Sunday, February 27, 2011

Climbing In Algeria

A climbing trip to Algeria included eating lunch inside a shipping container on the desert (photo below.)  Read all 4 parts here.



Tallest Rock Face In Lower 48

Kc - meadowIMG_2816(LR)This article defines biggest rock face as the total vertical gain of a climbing route. It’s not El Cap; “…contrary to popular lore, it’s not the Lower 48’s biggest rock face. It’s not even the biggest in the Valley – the south face of Mt. Watkins is bigger.”

Some other tall rock faces:

  • South face of Mt. Moran, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
  • South face of Tehipite Dome, Kings Canyon National Park, California
  • Johannesburg Mountain, Cascades, Washington

Read about the criteria used and the actual vertical gain in the article here.

Quite The Avalanche

I couldn’t understand everything these folks said after the avalanche started, but I think it was something like OMG!


Avalanche on Cheget 2011 HD

The Nuts Museum

At this link, you can read about the Nuts Museum (No, not that kind!) See the first manufactured nuts and Peck Crackers and Ty-Crocks and Spuds.

An 11 Month Climbing Trip

Lee Cujes – an Aussie climbing coach – just got back from 11 months of climbing all over the world. Incluiding:

Kalymnos (Greece), Geyikbayiri,Olympos (Turkey), Boulder, Rifle, Maple Canyon, Ten Sleep Canyon(all USA), Rodellar, Margalef, Arboli, Riglos (all Spain), Vietnam, Hong Kong, Yangshuo (China), & Railay (Thailand).”

He learned that climbing 4-6 days/week builds endurance:

There were times during the year where I felt not particularly strong, but virtually 'unpumpable'. I can tell you that is a rare and amazing feeling I've not really had before in 16 years of climbing. I think that I can't really achieve this state with my usual weekend warrior routine, and only by climbing big days on difficult routes for 4-6 days a week, week in, week out. Not really an option if you have a regular life.”

And climbing in different areas helped his onsighting ability:

I climbed quite a lot. Well over 600 pitches according to my notes. I didn't climb as hard as I might have at home. I guess this is to be expected for a few reasons. Home is familiar territory; you tend to do best where you've had the most practise. At home, you're usually forced to rest (sitting at a desk). On a trip like that, it's hard to discipline yourself to rest enough in order to recover and be able to really climb hard. Often I'd just think "well, I could have a rest day or just dial the difficulty down a couple of notches and onsight a stack of things" and that thinking often won out, especially in areas I hadn't climbed at much (kid in a candy store).

On the plus side though, my onsighting improved a lot (a number of personal bests) which I think is aided by simply climbing heaps on lots of different rock types.”

Saturday, February 26, 2011

“Simply To Be Alive”

“It’s impossible to say just how lucky we all feel, simply to be alive.” The closing statement of this video of 3 climbers who completed a first ascent of an 8,000 meter peak in Pakistan in winter. On the way down, all three were caught in an avalanche and survived. More of their story here.

GII Winter Expedition | Dispatch # 5 | The long way down from story.teller on Vimeo.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Genevieve Hits The Roof

Genevieve’s new project is across the arch. (She’s really hitting the ceiling, not the roof.) Here she is today just having fun. (All photos here.)

How Many First Ascents Are There In Parking Lots?

Now that winter’s almost over (cross my fingers) there are some ice mountains in parking lots all over the metro area. I took this shot tonite (in an undisclosed location.) That pile of snow is really solid ice and it’s never been climbed. Hmmmm.


“Too Hard To Clip, So I’m Just Skipping 3 Bolts”

He says by skipping 3 bolts and “gunning for the top” that it’s
good for my head.” Here’s Keller Rimaudo climbing a 14.b in China.

Keller Rinaudo - China Climb 5.14b from Upskill Climbing on Vimeo.

Slab Climbing In Sedona

Besides being a beautiful place to visit, Sedona, AZ is known to the dream catcher crowd as a spiritual “power center.” (Here’s a map of the “energy vortexes” located near Sedona.)

But there’s also a lot of climbing. This visiting climber tells his story of climbing a route that’s “only 5.8” but has two slabby pitches.

“I looked up at the first pitch, which climbs a low-angled slab. It certainly looked easy from the ground, but it featured a runout of at least 20 feet to the first protection bolt. I had also read that this pitch has a sandbagged crux move at another bolt further up. And really, although I'd read about the basics of slab technique, I had basically zero experience in slab climbing….Then I went for it, but I forgot two of the most important Rules of Slab: (1) you must keep moving, and (2) you must believe in your feet.”

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Finally, They’ve Automated Running Marathons

Now this is good news for those of us who aren’t that interested in physically running marathons – let robots do it. And even better than having robots run marathons for us, is having the robots stretch for us as seen in the video below. More details here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Developing Superpower

Climb Strong has a new article on developing super power which explains why even a short boulder problem is too long to develop maximum power. Then it gives some ideas on how to incorporate a superpower routine into your training.

“The most powerful athletes in the world compete in activities lasting fewer than ten seconds….bouldering helps us develop more power than route climbing does. But ultimate levels of power are developed in sets of activity much shorter than the time needed to complete the average problem. We diminish the body’s ability to develop power by climbing too long, even on short boulder problems or campus board sets.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Climbing In Jordan

I think the climbing in Jordan that these folks just did wouldn’t be as dangerous as the traveling in the Middle East. But here’s a story of climbing a 5.12 multi-pitch bolted route in the desert of Jordan.

Ever Had A “Helmet Fire?”

A “Helmet Fire” says Will Gadd is when your brain shuts down – usually because of fear. He suggests ways to keep a helmet fire on a low simmer here. Things such as:

  • “Look in the mirror after a helmet fire. Nobody wants to admit that they had a mental seizure, it takes real guts to admit that and then try to figure out what happened.
  • Break down the components of the malfunction. What was really at stake? Death? Injury? Pride? Self-belief.
  • Search for the same helmet fire situation, and enter it willingly with full awareness (if it's not likely to be fatal).
  • Create operating room in your head. Hang on gear, pull into an eddy, glide into still air, do something to stop the mental load increasing, if only for a moment.
  • Focus on the fact that right then, right there, you're ‘OK.’"

Monday, February 21, 2011

Do You Like Cheerleading While Climbing

I do a lot of cheering and it’s likely some people don’t want me to but are afraid to say anything. This climber doesn’t want to hear anyone cheer her while she’s climbing. I think that’s a little unusual, but maybe it’s more common than I know. (I always figure if my belayer is saying things such as “Good grab” or “Nice move” s/he is at least watching and that’s good when I need a catch.)

I climb best when it is just me and the rock.  I mean, yes, my belayer is holding my rope, and I have full trust in them, but I climb best when it is just me and my inner dialogue.  Having a cheering section just throws me off and is not my style.”

“Disneyland For Adventure”

A travelogue of Moab, Utah the “Disneyland of Adventure.” It’s a great place – I’ve been there 15 –20 times and never get tired of it. I think I’ve done everything in this video except I’ve never climbed there. Odd, huh? Oh, it is Steph Davis’ favorite place and where she lives.

“Four Things You Need To Train And Aren’t”

“An Australian climbing coach – Lee Crujes – lists these four areas that most climbers need to address:

  • “Head Games - How often do you fall off? I believe three out of four climbers are not where they want to be with their 'leading head'
  • Core Strength – Being incredibly strong in the midsection will allow you to unleash your power, and will allow you to endure for longer. Decide to do some core training every week.
  • The Opposite of what you train - The key is to mix it up. Try two months of this and two months of that. You'll improve in the long term as a result.
  • Self-limiting beliefs - We all have little bits of errant code in our programming which are not serving us. In fact, they are self-limiting beliefs or programs. If you can identify these, you can begin to break them down. One way to do this is to challenge your own perceptions about what you believe to be possible.”

He’s got lots more on training here.

Climbing And Growth

Peter Beal discusses his concerns about significant growth in climbing and what it mean might for the quality and safety of gear. In other words, as I understand him, if climbing grows very large, it will appeal to the big manufacturers and marketers of sporting gear. And could lead to knockoffs and a diminution in quality.

Many people whom I talk with in the climbing industry feel bullish about the prospects of continued substantial growth in climbing. Business plans for new gyms, new companies, and so on are being written in anticipation of better economic climate and a higher profile for climbing.”

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stay In The City More. Or, Get Out Of The City More. You Choose.

Here’s a story of what can happen when you use the outdoors:

On a pleasant spring day, two young men enjoyed some fishing near Concord and cooked up some chowder in a nearby pine stump. The wind spread their fire to the nearby dry grass, …By the time the sylvan inferno ended, more than 300 prime acres of Concord woodland had been destroyed.

The inadvertent tree-burner was Henry David Thoreau. Today, he is a secular saint of environmentalism, but his contemporaries understandably saw the forest destroyer as a ‘damned rascal’’ and “flibbertigibbet.’’ It is hard to imagine any Bostonian shopkeeper or merchant who harmed the environment as much as Thoreau.”

That happened 167 years ago, and it’s bound to happen whenever people use the outdoors. People are rascals. This author makes quite a case that in order to be green, you should stay in the city. It’s way greener to live cheek to jowl to your neighbors and walk/bus/train to wherever you’re going. OK. I buy that. And as soon as they build a 600’ high tower like this, I won’t have to leave the city so I can climb.

File:Devils Tower CROP.jpg 

Or, they could just deepen some of the potholes until they look like this LOOKING NORTH ACROSS THE GRAND CANYON AT THE NORTH RIM. GRAND CANYON N.P. NPS PHOTOand then I wouldn’t have to go to the Grand Canyon to kayak or hike.




But, the story gets murky. Here’s a report that says we need to be outdoors more. Outside the city. We need to make federal lands easier to use. The report is sponsored by the Outdoor Industry, so that might be part of the reason why they think we should go outdoors more. (I bet they wouldn’t be offended if we bought some more outdoor gear.) And, it’s sponsored by the Federal Government. The report recommends we need more federal jobs in the outdoors. (Hmmm, wonder why they would say that?)

There is an entire separate report on youth and the outdoors. That seems to suggest you grab a kid and throw him/her outside. (In the past, I have tried grabbing kids and, in general, their parents object. So I won’t be helping out with that idea.)

Now,as far as I am concerned, the more people outdoors the better. As long as they don’t go to the parks I use. I have noticed that many outdoor places I would like to go, are packed with people. So I skip those areas. (It’s very mysterious how so many people seem to know that I like to visit National Parks in the summer. And, no matter what time I get there, they are always ahead of me in line.)

Hmmmm, just spitballing here - maybe I should find a report by the video gaming association recommending that people stay indoors and play video games and give that report to the people waiting to get into the National Parks. The ones that are ahead of me in line.

“Mud, Sweat And Beers”

The Warrior Dash is coming to Minnesota this July. (They are assuming by July, the snow will have melted.) It looks like fun but hardly a warrior event. Maybe more an active couch potato. Details here. If you want to go, let me know, I’ll buy a beer after you finish.

Clipping Ropes Thru ‘Biners

This is the best illustration of different ways to clip ropes thru ‘biners. When I watch the pro climbers clipping, they all use this type of full hand clipping.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Go Fast On Skis Without A Hill

Tired of pushing your skis forward on the flat ground? Try this new invention. Ron, you and John could build one of these.

Buck Up & Huck It

As the guy in this video says at the end, “Sometimes you just have to buck up and huck it.” Some amazing shots of paragliding, kayaking and stuck 4x4s in Iceland and Norway.

Helmet Cam On A Bird

These babies really know how to fly.It’s almost as if they’re born to do it. The Goshawk at the end swooping through the forest is quite stunning. It’d be fun to fly like that; not so fun to be a a mouse or a grouse when these jet fighters are around.

“5 Normal People With Ordinary Day Jobs”

These five normal people with ordinary jobs kayak the Inside Passage from Vancouver to Alaska. Only one of the five had any kayak experience. I like this quote:

“We were five normal people with ordinary day jobs. But I think the foundation for expeditions is not hard skills but commitment. You can build the skills, buy the gear, figure out the details, but none of the happens without commitment.”

It’s a long video – about 30 minutes.

5 Friends. 5 Weeks. 500 Miles.

A kayak journey through the Inside Passage along the west coast of BC and Alaska.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Everything You Need To Know About Getting Fit

What happens when a guy in good shape - by modern gym standards - visits the Mountain Athlete gym in Jackson Hole, WY to see how they train? He finds out quickly he is “little-girl weak.” Too many balance ball squats and not enough real squats with real weights.

Mountain Athlete has no fancy décor but it does have a pacifier in case you’re too much of a baby.

“I noticed: just a few thank-you letters from military units, a wall-mounted baby pacifier with a sign saying ‘Emergency Use Only’,”

He goes home to implement a new, old-style regimen. And meets a… oh, heck, read it yourself. It’s quite involving including a dying expert on how to avoid injuries.

As for your training sessions themselves, the number one thing to remember is that each of the Fundamental Four responds to a different number of repetitions per set. Lift a weight so heavy you can lift it only once, you’re building strength (and, oddly, not much mass); lift a weight you can move six to 12 times, you’re building mass (and, oddly, a little less pure strength); ease up to a weight you can lift 50 times, and you’re working muscular endurance (which is great for endurance sports but tends to undermine the first three, shrinking your strength, power, and muscle size).”



Wish You Had Talent?

So do I. Then I wouldn’t have to practice. Of course, if I practiced more, than when I have a mediocre performances, I couldn’t say. “Oh, I did pretty good considering I never really train.” That’s the subject of this article called “The Talent Myth.” 

“People wish they had talent. They see it as a practice-free ticket to crowd-stunning skill. But talent doesn’t exist. ‘Talent’ doesn’t get results; practice and devotion do.…

People love to say that they don’t train (or practice or study…) They think it makes their mediocre performance more impressive. Or they use a hero as an example, saying he or she doesn’t practice either. But the truth is that anyone who becomes really world-class good at anything has devoted a large part of their lives to that thing — often to the exclusion of all else.”

Latest Men’s Fashions

From a fashion show in New York comes this look for the modern male. I just filled my closet with metrosexual outfits and now I have to go shopping at military surplus stores?

Image Gallery

The show opened with a series of gusting wind sound effects as models emerged from some sort of glacial backdrop. The models: Weather-clapped, sunburned, mostly heavily-bearded, aging (made up to look aging, at least), walking slowly and stunned, wielding axes and rope and tremendous rucksacks. The clothes: Heavy wool suiting in box checks; knickers paired with stirrup, cableknit legwarmers; nubby boiler suits; collarless shirting paired with There Will Be Blood suspenders; many-pocketed, belted and bulky overcoats; henleys galore, lots of wide wale corduroy and monochromatic micro-Fair Isle. Ansel Adams and California adventurer-inspired—it was sort of imperialistic, a bit stiff and not at all what we were expecting.”

Most of the outfits look kinda manly. (And who doesn’t need help with that?) Image GalleryAlthough, if I catch one of my climbing buddies looking like this, I will bite my pillow.

For Girls Only

Dave MacLeod writes about coaching girls and boys:

Comparing general performance characteristics between male and female climbers is always interesting, especially when coaching in a group session. The common finding is that the guys can often at least throw for the holds, but fall trying to hold onto them. Meanwhile, the girls can hold on for ages but fall trying to move between the holds.

The basic reason is that guys have much more muscle to throw their upper bodies around at extreme joint ranges. A lesser appreciated reason is that girls are often reluctant to climb by throwing for holds out of fear of falling, and so adopt a massively inefficient static style. Thankfully, the guys more than balance it out by forgetting to use their feet and still can’t climb a vaguely technical problem despite all that muscle and grunt.,,,

For girls, first of all, no progress can happen without addressing the fear of falling first. Every effort will fall flat on it’s face. You can’t climb to your potential without slapping, snatching, deadpointing, dynoing on most moves, or if fear of falling is dictating how you approach every move. The solution is simple, easy to follow and 100% successful whether it’s bouldering, sport climbing or trad. The details are section 3 of my book.”

For you boys out there, try not to be a “wad” when you’re climbing.

Above all, don’t be intimidated by the ‘wads’ at the bouldering wall with tops off and making loud grunts. They don’t bite! They are often a useful source of new problems to work on, if nothing else. Just remember to burn them off occasionally on the balancy wall problems and high-steps.”

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Kids, These Days

Here’s a 15 year old climbing about a 50’ boulder. It’s quite amazing to see him take about a 2 minute rest half way up the thing. This photo gives you an idea of the size of the thing compared to his height.

A Snowy Red Wing

Pete, Ron and I climbed at Red Wing today. We did one climb on the shady side – which was nice because the snow pile put us about two feet higher on the starting holds. Then we went to the sunny DSCN1442side and did a few of the hard climbs. Here’s Bud looking a little forlorn sitting in the snow.

Later, Buddy was very happy because he found an animal bone to chew on. (I think the animal had fallen off the cliffs above.) We each find joy in our own way.

Here’s Ron warming up on “Sleeping Bat.”


Row, Row, Row Your Boat Gently To The Cliff

A four pitch climb right out of the boat and then a rappel right back into it. How neat is that?

This Is Chintzy

I saw this home advertised with a rock climbing wall. “Wow,” I thought, “a $1.4 Million home with a rock climbing wall, that should be good.” There are way better rock climbing walls in garages.

This is the rock climbing wall. You sure don’t get much for $1.5 million.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What Do Great Climbers Have In Common

Dale K Sood took a survey to find out if there were any common traits in really good climbers. Here’s what he did:


“Determined to discover if this was the case, I created an survey and sent it to every friend,  and every friend of a friend - thank you, Facebook. The only criteria for filling out the  survey was that you had to reliably onsight 13a/b. I interviewed top climbers from eight countries, both male and female, ranging in age from 15 to 46 years.”

Here are the 5 principles he discovered. Details at the link.

Principle #1 - Easy as ABC “Always be climbing”

Principle #2 - Know thy self, know thy enemy

Principle #3 - Seeing is believing

Principle #4 - It’s not what you know, but who you know

Principle #5 – A (wo)man’s reach should exceed his grasp

165’ Climbing Wall

It’s scheduled to be built in Reno and open in the summer of 2011. Be interesting to see if it can pay for itself.

ABS Nationals

This is the male Alex Johnson competed on the first problem at last weekend’s bouldering championship. It’s a tricky Figure 4 move he does while hanging from one hand.More here and here. Results here.

Two More Of The 50 Classic Climbs

The Smileys are at it again with two more of the “50 Classic Climbs.” These two in the Sierra of California.

A Long Walk To Solid Rock from Mark Smiley on Vimeo.

13 miles is a long approach. Adding to the fun was our heavy overnight packs, and an 11,000 foot pass that we had to hike up and over. I think the trail could have been 7-8 miles, but the trail makers in California really like their switchbacks. The incline is kept at a mere 1% for the majority of the way...

Read the rest of the trip report:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Removing Graffiti

The climbers at helped clean rocks in San Diego area. Don’t think you can scrub our local rocks at Red Wing that hard.

Making Plastic Come To Life

The realistic walking motion of this pile of plastic pipes is amazing.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Are You A Mansplainer?

This woman is royally upset at men to whom she is invisible because she is a woman. (I think that’s what she is saying; I couldn’t quite follow her argument. I’ll wait until a man re-writes it and then I will be able to fully understand it.)

Because I am a woman, I am invisible around men.

My voice isn’t heard, my advice isn’t heeded, and my knowledge is dismissed. I’m a woman, what can I possibly tell men about climbing, about skiing, about riding motorcycles? What do I know about cars, about anchor systems, about search and rescue? What can I possibly have to contribute about gear? Nothing, if one goes by the behavior of some men. I’ll try hard to make this article something more than just endless examples of being shunted to the side simply because I’m female, but after a few days around climbers, I’m seething.”

She calls this tendency of men to be an expert in everything “mansplaining,.” And defines it like this:

“[Mansplaining] refers to the habit of some men of pontificating on any given topic as if the person, usually female, in front of him has no knowledge or expertise of her own.”

There are two three things I resent about this:

  1. I am an equal opportunity mansplainer. I don’t care if you’re wearing pink or blue, I will pontificate to everyone.
  2. Women do the same thing to me; I try to describe the pain of childbirth and they just won’t listen to me. They won’t validate my experience.
  3. I ignore men as well as women.

Are you a mansplainer? Do you ignore women who are outdoors because you know they really belong inside?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

Kayaking Nonstop Across The Atlantic

A 64 year old man completes the first solo nonstop kayak across the Atlantic. He looks tired.

After 98 days, 23 hours, 42 minutes at sea, Doba and his custom 23-foot-long, 39-inch-wide human-powered kayak landed at Acaraú, a city on Brazil’s northeast coast. The trip covered some 3,320 miles in all, and Doba became only the fourth known person to accomplish such a feat, and the very first to do it nonstop.”

Design A Shirt & Win Some Money

Your brain’s been marinating fantastically creative slogans. Now you can win some money with them. (At least a Prana gift card.)

We Can’t Do This Right Now…

But in a few months, we'll be able to sail thru the air and land in a lake. This video is a “Winger of the Weekend” from Black Diamond’s Journal.

Climbing “Fluttery Hearts”

Alex Johnson writes about her climbing of “fluttering hearts” boulder climbs in Bishop. Here’s a photo of her on one of the tall and scary, AKA fluttery heart, routes.

I Finally Got My Grigri 2

Can’t wait to try it out on a skinny rope. BTW, I paid the extra $1o so when I use the new Grgri, I can climb one full grade higher. How neat is that?

View Petzl Grigri 2 larger

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sandstone Ice Report- Fat, Phat Ice

Despite the warning on the news to stay indoors, Johnny Mac, Dr. P. and I headed up to Sandstone to get on some ice. Yes, the temp was zero. we all hiked up to the rim and set 3 top ropes and hiked down to climb the 3 most amazing ice routes in the history of the world. I am so serious.

Dr. P's was a great warm up route, All 3 of us started our tool swinging on it. Johns was the BEST, a chimney with 3 roofs to pull. I made it all the way to the top of that one, twice! As did the boys, yep both of them. It was a very sweet and stemmy climb. The route I set was tuff, Thin on one side, Chandelier on the other. Dr. P was that man to climb it, so he did.

We made a new rule. No kissing the biner when you get to the top in temps like this. I'm just saying. Also I had my first experience with the screaming barfies, wow that hurts, as the blood flows back into your hands. I guess I must have been over gripping. Apparently sufficient kitchen passes were not procured for this event, so no photos were taken. What happens in Sandstone, stays in Sandstone.

“For All You Wannabe Big Wall Climbers”

As the guy says 1:30 minutes into this video, “For all you wannabe big wall climbers out there, this is how we do it.” A short video of a recent winter climb of 1 16 pitch aid route on El Cap. Story here.

Practicing Falling

Here’s a way to practice falling that’s NOT a good idea. Yes, you can trust your friends to catch you, but in this case, it’s best to be the second person to test the system, not the first.

Monday, February 7, 2011

More Spray Ice Climbing

From this week’s edition of Sports Illustrated is the photo of Will Gadd climbing on that big waterfall in Canada. You can get a sense of the size of the icicles by looking at how tiny the little red climber is in the center right of the photo.

Here’s A Slick Way To Keep From Hang Dogging

This is what we did the first few years I went climbing – you made several loops around your waist, tied a bowline and started climbing. When you fell, you usually wanted to get down quickly – not hang on a route and have multiple takes.

(I have noticed older climbers belaying using their brake hand in a palm up fashion, instead of the more common and safer palm down fashion. Because we always did a body belay – put the rope around the belayer’s back – you would naturally use the palm up position to brake the rope around the belly of the belayer.  Easy to show, harder to describe.)

Anyway, there are a lot of old school ways of to make emergency harnesses in this article. Including this diaper sling which we used as an upgrade to the rope around the waist shown above.

Separate Reality

A report on a recent climb of “Separate Reality” by a Mummut athlete of a famous roof climb in Yosemite first climbed in 1978.

As I sqauted in the perch at the top of the corner I looked out the roof to the jug at the end. The river rushed below. And I pulled into the crack, inspired to be part of the lineage of climbers who had set sail before me. I slipped out a little more than halfway out the roof. My palms pumped out from the jamming. I didn't onsight it but I was completely blown away by the aesthetics of this climb. I lowered down and Ron pulled the rope as I unlaced my shoes. I took a drink of water as I looked up the canyon at the ice-covered walls. I felt honored to be there, in the ampitheater-like setting getting an upclose view of the canyon below. A few more sips and I relaced my shoes, tied back in and topped out the climb.”

Oh yeah! photo by Dusan

Building A Home In An Hour

Here’s the traditional way to make a home out of snow. You need some snow, a walrus ivory knife (which he licks to put a glaze on it) and some experience. (The actual building of the igloo doesn’t start until about 7 minutes into the video. In the first few minutes, he digs into a fox’s den and pulls out a pup.) The whole process of igloo building takes them an hour. In the next video, he adds a window.

Or you can do it the modern way which is described here

It starts with a dance. Still strapped into snowshoes, we trace a circle six feet in diameter in the snow and begin stomping. The idea is to compress layers of powder, slush and ice into a uniform pack, from which we'll quarry blocks for the igloo. We stomp on for a good 10 imageminutes, circling round in a snowshoe-clad jig and getting stares from cross-country skiers whooshing by.”

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What Do You Take For 5 Days of Climbing In Patagonia

Pollone-west-475Two climbers attempting a first ascent of the West Pillar of Cerro Patagonia describe the 20 - 25 lbs of gear they will take for 4-5 days of climbing.




“Giant Slurpee Machine” In Yosemite

Frazil ice flowing in Yosemite Creek in the spring.

Mountain Hiking In Mexico


This is an account of hiking 3 peaks within a day’s trip of Mexico City. And he started in a subway for the first one.

“I met a group of friends in the subway, and we headed south toward Ajusco, a peak rising from the edge of the city like a lookout tower. At the last stop of the train we caught a cab, which — in about 30 minutes — took us the remaining miles to the base of the mountain, past roadside roast chicken stands, paintball courses and patchy soccer fields.

After our taxi dropped us at the side of the road near a final, lonely restaurant, we headed straight up the slope, through light forest and over an irrigation ditch, until we eventually stumbled onto a well-worn path. I had chosen Ajusco as a warm-up for more demanding hikes, but its sheer elevation and sweeping vistas are still more than enough to take your breath away”

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Achilles Tendon Of Neanderthals

Iimage’m not quite old enough to have ever raced against any Neanderthals, but it looks like I could’ve outrun them.

“..the back of the heel bone where the Achilles tendon attaches, was proportional to the runner's efficiency. The shorter this distance, the greater is the force applied to stretch the tendon - and the more energy is stored in it. This means that people with shorter distances are more efficient runners, using less energy to run for longer.

Raichlen then turned to Neanderthal skeletons, and found that our distant cousins' heel bones were consistently longer than ours. Neanderthals, he concludes, would have lost a race against Homo sapiens.”

Storing energy in my tendon, is a skill I use most every day as I sit on the couch and watch TV. I am purposely storing enough energy in my tendons to race to the kitchen, hunt down some sandwich meat, gather some chips, and get back to the TV before the commercials are over.

Do or Do not.

A Purpose For Knowing How To Climb

Here’s a good reason for learning rope skills and how to climb – so you can rescue stranded animals on cliff faces. Do you have a “special kinda way with animals” too?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Speak Up, Not Down


What we say to ourselves has a large effect on how well we do. For example,

Don't try—do. Create goals that relate to effort and actions (which you can control), and not end results (which you can’t). Speak down: “I’ll try to do it without falling.” Speak up: “When I start to get pumped, I’ll shift more focus to my footwork and keep moving up.

Several other tips at the link. I am positive that positive thinking can make us feel less negative. Or, maybe that’s totally wrong. I am always getting this wrong. I wish I could do better.

Get Over Anxiety By Scaring Yourself

Rock climbing.

Feeling anxious all the time? Then maybe rock climbing’s the answer. At least according to this article.

“Dr Sallee McLaren who’s both a rock climber and a clinical psychologist specialising in anxiety believes it can work for a number of reasons.

“I think it’s helpful with all anxiety problems because it enables people to enter into a deep level of concentration that helps push anxious thoughts away”

So next time you’re just barely hanging onto the rock, and you’re wondering how much farther you should climb before you can either clip or take that screamer, just remember how little anxiety you have right then.

Climber Jewelry

Check out this jewelry that Aleya is making from old nuts.  Pretty sweet, and a perfect gift for those climbing gals who are so hard to shop for (we're not really that hard to shop for).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Compromise Comfort For Security In Anchors As Well As In Life

A short video from a course on self-rescue taught by Angela Hawse thru Picks With Chicks. One thing she says in the video is that you might have to compromise comfort for a safer anchor. To me, that’s just like real non-climbing life – we frequently sacrifice comfort for security.

Has Climbing Reached The End Of The Frontier?

Peter Beal discusses the recent attempt to film a climb of Cerro Torre by rap bolting it.

“It seems to me that there is an instinctual understanding out there that we are truly at the end of the frontier phase of climbing. Not everything has been climbed, but now everything can be climbed. It is not the murder of the impossible as Messner puts it….But I think the whole project of a ‘free ascent’ of an immense wind-buffeted rime-encrusted spire seems petty and media-driven in the first place. What is missing is not adventure but purpose. We are at the saturation point, squeezing what we can out of the most spectacular walls and summits while we can. What does a ‘first ascent’ mean when anything can be climbed, even by so-called ‘fair means?’"

[ED: I bolded the term “what is missing is not adventure but purpose.”]

There is quite a lively discussion at the link about whether or not climbing has a purpose. And quite a discussion here of “Murder of the Impossible” a term Reinhold Messner used to describe the bolting of routes. I personally don’t think climbing has an important purpose – not like raising a family, holding a job, taking care of your family/friends/neighbors. I also think it can be fun, exciting, allow us reach personal goals, discover new areas of the world, build friendships, etc. And I, for one, am convinced without the bolting that was done to make so many routes safer, there would not have been the explosion in the popularity of climbing that has happened in the last 20 years or so.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Drytooling Plywood

The recently ended ice festival at Ecrins had some climbing on, what looked to me, plywood.

L'Ice Ecrins 2011 from Lukasz Warzecha - on Vimeo.

Easy Circuit Training

A reasonable argument for climbing easy boulder problems continuously for 30+ minutes.

“I can find 30 or 50 short problems that allow movement of virtually any type on all kinds of holds and features, ranging in difficulty from 5.6 to V5. So occasionally I will spend 30, 45 minutes or more climbing continuously on this kind of terrain, never stopping to figure out moves or try the problem twice. I also try to work in downclimbing and traversing to connect problems, always trying to maintain the flow of movement.”

Why does this help make you a better climber? Read his article for the 5 ways.

Desert Crack Climbing

A video of Steph Davis climbing at Indian Creek in Utah. (Don’t know why she’s grunting so much, it’s only a 5.13 trad.) Notice at the 2:17 mark – right at the end – how overhanging the route is.


Learning to Fly from steph davis on Vimeo.

Another Amazing Survival Story

I heard this woman on the radio last night. She lives by herself near ANWR in Alaska. Here’s a brief video interview describing her life, including a short version of how she survived a grizzly bear attack by:

  • Stitching her own scalp
  • Getting a rifle, crossing a river with two dislocated hips, and then killing the bear
  • Going to her house, radioing for help and then collapsing on the floor …..
  • Where she waited for 10 days for help to arrive

Winter Fun

Lisa, John and their friend Sparky went camping last weekend up north near Tofte. They had a fabulous time as shown in the slide show below. On Monday morning, the first dog teams from the John Beargrease Sled Dog Race showed up. Ask Lisa about all the fun details.

Les Hiberant - Lisa & John 1-11 from rgsletten on Vimeo.