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Bouldering in Finland: Part One

Planning your next Adventure Holiday: Lappnor Projects

Weak rays of autumn sunlight reach through the twigs of an evergreen forest.  A dirt road slithers between the trees, becoming more and more uneven as it runs deeper into the forest. It is Sunday in mid-August, and the boulder problems of dead-quiet Lappnor await ascentionists.

Hosting Burden of Dreams, the world’s first suggested 9A bouldering problem, has earned Lappnor fame all across the world. But for a broad audience of Finnish bouldering enthusiasts this gem of an area has been known since at least 2009, when it was first introduced in the Finnish Climbing magazine. The more than decade-long development of the area ensures that you need not settle for admiring Nalle Hukkataival’s near-impossible problem. All levels of boulderers can find a Lappnor Project of their own.

For those seeking highs at the 7-range, Block Work is the go-to boulder. Located at the Risteys sector, Block Work sits on upward sloping ground surrounded by lots of smaller rocks. Its steep East side hosts six boulders at grades 7A to 7C+. The hardest of these is Stiff Upper Lip (7C+), which starts low down and traverses to the top on the “harder side” of the arête. The route named Block Work is one of the boulder’s easiest at 7A, but with a decent overhang and a swing-sensitive crux, it too constitutes a fun problem. The broad and clearly visible path carrying past Block Work combines it with four other boulderable blocks, many of which host fun, easier problems.

What about that 9A? Burden of Dreams is located in a lonesome sector, the so-called Happy Auer. Clips and photos of the Happy Auer rock easily give the impression that the rock stands deep in the forest, but in fact just a tiny ditch and some bushes separate a narrow vehicle road from the world’s hardest boulder problem. For one who has never topped anything harder than a 7A, Burden of Dreams does not say much else than “steep, smooth and impossible”. The experts describe it as “really hard” but also as a “beautiful line”. Their well-rehearsed arguments in favor of treating it as a 9A appear convincing. Arguments capitalizing on Hukkataival’s expertise are particularly strong, given that he has topped many of the world’s hardest problems, of which there already is something close to a consensus. Whether you buy those arguments or not, it is awe-inspiring to touch holds that someone has stared at and fought with for four years before gaining the upper hand.

Whether it is Burden of Dreams (9A) or Hirvikyrpänen (4+) that you aim to top, one of the great things about Lappnor’s sectors is the relative ease of the approach. With many crags, you can almost throw your crash pads straight from the back of your van underneath some seriously good problems. But the proximity of the road does not cost calm or privacy. Cars pass by infrequently, usually carrying locals tempted by the forest’s offering of wild blueberries, lingonberries and mushrooms. These autumn delights are free for everyone to enjoy. Hence help for falling blood sugar is within arm’s reach, even if you forgot to bring your own crag snacks.

Liked this article? Watch out for Part Two!

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