Incentive: 2 days
Ruskeala Mountain Park
Ruskeala is a settlement situated on the northern shore of Lake Ladoga, 20 km from the town of Sortavala and 290 km from Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is widely known for the nearby marble quarry, which, from the middle of the XVIII century until the middle of the XIX century, provided marble for the decoration of a number palaces and cathedrals in St. Petersburg, including St. Isaac's Cathedral. At the moment the quarry is flooded with the purest water - according to one legend, it happened due to a huge land mine explosion initiated by the retreating Finnish army. The marble walls created by the explosion in the canyon rise 30 meters high above the water’s surface and go 30 meters deep under the water. Around the main canyon there are less visited canyon mining sites, most of which are also filled with water. Since pits were also created in the mining process, there are fairly extensive “corridors” remaining in the canyon walls with some accessible only by water and some completely flooded.
The quarry is surrounded by a magnificent Karelian landscape and a river called Tohmajoki. Downriver, close to Sortavala, there is a waterfall, or to be precise, a scenic threshold, where an episode of the movie The Dawns Here Are Quiet was filmed. Further down the river you will find an impressive waterfall called Ryuyumyakoski, and the remains of an old power plant. Though it is claimed to be Finnish, most likely, it was built by the Russians in the early twentieth century.
The area around Ruskeala provides innumerable opportunities for both corporate and private extreme and adventure events. They can be organized in the form of a competitive game for several teams, or a dynamic raid for the entire group. Depending on your fitness level and preferences the program may include:
- Boat or canoe races in the marble canyons, including visits to the flooded caves,
- Rafting on Tohmajoki River,
- Map orienteering in the spectacular area around the quarry,
- GPS orienteering,
- Bicycle races on dirt tracks using maps or GPS orienteering,
- Orienteering in the underground mining tunnels with a real carbide lamp
For those who like it hot:
- Canyoning – descending on a rope, in a safety belt to the Ryuyumyakoski waterfall. (Karelian rivers have their sources in the marshes and continue on the flatlands, and, unlike the mountain rivers, water warms up in the summer.)
- Diving in the Marble Canyon and adjacent canyons,
- Descent down the canyon into an inflatable boat (with the safety harness),
- Climbing the walls of the canyon (with the safety harness),
- Jumping into deep water from the 8-meter-high canyon walls (in a life jacket, with a guide in the water).