Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Photo from Freeskier

Here is a photo from the american ski mag Freeskier of me and Xavier de Le Rue playing in the mountains. Photo from finnish magician Tero Repo, www.terorepo.com.... 

The Importance of surprise

People often talk of the importance of safety and of controlling your situations in the mountains. But few people talk about the killing of the adventure called life that the same people think they want. But would you push their reasoning to its end, if they had the guts, they would soon admit their mistake. 
We are living our life in a double bind here. 
On one hand we are striving for security and safety but on the other hand if we got what we strived for we would be desperately bored. 
Safety and security implies that there are neither no winning nor losing in the game called life. Its like a game of chess with a determined winner. Normally, when two chess grand masters realize the winner of the game they restart a new game. Because the meaning of playing is the insecurity in the game. 
So there we are again in the game of the mountains. Would they give you the feeling of being alive and the thrill of your life, if you knew they where perfectly safe? 
Would they drive your consciousness to the here and now if you didn’t know this was serious business. 
If they wouldn’t loom high above you with dark shadows of consequence you would definitely be bored to death and then magic and great spiritual depth would be washed away in a second. 
Left would be a boring construct that you touch for a while, but after some time you would be overwhelmed by a feeling that the most important ingredient where missing. And the game would tell itself - it was one not worth playing. 
So you see, we have to be gentle with our greatest enemy we have. Because he is the creator of beauty on our adventures. 
It’s the opposites that brings the depth because depth is the standing definition of the space in between them. 

Monday, 14 November 2011

This is my winter - Trailers

Check out Xavier de Le Rue's video project where I have a part... This could be the edge of snowboarding in the big mountains at the moment! Keep your eyes open for the whole film coming out soon!

Check out www.timelinemissions.com!

The Timeline missions are filmed by extremely talented filmer Guido Perrini - Check out his page (and lots of cool videos) on www.guidoperrini.com

Thoughts from the darkness

Surrounded by darkness I go out in to the unknown with a distant goal in sight. It’s in the middle of the night and I’m alone on a glacier. Fear is definitely stronger when alone compared to when being shared. 
The black holes surrounding me are reaching out to me whispering the imaginary consequences of any mistake. 
The cold is creeping straight in to my bones and there are no where to hide, no where to escape. To be able to move on, the only thing to do is to face the sensations within that are confronting me. 
Is my craving for the objective stronger than my will to run away? Our inner self is always striving for the way of least resistance - but climbing a mountain is quiet the opposite. 
So what is driving us to keep on moving up, up towards the stars? 
Is it for the relative joy of suffering to be able to enjoy it’s opposite even more? As pleasure can only be known relative to it’s counterpart - pain... 
Or, are we seeking the challenge the mountains gives us to: meet an opponent that can beat us, in order to be able to learn as much as possible from life. Following the theory that friction brings knowledge. It’s only when we meet the best opponent that the best within us is needed. There in lies the secret behind the holy enemy. 
And it’s only when we are really giving it all that we will find the real treasures of the depth within. 
How will we understand our own immensity, if not by breaking the mirror cage of reality we have ourselves built? 
Or, could it be that what we are searching for among the snow, ice and rock is only relative stories to take home and impress those around us? 
The relativity of our actions are making us bigger or smaller than our brothers and sisters. 
And there by, is also giving us the same relative pleasure or pain. 
Or, could it be other reasons - like the joy to create, what ever it might be, in space and time?
Are the mountains inspiring our creativity to put action upon action that in the end creates what’s here and now?
Or, could it be because of the pure joy that moving upwards and feeling the aliveness of your heart pumping around the blood through your veins. The joy of watching the sunrise lifting the mountains up from the darkness and the joy of sharing an effort and adventure with someone beloved. 
Or, just the simple joy of being alive and with an understanding smile reason; This have no meaning whatsoever, like everything else in life, but I’m going to play with it and pretend that this is why the sun wakes up every morning and why the tides work their way up and down the coast line. 
Action and reaction loses their effects when there are no beginnings and no ends. 
Everything is just simply the way it is - and there can actually be peace in this and that. It’s good enough. It just is. 

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The andes ski adventure - Episode 3, Bolivia

Here comes the third episode from our adventure through the andes! This time you can follow me and filmer Bjarne Sahlén as we are climbing and skiing the highest mountain in Bolivia - Nevado Sajama...

Check out more of Bjarne's cool films on endlessflow.posterous.com

Friday, 11 November 2011

Mercedario 6768 - Skiing the legendary south face

A semi successful adventure of the 6th highest mountain in South America with a ski of the legendary south face but missing the summit because of stomach issues... 

The mighty south face of Mercedario
Our driver Andres took us straight in to the wild with his 4x4 and after an hour or so we came to the local mining company’s check point where we had to register to enter in to the mountains. After the registration and a quick match of foosball (i won) against the local hero we kept on going for another 20 minutes to the military farm of Santa Anna. Here we had to check in again before starting our marathon walk towards the South Face. 
If we had wanted to do the normal route on the other side of the mountain we would have been able to drive up to around 3600 meters and could have started the climb (walk) of the mountain straight ahead. But to get to the south side we had to walk around the mountain in a ragged valley starting on 2100 m and walking a distance close to a marathon with 30 kilos on our backs. It’s the hardest approach both me and Bjarne had done in our lifes. 
I have always wanted to ski the south face since I heard of its existence a few years back. Its a 1800 m high white face on one of the highest mountains in south america located simply in the middle of no-where. It has no technical difficulty what so ever, but its steep enough to be fun, its white, huge and it would turn out to be a great ski. 
After three days of walking through amazing landscapes we finally made it to the base camp located at 4350 m just under the face. Here we had a rest day before I set out on my mission the following night. 
Bjarne followed me to cross the bergschrund just after two o’clock in the morning. There he left me to walk back to the tent to get another hour of sleep. Then he started his climb up a mountain on the other side of the valley to find a good spot for filming. 
The face hadn’t looked to big from BC, but when getting on it I could really feel that its twice as big as any snow face in Chamonix and that the base of it is almost on the same height as Mt Blanc. I walked for hours, but when the sun rose at six I had only done half the face. 
I could for sure feel the altitude, but what slowed me down most was my stomach that didn’t let me keep anything I tried to eat. It became a comical situation racing between spots that where good for taking shits. But thats life in the mountains, specially in places with germs more hard core than the european ones. 
Higher up on the face i started to traverse under the big rock band at the top of the face. I did it to get a shortcut to the summit, but also be able to ski the face from the top in as good style as possible. But about half way through the traverse hell broke lose. As I should have understood the sun hit the rock band and started projecting down rocks. I would have turned around if it wasn’t for it being easy to see the rocks coming as long as I was moving. If I had stopped to put my skis on I would have been much more vulnerable. This is not saying I like the situation I was in, but sometimes it happens and then you just have to keep at it. 
Further over it calmed down and I started looking for crevasses usable as safe toilets. I was laughing at my self crawling up the last hundred meters of the face. I had passed the objectively dangerous parts, but I was weaker than ever. Ten hours of climbing without being able to keep any food, gels or water at altitude had taken its toll on me. I had nothing left after throwing up and taking seven shits in total. When I came up on the plateau above the face on 6150 meters I lay down to take a rest and watched the icy dome I had in front of me. The skiing looked worse than ever up there and i counted that in my present state I wouldn’t make it up there just before dark. 
I hate to give up, but this time it was the wisest thing to do. And besides, my intent and dream was to climb and ski the south face of Mercedario. I hadn’t asked for anything else. As a believer of intent and dreams and creating one’s own reality I just accepted my situation with a smile and decided to be happy for the huge ski I had under my feet. 
The skiing was to be wonderful with really easy skiable chalky snow, but with a few wavy sections. I could ski it fairly fast on places and it’s always a wonderful feeling covering terrain on skis in a matter of minutes that took hours on the way up. It had been a really cold night, so the batteries in all my electrical equipment except my camera was dead. It was a pity as I would have loved to re-experience this ski from the Gopro’s point of view. 
But it’s all there in the back of my mind when I look back at the experience. Further down there was an icy section with a tin layer of snow on it. I hadn’t been able to find a good way through it in the darkness on the way up so now I had to do it on-sight from the top. I had a few interesting moments, but in the end I made it through the whole thing without even thinking of using a rope (which i had left with Bjarne anyways) or down climbing. 
The last few hundred meters after the ice served up wonderful corn skiing and allowed me to finally get back to GS mode to in a really tired state, with a smile on my lips, end another great ski day in the middle of no where. 
The following day was an obligatory rest day before we put on our huge backpacks once again to go down all the way to, as it ended up, La Junta and the mining company’s check point. The military people chocked us with the worst welcoming we ever had in the wilderness and refused to help us call our transport. So we had to keep on walking for a few hours more till we finally came back to our friendly miners. 
This time I lost the rematch in foosball, but I blame it on tiredness and dehydration. Anyways, we were really welcomed here and got food and water while waiting for our ride back to Barreal. In a spree of luck we managed to get back to Mendoza via San Juan in that very same day and we are now resting up for a few days before continuing our grand adventure. 

The shithead tournament:
Andreas: 76
Bjarne: 56

Don't forget to check Bjarne's video blog for loads of cool mountain movies at: endlessflow.posterous.com

Mercedario from the jeep

Me, Bjarne and his girlfriend Heather (Who joined us on this adventure to get acclimatized for Aconcagua. 

Bjarne working

Entering the cowboy landscape

Starting the huge walk

One of many river crossings 

Bjarne taking a bath 

The first view of the big mountains

Our first view of the south face

Me and the south face

More south face - I just can't get enough... 

Me resting

... in front of the face

The sun rise on the climbing day

Looking down, from probably another shitty place.. 

Looking down from the top of the face

And looking up at the icy summit

In action

And again

I love looking back at my tracks on a face like this

Endless rounds of card games

On the way out

Finally, close to the mining check point! The end of just another adventure... 

La Paz - Mendoza - San Juan - Barreal

After Nevado Sajama I got sick and spent most of the following week in bed missing out on  lots of what La Paz had to offer. But we still got to do the town and try out the local salsa joints as well as meeting some really cool people. 

The endless bus ride... 
When I finally felt better we started a marathon bus ride south towards Mendoza. It took us three days to reach the third city of Argentina where we did our shopping or food and gas before we went back north to Barreal via San Juan on another day worth of bus rides. In the sleepy town of Barreal we slept under a three trying to not attract the attention of the wild dogs before we found a local named Andres to drive us out in to the wild... 

Geraldine is helping us out with the bus tickets... We still got scammed though.. 

A night at our friend Alex Aguirre's restaurant in La Paz

Sweden's biggest fan

The La Paz mountain film festival

On the road...

Im soo tired of eggs and rice by now... 

The Argentinian border

Bjarne enjoying Argentinian wine

Not really fitting in the local San Juan fashion 

A night out with the dogs

On our way out in to the wild...