Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday at VE

Ward was there even with the duct tape around his cracked ribs. Ouch, that hurts! I saw these people there too.

In order, left to right, Hannah completing a new lead out of the pit, Mike leading over the arch, Meagan doing a new PPM route, and Jake clipping. Lisa and I made a rare appearance too.

Keep Your Chin Up

And your outdoor climbing gear ready. I know it seems like it’ll be forever – and a day! – until it’s reasonably warm enough to climb outside. But…look at the March historical highs at this link: we can go from a high of 59 in early March to 71 by mid March. (Of course, it can also go from –32 to –10 in the same time frame, but this is a happy, upbeat posting so we’ll ignore the negatives, right?) So lift up your chin, polish your outdoor climbing shoes, clean the battery acid off your rope, and find that new piece of gear you were going to give me last year. Keep your outdoor pack near the door, because you could get a red alert “let’s go outdoors tomorrow” message pretty soon.

IMG_5848In case you forgot, here’s what outdoor climbing can look like.

(For those of you new to summer, those are short-sleeved shirts. No parkas, no mittens. Amazing, huh?)

Happy Birthday Jake and Levi!

Hannah bought Jake a Gri-Gri for his birthday, What a nice girlfriend! Although we played some climbing games on the couch, here is a video on it's safe use. Climb safe!

And this video for using a GriGri on lead.

Friday, February 27, 2009

4 Kids & Climbs 5.14

That’s amazing. Story here.

VE on Friday

P1010829Mel was at VE today after missing a couple of days to attend, I think I have this right, a Puke Fest. She was climbing strong. Here’s a shot of her checking out one of PPM’s routes. I believe he is pointing at a teeny, tiny hold way up high and she is thinking, “I’m not going up there. You gotta be kidding!”


P1010826But then she did go up there on a new route put up by M.I.K.E. (Make It Kinda Entertaining), shown here making sure his new routes are very entertaining. (He is also self-described as PPM.)


Making another showing was Aaron 2 who is climbing very well considering he just recently had his shoulder re-attached to his body (I think I have that right.)

P1010835Lisa put in a rare appearance and completed one of her 5.TUFF projects. She’s happy about that, as you can see.

Amy showed up to climb hard. And led 2 new routes out of the pit.

And I hung around marveling at the strength and technique of the WRers.

You have heard of C.R.A.P. this is different

Canadian Rockies - 10 Classic Peaks

Every mountain in the Canadian Rockies, and many peaks elsewhere, are available for guiding, the following are some suggestions to help you get inspired...

Click mountain name for pictures + information.

Mt. Athabasca
3491m - beginner to advanced - ice faces and mixed routes.
Mt. Andromeda
3450m - intermediate to very advanced - ice faces and hard mixed routes.
Mt. Temple
3543m - beginner to very advanced - scramble, 5.7 ridge, or 5.10 Face.
Mt. Edith Cavell
3363m - intermediate but high fitness level - long 5.5 ridge climb.
Castle Mountain
2766m - beginner to advanced - 5.4 to 5.9 rock climbs.
Mt. Louis
2682m - intermediate to advanced - 5.7 to 5.10 rock climbs.
Mt. Robson
3954m - advanced to very advanced - huge alpine ice faces & mixed ridges.
Mt. Victoria
3464m - beginner to intermediate - ridge and glacier climbs.
Mt. Fay
3234m - intermediate - ice face or ridge climb.
Mt. Cline
3361m - beginner to very advanced - alpine ridges and rock faces.

The Canadian Rockies are home to thousands of peaks with many thousands of routes, please contact us to arrange an itinerary which best suits your level of skill and ambition. Every peak in the Canadian Rockies is available for a guided ascent.

Just in case we run out of peaks to climb or we have to bolt to Canada to avoid the draft. Click here to go to the website
Here is a site to help you convert meters to feet!

This Is Impressive

From this website, there’s information about this woman attempting to climb Everest in ‘09.

This mother of four and grandmother of four has already proven her spirit and strength in the mountains with over 15 climbs on four continents since being introduced to the sport only five years ago.”

Ice Climbing

We’ve got a lot of ice around here, but nothing quite like this.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Aaron And His Shoulder

P1010817Aaron took his newly fixed shoulder on his first 3 leads out of the pit on Wednesday at VE. His shoulder didn’t complain at all so he was very happy. See photo.  (Oh, he’s pointing to his new tattoo. As part of his class, all of the students had to get a little tattoo on their arms. Which is used to pinpoint the radiation treatment machine. I don’t really know about i; ask him for details.)

Thursday at VE- snowed out!

So go out and play in the snow! But there is always tomorrow for climbing. Noonish: Richard, Aaron 2.0, Lisa and Hopefully Mel, will be getting their climb on and working the new projects. Call in "buried " and come on!

Looks like Fun!

Looks like we missed it this year, maybe next year gals.
I swear I saw a photo of Nora in the slide show!

The premier women’s ice climbing program Join us for our TENTH ANNIVERSARY teaching women of all abilities how to ice climb and improve current skills. Yes girls, that means beginners too! We create a super fun, safe and supportive atmosphere to learn ice climbing from our infamous Girly Guides. Our intensive 3 and 4 day clinics offer an intimate 4-to-1 ratio that focus on taking your climbing to the next level. You gain the technical skills needed to become a more self-reliant climber and equal partner. Here is the link

I like their t-shirts! Here are some more.
But this one is my favorite.

Do I need this?

I don't think I need one of these, but I might!

The Gear Junkie: The Sqivvy

It looks like an outhouse made of nylon. Or else it’s a strange tent for tall people. But the Sqivvy, a new shelter product from Logan, Utah, isn’t a tent at all. You can’t comfortably sleep in it. Pop it open and stake it out, and you’ll notice an oversight rendering the shelter all but obsolete for camping: There is no roof.

The Sqivvy, which costs $89.95 and is sold at, is marketed as a “portable pop-up privacy shelter.” Its genesis was with a trail runner who needed to change clothes in a public place. He was sick of pulling on shorts while hiding in his car. “I had a eureka moment,” said Paul Vaslet, company founder. Here is the rest of the review

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

VE On Wednesday

Who was there? Hey, it’s easier to list who wasn’t there. Let’s see, the Queen of England was not there nor was Mel – both of whom were sick. And, the Pope was not there. PPM (Pink Pants Mike) was there putting up lots of new, fun routes. A1.0, A2.0 were there. Radio Liz was there. Pamela was there. Bret, Amy, Lisa and I were there. And, most importantly, Jeff was there with his home made scones.

Jeff's sconeWhich we ate; all of them. In celebration of Aaron1.0’s Birthday. None left for you -  sorry. (No, I guess I’m really not. Yum, yum.) Jeff said he will make more scones, for those of you not there, but I think you’ll have to beg him.

Now You Can See The Rocks Thru The Trees

Article here about the Cathedral Spires in the Black Hills.

“Custer State Park has been working to combat the death of trees from the Pine Beetle.  The removal of these trees has resulted in some huge changes in the Cathedral Spires areas.  The views are incredible.  All this change will result in changes in use from hikers and climbers. In  the bottom of all the gullies between the Spires you can walk on stumps and rounds without touching the ground (until you trip and fall in the slash).  All the user trails leading to the gullies are gone, and will need to be recreated.  This is a great chance for the coalition to create sustainable climber trails for future generations to use.  We will need to come up with a plan and gain permission from Custer State Park to clear some user trails.  We could turn this into a springtime Adopt a Trail Project with the Access Fund.  If you get a chance to get out there hiking and or climbing, think about what might make the most sense.  I will take suggestions and coordinate an effort this spring.  I also know that Custer State Park is considering doing some work on the old Cathedral Spires hiking trail, and might be looking for volunteer labor.  So contact me at the email address below if you are interested in helping.  I just wanted to make people aware of what is going on in our climbing areas.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mike's Den of Bouldering Fun

It's a marvel hidden away in quiet neighborhood in Eagan. Mike has many more holds than he has walls but he is working on that. As you can see the is a 20 degree wall and a 45 degree wall. I was a-scared about the 45 but I think I did ok, I made some big moves to the rafters, some of which were successful, humbling.

There are many routes coded in secret code but Mike is happy to show the way. This is Ginger the chaperone. We got the prana flowing bouldering and ended with a yoga session. Mike and I both expanded our horizons and are better people for it, right Mike?!

P.S. It's someone's birthday tomorrow... a guest appearence at VE is promised.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stair Training

For those of you who want to train by running stairs, this is the longest stairway in the world. There are 11,674 steps that run alongside Mount Niesen in the Swiss Alps. If you want to see the Google Earth view, go here. Or for a photo of some competitors in the annual stair climb race, go here and click on the Galerien tab.

VE on Monday

Lots of TUFF new routes for Lisa and me. We got to climb two brand new, unrated climbs. One very hard, the other not so. Here are Dr. Mike and Hesam doing some hard leads out of the pit. Photos here.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Climbing Area in San Diego

This is one popular area with 40-80 walls in Mission Gorge Park. It's about a 15 minute drive from the downtown area and then a 10 minute hike to the base. Mostly sport climbs. Lots of rattlers when it's warm. Fun. These climbers on the left are on a route called "Suzie's Wild Ride." Very slick granite rock. Similar to Taylors Falls in feel. More photos here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

This Is Puzzling to Me

At Anza Borrego Park, there were all of these great boulders lying around. But apparently the people who lived here a few hundred years ago only used them to grind up grain. Here's one of the morteros (mortars) they used by my shoe. And look at the great boulders they left alone.
They did have time to do some painting. Here I am wondering if there is still some room on the rock to spray paint a greeting.

OK, I Lied.

I did some climbing in Anza Borrego. Here's proof.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Here's A Film Made Last Year in Chamonix

Trying to capture 6 mountain sports simultaneously.

Outdoorgames MedeO-the director's cut !!
by Petzl-crew

100 Greatest Adventure Books?

So what is an adventure? The ad soliciting Antarctica volunteers for Shackleton stated "Safe return doubtful." This list includes many adventures where a safe return was unlikely.

Bouldering and Slabs in a Day

Thursday evening ve report.
Lisa was seen in the B1 cave crushing. After an hour of bouldering we roped up for the next 2.5 hrs to get "worked". In the process I was given no choice but to climb the #*@^ slab. We found a sand bagged 5.8. It made Lisa smile! Sorry no time for photos cuz we were climbing. See ya this weekend!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

This Is Some Core Strength

So many training programs for climbing talk about the advantage of core strength. This is some demonstration of it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Everest From Space

Here's a satellite photo of Mt Everest with Edmund Hillary's route drawn on top of it.

Bridal Veil Falls

We have been calling the ice fall on Franklin and River Road, the Franklin Bridge Ice Fall. The real name is "Bridal Veil" Falls since it is formed by Bridal Veil Creek.
Unfortunately, it's not quite as tall as this Bridal Veil Falls in Colorado.

We're Doing Some Climbing Out Here

We're in San Diego visiting a friend. We're climbing into and out of his pool shown at left. That's about it for our climbing goals this trip.

Papa's Got a brand new pair a shoes! almost

So I waited a long time. I talked to John Baschar , (acopa owner). Then I bought some shoes online. I am pretty damn sure they will fit but wish me luck!


Check List

Oregonian Aaron 2.0 has a list of things to do before he goes home in April. Earlier this week, he rolled a kayak. Yesterday, he drove on a frozen lake with me! I'll let him tell you about it, he has the photos. I'm just saying, Ask him what is left on his list, let's help him check it off. Here is a link to his blog, he posted the list!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Give Me Some Ideas On Climbing Music

Please. Lisa found this list of running and climbing songs. Agree? Disagree? I’m constantly searching for songs I’ve not heard when I make my climbing videos/slide shows. So, if you’re bold, you can post them right here on this site. Or, if you’re less bold, you can put them in the comments section. Or, if you’re quite shy, you can email me your list. Send it to richard sletten at gmail . com (Of course, you have to remove the spaces and put that pesky ‘@’ sign in.) I don’t mind any type of music as long as it’s more upbeat than downbeat and won’t embarrass most grandmothers. (You know what I’m saying.)

Mel And Team Ender’s Next Goal

After summiting the Grand this year, they are looking for more of a challenge. Maybe in 2010 they can do the Cathedral Traverse.

Some More PLB Routes

Saw these guys PLBing it on Monday.


climbing friday

i don't really know what time on friday, cause i don't really know who is available friday, but i want to climb on friday and continue to work the 5.TUFF of chris' pink route in the lead pit. who wants to work it with me :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Great Tune, Great Slide show

So moving, I needed a hankie, watch for the great climbing dog, he carries stuff!

Climbing Tufa At VE

Ask Lisa About This

Today at VE, Lisa was doing a route where she did a static crossover under cling crimper move. Next time you see her, ask her to demonstrate it.

Too Far East

Look at the pretty map I made in class!

Sunday At VE

P1010449 Lots of new climbs – including a real snaky one - and lots of familiar faces at VE on Sunday. A1, A2, Nora, Lisa, Mel, Grant, Mike. Flash was climbing harder than he has since his surgery a few months ago. Aaron had his most loyal fan Grant to watch him climb. And we were lucky enough to climb with a real Passion for Flashin’ competitor – Mike. I was so busy climbing and belaying, I didn’t take many photos. But here are two of Aaron and Doni both doing competition routes in good style.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

First we Rocked

And then we Rolled!

We had a great group climbing all the new routes at VE today. Lisa, Mel, Richard, Aaron and family, Aaron 2, Jake , Hannah and I. Aaron 2 and I went on to the rolling session at the pool. I called my friend Bryan and he brought Aaron a boat and at the end of the session a new whitewater paddler was rolling! What a fantastic day all around! Rock and Roll!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Learn to Set Routes

Send your local route setter to school or we could have a clinic here. Or YOU can go to route setting school yourself in Boulder Colorado. Click here to find out more.

Climber's Holiday

Hope the competition went well for all of you that participated. Tomorrow, however is the real deal, the best day of the year. All NEW ROUTES! It's the hap-happiest day of the year. I'll be there about noon. Hope to see you all there.
Except you Duluth people, stay put, study.
If you feel like this should be a gift giving occasion, and why wouldn't be? You can order gifts for Buddy the climbing dog at this link.

Here’s How To Show Some Enthusiasm

This guy is fairly excited about what he’s doing.

Finally A Car At The South Pole

Despite conditions like this, someone finally drove a vehicle to the South Pole. Another group, using the same truck, drove to the North Pole about two years ago.


This is a short video showing how they re-inflated a flat in the extreme cold. Keep this in mind when you get a flat in MN in the winter.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Digitally Recording Climbs

Lisa got me a new digital app for keeping track of all my climbs. This app is in the 4F1T format. (4 fingers & 1 thumb.) Here’s my first use of it:


Here’s the finished product:


Are any of you using a digital method for recording your climbs? (BTW, my DRD – Digital Recording Device – is monogrammed and has my initials as well as the letters in my name. So there!)

Ron Shara's Minnesota Bound

The Feb 8th episode features VEGA climbers Ryan McLaughlin, Pat Mackin ans Steve Davis climbing Nightfall on the Devil Track River near Grand Marais.

National Competition

Eric told me that Tyler and long tall Richard are with the Vertical Endeavors advanced climbing team at Nationals in Boulder Colorado this weekend. This is the link, I think

Looks An Awful Like The Brick Yards

Here’s a report on the Colorado Mountain Club’s High Altitude Mountaineering School. The area they went to learn about ice climbing, looks a lot like the Brick Yards. Maybe we should start the “Almost at Sea Level Mountaineering School.”

Carl is back

I know this because he said, tonight over dinner, that Climbing is like cocaine covered peanuts with a methamphetamine center dipped in heroin, that tastes like chocolate, served at a casino, as a pull tab prize. If I am addicted it is better that he is too.

Dear Black Hills Climbers Coalition Members

I've been asked by Bruce to email you concerning the proposed changes at Mount Rushmore. There are currently 3 projects on the drawing boards that will impact us as climbers.

#1) Wrinkled Rock- Project Phase 1: The parking lot will be expanded to accommodate around 35 cars. Primitive camping will still be allowed (people had to put up a fight to keep that there), and raised tent pads will be built. There will be a new climbers Kiosk with general info, maps and sign in. Rules for Rushmore and the Forest Service will be standardized and possibly an ADA accessible trail from the parking lot up to South Seas area.
Phase 2 Calls for more trail improvements around the south seas including belay pads in areas such as Toy Boat and an actual trail be built along the Rushmore and Forest Service boundary where the current trail that is commonly used to access Mt Baldy is.
Phase 3 Calls for trail improvements in the Chopping Block area and a staircase like trail that heads up towards Evergreen.
This is a Forest Service project and is in the works... dirt could start moving as early as October. You can reach the Forest Service office at 605-673-9200

#2) The proposed spur trail linking the Mickelson Trail (near Hill City) to Mount Rushmore area...has a high probability of coming near Wrinkled rock trail head (possibly affecting the parking and camping there) and running up the old highway in front of many climbing areas (possibly resulting in user conflicts if its not properly managed). If you would like to talk to someone about this, Wyss Associates in Rapid City is handling the project right now and are accepting comments till Feb 20. Their website is currently down, but should be back up soon... and I believe there is more info there...but I called them today and they said you can email Matt, the project manager at

#3) Yellow Wolf Trail --- Which I know much less about as I have not been to the Informational Meetings that have been being held in the area since last Dec. the project is to create a trail system of 1 to several loops in around the Rushmore area. Here are several links that have more info.,80524

comments for this project CLOSE ON SUNDAY and I think they can be emailed to the park service via their website.

All of these projects will likely bring more non climbers into the areas where we climb. The trail projects will mostly work to reduce erosion and allow easier access to the climbing areas.

Please learn more about these proposed projects and comment on them. IF you chose not to be involved, please do not whine about the outcome. "Democracy is ruled by the people who participate." Of course, if you do comment, please be nice and professional. If anyone knows more details on these projects and would like to share it with the rest of us, please email me at

I personally feel these are great projects for the Forest Service, Mount Rushmore and for the area, and hope that they are able to happen. I do hope that they are properly funded and that no shortcuts are taken in construction that will later result in erosion or maintenance issues.

One last thing: As many of you know, the Forest Service is currently working on a new forest wide Travel Management Plan that will change the forest from being open to motorized vehicles everywhere (even off roads) unless posted..... to only open on designated routes. At least one of the potential alternatives for this project may affect access to the Victoria Canyon climbing area by permanently closing some of the roads. The draft for this project is expected to be open for comments sometime later this month and will be found at:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bouldering Competition in Boston

Quoting from their web site:

“Saturday, January 24th 2009, a hundred athletes faced off in the ultimate bouldering competition. After eight hours, three male, and three female climbers were left, gazing at a wall with holds and taped up money....lot's of money.”

Happy 200th Birthday Abe

When asked about how to improve his climbing, Abe said:

“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”

(I made up the part about improving his climbing, but I think that’s a real quote of his. It sure is good climbing advice.)  Another quote of his that’s good advice for training to climb:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Now here’s a famous quote of his I just do not find true – at least for me. Maybe some of you agree with him. (If you do, please keep it to yourself.)

“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mel Was Burning Up The Walls Today

P1010396Nora, Lisa, Tamara, Amy and I were also climbing. But today it was all Mel, all the time. Here she is flashing her first





As well as doing some overhanging roof leads. Way to go Mel.

New Climbers Workout Video!

Snow Kiting On Lisa’s Lake

Fun article on kite skiing locally. Although I somewhat question his assertion that:

“…today the sport is almost mainstream.”

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why Is This Climbing Video Called Ally Oop?

Listen and you’ll figure it out. Mike, Lisa and Aaron at VE today.(Click on the arrows on bottom right to make it bigger.)

From 400 Miles Away

And directly above, this is what El Capitan in Yosemite looks like (click for bigger image.)

Image from Copyright © 2009 GeoEye

Mike, Aaron and Lisa At VE






More photos here.

North Pole Skiing Expedition

Jeff – who works at VE – has a friend who just started his skiing trip to the North Pole. I put an RSS feed to their blog postings on the right.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Black Hills Climbing Coalition Annual Meeting

February 2009


They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I don't have a picture, as I was busy belaying, so I will write a thousand words. Richard accomplished his 2009 goal today! Up and over the roof and all the way back again. I call it the Alley Oop Route.
He has been working on this for awhile, the he took a break toward a more difficult goal, the long roof. After working on that for about a week, he returned to Alley Opp and did it!
He was climbing strong no problems, all the was up and over, settled and focused. He took a break halfway down the far side. He headed back up and instead of his beautiful and what has become typical swing around at the top, he hooked the rope on his chalk bag. I could see his goal was well within reach, so I encouraged him to just keep going and not to fall. Richard freed the rope once he was vertical again. It was all downhill from there, very controlled. All the clips were unclipped and a exuberant Richard did a victory dance as he collapsed on the floor of the pit, exhausted and happy.
Congratulations are in order if you see this mighty strong climber! Good job Richard!
Lesson taken? If you are challenged by your goal, try something harder, then step back.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Watch These Clowns at VE

More than fun!

I have wanted to play on this ladder since the day I walked through the doors! I was told no so firmly I never asked again. But Today! was different.
Mel fulfilled her circus fantasy, if there is a next time, she will be clad in twinkling spandex! It was a balancing act for sure.