Friday, April 19, 2019

Training: Deadhangs

The Climbing Movement Essential Training Series on Youtube is kind of awesome. The series is composed of a number of well produced videos that focus on different aspects of training for climbing.

This particular video focuses on deadhangs. A deadhang is essentially just hanging from a hold. The longer you can do a deadhang, the stronger you likely are.

In review:

  1. Select 5 hold types. And make sure that you can hang from them for 2 to 12 seconds.
  2. You will do one deadhang on each hold (each hand).
  3. There should be a 90-second rest between deadhangs.
  4. Failure should take place in 12 seconds or less. If you can hold on for longer than 12-seconds, then you should choose different holds.
  5. Keep track of your time and identify holds that are harder for you. Work on those and establish goals and benchmarks to measure your ability.
And as always, be sure to warm up before using a hangboard. Those things can be dangerous to your tendons!

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 4/18/19


--Rock and Ice is reporting that, "According to Tiroler Tageszeitung, an Austrian newspaper, professional alpinists Jess Roskelley, David Lama and Hansjörg Auer are missing in the Canadian Rockies. Search operations are ongoing. Early reports are citing an avalanche that occurred Tuesday. Rescue flights started on Wednesday, but thus far no climbers have been located. Gripped is reporting that the climbers were attempting M16 on Howse Peak." To read more, click here.

--A second article states that these climbers are presumed dead...

Climate Advocacy:

--Several sources are reporting that the Earth has lost nine trillion tons of ice over the last sixty years. Mashable puts it this way. "If one were to assume an average weight of 735,000 pounds for a 747 airliner, that comes out to around 27 billion 747s worth of ice lost over this period." To read more, click here.

--The North Face is petitioning to make Earth Day a national holiday.


--Freeskier is reporting that, "Canadian professional skier Dave Treadway died after falling into a crevasse in Pemberton, British Columbia, Canada, yesterday, April 15, 2019, according to Pique News Magazine. He was 34. There are unconfirmed reports that he fell after a snow bridge he was crossing collapsed. The Canadian skier is survived by his wife, Tessa, and two sons, Kasper and Raffi." To read more, click here.

--KIRO 7 is reporting that, " Seattle backcountry skier is in stable condition after being swept in an avalanche Sunday afternoon. Shanna Hovertsen, 29, was with a group of friends skiing near Cohchuck Lake at about 1:15 p.m. when a small avalanche caused her to tumble down a slope and twist both of her knees, Chelan County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Brian Burnett said." To read more, click here.

--Here is an excellent piece from the New York Times on shrinking glaciers in the Pacific Northwest.

A free-soloist on the new 10-pitch 5.8 in Squamish, Frontside.

--There's a new ten-pitch bolted 5.8 in Squamish! To read more, click here.

--Washington State's Highway 20 is opening today.

--Oregon Live is reporting that, "Three exceptionally large avalanches were triggered earlier this week inside gate-accessed terrain at Mt. Hood Meadows, prompting the resort to close entry to the popular Heather Canyon." To read more, click here.

--The Squamish Climbing Magazine is reporting that, "With an increase in visitors during the summer months, wild camping and van dwelling in Squamish has become a increasing issue for the city. On April 9th, Squamish City Council took action to address the camping situation and voted to draft a bylaw to regulate camping in public places including crown land within the municipal boundary." To read more, click here.

A lot of people need Bigfoot to sell stuff.

--Wild is a podcast about Bigfoot. It is insanely popular and has reignited the debate outside communities of hardcore believers as to whether the hairy beast is real. Laura Krantz, the journalist behind the podcast, has written an excellent piece on why we need Bigfoot, even if it's not real.

--Glacier Hub is currently hosting a video that shows a three-dimensional 360-degree view of Mt. Baker. Check it out.

--Several crag stewardship projects are coming up in Washington State in May and June. To see a list, click here.


--There's a new lottery system in Yosemite for Camp 4. Check it out.

--People should not interact with bears. They should be left alone. Habituating bears to people generally ends poorly for the bear. A snowboarder in Tahoe recently videotaped the following encounter with a bear cub:

--The East Bay Times is reporting, "Bowing to nature, Yosemite National Park is closing for the entire summer season its five world-renowned High Sierra Camps. Deep snow means there’s not enough time to fix a bridge or repair wastewater treatment facilities, damaged tents and other parts of the outposts’ fragile infrastructure, according to Yosemite officials." To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--KGUN 9 is reporting that, "A Pima County Sheriff's Department helicopter crew rescued a man who fell while rock climbing on Mount Lemmon Friday." To read more, click here.

--A hiker died of what appears to be natural causes this week in Joshua Tree National Park. To read more, click here.

--Those trying to develop Blue Diamond Hill across the street from Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area lost another key vote to develop the hill. To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--There was an accident in Indian Creek this week, but there is almost no information available about it. Here's a little bit.

--The Daily Herald is reporting that, "Human remains found by a climber in American Fork Canyon on Sunday may be those of Jerika Binks, a Utah County woman who has been missing for more than a year. Deputies with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office were contacted by a man who said he discovered human remains while climbing in a remote ravine in the canyon Sunday, according to a press release from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office." To read more, click here.

--2 KUTV is reporting that, "a woman who was injured at Alta Ski Resort is hoping the skier who hit her will come forward and accept responsibility for the crash. Rachel, who requested 2News not use her last name, said the crash put her in the hospital for five days. 'I consider it an assault, I don’t consider just a normal accident on the mountain,” Rachel said.'" To read more, click here.

--The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that, "Angels Landing’s sheer sandstone face in southern Utah’s Zion National Park will largely remain a rope-free zone for a while to avoid disturbing a pair of California condors that recently established a nest nearby." To read more, click here.

--Unofficial Networks is reporting that, "Arapahoe Basin, CO made news earlier this season when they announced that they would be dropping out from their 22-year-old partnership with Vail Resorts. The announcement meant that A-basin would not be included on Vail’s EPIC pass." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--KTUU is reporting that, "A 25-year-old New Mexico man died after a 500 foot fall from Goat Mountain near Eklutna Lake outside Anchorage on Wednesday." To read more, click here.

--CBS Boston is reporting that, "a skier was buried in an avalanche on Mt. Washington, which saw at least three human-triggered slides Thursday afternoon." To read more, click here.

--Grizzly bears are being tracked from space!

--Could Elizabeth Warren become our public lands president...? Outside notes that, "the Democratic candidate released her comprehensive plan for saving our national parks and public lands. It's impressive, even if it never comes to fruition."

--Alpinist is reporting that, "Four recipients have been selected for the second annual Kyle Dempster Solo Adventure Award." To read more, click here.

--Bloomberg headline: "It Was a Huge Year for the Ski Pass Locals Love to Hate. A new multi-mountain ski pass generated controversy across the West this year. Does it deserve the hate?" Check out the article, here.

--Outside is reporting, "a recent report found that 259 people died between 2011 and 2017 while stepping in front of the camera in often dangerous destinations. Our writer went deep on the psychology of selfies to figure out what's behind our obsession with capturing extreme risk-taking." To read what she found, click here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Route Profile: Dream of Wild Turkeys, 5.10a III

Dream of Wild Turkeys is an exceptional climb located on the Black Velvet Wall very near to the classic long Red Rock climb Epinephrine. I made it to Red Rock a week ago and after a couple days of sport climbing and bouldering I had the chance to get on this route with fellow AAI Guide Britt Ruegger. Britt is preparing for the AMGA Rock Instructor Course and we thought this route with 8 pitches of 5.9 or harder would be a good training ground for the course.

The beauty of this route is the sustained nature of the climbing combined with a comfortable amount of protection. Where the climbing follows cracks traditional protection is easily attainable, and when the cracks peter out bolts pop up to protect the face climbing. This casual mixed protection makes me feel warm and fuzzy and is a credit to the first ascentionists George and Joanne Urioste's dedication to putting up routes you want to repeat!

AAI Guide Britt Ruegger pulling past the first 5.10a crux on Pitch 3. 
The highlights of the route include pitch 2, a long right angling crack that eats up gear and is sustained at the 5.9 grade. Pitch 3 brings the crux and you go straight up a thin crack with small crimps on the face at 5.10a until you reach a bolted traverse to the right. This sets you up for the long fist to hand crack of pitch 4 that ends with a few tricky 5.10a bolt protected face moves to the anchors.

Britt demonstrating the delicate footwork necessary on this technical face climb.

The rest of the route continues on with endless face climbing mainly at the 5.9 grade. Ten pitches of fun sustained climbing make this a must do route!

The leader of another party climbs pitch 7.
Every belay is also a bolted rappel station, so you can go down at any point. This makes the route a great objective for folks just starting to climb longer routes that are not confident in their speed and efficiency.

Things to take into account on this route:

-Two ropes are required to rappel this route. We climbed with twin ropes but a single rope and tag line would work just fine as well. You end up going straight down with the rappels and utilize a couple anchors that are on variations to this route.

-This is a very popular route and you should get an early start if you want to be first! However, there are many great back-up routes close by if the route is taken.

-The road into the Black Velvet Canyon parking area is rough dirt and rock and requires a vehicle with a reasonable amount of clearance. Not impossible in a passenger car, just much quicker and enjoyable with a truck.

-There are many hanging belays on this route which leads some folks to nickname the route Dream of Belay Ledges! Its not that bad but worth noting in comparison to the more common comfortable Red Rock belays.

The Red Rock season is in full swing here in Vegas and I'm excited to be working with some folks next week on a Learn To Lead Course. If you're after some great desert sandstone climbing or want to improve your skills in traditional and multi-pitch terrain come visit us in Red Rock!

--Jeremy Devine, AAI Instructor and Guide

Monday, April 15, 2019

Bigfoot Sightings

With many programs based in the Pacific Northwest, we occasionally get questions about the elusive Sasquatch, or Bigfoot. The first and most common question is, "do you believe in bigfoot?"

The near universal answer amongst the guide staff is, no. Most of us don't believe that there is a big hairy apeman in the woods of the Pacific Northwest.

The second question is often, "have you ever seen Bigfoot?"

Most guides would say no to this question. But that answer would be a lie. In the Pacific Northwest Bigfoot is everywhere. And contrary to popular belief, he -- or she -- isn't that hard to photograph. Bigfoot is a part of our culture here. The beast is everywhere. You just have to open your eyes...

A Native American female Sasquatch mask.
This Native American mask is often used in ceremonies.

This image of Bigfoot is in a mural in Larabee State Park, just outside of Bellingham. 

We all knew that Bigfoot was a snowboarder. 
This piece of chainsaw art is near Index at a coffee shop on the way up to Stevens Pass Ski Area.

Bigfoot lives in a lot of small towns throughout the Pacific Northwest.
This photo was taken in Marblemount, WA.

 Bigfoot is very popular at Seatac Airport. 
I think that this blurry image is of the mythical monster at a cafe.

It also seems important that Bigfoot goes shopping.

 More Bigfoot junk at the airport.

And they even have Bigfoot t-shirts there. 

An assortment of Bigfoot magnets at a rural Washington gas station.

A Bigfoot Wanted poster at Maple Fuels in Maple Falls, Washington.

Yep. In the Pacific Northwest, we see Bigfoot all the time!

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, April 12, 2019

Natural Anchors

Okay, kids. The question for today is easy. What is a natural anchor?

The most straightforward definition is that a natural anchor is any simple anchor point that nature provides.

The class know-it-all in the front row raises her hand and asks, "but Mr. Martin, isn't a crack a natural anchor?"

A crack is a crack. We actually have to put something inside the crack before we have a piece. It is a natural spot to place an anchor, but it is not a natural anchor point. No, instead a natural anchor is anything that is already there. The most common examples of natural anchors are trees, bushes, boulders, pinches and thread-throughs.

This tree, found on the iconic Northwest route, Outer Space (III, 5.9), 
has little more than a few roots in the crack system keeping it in place.

Before you elect to use a tree as an anchor point, you should make sure that it is "Five-and-Alive." In other words, that it is at least five inches in diameter, five feet tall, has a good root-base and is alive. You should be wary of trees that could have a root-base in dirt or sand and on top of the rock. An anchor with this kind of structure could easily fail.

This photo shows a tensionless wrap with a static rope on a very large tree.

Bushes and Shrubs

In the mountains and in the desert, it is not uncommon to use bushes and shrubs that clearly don't meet the Five-and-Alive standard. These are primarily used as rappels to get down obscure gullies or to get off the backside of a peak, so the tendency is to try to avoid leaving too much gear. The tendency is to want to only leave webbing or cordage.

When you elect to use these less-than-stellar natural anchors, consider equalizing a number of them together. If you're tying your cord around a desert bush that is comprised of a number of finger-sized sticks, you'll probably want to equalize this with similar bushes. Depending on the size and density, I would want at least two of these, if not more.

And lastly, when it comes to bushes and shrubs as anchors, use common sense. Don't put your weight on something that might blow out. You could always back up the first person (usually the heavier person) on rappel with a loose gear anchor. If all goes well, the second person could tear down that anchor and then descend. If the equalized bush anchor didn't come apart during the first rappel with the heavier climber, it's reasonable to believe that it wouldn't come out with the second climber either.


Boulders can be absolutely fantastic natural anchors. But there are a few things to look at before committing to a boulder. First, make sure that it is in good contact with the ground. Boulders on sandy or sloping surfaces should be considered suspect. Second, make sure that it won't wobble or roll toward the edge. Every boulder should be checked by pushing and pulling on it to confirm it's position. And lastly, if there is any possibility of movement, don't use it. The last thing you need is a boulder falling down on top of you.

Pinches and Thread-Throughs

Pinches are places where two large boulders come together so tightly that you can wrap cordage or webbing around them. Thread-throughs are places where there is a hole in the rock that you can something through to tie-off.

It is not uncommon for people to simply miss these opportunities while trying to build an anchor. They simply aren't as intuitive for most people as the other natural anchors out there. If you can keep the fact that these exist in mind and you look for them, you'll find them.

Like boulders and trees and bushes, it's important to make sure that pinches and thread-throughs are sturdy enough to handle the stress of being an anchor. This is particularly important in sandstone or in other soft and friable rock-types.

Natural Chockstones

In the following video, the Canadian Mountain Guide, Mike Barter demonstrates a quick and dirty improvised anchor.

Ultimately, the great value to natural anchors is that they don't require much gear. And since they don't require much, you'll have plenty to use on your next lead.

Class dismissed. Now go build some natural anchors!

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 4/11/19


--The National Parks Traveler is reporting that, "At North Cascades National Park in Washington, the Diablo Lake Overlook will close to all visitors and traffic May 20-22 while crews transport toilet-related materials via helicopter to campsites along Ross Lake." To read more, click here.

--People keep freaking out and thinking that steam from the crater on Mt. Baker means it's going to erupt. To read more, click here.


--There was a rescue on Mt. Russell this week. It appears that a party got off route on the descent and became stranded. To read more, click here and here.

--The California Sunday Magazine is reporting that, "For the past 148 years, Yosemite’s Lyell Glacier has taught us about the Earth — how it was created, where it was going, and now, how it might end." To read more, click here.

--There's a cell tower being built right in the middle of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. To read about it, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--There are trailhead break-ins all the time, but they don't always get reported online. Here's one in Joshua Tree.

--Musician Miley Cyrus came under fire for posting a picture of herself in a Joshua Tree. The photo may have been taken in Joshua Tree National Park, but also may have been taken closer to Palm Springs. To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--A fallen climber required a technical rescue from Colorado's Clear Creek Canyon on Friday. To read more, click here.

--A second climber was injured at Colorado's Urban Alpine Crag. To read more, click here.

--Will a ski resort without lifts work? Some entrepreneurs near Aspen want to find out. To read more, click here.

--The following video is terrifying. A couple of guys skied the Notch Couloir on Longs Peak. Our hands sweat through the whole video.

--The Washington Post has an excellent article out entitled, What Remains of Bears Ears. To read the piece, click here.

--Vail resorts just keeps buying stuff.

Notes from All Over:

--Gripped is reporting that, "a bolt ripped out of the rock on the nine-pitch of the classic Rockies mixed route Rocket Man this week. It’s not the first time that a bolt has ripped out of a climb in the Canadian Rockies and it won’t be the last." To read more, click here.

--For a long time we put all our human waste into the glaciers of Denali. Now those glaciers are melting and it could become a problem. To read more, click here.

--Do wheelchairs belong on hiking trails...?

--So I'm not really a fan of the "I'm going to the the youngest person to..." competition. But it is still newsworthy. There's a 12-year-old out there vying to be the youngest person to climb the highest point in each state. The last one on his list is Denali, which is no doubt the hardest...and a massive challenge for someone that age. To read more, click here.

--The Access Fund is reporting that, "Access Fund is pleased to announce that it has awarded $30,635 in the first round of the 2019 Climbing Conservation Grant Program. These grants fund local climbing advocacy work across the country, including trail work, climbing area restoration, human waste management, research studies, climbing area acquisitions, grassroots organizing, and much more." To read more, click here.

--In more Access Fund news, the Access Fund has just awarded 13 companies, individuals and coalitions with their advocacy award. To read more, click here.

--There is an awesome Instagram page out there that's shaming social influencers about the way that they negatively interact with our public lands. Check out the account, here. Check out an article about those running the account, here.

--And finally, Rock and Ice found all the best climber April Fools jokes and put them together. Check it out, here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

How to Choose a Pair of Rock Climbing Shoes

Bryan from Oregon Outside has put together a great tutorial on rock shoes. In the following video he quickly goes through a number of different considerations that you might have when choosing a rock shoe.

Check it out below:

--Jason D. Martin