Friday, September 30, 2011

Bags Are Packed, Ready To Go

A group of climbers completed El Cap the night before and are returning to pick up their bags. More details here. Look at all the gear they needed for a few days on the wall.

Wanna See How An Innovator of Modern Gear Carries His Pack?

Tumpline_diagramHe uses a tumpline. When Yvon Chouinard – founder of Black Diamond (actually he founded the company that Black Diamond replaced) as well as the founder of Patagonia, carries heavy loads up hills, he uses a tumpline. On a recent visit to a trade show, where he was shown the latest in pack technology, he explains why.:

“We spent twenty full minutes going over its sophisticated load distribution features and anatomically S-curved frame, welded with tungsten/inert gas and its wonderful bag made of 420-denier Super-K-coated eight-ounce parapack nylon held together with 18 stitches per inch of cotton-wrapped Dacron thread. Finally, after reaching a fever pitch of enthusiasm and exhausting every aerospace term he knew, he stepped back beaming proudly. As his eyes gradually returned to their respective sockets he asked, ‘Well Mr. Chouinard, how do you like it?’ I shrugged…. ‘I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you. I carry all my loads with a tump line now. And with one of those it doesn’t matter what you have on your back – a fearsome astro loader like this or a sack of potatoes’.”

“A Gift From Nature”

This might be a new trend – trad climbing previous sport routes. Watching this guy climb this bolted 5.14 limestone route (it’s bolted because the previous climbers couldn’t find places to put trad gear) makes my hands sweat. It’s not the same as free soloing, but it’s quite exciting.

At one point, he puts a sling thru an eyelet in the rock and says “Here is a real gift from nature.” He climbs 45-50 feet between pieces of gear. And tells his belayer to run downhill if he falls. In order to lighten his harness, he carries only 1/2 of the gear he needs. At the halfway mark, he pulls up a 2nd rope with the rest of the gear. It’s quite a display of climbing prowess. Of course, he’s French. (That’s for you, Fabrice.)


Here’s Dave MacLeod doing the first free ascent of a big wall in Norway. I was struck by how precise his footwork is. He appears, in this short video, to pay more attention to his footwork than his hand placements.

Here’s the story of this climb. I liked this quote:

After 20 metres, she shouted that she had decided to make a belay on a slab. A good belay? She shouted yes, and then as I arrived admitted it was two old peckers from an aid ascent plus a poor cam and didn’t want to tell me before. We excavated a welcome backup cam placement and I headed around the corner and up endless cracks, now bathed in the lovely late evening sun.”







Thursday, September 29, 2011

It’s A Nice View, But You Don’t Want To Fall

Here’s Alex Honnold free soloing a route in Yosemite a couple of days ago.

Several days ago a few friends and I went up to climb Heaven; a stunning 12d roof crack way up on glacier point. Heaven sits perched atop 3000 feet of slab, overlooking Vernal and Nevada falls, as well as Liberty Cap, Half Dome, Mt. Watkins, Washington Column, and the Royal Arches. Its a nice view.”

Rehabbing On El Cap

Kitty @ 1st bivy-1Kitty Calhoun tells the story of climbing El Cap two years after having both hips resurfaced with metal. She climbs an “easy” 16 pitch route.

Washington Monument

Some photos of them setting up anchors to rappel on the Washington Monument are here. 

Ten Sleep

Another article on the wonders of Ten Sleep climbing.

This is part of a review of the climbing guide for the area":

Plus, in what other climbing area will common crag talk include questions like “Hey, Frank, you want to try the sexy lady 11b or the kid with a bazooka 11c next?” (Sexy lady means four stars and kid with bazooka denotes five.)”



“Strange Things Lurk In The Woods of Arkansas At Night”

Here’s a photo from the “24 Hours of Hell” climbing competition at the Horseshoe Ranch in Arkansas. A report from two of the women contestants is here. I like this quote:

“A women’s team called The Cannibals climbed beside us for awhile, complete with crazy teased feather adorned hairdos, large and elaborate tatoos on their bare arms and legs and glow sticks taped to their quickdraws. They were scary. But not as scary as the huge Copperhead that was curled up on the trail, which was in turn not as scary as the dude I saw deliberately raise a watermelon sized rock over his head and drop it on the Copperhead, killing it instantly.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rescue On El Cap

Two rangers hang from a helicopter as they approach a ledge with two climbers on it. They were successful in evacuating the hurt climber. Story and photos here.

Through The Khumbu With A Helmet Cam

From the Adventure Blog:

If you ask any climber on the South Side of Everest what the scariest part of the mountain is, most will invariably say that it is the Khumbu Icefall. Ironically enough, this portion of the climb is actually located at relatively low altitude, sitting just above Base Camp.”

Northern Pole Of Inaccessibility

Do you have “steely determination and massive amounts of reserves?” If so, you can join a team to travel to the center of the Arctic Ocean with this group. Besides the steely determination, I think you’ll need to like the cold and pony up some dough.




Flying Thru A Cave

Not really a cave, but an arch. Watch at the 1:08 mark when the video shows the view from his helmet cam.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hiking In Colorado

Radio Liz and Seth recently hiked in the Colorado mountains. She has a trip report here along with beautiful photos. They were able to photograph the rare mountain elf.


Fast Women On El Cap

Two women just broke the female speed climbing record on “The Nose” route on El Cap – 10 hours, 40 minutes. (I’m sure they could’ve gone faster if they wanted to. But they wanted to protect the ego of the men’s record-holders whose time is 2 hours, 36 minutes.)

This Kinda Makes Me Want To Ski

I always wondered what these women trip were all about and now I know. “Shameful Thrill-Seekers On The Loose.” Apparently hotel owners know all about it.

Hiking Can Be Dangerous

Especially by yourself in the desert. Here’s the story of a man who fell 10 feet while hiking and then crawled for four days until he was rescued. (I was down in The Maze in Utah many years ago. It is quite spectacular. But we drove there. Why hike when you can drive?)

photo: The Chocolate Drops

Can You Figure Out What’s Wrong?

American Alpine Institute has 3 photos of top rope setups for us,to look at and try to figure out if anything is wrong with them. Here’s the first one. The others are here.

Blackleaf Canyon

Blackleaf is a wonderful 600 ft., mostly bolted alpine-feeling wall.

I talked to Pat today at VE and he just got back from a month-long climbing trip including several areas in Montana. He loved Blackleaf Canyon. He called it the “Potrero Chico of the US.” Many multi-pitch sport routes. Several miles of yet undeveloped cliffs. At Mountain Project, there are only a few climbs listed.

Hydrate And Die

Stop drinking so much water! (Or more accurately, overhydrate and underperform). Read this report.

“The critical takeaway: We all drink way too much water (and sports drinks), putting ourselves at risk of worse, not better athletic performance….mild dehydration, which is completely normal during exercise, corresponds to faster marathon event times across ages and skill sets…that if you drink when you’re thirsty rather than before, you’ll maintain perfectly adequate hydration. In fact, more experienced, and often faster runners in the study did just that and suffered much lower incidents of GI and other distress.”

This idea of “hydrate or die” sells a lot of bottled drinks and water bottles and bottle carriers and… but it is not necessary to have that much water/fluid.

Greenland Video

A scenic tour of Greenland on a climbing trip in 2010. Her story of the trip here.

Reflections of Greenland from Granite Films Jim Surette on Vimeo.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Portraits Of Climbers

A series of “portraits” (interviews) with climbers on Denali from a man who spent a month on the mountain this summer with the National Park Service patrol.  Read his interviews here.

Mountaineering is a weird sport that can be both thrilling and ridiculous. We spent twenty-five days walking and waiting to get to a summit that we stood on for three minutes. Then we

walked back down. That sort of elected suffering incorporates many things: patience, determination, ego, grit, money, time, gear, self-reliance, self-absorption, and an anti-stir-crazy serum (in our case, Hearts and Bananagrams).”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

54 Balloons Used To Cross The Alps

Jonathan Trappe takes off at the start of his Alp crossing using helium-filled balloons (Picture: Barcroft)

Story here.






“The three well dressed men from yesterday, are a French team,…”

Who would’ve guessed that? Fabrice, is that you?


French team on the Boot, Salathe Wall, El Cap.



And on the same page, look at this “killer” 200 foot off-width called “Monster.” (It’s rated 5.11a. The standard route to the right, is rated A1 or 5.13c.)

“I Love People”

A man hitchhikes 5000 miles across the US and meets 930 people. And then makes a 2:42 minute movie of it which is very cute.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Photos Of El Cap Climbing

El Cap Report has more photos of climbers on El Cap -like this one of the 7th pitch of “The Shield.”









He’s shooting the climbers from the valley floor about 1/4 mile away with this 800mm lens

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Way Too Excited About Falling

This is a compilation of videos from 3 different movies. The first guy is way too excited about his fall. (There is a lot of spicy language in this video. If you don’t like spicy, better not watch.)

“A compilation of Trad, Aid and extreme Climbing Clips from the movies:
- The Sharp End (Clip 1 and 3)
- E11 (Clip 2)
- Committed Vol.1 (Clip 4)”

My Visit To VE Minneapolis

I got a tour today of the new VE in Minneapolis. It’s gonna be very popular:

    • Top-out bouldering walls with the finish 15’ above on a mezzanine
    • 58’ foot lead walls
    • 48’ crack climbs
    • Lots of bars and restaurants nearby. (Including a restaurant/bar in the same building.)

Here’s a photo from one of the mezzanines -  a bouldering area is underneath this mezzanine - IMG_1319showing a 48’ climbing wall in the background. (I think these numbers are right. They are at least close. Don’t quote me on the exact heights.)


This is a 48’ crack – one of two. (You can see a black line on the wall in the back left-hand side of the photo. The lightning was tough.)



The gray wall behind the lift, is part of the tallest – 58’ – wall. It’s possible they will have lead climbs that will originate in the space at the bottom right – a bouldering cave –and then continue around and up this tallest wall to the top. You can’t quite see the ceiling in this photo. The top of the wall overhangs 10 feet from the bottom.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Extreme Compilation

When I watch these type of videos, I wonder how many bruised bodies and broken bones does this level of skill represent. It is amazing what people can do with a little bit of practice.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Do You Feel Lucky?

According to recent research, it could be because:

“Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there, rather than just what they are looking for."

(The way they tested people who say they are lucky and those who think they’re unlucky, was very clever.)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

“I Like The Low Commitment Of Sport Climbing”

So says Alex Honnold as he climbs near St George, Utah.

Black Diamond athlete Alex Honnold hooked up with us down at the Phalanx of Will, a unique sport climbing tower/crag in the Arizona Strip, just outside of Saint George, Utah. Besides bagging a bunch of pitches, Honnold sat down with us and discussed a bevy of topics, including stalkers at restaurants and the joys of clipping fixed quickdraws.

Friday, September 16, 2011

3 Reasons To Go To Chamonix

A three sport day – skiing, ice climbing and bouldering – in Chamonix by one of Patagonia’s athletes.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Keep An Eye On Where Your Helmet Is

At the end of this article, there’s an allegedly true story of someone who didn’t pay attention to where his helmet was when he attended to his – ahem! – business while climbing. You will also discover what the paper target below is for.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nature’s So Neat

A tour of the high Sierra in Yosemite Park. I like this quote:

Biologically speaking, the frontier is all around us. There’s still a lot to be discovered.”

Some of these plants are a few hundred years old. Imagine the changes they’ve seen.

The Worse Your Toes Look

Toe Bumps

Steph Davis says “Your mom is right, climbers have messed up feet! Here is the good news: the worse they look, the less your climbing shoes hurt.”

50th Anniversary

This September is the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of the Salathe Wall on El Cap. Here’s the story written by Royal Robbins that first appeared in 1963. (Notice the tied-off pitons in the photo below. This ascent pre-dates cams by many years.)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Latest In Menswear

I think this “mankini” will really catch on with all the male climbers I know. It leaves your chest bare, it doesn’t constrict leg movement, it’s easy to accessorize with a “murse” and it’s easy to clean. Lots more new male fashions here.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Climbing K2

This is the first woman to climb every 8,000 meter peak without oxygen. She just finished summiting on K2 which is the first time it’s been summited in three years. The interview below is in German but there are English captions. Her husband decided to descend early because he thought the avalanche danger was too high. She continued with three others and made the summit.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reel Rock Film Festival

Coming to Mini-No-Place on Sept 15th & 16th. Tickets $10. Purchase online here



According to this research, some people are born with more willpower than others. But, we can all learn how to strengthen our willpower by working out as we would to strengthen a muscle. (I hope someone is paying a lot of money for this conclusion. Doesn’t’ every parent already know “practice makes perfect?”)

“...discovered that the will, like a muscle, can be fatigued. Immediately after students engage in a task that requires them to control their impulses — resisting cookies while hungry, tracking a boring display while ignoring a comedy video, writing down their thoughts without thinking about a polar bear or suppressing their emotions while watching the scene in "Terms of Endearment" in which a dying Debra Winger says goodbye to her children — they show lapses in a subsequent task that also requires an exercise of willpower, like solving difficult puzzles, squeezing a handgrip, stifling sexual or violent thoughts and keeping their payment for participating in the study rather than immediately blowing it on Doritos…

Baumeister then pushed the muscle metaphor even further by showing that a depleted ego can be invigorated by a sugary pick-me-up... And he showed that self-control, though almost certainly heritable in part, can be toned up by exercising it.”.

“But it is nature. And it can be dangerous.”

“But it is nature. And it can be dangerous.”  That quote is from a ranger at Yosemite when asked about the 18 deaths they’ve had this year. But, on average, the parks are safe.

image“Jeffrey Olson, a spokesman for the Park Service, said there had actually been fewer deaths at national parks so far this year — 113 through last week — than in the same period last year. And that is out of some 280 million annual visitors to the national parks.”

By my calculations, that’s about 1.5 persons/100,000 visitors. The U.S. average accidental death rate is 37.7/100,000 people So you’re safer in a National Park than you are just about anywhere else.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Man, Woman and Donkey Race

The oldest official race in Colorado consists of running in the mountains with a donkey. Just run your ass off.

Nature Is Inherently Dangerous

Even cute little bear cubs are dangerous. This young woman was on her cell phone to her mother as a bear and three of her cubs killed her. Remember, the outdoors is inherently dangerous.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Climb Like a Child (and other Climbing Lessons for Beginners)

I really like this article. Even if it is written by girls being girly. This is the last paragraph,

When being out with a beginner, it’s easy to try to tell them too much, or give them too much instruction. Perhaps the best piece of advice is to shut the mind off, and completely let go. Strive to reach that instinctual sense of movement. When you do, the things that seem unobvious—like manteling or shifting the weight in the opposite direction—are actually the most obvious moves to do of all.

You should read the rest of it too. Because she is the best climber in the world... really

Multimodal Trip

Most of us are used to multimodal trips – we drive to the climbing area and then hike to the climbs, for example. But I like these slightly more ambitious types of trips: rafting, biking and hiking. Full description here.At about the 3:30 point in the video, they mention that it was hot. (Since they were at Indian Creek, they could’ve added climbing to their trip too.)

Sailing The Arctic

A ski trip by sailboat to Arctic Norway in the Spring. I love the icicles on the lifelines of the sailboat. Brrrr!.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Flying Over Rocks

At about the 1:45 minute mark, he tries to grab some balloons from a friend who is standing on the ground. That’s when you can see how fast he is really moving.