Thursday, August 22, 2019

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad -

Northwest:

--Gripped is reporting that, "Chilliwack Search and Rescue members rescued two climbers from Mount Slesse on Monday afternoon. The climbers were on or near the classic Northeast Buttress when one of the climbers took a fall." To read more, click here.
--There was an accident on Monday in Squamish. Here's a snippet from the Squamish Climber's Facebook Group:
The incident today was a group of three experienced climbers on milk road.
The leader took approximately a 3m fall and caught his foot on a ledge, injuring his ankle. All members of the party were highly trained in first aid and self rescue, so while activating SAR they were also able to assess and stabilize the injury and being to self rescue themselves.
SAR made contact with them via phone while they were in the process of lowering themselves to the ground; and was able to coordinate to meet them at the base of the Climb to assist with a stretcher carry back to the parking lot.
Approximately 20 member from SAR, BCAS, and Squamish fire worked together to carry the patient back to the ambulance.
Today was an excellent example of an experienced and skilled group having some bad luck and working to help themselves while at the same time reaching out for assistance.
Thank you to everyone involved.
--News Channel 21 is reporting that, "A California man who fell while climbing Friday afternoon at Smith Rock State Park, prompting a two-hour rescue effort, was discharged Saturday from St. Charles Bend after being admitted overnight, a house supervisor said." To read more, click here.

--This is a depressing article about how scientists are chronicling the disappearance of the Columbia Glacier near Monte Cristo. The Columbia is the lowest glacier in the Cascades and sits between 4,700 and 5,600-feet.

--Alpinist is reporting that, "The Scottish alpinist Simon Richardson and Canadian alpinist Ian Welsted recently made what is likely the first complete ascent of the West Ridge of Mt. Waddington in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, and possibly the first traverse of the mountain (from Fury Gap to Rainy Knob) as well." To read more, click here.

Sierra:

--Here are a couple of fire updates for the Eastern Sierra.

Colorado and Utah:

--The Denver Post is reporting that, "Possible skeletal remains found during a search for a 55-year-old man in Eagle County could be those of a missing Chinese tourist, authorities said. Search and rescue team members began efforts to locate 55-year-old Yunlong Chen who was reported missing March 7, according to the town of Vail. Chen was last seen Feb. 28 in the area of the Vail Transportation Center during a ski trip and was supposed to fly back to China but did not arrive." To read more, click here.

--The Daily Camera is reporting that, "A man in his 20s was rescued Wednesday after falling 20 feet in Eldorado Canyon State Park in Boulder County. At 3:25 p.m. the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call that a climber had fallen in the Yellow Spur route in an area called the Red Garden Wall. The climber suffered serious, but non-life threatening injuries as a result of the fall, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office." To read more, click here.

--The Aspen Times is reporting that, "With the popularity of the Ikon Pass that was launched last year, Aspen Skiing Co. will make adjustments to deal with the masses this upcoming season. In an annual update to Aspen City Council on Monday, Mike Kaplan, Skico’s president and CEO, spoke about specifics of last season’s surge of Ikon Pass holders at Aspen-Snowmass resorts." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--The Jacksonhole News and Guide is reporting that, "The body of a man who died in a climbing accident in the Wind River Mountains has been recovered. Zijah Kurtovic, 63, of Evanston, Ill., died at about 12:30 p.m. Aug. 10 of 'massive blunt-force trauma from a fall from extreme height,' Fremont County Coroner Mark Stratmoen said Friday." To read more, click here.

--NBC News is reporting on a wolf attack in Banff. "A New Jersey woman said her family's camping trip in Canada turned into a scene "out of a horror movie" when a wolf ripped apart their tent as they slept and tried to drag her husband away — before a man at a nearby campsite heard their screams for help and came to their rescue." To read more, click here.

--Rock and Ice is reporting that, "On August 14, Nepali officials proposed a new, stricter set of guidelines for mountaineers seeking permits to climb Mount Everest. The proposal comes in the wake of an unusually deadly season on the mountain. Media coverage has drawn public attention to overcrowding at the summit, as well as to the large amounts of trash that have gathered on the slope and to the continued presence of the bodies of deceased climbers." To read more, click here.

--There is a new fourteen-pitch bolted 5.7 (mostly 5.4-5.6) in Banff. To read about it, click here.

--NBC News is reporting that, "Brooke Raboutou, 18, became the first American to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in sport climbing by reaching Tuesday’s combined final at the world championships in Hachioji, Japan, USA Climbing confirmed." To read more, click here.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Route Profile: Ecuador's Cayambe

Found forty-miles northeast of Quito, Cayambe stands at 18,997 feet and is Ecuador's third highest peak. The views from the mountain are stunning as it looks out over Reventador ("The Exploder", one of South America's most consistently active volcanoes) and over the Amazon Basin. Cayambe's glaciers are large, complex and among the most active of all equatorial ice flows, and the varied glacial terrain provides an excellent training ground and a rewarding summit climb. At 15,387 ft on the mountain's south slope is the highest point in the world crossed by the Equator and the only point on the Equator with snow cover.

And while our Ecuador programs make their way up the slopes of Cayambe before any other mountain, I personally find it to be the most fun climb of the trip. The mountain is mostly gentle, but toward the top you do have to navigate through some seracs and crevasses. The climb finishes by making its way up a fifty-degree pitch to the summit.

Cayambe is only a few hours drive from Quito.

Cayambe from one of the many surrounding valleys.

The Cayambe Hut above a serac field. We train for the climb on the field down below the hut.

An AAI Team checks out the mountain shortly after arriving at the hut.

The view the night before a summit ascent.

The final pitch to the summit.

The author on the summit of Cayambe.

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, August 19, 2019

Outhouse Etiquette

We spend a lot of time on this blog talking about different techniques for climbing. We talk about mountain ethics, land management advocacy and Leave No Trace. Indeed, we have several leave no trace articles in the blog, including one about how to deal with human waste in the backcountry...

But what about the front-country?

What about the outhouse?


Many of us car camp at front-country campgrounds. Some of us spend a significant amount of time these campgrounds. In most cases, the campground hosts work very hard to keep the outhouses clean, but they are public toilets and with public toilets come people who have toilet issues...

There is nothing worse than walking into an outhouse to find that someone who had to "go number two" missed. How in God's name do you miss the toilet and splatter everything around it...?

My assumption is that these individuals who miss are afraid of sitting down on a public toilet. But the irony of that is that these individuals -- those who miss -- are the reason someone might not want to sit on a public toilet.

So if you need to go to the bathroom and you're afraid to sit down on a public outhouse seat, get over it. If you can't get over it, then have the decency of putting the seat up before squatting.

There are a few more rules about outhouses:
  1. Don't throw garbage, diapers or feminine hygiene products into the outhouse toilet. They must be removed during service and as you can imagine, that is a very dirty and unpleasant job.
  2. There's also no reason to throw garbage all over the floor.
  3. Put the seat down when you are done, it will help keep the critters out and the smell down.
  4. Close the door when you're finished. This will also help to keep the animals out.
  5. Don't steal the toilet paper...
  6. And lastly, if you do miss your target, please please please, wipe the seat down...
--Jason D. Martin


Friday, August 16, 2019

A Guide to Backcountry Coffee

At home, I love nothing more than the sound of my coffeemaker in the morning. I can hear the steam building up and then the slow drip drip drip down through the filter and into the pot. It's always music to my ears and a wonderful way to start the day.

Coffee drinkers can find a number of ways to recreate this important comfort of home out in the mountains. If you can't imagine your day without a cup of java, there's no reason why you have to go to the backcountry without it. Here are some common methods for camp coffee-brewing to get you started:

Pourover Coffee


DISC_7416 by yoppy. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Access the original photo here.

I personally think the pourover method is one of the best-tasting ways to make coffee--in town, in the mountains, anywhere. Positives of this method is that the cone is relatively easy to clean--you just take the filter out and give it a rinse--and the coffee you make tastes pretty darn good. The biggest con (and this is an important one!) is you have grounds leftover that you have to pack out.

Supplies needed:
-A plastic coffee dripper
-Paper filters
-Ground coffee
-Hot water

French Press


Campground coffee by Citrix. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Access the original photo here.

There are a number of French press options that are lightweight and easy to carry on backcountry trips. GSI makes coffee presses in a variety of sizes and both the JetBoil and the MSR Reactor have French Press adaptors available.

You don't have to carry coffee filters for this method, which is a plus, but the press makes the whole setup a bit of a pain to clean. But if what you love at home is a French press, you can totally make it work to bring one with you in the backcountry.

Supplies needed:
-French press
-Ground coffee
-Hot water

Cowboy Coffee

DISC 0094 by Dick Clark. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Access the original photo here.

This is the simplest of the methods out there--but also the hardest to get right. Here's how you do it:
1. Fill up your saucepan with water for the amount of coffee you want to make.
2. Bring it to a boil
3. Remove the pot from heat and allow it cool a little from its boiling temperature.
4. Add coffee to the pot--about 2 tablespoons of finely ground coffee per 8oz of water.
5. Stir and let sit for two minutes.
6. Stir again and let it sit for another two minutes.
7. Serve it up!

This is another method where you still have to pack grounds out, but the plus is you can do this with minimal equipment--all you need is coffee grounds and your usual cooking stuff.

Supplies needed:
-Ground coffee
-Hot water

Instant Coffee

Starbucks Via by jamieanne. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Access the original photo here.

Instant coffee options for camping are getting better and better. Starbucks Via is probably the best tasting-option out there, though you could always do Folgers instant or another brand if you prefer. The Vias come in individual packs and in a variety of different roasts--though they can taste kind of acidic, so if you have a sensitive stomach be careful. These don't taste THAT different from brewed coffee and don't leave any grounds you have to pack out. These have become the go-to choice for AAI's Denali trips and other programs for their simplicity.

Supplies needed:
-Instant coffee (in bulk or individual packages)
-Hot water

--Shelby Carpenter, AAI Instructor and Guide

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad -

Northwest:

--The Sea to Sky gondola in Squamish collapsed at about 4am on Saturday. There is suspicion that it was a deliberate act of sabotage. To read more, click here.

--In other Squamish news, an individual was plucked off the ledges above the Apron by a helicopter with a suspected broken ankle.

--Last week, there was a massive glacial outburst on Mt. Rainier below the Tahoma Glacier. The climate crisis has increased the number of these incidents over the last few years. To read more, click here.

--It doesn't look like the Jumbo Glacier Ski Resort in British Columbia's Purcell mountains is going to happen. To read more, click here.

--SNEWS is reporting that, "Cascade Designs in early July cut 22 jobs from various teams and levels out of its staff of about 500 as part of the brand's reorganization, CEO James Cotter confirmed." To read more, click here.

--There is a huge new route on Vancouver Island. Bull Elk is a 25-pitch 5.10 on Elkhorn Peak. To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--A couple of hikers got struck by lightning in New Mexico last week. They both survived. To read more, click here.

--The Nevada Independent is reporting that, "A company that has long-sought to redevelop a gypsum mine and build homes near Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area filed for bankruptcy in July, according to court records. It is the latest development in an ongoing — and often politically heated — dispute over Gypsum Resources LLC’s plan to develop a master-planned community near the conservation area. The company, owned by developer Jim Rhodes, operates a gypsum mine on Blue Diamond Hill next to Red Rock. The land is currently zoned for rural housing, but Gypsum Resources has long pushed the county to increase the density so it could covert the mine and nearby land into a master-planned community for residential and commercial use. Climbers, hikers and environmental groups have pushed back on the proposal, turning it into a political issue during the 2018 gubernatorial race, as well as in a Clark County commission race." To read more, click here.

Utah and Colorado:

--The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that, "A Colorado teenager is recovering after he was bitten by a black bear while camping near Moab on Friday morning. The 13-year-old was asleep in a sleeping bag about 5:45 a.m. when the bear bit his right cheek and ear, said Darren DeBloois, of the Division of Wildlife Resources." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Jackson Hole

News and Guide is reporting that, "As midsummer draws hordes of backpackers to the Wind River Range, a string of four helicopter rescues made for an unusually busy week in Sublette County. Of the 15 operations Tip Top Search and Rescue has performed so far in 2019, nearly a third came in a sudden burst over the past week, straining the volunteer organization. Officials attribute the inundation to overall high visitor numbers, especially as a late-arriving summer may be funneling vacationers into the same short snow-free window of opportunity." To read more, click here.

--The New York Times has published an excellent piece on the Trump Administration's desire to undermine the National Environmental Protection Act to fast track logging in potentially protected areas. To read about this, click here.



(Click to Enlarge)

--So this young woman posted a photo on instagram of her going hiking. Then her sister called her out to show that she was actually in their backyard. This is really too bad. Why fake going hiking? Why not just go? It's a pretty low bar. When you see this stuff, you just have to admit, Instagram is just kinda dumb. To read about this, click here.

--Outside is reporting that, "there are 11 designated national scenic trails stretching across nearly 18,000 miles in the U.S. But there are more than 4,000 miles of privately owned “gaps” in the system that leave routes vulnerable to a change in ownership or a landowner’s whims. Typically, the government or nonprofit trail associations work to fill such gaps by purchasing land from willing sellers. But Jim Kern, founder of a new advocacy group called Hiking Trails for America, says the only way to protect every mile of those trails forever is through the use of eminent domain. " To read more, click here.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Master Carabiner

The American Mountain Guides Association and Outdoor Research have teamed up to create several high quality climbing videos. In this video, AMGA Instructor Team Members Olivia Race and Dale Remsberg discuss the pros and cons of a master carabiner.



The concept is pretty simple. If two bolts are close enough together, you can use a large locking carabiner for a master point. Following are a few things to remember from the video:

1) Use when equalization has been created by the bolted anchor itself.
2) Quick to build and clean.
3) Avoid heavy off-axial loading directions.
4) Large pear-shaped auto-locking carabiners are ideal.

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, August 12, 2019

Picket Placements

There are three options for placing a picket. The first is in a t-trench, the second is a vertical placement, and the third is the mid-clip picket.

The strength of a snow picket, no matter how the picket is placed, is directly correlated to to the quality of the snow. The strongest is always going to be a picket placed in a t-trench with snow backfilling it. That snow backfilling should be packed down and work-hardened. The second strongest is going to be a t-trench without backfill. The third will be a mid-clip picket. And finally, the weakest -- but fastest picket placement -- is the vertical picket.

In the following video, AMGA instructor team member Emile Drinkwater, demonstrates how to place pickets in three different orientations.



It should be noted that with the vertical picket demonstration, if one can easily place the picket, without stomping on it or pounding it in, the picket is likely not very good. It should require some effort to place a vertical picket.

Picket placement is a craft. And as with any other craft, it takes practice to do it well. Put in some time and effort with these devices before using them for real...

--Jason D. Martin