Friday, August 28, 2015

The Pain and the Pleasure of Crampons on Approach Shoes

Whoa!  Crampons on approach shoes? That's crazy talk. Crampons belong on boots!

Most of us couldn't agree more with this sentiment. But most of us also don't want to walk across a short section of ice wearing boots for an alpine rock climb and then carry said boots in our backpacks when we put on our rock shoes.

Sometimes it makes a lot of sense to wear crampons on approach shoes. It's not comfortable and it's not fun. Indeed, half the time that you're doing this, it feels like your foot is going to come right out of the shoe. On every step the crampons stick in the ice and have a nearly imperceptible hold your foot. It feels a little bit like you're walking in sticky mud.


Approach shoes were not designed for such a use. They bend easily and it is difficult to walk up steeper terrain while wearing them. The strap-connectors on many crampons are hard plastic and these commonly dig into your ankles.

There are some crampon styles that work more effectively with approach shoes. Aluminum crampons are not really designed for standard mountaineering where you are going to wear your crampons all day. Instead, such crampons are light, have a low profile and often fit well on approach shoes. Aluminum crampons like the Black Diamond Neve Strap Aluminum Crampons and the Stubai Ultralight Universal Crampons are perfect for this type of use.


The pain of crampons on approach shoes is at least somewhat worth it. As with so many other things in climbing, the pleasure comes after the pain. And in this case, the pleasure is no heavy boots in your pack while working your way up a massive alpine rock climb.

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 8/27/15

Important Legislative News:

--The Land and Water Conservation Fund is about to expire. This important piece of legislation has funded parks and public lands for a generation. Here's a quick explanation of the legislation from the Mountaineers Blog:

LWCF was created in 1965, with the idea that a small portion of the revenue from offshore oil and gas drilling would go back to conservation. The LWCF Coalition calls the fund: “a simple idea: use revenues from the depletion of one natural resource - offshore oil and gas - to support the conservation of another precious resource - our land and water.”

If you'd like to learn more about this legislation, click here to read a post about it from the Outdoor Alliance.

The Outdoor Alliance has also created a portal that you can easily use to write your representatives. To support the renewal of this important legislation, click here.

Northwest:

Liz Daley

--On Saturday, September 26th, there will be an event in Tacoma celebrating the life of AAI Guide Liz Daley. Liz was tragically killed in an avalanche last September. This event is a fundraiser to build a climbing park called Liz Rocks at Point Defiance Park. To read more, click here.

This is a map of the Puget Sound with the fires overlayed on top of it,  just to give you an idea of how much has burned.
Fires essentially cover Everett to Tacoma.  See more, here.

--Some are wondering how this has affected AAI programming. Rest assured, AAI has a lot of commercial operating permits and as such we are just avoiding areas where there are fires.

--With wildfires straining resources, Washington officials say that for the first time in state history they're coordinating help from residents who have and can operate equipment like backhoes and bulldozers to dig fire lines. The Department of Natural Resources says its command posts have been inundated with offers. Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark says his agency appreciates the support, but he wants the fire officers on scene to be able to stay focused on actually fighting fires. To read more, click here.

--Washington Fire Lookouts are being impacted by the fires too. It looks like two have been burned and three more are threatened. To read more, click here.

--A disastrous year is unfolding in 2015 for North Cascade glaciers, if normal melt conditions continue the range will lose 5-7% of its entire glacier volume in one year! To read more, click here.

--Paul McSorley, Mayan Smith-Gobat, and Ines Papert recently put up a new mixed line on the remote Southwest Buttress of Mt. Waddington (northwest summit) in British Columbia. To read more, click here.

Sierra:

--British big wall climber, alpinist and writer, Andy Kirkpatrick recently soloed the Sea of Dreams (A4+, 5.9, VI) in Yosemite. To read about the ascent, click here.

--So this woman plans to eat nothing but bugs on El Cap.

-- It was announced this week that there are going to be several changes in Mammoth Resorts’ Executive Management Team. Greg Dallas, Chief Operating Officer for Mammoth and June Mountains, announced his resignation and will be leaving the company this fall to pursue other endeavors. To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--Moab, Utah is one of the most popular outdoor meccas in the western U.S. Boasting national parks, incredible rock climbing, and world famous mountain biking trails, the Moab region attracts millions of visitors every year. Moab is also home to significant oil, gas, and potash resources, some of which are adjacent to the Colorado River or to campgrounds and climbing areas. In the past, the nearly million-acre region was managed with a plan that offered numerous oil and gas leases in areas adjacent to protected landscapes, including Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. In response, President Obama and former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar decided to develop a process to help balance conservation, recreation, and development in this important area. To read more, click here.

Colorado:

--Nine volunteers from Mountain Rescue Aspen spent the night with a 55-year-old climber from Milwaukee who was injured after falling 25 feet near the summit of Pyramid Peak Friday. To read more, click here.

--On Saturday, a large group of climbers gathered in Rifle Canyon in remembrance of Dave Pegg (1967-2014). This iconic climber was a force in the Colorado climbing community and will be missed. To see some photos of the event, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Two women died when they fell about 200 feet while trying to climb a mountain in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. The National Park Service says the accident occurred around 11 a.m. Saturday on the 12,300-foot Teewinot Mountain, the sixth-tallest peak in the Teton Range. To read more, click here.

--An injured rock climber dangling from a rope, lost and injured hikers and campers, and a lost canoeist were among in dire situations recently helped by state Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers in the Adirondacks. To read more, click here.

Helicopters used to fight fires in Leavenworth, WA

--It's easy to forget sometimes that if you don't pay attention to the mountains that many people have no idea what's going on with this fire season. A San Francisco based blogger notes, that Everything is on Fire and No One Cares. It's our duty to make sure non-mountain people know what's going on too. This is a big deal.

--How young is too young for Mount Everest? It appears that a 12-year old will be attempting the mountain next year. Expedition writer Taylor Zajonc has written an editorial about this attempt. To read the editorial, click here.

--Nepal is reopening Mt. Everest for mountaineers after a massive earthquake hit the country in April. To read more, click here.

-- Scott Bennett and and AAI graduate Graham Zimmerman climbed a new route on K6 West, a 7,040-meter (23,097-foot) peak in the Karakoram that had only received one other ascent. To read more, click here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bad Belay Video

When we saw this we were literally falling over laughing. These images are funny because they're -- unfortunately -- sometimes true.



--Jason D. Martin

Monday, August 24, 2015

Angle and Force in an Anchor

You've heard before, and I'll say it again. The lower the angle between the pieces in an anchor, the better equalized the anchor will be.

What does this actually mean?

Well, first it means that the American Death Triangle is really bad...

The American Death Triangle = Death
From the Chockstone Website

And second it means that...

If an anchor is composed of two pieces, and one piece is directly above the other piece, and you are using a pre-equalized knot on a cordellete clipped to the pieces, then you are likely to be close to completely equalized at your master-point. The photo below shows a three piece anchor with low angles between the pieces. The low angles make this a very good anchor. However, due to the fact that the pieces are not completely in line with one another, the anchor cannot be truly equalized.

A Very Good Pre-Equalized Anchor that is Not Truly Equalized
Guides believe that this is an acceptable anchor.
Photo from Splitter Climbing Gear


Some may find minor concerns with the different lengths of cord in the preceding picture. Most guides are not concerned about this.

When the angle on a two-point anchor increases, so too does the load on each piece. The theory is that when there is no or a very low angle -- under 20 degrees -- the pieces are close to equalized. When the angle increases to 40 degrees, then 54% of the load is on each piece. As the angle increases to 80 degrees, then 70% of the load is on each piece. And when the angle increases to 120 degrees, then 100% of the load is on each piece.

The following chart from the Technical Manual for Mountain Guides from the AMGA, demonstrates this with proposed weight of 1000 pounds.


The video savvy Canadian guide, Mike Barter, put together a great video on this subject for youtube.com. He uses a number of visual demonstrations throughout the video to show how weight affects an anchor as the angle increases. Check out the video below:



--Jason D. Martin

NOTE:

This is the second time we've posted this blog. And after I posted it the first time a couple of years ago an extremely valid comment was made. I thought that it would be prudent to post the comment as well as my response:

Anonymous said...
I hate to flame people trying to put good information out for the public, but I thought his demonstration was pretty silly. First off(although it really wasn't important for the demonstration) he had the knot of the cordelette directly on the carabiner of one of his "anchors". You think that an IFMGA guide wouldn't do this even in a demonstration. His demonstration really didn't show the increase in force on the anchor, but the change in the direction of pull. I think he could of easily done this by attaching a simple fish scale to each anchor.

Jason Martin said...
I also thought about the knot on the carabiner when I found this video. The knot on the carabiner does weaken the cordellete mildly. But not really enough for it to matter.

In addition to this, lets remember what this blog is about. It's about how angle impacts individual pieces...and I think that the video does a great job of demonstrating this...

Jason

Friday, August 21, 2015

Forearm Exercises to Make You Strong

There's no question about it. When your forearms are fried, the dishes are done. You're going to fall off your route.

Technique is important for climbing and it can save your strength. Indeed, on routes with a rating below 5.8, strength may not even be an issue if your technique is adequate. But as you start to push up through the grades, you'll find that forearm strength becomes more and more important.

The more you train your forearms, the stronger you'll be. And the more you train your forearms, the more likely it is that you will be able to rest them quickly and adequately by shaking out or finding a stance on which to take a break.

There are a handful of exercises that work to build forearm strength and endurance. Following is a quick breakdown of some of these exercises:

Static Hangs


You probably remember from your days of lifting weights in the high school weight room that muscle is most effectively built when you workout until muscle failure. Commonly, an athlete will work a specific muscle group by lifting a weight a number of times (referred to as reps) until the muscle fails. Most will know that with a given weight, the muscle will begin to fail after a given number of reps.

A static hang works the muscle in much the same way. For this to work effectively, you have to hang until your muscles fail. This doesn't mean that you have to hang until it hurts or even until it hurts a lot. You have to go beyond those thresholds to the point of complete muscle failure.

After failure, allow the muscles to rest for five minutes or so and then try again. Ideally, you will do this exercise three or four times in order to get the most out of it.

Endurance Static Hangs

Hang on a bar or a hangboard with both hands. Drop one hand and shake it out while still hanging on the other. Hang for at lease five seconds on one arm before switching.

This particular exercise is great for climbers because of the way it imitates real life!

Forearm Curls

There are two effective ways to do forearm curls. One may use a regular barbell or a dumbell.

To use a barbell, you will need to lay your forearms across a weight bench holding the barbell. Your hands should hang over the edge, palms up. All the bar to roll toward your fingers and then flex, bringing it up into your palm.

With a dumbell, the system is almost the same. Allow the dumbell to roll out toward your fingers and then flex, allowing int to roll back into your palm.

With both of these exercises, it tends to be more effective to work toward a combination of strength and endurance by working on time as opposed to reps. Try to do as many curls as possible in a minute and then work up from there. Remember most sport routes take five to ten minutes to climb, so that should be a goal in the exercise.

Indoor Gym Exercise

One of the best ways to build forearm strength and endurance is to traverse around the climbing gym on easy holds. Try to stay on the wall for at least twenty minutes. Another version of this same exercise is to try to down-climb the routes after you reach the top.

As with other excercises, a series of these twenty minute sessions will be more effective than a one time run at them.

Forearm Exerciser

There are a number of different commercial forearm exercising devices out there. Perhaps the most popular is the blue latex rubber doughnut. The value of these devices is that they work out both fingers and forearms. This should be used like any weight device. Do a series of reps until failure, rest and then repeat two more times.

Additional Resources
You can find more on forearm workouts here. For information about why forearms pump out and about lactic acid buildup in forearms, click here.

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 8/20/15

Northwest:

--A 46-year-old Bellingham climber was killed by a rockfall in North Cascades National Park on Sunday, the park service said Tuesday. The rockfall occurred in the Fisher Peak area near Easy Pass. Denise Shultz, public information officer for the National Park Service, told the Bellingham Herald that Eric Moldver was hiking Sunday, his 46th birthday, with a group in a steep area on some loose rock when a boulder fell from above Moldver and hit him on the head. To read more, click here.

--A section of Highway 20, the North Cascades Highway, is currently closed. For more information, please see the following:

Highway 20 is closed at MP118 to MP 157.

It is closed on the west side just above the Goodell Creek put-in for rafts. At this time it is possible to put in at Goodell but that could change at any time due to wind direction and fire activity.

Please look for updates at the following websites...

Park Website - http://www.nps.gov/noca/index.htm

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/NorthCascadesNationalPark

Twitter - https://twitter.com/ncascadesnps

WSDOT - http://www.wsdot.com/traffic/trafficalerts/default.aspx?refnum=197896&action=2&aw=1

Mt. Baker

--A Navy helicopter rescued an injured climber near Mt. Baker last week. 20-year-old Jasper Yao of Seattle sustained several injuries in a nearly 50-foot fall on the top of Heliotrope Ridge. To read more, click here.

--A glacial outburst Thursday sent a torrent of rocks, trees and debris 4 miles down Tahoma Creek, damaging and forcing the closure of Westside Road and Tahoma Creek Trail at Mount Rainier National Park. To read more, click here.

--Search and rescue responses are up 40% in Mt. Rainier National Park. To read more, click here.

--An uninjured rock climber was rescued in Tillamook, Oregon over the weekend. To read more, click here.

--Will Stanhope recently redpointed the Tom Egan Memorial Route on the east face of Snowpatch Spire in Canada's Bugaboo Provincial Park. Stanhope rate the route 5.14, Grade V. To read more, click here.



Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/outdoors/article31181969.html#storylink=cpy
Sierra:

--Two minors were killed early Friday morning when a limb from an oak tree fell on their tent at Yosemite National Park, park officials said. The incident took place around 5 a.m. local time at the Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley. Park spokesman Scott Gediman declined to release the ages or any details about the two to the Associated Press, describing them only as under age 18. To read more, click here.

--Officials at Yosemite National Park closed the Tuolumne Meadows Campground on Monday after two squirrels contracted and died of the plague near the area. Park employees will use the closure to spray flea-killing insecticide into burrow holes where rodents live. Rodents like rats, chipmunks, and squirrels carry the fleas that carry the plague. To read more, click here.

--The Tioga Pass Road between Highway 395 and the Yosemite National Park Entrance re-opened over the weekend. No stopping is allowed along the eastern six miles of the road. This will be strictly enforced. The fire remains active to the south of the road and this is essential for firefighter and public safety. To read more, click here.

--Escorts are being provided to those who need to get to campsites evacuated on the Tioga Pass Road. To red more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--AAI Guides Doug Foust and Tracy Martin helped the BLM in Red Rock facilitate a day of climbing for two children who lost their father in the Iraq war. The event was covered by local media. To see a video and read an article about the event, click here. And here. And here.

--With a narrow window of opportunity, the Access Fund secured temporary ownership of a critical access point to The Homestead in central Arizona to save the area from indefinite closure. With over 250 sport climbs on 12 limestone walls, The Homestead is one of the best winter limestone climbing areas in the country, boasting true “tufa” sport routes. But in 2014, access was imminently threatened when the bank foreclosed on a piece of private property that overlapped key portions of the access road, trailhead, and first few dozen routes. If sold to a non-climber-friendly buyer, access to the entire Homestead area could have been lost. To read more, click here.

--In June, the Grand Canyon was named one of the “Most Endangered Places” in America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. But the designation came just two months too late to possibly influence U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell. In April, he denied a request by the Havasupai tribe and a coalition of conservation groups to halt new uranium mining next to Grand Canyon National Park, just six miles from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. To read more, click here.

Colorado:

--The Colorado Avalanche Information Center would like to add another forecaster. To learn more about this job opportunity, click here.

--This winter, Vail Resorts is trying something different on its ski slopes:Crowdsourced, real-time wait times for ski lifts offered via smartphone app. Vail Resorts says that an update to its EpicMix smartphone app will collect data from the RFID-enabled season passes skiers carry at the resort. It’s one of the most ambitious efforts yet to bring Waze-style crowdsourced location data into the sports and vacation spheres. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--The Access Fund and the American Alpine Club are proud to announce a joint grant program available to local climbing organizations and anchor replacement groups seeking funding for fixed anchor replacement at climbing areas across the United States. By partnering on this program, the nation’s two national non-profit climbing organizations are filling a need unmet by their existing climbing conservation grants—replacing fixed anchors at local crags. This grant program is made possible by corporate support from ClimbTech, Petzl, and Trango. To read more, click here.

--Uli Steck just completed all 82 4000-meter peaks in the Alps in 61 days. His victory wasn't without tragedy though. One of his partners - Martijn Seruen - was killed in a fall. To read more, click here.

--After buying Park City Ski Resort in Utah for $182.5 million, Vail is now now connecting Park City to The Canyons (which Vail already runs) to create the largest ski resort in the USA at 7,300+ acres. The new ski resort will simply be called “Park City” but the old canyons infinity symbol will live next to the name in the logo. To read more, click here.

--The New York Times reports on the "culture clash" taking place in the backcountry between people shooting guns and other backcountry users. To read the article, click here.

--And finally, we all have to have hobbies. I guess. These guys love to ski down escalators in Salt Lake City shopping malls:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Search and Rescue Costs

Should climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts have to pay for rescue...?

Many non-climbers feel that climbing related rescues should be paid for by those that are rescued. However, many of these same individuals do not feel that hiking related, hunting related, or boating related rescues should be paid for by the individuals that are rescued. Of course, every year there are a lot more yachters and wayward Boy Scouts that are rescued than climbers.

Mountain rescue in the United States is generally managed by the Sheriff's department or the Park Service, depending on the location. The actual rescue though is usually done by mountain rescue volunteers or the military.

Las Vegas Metro Police Department Search and Rescue Practice in Red Rock Canyon
Photo from LVMPD S&R Website

Some cities maintain full-time Search and Rescue police officers. Places like Las Vegas and Los Angeles County send out their Search and Rescue officers nearly every day to deal with everything from boaters to ATV riders to people who took a wrong turn during a flood. Climbers make up a very small percentage of their rescue costs... But tax dollars certainly do support these operations.

Mountain rescue volunteers work for the satisfaction of providing assistance to those in need. They do not cost the government or the tax payers anything. The military operations that are used in rescues often employ individuals who are rescue specialists and would be training to do rescues anyway. As a result, the funds that go into these rescues are not as exhorbinant as many people might believe.

A new law in New Hampshire forces those who are rescued to pay for their rescues. WMUR Channel 9 New Hampshire reports:

A New Hampshire law aims to make people think twice before heading into the woods unprepared or under the influence.

The state Department of Fish and Game currently fines lost hikers who recklessly venture into the woods to pay for the cost of the rescue, but now the department will have the power to revoke the driver's licenses of those who don't pay. Hikers can also lose licenses with the state Health and Human Services Department, and hunting and fishing licenses.

The law also gives the state more power over who they decide to fine. Previously, the state had to prove someone acted recklessly before charging a hiker for repayment for a rescue. This meant the state had to show the hiker or hikers were aware going into the woods posed a substantial risk but they did it anyway. Now the state only has to prove the person was negligent.

While many rescues are of those who were negligent, there are a lot of rescues that take place where an individual made an honest mistake. The downside to laws such as this is that mountain activities have the look and feel of danger, even when they aren't terribly dangerous. Other wilderness users -- whether they do something that is negligent or not -- may not look like they are putting themselves in peril. The result is that climbers will likely bear the brunt of such laws.

Two Climbers Practice Rescue Techniques in a Single Pitch Instructor Course
Photo by Jason Martin

Indeed, who will decide if a given action is negligent or not? An experienced climber might try a hard route in a light-and-fast manner. Somewhere high on the route a hold breaks and he shatters his ankle. Were this brought to court after a rescue, that climber...even though he did everything right...might be charged for negligence. Why? It's a hard route and he didn't have a lot of equipment.

If a climber that is carrying seventy pounds of food and fuel up a glaciated peak decides to glissade with his crampons on and breaks an ankle, he might be seen as playing it safe and the idea of negligence might never come up. This is despite the fact that he was using an innapropriate technique at an innappropriate time.

Rescues take place in the mountains every day and climbers make up a very small percentage of those that are rescued. This issue always comes to a head when something bad happens to a climber, but it never comes up when something bad happens to another wilderness user. We are unfairly targetted by those that have little knowledge of what happens in the wilderness.

Creating laws that require negligent people to pay for rescues is a step in the wrong direction. It is far too difficult for the courts to delve into the idea of what is negligent in this field and what is not. Our main concern is that any type of climbing activity -- regardless of the experience level and training of the participant -- may be seen as negligent.

--Jason D. Martin