Monday, August 31, 2009

Strange Brew

This is not fun with rocks but maybe fun with beans. I saw this coffee maker for camping on the Outside Magazine site. It’s gas-powered and was chosen as one of the best products of ‘09.

But, when I am camping I like simple and fast (is it surprising, that I would like FAST and SIMPLE?) So what I do is make Cowboy (Cowperson?) coffee. There’re tons of ways to make it, but ‘cuz I’m in a hurry, I just boil some water, throw some grounds in the pot (a lot is better than a little) and then let ‘er boil for a bit. Take it off the heat, wait as long as you can, then pour out a big steamin’ cup of Joe while you say “GiddyUp, Give Me A Cup.” That’s all you need to do. (Filter the grounds with your teeth. It won’t hurt you.)

Mt Fairweather

Here’s a climb we did a few years ago in Alaska. We took a bush plane from Juneau and landed in a little glacier melt water pond at sea level on the Pacific Ocean side of the peak. Then we climbed from there. As far as we could tell, we were only the 2nd group who’d climbed it this way.

We could see Glacier Bay to the east from the summit. On the way in, we passed a plane which had crashed a few years before. We found a wallet which we turned into the FAA office in Juneau. (We were the first ones to report the crash at least.) It’s a little creepy to find a crashed plane with people’s stuff before you head up a major peak. (But it’s also a little creepy to climb with me. C’est la vie.)

Oh, well we waited two days for the plane to pick us up, we could hear grizzly bears attacking the geese that lived along the shoreline where we were camped. But, not to worry, if they’d attacked us., our plan was to fight them off with our super duper B.O.

More aerial photos of Mt Fairweather here.

If You’re At All Bothered By Heights

Don’t watch this video of a major fall on a sidewalk if heights bother you. (It’s hard to explain until you see it.)

Stars of the Star Trib

As Julianne said, "We know famous people!" Here is an article on bouldering that ran in the Star Tribune featuring VE staffer Trinh and Pi and Interstate Park bouldering on Oxygen Cocktail.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A July-August Montage

Farewell Summer Tour

Here is is the first annual. climb, bike and paddle the St. Croix
Sept 13 at 9:30 am (rain date  Sept 20)

Park your bike at the top of the Cascade Falls Stairs in Osceola and meet up at the bottom of the stairs.

We will bike 6 miles to Interstate Park for a morning of climbing (climbing gear will be dropped off prior, no hauling gear unless you want to.)

When we are done climbing we can hop in canoes and kayaks and float down the river to Osceola. (Here’s map.)

Sound fun? Leave comment if you want to come. Have a bunch of questions about logistics? oh get over it, we will figure it out. I have most of it figured out already.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

More TF Photos

More fun photos before my battery died and I discovered my spare was also dead :(
An old man: (the rock, people!)
From TF 8/29/9

Renee climbed hard and well today!
From TF 8/29/9

From TF 8/29/9

Mel, you wanted a nice one--here it is!
From TF 8/29/9

(although there still isn't any make-up--we'll have to work on that for next time ;) )
From TF 8/29/9

And last, but definitely not least, Amy and Mario were spotted at the wall as well.
From TF 8/29/9

As for the rest, check 'em out!
p.s. tell me if it's making you set up an account to view them--it's just easier to use this site since i can upload a bunch at a time, rather than one by one with picasa

Taylors Falls Saturday


Mel, Lisa, Amy, Renee, Barb, Pamela and I  braved the first day of Fall to climb at TF today. (I know, I know, but the weather sure seemed like fall.)

P1070309 P1070349 P1070333

Lots of fancy climbing as well as fancy anchor setting.

Now I have a very minor complaint. When you’re setting anchors, please use colorful gear like this:




Not gear like this:


Remember, PPM is going all the way to Prudhoe Bay to get the raw materials  we need to make colorful webbing and cords. Let’s get some and use it. “Nuff said.

 More photos here.

Richard and the gals

Mel, Renee, Pamela, Amy, Barb (Richard's lovely wife) and myself had a great day of climbing on the wiSconie side of Taylors Falls today. We had top ropes set up all over the place. We hung by our finger nails and waved at the tour boat. Climbing was much easier when we kept in mind that our feeties are not baked potAtoes.

For our after-climbing snack we had the most amazing assortment of deep fried foods and some beer. Yum. Chilly day, I hope for a long fall climbing season. I think I would like to visit the Minnesota side next weekend, anyone want to come along? I know Pamela will be wearing a beautiful wedding gown instead of a harness. Good Luck Pammy! We were careful not to bruise the bride today.

I know that Richard or Pamela took photos today, please add them to this post!

Friday, August 28, 2009

PPM’s Party Cont’d

Because Mike – PPM – is returning to Prudhoe Bay soon, and because they have Polar bears up there sometimes, I wanted to show him how to differentiate between a hungry – dangerous – bear and one that is not hungry. So here’s my instructional video. Hope it helps.

Welcome Home PPM

Tonight a few of us visited PPM and Dianne’s home to welcome Mike home from Prudhoe Bay. Or as the Inuit who live up there say, “Quisuktunga.” (No I guess that means, “I am sick.”) What they really say when they see Mike is “Tuktusiuriagaticitqingnapinngitkyptinng.” (No, darn it, that means “You'll never go caribou hunting with me again!")

Here’s what they say, “Tunnga-sugits” (You are welcome here.)  And we were welcomed at their house. And here are Dianne & Mike welcoming guests:

P1070277 P1070281

Climbing Harder Routes

Here’s an article on what this guy did to climb harder routes. I especially like this advice:

  • “Do not toprope.
  • Whatever grade you want to climb, try something much harder. 
  • When you are climbing at your limit, getting one hold higher is an achievement.  Cherish it.”

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Super Secret Plans

Some of us will be found on the WI side at Taylors 10 ish on Saturday.

Rockin the TF

I guess that would technically be SCF, since we were on the WI side. What a perfect day was Wednesday, and to add climbing just topped it off. I was ready to leave to meet Richard and Lisa when I realized my harness was in Eagan. I figured the worst that could happen was a webbing diaper. We'd figure something out--these two aren't THAT new at this climbing thing.....

Ever the gentleman, Richard sacrificed his own harness and donned some cordellette. Here he is borrowing some chalk. His is presently hanging on my back.
From Taylors Falls 8/26/9

He headed up and, with utmost caution, checked for crack dwellers (I never realized that's where crack babies came from. Makes more sense than a stork).
From Taylors Falls 8/26/9

Ever the encouraging one (must be all that yoga), Lisa pushed him to new heights and contortions:
From Taylors Falls 8/26/9

From Taylors Falls 8/26/9

....while simultaneously testing out the fabled "horizontal belay." Advanced and trusted belayers only!!!
From Taylors Falls 8/26/9

She got to climb, too, of course! At this point, she's saying "you're right, Pamela, this IS the best hold ever!!!"
From Taylors Falls 8/26/9

It was hard to move past.

Usually tall and--less tall--people have distinct styles of climbing, but they seemed to mesh at this spot.
From Taylors Falls 8/26/9

From Taylors Falls 8/26/9

Thanks for great belays and a great day! By the end all I could see was
From Taylors Falls 8/26/9

Oh, and Richard totally rocking out Batman.

all pictures here!

From Taylors Falls 8/26/9

the bowline, my favorite

Rabbits and trees are fine but mountaineers break the window and scratch the belly. I will show you sometime. That method uses bigger arm movements so you partners or guide can see that you did it correctly.

I find uses for the bowline endless. You can tie into your harness, or just a rope without a harness,even right in the middle. You an throw one around a tree or tie up your horse, cow, sheep (oh that's right we mule knot muenter hitch those) you can throw one around a boulder or even tie up your yacht if you have one. Why knot? Oh that's right, it's not a knot, it's a bend, which is stronger. Heck I could tie Ben to a chair for a haircut! Oh again probably the mule hitch would work better. I miss you Ben, now stop goofing off and study! :)

Feel free to leave even more uses in the comment field.

Power of Youth, I just like it

It's on the sidebar of the blog, but I just though I would call a bit more attention to this post by Will Gadd. Click here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Not Really Rock Related

This might not be fun with rocks, but it’s fun with gravity.

Great Summit Views

Of course one of the reasons people climb mountains is to get great views. Like the views this group of climbers on Mt Barrill in Alaska’s Ruth Gorge – near Denali – got after summiting. Cool, huh?

Wednesday At Taylors

3 of us – Pamela, Lisa and I – climbed at TF today. We tried “Walking on Air,” “Batman,” and “Impossible Crack,” as well as some others. Some of us plan to be at TF on Saturday morning (Wisconsin side.) It was sad, in a way, to see that, because of budget cuts at the state parks, all of the taped holds have been removed from the rock. We had to find a park ranger to show us where the holds are. Maybe we should raise funds to get Greg out there and do some taping.

This is a personal note to those of you who’ve told me at VE, “I’d love to climb outside. Haven’t done it yet.” People, people, people, what are we gonna do with you? It’s the opening of the State Fair on Thursday. That means we have 10 days  12 days ‘til winter starts. (Approx.). Let’s get you outside.

"Yoga is a system, scientifically proven to boost your climbing ability significantly. Why do you think you always see that Guru figure sitting on the top of the mountain? You think she got there, by enlightenment ?" — Lg.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wednesday At Taylors

We’re going to Taylors on Wed about 12. On the Wisconsin side.

The Tuesday Report

Tuesday is usually my day off from climbing but I took pity on Aaron and met him at VE. We decided it was not big overhanging lead day, but it was endurance day. So we set the goal of climbing all the 5.8's and 5.9's in the gym. Dang we almost made it. The endorphins kicked in and my me down right goofier that usual! It was a very good exercise.

I also decided that climbing can behave like an addiction in that if you are sore from climbing, just climb a little bit and you will feel better! Hair of the dog that bit you. Sore shoulders, a few routes will stretch 'em out. I am just saying this is a good thing that can happen in an activity that we enjoy. As always enjoy all fun activities in moderation.

Caught a glimpse of Mel and Renee. Taylor's on Saturday anyone?

Not Something We Need For Skiing Here

This skier purposely set off to ski down an avalanche slope to test his AvaLung. (It’s unlikely you’d be caught in an avalanche at Welch or Afton, but if you were, this would be a helpful device.) 

Monday, August 24, 2009

Big Sale At REI On Friday

Their semi-annual 50% off everything ending in $.83 sale starts this Friday at 10AM. Usually there are good deals; but they go very fast.

Habit & Life

This quote is from an article in an old Black Diamond catalog about a bunch of climbers driving from California to Patagonia in 1968. (The article is a little spicy.)

“Habit is the great deceiver. Habit is the child of the machine, trying to make an experience, a time, a thought or action the same as any other. No matter how good, worthwhile or beneficial in the beginning, habit always ends up draining the life out of the action, the juice out of thought and meaning out of result….Life has to be embraced, with no holds barred, throwing the whole show on the line as if there were no tomorrow and no yesterday either!”

Supplements And Health Of Joints

This doctor writes about joint heath and the use of supplements (Pretty icky illustration. I am glad my hand doesn’t look like that. Maybe it’s because I use a lot of lotions and emollients.) He sez:

“Research has shown that glucosamine/chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins/minerals, and antioxidants are your best bets. Equally important is avoiding regular use of meds that mask pain.”

Training Women Mountaineers in Pakistan

I came upon this story last year and was intrigued, but then it seemed to just stop, I researched and found nothing. I wondered what happened. A BLOODY SIEGE! that's what happened!

I found this in Inclined: a blog the American Alpine Club

In 2007, a group of American Alpine Club women planned to travel to Pakistan to help organize and teach a Pakistani Women’s Climbing Camp, in conjunction with the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP). That plan was postponed in the wake of the violent siege of the Red Mosque in Islamabad in July 2007. This year, however, the ACP followed through on the original inspiration and organized a training expedition for 22 young women in the mountains of Hunza. ACP president and AAC honorary member Nazir Sabir describes the event:

The Alpine Club of Pakistan organized a Women’s Alpine Mountaineering Training expedition to the Passu Glacier in Hunza from July 10 to 24. Twenty-two female students from Punjab University in Lahore, Fatima Jinnah University in Rawalpindi, and Karakoram University in Gilgit took part. The training was aimed at preparing these girls in rock, ice, and snow climbing techniques that are essential for high-altitude climbing.

The trainees were taken to a 2,800-meter base camp at Borit Lake in Hunza, where they learned rock and ice climbing skills, belaying, and rappelling, and also were equipped with the necessary theoretical knowledge about ecology, geology, geomorphology, navigation, mountain weather and hazards, high-altitude sickness, cure and prevention, waste management, and other mountain-related issues. Apart from this, they were also trained in crevasse rescue techniques and assembling and dismantling fixed ropes. The ACP instructional team was comprised of Afzel Sherazi, Prof. Mehmood Pervaiz, Farid Ahmad, Attaulah Khan, and Muhammad Tauqeer.

After completion of their training, the women climbed Borit Sar (5,640m), did few high-altitude walks, and traversed glacial terrain before returning to Islamabad on July 23. The Alpine Club of Pakistan organized a reception on their return, and a ceremony was held at Sports Complex Islamabad at which Brig. (Retd.) Mir Gulistan Janjua, former governor of the Northwest Frontier Province and a past president of the ACP, distributed certificates among all the participants. Speaking on the occasion, Brig. Janjua applauded the efforts by the Alpine Club and reiterated the need for similar youth training programs in future. Nazir Sabir, president of the ACP, apprised the audience about the scope of the training, thanked the participants for completing such an extensive program, and offered his hope that this effort by the ACP will help shape the future of women’s mountaineering in Pakistan.

Not Too Early

It’s not too early to begin practicing your ice axe skills. There’s a report here about a dry tooling competition (using ice axes on bare rock)  last week in Britain. I can’t imagine what this is though:

“Extras such as a tyre obstacle and swinging-log starts made some of the problems rather thought-provoking.”

Tuesday At Red Wing

Unless it rains tonite or Tuesday morning, we’ll be at Red Wing about 8:30AM.

Rock Climbing With Canoes

That’s the best way to describe our canoe trip to the Kopka River. Because it’s so beautiful, it’s hard to believe only 400 people a year canoe this area  (Oh, yes, and hard to get to also.)

One of the campsites we stayed at looked just like a mountain lake.

Several of the portages were just rock cliffs, like this:



A little slideshow with music:




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Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Perfect Job

It's an audio story from Dirt Bag Diaries. Have a listen. Click on "Help Wanted". Quite entertaining....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Funny, I lifted it from Splitter Choss

My Day in the Life of a Woman Climber


As a member of the male species, I’ve always wondered what really goes on in the world of women, especially at the cliff. How do they approach hard climbs? What do they talk about? And what happens at the end of the day after the climbing is done? I decided to take my investigative skills and find out.

Saturday my wife and eight of her friends had plans to go out climbing, I figured this was the perfect opportunity. I donned a wig and introduced myself as Billy Jean, and my cover must have been better than it looked in the mirror, because they encouragingly welcomed me to join them for the day. Even the two dogs with us were females, and we turned the heads of every guy climber who came across our path. I got some odd looks, but what’s a girl to do? Anyways, here’s what I learned:

1) They were all very encouraging with each other, no matter what the grade of the climb was. The whole experience felt very real, with little ego or attitude being thrown around. They all just wanted to have fun and try hard. Absent was the usual posing and shit talking that accompanies male outings.

ladies-2a2) It did seem like there was excessive concern about the fit of the apparel they had chosen for the day. Do these pants make my butt look big? Are you sure this top doesn’t reveal too much of my chest? I didn’t have much to offer in this department, other than the encouraging “Nope, your butt looks great, boobs, I mean chest, too.”

3) The talk ranged from the climbs at hand, to farting, to the lack of good single guys in the Roaring Fork Valley. Men, I must warn you that if you try this on your own, some of your long standing illusions about women may be shattered. (Unless your married, in which case the gig is already up and you know that women actually do poop and no it doesn’t smell like roses.)

4) They climb, well, like girls! Lots of footwork and thought is what gets them up the rock. Thankfully I was still resting a strained rotator cuff, otherwise my manly climbing style might have blown my otherwise excellent cover.

5) There is no mythical underwear pillow fight at the end of the day. We hit up a mellow and surprisingly cheap dinner in Aspen, and then headed back to Carbondale where we watched Troop Beverly Hills and drifted off to sleep.

Overall I’d have to say it was an extremely educational experience, but again I caution any other men out there not to take on such an investigation lightly. You might shatter years of misconceptions, although that could actualy help your chances with the ladies, so don your wigs and get out there!

North Shore Climbers Gathering - Labor Day 2009

Climb Away!

$15 for the weekend
Start Time:
Friday, September 4, 2009 at 12:00pm
End Time:
Monday, September 7, 2009 at 5:00pm
Finland State Forest Camp Ground
Group Camp Site
Finland, MN


Expert Answers Conditioning for Climbing

Every time I go to the rock gym I quickly become exhausted? What exercises can I do to get in better climbing shape?

Don's Answer:
Conditioning, to me, means endurance, not power. Many routes steadily sap away your strength so that, once the burn takes over, easy moves feel impossible. How frustrating it is to have passed the so-called crux, but not be able to hang on to finish! An indoor wall is perfect for building the necessary stamina in two fundamental ways. Pushing your muscles to fatigue will certainly help endurance, but equally important is learning how to rest.

Don Mellor

Don Mellor
Don Mellor

Don Mellor has been climbing, writing about climbing, and teaching climbing for more than 25 years.

* Meet Don

* Expert Answers
Once you've warmed up, start by traversing back and forth until you are nearing flame-out. Next, figure out how to get a creative rest and a full comeback. This usually requires finding two different rest positions, one for the right arm, one for the left.

Imagine a tachometer on each forearm. When you arrive at the practice rest stance, you might be"red-lining," feeling that you simply can't hold on any longer. Here's where the brain kicks in. Don't let go. Give one arm a quick reprieve then rest the other. The tachometer reading might continue to increase for a moment, before this back-and-forth alternation of rests begins to work. Don't give up. Those RPM's will drop if you persevere.

As the fatigue lessens, increase the rest time for each side. Slow down your breathing. Think about subtle shifts in hip or foot positions to further take weight off your arms. Be patient. Know that you CAN squeeze a rest out of almost any position along the route. Climbers burn out mainly because they don't have faith in their capacity to make a full recovery. As you get stronger and smarter as a climber, you'll keep an eye on that imaginary tachometer, and if you can learn how to keep it off the red line in the first place, the comeback will be quicker and more complete.

As your ability to rest improves, you'll notice that you can milk a rest out of almost any position, even while you are climbing. As one part of the body is straining, the others have been taught how to disengage. Even overhanging terrain can be restfully climbed in kind of a swimming motion, with the tiring arm dropping just for a moment of relaxation before reaching up to relieve the other arm. There's no point keeping both arms working at the same time. I strongly disagree with the adage that one must climb quickly through a crux in order to preserve energy. Instead, you should "top off" the tank at every possible moment, weasling some kind of rest between every single move.

Specifically, an open-handed grip is more restful than a crimp. And a jam is far more restful than either. Get good at both. Then ask experienced climbers to explain some of the more clever rests, like knee-bars.

Finally, do not let yourself get hurt during training. Quit at the slightest hint of joint or tendon pain. A broad, muscle-centered burn is fine. A focused tendon or joint injury is very different. Elbow tendinitis in climbers can take over a year to mend.

As for exercises you can do outside of the wall? A million light pull-downs on a lat machine will help. Remember, you are looking for the slow burn, to approximate the feeling of fatigue you experienced during your last melt-down. Accordingly, doing pull-ups while standing on a chair positioned back a few feet (to approximate the body position on an overhang) can work wonders. Yes, cheating with the chair will make it seem foolishly easy at first, but when the flame ignites, first in your arms, then in your legs, you can close your eyes and imagine yourself at Rifle, with the chains only a few agonizing moves away. Hang in there.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A bit of Inspiration

I decided to renew my commitment to do 3 pull ups this year. I started training again and I am almost up to one. This is the video that I will use for inspiration.
In celebration on Mike sending his project at Willow, I dedicate this video to him.
Pick an reason and be inspired

Everything is Possible - Awesome video clips here

Harness Selection

Kinda funny, this link what your harness says about you. Levi, don't read this.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Quiet Art of Solo Top Roping (something I never want to do)

High Lonesome

Which is worse: training on the same old greasy boulder problems or losing your climbing partner in a fight over unmarked gear? Either way, climbing alone is a fact of life. If you want a new way to train or work your latest project without the inconvenience of a partner, try solo toproping.
Solo toproping is not rocket science — the techniques are straightforward, and the only special gear you need is a device for the belay. However, some specialized rigging is required, so follow the steps below for a safe solo experience.
Unlike conventional toproping, solo toproping requires only a single strand for the belay. However, a back-up line fixed to the anchor makes the whole operation easier … and safer. If the pitch you want to climb is more than half a ropelength, bring a second rope for rigging your back-up system. Warning: If your route of choice is located at an area primarily used for lead climbing, you’ll want to toprope from an anchor on the cliff face, rather than above, to avoid knocking down loose debris. If it’s a sport route you’re climbing, this shouldn’t be a problem. For a trad line, it is best to locate an anchor placement beforehand.

1. You’ll have to build a rappel anchor, so gain the top of the cliff and set to rigging. Be sure to warn everyone nearby beforehand — you’re a serious hazard and they should give you a wide berth. Once the top anchor is secure, rappel over the cliff’s edge on a single strand, to your toprope-anchor location.
If rigged properly, it’s very unlikely that your solo belay device will fail. Nevertheless, ensure that the back-up line will keep you from hitting the ground or any other obstacles such as ledges. To do so, pre-tie loops in it at regular intervals — tie as many as you think you’ll want. If you don’t have a second rope, you can tie back-up knots into your main rope, below the solo device.

2. Clip into the anchor — if it’s a trad line, you’ll have to build it first — back yourself up and tie off the summit line to the anchor. Leave it slack, so it won’t dislodge rocks as you climb. Now, fix your back-up rope to the anchor and drop it down.

3. Next, rappel your main line to the ground. Attach your solo belay device to the rope, weight the rope end with a light pack or extra gear to help it feed, and clip two locking carabiners through your belay loop.

4. You are now ready to climb. Clip one of the lockers to your first backup loop at about the 15-foot level. Use the other locker to clip the next loop before unclipping the first, and so on. If you ever feel the need for a closer backup, simply tie one where you want it, taking tension from your main belay rope as needed.

Time to Study Abroad?

The Netherlands have many features attractive to American students, but I had never heard of this one before,

A nine stories high student housing building at the University of Twente in the Netherlands sports a climbing wall on its fa├žade. Because what else would biomedical technology and applied physics majors do with their free time?