Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Best 5.9 Trad Climbs

This is one person’s opinion of the best 4 pitch or more 5.9 trad climbs in US.

What is so great about 5.9 trad? In gyms and sport climbing areas grandparents, kindergartners, and people with the general fitness level of elephant seals routinely send 5.9. The grade was originally established in England almost 100 years ago. For a long time 5.9 was the top of the scale, and a host of routes earned the rating as the ceiling on what constituted 5.9 crept gradually higher. Finally some genius suggested adding 5.10 and we were off to the races with the numbers chase.”

Climbing In Chad


Who hasn’t been there? Climbers sponsored by The North Face are climbing sandstone in the desert of Chad. Follow them here.



Cry But Carry On

Most of you might have to wait a few years to be as old as she was – 78 - when she climbed the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda.




Beryl and Bwambale ascending the mountain.

Park climbed Mountain Kilimajaro twice when she was 36 and 72 together with her 13 year-old-granddaughter.

‘Climbing Mountain Rwenzori turned out to be the hardest of all. Whereas the weather on Mountain Kilimanjaro is mostly static, that of Rwenzori varies and that is what made it hard to climb. At some point it would rain a lot and then it snows, becomes dry and so on. It was really difficult and honestly the thought of going back crossed my mind but I told myself I had to get to the top because I had set out to reach there.’

Bwambale says, ‘When we started the journey, we thought she couldn’t make it to the top because of her body structure. We reached some stages she would cry but would decide to carry on.’”



Monday, November 29, 2010

I'd go for the Fruit Loops myself...

A very important question posed to Steph Davis:  What cereal do *you* eat before you climb?

"I am 9 years old... I really want to become a rock climber but my mom said that I have to eat healthy cereal like life, oatmeal squares, and cheerios. so I wanted to ask you what cereal do you eat mostly?"

In Celebration of Badass Old Chicks

from Miles to Go

I posted this one for myself I think, let me know if you like it. - Lisa

“It’s not like the old days.”

I used to hear that a lot from one of my old bosses, back when I was practicing law. Richard was a master of the side-step, so it was a suitably vague phrase, but his intent was usually pretty clear. “Move along,” he meant. “Get with the program. No use bitchin’ about the way things used to be.” An admonition with a dollop of lament on the side.

But in a different context, “it’s not like the old days” is an affirmation and a challenge.

Back in MY old days–at least where I grew up–middle-aged women didn’t climb icefalls, run marathons, shoot rapids, ski glaciers, bomb down rocky cliffs on tricked-out mountain bikes or rocket around banked tracks on bicycles with fixed gears and NO BRAKES. They didn’t bloody their hands working crack-intensive toprope problems or shred the glades at Breckenridge. They sure as hell didn’t surf. Or base jump.

Not that the middle-aged ladies of the last century didn’t have fun. My grandmother loved a good canasta game. My mom played bridge and, on rare occasions, a round of golf. The Altar Society meetings were good for a laugh and a bit of gossip. And who could forget that Friday night sexy/cool Man From U.N.C.L.E.? Ahhh, it was a quieter time.

Not now. A generation of women are unselfconsciously kicking ass as (peri)menopausal adventurers and athletes. All the more amazing when you realize that a lot of us (especially the pre-Title IX crowd) didn’t discover “sports” until later in life.

If you’re one of those women, tell me what you’re doing. Send me a link, a photo, a video. I want to share your awesomeness.

If you’re in the demographic–or even just tiptoeing up to it–and you haven’t even TRIED anything terrifying yet, ask yourself: Why not? Maybe you don’t have the money, maybe you don’t have the time, maybe you’re raising your grandchildren instead of enjoying reproductive retirement. These are legit roadblocks, but they can be nudged in the name of adventure, IF you want it badly enough.

I count myself one of the lucky ones because I found the fun before it was too late. So what if I’m 55 and my knees are falling apart and every sixth hair is coming in gray and I wake up five times a night hot/wet/freezing and I can’t read a map or a menu in low light or remember much of anything? That just means I’m old enough to appreciate what I can still do. Every run, every ride, every pitch is another little miracle.

Not like the old days, indeed.

Goal Setting

Setting goals for the upcoming ice season, she is reminded that goals need to be specific and measurable,

Before you start a line, pick one thing you need to work on, and focus on that.  On ice, that might mean the swing, the kick,  breathing, balance, fluid movement, looking at your feet, using your core, maintaining the triangle, or resting. Or a dozen other things that I don’t know about yet. Every time you hear ‘you’re on belay’ but before you say ‘climbing,’ set an intention for that climb: What are you going to work on?”

Be Careful Of Climbing

“A while back I was talking with a good friend and he told me to  be careful with getting into climbing – that it would change my life.  At the time I blew the comment off but looking back, he was dead on.  I’ve changed a lot – but all in good ways.”

More on what she learned after a summer of lead climbing in the Rockies here. I like this piece of advice (but I KINOW I won’t follow it):

“Learn to be content.  This was a big one for me and it had an effect on more than just my climbing.  It dawned on me one day that I needed to quit fretting about whether I could/should have been pushing myself harder and instead start enjoying what I was capable of climbing.

Prissy Or Granola?

Which one are you , granola girl or prissy girl? I don’t believe that these two types actually exist. But, hey, I don’t know everyone – yet. Steph Davis answers a young woman climber’s concerns, who writes:

“I love meeting new people while out climbing…but it seems as though most of the girls i meet out are either at the extreme granola side of things (no shaving, or bathing for that matter…haha) or the prissy girls from the city with ALL of the most expensive gear, who don't really know what they are doing….”

Tips for a New To Climbing Girl

Climbing Rack Maintenance

This article explains how to clean and maintain your lead rack to prepare it for next season, now that winter is here. It is mostly about taking care of cams, so if you don’t have cams, go watch a movie instead of reading this. (Although, it does encourage you to mark each piece of your equipment. I have learned, that any item of climbing gear I have that’s not marked, belongs to Ron. A word to the wise.)

Climbing Rope And Flying

Qantas is experiencing a baggage nightmare around Australia after a stray rock-climbing rope jammed key equipment in Melbourne on Sunday.”

Somebody’s going to be buying a new rope.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Climbing Techniques–Slopers

There are short videos and write-ups of techniques at this site.

This is a video on slopers.

How do I use them? Watch the video. You’ll notice how Glenn really gets his weight as far under the hold as possible. The aim is to try to get as much friction as you can by placing your weight under the hold. The higher up your weight, the less friction you’ll have. This can make it difficult when you want to move upwards to the next hold as you can slip off as you move up. In this case try to keep your forearm as close to the wall as you can. Stay as low as you can until you have reached the next hold.”

Climbing basics - hand holds - slopers from Rock Climbing UK on Vimeo.

Lake Superior Ice Locator Map

Click here to see it and click on the stars to take you to the link.

A sweet map!

North Shore Ice

Crag: North Shore MN
Rating: WI4
Route Description
Lots of variety in the routes on the Manitou River. The river must be frozen to get the easiest access, just a 5 minute walk from the highway.

Just up the Road a bit…

When water freezes around Lake Superior, that’s when things really get moving for ice climbers.
Some 17 years ago, ice climbers in the Midwest states began annual pilgrimages in search of early season ice climbs along the shore of Lake Superior from Pigeon River at the Minnesota border east to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and Michigan. This area has the only guaranteed ice in the Midwest from December through May, and sometimes the ice forms mid-November and stays to June. In this 700 kilometer stretch, there are more than 300 frozen monoliths for ice-climbing enthusiasts to scale.
Some of the best ice climbing in the world is found around Lake Superior, considered the third best climbing destination in North America (after Colorado and New Hampshire).
There are places to climb all around the lake, in each of the three U.S. states and the Canadian province. In Orient Bay alone, on Ontario’s Lake Nipigon, there are about 128 climbs along 12 miles of highway: A higher concentration than anywhere else in the world and incredibly accessible.

Read the rest here

Saturday, November 27, 2010

First Ascents In Alaska

At the spot marked “F” in the photo below, 2 climbers were dropped off by plane this last May to climb on Mt Huntington in the Denali area. On one had ever landed in this cirque. They repeated several climbs and found many new ascent possibilities.

On one of their many climbs in this area they encountered deep snow on their return to camp.

At times we would sink waist-deep in the soft snow, only held up by our packs. We were out of food, fuel, and water, so there was no real benefit to stopping, and so we just kept struggling. At one point, for the first time in my life, I was not confident that I could just keep going for the barn. It was that bad. Only the bottle of tequila in the tent kept us moving. That and the fact that stopping wasn’t going to solve the problem. Sixty-seven hours after we left the tent, we returned—wasted, parched, hungry, almost delirious. I had never felt better.”

(One of the climbers had just recovered from a broken neck and back having, just before he broke his back, recovered from near paralysis caused by a rare disorder.)

Climbing With Style

I like his hat – that’s stylin’. This is a trailer from the “Best Climbing” film in the Kendal Mountain Festival.

You can vote on how cool his hat is here.

One of the world's top big wall climber's Leo Houlding revisits his 10 year project; The Prophet, an exceptionally steep, loose and difficult route on the east face of Yosemite's El Cap. Leo describes the route as 'the wildest climb I've ever been on'. This has to be seen to be believed, crazy climbing. Leo only completed the route late in October 2010.”

Friday, November 26, 2010

Some Day My Prince Will Come

I wonder if this  lost climber was  thinking “Some day, my prince will come” when Prince William arrived with a rescue crew to evacuate him from Mt. Snowden.

Punishment = Glory

There’s a group of climbers in So. California who call themselves pullharder.org. They posts reports of their climbs and their event at their website. They just organized their first fun run/marathon with a group of friend and co-workers. Their motto for the training leading up to the run is “Punishment = Glory,”

Pullharder is nothing if not a nexus of pushing limits while having fun.  We know how to push our limits, but it’s often difficult to inspire others to push theirs.  Well, it happened during our First Annual Pullharder Marathon!”


Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Big Thank You To Belayers

Here’s a big thank you to belayers. (Of course, belayers should give a big shout out to climbers. Without the climber, it’s kinda silly to just hold a rope in your hand.)

Thank you for knowing what to say and when to say it. Some climbers need words of encouragement shouted up to them while others don't want to hear a thing. It's a delicate balance, and you've got it down to a science. It might have taken some coaching, but you listened, and that's the mark of a Great Belayer. Better still, thank you for giving me a big hug on the ground  [ED. Note: I don’t do that.] when I've done something you know is a big deal to me, whether I'll admit it or not.

Along the same line, thank you for giving me beta when I need it, and keeping quiet when I don't. It's difficult not to shout advice when the sequence is so obvious from the ground. [ED. Note: I don’t keep quiet, more’s the pity.]”

No Excuses For Not Ice Climbing

Here’s a woman’s story of her first ice climb. I like this part:

My life tends to be a moving paradox: I hate being cold but I love winter, I don’t like heights but I climb 800 foot cliffs, and my 108 pounds can lift a surprising amount of weight.  When winter hit New England last year, I said I was not going to try ice climbing—cold, wet, scary ice? No. Climbing on rock was one thing, climbing on slippery, easy-breaking ice was a whole other game that I had no interest in playing.

But when Jeremy showed up with my size boots, extra ice tools, and hand warmers, I only had two choices in front me: work on my graduate thesis or go play in the woods.”

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sore Elbows, Fingers, Shoulders? Eat A Fish

At least there’s some evidence that fish oil helps with inflammation. I know I am eating a FiTukey (or is it a TurkIsh?) for Thanksgiving.


Bee Stings And Climbers

Not such a problem here in the winter, but this a report from Arizona of climbers stung multiple times on a popular route on Camelback Mountain. See stings happen so frequently on this route, that there are many comments in the Mountainproject route description.

climbers on praying monk 550.jpg

How Did The Pilgrims Get Ice?


pilgrim with ice axe

When they invited their posse over, how did the Pilgrims get enough ice? I found this very old photo of a Pilgrim (or a photo of an old Pilgrim) which shows one way they did it.



PS Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Winter Training–Part Dos

This is winter training for ice climbing. Build yourself a “plice” – a plywood ice climbing wall.

pliceInstructions here.

Ice Is Coming Our Way

This is a report from the Thunder Bay Chapter of the Alpine Club of Canada. They went ice climbing last weekend at Orient Bay. Which is here. Still quite a bit north of us. Coming our way. Boo hoo and hooray.

“....the season has begun.  Wes and I headed out to OB this morning and jumped on Mellow Yellow and Hully Gully.  Wow, its a winter wonderland out there.  There was about 10-12 inches of snow on the ground so we have a good layer of insulation already…The ice is thin, hammered a ton of rock on the way up. The upper curtain is still hollow and 13cm screws is all that the climb will take.   After both of us doing a lap we moved over to Hully Gully.  Easy as usual, still hollow on both pitches with lots of water running behind the climb.  The rest of the corridor is shaping up nicely, everything has ice on it, just needs some time for things to build up. “


Winter Training

Wintertime is here.  It's true.  Here are some good winter training tips and resources. 

As for the Twitter pull-up logging, when I can do one you'll probably be able to hear me cheering from .. wherever you may be.  At least all over Twitter. Steph Davis (@highsteph) logged +49 the other day.  That is awesome.

Get You In The Mood

This video will get you in the mood for ice climbing, Avert your eyes at the 2:20 mark if you don’t want to see them use a piton. (Ask Lisa how important it is to have a piton handy in case of emergencies.) And there’s great dry tooling – rock climbing with ice axes – near the end.

New line of Petzl Charlet ice tools - QUARK NOMIC ERGO from Petzl-sport on Vimeo.

Here’s Why I Don’t Bike Commute

It looks too hard to do bike commuting. I will stick to my car. (What do you like better, the riding the hand rail next to the police station or riding the pipes by the power plant? Or?)

Another Use Of A Trekking Pole


“’Walker attacked by reindeer’ sounds like the storyline of a Christmas comedy cartoon, but it wasn’t at all funny for Pat Cook when it happened for real this weekend.”

If you’re hiking in the Scottish hills be sure to have a hiking pole to ward off reindeer attacks. Here’s a story of a woman who was attacked numerous times over the course of 2 1/2 hours until she escaped by climbing over a fence. Here’s info on this free-ranging herd of reindeer.

I wonder if the reindeer are upset about all the hours they will have to work in about a month.

Wanna Climb Harder?

Maybe you need a double shot of espresso like Cedar Wright.

VICS COFFEE COMMERCIAL from Cedar Wright on Vimeo.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Climbing Mystery

3rd (or 4th pitch?) on POD. Great exposure!!!A professional gambler and an expert rock climber disappeared in January, 2005. His remains were just discovered last week on a ledge on the “Prince of Darkness” route in Red Rocks, NV. An article about him published in 2005 says this:


During the second week of January 2005, John ‘The Gambler’ Rosholt parked his black 1989 Toyota truck in a Las Vegas casino lot, pocketed the keys and disappeared. The 48-year-old climber and professional poker player left behind a tidy townhouse in the upscale Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale on December 28, 2004, for a two-week New Year’s holiday. …

John Nicholas Rosholt III was a climber and gambler. Though he’d done his share of sport routes and bouldering (he consistently won his age division at the Phoenix Bouldering Competition, climbed Hueco V8s and 5.13), it was traditional first ascents and on-sights of 5.12+ trad that set him apart. Rosholt’s crack resume brimmed with stiff ticks like Ruby’s Cafe (5.13a) and Desert Gold (5.13a). Hailed as one of America’s best traditional climbers in the late 1990s, he was known for a methodical, almost scientific approach. Not only could Rosholt calculate the odds on a tough pitch, he could hedge his bets with precise footwork and a sober poker face.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Wanna be a LUNA Chick? (I know I do, but I just don’t have the right shoes for the outfit.)

Although the local groups are called Teams, they don’t race or compete together as a team.  They train together but they enter events and races of their choosing as individuals, wearing their LUNA gear.  Teams are organized around a specific sport: triathlon, running, road cycling, or mountain biking.

Swim Practice

Local Luna Chix braved the cold SF waters for their swim practice.

Currently, there are 280 local LUNA chix in the U.S. in 19 different communities in 16 states.  But there are still plenty of states without their own LUNA Chix team.

That’s where you come in.  LUNA wants to expand their local LUNA Chix program and they’re looking for team leaders to start the ball rolling in their communities.  If you’re longing for a supportive group of women to run, ride, or swim with, and you don’t mind a bit of fund-raising activity, visit the LUNA Chix website, read all about the teams, and apply to start one of your own!”

Fingerboard Training

A program for beginners to train on fingerboards. And for an advanced training program go here.

Fingerboard Training Beginners Ned Feehally planetFear

Banff Film Festival Review

Richard, Carl and I went to see the award winning adventure films at the expo on Saturday night. I have been pondering ever since. Let me first state that I enjoyed the films.

Life Cycles, The Mountain Biking Film was very artsy and beautiful, It took place in Saskatchewan, there was lots of flipping up and out of the wheat fields. It left me wondering what the jump looked like to get them that much air and why Grandpa was doing all the work while these guys were goofing off. I hope they gave him some of the prize money. I like the part where the seasons changed on the wheels of the cyclist.
The Asgard Project was my favorite. Wow, you have to go all the way to the arctic to find a big wall that hasn't been free climbed. I noticed the there is a lot of aid climbing in a free climb, scoping out routes... hauling gear and ropes.... I say, if you are going to free climb, Free Climb it! That might change the standards and free up a few more big walls to be "free climbed". 12 days on a wall seems like quite a few; wonder how much weight those boys lost. Leo provided interesting drama and commentary while Stanley was busy free climbing and getting the job done. The 3 heroes got to fly wing suits off the top. Their buddies spent hours getting the ropes and gear down. But I guess throughout history, there have been the big names and support crew. Life on the big wall sure looks like a challenge. It was a good movie. Click here for more about it

Into the Dark- took us spelunking! No thanks. It sure was pretty, but I had to close my eyes sometimes as I am not interested in performing any move with the word " squeeze" in it. The location is super secret. This movie was hard to breathe through.

There was a movie about Kayaking in Norway. It sure was exciting. It made me wonder where the line was between going off Niagara in a barrel and kayaking off a 100 foot waterfall. Do you really have that much more control in a kayak? Kayakers, this is a real question, lets discuss it.

The last one was about Snowboarding off some vertical faces in the Fairweather Range in Alaska. This range happened to be where John and Richard found a crashed plane, ask them about it. Anyway, these snowboarders did a nice job hiking up some very vertical snow, and then fell of the top using their snowboards to cushion their landings.
I suppose that's what happened in all the films. If you jump off things you need to figure out how to land. And it make sense to use a tool that you are familiar with, a kayak, a snowboard, a wing suit.........can't explain the cave thing though.

Did you go? What did you think?

Then the biggest adventure happened. Ice Storm! I have mad driving skills, I used inertia heavily. I really wanted applause when I pulled into the garage. Oh well I got us home safely, Hope you got home safely too.

PS This was the Banff Film Festival not the B.A.M.F. Film Festival.

What A Place!

This photo was taken at Ki Gompa about 12,000 feet high.

“Ki Gompa. This picture was taken when I visited the Buddhist Monastery of Ki. Ki is a tiny village in the middle of the Himalayas, and next to it is Ki Gompa (Ki Monastery). I lived with the monks for about a week, and this picture reflects the peaceful, almost heavenly atmosphere that characterizes this place. The Monastery is almost 4,000 meters high, and I had to climb almost 500 meters more to get this panorama. This place is a touch of heaven. (Photo and caption by Natalia Luzuriaga)”

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Village Smithy

Lisa, our very smithy, made these steel hooks and an emergency knife blade piton just like Longfellow wrote about in his poem  “The Village Blacksmith.“ She had a little help from Johnny Mac using his forge. And she had to learn how not to hammer like a girl. I think they were under a spreading Quonset hut – not a chestnut tree. But you’ll have to ask Lisa about that.


Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - The Village Blacksmith

Why Not Fly To Spain To Learn About Climbing?


Probably because most of us don’t get paid to do it. This is an article about a Wall Street Journal writer who goes to Catalonia to learn to climb.

The rock in front of me was nose-high. A scrub-encased boulder, with a limestone surface as smooth as a frying pan, it was my first test on my first day rock climbing in remotest Catalonia, and I was failing. I didn't know where to grab or what to do, until my teacher, Catalan rock climbing guru Toni Arbon├ęs, pointed at a slight irregularity about level with my hip. ‘Put your foot there,’ he said, ‘And give me your hand.’

And just like that I sprung to the top, feeling for a second what real rock climbers feel—utter, outrageous mobility.”

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fooled Again

I thought they filmed the movie “127 Hours” in a real slot canyon. But they made a slot canyon in a warehouse. Pretty cool. Here;s  how it was done.

A Valuable Lesson On Helmets

This is from Beth Rodden’s blog:

Beth Rodden in her Petzl ELIA helmet

“One of the first cracks I climbed on my Yosemite quest was Central Pillar of Frenzy on Middle Cathedral. It was a Saturday, so my partner and I were rushing to beat the crowds. Surprisingly, when we arrived at 9 a.m., we were the first party. I took the first lead and found incredible climbing on polished granite, but just below the first anchors, my foot unexpectedly popped and I fell, flipping upside down in the corner and hitting my head. It was without a doubt the worst lead fall I’ve ever taken. At first all I wanted to do was flip right side up. I didn’t really notice anything in particular that was hurt right off the bat, but I lowered to the ground only to find a bloody shoulder and elbow…

A few days later I noticed that I couldn't concentrate on things properly and I felt a bit dizzy and nauseous. I started researching and thought I might have a concussion. I didn't think I hit my head that hard, but I don't really remember the fall, just that I had a lump on the front and back of my head. I called up my friend and ER doctor Noah Kauffman, and he thought the same thing. And so, 16 years after I started climbing, I learned a very valuable lesson on helmets.. I never wore a helmet before, except when jugging on El Cap or climbing in the mountains, where I thought there was a danger of rock fall. But now I know I should wear one all the time. I don’t see many top climbers wearing them during everyday cragging; I know I never did, and neither did my ex-husband, Tommy Caldwell. I can understand not wearing one when attempting a redpoint, but now it seems so obvious to wear one most other times. I put stereotypes aside and that next day I got one of the new ELIA helmets and have been wearing it ever since.”

This Looks Cold

Diving under the North Pole. The divers support crew look like us in about 6 weeks.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Impossible–Part Deux

She loves climbing but hates to fall. Impossible, you say? Here’s her video submission for the “What’s Your Everest?” Her complete post here. I like this quote from her post:

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?…I have seen so many people come climbing for the first time… and they jump on a 5.9 no problem, not knowing that it's ‘too hard’ for an out of shape beginner. When was the last time I tried to do something I didn't think I could accomplish? Sure I push myself, but I haven't been living my life with those thoughts in the front of my mind. “

Success Or Failure?

Bailing off a climb is a failure, right? Especially several routes on the same trip. Here’s what “Migrant Science Teacher” says about her recent climbing experience at the “Gunks:”

“I just got really frustrated at my failed attempts to grow. It didn't hit me till the drive home - those weren't failed attempts. Three months ago I would have laughed at the thought of leading trad. Now I'm bailing off of a Gunks 5.6. I've grown so much. Not every step has to be big, it's the fact that I keep pushing myself.”



It’s impossible to imagine someone starting climbing in their 40s. How could that be?

“I am passionate about rock climbing and have been since my first climb fourteen years ago. What people find interesting is that I took to climbing so late in life. I didn’t climb until I was 42, and I had always been sedentary until I began to climb. So, now, this is me: ‘Middle aged homemaker turned climber’.’

Climbing With Injury

Dave MacLeod tore a ligament on his index finger doing a crimpy move. So he changed the type of climbing he did to steep overhangs.

“…the injured part must be relatively unloaded for a good several weeks to give it a chance to progress and form a strong scar. But doing nothing tends to cause that healing progress to falter. Choosing climbing that will keep everything moving, responding and basically stimulated means healing progresses faster. So the goal is to look for a type of climbing that is kind on the injury but lets you climb hard and keep your fitness.”

Up On The Roof

This is like Willow on steroids. It’s in Margalef Spain.. Story here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ice Climbing

This video was shot in the Canadian Rockies – not the Brick Yards. The story of this climb is here. Ask Russell about a warm trickle of liquid running down his face while ice climbing last year.

“A warm trickle of liquid running down your face is never a good sign when ice climbing…The Real Big Drip (M7 WI 6), located in the Canadian Rockies Ghost Wilderness, will keep you in the moment, bottom to top. One of the biggest, baddest mixed climbs in the world, it is steep, long, loose, unrelenting, and absolutely my favorite mixed climbs in Canada.”

BD grassroots athlete Jesse Huey on The Real Big Drip (M7 WI 6), Canadian Rockies from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

Dawn Wall

imageTwo climbers are currently trying to free one of the famous routes – “Dawn Wall” – on El Cap in Yosemite. Photo on the left is of them making calls from their cell phones. The blog of Tommy Caldwell – one of the climbers – is here.

Below is a shot of the moon – on the upper right – with the climbers on pitch 9. Most of their climbing is at night. Kevin Jorgenson said on his Twitter feed Monday:

“Pitch 9 is done. Now the real business begins: 5.14b ish, 5.13d ish, 5.14b ish, 5.14c ish, 5.14c ish.”

They are trying pitch 12 tomorrow. More on their story here and here.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Asgard Project

One of the award-winning films at the Banff Film Fest, was the movie “Asgard Project.” Here’s a short out take.

“It’s day 11 on the wall, water is running out and the boys are thirsty; by this stage they'll drink anything! Watch the next installment of The Asgard Project out-takes. http://www.posingproductions.com.”

Mountain Guide Parade

One thing I learned from this video, is the European mountain guides dress much better than the American guides. I love their little hats and their knee socks. (Only the first minute or so is worth watching.)

“Mountain climbing guides from around the world came to Boulder, CO, for meetings with American guides. Part of the activities included a parade in downtown Boulder.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Winter Outdoor Adventure Expo

Starting Friday, November 19, join Midwest Mountaineering and all our friends for the 25th annual Winter Outdoor Adventure Expo.

There are tons of things to do and see, including 90 presentations and 70 exhibitors.  Everything in the store is on sale and lots of factory reps are around to explain every nuance of the latest clothing and gear available.  Come spend a memorable weekend with us!

Details at www.outdooradventureexpo.com.

Also, Friday & Saturday at 7:30 is the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Trailer below.


The Banff Mountain Film Festival is an international competition held from October 30th through November 7th in Banff, Alberta featuring the world’s best films and videos on mountain subjects.  A fun time - for sure.  For more festival information: www.banffmountainfestivals.ca/tour.

Easier yet, see the festival's world tour – the best of the best films – right here in your backyard.  The world tour will be shown Friday and Saturday, Nov. 19th & 20th at 7:30pm (Different films each night).  Read all of the details atwww.outdooradventureexpo.com

Tickets are on sale now at midwestmtn.com/tickets.

Holy Moley, It’s Winter Already

mn ice climber

The Sandstone Ice Festival is Dec 10-12th.

     “Join the fun December 10, 11, 12, 2010 -  in Sandstone, Minnesota. Try climbing ice, test out your winter camping skills,  find out about the latest designs in ski pulks.  All good reasons to get off your couch and check out The Minnesota Ice Festival.”

Conn Diagonal Climb By Dan & Netta

(Dan wrote this about his climb of the Conn Diagonal with Netta in the Black Hills. He gave me permission to post it.)


Conn Diagonal
22 October 2010
I wake at sunrise in the Black Hills. The light is just hitting the top of a large, quartzite boulder, which stands to greet the day like a shimmering block of ice. I silently climb to the top of it, and, still in the wakefulness of mind that the morning brings, gaze over the pine-covered hills. The dark, forested mounds are broken here and there by huge cliff-bands, made of the same gleaming rock as the boulder. I find it hard to believe that Mount Rushmore, the tourist epitome of the country, is less than ten miles away. I spot the sharp black angle of a hawk circling above the hills. This place is magic, I whisper.
Sylvan lake, the icon of Custer state park, has been fortunate enough to be protected from the South Dakotan tourism which claimed Mount Rushmore. Here, the lake and rock spires are subject to only a handful of benches, picnic tables, and outhouses. Netta and I park near the lake and rack our gear. A set of cams, nuts, and hexes. It's a slim rack for a three pitch climb, which traverses much of a three hundred foot block; but I've been to the Needles before. There won't be much in the way of placements. As we walk beyond the views of the lake, we pass a waterfall and stop to listen to the water drum over the crystalline rock.
“Do you think that could be climbed?”
“Sure. I bet it's been done.”
“Can you imagine what the Conns thought when they came to this place? How everything looks possible? Climbing on crystals?”
We find the path around the outlet rocks, which are a few hulking blocks towering hundreds of feet above us. The path is covered in their crystal sheddings, and Netta can't resist filling her pockets with pink and white jewels. After a brief hike around the outer outlet, we take a moment to let the seriousness of this endeavor weigh on our minds. Netta and I look at each other. We are both excited, but I see in her the thought that is a reflection of my own. We're going to climb THAT?

I am nerves upon nerves. Netta spills coffee on the rope bag and laughs. I smile and push air through my nostrils like I think it's funny, when I'm not really thinking about the coffee at all. We quickly check each other over and then I am saying “climbing” before I know what I am saying. I start toeing along the massive flake of rock that diagonals up and right for almost 160 feet. This route, the “Conn Diagonal,” is named for the flake the climber follows on the first pitch. It is sparsely protected. I barely notice that I am twenty feet above the last piece of protection when I reach an awkward move, requiring me to cross my body with my left hand, lay out into the open air to weight that hand, and move onto the face of the flake. I preform the move easily enough though, which fits right into the perverted “Needles 5.7” rating. There are placements for gear every twenty feet or so, but I use mostly natural protection by throwing the rope behind the flake, so it will simply catch on the rock if I fall. At some undetermined height (after fifty feet, you die anyway, right?) I place a number 4 cam behind the flake and immediately know that it is a bad placement. Unfortunately, like a novice, I have let my nerves get the best of me. Forgetting which way I slotted the cam into the crack, I pivot the piece upward into what seems to be a larger section. I am wrong. The upper section is deceiving and eats the cam. It still moves, but never on both sides. I curse to myself. Nice Dan. Just great. I wish someone were around to clap for you. As it turns out, I'm good at being a sarcastic prick to myself. After fifteen minutes of struggling with the cam, I hear my name called across the valley. Some friends of ours from the gym are on a route nearby. I try not to curse quite as loud.

When Netta reaches the first belay station, I am still kicking myself over the lost cam. It was a foolish placement. She is beautifully understanding.
“It's okay. Look around us!”

Straddling the flake, with no more of a ledge than the bicycle seat width we are sitting on, I look out over the hills again. They are beautiful, and I know it, but I'm too nervous to appreciate any of it. I watch our friends rappelling off their route, whose summit is already below us, and long to be descending. I look onward up the route. There is a traverse around a corner only five feet out, and I am unable to see anything beyond. Beneath us, the face is utterly sheer. No cracks or ledges. It's like looking across a lake, if on the other shore you could see the shadow of your own ghost.

I realize that to stop thinking and start doing is the only way out. Soon I am around the corner. Finding an old piton, I clip it and make quick work of the slab leading to the traverse crack above. I reach the crack and find that it plays to my strengths. There are large, open hand holds in the crack, if sloping at times. The protection is better here than behind the flake, and as I find a decent stem I realize that I couldn't be happier. The nerves have suddenly emptied from me, and all that remains is my body, which is overly prepared for this kind of climbing. The Needles requires a fitness of the mind more than the body. After the mind has been subdued, there is little to stop lustful adventurers from careening into a state of bliss.
After the second pitch, I am giddy. I set an anchor and belay Netta up. She is more anxious on this pitch Angela Arp stepping past the Kidney Stone on pitch two.than the last, which plays to her weakness: upper body, open hands. As the second on a traverse like this, her fall would be very similar to a lead fall. As she takes out each one of my placements, she creates a pendulum for herself of ten feet. That's a twenty foot swing. Netta groans at the touch of her palm on a bread loaf shaped hold. She is shaky, but pulls through each move with poise until she is clamoring onto the shallow ledges.

Together again at the belay station, we talk and re-rack. I'm much more excited than nervous now, but above us a twenty foot roof looms. I plan to skirt around it and into the left chimney, as the Conns did, remembering a cartoon from the guidebook in which Herb Conn is torso deep in the chimney with his legs dangling below in the open air, accented with the curved lines that indicate shaking. I reach the roof easily and clip the piton that still remains there. Backing it up with a nut placement, I look at the next couple moves, doubtfully. The entrance to the chimney is only about two feet wide, right where the roof ends, and houses a small ledge level with the roof. To do the move, I grab the ledge with both hands and preform the “getting out of the pool” mantle, while simultaneously worming through the thin opening into the chimney. Without the help of foot holds, the cartoon suddenly becomes less hilarious than it is accurate. Finally up high enough to press my whole back into the wall, I put my hands out against the other side of the chimney and act like I'm trying to force the crack wider, pushing with my back and my hands, while I pull my knees onto the ledge. I let out a cry of joy. All that remains is 80 feet of unprotected chimney climbing, which is a gift to Needles climbing. I joyfully grunt my way through a hell of rope drag and set a belay in a strenuous stance, grinning from ear to ear.
After some heavy breathing, I see Netta coming up the chimney, dragging the backpack behind her. Immediately feeling guilty for not carrying the weight, I take the backpack when she gets to me and tell her to summit first. She does, and I solo out of the chimney with the bag.
At the summit, we breathe heavily and laugh and shiver. We look out over the hills and the highway we came up, which is now snaking into the pine wood and the streaks of clouds. We are thankful to be alive, which is what makes being in this place so beautiful. Netta says exactly what I am thinking.
“I'm glad I got scared for awhile. It makes this better.”

Sunday, November 14, 2010

“Sound Of Sunshine Coming Down”

Like the song says, “That’s the sound of sunshine coming down,” yesterday’s snow is the sight of summer climbing coming down. So here’s a wrap-up of this summer featuring some well-known climbers including Ron, Aaron, Grant, Jen, Amy, Pete, Fabrice, and, who did I forget? Let’s see…, oh,yes, now I remember, Lisa. As well as several others you might recognize. The ending music is a little sad. And so am I about summer ending. As the song also says, “I wanna go where the summer never ends.” That’s not here – yet.

Summer 2010 Wrap Up from rgsletten on Vimeo.

Lisa’s Got Her Socks, But..

I’ve got a yellow rope bag autographed by various well-known people. Wish your name was here? It can be. Mike N, wrote something on it – T.A.L.F.H. – so sassy, I can’t even tell you what it means. You’ll have to ask him.




Climbing this week

Hey folks, I'll be at VE Tues and Wed this week and will happily be your belay buddy.  :)

That is all.

- Radio Liz

Training Idea?

We tried the blindfolded climbing last year which made us “look” for holds in a new way. This is an interesting training idea: one-handed and no-handed climbing.

Extra from Hard Grit, Johnny Dawes one handed antics.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

History Of Ice Screws

Some photos with a little history of ice screws.

25 Days Alone

Sylvia Vidal spent 25 days alone putting up a first ascent on a 3000’ wall in India. I liked this part of her story:

At one point after weeks on the wall with daily rain and fog Vidal found herself below featureless stone without enough bolts to rig rappel anchors for a descent. She down climbed part of a pitch before deciding that the climb was far from over and continued up the wall.

After pushing her rations from eighteen days to twenty five, and at one point even resorting to drilling bat holes in order to continue, Vidal topped out on the wall and began her descent. She had spent over a month preparing and climbing alone. She had passed out from hypothermia while jumaring. And she had reached the top of the wall.”

My Socks

After I came to know Devil's Tower, I was browsing the gift shop. I came upon these socks. They were truly the dorkiest socks I had ever seen. I wonder, who is cool enough to climb the tower and weird enough to buy and wear these socks? ME!!! Only ME So had to buy them. You are so jealous.

My Rope Rug

Richard gave me a rope to play with so I decided to make a rope rug. I got this far and got confused and stopped having fun, so I walked away for a week. Then I started to think it was not going to be a functional rug but more of a giant knot, which is cool in it's own right...but... Then Richard and I decided this is the PERFECT canyoneering rope. Thank God.