Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New 5.15a Route In Nevada

Arrow Canyon in southern Nevada contains this cave climb which recently saw its first ascent. 5.15a?

Le Reve - Jonathan Siegrist from MAXIM DYNAMIC ROPES on Vimeo.

“My Doctor Prescribed Climbing For Me”

She has an inflammatory spinal disease. So she climbs for physical therapy.

Climbing as Therapy with Whitney Boland – presented by Sterling Rope from sterling rope on Vimeo.

Some More Climbs For Us At Red Rocks

I haven’t been to this area, but I like the description and it seems like a good place for us to get our feet wet (so to speak) on our trad leads.

Richard at the blots at the top of pitch one - Ragged Edges.Willow Springs is located roughly seven miles along the loop road. It is host to several single pitch traditional climbs of very good quality. The approaches are generally short and easy.”


I think this is the perfect climb for me. It has my name all over it.

Monday, February 27, 2012

“Tent Bound In Devil’s Bay”

A group of climbers attempts new routes in Newfoundland and encounters several days of bad weather. And then the sun comes out and they climb. Great scenery of a fairly remote part of North America. (I am always a little uncomfortable when travelers who volunteer to go into the wilderness use terms like “suffering.”  There are lots of people in the world who are suffering – none of those people volunteer for it.)

Though Newfoundland is relatively close to Mark Synnott's home in upstate New Hampshire, in reality, it would be easier to reach some Himalayan basecamps than get to Devil's Bay. Five days of travel by car and boat into this land forgotten by modern time, the team finally arrived only to discover adverse conditions and suffering.”

Rules Of Climbing Booty

I’ve never understood the debates about whether or not gear you find on climbing routes is booty. I’ve always figured that anything I leave behind will probably be taken/picked up/cleaned up by someone else. So my expectation is anything I leave will be gone the next time I get there.

That’s a view not held by many climbers. Here’s a set of rules for booty discussed in a climbing forum. Some of them are:

“If you leave it for any reason other than assisting in a rescue it is booty as soon as you leave the parking lot unless you make it known that you will be back the next day to retrieve it.
if you plan on getting it the next day BE THERE BY 6:00AM! Don’t show up at 4:00pm and start crying when you can’t find your shwagg.

Stuff you find in the parking lot is Not booty. It is lost and found material.
Any and All gear that is left or misplaced in the course of a rescue including the victims gear is NOT booty and will be collected and returned to rightful owners.

Asking for your gear back is bad form and shows a lack of self respect.
If the finder of your shwag offers to return it you may accept but if you do you will lose face. Buying them a six pack or case will help but in some cases still not completely erase the honor debt. If they offer , you refuse and they offer again and you accept it’s much better but you should still buy them a drink and you still lost face just not as much face.”

Ice Climbing On Phone Poles

Near a ski resort in B.C., they’ve built an ice climb from phone poles.

The ice wall is made from telephone poles and cross braced wood with a fire hose on top to spray fresh water on the outside creating a new surface almost daily. The thick blue ice is more than a metre thick in places.
The water is sprayed differently on each side of the structure to create easy and hard routes. Ongena says there are 19 routes to the top but it changes daily depending on how the water flows and freezes.”

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Anchoring At Red Rocks

 I did not attend the anchoring clinic last week, but I did buy some gear to help us anchor our ropes when we go to Red Rocks. I cannot carry this stuff onto the plane, so I will need one of you to carry it in your checked luggage. Do any of you have room for this?

Red Rocks

I have been watching the Las Vegas meetup.com climbers’ group to see what trips they are doing. This weekend, they plan on climbing at the Great Red Book Wall for “some great sport moderates.” Sounds like a place we need to check out. The long range forecast looks very promising – next weekend temps in the 70s.


Friday, February 24, 2012

“Honoring The Day”

A climber whose partner died in a crevasse talks about the accident and how he honors his friend’s memory.

“Descending from the summit of Mount Rainier one day in June 1992, Jim Davidson fell through a snow bridge, dragging his climbing partner with him into a hidden 80-foot deep crevasse. Davidson’s new book The Ledge, named one of Amazon.com’s Best Outdoor & Nature Books for 2011, tells the dramatic story of how he witnessed his partner’s death and survived the fall, making an impossible climb up a sheer ice wall.”

What Climbers Do

This is from this website.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Air Bags & Avalanches

Three people were killed last weekend in Washington in avalanches. A fourth survived who was wearing a type of airbag shown in the video below of a skier caught in a real avalanche

Growing A 30,000-Year-old Plant

Good for the squirrels of the Pleistocene – they buried seeds in the ground that were frozen for 30,000 years. And then recently dug up and re-planted in a greenhouse. And grew this plant:

“All of this is interesting not just because it’s amazing to regenerate a Pleistocene plant, which of course it is, but because the permafrost may be an important new gene pool. Other ancient squirrel burrows have been found in the Yukon territory and in Alaska. That’s interesting for pure research, but also because of what may happen as the planet warms and more permafrost regions thaw. Organisms will be released from their long, cold sleep, and these ancient life forms could become part of modern ecosystems, affecting modern phenotypes and changing the landscape.”

Red Rocks Trip

I think everything is in place for our upcoming trip – we have a car rented, a house rented, airline tickets, and, oh, yeah, climbing gear.

further up pitch one. Both pitches take gear and have bolts. Watch your ropes when pulling. Nice short corner on pitch two.I heard the anchoring and multi-pitch clinic on Sunday was well attended and was very educational. A few weeks ago, I was sure the weather would permit us to practice some multi-pitch climbing at Taylors Falls. But then I heard the long range forecast for next week and I think it’ll be too cold.

If people in the group want to practice out in Red Rocks, we can certainly take part of a day and have our own clinic on anchors, multi-pitch, etc. Like the route here and pictured on the left. Which is close to the road – thank goodness! – and looks pretty good for learning.

Then you guys can teach me what you learned. So I will know what to do. Because this stuff is all new to me. (In fact, I am bringing a battery powered winch so you can attach it to my harness and pull me up the rocks.)

There is lots of information in books on setting up anchors. I probably have every one. But it you want to study this online, this is the best description I’ve seen on the' ‘net about setting up and evaluating anchors. He uses a different - and more complete - acronym  than the SRENE. It’s called the “NERDSS:”

“No Extension; if one of the pieces where to fail the anchor does not extend
thereby keeping the belayer stationary. The movement of the belayer particularly
if they are pulled off the belay ledge can severely compromise their ability to hold
a factor 2 leader fall or a second fall depending on the belay method used.
2. Redundancy; is defined as, more than one thing would have to fail before the
whole anchor can fail.
3. Distributed: if there is to be more than one piece then we want the force generated
by a fall to be distributed amongst the pieces so we use the combined strength of
those pieces rather than having one backing up the other. Another consideration
with distribution is we do not want to somehow increase the overall force by
having to large an angle within our anchor system.
4. Simplicity: This looks at how quick the anchor is to build and breakdown and how
uncomplicated it is so the climbers can quickly check key points.
5. Strength: The system, placements and materials that we use need to be of
appropriate strength.
We call this the NERDSS analysis.”

He has a table comparing different types of systems and he makes good points about the tradeoff between simplicity and more time-consuming, stronger anchors.

BTW, I did subscribe to Mountain Project’s iPhone app so we can download all of the routes for Red Rocks onto my iPad.

Patagonia Exped Race

patagonian race 2012 - photo 8.jpg

Some images from the Patagonia Expedition Race are here. I like this one because it shows how fun this would be.







I like this one because I don’t see a lot of these locally.

patagonian race 2012 - photo 3.jpg

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Las Vegas

Now that winter is back here, the Vegas weather looks pretty good. 
TonightFeb 21Wed22Thu23Fri24Sat25Sun26Mon27Tue28Wed29ThuMar 1
Mostly ClearSunnySunnySunnySunnySunnySunnyMostly SunnySunnyMostly Sunny
Mostly ClearSunnySunnySunnySunnySunnySunnyMostly SunnySunnyMostly Sunny


Spray Ice Climbing

This may be a whole new type of ice climbing. Another report from ice climbing a 100-foot high cave behind a waterfall.

Why Don’t Women Pioneer More Routes?

A thoughtful article here about the preponderance of men pioneering routes. The author interviews Lynn Hill who was the first person to free climb The Nose” on El Cap. She says, in part:

"Society has told women they should be the supporting role. The biology is that women are more practical and reasonable in terms of taking unnecessary risks. We are not motivated to be the heroes.’
Then Hill offered a more light-hearted perspective. She compared the overwhelming percentage of male first ascensionists to dogs who pee on trees. ‘They're just marking territory,’ she said with a laugh.”

That’s a funny line, but is there more to it than that? Two other women climbers are quoted:

Another reason, she explained, ‘is the tremendously labor-intensive element. I think that can deter a lot of female climbers.’
Indeed, Adrian Hogel, of Boulder, is put off by the ‘dirty work’ of new routes. She said, ‘For me, the glory of doing a first ascent doesn't outweigh the difficult work it takes to accomplish it.’
A great point. After all, there are so many existing routes -- why bother doing new ones?
I asked local climber and prolific first-ascensionist Matt Samet what drives him to climb things first. He said that at 17 years old, after climbing a beautiful new boulder problem in New Mexico, he realized, ‘The best climbs might be the ones not yet ascended.’ But like Flemming and Hogel, he thinks that elbow grease discourages women. ‘So much of what you're doing is brute, ugly, filthy caveman labor that it must, on some primal level, click more with men,’ said Samet.”

Hmmm, are we getting closer to a reason? Women are so busy cleaning up the world from messy men, that they don’t want to clean rocks too. That could be it. But then I read this recent news article and I think this might explain a lot:

A man ice climbing without ropes in western South Dakota has taken the sport to a new extreme: he did it while naked.”

I think men are more willing to let it all hang out. (Unfortunately ladies, I could find no photos of this brave ice climber pioneering new routes I am hoping he had all of his front points in the ice so he wouldn’t fall.)

“Ice” Climbing At Teva Mountain Games

This video kinda makes me seasick. It’s a hands-eye view, a foots-eye view, heads-eye view of climbing on foam “ice” at the recent Teva Winter Mountain Games.

“People Are Awesome”

I was only the 10,233,943rd person to watch this video called “People are Awesome.” I would agree that people can be awesome. In watching this, I also see people can be darned foolish too. (BTW, there’s an awful lot of Red Bull events shown.)

The Benefit Of A Cold Winter

Luckily for this ice climber, it’s been a very cold winter in the French Alps. He has been waiting for 10 years for this waterfall to freeze. A few days ago, he made the first ascent of Oule Falls in Crolls, France. Although, from the description below, it wasn’t frozen too solidly.

ice climbingThis huge pillar of ice is in reality a huge shell, a thin hollow pipe if you will, through which the waterfall continues to flow at an impressive rate. This explains the deep, muffled, and erratic sound of flowing water that has been getting consistently louder. Indeed, this section of dark ice turns out to be a thin layer of translucent ice no more than 1 cm thick, through which I can see both the flowing water and the rock behind it!”

An Adventurous Life

The obituary of John Faiffax makes a great read about what was quite an adventurous life. Including rowing across two oceans, working as a pirate and living in the jungle at the age of 13. A few quotes I liked:

“At 13, in thrall to Tarzan, he ran away from home to live in the jungle. He survived there as a trapper with the aid of local peasants, returning to town periodically to sell the jaguar and ocelot skins he had collected…

When piracy lost its luster, he gave his boss the slip and fetched up in 1960s London, at loose ends. He revived his boyhood dream of crossing the ocean and, since his pirate duties had entailed no rowing, he began to train….

Their crossing, from San Francisco to Hayman Island, Australia, took 361 days — from April 26, 1971, to April 22, 1972 — and was an 8,000-mile cornucopia of disaster.

‘It was very, very rough, and our rudder got snapped clean off,’ Ms. Cook said. ‘We were frequently swamped, and at night you didn’t know if the boat was the right way up or the wrong way up.’

Mr. Fairfax was bitten on the arm by a shark, and he and Ms. Cook became trapped in a cyclone, lashing themselves to the boat until it subsided. Unreachable by radio for a time, they were presumed lost.”

Monday, February 20, 2012

Smileys On Half Dome

The Smileys are attempting to be the first couple to climb the “Fifty Classic Climbs of North America” Here they are last fall climbing Half Dome

“We started climbing at 4am. To save time, we each attached ourselves to a fixed rope with a Petzl Tibloc (a simplified ascending device) to self-belay ourselves. Without a proper belay, we had to be in the mindset that we were basically free soloing the first five pitches. If one of us did  fall the Tibloc would bit on the rope, and arrest the fall (hopefully). It was too scary to trust it, so we climbed like we were not going to fall.”


NW Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park from Mark Smiley on Vimeo.

Kashmir Climbing

A short video of climbing in Kashmir, India. If I went to Kashmir, I’d wear Cashmere sweaters.

First ascent of the north face of Cerro Kishtwar. As part of Mammut's 150th anniversary project, on 4 September 2011 the three Mammut Pro Team athletes David Lama, Stephan Siegrist and Denis Burdet set off for Delhi in India in an attempt to become the first climbers to completely scale the around 1,000 metre, breathtakingly beautiful north face of Cerro Kishtwar.”

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Who’s Climbing In The Black Hills With Me?

Yesterday, Lisa got me thinking about a climbing trip to the Black Hills this spring. (I know, we still have to finish our climbing trip to Red Rocks. But a guy – and a gal – have to think ahead.)

On the left, is my all-time favorite climb – Sandberg Peak. One year, we had 3 people on the summit. Maybe 4 this year? (Assuming it hasn’t toppled over.)

We have gone climbing in the “Hills” every year for the past 4 years. Sometimes more than once. Because the Black Hills have great climbing (trad, sport, bouldering), are fairly close (9 hours by car’; 7.5 hours if you ride with Aaron in his BMW) and are beautiful.

OK, an admission on my part: my tendency is to go too early in the year. Like last year, when we went in May. And it was chilly and rainy. It’s only because I am always so excited to get out there that I push the season. (So sue me!) Maybe early June is the earliest target for fairly predictable weather. Yeah, but April and May can have good weather. (OK, you got me again. April is way too early.)

So who’s in? Lisa? Pete? Aaron? Ron? Amy? Liz? Jen? (Jen, where the heck have you been?) Killer? Marianna? Eric? The Natster? Dawson? Fabrice? (I know you’re moving your business, so you can’t) When do we go?

The last few times we’ve gone, we’ve rented those camper cabins which are very nice on a cold, rainy night. But camping is free. (The only problem with camping is the access to great climbing. You have to walk about 100-200 yards to get to the climbs. Why do they put those rocks so far away?)

Last year, because of Reverend Scott, we found out about a whole new area – to us – near Custer with the possibility of lots of first ascents.

Oops, sorry guys. Just talking about that area means I have to leave tonite. Too bad you couldn’t come with me. I will be climbing there by Sunday noon.

But, while I am gone, you can watch this never-before-seen video of me climbing partway up Sandberg Peak. Ron and Aaron shot this under poor lighting conditions. Two quotes in this video struck me as funny. Ron & Aaron are telling me to place a sling around a horn. Of course, I won’t listen to them – never have, never will. Then Aaron says (I think) “Slings are for babies.” I think that’s my new motto. (In fact, in the Black Hills, placing pro is for babies.) I climb a little farther up and Aaron says, “You are ground fall right now.” I say, “Yep, thank you.” (What else could I say?) What a fun route. I did not know it made so many others nervous.

Red Rocks And Zion

I found this video taken last year by Zach at VE showing Anthony (who used to work at VE) climbing an amazing heuco-y route in Zion on the Namaste wall. In watching it, I was reminded of some of the heucos we saw in Red Rocks last year. The black corridor


Like this photo of a route in the Black Corridor.






And this photo of Killer inside a hueco. It’s super fun climbing.



Don’t Bring Snacks When You Climb

If you leave snacks out – especially chips – while I am belaying you, this is what will happen.

Gravity - Original Version from Michael Eggert - "Pixelphile" on Vimeo.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cave People Of The Himalaya

A new TV show about exploring caves in Nepal.

“In the 1990s, a high Himalayan cave in Upper Mustang, Nepal was discovered to contain 42 ancient people, buried on wooden bunk beds. American archaeologist Dr. Mark Aldenderfer believes there must be more burial caves, but the challenge is how to find them deep within cliff faces in the cold and inhospitable environment of the Himalaya. He enlists the world's best technical climbers to do the searching. Aldenderfer's theory is the funerary caves were carved out by the earliest people to have settled in the Himalaya. If he can find their remains and extract their DNA, he'll learn who these people were and what brought them to the toughest parts of the planet to live.”

Watch Full Episode on PBS. See more from Cave People of the Himalaya.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Another Reason To Go To Moab

Not that I need another reason to go there, but this looks fun – “World’s Largest Rope Swing.”

Horatio Blankensmythe “Greatest Explorer Of The World”

Explains why his “1500km race across the frozen Siberian wilderness on old school Ural motorbikes to the only town in the world sitting on the Arctic circle” is such a good idea.

Rope As Climbing Anchor

The American Alpine Institute discusses how to use your rope as an anchor. Of course, if you need the full length of your rope, this would be tough.

Climbing On An Ice Building

At the Harbin, China ice festival:

“In a little under 3 weeks, over 12,000 workers create an icy wonderland the size of 16

soccer fields. The giant towers, picturesque palaces, bridges, slides and cathedrals were all built of single blocks of ice; similar to the pyramids in Egypt.”

It’s kinda like the St. Paul Winter Carnival if it we really had winter here. And they brought in thousands of workers. And if everyone spoke Chinese.

Below, is a video of Ines Papert climbing one of the ice buildings.

When In Vegas..

Heart Attack Grill Logo

We should stop at the Heart Attack Grill after a long day of climbing. And pick up a “Double Bypass” burger and “Flatliner” fries. If I am really hungry, I might opt for their 8,000 calorie “Quadruple Bypass” burger. Ummm, ummm, good.

Of course, some guy just had a heart attack eating there. But I am sure this is a fluke.

File:Double Bypass and Flatliner Fries.jpg

Red Rocks - Classic Adventures

Outside magazine has videos of “seven of North America’s best adventure destinations.” Including this video of Red Rocks and the Bugaboos in Canada.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Soloing “The Prow”

A woman climber soloed “The Prow” on Washington’s Column in Yosemite, and writes about her climb here. She admits she is inexperienced and makes a lot of mistakes. But she succeeds in climbing all 12 pitches over the course of 6 days. I liked this quote:

Pigs about to dance/tangle

I’d heard about all the heads on the route, and was scared of them. I’d read on the internet that singing to yourself helps, and the song that came to mind was “Down to the River to Pray” from the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack.
As I balanced up on one mashed in bit of metal with a frayed wire after another I felt strangely calm. Though scary the fall potential was completely safe, and after 3 heads and one free move a bomber cam was reached.”

Climbing In The Fairy Chimneys Of Cappadocia

A short clip from a show about the cave dwellers of Cappadocia, Turkey. Near the end, they demonstrate how they climbed inside the cave to reach the higher dwelling areas.

Can’t Imagine Why This Would Be Controversial

All Red Bull did for their recent snowboard tournament, was cut down a few trees and trim a few others. A little bit of grooming to make the forest neater. Here’s an article about the controversy. Below is a video of how they trimmed up the trees to prepare for this competition.

Climbing Helmcken Falls

This is the area that Will Gadd discovered last year. A recent trip report on the effort involved to climb this icicle-encrusted cave. I liked this quote:

Hanging from my bolt I could tap a coffee table piece of ice and watch it plummet to the ground with ease.  Strangely satisfying! Ok, finding bolts with a metal detector on a horizontal roof covered with big icicles is no easy task.  I nearly gave up after much ab

ice cave 500x375 Helmcken Falls

torching hovering, but the heckling of my buddies had me persist.  “Just swing your tool in the ice and hang on it so you can reach further with the metal detector”.  What???  But this is exactly what it took…and after I found my first bolt, I was hooked…atleast till the end of that day!”

Training The Core

Four exercises designed to strengthen the core and protect the lower back from Climb Strong. I liked this quote:

Most climbers who do exercises like crunches do them to get rid of the fat on top of the belly muscles. At our gym, in fact, we often get new members coming through the door complaining of a “weak core” when what they really have is fat on top of a perfectly strong set of muscles. If getting rid of the fat is the goal,

there are better ways than crunches. A study from the University of Virginia showed that you would need to do 250,000 crunches to lose one pound of fat.  That’d be about 700 crunches every day for a whole year.”

Sunday, February 12, 2012

There Are A Lot Of Crazy Sports

Photo Zoom

But climbing on manufactured walls with foam attached so you can use ice tools and crampons, is one of the craziest. Here are the results for mixed climbing at the Teva Mountain Games in Vail.

Emily Harrington, who finished in second place for the women behind Dawn Glanc, said the foam made the climbing harder and harder throughout the day. The foam on the climbing wall was made to resemble ice — climbers could ax into it head-on, but they couldn't stand on it or ax into it from the top.”