with a canyon between their entrances) were N 60.23754 E 25.13905 and N 60.23748 E 25.13931.



At the back of the tunnel:

Photos (c) 2018 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Liquorice and Salmiak Festival

Today I went to Helsinki for the Liquorice and Salmiak Festival, held in Katajanokka.

Nice stuff. I wish one could eat more high-quality liquorice. But human and stomach capability is limited...

And what I found was the manifesto!

And salmiak toothpaste:

Photos (c) 2018 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

More cave photo & flash exercise

Jarmo, Jukka, and I spent Sunday testing cave photography techniques again. I also got to show the Korkberget cave to Jukka who had not been there before. Hopefully he liked it.... to me it is by far the most interesting cave in Finland.

Although I also remembered that it is a harsh environment... with very sharp edges and small passages.

But back to photos! We first tested basic flash setup and backlight in the tunnels leading to the Kauniainen underground sports hall. Then we went to Korkberget with Jukka, to take a few photos in the cracks that Jukka is good at exploring. (Jukka holds the Finnish record on passing through the narrowest cracks.)

I think we learned something more, particularly about flash photography in large tunnels. We can use my small/medium-power flashes even in these tunnels, but the results are not quite as spectacular as maybe with larger flashes. And it was fun to try and take photos in the narrow cracks, as our backlight exercise so far had been in larger tunnels. OK results, but still much, much work ahead.

Photos (c) 2018 by Jari Arkko and Jarmo Ruuth. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Nothing remarkable

Different kind of post. Nothing to report, car works. Nice dry warmish parking spot at the airport this evening, too.

Photos (c) 2018 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Secret cave search: Bastuberg and Tallbacka

The book "Suomen Luolat" gives a hint of a cave in Kirkkonummi, near someone's yard, with fuzzy coordinates that could be off by kilometres.

Today I went looking for this cave.

Earlier this year, we were looking for a cave to the west from the famous Högberget cave. The established theory of the Högberget cave is that it is a glacial water cave. My theory is that this cave is an ancient beach cave, fitting the description of similar caves in Sweden, all found at the ancient sea level. If true, the search for any other caves is best conducted by following the same altitude contours as in Högberget. Jarmo and I ended up, most likely, finding the "Skevabackgrotta" cave to the west of Högberget.

This time, the fuzzy coordinates in the book point to east of Högberget. I wanted to test my theory about beach caves again, so I set out to follow the same contours in the Tallbacka and Bastuberg areas.

The going was difficult, however.... the area has houses, and I don't want to go too close to them. Particularly when the dogs seemed to sense my presence :-) Sadly, the houses in Tallbacka are exactly on the right altitude, so maybe there is some truth to the claim that the cave might be in someone's yard. But I did not see anything too obvious when looking further away to the houses.

I did find a couple of smaller holes that would just or just enable a small person to stay in.

At Bastuberg I found a tunnel under a boulder that I would classify as a small cave, on the Finnish scale of caves :-) maybe two meters, crawlable through. Definitely enough for me to be completely in. And some animal had been digging for deeper hole further into the ground.

I also find a very small roof under a boulder that I think a small person might fit in entirely.

Anyway, a nice three hour hike through the woods in nice weather. I don't think I found the cave hinted by the book, probably I should go ask the residents in Tallbacka if they've heard of a cave somewhere.

The coordinates of the massive (2 meter) boulder cave are N 60.11690 E 24.49023. The coordinates of the small roof cave is N 60.11588 E 24.48973. And the coordinates of the three small cracks, boulders, and holes in cliff wall in Tallbacka are N 60.11858 E 24.50871 and N 60.11836 E 24.50874 and N 60.11690 E 24.50498. And there's also an ancient burial site between Tallbacka and Bastuberg is at N 60.11583 E 24.49535.

The boulder cave:

The small roof cave in Bastuberget:

The burial place:

Other views:

The hole in the cliff face in Tallbacken:

The small roof crack in Tallbacken:

The small boulder cave in Tallbacken:

This article has also appeared in TGR. Tämä artikkeli löytyy myös suomeksi Relaasta. And all caving articles can of course be found from! Photos (c) 2018 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Autti & Blomberg

On Thursday I attended the short film screening of Antti Autti's new film "Get Closer".

The film is about Antti's snowboarding excursion in Norway, camping in a remote but mellow valley when the higher mountains were off limits due to snow safety reasons. A bit less extreme mountains therefore, but what a wonderful film! Very nice feeling, at least for me bringing me back to happy times when skiing is relaxed, fun, and playful. Nicely done! The film should be viewable by all in November.

And we got a pipo (hat) from Haglöfs, Antti's sponsor. Great!

It was also fun to meet Blomi (Jan-Erik Blomberg), a Finnish skier who has been around many place. He was telling stories about the travel agency, Elämysmatkat, that he guides some trips for. Great program they have, from Japan to the less travelled parts of Alps, and North America.

However, to my shock I learned from him that Jimmy Pettersen has skied way more than I have :-)

Here are Misters Autti and Blomberg giving a lecture:

Photos (c) 2018 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Crisis! Crisis!

Crisis! Blomi tells me that Jimmy Petterson -- who "has spent most of the last 40 years as a ski bum" -- has collected skiing 76 countries. Me, sadly, only 58... and some of those aren't even on snow, but sand, grass, or ash.

But no need to despair. This just calls for a slight adjustment of my travel schedule! Well, not really, because many of the possible places are far away... and I prefer to visit skiing when I'm somewhere for other reasons anyway (such as for work). I cannot and should not randomly fly around the world.

Although I have to wonder where on earth even in theory I could find those 18 more countries to ski at, beyond the white dots that I've already been at in the above map. And Georgia and Thailand that I'm already headed to. The obvious other ones are:

  • Iceland
  • Belarus, Ukraine
  • Mongolia
  • Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, Cyprus
  • Uzbekistan
  • Mexico (but requires very high altitude mountaineering expeditions)
  • Peru (but skiing no longer allowed)
  • Algeria
  • Israel
  • Namibia (on sand dunes)
  • uh... what else?

That is not 18 countries yet. What am I missing? There are obviously also places like Iran, Syria, Pakistan or Afghanistan, but they are currently not at a state where any kind of tourism is possible.

Graphics (c) 2018 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved. This article has also appeared in TGR. Tämä artikkeli löytyy myös suomeksi Relaasta. And all skiing-related articles can of course be found from planet!

Berghof Hintertux Wellnesshotel

On my recent trip to Austria, I stayed for a few days in Hintertux at the Berghof Hintertux Wellnesshotel. Hintertux is already by itself an amazing environment with the green hills and towering mountains and glaciers. But the Berghof turned out to be perhaps the best sauna & spa hotel that I've been to!

Nine saunas alltogether, from infrared to regular Finnish saunas to panoramasaunas... and do you know what is a "textilesauna"? Turns out that given the Austrian style of mixed-but-naked sauna rules, they also had a couple of saunas for the children or those who did not want to be naked in the sauna-areas. Those saunas are called textilesaunas, as you were swimsuits in them.

Interesting cultural differences. In Finland public saunas are usually not mixed, and when they are they are what the Austrians would call textilesaunas. There are some exceptions of course in Finland as well, but suits on or separate saunas is the general approach.

Pictures from Berghof's pools & saunas:

Meals at the hotel were also excellent:

I did not visit this as it was closed, but in Hintertux there is also the highest thermal bath of Europe. Here is their pool:

Photos (c) 2018 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved. Photos taken with permission, when the facility was closed and when there were no other guests.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Pata's photo advice

Today I was Pata Degerman's travel and adventure photography lecture at Helsinki's Partioaitta. Cool lecture, he's a great speaker, and had many stories and good advice.

Pata is a well-known climber and explorer in Finland. He's been to the north artic region tens of times and seven times in Antartica.

I was surprised to find out that Pata has been around photographing many volcanoes, including some great shots of the early times of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption.

His photography lecture covered many things, a lot of the tech, like waterproof protection sacks for the cameras, charging batteries with solar, equipment handling in cold, and so on. He also talked about the art side, of course. Some of the points I picked up:

  • "If the sky is grey, don't photograph it" :-)
  • "Move closer" :-) he demonstrated this technique with his many polar bear and wolf pictures...
  • The rule of the thirds; place the object of interest in one of the intersections in the 3x3 matrix on a camera screen.
  • Eyes... focus on the eyes, get the sun reflecting from eyes, and get the special coloured eyes if you can find them.
  • For photographing people with hoods, bring colour and light to their faces with a reflector.
  • Try to use the golden hour sunlight around dawn and sunset.

Photos (c) 2018 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Manyparts changed. Car works.

Intake manifold sealants changed, valve sealants changed, fuel injection relay changed, crankshaft position sensor cable changed, idle speed controller cleaned, and winter tires put in, 510€. Runs, at least at the moment.

Photos (c) 2018 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Temporary replacement car

Temporary replacement car, because Volvo is still giving trouble. Specifically, it is giving the trouble that in the repair shop it is not giving the trouble that left me on the road. They are going to replace manyparts in case it helps.

Photos (c) 2018 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Rådhuset metro station

What a wonderful metro station in Stockholm. Even if these are fake, they are nice...

All urban exploration articles can be found from Photos (c) 2018 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Banff Mountain Movie Festival 2018

Banff mountain film screening @ Stockholm.

I missed the Helsinki screening that I usually go to, due to a business trip. Fortunately, the next week I was in Stockholm for work and was able to visit on the screenings there.

Great pieces, all of the movies that I saw. I remember best the movie "Johanna", which is about a Finnish free diver who likes to swim under the ice without scuba gear... And the movie "Into Twin Galaxies", which is about dragging kayaks under the ice field in Greenland.

And here is my landing picture to Arlanda that morning:

Photos (c) 2018 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Amaranten Sauna

In the 1990s I used to spend a lot of time at the Amaranten hotel in Stockholm. It has been a long time... but now I visited it again. It is still quite a decent hotel, nice rooms. However, the sauna ... leaves something to be desired.

The Amaranten is today called Clarion Hotel Amaranten.

On a scale of 0 to 10, this sauna is maybe a 1 or 2.

It was so mild that one couldn't really get sweaty at all. The floor was covered on the other side with maybe 5-7 cm of water. 

There was a bucket of water to throw to the heater, but it was outside the sauna door, partially filled with stearin (!), and the tool to throw water was a plastic drinking cup.

Pool had been covered and panelled over.

Yuck. I think I'll stay in other hotels from now on, the saunas as such a central requirement for me.

Photos (c) 2018 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved. All sauna and pool photos have been taken with permission, after closing times, and/or when there are no other customers.