Saturday, December 31, 2011

Have An Im-Possumly Good New Year

Whether you’re going to watch a possum drop on New Year’s Eve – like they do in the video in Brasstown, NC - or just watch your bedroom slippers drop as you fall into bed, hope you have a great 2012.


My New Fitness Guru

Friday, December 30, 2011

Dive Between Continents

This dive is between two tectonic plates in Iceland. It’s quite shallow (less than 60 feet deep). But the water’s cold – 38 degrees.

Stairway to heaven

The SILFRA Rift is an absolute world class dive site due to two main reasons. First of all you will be diving in a crack between the American and Eurasian continents. It's the place where the continental plates meet and drift apart about 2cm per year. Secondly the visibility that you will experience will rarely be surpassed, if ever. 100m+! The reasons for this clarity are twofold: the water is cold ( 2°C - 4°C all year ) since it's the melting water from a glacier about 50km away and has traveled through the lava fields for many years before coming out at the north end of Thingvellir lake through underground wells.”

A youtube video is here.

The Boyz Won’t Like This

Next time I go camping with the boyz, I think I’ll use this tent. I bet they will let me use it by myself. More fun tents here.


Get a Room

Like this one:

What a melon

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Red Rock Trip

I just got my guidebook (Red Rocks, A Climber’s Guide)  and I am ready to leave tomorrow. But, I will wait until. lets’ say, the first week in March. March will be a tad warmer and have a bit more daylight than in February. (February here will be a long, dreary month for me. I know, it’s only 29 days, but still…)

The good news/bad news about the guidebook is there are too many climbs. Much of our decision on where to climb will be made for us because of the weather. (For example, some of the best climbs are in shady canyons. So, if it’s chilly or overcast, we will stick to sunny cliffs.) Another decision is how far you want to hike to get to the base of the climbs. Some of that might depend on how busy it is out there. But, even if it is busy, there will be lots to climb.

There are about two dozen trad climbs in the book rated 5.6 or less. So, if you want to try your hand at one or two pitch trad leads, this would be a great place..

This route is easy to find if you know where to look.  This photo is taken from the parking area. The easily identified route "Fender Bender" is just out of the frame to the left.  Approach by scrambling up the slab and dropping into the small gully beyond it.

There are a few two pitch sport climbs, like the one on the left, which would also be fun.

So, if you are still interested, let me know if the first week of March is good. (It can be a few days either side of the first week, but let’s pencil that week in.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Crack Climbing

I am fascinated by people who are good at crack climbing. I am sure this is because, climbing in MN, I will never get good at crack climbing. This video has some great close-ups of 5.13 crack climb in southern Utah. More details here.



Harbin Winter Festival

Fantastic ice and snow sculptures at this annual festival in China. More info here.

This looks like fun:

Scare Dogs & Train For High Altitude

This professional pitcher is training for climbing Mt Kilimanjaro using a mask to simulate high altitude. And frighten the neighborhood dogs. I had never heard of this mask, but sure enough, you can buy it at Amazon.


Monday, December 26, 2011

31 Days Of Adventure

This sounds a little like Liz’s “Tiny Adventures” so it might be fun.

Join us for 31 Days of Adventure! We’d like to invite you to join us for 31 days of daily adventures. Sign up today and beginning January 1, 2012, you’ll get a daily adventure delivered straight to your inbox every day for 31 days. These adventures are meant to challenge you in many ways, from getting lost to changing your perspective to getting in touch with your inner child. You’ll find adventures to explore, participate in, contemplate and help us all remember that adventure can happen each day right at home.”

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Why Santa Might Be Late

Merry you and I hope Santa leaves lots of presents for you. But, if Santa is late, it’s probably a rappel problem as this video demonstrates. 

Be careful rappelling if you are Santa. Petzl has some safety tips.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Red Rocks Cont’d

We are thinking of the last week in February or the first week in March. How does that sound? Again, about 4-5 days, is the minimum amount of time to spend out there. It takes a couple of days to get used to the area. And you should plan on one or two days of iffy weather.

Today, I talked to Russell about being out there that time of year. He recommended this area if the weather is at all chilly. This area is mostly sport climbs and will be very sunny. It’s likely that we will only sport climb if the weather is at all iffy. (Shorter climbs, shorter hikes, less exposure to the elements.) If the weather is conducive, here are some trad routes that would be fun. (I am thinking of the climbs listed here that are 4-6 pitches.)

Two unknown (but loud) climbers at the belay ledge.  02-16-2007

Here’s what SuperTopo says about Red Rocks.

With steep, moderate routes, cracks which eat up pro, and tightly bolted face pitches, many long routes at Red Rocks give you high adventure without the runouts so common in many areas. Varnished edges, incut jugs, splitter cracks, technical faces—Red Rocks multi-pitch routes have it all. Bolted anchors on popular routes quicken the pace and allow easy retreat. Red Rocks multi-pitch climbs are just downright fun, but that's only half the story. The canyons of the Red Rocks are blissfully free of traffic noise and the reminders of civilization, and desert bighorn easily outnumber hikers. As you get back in the canyons, you realize the awesome scale of the 3000-foot sandstone escarpment, and how even the very long routes rarely tackle more than half of a wall's relief. During the daytime, Las Vegas remains thankfully hidden away, and only at night, with the glow of casinos on the skyline, do you realize just how close Red Rocks is to Sin City.”

At the same link, they list some recommended climbs and recommended gear.list. I think their gear list – especially their trad gear – is a little on the excess side. At least for what we will be doing. But, I know between what I already have and what others will lend me, we will have all the gear we need.

One thing to keep in mind though, is the climbing shoes. You will need two pairs if you want to do hard sport climbs and mulit-pitch trad climbs. (I am sure you could do all the climbs in the same pair if they are not super aggressive, super tight bouldering shoes.) 

I am buying this guidebook.per Russell’s suggestion. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Santa On The Roof At VE

Well, this is really Santa on the ceiling. I brought my Santa suit over to VE St Paul today and E-Fatso Flashter (Eric) did a lead climb demo for the kids. (As Pete always says, “Do it for the children.”)

2011-12-22 10.53.13Here are some photos of E-Fatso tying in and climbing. Here’s a photo of him and one of Santa’s belay helpers – who we call “B. Brian Big Shot.”

2011-12-22 10.54.11

2011-12-22 10.54.59 


2011-12-22 10.57.53

Here’s a video of him.

Homer’s Ice

I am loving this winter, folks. Sunny, warm and no big snow. But, if you want lots of snow and ice, you probably have the big biscuit lips.

I stopped to look at the ice at Homer’s today and it is sad. Here’s a photo:

2011-12-22 12.26.13

How To Have A Good Holiday

These “experts” recommend you tell your loved ones that they are fat when you get together on the holidays. What a good idea. Man's waistI think that would initiate some loving, quiet dialog. Another way to get some thoughtful, constructive dialog going on the holidays with your family, would be to point how why their religion is idiotic. Or why the politician they support is a dope. Those sound like winning ways to have a peaceful family gathering. But I am no expert. Good luck with these ideas on the holidays.



PS, Even though my loved ones tell me I am fat – I do so appreciate their concern – the photo above is not of my belly. I am too embarrassed to post that photo. (I don’t want you to lose your appetite.)

Fun vs Fit

A report by Alex Honnold on his visits to indoor gyms in Poland. This quote struck me:

“The contrast to US gyms was stark. Where a US gym is meant for fun, Polish gyms honnold

reminded me more of small training centers. Systems boards, steep bouldering caves, campus boards, and a few weights all crammed into a dark, extremely dusty little nook. Not really a place to play, but certainly a place to get extremely strong. And it was obvious from watching all the regulars climbing that they take it fairly seriously.

…the thing that Polish gyms showed me was that the quality of the training facility is much less important than the quality of the person training. They didn't need great gyms, or new holds, or clean facilities.”

This might explain the domination of climbing competitions by European climbers.

I like his description of how friendly the climbers were to each other. And how new climbers to the gym were welcomed. I haven’t seen that here.

Anyone entering the climbing areas would shake hands with everyone who was already there, even if they didn't know each other. So each time someone entered the bouldering area they would come around and shake hands with everyone. I never quite understood the idea but it gave the gym a very nice family feeling.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Resting A Rope Between Falls

A report from Black Diamond on the differences in impact forces if you let a rope “rest” between big falls. There is an advantage to this – especially if it is 2 hours or more.


Loosening your knot, or letting the rope rest prior to a fall reduces the impact load on the top piece of gear by a small amount. However, using a different rope for each burn or switching ends of the rope would provide a greater benefit. And of course the best way to keep the forces on the top piece of gear to a minimum is to not fall in the first place.”

Best idea seems to be to switch ends.

Cedar Wright off of Calamari (5.12b), City of Rocks, ID

Greg As Santa At VE

I found out today that Greg is really Santa. Look at him in his Santa outfit.

2011-12-21 16.13.23

Wave Clouds

Cloud formation seen recently in Alabama. Explanation here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sometimes I Think That Snowboarding Wouldn’t Be Fun

Then I see them snowboarding on the salt flats in Utah behind an  ATV at 50 mph. And I think, “How neat is that?”

Red Rocks Trip

A few of you have talked to me about climbing in Red Rocks in Feb or March of 2012. I still plan to go and am tracking airfares. The price is about the same in Jan-Mar. I think it’s too cold in January. Not too cold to climb, just too cold to comfortably climb. Please let me know some dates that you would prefer. Again, I think a minimum commitment of 5 days is the best.


Climbing Gym Characters

GearGals has a list of 10 types of people who inhabit a climbing gym. Most of them I have not seen. I, much to my chagrin, fall under her definition of:

The Helper: He won’t let you walk away from any problem without helping. He’s got a voice that carries so even when you’re two stories up you can hear him yelling ‘left foot on blue! Left foot on blue!’ like you’re in a crowded game of vertical Twister. The Helper clearly thinks you are a fool for not seeing the obvious sequence he’s directing you to do. The Helper has never seen you before and he doesn’t care. He’s Helping. It’s what he does.”

There is one type of person I’ve noticed in the gym, that she doesn’t mention. I think I’ll call it this person the “Self-esteemer.”

Here’s an example of a self-esteemer. In the last week, I have given 7 top rope belay tests at the gym. All 7 of the climbers told me they had been climbing and belaying for “a long time.”  6 of the 7 told me they belayed as part of their jobs working at various climbing walls. All 6 of those people flunked the belay test. They either did not know how to tie a knot, did not know how to use a belay tool, or did not keep a brake hand on the rope.

The 7th person said, “I have climbed for years but I am a little rusty right now. I am not sure if I remember everything about it.” He passed his test with flying colors. Moral of the story: I am not sure.

Maybe the moral is: the people who have the biggest talk, have the smallest experience.

Get A Helmet Cam

After watching this promotional video from GoPro, a few thoughts occur to me:

  • Everything you do during the day would look more interesting if you wore a helmet cam
  • I want to drink some Red Bull
  • Young, fit people in swim suits can be fun to look at

Weight Training For Climbers

Climb Strong has a series of articles on why training with weight can help climbers and what the best exercises are. Part one describing why weight training can help is here. And part two describing specific exercises is here. I liked these quotes:

“For the most part, I am reluctant to prescribe weight training for climbers. I think its too easy to confuse a hard workout with effective training. What’s more, adding strength to poor technique is simply a way of reinforcing that poor technique. With that being said, I will now outline which climbers should do supplemental strength training, when they should do it, and I will outline some basic programs.”

To develop appropriate strength for climbing we want to use complex, multi-joint movements at loads high enough that the body will adapt by getting stronger rather than getting bigger. Remember that there is a huge misconception that heavy training leads to bulk. Not so. It is high-volume, medium-load training that is most effective for building size (i.e. 8 sets of 12 reps).”

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Smooth As Glass

A recent video of ice skating in the Yukon. It makes winter look fun.

The lake near our house is completely frozen over now. I have seen a few skaters near the edge of the lake and some ice fishermen. Today, Buddy chased a coyote that ran completely across the ice from one end of the lake to the other. I was afraid they would fall through the ice, but the coyote knew it was safe.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Drink Chocolate Milk

I used to carry some of the ultra-pasteurized chocolate milk that doesn’t need refrigeration with me when I went climbing. I stopped buying it last year. But, for recovering from a workout, research has shown low fat chocolate milk is better than sports drinks.

A 2006 study conducted at Indiana University by Joel M. Stager, professor of kinesiology, et al and presented in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found that when athletes drank low-fat chocolate milk after an intense workout, they were able to work out longer during a second workout round than after drinking a commercial sports drink.”

Diving In Cozumel

Just got back from about a week of diving in Cozumel. Water temperature about 79 degrees and air about 85. SCUBA diving is the perfect outdoor activity for the obese and out of shape and that’s why I like it. You drift  around for awhile looking at stuff, then you float to the surface. Once you get to the boat, you start eating and drinking beer so you can re-fill your own personal flotation system. Then, the next day, you do it all over. (And the fatter you are, the safer you are; if you get in trouble underwater, you’ll bob to the surface. Don’t know if that’s true of other outdoor activities. )

We did a lot of onshore activities too – like eating and drinking and sleeping. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot, we rode around in taxis.

But we did see some cool rocks – like these blow holes:


There were fish galore. My favorite was a shark that was sleeping and draped, totally motionless, over a piece of coral. Kinda like this.






One of the dives we did was called “Devil’s Throat.” The first two minutes of this video show why this is a fun dive.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Help Wanted



Looking for 4 shirtless well muscled men to carry my new mode of transport. I fractured my ankle skiing. Payment will include: constant belay by me from the chair a private telling of the tale of how it's epic.  Spandex pants will be provided. Please leave a comment if interested.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Falling Into A Volcano

A volcanologist explains why we would not sink if we fell into molten lava. This is something I will take his word on. I really don’t need to test this.

“Everyone is wrong about how people die when they fall into lava.”

Ice Climbing In Norway

Apparently people go to Norway for more than lutefisk and goat cheese. A trip report by a Black Diamond athlete. I thought the photo below was stunning.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Crack Climbing

It’s hard to practice crack climbing where we live but it’s a good skill to have on the big walls. Here is some advice on technique from a real lover of crack climbing.

No other form of rock climbing is more dependent on good technique. Face climbing is more intuitive- ever watch a ten year olds switch into mantles like they have been doing them all of their lives? Face climbing is climbing what’s there, crack climbing is climbing what isn't there. The idea of sticking hands and feet into that space (crack) between rock and then making them secure (jamming) doesn't have too many parallels in everyday life and that's why the whole process seems so strange initially."

Slab Climbing

A discussion of technique on how to do hard slab climbing. I liked this quote:

Being really aware of where you are over your feet, move smoothly and keeping a cool head. It's still my favorite kind of rock climbing. You have to display some grace, esp when it gets harder. Having a low strength to weight ratio, I've always found it easier to excel on slabs than many other sorts of climbing.”

Climbing In The Dolomites

A Chick with Picks guide reports on her recent climbs in the Dolomites of Italy. I found these photos of where they climbed on summitpost. Quite stunning, hey?  Apparently all easy to moderate climbs. Some of the approaches use via ferratas or tunnels from WWI.

Monte Paterno(2744m)

One of the approaches

In the WW1 tunnels of...

Seeing “The Wave”

I would like to visit this place – near Zion and the Grand Canyon – but it is hard to get a permit to visit. There are only 20 hikers allowed per day. This post describes their experience with the permit process.

File:TheWave 1600pixels.jpg

Travels Around Iceland

A professional photographer writes about his travels around Iceland here. Great photos, like these.



Feel Connected To M.N.

These guys invented the sport of cross country snowboarding. I definitely can see the appeal and why they feel so connected to M.N. – Mother Nature.

If you do this, be careful of the dreaded “Skootch Leg” that they show at the 1:40 mark.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Homer’s Ice

I checked the ice at Homer’s today. There is the start of a stalagmite that extends about 15-20’ up from the ground. Water is flowing so a few more cold nights???? Someone hung a long rope from the top to help with icicle formation, I guess. Let’s see if it helps.

Designated White Person

Crevita Brown goes rock climbing at the gym with some designated white people..

On her YouTube page she says:

People are always telling me that black people don't do that so I figured I would make a video of me doing exactly those things:-) This is obviously a comedy so don't get offended people.”

“Are You In A Good Spot?”

I can’t decide which of these belay problems I have done more frequently:

    • “Are you in a good spot” ‘cuz I just ran out of rope.
    • “Dude, hold on. I’m on the phone.”

Which are your favorites?

“You Floozy”

I have been called a floozy many times because of my late-night bar hopping. And then, when the photos of me acting like a floozy, get posted on the' ‘net, I have gotten in big trouble.

I just ordered one of these so I don’t have to worry any more. How ‘bout you? I bet you need one of these too. (I know you do, I’ve seen you in the clubs. You are so sassy!)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fun With Rocks 2011

A compilation of some of my photos of 2011. There is music too.

Kite Skiing The Northwest Passage

A brother and sister team completed a 3,300 km tour of the Northwest Passage using kites and skis. More details here.

Climbing With Creepy Crawlies

Cedar Wright tells the story here of his recent climbs on the island of Tioman in Malaysia. I liked this quote:

“The jungle in Tioman Island is pretty treacherous, with heinous spiky ferns dripping spiny tendrils that manage to consistently grab your clothing and skin as you attempt to weave through unscathed…We passed all kind of heinous creepy crawlies: ants the size of my

thumbnail, angry monkeys, a black snake that we later learned was a poisonous pit-viper, bizarre frogs, and this oddness all highlighted by the constant screech of mysterious bugs (or were they birds?)”

Missed It By That Much

I like the idea of climbing a snow-filled couloir as fast as you can. This snowmobiler in Greenland missed getting over the top of the couloir by only a few feet. The slide down must have been fun too. More details here.

Another Good Use Of Rope

Pile it up under your sleeping pad. Or use it as a pillow. (This is more helpful if you are camping in the cold. In a Motel 6, I wouldn’t bother putting a rope under the mattress. Some other ideas for winter camping here.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Women Biking By Themselves

I did not think this was possible - women biking without men. When did this start? I never got the memo. I am starting to think women can do anything. Who knew?

Watch "Exploring Moab, Utah by Road Bike" on YouTube

Even Old People Can Bike

This is an amazing concept: people as old as 60 can mountain bike. A nice video tour of popular bike trails around Moab. I have ridden all of these except the very last one, which I hiked.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ban The Water Bottle & Dry Up Funding

Grand Canyon National Park was all set to ban the sale of plastic water bottles. They heard the Coca-Cola Foundation, which donated more than $13 million to the parks, was concerned about the ban. Then they tabled the bottle ban.

I personally think people drink too much water. Causes you to spend too much time looking for the toilet when you could be hiking and looking at the scenery. But if the bottled water folks donate that much money, maybe I’ll start buying water.

Crux Pitches On El Cap

A climber who accompanied Tommy Caldwell’s recent attempt to free climb a 5.14 on El Cap writes about what he saw. He includes a killer recipe for margaritas.

Those small white marks in the photo (lower, right hand side) are some of the crux moves on the hardest pitch.

Kc - TC Dawn ticks IMG_3303

Leashless Ice Tools & Gaiters

Will Gadd predicts that leashed ice tools will become extinct like 60/40 fabric and gaiters. Although, I did find this bit interesting:

“I have yet to get a better swing out of a leashless tool than a well set-up leashed tool. The perfectly relaxed fast swing is the holy grail of leashless tools, and so far I haven’t felt it, and I try every new tool I can. It’s just that the other advantages of leashless tools outweight the disadvantages.”

Strength Of Ice Anchors

A technical paper on the results of testing various types of anchors in ice. They tested Abalakov (V-thread) anchors as well as different lengths and angles of ice screws. Some conclusions:

  • Re-bored ice screws almost as strong as ice screws used in a newly drilled hole
  • Longer ice screws are stronger
  • Vertical V-threads stronger than horizontal

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Caught In The Ice

No, this isn’t a photo of our driveway with the typical January ice. It’s a 1915 photo of Shackleton’s ship caught in the Antarctic ice. More color photos of his trip here.

Follow Up On Ice Climbing Accident

I posted a video a few days ago about this climbing accident. Then I posted Will Gadd’s (a professional ice climber) opinion on what the two guys did and didn’t do right.

This new post on Will Gadd’s blog is from the climber who got hurt. He disagrees with some of Will’s assessments of what they – the two climbers – did wrong. I especially liked this advice:

“However, we did make one,major mistake: we did not a have a candid discussion before the climb about how we would react to potential risks, namely encountering
unstable snowpack once high on the route.  I believe our extensive experience climbing together led us to think we would automatically be on the same page. That assumption, however, kept us from engaging in a challenging conversation that could have, although did not guarantee to have, prevented the slide.  If I had one recommendation to others
it would be this:  take the time to talk about risk before and during each climb, even if you think you are on the same page, or you think its unwarranted.  Thinking proactively about what’s around the corner can save your life.”

Talking to your climbing partners about what each of you sees as the risks and why you see those as risks,seems like a good idea.

Cave Art 32,000 Years Old

I watched this movie on Netflix – I know, I am at least a year behind in movie watching – and thought it was great. First of all, it takes place in France. What’s not to like about that? Second of all, it has lots of

shots of people in a cave. Oh, and then there is the oldest art ever discovered. I like this quote from one of the anthropologists who spent 5 days in the cave:

“Every day I was dreaming of lions.”




More here.