Sunday, October 31, 2010

15 Motivating, Amusing, and Inspiring Quotes about ROCK CLIMBING


Rock Climbing

15 Motivating, Amusing, and Inspiring Quotes about ROCK CLIMBING

A few of my favorites:

“There are only 3 real sports: bull-fighting, car racing and mountain climbing. All the others are mere games.”— Hemingway.

“Climbing may be hard, but it’s easier than growing up.” — Ed Sklar.

“You can grunt and heave, sweat and strain, wear yourself out, and unless you simply forget about it and step up, you won’t even get off the ground.” — Mike Borghoff.

Dean Potter – on the line, solo at Taft Point

Some say, Good for him pushing the limits! Some say they would rather be mediocre than dead. I have always been extremely moderate. What do you think? Has Dean gone too far?

From the article:

“ was a beautiful day in Yosemite. Dean had a high line set up there that he measured as somewhere between 99 to 100 feet. He had walked the line leashed a few times when I saw him untying from the tether. I figured he was just taking a break. Instead, he stepped up to the line and started walking it with confidence and determination. It’s hard to imagine what it must feel like walking across a rope with over a thousand feet of air below, but it was obvious to me that Dean was exactly where he was supposed to be…”

Quite a lively discussion in the article linked above about whether or not he’s crazy to do this.

The Beautiful Cup @ Backpacking Light

Brings back beautiful morning memories viewed through one open eye.......
The Beautiful Cup @ Backpacking Light

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Stem like a Natural!

Mount Everest now has a permanent 3G connection to the summit

Oct. 29, 2010 (9:30 am) By: Matthew Humphries

Climbing Mount Everest is a feat most of us will never achieve, but until now those that have reached the summit couldn’t phone and tell anyone. That is unless they invested in a lot of expensive equipment and took advantage of a satellite link.

From today that changes. Ncell, the Nepalese subsidiary of Swedish carrier TeliaSonera, has completed the installation of a high-altitude 3G base station at 5,200 meters. The good news for climbers is that the station will provide a signal even at the highest point of 8,848 meters.

With the introduction of 3G, communication on the famous mountain is now a lot easier. You can just take your standard smartphone with you and dial home when you reach the top. If no one believes you’ve made it then just make a video call instead and show them. More importantly, if you get into difficulties while climbing it’s a lot easier and more reliable to call for help.

Lars Nyberg, chief executive of TeliaSonera, heralded it as a milestone:

This is a great milestone for mobile communications as the 3G high speed internet will bring faster, more affordable telecommunication services from the world?s tallest mountain.

Read more at AFP and TeliaSonera

Matthew’s Opinion

Although the introduction of phone communication all the way up to the summit is a great achievement, it must take a bit of the magic out of making it up there. Imagine you are standing on the peak admiring the view and the sounds, only to have it interrupted by a ringtone in your pocket or from one of the other climbers.

Only 3,000 people have made it to the summit, though so I doubt that will happen too often. Ncell will be keen to encourage phones to be used while climbing just so as they can recoup the investment made. Constructing a base station that high must have been difficult for the crew working in such conditions. Getting the materials up there will have taken a while too.

Although the focus seems to have been on getting Mount Everest hooked up, Ncell has big plans to get all of Nepal sporting coverage. They even got seasoned mountain climber Veikka Gustafsson to tell everyone how important it is on camera.

What do you think??

Friday, October 29, 2010

Core Strength


Our old bud Will Gadd is riled up about the folly of getting core strength thru using exercise balls:

“Rolling around on a ball is only extremely useful for sports that require rolling around on a ball. Are you working out to get stronger in a useful way or working out to get better at rolling around on a ball?…

Now on to "core strength" as it relates to climbing and balls. I often get into discussions with people who think their ‘core’ is weak for climbing. They usually can't get or keep their feet on an overhanging wall. Most ‘trainers’ will prescribe rolling around on a ball like a spastic...

….So, if you're a climber that has a hard time holding your feet on the wall practice by hanging onto two good holds in a roof and swinging your feet up and ‘catching’ holds with them, repeat with holds to the side, etc. The good news is that this strength does come relatively quickly compared to pullups or something.”

Ever Been Nervous On A Climb?


Join the crowd. From the soon-to-be-aired special on Alaska.


New Book On Yosemite


Pilgrims of the Vertical: Yosemite Rock Climbers and Nature at Risk

From a review of a new book called Pilgrims of the Vertical:

“…’Pilgrims of the Vertica’l" is not a climbing memoir; Mr. Taylor quickly turns to discussing the origins of mountaineering as a gentleman's pastime during the Victorian era—this section has the feel of potted history—before moving on to his main concern and the best part of the book: the early days of rock climbing in Yosemite.”

(Looks like Oprah has a show on camping in Yosemite. It’ll be super crowded next year, so make your plans early.)

Skies Of Blue

A short video reminiscence of our trip to Utah 2 weeks ago.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Belay Loops

Are belay loops safe? An article about how they’re made and what to look for when they get worn. This is a photo of someone hanging from a belay loop that’s held together just with adhesive tape.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Who Can’t Do That?

She has 4  kids, works full time, and climbs 5.14. Who can’t do that?  But how does she keep her hair so shiny and bouncy. (Watch the video, and you’ll see what I mean.) That’s what I can’t do. An interview with her here.

Jacinda Hunter: Style, Grace, Power from Prana Living on Vimeo.

Jacinda Hunter, a nurse and mother of four (two boys and two girls), juggles work and parenthood with bouldering V11 and redpointing 14b. She says, “usually when I make up my mind to do something, I get it done.” Jacinda feels her biggest challenge is being a good parent and good example for her kids. “It’s hard to find time to provide opportunities for their interests and growth, and still have time to indulge in my own passions like climbing.” Jacinda and her husband, Mike, don’t have a TV-instead, the whole family goes on climbing trips together. Breaking the Law, her hardest route, was a long, cold winter project with the family. Her latest First Ascent "Fantasy Island" (5.14b) is in American Fork Canyon, Utah. For more visit

Deep Water Solo Competition

They built an overhanging wall on the river in Bilboa, Spain and had a contest. Chris Sharma won. Story here. More videos and an interview with Sharma here. La aqua del rio is muy far below – like 50 feet.

Tallest Climbing Wall

This is a free-standing wall in the Netherlands. About 120 feet (37 meters) tall. (So twice the height of our local cliffs at RW and TF.) I like this quote ‘cuz it kinda reminds me of our situation here:

Dutch climbing walls don't need to compete with many outdoor crags…”

Here’s the website on this climbing wall. (It’s in Dutch so it took me a few more minutes to read it.)

The amazing curved pillar of Excalibur at the Bjoeks wall in Groningen, the Netherlands., 79 kb

An overhead shot take from a kite:


Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Here’s Dean Potter climbing a high ball boulder in Yosemite. (I think he climbed this in ‘07, but the video is fairly recent.) He kept this project secret by washing off his chalk marks each time he attempted this climb.

About halfway thru the video, he falls and says,

“When I fell my feet traveled 20 feet before impacting the pads. I was lucky not to shatter bones. My quads were very sore and I limped around for the next few days.”

More of his story of this climb here.

What Does A Self-Respecting MAMIL Wear?

To answer Jen’s comment on the post about Middle Age Men In Lycra (“What color would you choose Richard?”), I found a video of a lycra fashion show. (It kinda makes me sick to my stomach to watch men prancing around in tight clothing. Others, might find it delicious.)

A link to the actual fashion show held at night. at the New River Rendezvous 2010. This is more sassy than the above video and not designed for youthful eyes. You have been warned! (I couldn’t get it to embed which is why I used the video above. Que lastima!)

OK, so what color tights would I wear?

  • Pink is out. PPM has the monopoly on those.
  • Lavender is out.  I saw Anthony in lavender at Red Wing.
  • Black. Too subtle, too slimming; it makes my legs look even skinnier than they already are.
  • Tiger stripes, leopard spots. Looks like the person is calling out for help. I have enough issues that I don’t need to take that one on too.
  • Red, I think would be the best. I tell others all the time to wear red if they want to show up in climbing photos.

Of course, the question “What does a self-respecting MAMIL wear?” is a trick question. A self-respecting man doesn’t wear lycra. A real hot dog does. And remember:



Am I Spoiled Or What?

I went to VE on Monday night. It’s super crowded at night! “Duh?” say those of you who climb mostly at night. Well, I realized how spoiled I am climbing during the day. It’s quite typical during the day, that no one is up in the bouldering area. Or, at most, 2 people. It’s quite usual that no one is doing any leading in the pit. Or, again, maybe one group. It’s unusual to wait for any specific route. Also, because my posse wasn’t there, I had to rely on the kindness of strangers for a belay. Asking strangers for a belay, makes a Chris Sharma 5.15.route look like a piece of cake.

On the positive side, there are lots of people watching. There is more of a “buzz” with that many people; lots of energy in the air. And, I guess it’d be a way to make new friends. But, who needs that?

Got An Old Rope?



I’ve always wondered what to do with old climbing ropes. I have two that I don’t use anymore, but I’ve kept them because…I spent a lot of money on them. And they’re full of memories.

This post shows how to make a rug out on a climbing rope.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Who Can’t Do That?

A repeat of a 5.15 Sharma route described as:

“The route consists of campus moves between one- and two-finger pockets and long lock-offs.”

Who can’t do that?


Middle Aged Men In Lycra, is the newest acronym that makes fun – yet again – of men just trying to have fun. Oh well, here’s the full article.(Although, the last time I was at Red Wing, I saw some real hot shot young climbers wearing lycra tights. Are they YAMILs? Maybe it’s time for PPM to break out his pink tights.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

127 Defining Moments Contest

“To celebrate the release of the film, Outside Magazine is launching the 127 Defining Moments Contest, in which entrants are asked to submit their own life altering moment to share with the world. 126 of those entrants will be selected to go along with Aron's to create the 127 Defining Moments. Each of the winners will receive great gear items.”




Here’s the trailer:

“You Cannot Make The Mountains Safe”

A movie about a well-known Canadian mountaineering guide is being shown at the Banff Film Festival. Info about this film and the history of the guide is here. Schedule of the Banff Film Festival is here.

Questions About Climbing El Cap

Here’s a post with some questions about climbing El Cap.

“My friends and I have been climbing in a local gym for about a year, and are planning a trip to yosemite this summer to climb el captain. we have a few questions about gear, and thought we could get them answered in cyberspace!

  1. is a static rope good enough for the climb? the sales guy at the gym said it was cheaper for beginning climbers to just get a static rope to start.
  2. are there draws on the bolts already? my friend told me no way, because of some sort of wilderness designation, but i figure if people climb it so often, there might just be fixed draws.
  3. do the anchors already have chains, or do we have to bring one up with us to connect the bolts?
  4. how long does it take to climb it? i heard its 3000 feet high, so, figuring i can climb a 50 foot route (5.9) in about five minutes, thats about 10 feet a minute. 3000/10 is 300 minutes, or 5 hours. does this sound about right?
  5. what's the best route? i can lead high 5.10 on a good day, but solid 5.9 most of the time. i heard "slathe wall" is 5.9 A2, so that sounds about right. any other routes at this difficulty level?
  6. what's the A2 mean?
  7. i asked this old dude at the gym about our trip, and he said we would need "port-a-ledges and haul bags." he said there was a company named phish that was good for these things. cool! phish rocks!
  8. i read an article about some guys who went up with a power drill and replaced some old bolts. do we need a drill? i heard "bosh" is a good brand.
  9. i heard el captain is so high, you can jump off it with a parachute! does anyone know the name of school there that will teach us how to do that?
thanks for the help in advance, but please kind of hurry up, cause we're leaving in a week and a half.”

Climbing In France

By a Czech teenager Adam Ondra. The videography is stunning. So is his footwork – esp. on the first climb he does.

Success Has 3 Steps–So Does Failure

When you have something really hard to do, you should:

  • Believe in yourself
  • Make a plan
  • And follow through

Following these 3 rules, it’s as likely as not you’ll fail. Watch and learn. (The best part, for me, is right at the end when his wife(?) asks, “Did you hurt yourself?” )

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Don’t Let Your Kids Grow Up To Be Climbers

This movie has been 3 years in the making according to their website. It represents 50 years of rock climbing in the US. More of the movie’s story here.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Kindergarten Climber


“She is a mild-mannered kindergarten teacher by day” and she just climbed her first 14a.

Story here.

Smileys In Wind River

Here the Smileys climbing two more or their 50 Classic Climbs in North America. Story of their Wind River climbs here.

Double Dippin In the Winds from Mark Smiley on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Life to the Max- Devil's Tower- nice piece with some familiar faces

Climbing A Roof

The story of a woman climber’s 7 day process of successfully trad leading a 13a roof in Squamish, BC.

Nathalie Malo Red Pointing Zombie Roof in Squamish, BC from nathmalo on Vimeo.

“Girl Tested, Girl Approved”

Here’s RockClimberGirl’s review of the LaSportiva Miura

Post image for La Sportiva Womens Miura VS:  Girl Tested, Girl Approved

Fighting Fear

Here’s how a climber overcame his fear of leading outdoors and his gym program to improve his climbing.

Climbing at the gym had become boring. I showed up more to support others than to focus on my own climbing

My plan for the gym was simple:

  • 5.10 and below would be climbed on lead, period.
  • 5.11 and above would be done on top rope, but if I climbed the route clean than from then on I had to climb it on lead.”

Cave Climbing

This is a story of 3 women climbing for a week in the Canmore, Alberta area. The last climb they did was Takkakaw Falls which is the 2nd highest waterfall in Canada. . Part of that 10 pitch route involves crawling through a cave.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Scenic Overload

DSC03044Today we hiked to the rim of Zion to Observation Point. Lisa forgot her wingsuit, so Carl wouldn’t let her jump.

Yesterday, we hiked the Virgin River through the Narrows. Many river crossings – 40? – in about 7 miles. Water temperature about 50 degrees. Luckily the water was only up to our undapants.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Kicking Ass & Burning Gas

Today we ripped the desert up in ATVs. Nothing’s more fun than tearing across the wilderness like a bunch of drunken teenagers. (No we weren’t drunk – drunk on power & caffeine, yes. Not on booze.)

DSCN0037Here’s a demonstration of Lisa and Barb doing yoga on our ATVs.



Here’s Lisa doin’ the dunes.

Friday, October 15, 2010


We did some canyoneering just outside Zion Park today. We hiked to the top of a canyon and then descended it via several rappels, cold water swims, and some technical stemming. At one point, Lisa went first to check the depth of the water. In order to stay out of water in this pool, she needed to a “downward facing dog” fully extended (hands on one side, feet on the other.) The walls were so far apart though, that she couldn’t reach both sides. So as one of us yelled at her “don’t go in the water over your head,” she dropped into the water and disappeared from sight. This was icy cold water more than Lisa’s height deep. She was down so long, we thought about sending out the rescue penguins to save her. But as usual, she popped up like toast. Another time, she had to ferry all our packs across a narrow slot the cliffs by chimneying horizontally.

Here’s a photo of us entering the canyon:


Here we are rappeling down into part of the canyon.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Debate On Grades

I always thought that part of the reason “old school” routes have a reputation for being sandbagged, is there was no harder grade than a 5.9. If you couldn’t climb it without aid, it became an aid climb. Then, later, many stronger climbers came along and climbed previous aid routes and they started grading climbs with 5.10, 5.11, etc. So there are many old school 5.9s which seem super hard today because they might be a 5.10 or more if they were graded today.
This is an article discussing grades at several different areas in the US – Gunks, Rifle, Indian Creek. A partial quote:
“And then there’s Indian Creek. A place where it all goes out the window, because the grade is completely dependent on the size of your hands. I love how my wife and I can have two completely different experiences on the very same route. It takes the idea of how routes can be different for every body type to the extreme, and makes you realize that it really is just all about having fun! You get thin hands there? No way, that’s heinous ring locks for me!”
And this from the comments:
“I like how in Indian Creek, you don’t give the grade but the camalot colour for the crack. It makes so much sense, but sounds really weird to people not used to it.”

“A red shirt, my kingdom for a red shirt!!!”

A common thread that runs through the posts on climbing El Cap, is that not enough climbers wear red. Here’s a screen capture I did on his site of a search for “red shirt.”
El Cap red shirt search copy

Never Too Old?

Kay LeClaire

The story of a Spokane, WA woman who climbed the world’s highest peaks.

I became the oldest woman to complete the Seven Summits by default, not by goal,” LeClaire says casually. “It took me weeks to even find out that I was the oldest.”

She never intended to make climbing history. In fact LeClaire, who lives in Spokane, Wash., with her husband, Jerry, didn’t climb at all until she was 51…she joined the Spokane Mountaineers mountain school, and with the group’s help, she learned the technical idiosyncrasies of the sport. She also got over her fear of rock climbing ’I couldn’t imagine myself, over 50, clinging to the side of this vertical rock,’ she says. ‘I didn’t like it all that much, but it’s all about overcoming fear. And I’ve gotten much better about that now.’”

Workshop On Gore-Tex

“Dressing for the Outdoors” workshop sponsored by Gore-Tex, is coming to Bloomington November 11th. (Of course, it’s for women. It seems to me that women know more about clothing than men. But, hey, whatever breathes your fabric.)

This is an article from RockClimbeGirl about this workshop:

“I know it may sound like an exaggeration, or over-dramatic, to say thatGore-Tex changed my life… but it’s actually true.

Me, in repose, on a rainy climbing day in Squamish, clad in my Arc'teryx Alpha LT Gore-Tex ProShell jacket. Photo by Tiffany M. Royal.

Until the summer of 2009 I was a fair weather athlete… I’d watch the weekend weather report, and if there was rain a’coming, I’d change my plans.  But during the summer of 2009, I was training for my first mountain expedition, and rain or shine, I had to train.”


Register for the workshop here.

Stairway to Heaven or... Pastors Climbing

On Monday at 3:00 pm. The pastors from St. Andrew's will be climbing at VE! O my gosh I am sorry to miss this. If you see them, introduce yourself, be friendly and tell them I predicted that Cindy and Sarah would be the CHAMPS! There are 6 of them all between 40 and 60, 4 men 2 women (shouldn't be too hard to spot)

Life to the Max

Watch Pat, Dan, Dave, Russell, Jen, Amy and Lisa climb Devil's Tower on Saturday, Oct 16 at 11:05 pm on channel 4 wcco. Oooof I am nervous about this, hope I don't look too foolish. How bad could it be when they take 12 hours and squeeze it into 8 minutes? I actually only felt foolish climbing it for the first 10 feet, you know, that point when you could change your mind, after that I was fully committed. Hey, can someone tape it for me?

Thanks To Belayers

Very cute article thanking belayers. (Of course, without the climber, no one would need the belayer. And if you’re a belayer without a climber, walking around in a harness and a belay tool is just silly.)

This is so true of me:

“I might roll my eyes when you check that I've properly tied my figure-8 knot, even though I've done it a million times. I might get a little defensive when you make me re-tie it if it doesn't look 100% clean and neat. But thank you for making sure I don't make a silly mistake that could get me seriously injured”.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Family That Climbs Together

Does other stuff together too. Here’s a story about Mom, Dad and teenage daughter climbing together in Yosemite.

“Having a child is a lot like my job as a furniture maker. You can start with something beautiful, but if you do nothing you have wasted a precious resource. If, however, you mold it and shape it, you end up with a work of art. I beam with pride as my work of art leads her first trad pitch, in the high Sierra, before even I have sampled Tuolumne’s pleasures.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rappel Backup

This is an expensive alternative to an autoblock knot, but

Adventure Brains

Brain On Adventure

Why do some of us seek more adventure than others? An article on what adventurous brains are like.

“In fact, we may owe the continued existence of the human species to those crazy adventurers who weren't content to squat around and eat bugs with a long stick—the ones genetically inclined to seek out the better-tasting protein, the greener pastures, the prettier mates from unfamiliar territory.

There was also, of course, something adaptive about staying in the grotto to doodle with chalk rather than fight the mastodon. And so, many of us have some 'fraidy-cat genes, too… Witness free climber Steph Davis, who frequently jumps off objects in a ‘squirrel suit’ and last summer broke her pelvis jumping (with Ted) off our very same W Hotel.

..When we drop into a stream's tongue or thread a mountain bike between rocks, all our senses buzz to life. The garage-band noise in our head fades away. .. ‘I have trouble feeling where the river stops and my body starts,’ he says. ‘I feel very calm. It's a Zen state. I surrender.’ Or, as kayaker Trip Jennings, who's pioneered first descents on rivers all over the world, puts it, ‘I feel focus but also a sensation of freedom and intuition. I love that first stroke, when you're fully committed.’"

Here’s One Way To Scout Climbs

It seems a little more risky than being in a plane.

Monday, October 11, 2010

“I’m Totally Not Having Fun”

Black Diamond climber Brittany Griffith makes sure her belayer knows she is “totally not having fun” about halfway up a route on Mt. Arapiles in Australia. Full story here.

Mountaineering Accidents

Tons of charts and graphs about climbing accidents in the US at this website.

Here’s one I liked. Looks like we’re pretty safe here in the Midwest.

“Race Across The Sky”

This is the movie made about the Leadville, CO 100 mile mountain bike ride. It is “stupid hard” and “makes grown men cry.”

Details about the race here.

Details about when it’s shown in the Twin Cities here.

Race Across The Sky 2010 from Citizen Pictures on Vimeo.

Redefining Balance

If you need help with your balance, here you go. They are re-defining it at this retreat in the mountains near Tucson, AZ. Along with climbing, you can camp, yoga-ize, and do other stuff too. (When a seminar/retreat advertises “healthy breakfasts,” I know it is not for me.)

The area in which they are climbing is quite spectacular. Mountainproject describes it thus:

Cochise Stronghold is a spectacular landscape of rugged canyons and towering granite domes. While there is certainly something for everyone in this vast area, those seeking traditional, multi pitch climbing will have a special appreciation for climbing here in the Dragoon Mountains.”

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Want To Be Safer?

It’s safer to climb than to have babies. At least according to these numbers from the British government. (I’m assuming the moms are at more risk than the dads when it comes to having babies.)

The American Alpine Club, in its yearly compendium Accidents in North American Mountaineering, reported 15 fatalities in the United States in all of 2007. The highest tally in the last 57 years, in 1956, was 53. The yearly average was 25. The British government, comparing the risks of various activities, assembled these statistics:

  • Maternal death in pregnancy         1 in 8,200 maternities
  • Surgical anesthesia                       1 in 185,000 operations
  • Hang-gliding                                  1 in 116,000 flights
  • Scuba Diving                                 1 in 200,000 dives
  • Rock climbing                                1 in 320,000 climbs
  • Canoeing                                       1 in 750,000 outings
  • Fairground rides                            1 in 834,000,000 rides
  • Rail travel accidents                      1 in 43,000,000 passenger journeys
  • Aircraft accidents                           1 in 125,000,000 passenger journeys

Clearly, hang-gliding and scuba diving are more dangerous than climbing (as is ordinary bike-riding, which accounts for roughly one fatality for every 100,000 rides).  But watch out for that really dangerous sport: pregnancy.”

(Of course, without babies, there’d be no more climbers. So don’t stop with the babies.)

This Is Fun To Watch

Courtesy of Black Diamond Journal’s “Winger for the Weekend,” I saw this fun video.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Way Cool Crystal Cave

This photo is of full-sized humans next to crystals

“.. up to 36 feet long and weighing 55 tons. Scorching-hot temperatures that could kill a human after just 15 minutes of exposure. Those are the descriptions of a newly-discovered cavern deep underground in Mexico that National Geographic is calling “one of the greatest natural marvels on the planet.”

This Sunday, October 10, the National Geographic Channel will air “Into the Lost Crystal Caves,” a two-hour special on the discovery and exploration of the Cueva de los Cristales, the Crystal Cave. More details, photos, and video on National Geographic here:”

crystal cave photo.jpg

Indoor Vs Outdoor Climbing

The more climbing I do indoors, the worse I climb outdoors. Why? Are they two different sports? Like this discussion thread? Is this the big reason:

“indoor climbing does not incorporate some of the biggest parts of climbing, the mental game that is involved with climbing outdoors (fall dynamics, gear placements) and possibilities for different climbing sequences to get past difficult spots.”

Is it because the real rock outside feels – I don’t know what else to say, except – real? Real rock is hard and painful. But so is a plywood gym wall coated to simulate a real rock cliff. I understand there’s a huge difference between placing your own protection – trad climbing – and clipping bolts in a gym. But I’ve observed a decrease in ability between top rope climbing in the gym and top rope climbing outdoors. Why? Is it strictly comfort? If you climb indoors all the time, is outdoor climbing just enough different that it seems harder?

This article talks about gym climbing being a “meat market” with a higher percentage of men to women. This is exactly the opposite of my experience. Way more women climb in the gym than climb outdoors. (Not a criticism, just an observation.) One woman climber, when I asked her why so few women climb outdoors, said to me “Bathrooms.” OK, I get that. (As if men love to squat and drop. That is always so comfortable – and fun - for guys.)

I think of the gym as an adjunct to outdoor climbing – as a way to work on strength and technique so that, when I go outdoors to do “real climbing,” I can climb better. (To me, it’s like the treadmills, or the rowing machines, or the cross country ski machines, in the gym – they are supposed to simulate the real activity of running outside, or rowing a boat on water, or, not to put too fine a point on it, actually skiing. On snow. Outdoors. Wowser! Who knew you could even do that?

I have talked to so many climbers in the gym – you know me, I can’t keep my mouth shut – who have never climbed outdoors. Or tell me, “Maybe twice I’ve climbed outdoors.” This could just be my age. When I started climbing, you could climb outside, or, let me think for a minute, you couldn’t climb at all. Bouldering and buildering were done, but, get this – they were done outside. Crazee, I know, but that’s the way it was. (Of course, when I climbed in the old days, I could always grab a nearby dinosaur as an anchor.)

I have noticed this summer, because I’ve climbed in the gym more frequently, my outdoor climbing has suffered. I noticed this in the Black Hills, I saw this at Red Wing and, last weekend, I noticed it at Taylors Falls.

So, I have begun to think that gym climbing and outdoor climbing are two different sports. Again, not a criticism, but an observation. For me, there are lots of good reasons to climb indoors:

    1. It’s a shorter drive
    2. I can get tired faster
    3. There are no bugs and it never rains
    4. It’s not as cold indoors in the winter
    5. The bathrooms are nicer and generally have TP on a roll. (Although, the sounds from the other stall sometime frighten me.)
    6. And, maybe, most importantly, I never have to hike uphill from the parking lot

Good reasons to climb outdoors:

  1. It’s outside
  2. It’s real rock
  3. It’s traditional;people started climbing so they could actually get to the top of something. Strange, huh?
  4. You don’t have to look for the doors with these signs.Men Women Bathroom Clip Art


What do you think about indoor vs outdoor climbing? Do you indoor climb because it’s more convenient but you’d rather be outside? Do you notice a difference in your climbing when you’re indoors vs outdoors? Is gym climbing a way to get better for the real climbing on real rocks or are they just two different activities? Comments?

Reach Farther

For those of us with a smaller “Ape Index” - more like a “Capuchin Monkey Index” -

Ali Rainey discusses techniques to enable us to reach farther. Including this one of looking down to extend your reach:

The subtle climbing technique of looking down at the last second before reaching for a handhold can help shorter rock climbers gain that last little bit of necessary stretch to make contact.”

The Herd Instinct


This article talks about the lack of success in scolding people to lose weight.

“Telling people what they ought to do, even giving them the facts is unlikely to change much - I knew the facts of smoking and its likely damage to my health but still persisted for years.

Much of it is considered and helpful but almost all of it misses the big point about this kind of thing: far from being "reckless" or "immoral" or "irrational" behaviour by independent individuals, over-eating, smoking and alchohol abuse tend to be things that spread through social means, as for example,..

We do these kinds of things because those around us are doing them, not because we are - any of us - acting independently. We are social not reckless.”

This seems so obvious – you are who you hang out with.

How do people get to be expert at an activity? They hang out with others who are better than they are or at least striving to get better. Dave MacLeod discusses the previously cited article as it relates to climbing:

We are social beings and it’s too hard to act individually swim against the tide of what everyone around you is doing….Go on a holiday where there isn’t a culture of sitting around, drinking, eating and not doing much (like a mountaineering trip) and you’ll probably come home a pound or two lighter, without even trying …

Some goes for your sport performance, training, whatever. The best way to get into a national team is to spend a stack of time with everyone else who is doing the same. I feel that it’s not necessary to make this a permanent move. It’s about hardwiring a new set of habits, norms, standards.”



14 tips to improve dynos.

“Everyone feels too short when the holds are far away, right? So, what?s the clue? What are you to think, that makes it possible to fly and land those crucial centimeters higher up?”

Friday, October 8, 2010

It’s Coming Up Soon

The Sandstone Ice Festival is coming up December 10-12th. Details here.

I can hardly wait for some big, phat ice.

Don’t Try This At Home!

Here’s Sonnie Trotter using a campus board to train. I have done a little campus boarding – enough to know that what he’s doing here is crazy hard and a killer for your tendons. 

Thought for the Day

From an old Italian proverb, "Eggs have no business dancing with stones". Comments? Let it roll around in your mind for a while today.

Minnesota Rocks

I was surprised to see a nice article in Climbing Magazine about our state! Click here to read it. I know I would like to go up to Palisade Head and Shovel Point. any one interested? I know a local guide, and he owes me. ;)

“With possibly the best—and definitely the most scenic—climbing in the Midwest, Tettegouche State Park is located an hour north of Duluth on Highway 61, along the north shore of Lake Superior. On a clear, sunny day, you might confuse these jagged rhyolite cliffs with a tropical paradise… if it weren’t for the pine trees and 45-degree water.”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Climbing Fashions

Mountain Mama makes clothes for the expectant climber. I am expecting to get better, but I hope my belly doesn’t get this big in the process.


Why Not Rappel Into A Volcano?

Besides the fact the heat might melt your ropes, it looks like a hot time. If you decide to visit this Vanuatu volcano, you might want to go on a hut to hut tour of the island – details here. Especially if you go during one of their festivals when you can wear one of these cool masks.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chicks With Picks At Devils Lake

Two Midwestern “Chicks” tell about their experience two weeks ago at the Devils Lake climbing seminar with “Chicks With Picks.”

Aiming For Average

A nice essay on being an “average” climber (5.11 leader) in Boulder, CO.

“You're aiming for average, and you've embraced humiliation. You have nothing to lose but your chicken heart, and that's manageable.”

The Power Of Non-doing

This is from an essay called “Zen and the Art of Wife Maintenance.” It’s quite funny with lines like this:

“I met Hannah back in Austin, and after dating for a year she moved into my yurt.
It was a little like watching a flower open in time-lapse. The yurt acquired hard walls, a hard roof, a sink and shower, hot water, a cactus garden. She drove me mercilessly to clean up the mess and I picked up my stuff and stowed it under the yurt….A year passed, and in that time Hannah by dint of pure effort had transformed the yurt into a lovely home…

…She was beaming, and I thought once again about how powerful non-doing can be. Not only did I get rid of the Subaru by ignoring it and going climbing every spare moment for an entire year, I also got Hannah exactly what she wanted for her birthday.
The river of life flows on, and the to-do lists pile up on the surface like little boats. The mothers of the world will make sure everything gets done.”

Women’s Climbing Magazine

Here’s a new online women’s climbing magazine. Maybe now that they have their very own, the women can stop reading the men’s climbing magazines.

N.B. I read the first sentence of one article - “One of the things that I both love and dread is going to the pedicurist”-  and decided. yes, indeed, this is the magazine I’ll turn to over and over again.

logo for

Rope-Worn ‘Biners


If you see a ‘biner that looks like this, replace it. Read the test report that Black Diamond conducted.