Last summer I spotted a new crag that had appeared in 27crags.com when browsing for options a day out climbing. It was called Nalkkilan Släbi and it looked very interesting place in deed. People have climbed there actually already years ago, but it was not generally known place. Now it has been properly established with top anchors and with almost 20 routes ready for climbing. Also the access is probably the best you have anywhere in Finland as someone joked “You could probably belay through the car window”, as you can drive you car to almost hit the rock.
What makes this place special is that it is really a pure slab climbing crag like they have in Central Europe for example. I do not recall any other – at least established – crag in Finland like this. Yes, some might say that crags like the head wall of Solvalla is “slab climbing”, but in reality you can’t use much slab climbing techniques there and it is mostly just pulling on tiny crimbs. In Nalkkila, however, you need to pull on nothing – really nothing! On many of the routes you need to smear you feet just on the face, trusting that the small change in the incline of the rock is sufficient to keep you propelling upwards. And for hands you just use the same, trying to find some friction on the irregularities of the smooth rock 🙂 According to the comments it is 50-60 chance (like they say in Finland after a famous quote) that you either like or hate it. Have the slab animal in you or then don’t. I apparently do have that slab animal in me and I absolutely love it.
I’ve been there now few times and have climbed most of the routes in my operation range – which usually is between 4 and 6a/b – and most of them in onsight. The grades that the routes have been given should not all be taken as a fact, since in my experience the might feel harder or easier as they have been just one persons opinion. Yes, that’s true for pretty much all the routes, but the slab climbing is so unique from the “normal” crag climbing you have, that is really is much dependent of how confident you are this kind of climbing. Also, there might be some nook or bump in the rock that some others have missed and that can really make difference. Sometimes you do need to look for the best option in the sea of non-existing holds.
Next I think I need try some of the harder problems like the Smooth Operator for which I managed to do all the moves. It has been, though, said to be easier than the initial 7a grade it was given. There is also one 5+ trad route I would like to try. It looks to be pretty thin on the protection and might take in places only micro nuts. Luckily I do now have a set 🙂
Go and try the totally different climbing. Highly recommended.