Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Advice on transitioning by Arno Ilger between planning your moves and moving your plan while climbing. 

“Climbing consists of both stopping and moving. At stances you stop rest and prepare; between stances you climb. But, you also need to blend these. This blending is a transition. Negotiating these transitions is critical for creating deliberateness.”

Monday, June 29, 2009

Holy Huecos!

This is the very coolest house ever, especially if you like huecos, you could climb all over it! Is it cooler than my old fav, the sphere house? Perhaps...click here to see more

Monday At VE

1st photo is Peter leading out of the pit, 2nd one is PPM trying out his new 5.TUFF route and 3rd photo is Kyle most of the way up an older PPM route. There was a rare appearance from Johnnie Mac with his new subtle BRITE LITE BLUE shoes. Lisa climbed a few new routes but had to go home early because of her curfew. 

P1050723 P1050709 P1050715

Wednesday At Taylors Falls

A few of us are going to TF this Wednesday arriving at the Wisconsin side about 11ish. You’re welcome to join us.

Too much fun, not enough summer

I Did My First Trad Lead! Yay!

I climbed Inside Crack at Taylors Falls. Ward offered up his trad gear like nothing. It went very well for the most part. I figured out that the coolest part about trad climbing is getting an awesome piece of pro when you're on a sketchy part of your climb. I had a blast. But I forgot which kinds of nuts I am supposed to use.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fisher Towers

This is the original account of one of the classic climbs of North America and the largest free standing tower in the US. The image below is one page from the November 1962 National Geographic. The rest of the scanned pages are here (scroll down about 3/4 of the way) and here. Modern description here including this great quote on the Sundevil Chimney route:  “Climb 5.9 mud up the chimney past a few bolts. This is one of the most interesting pitches in the desert. Climb light on the mud!”

Bolting Routes Using The Willy Stick

Get a 6’ long 2x4, put a few hangers in it so you can clip into the middle one and hang from the top one, and go crazy bolting new routes. At least that’s one way to do it. Explanation here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Physics Of Falling

This article shows the direction forces put onto protection.  Like the two examples below.

Climbing Outside Is Complicated

This might be a joke – I can’t tell. But this newspaper article quotes a gym climber about the problems of climbing outdoors:

"They should have signs and stuff and trash cans outside," said Pham, who climbs regularly in the safety of a San Francisco gym. "I don't think they even clean your rocks off for you out there."

It is confusing climbing outside since there is no tape on the holds. And the rocks get dirty and won’t stay where they are supposed to stay. And it might rain or be hot or cold.

Trad Climbing A Lost Art?

Most new climbers are climbing sport or bouldering, according to this article. It’s easy to see why. There are some good tips here for leading climbs as well as a discussion of the number of rock climbers.

“Trad climbing has lost some of its appeal, or is a smaller blip on the radar. I still know plenty of folks that prefer trad, but there was a day when there was only trad. Trad climbing may be analogous to a lost culture. In fact, it is a culture within a culture, and as with the loss of any culture, it’s inevitable that knowledge specific to that culture is also lost.”

You’d Have To Be Crazy To Climb Outside Today

Besides the dangers from UVA & UVB, you’d expose yourself to heat rash, dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and then heat stroke. Being outside in the sun is inherently dangerous.

Oops  - I just read the post below - never mind.

Hijinx at TF

Picture it, clear blue sky, no bugs, eager climbers, 4 top ropes set, GO!
Ward coached Levi through his first trad lead and did plenty of leading himself. Mel and I set up our bomber anchors in record time, probably only about 10 minutes. I know, hard to believe!Then we rapped down on those same anchors. Peter met us there and was up to his usual shenanigans, fooled me into thinking a climb was easy, the way he did it so fast. Turned out it wasn't easy. Team work got me up Batman. Em says she climbed them all and they were all hard. Jay had an amazing day as usual.

Notice Levi's belay stance in the tree, man, some people's kids.

This is the Mel-Lisa theory of anchors. Set 3 anchors like normal people, Set one little tiny test piece and an emergency one on a tree.

What To Eat When You’re Working Hard

When you’re on that multi-day climb requiring about 7,000 calories a day, you can lick your chops thinking about what professional bike racers eat. Sandwiches – such as below – made with bread, bacon, jam and cheese. More recipes here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Rough side of the Mountain

I first heard this song on a full of high school kids bouncing over the mountains in Jamaica. Didn't realize at the time, it's a climbing song! RG and I were rockin' to Bob Marley at VE today.

Can You Do Fancy Moves With A Headlamp On?

If you ever asked yourself, “I wonder if I can do a fancy move with my headlamp on?” this Petzl video will answer your question. (After watching this video, I have developed some new smooth moves. Just ask me if you want to see them.)

Joining Two Slings

This is from the Black Diamond quality control website.

“before you join two slings together think about the following:

  • Is it possible to use a longer sling altogether?
  • If you need to join to slings, using a carabiner is stronger

And in addition:

  • If you must join two slings, use the same materials and width
  • Symmetrical knots (like the Strop Bend and Climber’s Hitch) appear to perform better than a standard Girth Hitch when joining two slings together.”

Oh goody, a new type of hitch/knot. Here’s a strop bend, which is basically a girth hitch all dressed up.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More VE Climbing

This is Lisa and Peter leading out of the pit. Peter is doing laps on the ceiling.

Team Sassy At VE

Team Sassy made an appearance at VE today. Here’s a little video slide show.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why You Should Boulder

I didn’t even know women could climb, so imagine my surprise when I found this video featuring women climbers explaining why they like to boulder. These are 4 of the top 20 classic boulder problems in US.

I’m Smart Enough, I’m Good Enough & Doggone It, People Like Me

That’s what Stuart Smalley used to say. (Video link here in case you don’t know who he is.) But…

Despite what all those self-help books say, repeating positive statements apparently does not help people with low self-esteem feel better about themselves. In fact, it tends to make them feel worse, according to new research.” 

OK, I’m convinced; I’ll stop telling myself I can climb that new route. (But I will continue to tell myself, “You are a good little poster. You always find interesting posts with which to fascinate yourself.” I’m sure that will work.)

Gym Routes

Here are “letters to routes at the climbing gym.” Purty cute but I think more a girl thing than a boy thing. Although I could’ve written this letter:

Dear blue route,
I thought you were cool, but I’m not sad to see they took you down. No offense.”

Respect The Boulders

I thought these two videos dripped with irony. In this video, sponsored by the Access Fund, Chris says “It’s our responsibility to treat them (boulders) with respect.”


In the video below, originally posted by Levi, the same guy is climbing a hugely difficult sport route. So how is the rock in this video “respected”? By drilling bolts into it and hanging hardware from it. And by using “pin scars” from previous climbers as hand holds. That’s all OK by me. But I certainly hope we don’t have to respect the rock so much that we can’t use it.

Although, come to think of it, when I climb I can hear the rock screaming “Hey, get off me you big lug. I’m about a bazillion years old. Oh no, you just smeared your feet all over my face. Ouch. You jammed your hand right into my innards. That hurt. Stop it.” (You have to listen really hard and put your ear right on the rock to hear it. That’s when I fall.)

Amping Motivation by Eric J. Hörst

Motivation is an integral part of the success formula and, therefore, being able to create and maintain motivation is an invaluable skill you need to develop. Here are five techniques to amp-up your motivation and elevate your performance.

1.) Set Goals. Training and performance goals are the ultimate motivator. Write down five things you'd like to accomplish over the next twelve months--set deadlines and get to work.

2.) Visualize the success process and outcome. Regular mental review of your success strategy and the goal achieved programs your subconscious mind and helps keep you on course to achieving it.

3.) Be positive, 24-7. Negative thoughts and non-constructive criticisms of yourself (and others) will drag you down. Keep your self-talk (and conversations with others) positive and productive. Leave the negative spray to the naysayers and losers of the world.

4.) Consume high-quality media that opens your mind and expands your views of what is possible. Biographies and interviews with peak performers (in anything) will inspire, motivation, and provide you with the seeds for success.

5.) Believe! Regardless of short-term setbacks or failures, believe that success is inevitable if you persevere and continue to extend your reach beyond your grasp.

Because boys love this kind of thing....

Taking Care Of Business In The Desert

Know what a WAG bag is? (Waste Alleviation and Gelling Bag) They are the way to keep the desert and the mountains cleaner. Here’s a demo.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


We’re going canyoneering in Utah this October. In Europe, they call this canyoning. Here’s a video of canyoning in Italy. It combines ropes, water, rocks, danger, meaninglessness, and idiocy. All of the things I seem to like.

Red Wing Sunday 6/21

Who’s Your Daddeeee?

Happy Father’s day to all you dads out there. Two dads went climbing with us today at Red Wing. (Father’s Day is always so sad for me; Buddy never knew his Dad. He was abandoned as a puppy. Of course, I could criticize his Mom too, but that'll have to wait.)

Weather was perfect – overcast, breezy and no bugs. Ron, John, Rackie and I had quite a few climbs with no competition from the 6 others out there. And we realized that after today, we’re on the long downward slide to Fall. (Daylight tomorrow is 5 seconds shorter than today.) So get your parkas fluffed up, winter’s coming. 

Sun's Path

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro With Kmart Gear

Sounds like it was worse than Kmart gear – boots didn’t fit, sleeping bag was for a kid. Pretty funny story and I really like his stocking cap.

180 Foot Drop

Here’s the new record holder for kayaking a waterfall. His story is here.

Yosemite Accident Analysis

This article analyzes 20 years of accidents in Yosemite. It divides accidents into various causes such as weather, belaying, rappelling, leading, etc.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Next Concept For Climbing Gyms?

They had “over 100 feet of sickening overhanging climbing on walls that move.” Is this next for VE? (There is no audio.)

New Style Crash Pad

This catches falls up to 100 feet high.

Sleeping Bear Bag

This artist has a sleeping bag you might not want to use in bear country. (See the kid’s face in the photo below?)


Survival In The Woods

An article on what to bring to survive in the woods. I liked this part:

“.. you need to tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back. Leaving a note in your vehicle at the trailhead helps. While you're at it, suggested Turpin, also leave an imprint of your boot on a piece of tinfoil, so the search-and-rescue crew will know which footprint to look for.”

Climbing At Red Wing

This Sunday there will be a group of climbers starting at about 9AM. So join us if you can.

How To Spot A Climber

You can always spot climbers by looking at their equipment, but if you want to guide someone’s fall onto the ground, these tips might help.  (I especially liked the one where the spotter burned the climber on the leg with a cigarette to get some extra oomph.)

Activity After Climbing

After climbing, I like to bulk up on beer and brats. But this might be a better idea:

“A modest light to moderate aerobic session, however, can actually help speed recovery—-such active recovery has been shown to encourage recovery after intense workouts. Something like going on a 30-minute moderate bike ride, 45-minute hike, or light 10- to 15-minute run would likely be helpful.”

This is sweet .

Check out these self evacuations systems by petzl. This is the professional part. Engineering sweetness.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ward has a rope for sale...

I don't know anything about it. He doesn't blog, but he says he has a cell phone now. I guess you will have to find him at VE or the Wing. Here's what Mike said about it.

It truly has only seen one day of use.It’s a 10.3 dia (Edelweiss) so a good all around rope and definitely good for top rope.$50 is a really good deal.

Is it like this?


OMG Doni!

This is a way fancy move, Doni. I found this photo on Facebook, but your fans want to know, what route is this? Red Wing? I know your project is work Ethic, is this it?
Did it work?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday at Red Wing

Mel and I ventured forth undaunted but the absence of Red Wing Ron, we missed him though. We bravely did leads like One Hand Jam and "that frenchy one" The place was sure crowded. We ran into Levi, Jay and Ryan, it was Ryan's first time leading and he did great! We climbed Perfect Crimb, as they worked on that roof next door, it looked TUFF!

I noticed "Good Job, Mom" seems to carry more weight than "Atta Girl Lisa". Not sure why. Thanks Levi. That doesn't mean you all get to call me mom, so don't even try it. Except for those of you that are actually my children.

Then we saw a most pitiful sight, Ward looking for a belay, we had mercy on him and he climbed up Barn Burner, fast, like he did it a zillion times. It was inspiring, so I climbed it too. Well most of it anyway, with the enthusiam of Mel, my belayer. I climbed it in the same fashion that I climb all 5.11's. It wasn't pretty or clean, but I worked real hard. Thanks team!

...and this is what Renee did today, Yep, that's her!


Malibu's Johnny Strange, 17, becomes youngest to bag Seven Summits

10:13 AM, June 9, 2009


Three weeks ago, Malibu's Johnny Strange delivered a message from the top of Mt. Everest, stating, "Stop Genocide."

But he carries another message for fellow teenagers: Pursue your dreams and meet challenges head-on.

Strange, 17, after scaling the world's tallest peak at 29,035 feet, flew from the Himalayas to Australia and on Monday (Tuesday in Australia) strolled to the top of 7,310-foot Mt. Kosciuszko to become the youngest person in the world to have climbed the highest peak on seven continents, known collectively as the Seven Summits.

Strange beat a record held by Long Beach mountaineer Samantha Larson, who achieved the Seven Summits when she was 18.

Afterward Strange typed an e-mail to family and friends that read: "Never let anyone stifle your dreams no matter the feat, for if you have the heart and the courage, impossible is nothing."

It helps to have a wealthy attorney and fellow adventurer as a father, but this should steal nothing from Strange's accomplishment. He climbed Antarctica's Mt. Vinson when he was 12 to set this project in motion, and Everest is daunting for climbers of any age and experience level because of its perilously thin air and unpredictable nature (six climbers have died on Everest this season).

Strange reached the summit of Everest two days after Utah's Johnny Collinson stood on top of the world. Collinson also is 17 and he's trying to bag the Seven Summits within a calendar year.

Strange said he chose Kosciuszko instead of Everest as his final Seven Summits peak because he wanted to tackle Everest "as a lone experience, not part of the Seven Summit goal."

--Pete Thomas

The Tetons

For a peak by peak description, go here. Ain't they perty!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fun With Ropes

This is not exactly fun with rocks, but it is fun with ropes. We had some tree branches cut down in our yard tonight. It’s similar to rock climbing because you need ropes, special knots, a belayer, rappelling skills, snacks and you get to go way up high. It’s better than climbing because you get to take a gas burning chain saw up with you and cut off big branches. Which drop with a satisfying thump. Unless there’s someone below; in which case there is a horrifying thud. And then a scream.

Friday At VE

Friday Renee, Levi and I climbed together. Renee did another lead out of the pit. I did a few leads and almost made a full lap up, across the roof (the short way) and back down. Levi, of course, did the full lap. And he did this climb with Renee belaying.


Mel and I are thinking on heading down to the Wing, any one interested in accompanying us?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

VE Wednesday

It was my first day back climbing and thanks to some excellent belayers – Lisa and Levi - I did pretty well. Some photos from


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Oceans of Fear

A fairly long – 28 minutes – climbing video of a hugely overhanging mountain in South Africa. After spending a night on the cliff, they summit and jump off the top. Lots of gear placement shots and shots that’ll give you some vertigo.

<a href="http://www.joost.com/02000fb/t/Fresh-Air-Challenge-Episode-2-Oceans-of-fear">S1 E2 - Oceans of fear</a>


A contest

Mountain Hardwear and Montrail join forces to celebrate the inspiration and motivation women provide each other to climb, bike, hike, swim, surf, trail run, and paddle. We want to know who that Go-to-Girl is that motivates you! Give us 300 characters on who motivates you and include a photo. Let’s go!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Climbing Wines

A wine from Australia whose name:

refers to the high altitude vineyards from which the fruit is sourced”


went climbing at taylor's yesterday. it was relatively dry for two days of rain. ben had an accident on the big boys highball problem on the wisconsin side. but hes ok, and all is well. here are some pictures

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Patchwork in Berlin

Sure it looks cool, but how is a person supposed to pursue their "buildering" sport if they keep patching up all the holds?

There are more photos here

8 Massive Mountains for Mere Mortals

If you are traveling in the Andes, Rockies, Alps, Himalayas, or another great range, the summits of these impressive peaks may seem like impossible objectives.

But in fact, the summits of even some of the highest mountains in the world are accessible to mere mortals: those with good fitness but limited technical experience. Of course, no trip into the mountains is without danger and those considering a trip up any mountain should be well versed in the hazards of changeable mountain weather and the difficulties of route finding.

More importantly, those considering a journey up a high mountain should be willing to take the time required to properly acclimatize. Failing to do so means failure, injury, and possibly death.

Keeping these caveats in mind, here are eight massive mountains that mortals can summit:

I know I have posted on this subject before, this is a different list, different article, different day and I am even older.

Who Hasn’t Been Here?

This is slab climbing in the desert of Namibia. Who hasn’t been there?

(BTW, if I got a pair of red sunglasses and highlighted my hair, I think I could climb better.)

<a href="http://www.joost.com/02000f9/t/Fresh-Air-Challenge-Episode-4-Desert-Friction">S1 E4 - Desert Friction</a>

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Who Should Pay For Rescues?


Who should pay for a climber who needs to be rescued? There was a recent TV show on that subject. Here’s one quote from an affiliated article:

“Sparsely populated Grand County, Utah, which spent $5,000 to pull a jeep out of a crack in a canyon, started charging for rescues to protect its taxpayers. It has 100 rescues a year because tourists come to participate in the extreme sports.”

So why should others pay to rescue us when we voluntarily do risky activities?

You can join organizations such as the American Alpine Club or the Mazamas, and have rescue coverage. There are companies like MedJet which cover medical evacuation anywhere in the world.

Visit a Museum!

Next time you are in Golden Colorado and it's raining, you could visit the American Mountaineering Museum or since it raining here, today, you could just visit the website.

Swimming on the Edge

devils_pool The Edge is inherently dangerous, but these folks don't seem to mind. Take a look at the swimming hole

An Adventure Cartoon, with climbers in it!! Don't blink.

Steepest Streets In The World

This is a listing of the steepest streets in the world. Who knows if they’re right but I bet it’d be exciting biking down them. Or, in this case, biking up the steepest street in the U.S. in Pittsburgh measured at about a 37% grade.

Mount Gongga

37977808.gg23 Mt. Gongga (also known as Minya Konka) in China is where 3 American climbers are missing including one native Minnesotan. According to this tour organizer:

Rising to a height of 7,556 meters (24,784 feet), Mt. Gongga towers above all the other mountains of Sichuan Province, thus earning it the moniker, "King of Sichuan Mountains."

Here’s the Wikipedia link. Four Americans climbed it in 1932 which was a high altitude record for American climbers until 1958. In the photo above, you can see two cable cars used to “transport tourists across the glacier below the mountain to a cable car station at 5000 meter altitude.”

(I thought a 16,000 foot cable car might be the highest in the world, so I Googled it and came up with this link to a cable car in Venezuela that is even higher. Although this web site says it’s in Bolivia. Hmmm, maybe there’s a theme-based trip in all of this “Travel to The 10 Highest Cable Cars in the World.” I’ve already been to one of them; just 9 to go.)

Inherently Dangerous

Alcohol in the belly and cliffs can be inherently dangerous. Like this accident at Taylors Falls.

Friday, June 5, 2009

What A Perfect Day

The weather was so good today, I decided to spend my time indoors. You know the old saying, “Why waste a perfectly good day by being outside?”

Here are some recent photos of climbers at VE. There’s Renee, Mel, Peter, Maggie and Ben. (Peter was doing laps on the ceiling, so the photo is not upside down.)

P1050148 P1050121 P1050126 P1050137 P1050140