Thursday, December 5, 2019

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 12/5/19


--The Seattle Times is reporting on a lawsuit against The Mountaineers: The former Mountaineers Foundation is suing the original Mountaineers over who gets to use the name “The Mountaineers” in a court case that could be hard to follow for anyone not familiar with the legacy of The Mountaineers. mThe lawsuit outlines a rift between the two outdoors education and conservation-oriented organizations and marks the end of a long partnership. Seattle-based The Mountaineers was founded in 1906 by 151 outdoors enthusiasts who wanted to explore the Pacific Northwest’s wild places." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--Craig Press is reporting that, "Steamboat Springs resident Tom Steinberg was skiing on the northeast slope of Walton Peak on Rabbit Ears Pass when an avalanche, triggered remotely from his ski track, collapsed a layer of snow. No one was injured, but Steinberg reported the incident to the Avalanche Information Center." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Jon Waterman wrote an excellent piece on our struggling National Parks for the New York Times: "I also discovered was an operation in deep trouble, with some parks degraded by ruinous overcrowding; invasions of nonnative plants and animals that are upending delicate ecological balances; and a warming climate that is melting glaciers and withering away the rare yuccas that give their name to Joshua Tree National Park. Adding to these woes, the system is badly underfunded and suffering from neglect. This is not a new problem, but it is getting worse, with deferred maintenance that mostly predates the Trump administration now topping $11 billion. But President Trump isn’t helping. He wants to cut the National Park Service’s budget by $481 million next year and is reportedly considering privatizing campgrounds and commercializing the parks in ways that contradict the agency’s goal of harmonizing with nature." To read more, click here.

--The French Guide school is world renowned. Outside has produced an excellent article on the tests used to assess those who wish to attend the school. To read about it, click here.

--China is building ski resorts at a record pace...!

--Many ski resorts and ski towns go out-of-their-way to be welcoming to LGBTQ+ folks. Outside has published a list of resorts, passes and events. To read about it, click here.

--Netflix has put out an open casting call for someone to play Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa who first made the summit of Mt. Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary. To read more, click here.

--Two more Americans have qualified for the Olympic Climbing Team. Nathanial Coleman and Kyra Condie have been offered Olympic berths. The American women's quota is now full, which means that popular well-known climbers like Ashima Shiraishi and Margo Hayes are unlikely to make the Olympics. To read more, click here.

--Climbing is reporting that, "Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition (WMCC), Ragged Mountain Foundation (RMF), and Access Fund are pleased to announce the acquisition of Hanging Mountain, a new climbing area in Sandisfield, Massachusetts. Situated on 14 acres, Hanging Mountain may be the biggest find in Northeastern climbing in decades. Once fully established, this hidden gem will provide climbers with approximately 150 - 200 traditional and sport routes, some up to two pitches." To read more, click here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Black Art of Headpointing

Headpointing is the process of toproping a route into submission prior to leading. This can be an excellent technique for a beginning level leader that is worried about taking a fall. However, it is far more often used by high end climbers that wish to ascend something that is incredibly run-out.

In Great Britain, there is an entire culture of climbing on gritstone, a compact stone with few cracks and an ethic that doesn't allow for bolting. This is where headpointing was first developed as a technique to "safely" climb hard and exposed lines. But, just because you rehearsed the route over and over again, that doesn't mean that you won't fall and hit the deck. As Neil Gresham says, "unless the will to do the route surpasses all, you shouldn't be there..." Headpointing is just one tool, but if it doesn't work out, the consequences could be severe.

In this video, Neil talks about "the black art of headpointing" while demonstrating his use of it on a dangerous 5.12+ gritstone climb. This is definitely one of those climbing videos where your hands are going to sweat...

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Best Mountain Rescue Film Ever Made

So, this is awesome. Enjoy...!

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, November 29, 2019

How to Belay with a Munter-Hitch

Outdoor Research and the American Mountain Guides have produced quite a few excellent videos. If you haven't checked them out yet, log onto youtube and go to the AMGA Tutorials page.

The following video -- featuring Elaina Arenz, AMGA Certified Rock Guide and occasional AAI Guide -- demonstrates several iterations of how one might use a munter-hitch to belay. The video covers belaying with a munter-hitch, tying off a munter-hitch and lowering with a munter-hitch.

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 11/28/19

Happy Turkey Day!


--The glaciers of Mt. Rainier are under serious threat. The REI blog has published a piece on this: "'From 1913 to 1994, for example, Rainier lost 25 percent of all its ice. And since 2003, they’ve lost an additional about 20 percent. So it’s accelerated.' This is part of a larger trend across the globe, with glaciers shrinking faster than before—and faster than previously thought—from the peaks of the Himalaya to ice sheets that terminate in the ocean, like in Alaska’s tidewater glaciers." To read more, click here. Another story about this topic appeared in the Seattle Times.

--Here's another take on the handover of a popular climbing area to the Squamish Nation...


--Elite climber Emily Harrington took a big fall on El Cap this week. She was simul-climbing with Alex Honnold when the incident took place on Freeblast (5.11, 10 pitches). See the Instagram post below, and read a comprehensive account, here.

--Bicycle Retailer is reporting that, "A group of trail and forest advocates filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service for allowing Class 1 e-bikes on non-motorized trails in the Tahoe National Forest without first conducting a public study." To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--Here's an update on the helicopter that crashed in Red Rock Canyon on October 23rd. The crash resulted in two fatalities.

Colorado and Utah:

--The Hill is reporting that, "A new internal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website designed to answer employees’ questions about the agency’s upcoming relocation out West says staffers should expect a drop in their overall pay. The information was included in an internal page available to staff seen by The Hill that contained questions and answers about the controversial plan to move most D.C.-based BLM employees and establish a new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado." It is believed that this process of moving the BLM headquarters is an attempt to gut the agency. To read more, click here.

--Apparently Eldora Ski Area was a zoo this week.

--Alta is now closed to uphill traffic.

Notes from All Over:

--In late breaking news last night, Rock and Ice and many other publications are reporting that, "Brad Gobright, one of the most accomplished free solo climbers in the world, died today, Wednesday, November 27, in an accident in El Potrero Chico, Mexico. He was 31, and raised in Orange County, CA." This appears to be a rappelling accident. To read more, click here.

--Outside magazine and many other outlets are reporting that, Jake Burton Carpenter, the founder of Burton Snowboards and one of the pioneers of the sport of snowboarding, died Wednesday night. Carpenter had announced early in the month that he was battling cancer for a second time. He was 65 and leaves behind his wife Donna and three sons, Timi, George, and Taylor." To read more, click here.

--A 21-year-old college student was killed in a rappelling accident in Louisiana this week. To read more, click here.

--The Hill is reporting that, "A key Senate panel has voted to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a move that conservation groups see as a significant victory." To read more, click here.

--Rock and Ice is reporting that, "Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition (WMCC), Ragged Mountain Foundation (RMF), and Access Fund are pleased to announce the acquisition of Hanging Mountain, a new climbing area in Sandisfield, Massachusetts. Situated on 14 acres, Hanging Mountain may be the biggest find in Northeastern climbing in decades. Once fully established, this hidden gem will provide climbers with approximately 150 – 200 traditional and sport routes, some up to two pitches." To read more, click here.

--USA Today is reporting that, "The Trump administration has ordered rangers from national parks around the country to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border to fight illegal immigration and drug traffickers. It's an effort that comes as the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives has refused to fund President Donald Trump's border security plan, which calls for more barriers and beefed-up law enforcement along the border." To read more, click here.

--Jackson Hole has put together an awesome video on the life of their women ski patrollers. Check it out:

--The new Call of the Wild movie is a little heavy on CGI, but also looks like a great outdoor adventure movie. Check out the trailer, below:

--Speaking of CGI heavy films, there's also this thing from China that I posted a trailer from below. The Climbers is a film about climbers on a super CGI-looking mountain that appear to have some Vertical Limit-style problems :

--It sounds like there have been some serious problems with the Olympic qualification process. Many of  these problems appear to stem from the fact that Japan, as the country sponsoring the games, is responsible for a large part of the qualification process. It appears that Japan is reluctant to make final decisions for fear of choosing their own athletes poorly. This is a bit of an oversimplification of the problem, to really understand it, click here.

--One-hundred-and-ninety people were stranded on a Vermont Ski Resort for several hours on opening weekend. The skiers needed to be rescued. To read more, click here.

--So Big Sky Ski Resort is going to start showing triple black runs, to denote high consequence terrain. To read more, click here.

--Speaking of ski resorts, here is a list of the most visited resorts in the country.

--The Register-Herald is reporting that, "West Virginia Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., introduced legislation in September to change the federal designation of the New River Gorge National River into a New River Gorge National Park and Preserve." To read more, click here.

--And finally, is it time for a backpack tax? Hunters and fishermen pay a tax on their licensees to support public lands, but the number of hunters and fishermen is diminishing. To read more, click here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Tips and Techniques for Organizing your Climbing Rack

This video collaboration between the American Mountain Guides Association and Outdoor Research provides yet another excellent entry into their joint video catalog. In this particular video, AMGA Instructor Team Members Dale Remsberg and Olivia Race talk about some of the techniques they use to ensure that their racks are organized.

Generally, I too will rack from big to small, back to front. One difference is that I often place the Stoppers and extremely large cams on the back loops of my harness.

I started my career using a shoulder sling for all of my gear. I put all my draws on my harness. The theory was that my draws were going to be the same, no matter the route (sport or trad).

It took awhile. It seemed like everyone else changed over to racking on their harness before me. But I eventually switched too. And I find it much easier. A sling gets in the way a lot. Indeed, when you're on low angle terrain, there's always gear hanging right where you want to find hand or foot-holds...

Regardless of which way you rack, the most important thing is consistency. Everything should have a place, and it should always go back to that same place when you're done with it. This will increase your efficiency in gear placement...which is important, especially when you're run out and a bit scared...

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, November 25, 2019

Static vs. Dynamic Climbing Technique

Mani the Monkey has some great training videos on Youtube. His videos are well-produced and offer a tremendous amount of information in a short period of time.

Mani created the following video about the advantages and disadvantages of static and dynamic climbing styles. The static style of climbing is to move slowly and carefully, often locking off and carefully finding the next hold. The dynamic style is to move more fluidly with a lot more swing to the body's movement.

Many gym climbers find dynamic movement more effective. While outdoor climbers tend to lean toward static movement due to a greater fear of falling and getting hurt. The reality is that each of these movement techniques has advantages and disadvantages. Check out the following video for more!

In review, here are the pros and cons of each technique:

Static Pros:

  • Low Acceleration Effort
  • Control over the Gripping Process
Static Cons:
  • High Effort when Reaching Over
  • Slower Climbing Style
Dynamic Pros:
  • Low Effort when Reaching Over
  • Takes Little Time
Dynamic Cons:
  • Higher Effort during Acceleration
  • High Effort when Gripping the Target

Everybody leans toward one style of climbing or another. The trick to becoming a better climber is to not only understand which style you fall in, but to learn how to effectively use the style that you're less comfortable with...

--Jason D. Martin