Sunday, October 31, 2010

November and December Climbing Events


-- Oct 30-Nov 7 -- Italy -- International Mountain Summit Festival

-- Nov 5 -- Philadelphia, PA -- Penn Pull Down Bouldering Competition --  215.746.8622

-- Nov 6 -- Horse Pens Steele, AL -- Triple Crown Bouldering Series

-- Nov 7 -- Seattle, WA -- Northwest Snow and Avalanche Summit

-- Nov 11 -- El Paso, TX --  Reel Rock Film Tour  

-- Nov 19 -- Sunnyvale, CA -- Bloc Party: A Planet Granite Bouldering Series  http://www.planetgranite.com/

-- Nov 20 -- Seattle, WA -- Stone Gardens 2010 Seattle Bouldering Challenge 

-- Nov 30 -- Bellingham, WA -- Banff Mountain Film Festival at WWU

--Dec 1-3 -- Seattle, WA -- Banff Mountain Film Festival

-- Dec 4 -- Chattanooga TN -- Triple Crown Bouldering Series 

-- Dec 11 – Worldwide – International Mountain Day

-- Dec11 – Bellingham, WA – AAI's International Mountain Day Avalanche Awareness Seminar

-- Dec 12 -- Sandstone, MN -- Sandstone Ice Festival  

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Weekend Warrior - Videos to get you Stoked!!

Ok, so this first video doesn't exactly have a lot to do with climbing...but it does have everything to do with getting stoked.    Watch as this crazy, gravity defying, wingsuit daredevil flies way to close to trees, cliffs, giant statues, and pretty much everything else you wouldn't want to hit at incredibly high speeds.


Jeb Corliss wing-suit demo

The next video we've got in store certainly has more to do with climbing than the first but still keeps the crazy element of jumping off very tall things, namely mountains and desert towers.  For those with sensitive ears I would recommend covering them at the 3 minute mark as Dean drops an F-bomb after leaping off what I believe to be Fitzroy in Patagonia.  Enjoy!


Dean Potter: Falling To Fly

Friday, October 29, 2010

One Last Trip to Mount Baker before the Winter Season

A couple of weeks ago, I did a final trip to Mt. Baker for the year.  I had a choice of going to either the south or the north side, and because I had not been to the south side all year, that was the choice.  It turned out to be a good choice.  Pretty views, lots of blueberries, and several wildlife encounters with almost no other people around made for a great final trip of the season.


Sunset on the Easton and Deming glaciers on the south side of Mt. Baker. 
The nights are getting long this time of year, so after a lot of sleep we headed up to the glacier to work on some skills.  The hike to the glacier was as pretty as I have ever seen it.  The sun low in the sky makes for great light from a photo standpoint.

The Twin Sisters from the Railroad Grade.
I have not seen a larger population of marmots anywhere in the Cascades as there currently is on the south side of Mt. Baker.  I spent a lot of time bothering these guys.  I have always thought I am not the most patient person in the world, but when it comes to patients, the marmot may be the least patient of all.  After being scared and running into their hole I quickly set up the shot I wanted and waited less than a minute for the marmot to poke his head back out.  It really is amazing that more predators have not figured this out.

The vicious protector of the high alpine.

Curious Marmot

An evening walk in dark and foggy weather made this photo possible.

Looking west at sunset.

The following day I had some time to wander around and  check out some of the other wildlife, and head up to the Park Butte lookout.  With a forecast of 6-8 inches of rain overnight chances were the sky would be interesting making for some good photos, but in typical North Cascades fashion when I got there it was foggy and wet.  

A dusky grouse. 

Fall colours.

The mountain hemlock. 

Western hemlock trees near camp. 

Another curious marmot.

Park  Butte lookout on a Cascades fall day.

I dont see these guys often, but its always a treat when I do. 

A few hours after getting back down from the lookout the weather cleared for what would surely be a sunset to remember, so I ran back up to the lookout for the second time in four hours and shot the following photo. 

The Twin Sisters range from Park Butte lookout. 








Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sibling Rivalry - Mount Adams vs. Mount Hood

The Klickitat tribe of Washington and Oregon has a fantastic legend about an ancient dispute between two brothers that we now know as the Cascade volcanoes, Mount Adams and Mount Hood.

Long ago, Tyhee Saghalie, the chief of all the gods traveled down the Columbia river with his two sons in search of a place to settle. The sons, Pahto and Wy'east, had a difficult relationship and so when they finally came to a beautiful area where they wanted to live, the sons quarrelled. Each of them wanted the land for himself.

Mount Adams

To settle this dispute, their father shot two arrows from his bow. He shot the first one to the north and the second to the south and then told the boys that they would have to live in the place where each of the arrows landed. Pahto followed the arrow to the north and settled. Wy'east followed the arrow to the south and did the same.

Saghalie wanted his family to be content, so he built a bridge between the north and the south. This bridge became known as the Bridge of the Gods. And for many years the family used the bridge to meet.

But there was a problem...

Both of the sons fell in love with a beautiful young woman named Loowit. And this young woman was indecisive. She could not choose between the two chiefs.

So Pahto and Wy'east went to war with one another. They threw fire at each other and destroyed the Bridge of the Gods. When the bridge fell the earth was devestated. Villages and forests were destroyed and indeed, the collapse of the bridge created a massive rift between the north and the south which we now know as the Columbia River Gorge.

Mount Hood

The devastation from this war was so great that Saghalie was offended by his sons and their violence. So for punishment he transformed all three of the lovers into great mountains. Wy'east, with his head lifted in pride, became Mount Hood. Pahto, with his head bent in shame, became Mount Adams. And the maiden Loowit, became Mount Saint Helens.

Mount Saint Helens

In recent decades, it seems that the biggest hothead of the three was Loowit. Pahto and Wy'east should have treated her better so that she didn't blow her top!


--Jason D. Martin

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Factor Mathematics

A couple of weeks ago, I put up a piece on Fall Factors. I included a Fall Factor calculator which was a bit screwy. A couple of people noticed that it wasn't working and had some additional questions about Fall Factors.

While thinking about this, I came across this video from a mathematics professor and climber at Emory University. It's a very nice piece that does a very good job in discussing the basics of Fall Factors.



--Jason D. Martin

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October and November Climbing Events


-- Oct 23-24 -- Las Vegas, NV -- 2010 National Climbing Management Summit: This fall the Access Fund will host the 2010 National Climbing Management Summit in partnership with the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and US Forest Service in Las Vegas, NV on October 23rd and 24th. The summit will bring land managers and field-level personnel who are involved in recreation policy and climbing management together to discuss best practices for

-- Oct 24-26 -- Joshua Tree, CA -- ClimbSmart

-- Oct 24-26 -- New River Gorge, WV -- Warrior's Way SPORT Camp

-- Oct 29-Nov -- Southwest various locations -- Chris Sharma Slideshow Tour

-- Oct 29-30 -- Red Rock, NV -- Make A Difference Day - Service project at Red Rock Canyon (contact Lisa at lvclc.admin@gmail.com)

-- Oct 30-Nov -- Banff, Canada -- Banff Mountian Film Fest

-- Oct 30-Nov 7 -- Italy -- International Mountain Summit Festival

-- Nov 5 -- Philadelphia, PA -- Penn Pull Down Bouldering Competition --  215.746.8622

-- Nov 6 -- Horse Pens Steele, AL -- Triple Crown Bouldering Series

-- Nov 7 -- Seattle, WA -- Northwest Snow and Avalanche Summit

-- Nov 11 -- El Paso, TX --  Reel Rock Film Tour  

-- Nov 19 -- Sunnyvale, CA -- Bloc Party: A Planet Granite Bouldering Series  

-- Nov 20 -- Seattle, WA -- Stone Gardens 2010 Seattle Bouldering Challenge

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Weekend Warrior - Videos to get you stoked!

Well, the word is out...winter seems to be arriving in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest this weekend.  There is a big storm on its way and with it that beautiful frozen precipitation we like to call snow!  Once I heard about this incoming storm I've found myself having a hard time concentrating on simple tasks, instead my mind has been off skiing down pristine alpine slopes in bottomless powder.  Oh, the beauty of winter.  Anyway, since I can't shake the ski fever I figured I'd better embrace it and feature a couple ski films I found.  Enjoy!


SIDE BY SIDE - FIELD PRODUCTIONS 


Light The Wick - TGR - Teton Gravity Research - OFFICIAL 2010 Ski Teaser

Friday, October 22, 2010

Self Arrest with Crampons

We teach self arrest a lot.

You could argue that we teach this skill more than any other. Every single course that goes out onto a glacier will spend at least some time covering this foundational skill. Some will spend all day, whereas others may only spend a short period of time. But it happens on just about every mountaineering trip...

There are a lot of different elements to a successful self-arrest and this particular post wasn't written to address them all. Instead, this post was written to discuss the one area of self-arrest where there is a fair bit of contention: toes up or toes down.

One school of thought is that when you arrest, you need to kick your toes up off the ground. This is so that if you are wearing crampons, they won't catch and flip you over.

The second school of thought is that you should kick your toes into the snow to help arrest the fall. In this school of thought, your toes should go in immediately to provide more resistance to the slide. However, this school also believes that you should only do this if you are not wearing crampons. This school believes that you should not kick your toes in if you are wearing crampons for fear of injury or flipping over.

The third school of thought is that you should always kick your toes into the snow, regardless of whether or not you are wearing crampons. The theory here is that stopping is the most important thing and that it's worth the risk of getting flipped over or injuring your ankles to stop.

Most AAI guides teach a combination of the second and third schools of thought. Programs that teach the first concept are definitely in the minority these days. The number one focus of any self-arrest activity is to stop a slide and most of the time, that means using your feet as part of the arresting system.

The real question comes when we look at the most obvious break between the second and third schools of thought. In the second, you kick your feet up while wearing crampons and in the third, you put them into the snow no matter what. Each of these styles of thinking are a little bit too rigid. In alpine climbing there are seldom absolutes. Both concepts have validity in one venue or in another. The problem is that it depends on snow conditions.

If you are on hard, solid ice or neve, then it's usually better to kick your feet up into the air. If you are on semi-solid terrain with occasional harder sections, then it's probably better to kick your toes in. This "it depends" approach isn't what most people want to hear. They want to hear a black and white answer; in part because a black and white answer is easier to remember in the heat of the moment.

Strategical thinking when moving in the mountains, in any kind of terrain, should always be composed of two questions. What is is the likelhood of a fall? And, what are the consequences of a fall? If these questions are always at the forefront of your thinking, then a black-and-white answer may not be so important. If you are constantly strategizing what you'll do in the event of a fall, then it is likely that you will react appropriately when the right skill is needed.

There is no easy closure on this question. There will always be people who argue vehemently for one of the three schools of thought. When all is said and done, none of the arguments matter. All that matters is that you can stop yourself when you fall.

--Jason D. Martin

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mt. Shuksan Skills and Climb

 A few weeks ago I guided a trip up Mt. Shuksan.  I have said for a while now that photography and guiding go hand in hand, and this trip really reminded me that this is true.  I don't like being out in the rain, but guides in the Pacific Northwest spend a lot of their time putting on a happy face and pretending to have fun in the rain.  Its often cold, miserable, and not really that much fun.  So what does that have to do with photography?  Often times the most dramatic skys and the best views are not found in sunny warm weather, in my experience they are found just after really crappy weather, as the clouds start to break and sun peaks through.  Photography is all about lighting, and this trip made for some interesting photo opportunities.  Below are some photos from the weekend.

The North Cascades at dusk. 
Mt. Baker at sunrise.


The thing that made this three day trip really great was the fact that we did have one day of good weather.  So on the second day we made a break for the summit of Mt. Shuksan.  Its almost winter up there, and the conditions were more like a spring climb then a early fall climb.
Mt. Baker with a perfect cloud cap on top.
Interesting clouds over the summit pyramid of Mt. Shuksan.
Approaching the summit pyramid. 
Ruth climbing into the belay.
Looking down the route at the group below.
This really feels like winter climbing.  Ruth midway up the route. 
Half way up the route. 

Looking down the summit ridge with Mt. Baker in the background. 
Ruth on the summit ridge with the summit behind her.  She is sitting down because of high winds. 

Mitchel and Matt making the last few steps to the top. 
Summit shot. 
Heading down from the summit pyramid. 
Ruth back at camp after the summit. 
We all woke up some time after midnight with high winds and lots of rain.  I packed the camera deep in my pack surrounded by two garbage bags for the very wet hike out.  Summer in the Cascades is over! 
 
--Alasdair Turner, Instructor and Guide

Monday, October 18, 2010

Film Review: The Snow Walker

Not every film I review for this blog is completely connected to the mountains.  Occasionally, I post reviews of books and films that are only marginally linked to mountain culture.  Usually these are connected to our mission of bringing you the most interesting mountain content by some small thread.  The 2003 film, The Snow Walker is one of these.  No, it's not about climbing or skiing, but it is about indigenous culture and adventure, two things that we at the American Alpine Institute care about a great deal.


The Snow Walker is an interesting study of cultural understanding.  The story takes place in the fifties in a world where there is little tolerance for individuals who are not white and male.  Charlie Halliday (Barry Pepper) is a brash young pilot in Canada's Northern Territories who is enlisted to fly a sick Inuit woman (Annabella Piugattuk) who speaks very little English to a hospital in Yellowknife.  In the process of bringing her to safety across the barren tundra, Halliday crashes his plane.  The arrogant pilot must learn modesty, trust and understanding as the only way to stay alive in the barren arctic wastes is to put his faith in Inuit survival techniques.

Most of the stranger-in-a-strange-land culture-clash films have two elements to "make them exciting."  First, they tend to take place in a violent setting.  In other words, there is some kind of war or conflict, often between the cultures portrayed.  And second, there is usually a romance.  Sometimes the romance is between members of the same culture and sometimes it's cross-cultural.  Some excellent examples of these types of films include Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves, Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai, last year's ubber-blockbuster Avatar, and even Disney's Pocahontas.  The Snow Walker breaks away from these cliche models and does something completely different.  There is no war between cultures and there is no romance between the two lead characters.  Instead, the film documents a story of trust and friendship deep in the wilderness and in many ways, the simplicity of the story creates a far more powerful message than some of the other films that have dealt with this theme.

Barry Pepper -- the film's lead -- is one of those actors you know you've seen before, but often can't place.  He's the guy that's in every movie, but when it comes right down to it, you can't name a single one.  Well, let me do it for you.  Pepper has been in big Hollywood productions like Seven Pounds, Flags of Our Fathers, 25th Hour, We Were Soldiers, Knockaround Guys, The Green Mile, Enemy of the State, and Saving Private Ryan.  He has also played leading and secondary roles in a variety of television shows and lesser known Hollywood and independent films.  The actor has even performed a feature role in a "live action" video game.

Pepper's performance in The Snow Walker makes me wonder why this particular actor has been typed as a supporting character in most of the work that he has done.  The actor has a breadth of range that has been ignored by big Hollywood directors and producers.  As most of us only have the slightest knowledge of Inuit culture, we first empathize with Pepper's character, lost in the wilderness. And then as he begins to connect with his Inuit companion, so too do we.



The Snow Walker is not a film that will blow you away with its originality.  You've seen this story before.  Maybe you haven't seen it with this particular culture being explored, but you've likely seen it with everything from aliens to Samurai. However, it is unlikely that you've seen this type of cultural-understanding story done before in such a tender and "un-Hollywood" way.

--Jason D. Martin

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October and November Climbing Events

-- Oct 23-24 -- Las Vegas, NV -- 2010 National Climbing Management Summit: This fall the Access Fund will host the 2010 National Climbing Management Summit in partnership with the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and US Forest Service in Las Vegas, NV on October 23rd and 24th. The summit will bring land managers and field-level personnel who are involved in recreation policy and climbing management together to discuss best practices for

-- Oct 24-26 -- Joshua Tree, CA -- ClimbSmart

-- Oct 24-26 -- New River Gorge, WV -- Warrior's Way SPORT Camp

-- Oct 29-Nov -- Southwest various locations -- Chris Sharma Slideshow Tour

-- Oct 29-30 -- Red Rock, NV -- Make A Difference Day - Service project at Red Rock Canyon (contact Lisa at lvclc.admin@gmail.com)

-- Oct 30-Nov -- Banff, Canada -- Banff Mountian Film Fest

-- Oct 30-Nov 7 -- Italy -- International Mountain Summit Festival

-- Nov 5 -- Philadelphia, PA -- Penn Pull Down Bouldering Competition --  215.746.8622

-- Nov 6 -- Horse Pens Steele, AL -- Triple Crown Bouldering Series

-- Nov 7 -- Seattle, WA -- Northwest Snow and Avalanche Summit

-- Nov 11 -- El Paso, TX --  Reel Rock Film Tour  

-- Nov 19 -- Sunnyvale, CA -- Bloc Party: A Planet Granite Bouldering Series  

-- Nov 20 -- Seattle, WA -- Stone Gardens 2010 Seattle Bouldering Challenge

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Weekend Warrior - Videos to get you stoked!

One of our brave and incredibly hardcore guides, Chantel Astorga, is currently soloing Mescalito on El Capitan in Yosemite.  In honor of this impressive endeavor I decided to feature this route in the Weekend Warrior blog.  If any of you would like to see some pictures of Chantel's progress on the route check out this website (you may have to scroll through a few other reports to find her climb):  www.elcapreport.com

Well, without further delay here are a couple videos of two other hardcore climbers, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgenson, attempting to free climb Mescalito.  There is great footage of the climbing and exposure encountered on this route.  It's wild to imagine Chantel up there soloing all of this!


VIDEO Part 1: BD athletes Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson attempting to free El Cap's hardest climb from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.


VIDEO Part 2: BD athletes Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson attempting to free El Cap's hardest climb from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Trip to the Enchantments

Pat and I recently spent two days in the lesser traveled parts of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area.  Our cross country journey covered more that 20 miles and some of the most amazing terrain on what may have been one of the most perfect days of weather in Washington this summer. 


A perfect lake with perfect colors. 
Maybe we should just camp here. 
My shadow on the fall larches. 
I think this may be my new favorite spot in all of the cascades!
Our tour took us through a well traveled part of the Alpine Lakes which is the only place we saw any people. 

The Lost World?
Pat on a summit. 
The Enchantments from up high. 
So you may have noticed that I did not really go into depth on where this trip took us.  We had no real plan on this trip.  It was just a trip into the mountains.  It was an adventure to cover some ground we had not seen before.  We did that.  You should too.  Go out and adventure in the mountains and see somewhere you have not seen before.

--Alasdair Turner, Instructor and Guide

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

AAI Weddings and Babies

It was a busy summer at the American Alpine Institute, and I'm not just talking about busy from the perspective of mountain climbing. During the warm months, a number of our guides had significant personal changes in their lives. Three AAI guides were married and one had a baby.

AAI guides Kurt Hicks, Andy Bourne and Dana Hickenbottom all got married this summer! And AAI guide Mary Harlan had a beautiful baby boy! 

Here is a short photo essay of this summer's weddings and babies.

Kurt and Noelle getting hitched by a guy who really loved the idea of using 
climbing as a metaphor in his sermon.  I don't think anyone anywhere has ever used climbing as a 
metaphor for anything before.  But we could be wrong...
Photo by Alasdair Turner

Kurt and Noelle trying to Escape from Alasdair and His Camera
Photo by Alasdair Turner

Here is a picture of Andy and Ann who decided that a good wedding picture must include a fire truck.
And who doesn't love a fire truck?
Photo by Former AAI Guide Matthew Anderson

Here is a picture of Dana and Monica who decided that a good wedding picture
should NOT include a fire truck, but should include train tracks.

And who doesn't love trains?  We thought it would have been funny if
there was a train coming in the background...apparently they didn't agree...

Mary's Significant Other with their new Baby in Indian Creek
If there is one thing is for sure, that baby is going to be a very very very good climber!


Sam was born on August 27th.  He was six pounds, five ounces.  And as you can see, he is very little and very cute!

Congrats to all the guides who have had major changes this year!

--Jason D. Martin

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October and November Climbing Events

-- Oct 8-10 -- Red River Gorge, KY -- Rocktoberfest 2010

-- Oct 8-10 -- San Luis Obispo, CA -- Pine Mountain Pull Down

-- Oct 10-12 -- Golden, CO -- Craggin Classic

-- Oct 14 -- San Diego, CA -- Allied Climbers Annual Fundraiser

-- Oct 23-24 -- Las Vegas, NV -- 2010 National Climbing Management Summit: This fall the Access Fund will host the 2010 National Climbing Management Summit in partnership with the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and US Forest Service in Las Vegas, NV on October 23rd and 24th. The summit will bring land managers and field-level personnel who are involved in recreation policy and climbing management together to discuss best practices for

-- Oct 24-26 -- Joshua Tree, CA -- ClimbSmart

-- Oct 24-26 -- New River Gorge, WV -- Warrior's Way SPORT Camp

-- Oct 29-Nov -- Southwest various locations -- Chris Sharma Slideshow Tour

-- Oct 29-30 -- Red Rock, NV -- Make A Difference Day - Service project at Red Rock Canyon (contact Lisa at lvclc.admin@gmail.com)

-- Oct 30-Nov -- Banff, Canada -- Banff Mountian Film Fest

-- Oct 30-Nov 7 -- Italy -- International Mountain Summit Festival

-- Nov 5 -- Philadelphia, PA -- Penn Pull Down Bouldering Competition --  215.746.8622

-- Nov 6 -- Horse Pens Steele, AL -- Triple Crown Bouldering Series

-- Nov 7 -- Seattle, WA -- Northwest Snow and Avalanche Summit

-- Nov 11 -- El Paso, TX --  Reel Rock Film Tour  

-- Nov 19 -- Sunnyvale, CA -- Bloc Party: A Planet Granite Bouldering Series  

-- Nov 20 -- Seattle, WA -- Stone Gardens 2010 Seattle Bouldering Challenge

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Weekend Warrior - Videos to get you stoked!

My apologies for neglecting to add witty commentary to this weeks Weekend Warrior but after watching these two videos I simply can't sit inside any longer and I must head out for some good weekend outdoor action...I guess the videos worked!








--Dana Hickenbottom, Program Coordinator and Guide

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Pain and Pleasure of Crampons on Approach Shoes

Whoah. 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

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dragontail Peak: Backbone Ridge

The following article was written by AAI guide Alasdair Turner and posted on his blog. The Fall season is now truly upon us and this is a bit out of season, but it's never too early to get psyched for next year!
__________________________________________________

Last week I did a great trip to the Enchantments for a bit of rock climbing with Tom. This was by far my best work trip of the year. We started with a morning of climbing at Index, on the lower Town Wall. We climbed Great Northern Slab, Japanese Gardens and Godzilla. From there we did the drive to Leavenworth and climbed Classic Crack. The goal of the day was to teach an Englishman how to crack climb. We tried, but as with all crack climbers first days it was a bit of a struggle. All in all Tom did a pretty good job despite showing full on British crack climbing technique by attempting to lay back of face climb around all the cruxes.

The next day we hiked into Colchuck lake to use our newly learned crack climbing technique on Dragontail Peak. Is there any better way to test a new crack climber than to put them on a 30 meter long 5 inch offwidth crack? Below are some photos of the climb.

Tom in the offwidth.

More offwidth fun.

The top of the offwidth pitch.

Looking down the route.

Midway up the route.

Colchuck lake in the background.

The summit.

Sunset on the summit usually means its going to be a long day/night.

We got back to camp sometime after dark, drank beer, ate food and went to sleep. The hike out the next morning was quite nice and we did a little climbing in the afternoon, which was also followed by beer.

A pika posing for a perfect photo.

Dragonfly at the lake.

The trip was ended by a run up OuterSpace the Leavenworth classic.

Tom on the crux pitch with high winds creating some interesting clouds.

--Alasdair Turner, AAI Instructor and Guide