Thursday, January 29, 2015

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 1/29/15

Northwest:

--Last week, AAI Guides helped an advertising agency called Workhouse Creative put together a video. They gave us some awesome footage in return. Check out AAI Guide Dustin Byrne, sending Mt. Erie in the video below:



--The Mountaineers will be hosting Reinhold Messner on February 2nd at the Mountaineers Headquarters in Seattle. To read more, click here.

--Evergreen College in Olympia is hosting prolific climber, Fred Becky on February 11th for a lecture. To learn more, click here.

--If you’ve hiked anywhere in the Northwest, there’s a good chance you’ve seen an illegal trail. Often they’re quick shortcuts or paths to off-trail viewpoints. But in extreme cases, they’re longer, surreptitiously constructed paths that wind through public and private land. The unauthorized trails can cause a range of problems in wild areas. As more and more people spend time in the woods, closing down these illegal trails has become increasingly difficult. To read more, click here.

Sierra:

--The family of 24-year-old Cody Byers of Fresno is mourning his death. The man who had a passion for rock climbing and for nature, died doing what he loved. Yosemite Park Rangers say Byers fell several hundred feet while making his way down the Royal Arches. To read more, click here.

--So Ellen interviewed Tommy and Kevin. You've really made it to the big time when you get interviewed on Ellen. To see the clip, click here.

Desert Southwest:

The 2014 AAI Guide Staff at Red Rock Rendezvous.

--Registration for this year's Red Rock Rendezvous is now open. Rendezvous will take place in Red Rock from March 27-29. To learn more, click here.

Colorado:

--An eighth grade student was killed in a ski accident at Crested Butte Mountain Resort on Friday. To read more, click here.

--Ben Kiessel and Mat Pickren linked up the Ames Ice Hose (WI 5), Whorehouse Hoses (WI 4), Birdbrain Boulevard (WI 5 M6), The Talisman (WI 5 M5) and Bridalveil Falls (WI 5+) all in 17 hours. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--A skier and mountaineer from Oregon died Friday after he was buried in an avalanche on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in western Europe, his sister said. Dave Rosenbarger was alive when rescuers dug him out, but died at a hospital. Rosenbarger, 38, represented the Patagonia sporting goods company. He was a graduate of the University of Oregon and Gresham High School and lived with his wife in France. Rosenbarger was also an American climbing guide and a member of the American Mountain Guides Association. To read more, click here.

--A rock climber was airlifted Saturday to a hospital after falling 20 feet in a rock climbing area near Lake County, California, according to CalFire. The incident was reported at 1:21 p.m. To read more, click here.

--An ice climber from Washington state was airlifted from the "Mean Green" ice flow near Cody on Sunday after a softball-sized rock hit his back, according to the Park County Sheriff's Office. To read more, click here.

--A lawsuit involving a 2010 tree-well death at Whitefish Mountain Resort is scheduled to be heard by a jury in November — nearly five years after the accident. The family of Niclas Waschle, the 16-year-old exchange student from Germany who died after falling head-first into a tree well in December 2013, sued the ski area along with his host family from Columbia Falls and the company that coordinated his exchange. To read more, click here.

--The journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently produced a report on how hierarchical societies tend to have better summit success in the Himalaya. However, they also have more deaths. To read more, click here.

--Earlier this week, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) introduced a bill to strip current and future presidents’ authority to designate national monuments, proposing an overhaul to a law that presidents have used for nearly a century to protect some of the country’s most iconic and treasured places. The bill, introduced Tuesday, would amend the 1906 Antiquities Act to effectively block the President from designating any new national monuments without congressional approval and an extensive environmental review. Additionally, the bill would require the President to seek approval from nearby state governments for marine monument proposals. To read more, click here.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Fingerboard Repeaters - Training for Climbing

Every fingerboard is different. Here are a few holds I commonly train.
Fingerboard repeaters or dead hangs are one of the core exercises for building pure, unadulterated, raw finger strength when training for climbing. These are not to be confused with other workouts where you are moving between hangs, lock-offs and pull-ups or whatever else. Fingerboard repeaters are the real deal and should provide the foundation for any climbing strength training phase.

Why Fingerboard Repeaters?

When training there are two basic types of movements or exercises, isotonic and isometric. Isotonic exercises are characterized by movement. What that means is that the muscle/joint angle changes throughout a range of motion. These are the types of exercises you normally picture when you think about working out.

On the flip side, isometric exercises are static in nature. During these exercises the muscle/joint angle remain fixed throughout the contraction. A perfect example of an isometric exercise would be gripping down on a hold. Once your fingers hit a hold and your muscles squeeze to grip, they are essentially fixed at that joint angle and muscle length until you relax your hand.

It is common sense, but research suggests that athletes should train isometrically if their activity primarily requires isometric movements. Like the example above, in climbing the fingers are almost always used isometrically. That said, the crux is that strength gains do not easily carryover between different joint angles or grip types. What that means is that in order for isometric training for climbing to be truly effective, it needs to be performed using the exact grip types employed during climbing.

Luckily, there are only a small number of grip types for climbing. More importantly, these hand positions are easily simulated, which is where fingerboard repeaters come into play. Outside of HIT training, there is no other training tool or exercise other then repeaters (climbing included) that lets you completely isolate and train each specific grip type to failure... period.

How to Perform Fingerboard Repeaters



To perform fingerboard repeaters, place each hand on whatever grip type you would like to train. Your hands should always be using the same grip size and type for each set. In other words, if you are training the medium edge with your right hand then you should also be training the medium edge with your left hand. I use an older Metolius fingerboard, but I have friends who love the new Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center.

Once you are set, drop your weight and using an open hand grip just dead hang completely static. In order to perform each hang with proper technique, your hands should be shoulder-width apart, arms slightly bent, with the muscles in your shoulders, arms and upper back engaged. This keeps you from hanging directly from your joints and reduces your chance of elbow or shoulder injury.

The goal of each fingerboard repeater workout is to complete a predetermined number of sets and repetitions for each grip position. A repetition consists of holding the dead hang for a fixed number of seconds.

Sample Beginner Fingerboard Repeater Workout


For this workout you are going to complete 1 set of 6 repetitions (or "reps") for 8 grip types. A rep is a 10 second dead hang followed by 5 seconds of rest. You should keep your hands on the board while resting between reps.

After completing each set, rest for 3 minutes between each grip type. Overall workout should take around 36 minutes to complete.

Number Grip Set Reps Resistance
1 Warm-up Jug 1 6 Baseline
2 I/M/R Large Edge 1 6 Baseline
3 Medium Edge 1 6 Baseline
4 I/M Large 2 Finger Pocket 1 6 Baseline
5 Sloper 1 6 Baseline
6 M/R Large 2 Finger Pocket 1 6 Baseline
7 Large Edge 1 6 Baseline
8 M/R/P Large Edge 1 6 Baseline
I = Index Finger, M = Middle Finger, R = Ring Finger, P = Pinky

The goal of this workout is to complete each rep with perfect form. In order to accomplish this you will most likely need to use a fingerboard pulley system to remove weight from your body or if you are advanced, hang weight plates from your harness to add weight to your body. The objective is to use just the right amount of weight so that you're struggling to complete the last rep for each grip type. This weight is referred to as your baseline resistance for this specific workout. Different grip types are going to have different baselines since obviously certain grips will be stronger then others.

Building a full strength training phase is beyond the scope of this post. I just wanted to give you a snap shot of what a single workout in a smaller micro-cycle would look like. That said, for a climber new to the fingerboard, repeating a cycle of the above workout 2x a week for 4 weeks with at least a week or two break from fingerboarding between cycles is a good start.

Quick Notes on Fingerboard Repeaters and the Beginner Fingerboard Repeater Workout


-Fingerboard repeaters are an extremely effective tool for building raw finger strength, but they put tremendous stress on your fingers, elbows and shoulders. If you have never "seriously" trained on a fingerboard in this fashion, even if you are an advanced climber, err on the side of using less weight in beginning so your body can adapt to the higher stress. Moreover, always focus on performing each rep with perfect form... even at your limit!

-Again, because of the stress placed on your fingers, elbows and shoulders during a fingerboard repeater workout it is recommended you take at least 2 days of rest between workouts. Should you climb during those 2 days, only engage in light easy climbing. This will give you time to recover between workouts and avoid stress/overuse injuries.

-Don't be a hero... thoroughly warm up and stick with an open hand grip when training fingerboard repeaters. Unless you are an advanced climber with years of hardcore fingerboard training under your belt, do not use a full crimp grip when performing fingerboard repeaters. It is the absolute fastest way to get a finger injury... guaranteed.

-As you get more advanced, when choosing grip types it is important to think about what exactly you are training for. If your goal route is a jug haul in the Red, then train the larger grips/pinches with a lot of added weight. If you are training for a delicate face where you are inching up dime edges in Devil's Lake, focus on strengthening the smaller grips. Make your training make sense in the larger context of your goals.


A page out of my training log.

-Given different grips will have different baseline weights it is very important that you keep an accurate record of them. This way you can use them as a benchmark and track your progress as you build fingerboard training into your overall climbing routine. Also, add new grips slowly each cycle, you do not want to be using completely different grips cycle to cycle because you will not be able to track your progression over a longer time period.

-It is unlikely that you are going to walk into the gym on your first day of fingerboard repeater training and know your baseline. As frustrating and annoying as it is... establishing your baseline is going to take some trial and error.

A strategy that worked well for me when I started out was to find a weight I was initially comfortable with and perform a set. If I could complete it and it felt easy, I would add 5 lbs next workout. If it it was too difficult and I could not complete it, I would remove 5 more lbs next workout.

After 3 or 4 workouts, I was able to establish my baseline for each grip. Then by the 6th or 7th workout as I became stronger, I would add 5 lbs each time I was able to finish as set and it felt easy. I repeated this process for every grip that I trained.

-Finally, a fingerboard repeater workout is more akin to limit bouldering. It needs to be performed at super high intensity, the "stoke-meter" needs to be on full blast, and if you are not sweating, grunting, or feel like your forearms are on fire by the last rep, then you are not doing it correctly.

--Chris Casciola, Guest Blogger and Author of SeekingExposure. For more tips on training for climbing make sure to check out his blog and follow SeekingExposure on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Weekend Warrior - Videos to get you STOKED!!!

"Social Media" has become quite a part of modern culture.  From blogs and Facebook, the latest and greatest apps, we are becoming more and more aware of what others around us are doing.  KT Miller and Beau Fredlund explore how social media plays a role in their ski mountaineering throughout the Tetons.


The Social Media Factor // Episode 2 // Backyard Roots from beau fredlund on Vimeo.

On a warm summer evening, Mauro Calibani made a clean solo ascent of a clean and beautiful line at the sea cliffs of Capo Noli, near Finale Ligure, Italy.  The climb was not truly a deep-water solo since the water is so shallow there, and the route was free from bolts, a purposeful choice made by locals to maintain the beauty of the rock.


AQUASOLO from E9 urban & climbing on Vimeo.

Back before Thanksgiving this last fall, I showed a trailer for Lucas Debari's new film, "Mica to Greenland."  Just those few minutes were impressive and conveyed the drive Lucas had to chase after a little bit of inspiration.  Here now is the full film for you to enjoy!



Have a great weekend! - James


Friday, January 23, 2015

How to Build a Freestanding Fingerboard Mount

Fingerboarding is one of the best ways to consistently build finger strength for climbing. That said, it is almost a prerequisite that every serious climber have easy access to a fingerboard, preferably in the comfort of their own home. The crux is finding a way to mount the fingerboard without damaging or leaving unsightly holes in your wall... this is where building a freestanding fingerboard mount comes into play!

The objective of this post is to build a simple, inexpensive, and strong freestanding fingerboard mount using everyday tools and materials that you may already have laying around your garage or shed.

Material List for Building a Freestanding Fingerboard Mount


Tape measure

A box of 3" decking screws

Drill

Circular saw or hand saw

Two 6' 1"x6" strips of wood

Two 8' 2"x4" strips of wood

Two 4' 2"x4" strips of wood

One 3' 2"x4" strip of wood

Two small 5" 2"x4" blocks of wood

Two 3' 1"x6" strips of wood or a 1'x3' sheet of .75" plywood

Two eyebolts and quick links (optional)

One fingerboard

How to Build a Freestanding Fingerboard Mount



Step 1: Measure and mark all your materials to the proper lengths.



Step 2: Make all the necessary cuts.



Step 3: Start by screwing the 8' 2"x4"s to the middle of the 6' 1"x6". I used 4 screws... do this for both sides. Note to make sure the 2"x4"s are perfectly perpendicular and flush with the 1"x6"s.



Step 4: Once you have the sides built, attach them together by screwing the 3' 2"x4" into both 1"x6"s behind the upright 2"x4". Put 2 screws through the 1"x6" into the end of the 3' 2"x4" and 2 screws through the 3' 2"x4" into the upright 8' 2"x4"s.



If you completed the previous steps correctly, this is what you should have so far... make sure to check the mount rests perfectly flat on the floor during this stage so you can make any adjustments if necessary.



Step 5: Lay the top of your mount down on an elevated surface so that you can easily screw into it. Now attach your two lengths of 3' 1"x6"s, directly on top of each other, flush with the 8' 2"x4"s using at least 4 screws (see notes for plywood). Finally attach the fingerboard to the two 1"x6"s using the mounting instructions that included with the fingerboard.



Step 6: Attach the two 4' 2"x4" support braces on a 45 degree angle to the ground on both sides. Just as a rough estimate they should touch the floor around 3' from the vertical 2"x4"s. Use the two small blocks to fill in the space between the braces and the 1"x6"s. Put at least 2 screws through the 1"x6" into the block and at least 2 screws through the brace into the block from the other side. Also, use 2 screws to attach the braces to the vertical 2"x4"s.



Step 7 (optional): Screw your two eyebolts directly into the bottom of your 1"x6", attach the quick links, and you are all ready to go!

Using your Freestanding Fingerboard Mount

Step 7 is optional based on how you plan on using your fingerboard mount. That said, given fingerboard repeaters are arguably the most effective training tool for building finger strength, I personally feel a fingerboard pulley system is absolutely necessary. For more information on fingerboard repeaters and the fingerboard pulley system, make sure to check out the posts on Fingerboard Repeaters - Training for Climbing and the Fingerboard Pulley System.

Also, I am using a basic Metolius Project Board in this setup, but I encourage you to get creative. Try mounting different pinch grips or a small "kick board" to train different grip types, almost like a mini system board. As long as the exercise type is static in nature (see notes), the sky is the limit... so get after it!

Quick Notes on Building your Freestanding Fingerboard Mount

-I chose the type and dimensions of wood based on whatever I just had laying around in my garage. That said, you can easily adapt the instructions to cater to whatever type of lumber is easily accessible to you. With that in mind, try to keep your vertical supports and braces at least 2"x4" in order to withstand the forces generated from fingerboarding.

-If you do choose to install a fingerboard pulley system and need to offset more then 25-30 lbs or if you end up using a single sheet of plywood, you may have to modify this design to include another 2"x4" length of wood running between the two vertical 2"x4"s behind and flush with the bottom of the lowest 1"x6" in the picture. This will give you a much stronger mounting surface to screw in your eyebolts and hang the pulley system.

-Again, the goal was to build a simple, inexpensive and strong freestanding fingerboard mount using everyday tools. As such, this is not the most elegant freestanding fingerboard mount design I have seen, but it meets and exceeds all those criteria. Keep it simple, safe and functional...

-A little bit of "wobble" during use is normal, but use common sense... This design was meant for holding STATIC weight and not supporting dynamic movements. Always check to make sure that your mount is in good condition and that there is nothing loose or cracked before each use. You are responsible for your own safety.

--Chris Casciola, Guest Blogger and Author of SeekingExposure. For more tips on building DIY training tools and training for climbing make sure to check out his blog and follow SeekingExposure on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 1/22/15

Northwest:

--An expert 19-year-old skier from The Dalles, Oregon, is out of a coma and improving after a New Year’s Eve skiing accident on Mount Hood. The Oregonian reports that Maya Barnard-Davidson has improved to serious condition at OHSU Hospital in Portland. She was rushed there by helicopter ambulance after suffering a serious brain injury. The newspaper says she was in a coma for several days, but was moved from the hospital’s intensive-care unit after reawakening and showing progress. To read more, click here.

They sure do look alike.

--The Mountaineers will be hosting Reinhold Messner on February 2nd at the Mountaineers Headquarters in Seattle. To read more, click here.

--Evergreen College in Olympia is hosting prolific climber, Fred Becky on February 11th for a lecture. To learn more, click here.

--A new bill has been introduced in the Washington legislature that would allow spouses to pool volunteer hours in state parks to get a free Washington State Parks Discover Pass. To read more, click here.

Sierra:

--AAI Guide and Director of Operations Jason Martin was quoted by CNN concerning the recent ascent of the Dawn Wall. To see the article,  click here.

Desert Southwest:

--A California man died at Arizona Snowbowl Sunday afternoon while skiing. The man appears to have died from a possible medical condition, but the cause is under investigation currently, said Gerry Blair, spokesman for the Coconino County Sheriff's Office. To read more, click here.

--Registration for this year's Red Rock Rendezvous is now open. Rendezvous will take place in Red Rock from March 27-29. To learn more, click here.

--We've always felt that the giant swings that people were doing from arches in Moab seemed sketchy. Now the BLM feels the same and these have been banned. To read more, click here.

--It looks like a beautiful new 11-pitch line recently went up in Red Rock Canyon. Bromancing the Stone is 5.10d and was put up by Chris Weidner and Jon Glassberg. To read more, click here.

-- For those heading to the Phoenix area for the Super Bowl who are worried they won't have time to see one of the natural wonders of the world, you're in luck. A 30-foot replica climbing wall of the Grand Canyon is being erected in downtown Phoenix. To read more, click here.


--Joshua Tree National Park had a banner year this year, serving nearly 1.6 million people. That's up from 1.4 million one year ago. And the Park use is having a positive economic ripple effect on local businesses. To read more, click here.

--A semitruck got stuck in a historic Zion National Park tunnel Monday, according to park officials. The semitruck became wedged approximately 600 feet from the west exit of the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel while it was traveling west at about 11:45 p.m., according to Zion National Park. Park officials said potential structural damage done to the tunnel is currently being examined. To read more, click here.

Colorado:

--Here's an interesting article about the nuances of the fatality of a ski patroller and the legal fallout in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. This is the best line from the article: "So, yes, if this were a game, Sutton (the father of the fallen patroller) might have won. But it’s not. It’s a tragedy. It’s the owner of a small ski area trying to grapple with the fallout of a fatality on his watch. It’s a grieving father trying to find a shred of relief, some closure and perhaps a bit of justice."

--This is a scary, but educational video of a skier with a GoPro triggering an avalanche near Telluride. The skier stays on top, but it's still quite frightening.

Notes from All Over:

--Famed mountaineer Robert Craig died this week at the age of 90. Craig was well known for his exploits in the Himalaya and authored and co-authored the classic mountaineering tales, Storm and Sorrow in the Pamirs and K2: Savage Mountain. To read more, click here.

--An Oregon man who died in a fall last weekend, during an ascent in Alaska's Chugach Mountains near Eagle River, is being remembered by his friends as a mountaineer who loved to climb.
An AST dispatch posted late Sunday said troopers were informed just before 2 p.m. Sunday that 24-year-old Dasan Marshall of Portland, Ore. fell while climbing Mount Yukla, roughly 5.5 miles from the Eagle River Nature Center. To read more, click here.

--A Montana State University student is lucky to be alive after a backcountry ski adventure went wrong. Search and rescue were dispatched to Saddle Peak in Bozeman on Saturday just before 1 p.m. The 19-year-old student was stranded on the cliffs and in danger of falling 200 feet. To read more, click here.

A nine-year old hanging from a chairlift in Pennsylvania. 
Image from ABC News.

--There sure are a lot of people falling out of chair lifts this year. It seems like common sense that little kids should be responsible adults that take care of them on the lift, but there's been several injuries of kids this year and one adult fatality. On Saturday, video was taken of a kid falling from a chairlift at a Pennsylvania ski resort. The ABC News report is quite interesting. To see the report and to read more, click here.

--An afternoon of cross-country skiing near MacDonald Pass west of Helena turned into a search and rescue call on Sunday evening. Snowmobilers and snow-shoers from Lewis & Clark Search and Rescue were dispatched to MacDonald Pass where a skier with a broken pair of skis had become disoriented and called 911. The skier - a 24-year old man from Helena - was found at 8:47 p.m. on Sunday by the snow-shoe team. To read more, click here.

--We tend to focus on big peaks around here. But not every peak is big, and CNN noticed that with an article about "high pointers." To read the article, click here.

--A pair of high profile musicians -- cellist Ben Solle and singer-songwriter Jason Tyler Burton -- lent their starpower to a benefit concert for the Red River Gorge Climbers' Coalition. To read more, click here.

--Here's a nice piece about the impacts and implications of drytooling.

--And here's a nice piece on poor etiquette in backcountry skiing.

--Are anti-mosquito phone apps worth anything? Probably not.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Red Rock Rendezvous - March 27-29, 2015

The American Alpine Institute will be a primary sponsor of the 12th Annual Red Rock Rendezvous in Red Rock Canyon just outside of Las Vegas. This will be the seventh time that our guides will be involved, teaching clinics and partying alongside everyone else at the event.

This year our guides will be running multi-pitch climbing trips throughout the event and beginner climbing days on the 27th. They will also be teaching a variety of programs on the proceeding days.

If you have never attended a Red Rock Rendezvous before, you are missing out. This is considered by many to be the best climbing event of the year. Everybody meets in the desert for three days of climbing instruction, clinics, food, and fun. It's a great place to rub elbows with the biggest names in climbing. But it is also a great place to just sit back and soak up climbing culture. Following is a video that was made at the event:



Every year the event just gets better and I have to say that last year's was the most fun so far. Here is a blog with a number of photos and videos from the 2014 Red Rock Rendezvous.

Major climbing athletes make their way out to the Mojave Desert for the Rendezvous every year. Big names at the event include the likes of Beth Rodden, Peter Croft, Katie Brown, and Andreas Marin. But some of our best guides will also be on hand. These include people like Mike Powers, Richard Riquelme, Alasdair Turner, Ian McEleney, Paul Rosser, Ben Traxler, Mike Pond, Andrew Yasso, Chad Cochran, Dustin Byrne, Ben Gardner, Tad McCrea, Doug Foust, Quino Gonzalez, Britt Ruegger, Kai Girard, Jeremy Devine, Shelby Carpenter, Jared Drapala, and Andy Stephen.

AAI Guides at Red Rock Rendezvous

Before and after the event, AAI has a number of courses running. Check them out below:

March 23-March 26 - Outdoor Rock Climbing - Intensive Introduction
March 23-March 26 - Big Wall and Aid Climbing
March 23-March 26 - Learn to Lead
March 23-March 25 -AMGA Single Pitch Instructor
March 27-March 29 - Red Rock Rendezvous
April 1-April 2 - Single Pitch Instructor Exam

In addition to all of the courses going on around Red Rock Rendezvous, don't forget that AAI will have all of our best guides available for private guiding and instruction in Red Rock Canyon. To learn more, send us an email at info@alpineinstitute.com or give us a call at 360-671-1505.

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, January 19, 2015

Film Review: Frozen

A couple of winters ago, something absolutely terrifying happened at a European ski resort. A German tourist in the Austrian Alps was "forgotten" on a ski lift. He went up for one last run before they were going to close down for the day...and before he got to the top of the hill, they actually did close for the day, leaving the man stranded.

The 22 year-old skier, who had left his cell phone behind, was stuck for nearly five hours in temperatures reaching 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The young man was finally rescued when a snowcat driver caught sight of him burning money in order to keep warm.


This real-life event was fortuitous for the makers of last winter's chill-thrill film, Frozen. The plot of the low-budget flick is almost exactly the same. Three friends get stuck high on a ski lift on a Sunday night after a New England resort closes for the week. Parker (Emma Bell), Joe (Shawn Ashmore) and Dan (Kevin Zegers) are left to try to find a way to get down or face the prospect that they will freeze to death.

This could have been a good movie. It really could have been.

That is, if someone had spent any time outdoors at all. That is, if someone had researched frostbite and cold weather injuries. And that is, if they weren't trying to make a horror movie and instead were just trying to make a tight and engaging story.

The characters in this movie had a hard time thinking about how to stay warm. Joe, the lone skier in the group, never puts up his hood, no matter how cold it gets. Parker looses a glove early in the movie and then decides that it's a good idea to go to sleep on the ski lift with her hand wrapped tightly around the metal safety bar.

These are things that just wouldn't happen in real life. It's really hard to suspend disbelief when it's clear that the actors aren't really cold and have never really been cold. Nobody ever really shivers in the entire movie and the film-makers are far more interested in getting some gore out of the cold weather injuries than some reality.

The biggest problem of all with this film is that this is exactly the type of movie a low-budget production company could do very well. It is a tight and simplistic storyline that, when character driven, could be a tremendously engaging story. The problem here is that the characters are paper thin. They have nice back-stories, but they are just such dumb people, it's hard to really be engaged by them instead of by their situation. This is definitely one of those movies where you spend a lot of time yelling, "no! No! No! Don't do that!" And then you sigh and say, "that was a really stupid thing to do..."


All that said, this movie has one major thing working for it. It's the same thing that works in movies like, Open Water where a pair of scuba divers are left at sea by their tour boat, or in The Blair Witch Project, where a group of documentary film-makers become lost in a haunted forest...it's the what-would-I-do-if-I-were-in-this-situation factor. And Frozen is flush with what-would-I-do situations. The likelihood -- if you read this blog regularly -- is that you probably wouldn't do the same things that these not-very-outdoor savvy individuals did.

I suspect that most of you would zip up your jacket and put up up your hood in the cold. I suspect that most of you would not lose your gloves. And if you did lose your gloves, I bet that you would keep your hands in your pockets. Indeed, most of you would probably have cell phones and the problem would be solved without any real drama.

The characters in this movie are not bright and sometimes you do get angry at their choices. But that element, combined with the what-would-I-do element, keeps Frozen from being all bad...and in fact even makes it mildly -- and I stress mildly -- entertaining.

--Jason D. Martin