Fortunately – or unfortunately – we don’t have to practice multi-pitch efficiency in MN. But, when you go into the mountains, this would be good to know.
This article talks about the research into sports performance and “quiet eyes.”
“When you do feel anxious, try to control your visual attention, stay visually focused on your target and keep your gaze steady.”
Mostly they’ve studied golfers, but I wonder about its application to climbers. It seems to me, when I am stressed while climbing, I have the opposite problem – I am so focused on what’s right in front of me, that I don’t look around to see other holds. But maybe my eyes are moving so fast, I don’t see additional holds.
Ain’t nature neat? Just after the snow melts, the mosquitoes come out. Here’s a newly discovered way that might help you avoid getting bit by mosquitoes: hang stinky socks on your pack.
This new research indicates that some mosquitoes are attracted to the odors from feet. (I came up with the idea of hanging stinky socks from your climbing pack, not this article.)
Don’t know why, but we couldn’t get any women to go with us to climb in the Black Hills. (Knowing us, how can you blame them?) Anyway, I thought of that song when I put these photos together of us climbing Spires 2 & 3 in the Black Hills last Friday.
Ron, Pete, Greg and I got back from the Black Hills on Saturday. We climbed with Scott for a couple of days and saw some new areas – for us – like Calamity Ridge near Custer.
Some things I learned this trip:
Some of my favorite photos of the group:
The latest Smiley's project is the Tyrolean traverse on the Lost Arrow Spire in Yosemite. Read the story of their climb here. In the video below, she asks him “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” I love that part.
“Let me paint the picture. The walls of the Yosemite Valley are about 2000 feet tall. The Spire pulls away from the wall right at the top, creating this 200-foot tall rock finger island that towers above it all.”
"Also on the list is a push to refine eating disorders to include and single out exercise disorders such as “Compulsive Exercising.” Compulsive Exercising is characterized by scheduling your life around exercise, missing work to exercise, feeling depressed if you don’t exercise, exercising even if you’re hurt, and not taking rest days. Know any climbers who sound like that? Of course you do!"Read more here.
Highlights from the 2011 Bouldering World Cup in Log-Dragomer, Slovenia. This is an 18 minute video so it’s rather long. What’s interesting is the way it’s been edited so that you can see two or three climbers simultaneously doing the same moves. There is some difference in how the climbers make the moves, but they basically make the same moves at each hold.
“’I’m sorry I’m so slow.’ ‘I’m sorry I’m holding you up.’ How often do you hear these words in the outdoors? How often do you say them?”
Stop saying you’re sorry to the people you do outdoor activities with, when you’re trying your best. At least, that’s the point of view of this woman outdoor guide. It’s a good point she makes and I hear it all the time. (Never from me; because I am not sorry I am slowing you up. You need to go slower.) I hear it all the time from climbers. I say, just admit you’re a miserable failure and stop apologizing for it.
It seems that time passes faster as we get older because we are learning fewer new things. At least, that is the theory of this brain researcher discussed here.
“The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass. ‘Time is this rubbery thing...it stretches out when you really turn your brain resources on, and when you say, ‘Oh, I got this, everything is as expected,' it shrinks up.’"
Part 2 of the North Face sponsored ski expedition to Lhotse. In this episode they fly to Namche Bazaar and hike to the mountain. On the way, they see the national bird of Nepal.
Today I realized climbing can be “fun” but not really fun. Pete & I climbed at Red Wing and tried some new, hard – for us – climbs. When I do climbs I know and that come easy for me, then climbing is fun. Today was not fun. My finger tips are sore, my hands are sore, my forearms and elbows too. Like this climb, which starts out with a one finger pocket on which you need to PLB (pull like a bastard) with one hand while pushing against a blank wall with the other hand. This allows you to barely stand up on a tiny foot smear and reach up for your choice of two different holds. One is a carpet tack strip and the other is a syringe. (Not really, but that’s what they felt like to me. So I let go.) Boy, how fun is that?
When I got home, I finally found something to do that was fun; watch the video and you’ll see. I hate nature in person – too much work. Nature in a game = fun.
Ueli Steck’s training partner describes their climb of a 6,400 meter peak as “taking chances to move fast” so that they can beat approaching bad weather. Part 1 is here.
Alpinists Ueli Steck and Freddie Wilkinson tackle Cholatse Alpine-style when weather takes a turn for the worse.
A modern pioneering couple who went from supporting themselves by mushroom picking in the Yukon to controlling vast shares of gold claims. They had rough time starting out: :
“One season, he and Wood picked morels worth tens of thousands of dollars, but ended the year broke after crashing a used helicopter they purchased with all of the money they made….To minimize their cash outlay, Wood and Ryan moved into an abandoned miner’s shack. Their new home was made of tin, and it had neither running water nor electricity. Ryan spent winter nights by the wood stove reading old mining journals.”
“He and Wood own more than 35,000 claims. ‘We just passed Luxembourg, and over the summer we’ll be the size of Samoa,’ he continued, describing just one of his projects. Credible estimates of the amount of gold still buried in his properties run to the billions of dollars…
To Ryan, the notion that gold wasn’t worth looking for was absurd. The market might profess disinterest, but this was cash in the ground. His closest friend, Antoine Deschenes, a rail-thin, 6-foot-4 Quebecois, had an idea. ‘In the winter the Yukon runs clear,’ he said.
The significance of his insight is hard to appreciate without a bit of background. The gold of the Klondike rush was placer gold, found at the bottom of creeks and streams. Deschenes imagined that some of this gold had, during tens of millions of years of erosion, traveled all the way down the Klondike into the Yukon River. At Dawson, the Yukon is opaque from mixing with the water of the silt-laden White River. But in the winter the White is frozen solid. Therefore, the Yukon runs clear, and a daring prospector could dive in and find the riches he sought just lying there, in plain sight.”
Here’s an 11-year-old who listened to his Mom and got inside a dryer so he wasn’t crushed when the tornado smashed his house. (They mention he was watching PBS on TV just before the tornado hit, so maybe that’s why he’s so smart.)
I did not know women could climb. I did not know there were women engineers. And women engineers that climb, who knew?
A PBS video interview with a woman engineer, including what music she likes while climbing. (Next time I am climbing, I will look around to see if there are any women. Or any engineers. Or any arches or columns. Or gothic cathedrals.)
This photographer spent more than a year and traveled the world to put together this “5,000 megapixel photograph of the entire night sky stitched together from 37,440 exposures.”
There are some free downloads and an interactive 360 degree photo here.
I think this is the best-named climbing area in the world - “Cirque of the Unclimbables.” Here’s part one of a climb done last summer. Second part here.
“In summer 2010, Lorna Illingworth, Madaleine Sorkin and I spent 25 days in the Cirque of the Unclimbables, Northwest Territories, Canada. Our goal was to free climb the entire 1963 Original Route on the sheer 2000' Southeast Face of Proboscis, and grants from the American Alpine Club encouraged us to document the adventure. The result: Women at Work (VI 5.12 R). -Emily Stifler”
As you can see from this photo, planking can build strong abs. Here is an article about the practice of planking outdoors in unusual places.
“The first thing a serious planker needs is a healthy disregard for the law — and personal safety. A sense of adventure will also come in handy.”
A story of canyoneering in one of the most famous canyons in Utah – Neon Canyon. In his attempt to extricate himself from a keeper pothole, he realizes he should’ve practiced aid climbing before he needed to rely on it to climb a sheer wall. It occurs to him:
“this is the sort of thing you really should practice before you need it to save your life.”
This photo shows the main attraction of this canyon – the final rappel into “The Golden Cathedral.”
Andrew Bisharat editorializes about the lack of first ascensionists in this Rock and Ice article.
“As passionate climbers, we can all agree that having more routes is generally a good thing, right? Well, actually, no, we can’t, because there are factions of climbers—basically human hangovers from the 1970s—that believe that if you can’t do a first ascent ground-up, drilling bolts by hand and from stances (and occasionally hooks), then a route shouldn’t be installed at all. (I’ve never met the reverse—a climber who thinks everything should be bolted top down—and the vast majority seems to think there’s enough rock out there for both styles to coexist.)
I would like to believe that the old ways of thinking are fading as the American climbing community slowly detoxes from its internecine attitudes about style and ethics, which for the last 40 years have created our relatively antagonistic, progress-thwarting culture.”
I read his editorial twice and I think he is saying it’s good only a few people – rock artists - want to put up new routes. Because if lots of people put up new routes, they wouldn’t have as high a quality of new routes. Or, maybe, he’s saying something else. I’m not sure most of us are suffering from lack of routes; most of us don’t have time – or skill - to climb what’s already there.
The recently concluded bouldering tournament in Melloblocco, Italy had 2,600 contestants and 10,000 spectators. I wonder if that would ever happen in the U.S. I am not saying it’s a “problem” to be solved, just a difference between the interest of bouldering in Europe and the U.S. (I wouldn’t go to watch a bunch of people I didn’t know, climb. Especially if I knew there’d be thousands of spectators. I think I’d rather go climbing than watch others.)
It is unfortunate that an 82-year old man died this week trying to climb Mt Everest. “He had hoped to set a new age record for reaching the summit and prove to the world that elderly people are still strong and vibrant, even after the age of 80.”
Ah… hello? No, actually they’re not. They may be strong and vibrant for their age. More of the story here. (Of course, three years ago, a 76-year old person scaled Everest. But, 76 is the new 56.)
This is a trailer from the video “Cold” which details the first winter ascent of an 8,000 meter peak in the Karakorum. They almost didn’t make it back down – story of their climb here. More about their movie here.
The first commercial (non Sherpa) climber to summit Everest this year is also the first one to send a Twitter message. Is that a big deal or kinda anti-climatic since satellite phones have been used for years? Here’s more of the story and here’s a video of him talking to his wife from the summit.
“Sometimes you have to give up and just let it happen instead of trying so hard.” That’s one lesson from this video of a Black Diamond athlete repeatedly trying to get to the top of a hard boulder problem. Man, he really has his dauber down about halfway thru the video. I almost felt sorry for him climbing on boulders in France, in the sun, in shirtsleeves. But I definitely recognize the frustration he felt.
This PDF document from Petzl, details all the authorized ways to use the GRIGRI. Including as a mult-pitch belay device for bringing up a second. I have used it for that when I’ve clipped the GRIGRI directly into the anchor – and that is a technique “authorized” by Petzl – but Petzl prefers you use it clipped into your harness with a re-direct ‘biner at the anchors. (Page 11-12 at the link.)
“We have three categories of climbing challenge: top-roping, bouldering, and lead climbing. If you are feeling really ambitious, enter all three! Open to anyone who climbs.
The challenge is to climb 100 different routes during 2011. Participants should log their climbs (date & route name) and report them to us. Those who complete the challenge will receive some sort of recognition (the details have not been worked out yet; check back here later ). If you would like us to chart your progress, send us your partial list.
For those who enjoy more competition, we will recognize the three individuals in each category with the most impressive 100-climb list. (Scoring will be based on Swartling & Mayer’s Climber’s Guide to Devil’s Lake.”
“By far the biggest question we get about training for climbing is how to improve endurance. There are a million answers to this one, in fact, there’s probably a different one for each climber. The most important rule is to figure out if endurance is really your issue. More likely than not, it’s really your technique, positioning, or your weak mind that’s leading to the pump. Fix the cause, cure the symptom, as they say. So, if endurance is really your weak link, read on.”
Just like Stanley in the video below, after I do some hard (for me) leads at the crag, I like to go back to my crib and have a bottle. (Usually the bottle I have looks more like this, but it’s the same idea.) Also, many times, before starting a lead climb, I whine like a baby. Next step for me is get some PJs like he wears. Those look perfect for climbing.
Big group today at the ol’ choss pile – Liz, Seth, Pete, Will, Eve, Ron, Lisa, Fabrice and I climbed together. We also saw Russell climbing with a group of friends. Which reminds me of one of the major improvements at RW - Russell will now carry you to the base of the climb so you don’t get your shoes all muddy. How neat is that?
Another improvement is courtesy of Greg from VE – the holds are now taped. You can see the ease at which Lisa scampered up “Frequent Flatulence” because of this improvement. (You probably have to click on the photo to enlarge it in order to see Greg’s work.) It was just like the gym - “Lisa, use only the blue taped holds. Don’t’ use those holds with no tape.”
Because this was Liz’s and Seth’s first time at RW, we let them climb together. Isn't’ that sweet?
Someone who took these shoes at Red Wing today sent me this horrible photo with a note. If these are your shoes, please PayPal me (I will accept other major bank cards) a million (approx.) buckeroos and I will forward the dough to the
kid shoenappers and try to get your shoes back. You really don’t want to see shoes with their tongues cut out – ick. (Maybe you can get word to Peter or Fabrice. They might be missing a pair of shoes like this.)
This is the first article of a four part series in the Fairbanks newspaper about climbing Denali. Lots of details on the application process and what goes on behind the scenes in setting up with the climbing rangers.
“In April, helicopters from Fort Wainwright come to McKinley to drop off supplies and help the rangers establish their camps. Big CH-47 Chinook helicopters deliver gear and fuel to base camp, 7,200 feet up on Kahiltna Glacier, and to the 14,000-foot medical camp high on the mountain itself.”
“The form for solo climbers goes into even more detail, asking the applicant to describe his equipment and his reasons for wanting to climb alone. But even if there are gaps on the climber’s resume, there’s not much the Park Service can do. ‘We’re not allowed to deny anybody based on experience level,’ Leonard said, “so our only tool to try to limit potential problems is through education. …”
The 3rd annual “24 Hours of Gunnison Glory “ in Colorado is scheduled for Memorial Day weekend. Here’s a report from the event in 2009. I like this quote:
A confidence boosting article about pushing yourself past your fears. She has “Elvis leg of the climbing soul” but learns to overcome it. She claims:
“I believe that everyone can climb 5.12 if they want to. That every woman who hasn’t thought to, should try — even if she is haunted by the numbers…”
She is writing this for women, so I am sure she’s right that any woman can climb 5.12. Don’t think that’s true for men.
This article by Steph Davis explains the difference between twin ropes and half ropes.
We did experiment with half ropes using them to lead climb in the gym. Some real advantages if you are traversing or if you want to avoid the possible longer fall you get when clipping high above you when using only a single rope. (It’s easy to understand when you try it; it’s harder to explain in words.) I can see an advantage if there are only two climbers doing a multi-pitch where you need to bring two ropes in order to rappel. Since you can use half ropes as twin ropes, I think getting half ropes would give you more flexibility.
“Half ropes may be clipped separately or they can be clipped together so that both strands are clipped through every protection point—this is called twin rope technique. Dedicated twin ropes are lighter in weight and bulk, but should always be clipped so that both strands pass through every protection point.”
I just got my first set of aiders and, this is the best part, my first “Fifi” hook. What a fun name. Who wouldn’t love to climb with Fifi? I’ve been trying to figure out the best place to learn locally. I have checked out Red Wing – thinking I could use some of the routes as bolt ladders. But the bolts are a little too far apart. So I think the place to go is TF. I found this great guide to learning how to aid climb and how to do big wall climbs here. They even have a list of the first walls on which to practice aid climbing. (You have to scroll to near the top of the page.) Unfortunately, they are all in Yosemite. But I can get to Yosemite. I hear they recently made it a National Park. (Shhh, don’t tell anyone; I think it is still uncrowded because no one has heard of it yet.)
Here I am practicing on the side of my house. I was hanging with my new best girlfriend Fifi. (I was so excited to try my new gear out, I didn’t even have time to remove the price tags - as you can see in the photo.)
There’s a scientist who studies how we perceive time when we fall by having subjects fall about 100 feet, backward into a net. So far, they’ve discovered perceived time slows by about 30%. I like this quote:
“Living in the past may seem like a disadvantage, but it’s a cost that the brain is willing to pay,’ Eagleman said. ‘It’s trying to put together the best possible story about what’s going on in the world, and that takes time…
Touch is the slowest of the senses, since the signal has to travel up the spinal cord from as far away as the big toe. That could mean that the over-all delay is a function of body size: elephants may live a little farther in the past than hummingbirds, with humans somewhere in between. The smaller you are, the more you live in the moment….’I once mentioned this in an NPR interview and I got flooded by e-mails from short people,’ Eagleman said. ‘They were so pleased. For about a day, I was the hero of the short people.”
The whole article is here. Including this fun test:
…”go look in a mirror. Now move your eyes back and forth, so that you’re looking at your left eye, then at your right eye, then at your left eye again. When your eyes shift from one position to the other, they take time to move and land on the other location. But here’s the kicker: you never see your eyes move. There’s no evidence of any gaps in your perception—no darkened stretches like bits of blank film—yet much of what you see has been edited out. Your brain has taken a complicated scene of eyes darting back and forth and recut it as a simple one: your eyes stare straight ahead. Where did the missing moments go?”