Monday, October 31, 2011

VEM Update

2011-10-31 12.42.18Today I helped drill holes in the walls and then install T nuts. The photo on the left is from the top of a wall looking down.



The photo below shows me a little worried. Probably because I am 35’ in the air on a wobbly scissor lift drilling holes in the wall. (More likely, I am worried because I just figured out I am dumber than my new smart phone.)2011-10-31 14.49.56



This is the scene at 3PM Monday as the top rope anchors are installed on a few routes.

With Time, Talent & An Old Rope

This is what you can do. Lisa is now teaching classes in how to make rope rugs. It is super EZ and fun.


Winter Camping With Sunbeam

Lisa and her friend went to this winter camping symposium last weekend in Wisconsin. Here is a photo of her new winter tent that she made. You can see the stovepipe of her new wood-burning stove that she also made. Talk to her about winter camping. She is super excited about it and will be too shy to mention it without being asked.

Hold Onto The Rope

A “Chicks with Picks” post about trad leading in NC with a new partner. They forgot to secure the rope at one of the rappel stations and dropped both ends. Not a big deal, since it is so busy where they were climbing. I liked this quote and had the exact same experience at Red Rocks when I climber there last week. When I recover from my trauma of leading at Red Rocks, I will write about my experience out there with leading.

“I looked down and left at my last piece of gear, and assessed the fall potential.  If I took a fall, I would swing about 10 ft down and left to below my last piece – not pretty.  I could feel

that process starting in my mind where you start panicking, and I told myself to pull it together.  I managed to step back down and left back to my stance.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Visit To New VE

2011-10-30I went to the new Mpls VE today (Friday) and got the photo below of the main lead wall. Then Jeff & I got to climb it as seen in the video below.

You are going to love climbing there. 






Thursday, October 27, 2011

Red Rocks Climbing

Now I see why people like Red Rocks – predictable, sunny weather, easy access to Vegas, thousands of named routes (I just searched Mountainproject for moderate routes between 5.5 and 5.9, and found 560) and great rock.

Russell and I hiked into “Armatron” the first day – 1.5 hours hike uphill to the base – and saw one other group of climbers on a different route. The photo on the left is the money pitch of “Armatron.”  Thousands of serving-sized plates with holds all around each plate. Very fun.




The second day, we hiked about 30 minutes into “Cat in the Hat” This is perhaps the most popular multi-pitch climb in Red Rocks. There was a group of four climbers 3 pitches ahead of us. We caught up with them and passed them. Which I had Cat in the Hatnever done before. Since they were using the good belay station, it meant I had to set up an anchor for a semi-hanging belay to belay Russell up. Since I knew he’d be examining my setup, I put in 5 pieces instead of only three. or four. His comment, “You’re not an expert in placing tri-cams, are you?” Nope. 

This is a photo of Russell leading the last and hardest pitch. Below him, is the lDSCN1706eader of the other group. Whose rope kept getting caught in my day pack. And running over the top of my shoulder. So I did not like this climb as much as Russell did.




On the third morning, we picked up Miriam, (“The Killer”) at the airport and tried out two of the sport areas in Red Rock. First we went to “The Panty DSCN1822Wall” which only has a few climbs but they were perfect for an intro to leading at Red Rock. We did a few climbs there and “Killer” led two of them.  Here she is doing her first-ever rope transfer at the anchors.



Next we hoofed it over to the “Black Corridor.” There we encountered 15-20 people all dressed as Superman. (What you do in Vegas, stays in Vegas.) This is a great place to climb – a 25 foot wide slot canyon with 80-100 foot high walls and bolted routes on both sides. And it is very popular; there were 40 or so people climbing while we were there. And we did three climbs. Here. Here and here.

Here are Russell (Hondo) and Killer (climbing a route near the mouth of the canyon) in the Black Corridor.


I was surprised that on a Wednesday, there were so many people climbing the sport routes. We probably saw 60-80 climbers in just three areas. Of course, these are all within 20 minutes of the highway.



I know there is a controversy regarding Red Rocks and a nearby housing development. The opponents of the housing say it will “ruin” Red Rocks. I don’t know how seeing some houses in the distance, would ruin the experience for me. (I could see The Strip in downtown Las Vegas from almost everywhere we went.) What would ruin Red Rocks for me is having all those climbers. So I would want to avoid it during the weekends and holidays.

Here is a list of recommended climbs for first-time climbers. There is even a first ascent program from the American Alpine Institute. And here’s a video slideshow of our trip:

Viva Las Vegas

Here’s downtown Vegas taken from the summit of one of the routes Russell and I climbed called “Cat in the Hat.” All photos here.


Hondo & The Killer At Red Rocks

Here’s a slideshow of our recent trip.


Undergarment Squeeze Job

One of the best routes on the “Panty Wall” at Red Rocks, was the climb “Undergarment Squeeze Job.” Here’s Miriam doing her second lead at Red Rocks on this route 


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Presidential Sweeeet!

Our room in Vegas is right next to the Presidential Suite. We call our room the "Presidential Sweeet!" Here are two photos to prove it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rendezvous At Red Rock

This is the closest grocery store to the Red Rock park entrance. We met several climbers buying their victuals there. As well as guides meeting their clients. One guide we met was called Rainbow. I think that name must appeal to the ladies. (In fact, a young woman in an expensive Mercedes sports car picked him up for a day of climbing.) If I hired a guide named Rainbow, I would run far away.
This is a photo of us buying snacks for the day. The good news is you could also gamble in the grocery store. What you eat in Vegas baby, stays in Vegas.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rockin' At Red Rocks

This is Russell sorting his.gear before going up to Juniper Canyon to climb with me today. Here is Russell in his Mustang convertble after our climb. It is 80 & sunny here. I won $7.90 at the casino after our buffet dinner. I did not know I could be filled up for a mere $13. And get to gamble too. Viva Las Vegas, baby. What you climb in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Don’t Ski With Your Spouse

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is. A husband skiing with his less experienced wife, does not turn on their avalanche beacons. When he triggers an avalanche and she is killed, he is convicted of manslaughter.

“After testing the snow-pack with other tourers the woman went on ahead with the man following behind to help in case of problems. He apparently triggered a slab measuring 80 by 250 meters which buried his wife.”

I would’ve thrown myself on the mercy of the court because now I am a widower.

Off Width

Quite a shot of probably the hardest off width ever done by trad climbers. This is in the Canyonlands of southern Utah.  The story here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On The Hunt For Bigfoot

A naturalist, known for his research into bighorn sheep, has been hunting for Bigfoot for 30+ years.

It all started when he was camping alone in the early 1970s and was awakened by a large hand pressing on the top of his six-foot-high tent. At first he thought it was a bear, but could distinguish fingers, not a clawed paw. The creature collapsed the tent and fell across Mionczynski’s legs. He scrambled out of the tent as the animal disappeared into the forest nearby. Mionczynski started a fire and stayed awake next to it through the night. He said he could hear the animal breathing and moving nearby for two and a half hours. For 45 minutes it threw pinecones at him, he said, as if it wanted him to leave.”

I Like Junk Food

I rarely eat junk food, but it isn’t because I don’t like it. (Of course, you’d probably say it’s all I eat. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure.) Which is why I found this article called “Five Myths about healthy eating” fascinating. Especially this quote:

“People who eat lots of unhealthy food aren’t doing so because they lack cheap, healthy options. Instead, it’s because they like junk food”

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hardest Offwidth Crack In The World

Whether or not it’s the hardest and longest offwidth  roof crack, it’s quite scenic. A report about the first trad lead of this climb in Canyonlands, Utah. They used “wide ponies, knee locks, hand fist stacks and arm bars” to get to the top.

Team Adorable

2011-10-18 14.16.45Most of the members of Team Adorable gathered at VE today. Missing from the team photo were Amy (she got there too late for the photo shoot; sorry Amy), Ronnie Bob and Aaron. It’s fun to see some of the old gang back together. 

Thanks to Eric for taking this photo. He is going to be the next member of Team Adorable, I think.

“Fail More, Suck Less”

The title of this article by “Nerd Fitness” caught my eye.

Last June I quit my day job with around $3,000 in the bank and no money coming in through Nerd Fitness.  I wrote an ebook with no back up plan and blew my expectations out

of the water for how many I expected to sell.  Back in November, I decided to book a ridiculous around the world trip on a whim, and everything pretty much managed to go right for me on it – I was even invited to speak at Google, which happened to also be my first ever speaking gig.   I wrote and launched two other ebooks while traveling, both of which built on the success of its predecessor and outperformed my highest projections.”

Wet vs. Dry

At Black Diamond, they tested the strength of wet slings vs. dry.

Dynex runners don’t seem to be affected when soaked, which was to be expected. Nylon runners, on the other hand, show about a 10% decrease in strength when wet. Should this qc labslight decrease in strength be concerning? Not really. The strength of these, wet or dry, are well above the product rating and pretty much any force that can be created in the field. Bottom line: runners are crazy strong, wet or dry.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

Why Date Outdoorsy Womyn?

Gear Gals has an article called “Five Reasons to Date Outdoorsy Women.” I liked this quote;

"The sad fact is that guys can go out and play more than women, and women who spend time in the outdoors end up with male partners for a lot of their activities. If this freaks you out, don’t bother with outdoors-oriented women."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

Three sisters from India started a women’s guiding service in Nepal. Full story hereTheir website here.

"’We went door-to-door looking for women. We told them just to give it a try, but their families resisted; they were very afraid. We could only convince 10 women,’ Chetri said. In the dining room of their restaurant, they learned about first aid, avalanche warnings, acute mountain sickness, tourism, trekking and women's empowerment. ‘We were laughed at by


almost everyone. We had no idea if we were even doing the right thing by closing the restaurant.’
The challenges ranged from a taboo on women wearing trousers to a deeply entrenched resistance toward wives earning money, from doubts about women's strength and mental acuity to a cultural belief that women are bad luck on the mountain. Few women in Nepal have jobs outside of agriculture, harvesting rice and wheat, earning about US$3 a day, Chetri said.

Today, the Three Sisters trekking agency trains about 50 women a year and leads hundreds of foreign trekkers - independent tourists from Europe, the United States, Japan and India - over the Annapurna mountain range. In fact, depending upon the level of difficulty and time available they have specially-designed treks called Tea House Treks to lower reaches on the mountain.

Yellow Taggers

2011-10-13 13.11.47Today at VE, we had two well-known people pass their lead tests. This is Team M&M who are showing their matching yellow tags. (Miriam had passed her lead test quite awhile ago. But, today, she got a replacement yellow tag with her new name “Killer” ‘cuz she’s killin’ all the routes at VE.)


2011-10-13 13.11.34

One of Team M&M’s goals, is to do a ceiling route. I think they have the energy for it.

This is team L&S showing off his new lead tag. When last seen, he was leading the arch and she was pulling a roof. A lot of fun was had by all. 

2011-10-13 13.12.27

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wings Of Steel

You might need another part of your body to be steel in order to climb this route. A photo report of the 2nd ascent of “Wings of Steel” on El Cap. Here’s what they use to aid past some of the blank sections.


Luckily, they also brought some hydrating fluids with them on the wall.

Here’s Another Reason Not To Mountain Bike

The buck doesn’t stop here – he just runs this biker over.

Mountain Biker, Evan van der Spuy of Team Jeep South Africa got taken out by a RED HARTEBEES at the Time Freight Express MTB race at Albert Falls Dam. Check out this crazy footage which was taken by team mate Travis Walker on his GoPro Camera - The BUCK sure does STOP HERE with Evan van der Spuy aka #BUCKNORRIS.”

Monday, October 10, 2011

Prehistoric Fingerpainting

No matter where you live, you can’t keep kids from marking up the walls. Including 13,000 year-old markings on the walls on caves in France.

“Many of the markings are thought to date back 13,000 years, to a hunter-gatherer culture known as the Magdalenian. The same culture is thought to have created the better-known cave drawings at Lascaux.”


Chick Report From Yosemite

The Marketing & Social Media Chick at Chicks Climbing went climbing with the American Alpine Club’s International Climbers’ Week. She asks:

So, how does an out-of-shape rock climber end up in Yosemite?”

And proceeds to describe the climbs she did and the famous climbers she met. She mentions the “Alcove Swing” on El Cap, Here’s a video of it.

“Get Your Own” Cookie Dough

The Smileys complete their 32nd summit – Bugaboo Spire East Ridge. At the end of the video, he’s eating raw cookie dough and she asks if he brought any for her. He tells her, “Get your own.” It looks delicious. It is an unbelievably beautiful area with notoriously bad weather. Even though they were climbing in August, they had to clear snow out of the cracks so they could put in gear. Read their whole story here.

I went into the Bugaboos in the winter with Johnnie Mac. We were towed in on our skis for the first 22 miles with a snowmobile – the part in the video on the dirt road.. Because it was winter and the porcupines were less active, we didn’t have to cover our car with chicken wire. It is an unbelievably beautiful area with notoriously bad weather.


Bugaboo Spire's East Ridge from Mark Smiley on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Makes Me Want To Stay Indoors

This beautiful time lapse with music, makes me want to stay indoors and watch time lapse videos of Nature. Why would I go outside when I can see stuff like this without having to worry about the weather?

Landscapes: Volume Two from Dustin Farrell on Vimeo.

“Do One Thing A Day That Scares You’

I like the thought of doing one thing a day that scares me, as shown in the first frame of this video. The problem for me, is that it scares me to leave the house. And that’s a low hurdle.

But I was impressed by this guy who paralyzed himself by skiing and still continues to push his limits in a ski chair. Admirable? Or nutty? I think it’s both.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pete & Fabrice – Read This

Maybe this is only for Pete, Fabrice and me, but I loved this story of 3 friends with only three years of climbing experience, who completed a climb of the Nose on El Cap just recently. They have a gear list, a pitch-by-pitch description and lots of photos. (Including a photo of all the bottles of urine they carried out with them. Icky!) I like this quote:

Three years ago, I entered Yosemite Valley on a backpacking trip with friends, spotted El

The route

Capitan and knew that someday I wanted to climb The Nose. I by no means considered myself a climber. I had pulled on plastic and clipped a couple bolts but I had no experience with traditional climbing and no knowledge of aid climbing. All I had was a set of quickdraws, a harness and some motivation….We had a gut feeling that we would be drawn to climbing big walls and that all we needed to do was buy the gear; so we shelled out the cash and equipped ourselves to aid climb.”

Of course, living in California, gave them a huge advantage over us prairie folk.

Superpin Bolt Removal

Lots of discussion over the years whether Superpin in the Black Hills e is a 5.10R or 5.10X. This Enjoying the Barber Rt. on Superpin at Pinfest 2011.  Just a couple weeks before Barber chopped all the bolts, which were added after his FA.   <br /> <br />Sack up if you want'er now 'cause she's XXX! <br /> <br />Photo:  Dennis Laughlinsummer, after 35 years, the sole bolt that is about 2/3 of the way up the route, has been removed. Now it is certainly 5.10 X.

Here’s the forum on Mountain Project about it and here’s some more discussion at Supertopo. Here’s how Mountain Project describes the protection on the route:

Currently none. After removal of the retro-bolts in summer '11, there is now no protection above the crux bulge.”


The bolt was placed there after a piton, which the first ascensionists used (as far as I can tell), broke off. It will definitely cut down on the number of climbers willing to lead this route. Personally, I think that is good; climbing is too dangerous to allow people to do it. It should be banned.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Future Of Outdoor Climbing?

I’ve noticed so many people who use the outdoors, resent paying for its use. This seems particularly true for climbers. Spend hundreds of dollars on gear but expect free campsites. (Another example is the few climbers who will donate to the Access Fund to have bolts replaced at outdoor climbing areas.)

This essay is about the future of outdoor climbing based on an interview with the owner of the Horse Pens in Alabama – a famous bouldering area which is privately owned.

Kids come here today and have zero respect for this land, and they want free access to it

as well.  Well, someone pays taxes on this land I tell you.  Someone pays for the electricity, the water, and upkeep of the grounds.  That person is me, and I would do just as well to NOT HAVE CLIMBING HERE AT ALL.  Horse Pens doesn’t need it.”

The author of the essay says:

The laws of supply-and-demand work here too: buy the access and build a toll booth.  It’ll happen one day.  Everything will be restricted like Hueco, only without the petro-glyphs and Native American nation having their backs…. Limit the use on high volume areas (could probably just make the grades really sandbagged nowadays).  Preserve the land.  And keep track of the traffic that ruffs up the rock.  I was climbing at the biggest gym in the country last week, and out of the 300+ people in there, all being climbers, I knew 4. And I am really glad that this plastic Jupiter exists, because that amount of traffic on any outdoor area would be devastating,…”

Climbing With A Bowling Ball

39 weeks pregnant and still climbing. Sorta hard to balance with a bowling ball on your belly.

Carrie Cooper: 39 Weeks from Prana Living on Vimeo.

“Most Delectable Boulder Problems In The Twin Cities”

The bouldering competition at the MN Climbing Co-Op took place Sept 24th. Results here. In the video below, you will recognize some faces – Like Levi, Trinh, and Wei.

Comp at the Co-op from Ben Mueller on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It’s A Small World

The 20 winners of the Nikon Small World photomicrography competition. Sometimes, seeing the big picture isn’t as pretty as the little picture.

These are grains of sand at 4x magnification. More images here.






“..a blade of grass at 200X using confocal stack reconstruction, autofluorescence.”

Report From Reno’s New Climbing Wall

Alex Johnson was in Reno at the grand opening of the tallest climbing wall in the world. Her full report is here.

“The first pitch starts on the second floor balcony. It's seventy feet long. In addition to beginning thirty feet of the deck, which in this case is Main Street, you already hit 100 feet in height when you pull over the ledge to begin the second pitch, which is an additional 94 feet, totaling 194 feet in height. Because the wall is out on the side of a building, there's no padded floor beneath you. It's also quite unlike rock climbing, where you can see trees, bushes or at least dirt. When you look down between your feet you see pavement. It was honestly quite a scary experience, and felt extremely exposed.”

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Happy Climbers

After a successful 3 day climb of the “Aurora” (16 pitches, A4) route on El Cap, happy climbers humpin’ their gear back to the car. More details.


Get Exercise While You Write Poetry

Here’s a machine pulled by a bike that writes Chinese poetry n the sidewalks. Wonder if this will come to the US? More info here.

水书法器 Water Calligraphy Device - BJDW Clip from Nicholas Hanna on Vimeo.

Everest Live Cam

The Everest live cam is on from 6AM to 6PM Himalayan time. Is this cool or is does it ruin the experience? Don’t know.

everest webcam

Casual Belaying

A new video of Daila Ojeda climbing in Spain, shows her boyfriend Chris Sharma with the most casual belay technique I’ve ever seen. Watch at 1:30 and 1:38.


Daila Ojeda - climb ‘A muerte’ on Sterling Rope from sterling rope on Vimeo.

"I know what it's like to be a salmon now”

Boy, is nowhere safe? This couple in Pennsylvania was injured when a bear came into their home and attacked them. I like this quote:

’I know what it's like to be a salmon now’, he joked after the couple came home from a hospital Monday afternoon in bandages and medical scrubs.”

Monday, October 3, 2011


Just a visual reminder of the coming season and how much fun it is. The toys are fun too.
Posted by Picasa

Filming Alex

This video shows how the “60 Minutes” TV crew set up to film Alex Honnold free soloing El Cap. I can only imagine how distracting it would be to have all these people hanging around while he is climbing. I also wonder if other climbers of El Cap were inconvenienced by this film crew taking up space on the routes.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Drink More Soda

These folks are using 2 liter soda bottles to bring the equivalent of a 55 watt light bulb to dark rooms. More on this project here.


Two British climbers tear up the offwidths in Vedauwoo. Story here.


Here’re the cams they used:

Climb Then Drink

The new 164’ outdoor climbing wall in downtown Reno opened up yesterday. Looks like fun. Maybe the best part of it is you can get a drink right at the base of the climb. And you don’t have to hike thru wilderness to get to the climb. Article about the grand opening here.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Please Stay Indoors

I know you’re hearing a constant drumbeat about “nature deficit.” Mostly that’s by companies who want to sell you stuff to use outside. But I am encouraging you to be green and not buy more stuff that you’re going to use outdoors. I am asking you to please stay indoors. 

I’m bringing this up because I went mountain biking today. And I was stunned to see so many bikers out using my trail. They even had a clinic for women mountain bikers. (Come on, mountain biking is too dangerous for women. It’s hard and you’re going to get hurt. Stay home. Bake some brownies or something.) And a clinic? Here’s my clinic:

    • Get a bike
    • Sit on it
    • Push the pedals to go
    • Move the handle bars to turn
    • Pull the brakes to stop
    • Get off the bike and walk if you can’t do the above or if your skirt flies up and you can’t see where you’re going. (Actually my skirt flew up today a few more times than I would have liked. And I can’t see over  my skirt when the trail goes 3 feet into the air on a 4 inch wide boardwalk. So that’s why I walked around it. Had nothing to do with fear.)

They did have some awfully nice snacks-  plus Sangria - for the women’s clinic at the park. I tried to fool the organizers by wearing that skirt I had. But, they didn’t fall for it. Must’ve been because the color of my water bottle didn’t match my shoes. (And water bottles, don’t even get me started! It’s an hour – maybe -  on the trail. You can go an hour without a drink of water, can’t you? And then I won’t have to pick up your water bottle that bounced off your bike when, for about 5 feet, you went faster than a turtle. And you don’t really need an energy drink for an hour’s worth of exercise, do you? And if you have to eat a sugary, caffeinated treat, can you pull off to the side? Come on, folks, suck it up.)

It’s just better to stay home, people and stay indoors. Maybe go out and rake your lawn. Or, walk up the street and buy a latte.

If you do feel the need to get exercise and you think you might have some sort of nature deficit, try this:

Active Life: Outdoor Challenge [Bundle] [Wii Game]

It’s a Wii game and when you watch it on your 1,000 inch HDTV, it’ll be better than actually being outside. You won’t get skin cancer, wind burn, bug bites, yellow fever, malaria, etc. And you won’t clog the trail for me.