Saturday, July 30, 2011

Crossing The Alps

A race across the Alps by foot and parasail and sponsored by Red Bull just ended. The video below is from Day 8 of the race and shows the racers flying and hiking. Race details here. More videos here.

Red Bull X-Alps 2011 - Day 8 from on Vimeo.

Devil’s Thumb

4 days of waiting for the rain to stop and one day of climbing, gets the Simleys to the top of Devil’s Thumb in Alaska. Or, almost to the top as told by him in this quote:

Touch the top by unroping, getting that “I did it” feeling and hurt my marriage, or turn there, join my wife and comfort her. I contemplated the decision for nearly 10 minutes. Finally, I decided that my marriage is more important than standing on that little chuck of rock, just a little higher than where I was.”

Full story here. (I don’t think when they get home, she’s going to like some of the quotes he attributes to her.)

The video below is just a teaser. But it’ll make your stomach jump a little.

UNCUT - Teaser from Devils Thumb, Alaska from Mark Smiley on Vimeo.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ten Sleep

Another report on climbing at Ten Sleep. This time from Kelly Cordes of Patagonia. I liked this quote:

Katy - cows IMG_0333

“Note to climbers: there’s a difference between being a low-budget dirtbag, and being a full-on scumbag. If you can’t afford coffee, fine, but at least have the decency to sit your ass outside to poach the WiFi. Geez.”

Thursday, July 28, 2011


“The EdgeWalk at Toronto's CN Tower is an adrenaline filled excursion around an open-mesh metal walkway almost a quarter of a mile above the ground. There's no guard rail and no hand holds, just an uninterrupted view of the Toronto skyline and a through-the-mesh view of the ground, 1,168 feet beneath your feet.”

Reporters lean back, 1,168 feet over Toronto's downtown,  while participating in a media preview of the new EdgeWalk attraction on the CN Tower Wednesday, July 27, 2011. Participants are strapped into

Makeshift Big Wall Shelter

Here’s an inexpensive way to get shelter while on a big wall. This is the story of a new route in the Canadian Rockies done this July. Gear list included:

tommy caldwell

“So we went prepared and brought 105 bolts, 4 batteries, and 3 rain coats. Not to mention, a double rack of gear, shoes, harness, chalk, 4 liters of water, 1 rope, lots of food, helmets, long johns and a dril—and 2 umbrellas and 1 lawn chair.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Social Climbing Is Good For Your Health

Just “as long as you stop before you reach the top,” social climbing can cut the risk of high blood pressure. But, if you’re at the top, you have increased stress.

That’s why I have always aspired to be an advanced beginner in whatever I do. I am higher than the bottom, but way below the top.

Patagonia Time Lapse

I’m a sucker for a good time lapse like this one.

Patagonia Time Lapse Video from Adam Colton on Vimeo.

Super Pin, R or X?

A famous climb in the Black Hills gets a recent ascent along with a discussion of whether it should be rated “R” (get hurt if you fall or “:X” (die if you fall.) I have climbed it once on a top rope and would never even think of leading it.

I liked this quote:

A fall at the technical crux, assuming an attentive belay, should be safe.  If you can bust off

Vince spread eagle and praying that his balance is good on Super Pin

that move, you shouldn’t have any problem with the remainder of the moves.  Unless of course runouts make you nervous, and Super Pin has one of the most famous in the business. I can only imagine how mortifying it would be to lose your cool at any point during the runout, and how, if you’re reading this, these words will lodge in your psyche, making those moves all the much harder as you overgrip the greasy nubbins and your legs start to vibrate and a few mica crystals crumble while you heart is beating so hard you feel it in your ears and for the life of you, you can’t let go to chalk up,”

Are Pull-Ups A Waste Of Time?

Climb Strong writes about the regular type of pull-up people do and how that isn’t the most effective way to become a stronger climber.

Being able to hold a “lock off” from the position in the photo -  with your feet on the floor, is a better skill to master according to them.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Follow The Herd?

In this video of the winner of the women’s lead championship at Arco, Italy, you can see her try to figure out the crux move at about the 6:00 minute mark. Finally at about the 8:00 minute mark, she makes her winning move. The seven climbers before her all tried to make the crux move by moving their hands first. And they all failed. She tries something completely different – moving her feet first – and wins the competition. Most of the time, doing what others do, works. Champions know when to do something different.

Mt. Hunter

The Smileys climbed Mt. Hunter in Alaska this Spring. This another one of their “50 Classic Climbs of North America.” The (partial) story of their climb is here. I liked this quote:

“On the other side of the rabbit ears was a 300 foot rappel down steep rock and snow. At the fixed anchor Janelle broke down. Rappelling was a huge mental commitment to the route, a point of no return, and she was scared.

My ambition exceeded my fears at that point. I told her that I did not want to turn around because of an unforeseen danger. I wanted to go as long as it was ‘safe’. She made me promise that I would turn around if we encountered a section that was too dangerous to be worth it. I said I would. She looked at me saying nothing. I repeated myself with a little more gentleness. She was back on board, so we threw the ends of the rope down the wall.”

The video shows the deep snow, big crevasses, mixed rock and ice, huge cornices and even how hard the rappels are coming down.  “The hardest climb I’ve done,” he says.

West Ridge of Mount Hunter, AK from Mark Smiley on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Arco 2011 Women’s Lead

Alex Johnson writes about the disappointing route setting on the women’s lead final route at Arco. Disappointing because there was a 7-way tie for second place. The seven women all fell at the same hold near the top of the route. Here’s one of them climbing the route and you can see her falling at this spot in the very last of the video.

“I’m Dreaming Of Heaven”

Comatose in the hangar

A woman climber tells her story of an attempt on Denali. I liked these quotes:

    • “…8 middle aged men, 1 ‘mature woman’. This is a recipe for heaven or hell. I'm dreaming of heaven.”
    • No summit. I returned with 10 fingers, ten toes, 9 toenails, and four pounds less than I started. The pink underwear buried on the mountain is mine.”


The photo above is them camping in a hangar waiting for good weather. (Years ago, we spent 4 days sleeping and cooking in a hangar in Juneau waiting for the weather to clear so we could fly to Mt Fairweather. I’m surprised they still let you do that.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Making Papa Proud

Climbing Half Dome in Yosemite with his 12 year-old daughter, made this Dad proud. Full story here.

Here’s a photo of the custom-made poop tube she built with her brother.





Here’s a photo of her doing her first lead climb on aid.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

“Wings Of Steel”

A 2nd ascent of “Wings of Steel” on El Cap may put an end to the ridicule the first ascensionsts have received over the 29 years since they put the route up. Here’s the story of the recent 2nd ascent. Here’s the story from one of the first ascensionists. They spent 39 days on the wall and because they didn’t follow the rules of the “climbing community” they experience a level of abuse which included:

While we were getting loads to the base of the route, the first two pitches were chopped in the night, and our gear was treated to a large, messy dose of human defecation.  We were threatened with the destruction of my car, maiming, and death.

With the route chopped and effectively erased, we were forced to spend a month ascending the Ranger hierarchy to even get permission to do the climb.  Once we finally got on the route again, teams of climbers ascended the nearby Aquarian Wall route so that they could get above us to ‘bomb’ us with trash and bags filled with human defecation.”

I can hardly imagine feeling so angry at other climbers doing something I wouldn’t do, that I would poop on their ropes and throw poop at them. Isn’t that what monkeys do in zoos? Doesn’t that make you proud to be part of the climbing community?

They used over 150 hook placements as shown hereto climb this 1200 foot slab. I like the description below of what happened when they place these hooks.

Many of these hooks could be counted to chip slightly downward as they seated into the flake, which would basically cause our hearts to stop.  But, we found that rapid gasping, coupled with the adrenaline surge, would restore heart function.”

Adventure In A Box

Just like in life, it’s not what you have that counts, it’s how you use what you have.

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box from Studiocanoe on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Can A Playground Be Too Safe?

Making things too safe for children doesn’t help them in learning how to conquer fears and learning mastery. I found it interesting that a fear of heights is reduced by falling as a child.

While a youthful zest for exploring heights might not seem adaptive — why would natural selection favor children who risk death before they have a chance to reproduce? — the dangers seemed to be outweighed by the benefits of conquering fear and developing a sense of mastery.”

Dr. Sandseter identified six categories of risky play: exploring heights, experiencing high speed, handling dangerous tools, being near dangerous elements (like water or fire), rough-and-tumble play (like wrestling), and wandering alone away from adult supervision. The most common is climbing heights.”

It’s Easier To Avoid Than To Challenge

Rebecca Williams at Smart Climbing writes about how much easier it is to avoid doing something that’s uncomfortable/scary than it is to challenge ourselves.

But over time, unless we push our comfort zone outwards, it will only begin to shrink.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Indoor vs Outdoor Climbing

Here’s the climbing wall built for the Arco world climbing championships. It’s a little ironic to build an artificial climbing wall next to real rock wall. But I know the importance of being sheltered from the weather. More on Arco here.


“Waifish men on skinny tires confine themselves to the roads of the Alps”

Real men ride down snow and talus on bikes like these guys. The winner of this race descended 6,000 feet and 30 km in 40 minutes.

(I would be so busy trying to look at the beautiful mountain scenery, I would crash immediately. I know, I’ve already crashed riding my bike fast down rocky ledges while looking at the scenery.)

Story of the race here.


Megavalanche 2011 Alpe d'Huez

Indoor Climbing Tree by Kaja Osholm Kjølås Kaja Osholm Kjølås climbing tree – Inhabitots

Indoor Climbing Tree by Kaja Osholm Kjølås Kaja Osholm Kjølås climbing tree – Inhabitots

Kaja Osholm Kjølås created a climbing tree inspired by the Scandinavian forest. This artful climbing tree has stylized branches that can be combined in any shape that you desire — mimicking the same idea behind the pegs used for indoor rock climbing walls. You create your own adventure for your child and secure it to the wall in their bedroom or playroom. The tree will stimulate imagination, coordination, concentration, and discovery, all while your child is taking playtime to new heights

American Alpine Club - Jobs

American Alpine Club - Jobs

The AAC is presently hiring a Digitization Archivist for the Henry S. Hall Library.

The Digitization Archivist’s main objective is to create, organize and describe the Club’s digital assets so that they can be accessed by staff, Club members, online users, and the media to tell the story of climbing: to inspire new climbs, to document the history of climbing, and to provide a key member benefit in the form of trip-planning tools.

Download the full job description (.PDF): AAC_Digitization_Archivist.pdf

Keeping Your Cool

No this is not a photo of me trying to keep cool outdoors. (Although, it looks like it might be just the ticket for the next two days.)

This is a runner in the recently finished Badwater race in Death Valley – “it’s 135 miles, it starts below sea level but finishes around 9,000ft plus it’s in Death Valley with temperatures reaching 130F (50C) in the shade, of which there’s almost none.”  Story here.

Mike in ice bath at 42 miles

Our Dog Chases Fish; These Dogs Chase Sharks

Buddy loves to herd little fish at our lake. These dogs are braver (more foolish) and herd sharks in the ocean.

Monday, July 18, 2011

What’s The Best Adventure Town?

They’re giving away a pair of sunglasses to someone who votes on this poll about which is the best adventure town. There are 30 towns listed; the state with the most towns is Colorado. Currently, the leading town is Ketchum, Idaho.

Aurora From Space

A photo of the Southern Lights taken from the Space Station. Details here.


This video shows how they rigged the cameras for the first free trad ascent by Dave MacLeod of a route in Britain that’s rated 8c+ (about 5.14c). More on the climb here and here. What an airy swing the photographer has (starts at about 1:45.)

Lots more about their other climbs in the Orkney Islands here. Including this photo:

“Planking Is So Two Months Ago”

The posting of planking photos “has become increasingly mainstream - and thus less popular on the trend-conscious internet….Last month the celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay posted pictures of himself planking - a development that prompted trend-watchers to declare the craze ‘officially dead’”

Plus a guy died while planking when he fell off a balcony railing. What’s replaced it is “owling” which is “crouching on one's haunches and staring into the middle distance, like an owl.”

Read more here.By the looks of some of the owling photos at the link, somebody’s going to get hurt soon owling.

Is that a bird or a man? A young man perches on top of garden house in his back yard

Arco Italy Bouldering Championship

These videos show the women and men’s champions on two of their final problems. Results here.Two US women finished in the top 8. (Alex Johnson finished 7th.)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

5,300 Year-Old Mountain Man

Ötzi  the Iceman lived about 5,300 years ago and is currently in a museum in Italy. Details about how he was found and how he lived here.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Some Days All You Get Is Nyet

I think this video goes well with this new guidebook “How To Climb 5.8” with tips such as:

Toprope falls

  • Does you have what it takes?


  • How does they lock so good? “


A lot of days, all you get is nyet. (There is some rough language in the video below.)

Top Roping in the Gunks: NOTHING BUT NYET. from Optimistic338 on Vimeo.

“Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning”

Having only witnessed drowning in movies and TV, I was surprised to read this:

Drowning Kid?  Not likely.Drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect… Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for, is rarely seen in real life.”

And this is amazing:

“To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this:  It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening.”

Read the whole thing.


Some beautiful shots of rainbows formed by the full moon at different waterfalls in Yosemite Park.. (In the narration, I learn that the moon reflects the sun off its surface. Who knew that? Isn’t Nature neat?)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

World Cup In Chamonix

What an amazing sight – the outdoor climbing wall from the competition just ended in Chamonix. More here including a video of the men’s winner.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Deep Water Jumping

This looks like a riot. I wouldn’t try everything these people do, but I’d try a lot of them.

I found this video at Zion Adventures which says:

Jumping drops, instead of rappelling them, can be a ton of fun, especially when you avoid dislocating joints or breaking bones enroute. Check out this impressive display of canyon leaping, including an eyebrow-raising set of mid-flight transitions from air to rock BEFORE hitting the water. Aren’t Europeans entertaining?”

Too Many Bolts?

This 20 pitch bolted route in Colorado, sounds like a lot of fun to me.  But it’s getting some criticism because it was bolted and not left natural. Here’s an article that discusses the stylistic differences of bolting vs not bolting. I like this quote from that article:

“In the end, I feel there is a lot of rock out there, and it’s OK that we don’t all share the same vision for it. Thankfully, if we work out our differences like civil human beings, we can all generally enjoy it in the manner that feels most appropriate to us.”

And this comment on a MountainProject forum:

Climbed this route again on Saturday and had a blast with friends from France, one a guide.They called it pleasure climbing, which is something we don't understand here, Big smiles and they said why the big fuss about the bolts when there is a big highway with trucks right there.”

Denali 2nd Ascent

Second ascent of the Washburn face on Denali involved over 6000 feet of vertical ice climbing in bad conditions. Full story here. I liked this part:

I got in a couple of decent screws on the low-angled shield at the start, but higher up they twisted uselessly into air behind sun-baked chandeliers. For a while I could stem between the cascade and the rock beside it, thus avoiding putting my full weight on tools driven into snow and air-filled ice. But then the stems ran out, and I was forced to move around to the front of the pillar – and to fully load my tools. ‘I’m not sure I can climb this ‘ flashed through my mind, as my picks bounced uselessly off of the rock beneath a detached skin of ice. I forced the thought down and committed to the marginal placements.”

Photo is of “New picks after being dragged over two vertical kilometres of snow, ice - and granite.”

Magnetic ‘Biners

Black Diamond has a new ‘biner coming out that relies on magnets to keep the gate closed. Sounds complicated to use. But Will Gadd loves them.

There are two independent actions required to unlock the gate: First, a climber must squeeze the levers on either side of the ‘biner gate. Then, the climber has to push open the gate and “overcome a magnetic force on each side of the carabiner in order to release the gate. Once open, the opposing magnets will hold the arms apart until you’re ready to clip and ‘lock’ the carabiner again.”

Throughout the decades, we’ve been at the forefront of revolutionary carabiner design here at Black Diamond Equipment—from Yvon Chouinard’s original ovals; to the climbing world’s first-ever wiregate, the HotWire; to the crossload-eliminating belay carabiner, the GridLock. Never satisfied with the status quo, we’re always striving to develop the next great carabiner design innovation, which has led us to our latest game-changing advancement: Magnetron Technology™.

What’s so special about Magnetron Technology? One word: magnets. Yes, that’s right—locking carabiners that utilize magnets and not twistlocks or screwlocks on the gates. Available on select locking carabiners in July 2012, our patent-pending Magnetron Technology is so revolutionary we decided to share a sneak preview with you now to get you stoked. Here’s the basics: using the power of magnetic fields to reinvent the locking carabiner, the Magnetron GridLock and the Magnetron RockLock locking carabiners combine maximum security and ease of use like never before.

• Magnetic attraction to a steel insert in the carabiner nose keeps two independent arms securely locked
• Locking arms must be individually depressed before the gate can be opened
• Once open, opposing magnetic fields repel the arms to ensure smooth and reliable gate operation
• Symmetrical design allows for easy one-handed operation (right or left)

For an in-depth look at the concept and development of Magnetron technology, watch this video, and then look for the Magnetron GridLock and the Magnetron RockLock to be in stores by July 2012. If you are a member of the outdoor industry, be sure to check out the Magnetron GridLock and the Magnetron RockLock in person at Black Diamond Equipment’s booth during the Summer 2011 OutDoor Europe and Outdoor Retailer tradeshows.

Buy Cash With Credit And Fly For Free

Want to fly o to one of your favorite climbing destinations but don’t want to pay the airfare? Well, there’s

Jane Liaw Liaw orders coins from the U.S. Mint to earn frequent-flier miles.

a slick way around that. The short version is – you buy dollar coins with a credit card attached to a frequent flyer program, use the coins to pay off your credit card, and accumulate frequent flyer miles. What a great country, huh? Here’s a report from NPR about it. I liked these quotes:

  • “The law requires that more and more coins be minted, despite a lack of demand by the public.”
  • “’I'm not as heavy a hitter as other people, I guess,’ Schlappig says. ‘I've ordered probably, maybe 30 or 40,000 worth.’”

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Climbing In Yosemite With The Alpine Club

This is quite a deal:

  • image“Five & 1/2 days of climbing in Yosemite Valley with climbers from around the world.
  • 1/2 day stewardship project for Yosemite Valley NP.
  • Six nights camping in secluded Yellow Pines Campground.
  • Three catered meals a day. (no cooking, no cleaning)
  • Experienced host climbers to team up with.
  • Transportation to and from Fresno airport.”

All for only $435 buckeroos. September 26 - October 1, 2011

A New Type Of Climbing Wall

This fitness gym in Tokyo states:

“To express the original brand concept of ‘becoming beautiful through movement’, we chose the theme ‘rock-climbing in Omotesando’ and developed a design that uses the mismatch between a rugged outdoor sport and Tokyo's fashion district to its advantage. Instead of the usual rough and outdoorsy climbing wall, we came up with the idea of using interior design elements like picture frames, mirrors, deer heads, bird cages and flower vases to create a challenging wall with hard-to-find holds and unusual finger grips.”

I wonder if this will catch on. I suppose only if lots of people want to “become beautiful through movement.”


More than 5,000 people come to a small town in Italy for 4 days of climbing. Don’t think there’s any climbing event in the U.S. that would attract that many people. It’s called the “Yosemite of Europe.” Looks beautiful. Lots of via ferrata nearby too.

Monday, July 11, 2011

What To Do If Your Boyfriend Is Less Of A Climber Than You?

For most couples that I know, the man is more interested in climbing/biking/kayaking/fishing/hunting than the woman. Obviously that’s not true in this woman’s case. Quite a lively discussion here  (It’s mostly men who have made comments to her post; don’t know why that is. Probably because women have more important things to do than read a post on MountainProject. Unlike me.)

I like this exchange of comments:

1st person:

Some women, and it sounds like you might be one, need space to work on their own priorities. I am certainly cut from this cloth. There are plenty of guys that will give you the freedom to do so.”

2nd person:

“You sure about that? I for one would not be down with a girlfriend camping with a bunch of dudes. I've seen the red carpet treatment even remotely attractive girls get on climbing trips.”

Killed By A Mountain Goat

This guy was killed by a mountain goat because he peed on the trail. Ahhh, aren’t they cute?

Nice Way To Get College Credit

This is a good introduction to canyoneering in Utah. It’s also a class at the University. Nice way to get college credit, huh? (When I was in college, I took a class in underwater basket weaving because it was the most exciting class they offered. Things have changed.)

Tensleep Report

A recent report from climbing in Tensleep mentions how friendly it is there. Read the whole thing.

We met a lot of really friendly climbers from all over the US. In general we found that the further people had travelled to get there, the friendlier they were, although the Wyoming and Colorado climbers were also very friendly. We also got to meet a couple of the route developers, Aaron Huey and Mike Decker, both of whom were very nice to us, it was obvious they were both very passionate about Tensleep.”

Flying Off Cliffs In Switzerland

Steph Davis is frustrated by the National Park Service’s attitude toward BASE jumpers. Not true in Swithzerland

where she is now and says:.
“Europeans have

giant cliffs coming out of their ears, and no prejudices about mountain sports, so they get a huge thumbs up. And a lot of tourist revenue from US jumpers. I suppose base jumpers should be thanking the NPS for petulantly denying all access to America’s biggest cliffs to our user group, as it forces us to travel and see new places, make new friends and taste new foods, all of which are good things.”

Kandersteg from steph davis on Vimeo.

“We are staying in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland right now, one of the best spots on the planet for base jumpers, in a small house in Stechelberg, the Base House. From one of the nicest jumps in the valley, you can literally land in the yard, re-pack, walk 2 minutes to the cable car, ride up to the top of the cliff and do it again. Only Rifle has shorter approaches.”

Dog Rescued from Mountain

Warning: this story may make your eyes all watery. It sure did for me.

After summitting Mount Ellinor in the Olympics last week, this couple's dog leaped off the side of the mountain after a goat, falling down a sheer cliff. The couple wasn't able to look over to see if the dog was alright, and had no means to rappel down to search for her.  A call came out on Twitter to see if anyone in the area of the Olympic Mountains would be willing to rappel down to see if their dog was ok.

I hadn't heard anything until this article came out today. 

Volunteers from Olympic Mountain Rescue scheduled a 'training mission' and rappelled down to try and locate the dog. She was lying on a ledge on the side of the cliff, with only an injured leg.

Photo: Kitsap Sun

Smith Rock Accident

Two climbers who had just rappelled to the base of their climb at Smith Rock were knocked off their feet by a person using a rope swing. Looks like one of the climbers was one of our own.
Officials learned the two had climbed Monkey Face, then rappelled to the base. As they gathered their gear, another climber swung on the “rope swing” attached to Money Face -- and while swinging, grabbed a rappel rope previously anchored to the top of the feature, Biondi said.
His momentum caused the rappel rope to move across the rock face, hitting Redmond and Dingemans in the lower legs and causing them to lose their balance and fall, Biondi said.
Witnesses said Redmond fell 10 feet, then rolled another 75 down the hill. Dingemans also fell about 10 feet, then rolled another 20 feet downhill, Biondi said.
One of the climbers is in serious condition, but it looks like both are expected to be ok...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tired Of Pedaling Your Bike?

Why not Whyke? They might be tough to control in a bike lane. (You might get whyked out in the city.) But out in the country or on a beach, sure looks like fun. Here’s a trip over 600 miles long in the Sahara with one of these. Lisa’s gonna get one ‘cause she loves to sail and to bike.

Turned Back 450’ From The Summit

They didn’t summit Makalu, 5th highest peak, but he got within 150 meters of the summit. A 10 minute video of their climb. Turns out, she had pneumonia.

Makalu from David Morton on Vimeo.

Night Sky Over Australia

I’m a sucker for these time lapse videos. This one was an award winner.

Ocean Sky from Alex Cherney on Vimeo.

“This time lapse video is the result of almost 1.5 years of work, 31 hours of taking images during six nights on Southern Ocean Coast in Australia.
Ocean Sky was awarded the overall winner prize at STARMUS astrophotography competition”

Saturday, July 9, 2011

“Jaw Muscles Sore From Clenching Teeth When Scared”

From a solo climber’s gear and technical list for a recent one-day solo of the Zodiac on El Cap, I liked this:

Jaw muscles sore from clenching teeth when scared
Entire body destroyed.”

His story of the climb is here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Happiness And Income

From the recently ended Aspen Ideas Festival, is this talk about how increasing the wealth of a country leads to increasing its citizens’ happiness. The Freakonomics blog has some more details on this talk by one of the presenters.

Core Workout

The Power Company website has a training program for increasing core strength specifically for climbers. It is:

Front Levers (to failure)

Do not hold the levers.  Go to the top of the motion and lower immediately, slowly.  Do not initiate any swing.  Maintain good form, and when form breaks down, stop.
Pushups (double the number of levers completed)
Begin immediately following the levers (supersets), with no rest between.  Maintain good form, and complete the full range of movement.
3 sets of the above, with 2 minute rests between sets, and after final set.
Hanging Swivels (to failure)
Go to the top of the motion and lower immediately, slowly, and all the way back to a hang, without swinging.  When form breaks down, stop.

3 sets of these, with 1 minute rests between sets. “

He has more details about the program here.

Climbing In The Olympics?

Sport climbing made the short list for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games. Is this a big deal or not? There’s a lively discussion here about the downsides of including climbing in the Olympics. Here are the two main objections of the writer:

The first is the likely influx of people at climbing gyms, even outdoors, and the associated danger factor…..The second is pretty selfish, though I don't have any specific crags in mind. I don't climb outside often enough or in popular enough areas to have serious issues with overcrowded crags, but if everyone in the world sees how amazing climbing is and scrambles to get outside and try it, we'll have some serious access and overcrowding issues.”

So are people’s objections to climbing as an Olympic sport, simply that they don’t want to share a fun activity with more people? What’s that about? There’s a lot of honesty in one of the comments:

I agree with you, I'm not 100% for climbing in the Olympics simply because it will spawn a bunch of unsafe noobs who just want to climb because it is cool. Safety is one of my biggest focuses in climbing, and it is difficult to stay safe if there are others around you putting you in harm’s way due to their lack of knowledge. Also I like my activity climbing of to remain a mysterious fringe activity to the masses. It makes it more fun to talk about.”

I, too, like to think I am special and that most people can’t know about what I am doing. Can’t know about it and preferably can’t even do it. Or, at least if they are going to try it, don’t do it when I am around. Because they take up space that I could be using.

Since I was never a “noob” (when I started climbing, I was an expert from Day One- just ask me), I especially resent new people that are just starting out. Because when new people are climbing near me, I can’t climb safely anymore. And I don’t possess the judgment to realize when people are causing it to be unsafe for me. So please, please, stop any more discussion of exposing climbing to a bigger audience. If more people climb, then I will have to do other, even more dangerous and fringey things like…eating deep-fried butter.

Climbing Popularity Increasing

A report from New Hampshire Public Radio says the increased popularity of climbing in that state is driven by indoor gyms. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? It’s good for equipment gear and clothing manufacturers and retailers. It’s bad if you want to be alone at the cliffs. The public radio reporter (he’s got the fancy double last name, so you know he works for public radio) says:

“……..Sam Evans-Brown reports, a trip to New Hampshire’s premier outdoor sport climbing destination shows how the popularity of indoor climbing has changed the sport.”

Thirty years ago it was New Hampshire’s best kept rock climbing secret, but the word has gotten out. There are days when lines form to climb all of the popular routes.”

Wow, that is a problem, over the course of 30 years, more people are climbing. In 1980, U.S. population was 220 million. Now it’s 310 million. Deduct the 308 million of us that are too obese to climb, and that still leaves a lot of potential climbers. (The obesity figures are mine based on what I read in the headlines. When I figured out, using the B.M.I. index, that I was borderline obese, I kinda stopped paying attention to how awful the obesity problem is. But I am sure it is awful – all I have to do is look in a mirror.)

The sport takes a lot of knowledge, and it’s inherently dangerous and difficult. For years. that’s kept people from considering climbing. But the proliferations of climbing gyms that have educated new climbers, and outdoor sport climbing destinations like Rumney have changed the face of the sport.”

I hate it when other people like to do the same things I like to do. There ought to be a law.

Casual Climbing

Another report from a Patagonia athlete on his climbing in Chamonix. After a breakfast in town, they take the cable car 10,000 feet up into the snow. And a casual climb turns into something a little more than casual.

Kc - IMG_0175

I think that’s probably part of the blessing and the curse of Chamonix – such great access is, well, great. But you can’t help but feel casual sometimes when you probably shouldn’t.”



I’ve never used a Screamer but I know they are more popular for mixed and ice climbs where the chances of a bad placement are higher. Here’s Black Diamond’s report on fall testing a Screamer.

Test 1

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Practicing For Big Walls

His big wall skills are rusty. To practice for a solo attempt in Yosemite, he tests his gear and procedures at a local climbing gym. I like this photo of him in his hammock on a gym wall. Full story here.

image“As I lay back on my ledge and looked up at El Cap I thought of my journey. In 1974, only a hundred feet away from where I now laid, I fell off the 5.9 climbing of the Salathe Wall’s slab pitch and wondered if I could climb it. I was 18 and hadn’t yet climbed El Cap. That was a long time ago, and I wondered why I still do it. My main reason is of course that I love it. I love all of it – the smell, the sounds, the feel of the rock, the vastness of it, the uncertainty, the fricken wildness of simply doing it, the absurdity of it – these are the things that are is important to me. Physically, I’ve not suffered ‘the thickening’ that some of my friends have. I’m in decent shape but I also know that I’m running down the clock. I’m 54 and I probably won’t last another 54. When you’re 21, you’re sure you will live forever and that you have all the time in the world to live your dreams. But when you’re 54, you realize that the end – although hopefully not yet in sight – is out there like a destination you’ve been approaching for hours, but have not yet reached.

In one of his several videos, he talks about the cuts on his hands and how hard it is to open the beers.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

South Dakota Rogaining Championship

When I first read this, I thought they were talking about the drug Rogaine, used to grow hair. No, this is rogaining – orienteering – and they are running a course in August in Custer State Park in South Dakota. Here’s their website.

You can participate in a 4 hour competition, a 12 hour, or, the very popular, 24 hour competition.

Here’s a story of the event in 2010 also held at Custer.

30 Days

This reminded me of Radio Liz’s “Mini Adventures.”

Matt Cutts says in the video below, “You can do anything for 30 days.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hard To Find Footage Of Hard Climbing

This is some gnarly top roping with totally rad takes. What an epic.

The title says it all. Filmed over several days, during some of the best conditions yet this year, this video is sure to fufill your desire to see footage of all of the following things:


and last but not least


Remember, when you go top roping, go for NOTHING BUT NYET.

New VE

This photo of the steel used to build the walls on the inside of the new VE is from the Minnesota Bouldering website. 60’ walls will be very cool.

Tough Puzzle To Solve

How do you get active if you are not active now?

According to a recent study conducted by the Physical Activity Council (PAC), more than 60 million people in the United States are completely and totally inactive. ….Cove said the data, however, shows that the sedentary folk do want to become more active but, according to the study’s results, aren’t sure how to get started.”



That is a tough nut to crack. If you want to be active and you’re not, how do you start? I have no clue.

Yoga Riding

Now this looks like fun.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

“ A Laywoman’s Account” Of Climbing In Yosemite

jugging the headwall

Quite an entertaining story of 3 nights climbing on the Salathe Wall in Yosemite. The photo is of a belayer who took a nap because of lack of sleep.

“I jug like a lunatic up to Lung Ledge with a whole roasted chicken in tow. I am met with great enthusiasm thanks to big bird. The plan was for me to jump on the hollow flake in the dark so as to not burn precious day light hours the next day grunting up the thing. However, after all the barfing down below and all the jugging up above, I wasn't in the best condition to fight with the rock. Midnight. Bellies full. We snooze.”

Lessons On Persistance

Andrew Bisharat writes about the lessons he learned while attempting to redpoint a route all his friends had already done. This climb happens to be a 5.14, but I think the lessons he learned apply to our projects at any level. Read the whole article here. Here are a few I like:

“Lesson: You tend to compare yourself to others in the fleeting, present moment—a waste of time. The only thing that ultimately matters is how You compare to Yourself in the past. These bearings—not those

Lesson: There’s always something new to learn, whether on your second or 70th time up a route.

Lesson: Find ways to stay encouraged or else you won’t make it.

Lesson: Always try

Lesson: 10 to 20: that’s the ideal number of attempts in redpointing, the target zone for reaching the pinnacle of satisfaction sport climbing can offer.”

Saturday, July 2, 2011


This photo represents what people love about Yosemite and what people hate. The cliffs in the distance is what is loved. The traffic jam on the road is what is hated. This photo is from Friday 7/1/11 from the El Cap Report website.

Friday, July 1, 2011

History of Sport Climbing

Udo Neumann who wrote this book on high performance training, talks about the history of sport climbing and bouldering starting in the 1980s with lots of great older footage.

Learning From Failure

A solo attempt on El Cap leads to an accident and then a rescue. Here’s his complete story. I liked this part:

Great climbing above Mammoth

“I began to ponder the question no climber should ask themselves. “Why do I climb?” When other people ask me why, I have no trouble answering. It’s fun, freedom, a challenge, etc… But I know, as we all do, that those explanations are superficial…. I began seriously wondering if it was worth it. Then I thought back to the previous few days of climbing, moving up El Capitan, living on the wall, finding peace through action. Despite two wet nights, the bleeding fingers, and mental and physical fatigue, I could not think of a time that I was happier. Was it worth it?

…We often seek to have our successes define our image. We want to see ourselves, and want others to see us, in our best moments. However, it is our failures that often truly shape us. Warren Harding climbed The Nose in part because he missed out on the first accent of Half Dome. It is these times that force us to grow. We accept limitations, or gain the determination to overcome them, only after we find out where they are. I failed to climb El Capitan this time; epic fail in fact. But in the two weeks since the accident has happened I have had time to think. I have learned more about myself, my motivations, and my goals than I have in a long time. Our failures can define us in positive ways, just as much as our successes. In the past few years, I have become very well-defined. My name is Matthew Seymour, and I am a rock climber.”

Speed Climbing

Every year in a Croatian park, they have a “Big Wall Speed Climbing” competition. Here’s an article from a Patagonia athlete about this year’s competition.

“We checked into our hotel room (two nights with meals, paid for by the organizers!), dug out my harness and shoes and hiked five minutes to the route. We practiced the 130-meter 5.10 climb two times (I know, 130 meters isn’t really a BIG big wall, but it was big enough…)…Kate and I climbed the route in 17-plus minutes, which the emcee (again commentating in two languages) declared a “really, really very fast time” and good enough for second place.”

The video below is from last year.