Monday, November 26, 2012

Games Climbers Play

A short speech based on the classic approach to climbing:

  • Practice trad climbing on short walls so that...
  • You can practice leading big walls so that..
  • You can practice alpine climbing so that...
  • You can climb in the Himalaya
Now people have the money to pay others to lead them up climbs because they don't have the time to learn on their own. 

At first, I thought he was complaining in his speech that too many people are climbing and they are not doing it the "right way." (You know the complaint; "When I was a kid I walked 3 miles uphill both ways to school.") But he surprised me with his conclusion.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Longest Ridge On 8,000 Meter Peak

Two 50-plus year old climbers completed a six-mile-long ridge on Nanga Parbat this last summer. Which "... is the longest ridge on any mountain over 8,000 meters and traverses the summits of eight peaks over 7,000-meters.

In order to finish the climb, the two slept two nights in a snow cave above 7,000 meters and went without food and water for 3 days. Quite a story. Summary of the climb here. Their blog report here. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

A First-Time Visit To VE

An article on Outside magazine describes a first-time visit to VE in Mpls. She walked around

"...taking note of the hippie-ish, we
ll-muscled climbers already clamoring up and across walls slanted outward from the floor like spider people."
Clamoring??? I think she means clambering.

The article reminds me that when reporters write about things I am familiar with, they usually get the details wrong. Such as her descriptions of "tar chips" on the floor and the "rubber holds" on the walls.

It still is fun to see the climbing gym through the eyes of a newbie.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Stuffed On Stuffing

OK, I'm sure it's too late to give you a recipe for stuffing - oh wait - Christmas is coming up. I volunteered to make stuffing for the fam this year because:
  • I love stuffing. Who doesn't?
  • I knew it would be easy peasy lemon squeezy.
I knew it would be EZ PZ because I had a secret recipe in my pocket. And the only hard part of gathering the ingredients was going to a White Castle restaurant. I needed about 20 sliders. They told me at White Castle I could get a discount if I got a "Crave Case" of 30 sliders. 

Who doesn't love a discount? And who couldn't eat an extra 10 sliders? So I got this very nice collector attaché case that I can use for carrying my laptop, my climbing shoes, or sell on ebay for a lot of money. Or carry my extra 10 sliders to the gym for a great snack. 

Here are most of the boxes I used to make my secret stuffing (Shhhh!) recipe. Hmmm, hmmm good. 

I know the Pilgrims never would have left England or Holland if they had White Castles nearby. (Oops, they did have a White Castle nearby; it didn't serve food though.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Climbing Hard Routes - Boom, Boom, Clip The Chains

What's amazing in this video is that this is the first time he's climbed this route. As the description of this video states:
"Amazing to see the conviction Ondra has through every sequence—no stalling, no apprehension about sequences, no anxiety, no slip ups. Aspiring onsight climbers take note: this is how you do it. Boom. Boom. Boom. Clip the chains."

BD athlete Adam Ondra onsights The Golden Ticket (5.14c), Red River Gorge, Kentucky from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Revolutionize Mountaineering With A Monk

This new device - the "Mountain Monk" - will revolutionize mountaineering. At least, according to this ad. It will soon allow you to be

"..rolling smoothly down to speed astray down into the valley in a demonic manner." (Huh?)

Bergmönch - Hiking uphill Wheeling downhill from Thomas Kaiser on Vimeo.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Climbing In Zion

Liz, Marianna, Paul & Seth recently returned from a trip to Red Rocks and Zion. Here're some shots from an amazing route in Zion.


I've played with the new magnetron 'biner a little bit and didn't find it anything special. It might be better than a twist lock if you're left handed or wearing gloves. Don't get me wrong, it's always best to get the latest cool gear.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Minnesota-style Anchor Attachment

 A recent trip report about canyoneering in Zion used this phrase: "Quite a few anchors in the canyon were tied with the Minnesota-clip style of equalization." (Photo on the left. The webbing should have some limiter knots in it or at least a half twist.)

I was puzzled about this reference to Minnesota. Until I looked at the photo. And remembered that in the 70s, three climbers from MN died on El Cap when they tied themselves into an anchor chain, and one of the bolts broke when their "pig" (haul sack) fell. Then they all fell because they weren't clipped into individual chain links. (I climbed a lot with one of the guys who was killed; he was an experienced, expert climber.)

Because of that accident, the common way to clip into an anchor with chains, is to use the individual links. 

Cluster Balloon Flying

Traversing the Atlantic Ocean with 365 helium balloons. What a cluster!

I googled cluster ballooning and came up this cool vehicle which is a pedal powered flyer. Now this would be fun.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Biking Thru Town

This is about the only kind of city biking I like. Recorded in Taxco, Mexico.

Get Lost

The British Mountaineering Council writes about the increasing number of mountain hikers who get lost in the mountains by relying solely on their smartphones' GPS.
I like this quote:
"So basically any time you might actually have to rely on it, they have a disclaimer for it....Of course, life is never that simple. Because while at least two police forces in the last month have warned about the risks of using a smartphone, plenty of guides, instructors and ordinary climbers and hill walkers use one routinely."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"If She Can Do It"

Apparently women can ride mountain bikes. Who knew? As they say in this video, "They're getting after it, to build a sisterhood."

Anytime sisters want to go mountain bike with me, they're more than welcome. Details of this ride here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Red Rocks Climbing By Liz & Marianna

Team E&M (Elizabeth and Marianna with Seth & Paul) are out in Red Rocks this week climbing. Or, so they say. Here they are planning, resting and organizing.

R U sure it's up there?

Girls, could you peel me some grapes?

Good use of heucos.

Ahh, There's Something About Sleeping On The Ground Like A Dog

Or, maybe, not so much. Like this report of hut-to-hut hiking in the Italian Dolomites. I love this quote:

"There’s something about sleeping under the stars, a breeze on your face or light rain on your tent fly, and the ritual of making coffee and breakfast in the backcountry. Simple, practical, independent, and satisfying in some uncivilized way.
Tell you what else: There’s something to hiking a massive amount of miles with a super-light pack, and having Italian espresso served to you twice or three times a day, and eating pasta and strudel cooked by someone else every night."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Death Block On El Cap

There was a block of rock sitting 2,000 feet above the valley tied into the wall with some old slings. Watch as they trundled this off a few days ago.

Explaining Climbing On The Internet

Save yourself some time reading this one page summary of most internet discussions about climbing.

For example:

A: No. But you can make it safer by worrying about the things that actually cause the most accidents, such as falling while unroped on exposed, "easy" terrain, rappel-rigging mistakes and communication errors.
A: No, but it's safer if you weight your rappel rope before unclipping from the anchor, knot the ends of your rope and make sure your rope is centered in the anchor."

Why Take Risks?

An academic paper that attempts to prove what climbers already know: there's a benefit in the risk inherent in climbing. That, alone, can justify the activity. (The authors write specifically about mountaineering but I think their thesis applies to all risk-based sports.)

One point they make about risk, is that if all of the risk were removed from mountaineering, it wouldn't be as appealing. So the benefits of the risks/dangers help answer the question: "Why would you do something that's dangerous?" Here is part of their conclusion:

"On the other hand, risk-taking is good in relation to the value of .. certain ‘experiential’ goods. Two are particularly notable. One is that risk-taking can make one ‘feel alive’ and ‘in the zone’. This may take multifarious forms. It can involve a supercharged adrenaline rush; but it can also have a more serene, meditative and sublime exhilarative quality....These quite intense experiences of utter exhilaration often extend long after the real danger is over and can give rise to a sense of personal fulfillment. A second value.. concerns the ways mountaineers experience themselves as agents. Again this has numerous dimensions. It can involve quite simply experiencing yourself as an effective agent: in general terms, you achieve the things you set out to achieve by competently overcoming the risks constitutive of the challenges you set yourself; at a more specific level, the experience of moving competently (fluently, in control) through the medium in which you are climbing gives rise to a deeply 
gratifying experience of effective agency."

Table 1: Risk of death with sports activities

Cause of Death
Number of Deaths
Population Estimate
Crude Rate per 100,000 population
Odds of Dying
(1 in )
BASE JumpingNorway (Kjerag Massif)
2,317 jumps
101,083 jumps
116,000 flights
Sudden cardiac death whilst running a marathonUS
126,626 runners
Horse RidingGermany
American FootballUS
1994-1999 (average annual figures)
Scuba DivingUK
200,000 dives
Table TennisGermany
Rock ClimbingUK
320,000 climbs
750,000 outings
1,556,757 visits

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Climbing Kitty Litter On The Ogre

A report on a recent new route on the 7,000 meter Ogre in Pakistan. The photo is of the "kitty litter" pitch at 6,3000 meters. I liked this quote:

"Hayden's feet skated, sending off showers of kitty litter that fell for thousands of feet to the glacier below. Sometimes he'd rip off microwave-sized blocks that would bounce near his waist and explode into pieces before even making it off the traverse ledge."
Here is a story of climbing the Ogre in 1977 and a mountaineer who broke both legs and had to crawl out to base camp over the course of 7 days.

"So I got on my knees, with my lower legs stuck out behind, and kneed across the ledge with no trouble at all....And that’s how it was done over the next seven days, with a little help from my friends —Chris, Clive and Mo."

After he got to base camp, he was carried out by 8 porters for three days and finally helicoptered to a hospital.

Friday, November 2, 2012

"The Worst Route I've Ever Done"

The only woman to climb all 53 peaks in the Canadian Rockies above 11,000', called the "Wishbone Arete" on Mt Robson the worst route she's ever done. Quite a tale from the Smileys. They encounter gargoyle-like seracs, armpit-deep snow, and a midnite bivouac.
And, they discover the chicken wishbone, left high on the mountain by the 2nd ascent party in 1951.

Devils Lake

A wonderful trip report by a regular VE climber, Ahn T.

Including a video of a first time trad lead.

(Looks like a good one to start on.)