Monday, November 30, 2009

Climbing 1ox Safer Than Soccer?

At least in this study which compared indoor climbing to soccer. I’ve always thought that soccer was inherently dangerous. And inherently boring when compared to climbing.

Building a Rack

This is part of a multi-part article about beginning trad climbing the rest of the story is here . If you are really lucky, your folks got you started last Christmas with a set of wall nuts. They did? You must have the best parents EVER!:)

The Basic Setup
By Abrahm Lustgarten

You don't need a 65-pound El Capitan rack before you're ready to lead. Your basic set-up should be an estimation of how much gear you'll use in your average pitch—150 feet of climbing. Don't over-rack, it's both heavy and expensive.

A good selection of passive and active pro at your side

It's best to start with a good selection of passive protection: solid, non-moving nuts and hexes that can be wedged in the rock, and stay (hopefully) in exactly the position you put them. These are both the lightest to carry and the cheapest to buy, so an initial investment of about $200 can get you going. I like to carry a full set of Black Diamond Stoppers (#1-13) and Hugh Banner Off-sets with doubles of a few popular sizes (#5-8), but there are a variety of brands and shapes to choose from. These piece cost between $9-$15 each.

Your active pro—spring-loaded camming gear that literally works for you by expanding and gripping the rock harder when pulled outward—should consist of a variety of devices fitting cracks from about a half-inch to five inches. There are lots to choose from in terms of brand and style, and it's worth doing some extra reading before putting all your eggs in one brand basket. These things aren't cheap either. Smaller sizes start at around $40 and the bigger cams for wide cracks can run as high as $90 each. Purchasing four or five pieces of active protection is a good start for a useable rack, but over time, and as you take on longer routes, you may build a collection of 25-30, with doubles in many sizes.

Send Richard to School

I am collecting funds to send Richard to this school, I will belay you for $1 or clean your house for $250. You can see what my preference is. What fun! I would go but I am dog sledding that weekend.

Serac Adventure Film School

When: Jan 25, 2010
LIVE IT and FILM IT in the Colorado Backcountry!

Join Serac Adventure Films at the 2010 Colorado Backcountry Film School and make your own adventure film. The film school runs from January 25-February 2, 2010 and registration is open now. Click here for the application form.

The Colorado High Country in the heart of winter is a sublime environment and a perfect place for making adventure films. How do you keep your fingers warm and your camera running in these conditions? The High Country is full of surprises, it can be pleasantly warm in the sun, brutally cold and windy or just snowing like it will never end. It really is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Exciting aspects of this adventure:

* Camp in the snow for a night. We set up tents in a spectacular snowy meadow at 11,000 ft. You might be surprised how comfortable the snow can be if you have the right skills and equipment.
* Two nights in a rustic back country cabin - it even has a sauna.
* Classes beyond filmmaking, (great subjects for films)
* Avalanche Safety Instruction with guide Tim Brown
* Snow meteorology with Colorado Powder Forecast Creator Joel Gratz
* Backcountry skills with NOLS instructor Phil Henderson

More information on this opportunity is available here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The ringer from the north..

Tyler set a route so hard, Heck, I couldn't climb it, this is why I had kids! Levi came home to climb it for me, or at least work it real hard.

Thanks to the video master, Richard, for editing this for me,

Monument Valley

Totem PoleNice short video of vistas in Monument Valley, Arizona. You’re not supposed to climb there, but here’s a story of two people who sneaked in to climb the Totem Pole (shown on the left.) And the Mountain Project listing of climbs in Monument.


Inside the Tube

Great photos taken inside the tubes of waves. Sample below.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sling on Sling or Sling on ‘Biner?


When you’re extending a sling and you’ve asked yourself “Why not save a ‘biner and put a sling thru a sling?”

Well, Kolin Powick at Black Diamond tests both and concludes it’s best to use a ‘biner with a sling.



Red Wing Saturday

It was a typical winter day – warm enough for T shirts.

Tyler was there as well as Mike and The Warden. Ron & I climbed a few familiar routes and fell off a few new ones. Then we found a new place to eat in Red Wing. And reviewed our climbing goals. All of which is shown in the video below.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Are You Activating Your Golgi Receptors?

Holy Moly, I didn’t even know I had such a thing. Here’s an article about learning from other sports to improve your climbing. An excerpt is  below:

The use of short, explosive, all-out 1-rep contractions in training, does not so much get you stronger in absolute terms but it trains your bodies 'muscle regulator', the golgi tendon receptor to activate more muscle fibres more quickly, thus enabling you simply to use what you have more efficiently. The progressive use of De-inhibition training teaches us to extend this safety zone to allow us to recruit more power yet still within safe working limits.

VE Friday

The Warden was at VE early this morning so he could warm up before heading for Red Wing. (Today and Saturday might be the last two decent days for climbing at Red Wing. We’ll be there on Saturday.)

Levi came all the way down from Duluth to try some hard leads. Kyle was there with Peter – who hasn’t climbed in a week since he tore a ligament in  his foot.


Red Wing Saturday

We’ll be there about 11ish if the sun’s out.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fun With Rocks Running Team

A few of us ran the ulta-marathon 5K in downtown Mpls today. Here’s a video report including some shots from the “Runner’s Cam.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hurley Long-Lower

I finally found a photo of Hurley Long-Lower - the fellow who writes articles in the VE newsletter. He is pictured below in his new glacier glasses.

russell with glasses

Forearms By Popeye

One advantage of climbing at VE, is a person develops huge forearms – like Popeye. Watch the video and see what I mean.

(Even though their sign on the door says “No Guns Allowed,” they allowed Lisa to bring her forearm ‘guns’ into the gym.)


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wool Pants

Here’s a review of wool pants for winter wear by the Gear Junkie. On quite a few mountain trips – 2 of them 3 weeks long – I used a pair of wool mailperson’s pants that I bought in a surplus store. They were lightweight, very wind proof, warm, dried fast and much tougher than any poly pants I’ve ever had. But I lost them.

This summer, I bought a pair of surplus wool army pants from this place. (I paid about $30.) I used them on my canoe trip and they were super fab. Very tough, very warm - even though I was constantly walking in the water - and windproof. I think they’ll be excellent for this winter’s ice climbing. (Although, I have my eye on these for ice climbing. Whadda ‘ya think? They’re Italian so they’re very stylish.)

You Think You Are Tuff?

Maybe you think you’re tougher than these guys. Well think again. BTW, acting tough is inherently dangerous. And don’t try this at home – these are professionals.

Monday, November 23, 2009


There was some horseplay & some climbing at VE today.


Vertical Times

Follow this link the the latest issue of The Vertical Times, A publication of the Access Fund. There is some nice artwork in there too.

Itching For Ice?

You can build one of these in your back yard like this professional ice climber did. More info here.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bouldering In The Lunch Room

Who needs holds when you’ve got a table?

This Is Refreshing

Andrew Skurka has done many long solo backpack trips – including a solo backpack trip from Duluth to Ely in the winter. He’s now planning a 4,500-mile ski, trek, and packraft trip around Alaska and the Yukon for 2010. I found this statement about his upcoming trip refreshing:

“Although there is an opportunity to, I do not wish to associate this expedition with a particular cause (e.g., sustainable energy or nature deficit disorder) because my personal experiences and the experiences of others have shown that, regardless of one's sincerity, it tends to be an ineffective and distracting effort. I've essentially concluded that if I really wanted to advance a cause, I would have much more of an impact by working for that cause or finding a conventional job and donating my income. Neither of these options sound more appealing than the GAYL. Plus, I've discovered that it's somewhat liberating to say that I'm doing this expedition because, in essence, I can and want to -- I think I'll be a better person for it. This desire for personal enrichment is at the root of every successful expedition anyway.”

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Climbing In Yosemite

A relative newcomer to climbing, reports on his climb of one of the classic hard climbs in Yosemite.

It's almost exactly five years to the month that I started climbing. I took up the sport at the rather advanced age  of 38—an age when most serious climbers have already entered the sunset years of retirement. Seth, a decade younger, is one of my older partners. But as alpinist Mark Twight once told me, there's nothing to stop the average climber from trying the hardest route in the world.”

Who Needs A Rope To Climb?

Here’s Dean Potter flying from near the summit of the Eiger.

Friday, November 20, 2009


“They’re Smarter Than We Give Them Credit For”

Hunting for the elusive ice worm in Denali Park, that’s the comment made in the video below as this group draws a blank finding them.  “Ice worms are small, dark colored relatives of earthworms, known only for sure to live from northern Oregon to Alaska, with some distant relatives living near Bomi in eastern Tibet.”

There’s a bounty paid for locating them in the Alaska Range – which includes the Denali area. So maybe you could pay for your trip up there if you’d just dig long enough.


These folks find them easily in a tunnel through an avalanche cone.


For crossing water on those backpacking trips, these look like fun.


And then you can also run the waterfalls, like these people.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Climbing In Slovakia

This guy solo climbed a lot of new routes in the Tatra Mountains of Slovakia. Since he forgot to bring his ice tool, he had to make one up on the spot. Here’s a photo of it.

I wonder if Emily has been here.

Early Season Ice

Her story is here.  Nice hair color, huh?

Photo Contest

Petzl’s photo contest is in its 2nd week and one of their winners this week is this shot:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Posted for training purposes and because usually there is no video of this occurrence, as Richard and I are both busy. Thanks Liz & Emily.

Liz's Comeback- 1st day back at VE!

Lost Cave Temples on PBS- see it!

Lost Cave Temples

Wednesday, November 18, 8:00 PM on  Channel Image

Lost Cave Temples

Thursday, November 19, 2:00 AM on  Channel Image

Lost Cave Temples

Sunday, November 22, 4:00 PM on  Channel Image

VE Wednesday

A short video with some footage of Mel and Renee.


Raising Awareness

raising awareness balloon

I am in the process of planning an expedition to Raise Awareness of the growing phenomenon of “Raising Awareness.” (R.A. R. A.) When I Googled the term “raising awareness,” I found 869,000 hits. There’s way too much awareness raising going on.

I am thinking of raising awareness to this problem by organizing a week-long expedition to a very comfortable 5 star resort. Where the participants will chat about the stresses they feel by being aware of so much stuff. After 10-15 minutes of this chatting, they will jump into the pool, get a bite to eat and/or go take a nap. That’s it for the week. No more awareness raising than that.

Here’s where I need your help; what sort of a fund raiser would work? We would need to raise enough money to pay for our transportation, lodging, super-fast internet connection, entertainment costs, and deluxe food.  Some ideas to get you started:

  • Donate $1 for every minute we sleep
  • Contribute $1 for each laugh we have
  • Send us $2 each time you miss seeing a foot hold or a hand hold because you are unaware of it
  • Send us $5 each time you get an email, ad or message about some event that’s supposed to raise your awareness
  • Or, donate $5K and we won’t ever bother you again about how you should help us raise awareness to this global issue of raising awareness

Antarctic Explorations

Now that the summer is starting in Antarctica, there are many trips to choose from – climbing, skiing, even running.

Like this marathon:

Join the most unusual 'Marathon Race' in the world. Run over a groomed snow track around the mountains by Patriot Hills base camp. Refreshment, warm-up stations, and guides and medics on snowmobiles will support you.”

Running the marathon is only $16K from Punta Arenas, Chile. Or, for something more strenuous and a little less reasonably priced, you can arrange a climb in Queen Maud Land.

The problem is the crowds:

With tourism still growing along the Antarctic Peninsula groundings and tourist ships stuck in ice are becoming an annual happening.”

Plus, if you get stuck in the ice - like this ship - you might have to spend an extra coupla days eating from the ship’s vast buffet. Which would be a shame. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Russell In Moab

Russell finally posted the photos of his climbing trip to the Moab area. He and Ryan went there about one month ago. I really liked this one on top of the Fisher Tower:

and this one:

Don’t Miss The Shot

Be sure when taking video, to focus on getting the shot. The climber’s well-being is secondary.

Climbing In Newfoundland

Here’s a story of 3 women who climbed in Newfoundland & “…for two weeks, we paddled around the fjord in a little plastic rowboat; we crawled up 50° slopes of fern and moss; we climbed gorgeous, virgin cracks and crumbly, flakey horror-shows; and we ate tons and tons of wild blueberries,” 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Primal Quest 2009

This year they raced thru parts of the Badlands of South Dakota as well as parts of the Black Hills. Including the Cathedral Spires area which is shown – briefly – in the video below.

Here’s another video of them “climbing” in the Cathedral Spires.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Infinity Lane

A competition to climb  a one pitch 270 feet route without a take in the fewest attempts possible.


New Outdoor Clothes

If you’ve got Prana – pack ‘em up. If you’re wearing Arcteryx, put ‘em away. Here is the new look for men's outdoor wear. “… many of today’s popular men’s styles have their roots in the late 19th century.” At least according to the fashion experts in New York.

 image “Woolrich Woolen Mills gray herringbone shooting jacket, $595 at Barneys; Dsquared tweed and plaid wool vest, $995 at Bergdorf Goodman Men; black and white plaid flannel shirt, $79 at Club Monaco; Junya Watanabe brown herringbone wool knickers, $660 at Jeffrey New York; black Persian lamb hat with silk faille lining, $800 at Rod Keenan New York.”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Climbing Horoscopes!?!?!

Here is mine! whoa. Click here to read yours. scroll down a bit.


Prim and proper and innocent as a rattlesnake. Tidy and organized, quit
making off with gear you think has been discarded. Not everyone is as neat
as you are. You are the perfect multipitch partner! Organization is your
forte and your gear is never neglected. Your virginity is doomed, my dear,
no matter what you do, there is a lusty Scorpio out there waiting for you.
Bat those eyelashes and enjoy a ride in the Duelfersitz.

Another Banff Film Festival

This film won the award for best feature-length mountain film at the 2009 Banff Film Festival.


Photographing A 300 Foot Tree

There’s a short video below on how they got this photograph combining 84 images.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Run You Turkey

(I’m re-running – get it? – this post from last month because I just registered. So don’t get your feathers ruffled if you think you’ve seen this post before.)

On Thanksgiving morning, there is the annual 5K Turkey Day run. Lisa and Mel are running in it. Why don’t you? (That’s only 3 miles, people. I bet you can run that far.)

Here’s where you can sign up online or you can sign up at any REI store.

If you’re gonna get stuffed later that day, might as well make some room for it by gobbling up a few miles .

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Musical Beta for Peter

Here is the musical version of our trip to Red Wing today. Way better than streaming Beta or jabbering 4 year olds.

Bats In The Belfry II – Red Wing On Tuesday

P1080999Pete encountered a bat in a crack at TF last Saturday. Today, at Red Wing, he found another one in a crack on “Goofed on Skunkweed” – same place as Ron did a few weeks ago.

But, more amazing, they had another visitor at the base of one of their climbs – a fox. And a quick-thinking Lisa grabbed some shots of the fox before s/he ran away. Who knew there was so much Nature outdoors?


You Say It’s Your Birthday

And Happy Birthday to you, Mel.


Fun With Rocks

This is truly fun with rocks. There is no audio in this 6 minute video. Certainly watch the first 2 minutes to get the idea of rock stacking in reverse.


Monday, November 9, 2009

The New Extreme Sport

Watch as a professional whitewater tuber trains for the Teva Mountain Games and gets refused entry. I agree with his sign “Tubing Is Not A Crime.” Go Zoltan, fight the system! Fight the Man!


Almost As Exciting As Banff Film Festival

We’re going to Red Wing on Tuesday 11-ish to dark-ish.

(Don’t be fooled; the photo on the left is taken in Banff, not Red Wing.)

Banff Film Festival

Is coming to a town near you.



November 19, 2009
St. John’s University
November 19, 2009 November 19, 2009 Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour (North America): Collegeville, MN Science Center Auditorium, St. John's University, Collegeville, MN, USA


November 22, 23, 2009
Duluth Cross Country Ski Club
November 22, 2009 November 23, 2009 Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour (North America): Duluth, MN Fregeau Auditorium, Marshall School, Duluth, MN, USA


November 20, 21, 2009
Midwest Mountaineering
612-339-3433 or 1-888-999-1077

Crate Climbing

This is a 2 minute video from the 2009 Rocktoberfest showing the crate climbing competition.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bats In The Belfry?

Well we didn’t see any bats high up in the belfry, but Peter had an encounter with a bat high on “The Bulge” at Taylors Falls today.

He said, “It’s either a bat in that crack or an old banana with a blackened skin. Nope, a banana doesn’t squeak when you try to touch it.” The bat decided anyone tough enough to climb “The Bulge” and “Fancy Dancer” was too tough to bite. So it left us alone.

BTW, everyone was at Taylors Falls (and their Grandmas and their dogs) except you. What were you doing on this beautiful May November day? 

Feet Can Be Helpful

Especially at TF

Deadpoint Magazine

The tag line is "free climbing media for the young and unruly" Clearly I am not the demographic they are after, but I like it anyway, so there.
The latest issue, complete with the page turning sound that thrills me here

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Map Enthusiasts! This is Cool.

From the Gear Junkie, I downloaded a swell map of Zion.

Beginning in the 1940s, the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Mapping Program was tasked with the immense cartographical feat of surveying the entire country to create a series of more than 50,000 topographical maps. Widely available and mostly accurate, the 1:24,000-scale government maps canvas the total of the contiguous United States.

Not occurring to many people — including me! — these maps exist within the public domain and are thus free for use and distribution. Taxpayers funded the decades-long project, and now you, dear taxpayer, are allowed the keys to download thousands of maps from a U.S. Geological Survey web site.

Yosemite Topo Map.jpg

To be sure, printed maps from the USGS still come with a fee. But a download of the agency’s cartographical creations, which open in Adobe Acrobat as PDF files, is as simple and free as a few mouse clicks.

You can print the high-resolution map files from a home inkjet. Or, save the file and email a map to a copy shop for large-format print-outs.

To start the process, go to and find the text “Map Locator” on the top upper part of the left-hand column. Click it to be whisked to a Google Maps interface of the United States.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Where are the most microbes on humans located? The places that touch the climbing holds. Climbing is dangerous.

“"The highest diversity skin sites were the forearms, palm, index finger, back of the knee and sole of the foot.”

What Happens When You’re Supposed To Be Belaying?

And you’re shooting a video instead? A very shaky video of Ron of Red Wing climbing at Red Wing on a balmy November day.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

VE Thursday

Kyle, Lisa and I climbed for bit and Lisa did a lead on the arch area. Video below.



This week I have been thinking about a couple of things. Thought I would share.

  1. When Richard told me that there would be no more takes in my life, just falls, I was surprised and nervous but after what seemed like a couple of thousand falls, fear of falling was not in the front of my mind so much and I started to enjoy some success and challenged myself with some more difficult projects. When on a project it is nice to have a take now and them to work things out. But it is like a CRUTCH. I found myself up on the arch being gutless today, even though I fell off it 100 times in the last few weeks. Jeez. I will start again next week. No more takes, just falls.
  2. Focused flow, and stay in it. I read about that in the article posted previously by the amputee climber, inspiring, take a look at it.
  3. Efficiency, no wasted movements. It saves energy and frustration, I have even extended this thought to the rest of my life and it helps quite a bit, even in my yoga practice.
  4. And last but not least. Even when you think it's not about the feet, it's about the feet. LOOK DOWN THERE!
  5. ok, one more thing... ladies, please continue to dress appropriately. I know breasts just seems to get in the way while climbing but if you let "the gals" run wild, it is very distracting to our men friends.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Get Down From There, Peter

You’ll see what I mean in the video below.


Red Wing & Taylors Falls

Looks like there’ll be climbing on Friday at Red Wing – 11ish – and at TF on Saturday – probably 11ish also. If the weather forecast holds.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Preventing Tendonitis

Lots of stretches and strength building info on preventing tendonitis in this article.

Tips On Smoother Climbing

From an amputee. Here’s one most of us don’t need to worry about:

“Because I can’t use my prosthetic well on bulges, slabs, and small overhangs — with their “invisible” feet — I often have to find alternate rests. Toe or heel hooking with my prosthetic is super solid, and as long as I don’t pull too hard (my leg might fall off — creepy!), I can catch a rest at a corner or lip. You should try these unconventional rests, too.”

Halloween Can Be Dangerous

I hesitated about writing this post because I never want to discourage people from taking free candy (except from guys in cars, of course.) And I never believed those stories about razor blades or nails in candy at Halloween.

But this Halloween was different; I was horrified when I got home to find someone had given me candy that looked like the photo below. So, be careful out there. It’s a dangerous world.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Liz And PPM

Mike made a rare appearance at VE today. We watched him climb a route he renamed “Giving Birth to Yourself.” You’ll see why if you watch the video below.

Liz just found out she’s going into the hospital tomorrow for her hip surgery so won’t be climbing for a bit. Wish her well.


Sunday, November 1, 2009


Petzl has a contest for photos and videos to win your weight in Petzl gear. Details here.

One of the entries is below:

Rock Exam

A story of what it takes to pass the 6 day AMGA Rock Guide Exam course from the viewpoint of a female Exum Mountain Guide.

“Living with 12 people training for an exam can be overwhelming - beta overload, nonstop talk of climbing - but as well, very stimulating. For someone like me who suffers from acute case of FOMO - Fear Of Missing Out - it can be a little hard to manage. So, out of 18 days of training, I only took two days off.”