Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Always Loved Flash Bazbo

I have never forgotten Flash Bazbo from an old radio show done by National Lampoon. Today it occurred to me, that I am Flash Bazbo with my new flashy, disco-mirror chalk bag. (See post below for a photo and how it can benefit you girls.)

I was told a young girl cried when she found out I had just bought the last of the flash chalk bags. (I love to make the girls cry). I could be a gentleman and return the bag so the girl could buy it. Let me think about it for a minute; nope.. I like it.

Anyway, here is an episode of Flash Bazbo.

Who Wants To Climb In Vegas?

I want to get some people together to climb in Red Rocks late Feb or early March of 2012. (I am trying to avoid the crowds of Easter/Spring break.)

Here are some reasons to go to Red Rocks:

  • You can win back the money you spent on your trip before you even leave the airport.
  • It’s Vegas., baby

    Beautiful Red Rock

  • What you climb in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
  • There are tons of easy-to-access sport climbs of all ratings. The routes I saw were all well bolted and fun. And easy to get to. There are even some multi-pitch sport climbs too. (Do a search here under the heading “Best routes for YOU in this area” to see what I mean.)
  • There are tons of moderate trad multi-pitch climbs. Hondo and I did a climb with one of the longest approaches and it took us a little over an hour to get to the base. That is a very long approach for Red Rocks and unusual.
  • You can climb until 5PM and be pigging out at a $15 buffet before 6PM.
  • You can camp at Red Rocks or stay very cheaply in a hotel. Hondo and I paid $40/night for a clean room with two queen beds. (I can sleep in a queen bed because I am confident in my masculinity.)
  • Airfares are quite reasonable.
  • Temps in Feb are in the 60s; temps in March get up to the 70s.
  • It’s Vegas, baby.
  • I will do my Elvis impression every night or until you beg me to quit.

Please call me or email if you have at least a little interest. I think a group of 4-6 would be about right. And plan on a minimum of 4 days. You can have fun in fewer than that, but I think that’d be preferred. It’s also better if we can visit during the week - fewer climbers. (I don’t think that’s a big deal though at that time of year.) And if you only want trad or only sport, that’d be great. If you wanted to do both, better yet. 

PS I am also interested in Potrero Chico in Mexico. That would be all  sport climbing with many multiple pitch climbs to choose from. A downside is the plane ticket price – I checked prices for next Feb – which is about $750.(Flying from here to Monterrey.)

Lisa’s son Levi is going to Potrero soon, so I am anxious to hear his report. Average temps in Feb are 72 for days and 5os for nights, so it is warmer than Vegas.

VEM Photos

2011-11-30 11.37.54We have a new (unofficial) policy – hug Greg whenever you see him. I caught him and Hondo hugging this morning. See for yourself. Is that a smooch? Hmmmm….


Here is Lisa doing another of her amazing flexible moves as she checks out the cave paintings in the cave on the natural wall.

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Here she is blown away by the beauty of the cave art. 2011-11-30 09.52.28

Girls, I bought a new chalk bag that has disco mirrors on it so you can check your makeup and hair before you climb. Here is Lisa freshening up. (She got a lot of chalk in her hair and that’s the white you see.) So be sure you climb with me if you want to look your freshest.

2011-11-30 09.53.29

Street Skiing

This is an excerpt from an award winning film at the Banff Film Festival. Don’t try this at home.

VEM Fall

This is Alex Johnson falling on purpose from the tallest wall at VEM a couple of weeks ago. (I hadn’t seen this video until today. I saw someone else take an even longer fall – on purpose – but I didn’t have my camera ready.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Setting Routes

I know they are always looking for new route setters at VE so I found this story by a newbie route-setter fun to read. She took 7 hours to set her first route. I liked this quote:

“Some of the feedback Simon gave me was that the route became less interesting at the

end.  By the end of the route I was pretty tired and wasn’t putting as much thought into things as I had earlier.  I also learned how to force a sequence of moves through the position of each hold.  Now when I climb, I’m much more aware of the position of each hold and how this reveals the intended moves.”

Will Gadd Evaluates An Accident

A few days ago, I posted a video of two guys caught in an avalanche. One of them was injured and had to be dragged/crawled about two miles to be rescued. Will Gadd evaluates what they did right and what they did wrong here. Some of the things he suggests – splinting the leg and using a firemen’s backup belay – I think would have occurred to me. Don’t know though, it was a pretty desperate situation.


So, as another reminder – please stay indoors, it is way safer.

Notice The Nice Outfits

French climbers in Yosemite this October. They do have nicer outfits than most climbers. I don’t understand a word but there is nice footage and they seem to be enjoying themselves. (You’ll have to ask Fabrice what they’re saying.) More info here.

Expédition du groupe excellence escalade FFCAM -... by tlcprod

No Need To Wait For Ice

These French climbers are dry tooling on an old brick building. (Not worth watching the whole video; skip ahead to about the 1 minute 8 second mark.)


Saturday, November 26, 2011

All The Comforts Of Home

These two guys spent 8 nights on El Cap this Fall climbing the South Seas/Pacific Ocean Wall route. You can see they have all the comforts of home on their porta ledge.

They have several videos of their time on the wall here. More details of their route are here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Frozen Runners’ Strength

Black Diamond tests frozen runners and finds them slight stronger than dry slings.

“But what about when frozen? I'm told that when the water in the nylon freezes it suspends that lubricating effect. And also according to the article, their test results showed that frozen

Frozen sling

ropes fared better than wet ropes, though not as well as dry ropes. In our testing, it appears that when frozen, the slings are actually stronger. Should we freeze all of our nylon gear before we go climbing? Of course not.”


“Don’t Buy This Jacket”

Patagonia has a full page ad telling us they waste a lot of natural resources in making their clothing. So they ask us not to buy their stuff. So I don’t think I will. Here’s an image of their ad and a link to the full-sized version.


This whole video made me say “Ouch!”

Behind The Wall–Part 2

I told some of you how the quick draws on the lead routes are supported behind the walls at VE. I got a photo the other day of this. The quick draw on the front of the wall is on an anchor which is through bolted (then the nut is welded shut) to a steel bracket on the back side of the wall. The steel bracket is welded to the structural steel that hold up the walls.

2011-11-23 10.26.49

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ice Climbing Accident

Quite a video of two guys climbing in Wyoming. One of them triggers an avalanche carrying him about 200 feet down the mountain. He’s unhurt. His friend below him is hit by a 10 foot wall of snow and breaks his ankle. Then they have to rappel down the mountain and hop, drag and crawl themselves about two miles to the highway. At about 5 minutes, look at what the forces from the fall did to their rope.

f you’re a medical professional – Jen – you will love the footage starting at about 13 minutes. If you don’t like shattered bones and bloody holes in legs, don’t watch past 13 minutes.

Several lessons, it seems to me:

  • Climb with someone else
  • Stay close to the car
  • Don’t go outside in the winter

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Top-roping Is To Climbing…

“Top-roping is to climbing as hiring a prostitute is to sex. Sure you end up the same place, but you feel so dirty afterward...”

imageThat’s the opinion of Steve Bechtel of Climb Strong. OK, I admit it; I like to top rope. But I see his point if your goal is to push your limit. More from his post called “Fear, Fatigue and the Inability to Learn:”

Climbing is about coordination, control, rational thought, athleticism, mobility, and problem solving. It is a magical soup with a thousand ingredients and no fixed recipe. But no matter what you put into it, the learning curve starts steep and gets steeper every step of the way.

When you boil it down, climbing is about motor learning.”

WTF; That’s Not How I look At It

OK, I know all about “blooming where you’re planted.” And I think it’s a really good idea, since we live where winters are long and cold, that we should work at enjoying them. And Little Miss Lisa, did that last weekend by camping out in her handmade tent in Grand Marais. So she truly is having a “WTF” – Winter That’s Fun.

And I promise I will try to wring all that is grand and glorious from winter this year: crisp snowfalls that ache to be skied on, ice that squeaks when you set your ice axe into it, sun that glistens from the fresh flakes. I will try. I Promise. But I will still break out in song when we get that first 65 degree day in March (I hope! More likely, it’ll be April.)

imageAnyway, here are some photos of Lisa’s WTF. Remember, I am saying “Winter, That’s Fun” not the other nasty “WTF” (Winters That are Frigid)  trip to Grand Marais.

This is her homemade tent with her homemade stove that she can feed from the comfort of her sleeping bag. (I like to turn the thermostat up from the comfort of my motel room.)

Here she captured three UFOs at imagesunset just outside the harbor of Grand Marais.

Here are two of her homemade packs (Will she ever stop making stuff and help the poor, struggling retailers of outdoor gear out? Nope.)


Monday, November 21, 2011

Ride Moab From Your Desk

One of my favorite places and one of my favorite bike rides is here in Moab shot in a 360 degree viewpoint. If you haven’t been here, go. Now! No. Wait until Spring. I am looking forward to Spring already.

Riding A Chair Is Inherently Dangerous

This looks like fun and a good way to get hurt.

Adventurer Of The Year

You can vote for your favorite adventurer of the year on National Geographic’s “People’s Choice Award” website. Here’s one candidates’ story:
In the summer of 2010, Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner was perched on K2’s infamous Bottleneck couloir 400 meters below the summit. She radioed her husband, Ralf Dujmovits, who was hunkered at base camp far below the 8,611-meter summit of the peak on the Pakistan-China border. Through the radio, Dujmovits could hear the shock in his wife’s
Photo: Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner climbing K2
voice. Moments earlier her partner, ski mountaineer Fredrik Ericsson, had slipped while unroped, tumbled past her, and fallen to his death…
In 2011, Kaltenbrunner returned to K2, this time to the mountain’s north side to avoid the Bottleneck, where 11 climbers died in 2008. At 6:18 p.m. local time on August 23, Kaltenbrunner reached the summit.”

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hiking Fast

I like this idea of getting a trail done quickly. What’s the point of taking your time just to look at scenery? Get out there, hike it fast and get back to civilization sooner. The less time spent outdoors, the better.

Here is a video of Gear Junkie hiking the MN Border Route Trail. Normally a 5-7 day backpack. He did it in about 30 hours.

Here’s Gear Junkie’s website that details two other long hikes he completed in around 24 hours.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Are You Feeling Weak?

Want to be a stronger climber? Start cleaning the bathroom with a toothbrush. Like the picked-upon climber’s sensei recommends in this Reel Rock 2011 trailer.

Rock Falls

A geologist talks about rock fall at Yosemite with some footage starting at about 3:00 minutes of a huge slab coming off the Royal Arches. More info here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

“The Killer” Holds On

Today I took a leader fall while Miriam – “The Killer” – belayed me. She went up in the air a few feet and hit killer with blood v 2copyher head on a hold and got cut. Here she is before she cleaned up. She is fine. And so am I because, despite her bumped head and the blood, she held onto the belay. Thanks Killer.



They awarded her a VE T shirt for her heroic efforts.

2011-11-16 12.52.53

And here’s where it happened.

2011-11-16 12.53.41

Hardest Off-width In The World

All you have to do is watch the first 30 seconds of this video to see the difficulty of climbing off-widths. After you watch it, your hands will be sore. More details here.


, .

Workout Tips

Most of these workout tips I’ve figured out the hard way – by trial and error. This is a nice summary of some dos and don’ts for climbing indoors. I especially like this one:

“Do: Climb Your Hardest at the Beginning of Your Workout.”

I don’t like this one because I use the campus board last, but I am sure she is right.

“Don't: Finish on the Campus Board.”

Living In A Cave

On the Petzl RocTrip to China, the climbers visited a village inside a cave that was near the Great Arch climbing area. Story here.

Smileys On The Grand

Here’s the latest trip report from the Smileys – the Cathedral Travers of the Grand Teton. Full story here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Flying Over The Earth

Here’s a time lapse shot from space over the course of a few months. Details here of where the shots were taken.

I love all the lightning storms about 3:20 into the video.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

“Last Thing I Wanted To Do Was Wear Spandex”

A quote from this video about a skier who was paralyzed from the waist down a few years ago and took up sit skiing. Then went on to win several medals in ski racing. This video was the winner of best short movie at Banff Film Festival. The footage near the end of the video of him skiing powder snow in the mountains is quite amazing.

Friday, November 11, 2011

This Will Make You Pine For Winter

The Grand Prize winner at the Banff Mountain Film Festival, will get you to drop to your knees and pray for winter. All of the trailers of the Festival winners are here.

The Film Festival is in Mpls next Friday (Nov 18th); more info here.

“Will Belay For Food”

An interview with the most accomplished climber in North America, Fred Beckey. I liked these quotes:


“’Fred's the ultimate dirtbag,’ says Patagonia Inc. founder Yvon Chouinard, who during the first ascent of the Beckey-Chouinard route on South Howser in Canada watched Mr. Beckey settle in for a cold night on a ledge by stuffing the pockets of his jacket with pages torn from a Louis L'Amour novel—an old hobo trick.

‘I love Fred,’ adds climber-author Dick Dorworth, noting Mr. Beckey's renown for extended bouts of couch surfing, ‘but I'll never let him know where I live.’"

Heroic Rescue Attempts

Quite a story of trying to rescue stranded climbers in the Alps near Chamonix. I attached the topo below so you can see why Chamonix is such a hotspot of climbing – all kinds of climbing. If you enlarge the map, you can see the cable car which runs from downtown Chamonix to the top of a peak. Miles of glacier are accessible from the cable car. Also, the map shows many refuges/huts (red dots.)

Women Like Beer More Than Climbing

At least that’s what M.A,. indicates in this video when she says all her upper body strength comes from opening Summit beer. Her belayer is the well-known “Dave” Mackin.


M.A. Gets 'Vertical' at New Rock Climbing Facility:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Faces, Old Friends At VEM

2011-11-10 11.50.49I know Pete and Jen had climbed at VE Mpls before, but this was the first time I saw them.


And this is The Warden when he saw the lead walls for the first time.


2011-11-09 16.34.10

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Climbing In Thailand

A Chick with Picks visits Thailand and makes this video. I didn’t like all the monkeys – I am frightened of monkeys. I did like the belay from the top of the homemade ladder. Details of her trip, including costs, here.




Tuesday, November 8, 2011


A new term – “greenpointing” – has been suggested for climbing a sport route using only trad gear. There’s some discussion about the term here. I liked these new types of “_points:”

Greypoint - Having sent the route before, but too old to remember any of the beta.
Bluepoint - Send with fingertips numb from cold.”

Behind The Wall

At VE Mpls today, I got to work behind the wall installing T nuts. I got to climb with people I know (The fabulous Fabrice) and I got to work the front counter. As well as sweep, mop and dust. Truly multi-tasking.

Oh, and I got to help jack up a scissors jack that was stuck in the rubber and put pieces of wood underneath it so we could drive it out. (This is where Ron’s and Aaron’s skills would have been helpful.) Oh, oh, oh, I almost forgot - then I got to practice escaping a belay using a Klemheist.

2011-11-08 11.24.08



Here’s what I look like behind the wall:


Here’s what T nuts look like from the backside:

2011-11-08 11.24.38

(Remember, before the T nut is installed with 3 screws for each nut, a hole was drilled on the front side using two different bits. Then the holds can be screwed into the T nuts so climbers can have fun.)

2011-11-08 11.25.09

Here I am about 30 feet up a 60 foot wall, hanging from a rope so I can put the screws in the T nuts. (The light you see in the lower right hand part of the photo, is on the floor below me.)

This is super fun because it’s uncomfortable, dark, dirty and I get to use the 3 Hs – harness, helmet and headlamp.

The Hugger & The Killer

Miriam (The Killer) was so excited to see Greg (The Hugger) setting routes today at VE Mpls, that she just had to give him a hug. Greg is like me – not a guy who likes to be hugged. But unlike me, he cheerfully and enthusiastically reciprocates. Here’s what it looked like:

2011-11-08 11.51.292011-11-08 11.51.382011-11-08 11.51.522011-11-08 11.51.59

Monday, November 7, 2011

More VEM

It felt a little silly for this suburban gal to drive right past VE- St. Paul and on too the dark... on Saturday night....alone... Jez how bold is that!?
Well, i found it fine, there was lots of parking, my son was there (hardly ever see him) and Jen showed up.
WoW what a place, it is Be U tiful! all shiny and new.I even got a tour form staffer Emily and then another one form Pat and the Russell showed me around. Lots of wall that go way up and straight up, lots of comfortable leads for me to enjoy. Had to set a different pace with routes this long.
Then we went to the Bad Waitress with Jen, Sarah, Russell and Suki for a beer. What a great crew, lively conversation. Thanks ALL. I will be back, I clocked it on the way home, it's only a 30 minutes drive. I can justify that easily.

Red Rocks Rendezvous

The next RRR is March 30- April 1. Details here. I’m sure you’d have a great time at the Rendezvous. You definitely don’t need a big group to have a great time. And don’t be intimated by the climbing - If you can lead sport routes at 5.8-5.10 on big, safe bolts, you’ll have plenty of routes to do. If you’re comfortable with trad leading 5.7-5.8, you’ll have plenty of multi-pitch routes to do. If you have a rope, some quick draws and some motivation, there’d be a lot of climbing you could do with 2-3 people that’s about a 15 minute walk from a road.

I’d be more scared of the casinos than of the climbing. You can lose big time in the casinos. (If you want to know where Russell and I stayed in “Naked City,” I’ll be happy to tell you. Or, you can stay here which is about 10 minutes from Red Rock park. And it’s where we had a huge buffet meal for $16.)

I liked this video because it showed clearly what the rock is like. Sharp edges, that feel soft to the hands.  Big heucos. Great friction.

Racking For Cracks

This is how Steph Davis prepares racks her gear for climbing cracks. Including a 200’ pitch for which she used 28 cams.. This seems like good advice:

The most important, and also simplest tip, is to tape the cam sling just below the biner. There is nothing more annoying (and desperate), than slamming in a cam off of one arm, while in a layback position, and having the biner flip upside down so you have to spend an extra few seconds (and possibly your chance at getting the rope clipped into it) hanging on and turning the biner around. Believe me, it can make you want to cry.”

Guess Who I Found At VEM?

I climbed with Fabrice today at VE Mpls. He pronounced the climbing “Bon” and will be a regular climber now. The new VE is about 10 minutes from his house. And less than 5 from his store.

2011-11-07 11.35.10

Climbing Desert Cracks

A preview of three women climbing Castleton Tower in Utah. (Link is here.) From the website:

“When it comes to bouldering, Anna Stöhr and Juliane Wurm are hard to beat. But when they first try out crack climbing at the Castleton Tower, they learn a few tricks from Lynn Hill”.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Viva La France

This Red Bull sponsored video is called “Flight of the Frenchies.” My favorite flyer is the one who does a cartwheel off a cliff. (Here’s link to video is embedded video doesn’t work.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

El Potrero Chico

A recent report on climbing in EPC, This couple found the area deserted because of all the reports about the drug wars. They also found it to be safe.

“We tried to recruit friends from Portland to join us in the land of drug lords, machine guns, and border busts. We tempted them with tales of thousand foot routes on perfect limestone, cheap beer, and friendly locals. We tried everything, but nobody would bite.”

Liz Reports On VEM

Liz has a report of her climbing at VE Mpls. She was one of the first 6-8 climbers on the day it opened.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

VEM Update Part Quatro

2011-11-03 10.23.382011-11-03 13.31.16The new Mpls VE opened today – Thursday – at 10AM. Some of the regulars were there early to capture first ascents. Here’s Miriam on one of the new top ropes. Here she is being lowered down one of the tall leads she did

. 2011-11-03 11.25.31

Here’s Liz starting one of the tall lead routes. 2011-11-03 11.32.24


Here’s Miriam near the top of a different lead route. 2011-11-03 12.09.51

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

VEM Update Part Tres

VE Mpls didn't open on Wednesday but maybe Thursday. Here is some video of the first ascent of the art wall done today. The climber is one of the wall builders.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2012 Red Rock Rendezvous

Registration starts today. It’s probably a hoot and I might even enjoy it. The problem is: I don’t like people, so I wouldn’t go.

The ninth annual Mountain Gear Presents: Red Rock Rendezvous (RRR) rock climbing

festival, title sponsored by The North Face, will return to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area near Las Vegas on March 30 through April 1, 2012. Registration begins Monday, Nov. 1, and is limited to the first 1,000 registrants. For the 2012 RRR, Mountain Gear is adding Special Friday Clinics to the three-day event that include a range of outdoor activities and classes.”

Missed It By That Much

Today, Alex Honnold and Hans Florine attempted to break the speed record for climbing the Nose on El Cap. They missed the record by 45 seconds. Doing the last pitch in about 4 minutes! Story here.

“Hans had 4 minutes from the start of the pitch to get the record.  Hans says he is faster climbing that pitch than jugging, so he was soon racing up the 10b crack to the start of the bolts.  He didn’t hit those perfectly and had just a smidge of delay, a few seconds at most, with his aid slings on the bolts.  I had a rough idea of the time line to about one minute accuracy.    It was nail biting time for all the spectators below.  It was going to be really close… really close.  Soon, Hans disappeared over the top heading for the tree.  They were to come to the lip of the top, and wave, if they got the record.  We waited … and waited…and waited… finally the word came down… they missed the record by a mere 45 seconds in recording the third fastest time ever done.”

VEM Update Part Dos

VE Mpls opens Wed at 10am. Here’s a photo from this afternoon showing the rubber impact attenuation installation.

2011-11-01 14.10.16