Monday, April 30, 2012

The Alaska Season Has Begun!!!!

AAI climbers Maria Conceicao and Chris Heywood recently flew into Denali Basecamp on the Kahiltna glacier.  They are accompanied by AAI guide Aili Farquhar, who will be training Maria and Chris before they begin their Denali expedition.

Maria, Chris, and Aili at Basecamp.  Currently Basecamp appears rather quiet, however it will soon be flourishing with climbers attempting to reach Denali's summit.

On April 29th, they rest of their team will meet them on the glacier, along with their guides Alasdair Turner and Chad Cochran.  Alasdair couldn't help but hitch an early ride into the Alaska Range to take a few photos, and snapped the following pictures.

The team, alongside one of K2 Aviation's de Havilland Turbine Otter.  This 10 seater bush plane flies aspiring climbers and their gear into the AK range.
Alasdair snapped this excellent photo and his way out of the Alaska Range.    
To follow our expeditions on the big mountain, please log onto:

--Andrew Yasso

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Climbing Events May & June 2012

5/1 -- Evergreen, CO -- HERA Foundation/Silent Auction:

5/1 -- Burlington, VT -- Mark Synnott, Life on the VerticalBuy Tickets.

5/1 -- Seattle, WA -- Seattle Bouldering Project -- Send and Social 6 - 10 pm

5/3 -- Charleston, SC -- Mark Synnott, Life on the VerticalBuy Tickets.

5/5 -- Smith Rock, OR -- 20th Annual Spring Thing Clean up and Maintenance

5/7 -- West Chester, VA -- Dean Kamazes, Life in Motion: Buy Tickets.

5/12/ - 5/13 -- Mazama, WA -- Highway 20 Ski Party.

5/12 - 5/13 -- New York, NY -- Peak Experience VII, Climb Everest without Leaving Manhattan: Learn More.

5/15 -- Twin Falls, ID -- Clean the Crag Bouldering Competition:

5/16 -- Anchorage, AK -- Kit DesLauriers, Journey through the Arctic Refuge: Buy Tickets.

5/17 - Seattle, WA -- The Old Breed, Steve Swenson's ascent of Saser Kangri IIToilet for Vantage Fundraiser

5/24 -- Houston, TX -- Mark Synnott, Life on the VerticalBuy Tickets.

5/25 - 5/28 -- Telluride, CO -- Mountainfilm Film Festival:

6/3 -- Idyllwild, CA -- Idyllwild Climbers Festivial

Weekend Warrior - Videos to get you STOKED!!

Check out this ski run by Drew Tabke that earned him first place at the Swatch Freeride World Tour 2012 at Fieberbrunn in Tyrol, Austria.

This next clip is a beautiful glimpse at a new feature-length film about skier Candide Thovex, who after winning multiple X Games gold medals in 2000, 2003 and 2007, he broke his back, then returned to competition to win the 2010 Freeride World Tour.

Lastly, a gem for you: a classic from the climbing archives - we've come a long way since this...

Friday, April 27, 2012

April Ski Mountaineering Course - A Complete Success!

Last week, AAI guides Erin Smart, Andrew Yasso and Lee Lazzara ran a ski mountaineering course.  The students and guides explored the Mount Baker backcountry just outside the ski area, skiing the infamous Stone Man Couloir, and then journeyed up onto Mount Baker proper to ski some steep glaciers. 

The course was an absolute success.

And Erin recorded a lot of it on her camera.  She made the following video with a combination of photos and video footage from the trip:

--Jason D. Martin

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mountain Conditions 4/25/2012


The Twin Sisters

The Twin Sisters, Jeff Reis.

Hwy 20 Closed, Ryan Rickerts.

Hwy 20, Ryan Rickerts.

Nice sized slide on Hwy 20, Ryan Rickerts.

Falcon Closures:

Leavenworth: Midnight and Noontime Rocks closed April 1 - July 31 for raptor nesting.
I-90 Corridor
Statewide Updates by Alasdair Turner: (Thanks Alasdair!)

Gold Bar Climbing Access: As of Winter 2012 the Washington Climbers Coalition (WCC) has secured access to the gate on the road which leads up to the Gold Bar boulders and the approach to Zeke’s Wall. Climbers who are members of the WCC are welcome to climb at the Gold Bar Boulders and to park there for access to Zeke’s Wall, as guests of the Manke Timber Company. Please note: all climbers using this road must be members of the WCC and have a WCC sticker as well as a valid Discover Pass.


    Denali National Park: the road is now open to the Teklanika River Rest Area at Mile 30.


    Mammoth Lakes Road Clearance Update:

    -- Webcams --


    -- Weather --

    -- Webcam --
    -- The late exit and overnight permit number for Red Rock Canyon is 702-515-5050. If there is any chance that you will be inside the park after closing, be sure to call this number so that you don't get a ticket.

    --The scenic drive currently opens its gates at 6 in the morning.




    Tuesday, April 24, 2012

    2nd Annual Dallas Kloke Memorial Clean-Up

    It was just about two years ago that the highly respected first ascentionist and guidebook author, Dallas Kloke, was killed in a climbing accident.  Dallas was climbing with a group of five people in the North Cascades on the Pleiades Peaks, just east of Mount Larrabee, when he pulled on a rock that was loose.  Both Dallas and the rock fell...

    A Plaque located deep in the North Cascades Memorializing Dallas and his Climbing

    Dallas was well-known to the northwest climbing community, but the very heart of his climbing world was on Mount Erie, a small peak with a rocky south face just outside the city of Anacortes. Dallas was active on the peak from the 1960s until his death. Over those years, he was responsible for literally hundreds of new routes as well as the construction of dozens of trails and the organization of innumerable Mount Erie clean-up days...

    Over Earth Day Weekend Anacortes Community Forest Lands, the Mount Erie Climbing Committee and Solid Rock Climbers for Christ came together to do a Mount Erie clean-up and trail-building project.  Sixty volunteers showed up for projects throughout the Forest Lands and the group did a wide variety of projects.

    I had the opportunity to do something completely different from the projects I've done in the past at these kinds of events.  For once I didn't build a trail or pick up trash. No, this time I had the opportunity to help fight a scotch broom infestation on the mountain.

    In 1965 Lady Bird Johnson's Highway Beautification Act was responsible for the intentional planting of scotch broom along the I-5 corridor. The plant quickly became an invasive species and began to spread all over the Pacific Northwest.

    Some of the volunteers on Mount Erie have been fighting the weed for a number of years.  We visited a site where they had previously pulled all the scotch broom plants they could find.  As they grow quickly, there were quite a number of new plants there.

    Once the clean-up was finished, my wife and children arrived at the mountain.  We spent the rest of the day rock climbing.

    Dallas was a high school track coach and a mentor to many young climbers.  A day like the one we had, cleaning up Mount Erie and then climbing with kids, is perhaps one of the best ways to remember the man.

    --Jason D. Martin

    Monday, April 23, 2012

    Forest Seeks Comment on Geothermal Lease in Mt. Baker Area

    The American Alpine Institute just received the following email:

    Everett, Wash., April 20, 2012—The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is seeking public comment until May 20 on whether to lease a portion of 5,500 acres of land nominated for geothermal exploration and development, located southeast of the Mt. Baker National Recreation Area and west of Baker Lake.

    This project will evaluate the suitability of the area for leasing and determine stipulations to minimize potential impacts on natural resources.  The Bureau of Land Management manages subsurface resources on federal lands and nominated the area for lease and development. If the Forest Service allows BLM to lease the area, that agency would later conduct additional environmental analysis of specific locations for exploratory drilling, production wells and a power plant.

    To comment or ask questions about this project, email project leader Eric Ozog or call him at 360-691-4396. Written comments may also be mailed to Mt. Baker Ranger District, 810 State Route 20, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284-1263.

    First Ascent: Diggin' for Dreams

    Probably what draws me most to climbing is adventure. Sometimes the uncertainty of the day is an integral part of success - whether you top out or not. I love getting out in the mountains with good friends, doing long, aesthetic routes. Whether on snow, rock, ice, or all of the above, a beautiful line is what draws me to the mountains time and time again. 

    Perhaps the most adventurous climbs are those that have never been done. There is such limited information - there's no topo, no Mountainproject beta on your iPhone, no certainty of success. On the first ascents I have done, the biggest piece of information was simply a picture we took before climbing the route. 

    One of my favorite new routes that I have done is Diggin' for Dreams, a line that I climbed with two of my best friends this past summer. We were climbing on the South Early Winter Spire up in Washington Pass the previous day, and spotted a nice-looking cliff across the valley. I had looked at the face probably a dozen times but never went up to try and climb it. The next day, Alan Rousseau (who guides for AAI in Alaska) and Rob Schiesser (a guide and the guy who taught me how to climb back in college) we were at the base after a mild two-hour approach. We brought the kitchen sink - aid gear, pins, tons of cams, but in the end only used two pitons and a standard rack, freeing freed the whole route onsight, ground-up, with no bolts. Though I do think that adding a few bolts would make the route a little friendlier, I like the idea of a completely traditional route.

    Alan leading the crux pitch 5 - a clean, techy thin corner to mantel move

    Diggin' for Dreams is on the NW face of Choi Oi Tower, a subpeak of Half Moon. The Half Moon, Choi Oy, and Hai Tower massif forms a giant open book, easily visible from the nearby Liberty Bell Group. In the picture below, the peaks of Halfmoon (L), Hai Tower (Middle), and Choi Oi Tower (R) are shown with the established lines that Beckey (1965, Left) and Kearney (1986, Middle) established on the face.

    The NW Face of Half Moon from the South Early Winter Spire

    Diggin' diverges from the giant dihedral after two pitches. After one more pitch in the corner, the crack seams up and roofs out, prohibiting passage without a lot of cleaning and bolting. At this high point in the  dihedral, we spotted an old piece of webbing, likely from an exploratory attempt. It was bleached white from age. After emailing a number of Washington climbers, we have heard no information about this previous ascent. So, we are claiming a "likely first ascent."

    The climbing on Diggin' was incredible. The line covers nearly 1000' feet in 9 pitches. With the exception of two runout pitches at the top, the entire route was well-protected and sustained at 5.10 and above, climbing clean cracks from base to summit. Wow! What a pleasure it was to climb this route.

    There was one 10-foot section of crumbly rock (the only poor rock on the route) on pitch 4. While I led it, I threw down yet another fistfull of granite down, trying to get to good rock underneath, to which Rob yelled up, "You dig for that dream!"

    Here is a brief pitch by pitch description: 
       P1: 150’ 5.10- right facing corner
       P2:  70’ 5.10+ jam/lieback right-facing corner to face climbing on right.
       P3:  160’ 5.10+ Slab to undercling and strenuous fist crack behind flake.
       P4:  80’ 5.10 Steep corner with poor rock to left trending corner
       P5:  70’ 5.11 Thin seam in an open book leads to finger crack in right-facing cornerending with a difficult mantel.
       P6:  70’ 5.10 Zig-Zagging hand to fist crack leads to a left-facing corner.
       P7:  150’ 5.10-  Begin up left-facing corner for 15’ then traverse right 100+ feet on the face.
       P8:  140’ 5.8 X Lichen slab. Pucker up!
       P9: 110’ 5.10 the pitch begins with 20’ of thin 5.10 face moves without protection.  The rest of the pitch is mid-fifth blocky terrain leading to the climbers left bat ear summit of Hai tower.
       Descend off the back side via two single-rope rappels and walk North to reach the col visible on the climber's left side of the route photo.

    Alan leading the start of the route

    Pitch two - clean crack climbing

    The beautiful and exposed traverse pitch 7

    The lichen slab on pitch 8 - a scrub brush is helpful and a good lead head is essential

    Route summary:
       Diggin’ for Dreams - IV 5.11
       9 pitches, ca. 1000’
       Rack: doubles through #2 Camalot, single #3, #4. Finger-sized offset cams useful. 1 KB and one angle pitons.
       8/25/2010 Mike Pond, Alan Rousseau, and Rob Schiesser

    Now, as I warm up to climb in Alaska this summer with Alan, I remember the success that we had on many levels on Diggin' for Dreams. It was a clean line, a beautiful climb, done with two great friends in the heart of the summer.

    "These are the days of the endless summer
    These are the days, the time is now ...

    These are the days now that we must savor
    And we must enjoy as we can
    These are the days that will last forever
    You've got to hold them in your heart."

          -Van Morrison. "These are the Days"

    --Mike Pond, instructor and guide

    Sunday, April 22, 2012

    Climbing Events April/May 2012

    4/21 - 4/28 -- Joshua Tree, CA -- National Park Week: Free Entry to JTree National Park.

    4/24 -- Vancouver, CA -- Will Gadd Slideshow: 30 trips in 60 minutes.

    4/24 -- Salt Lake City, UT -- Dianne Van Deren, Back from the Edge : Buy Tickets.

    4/26 -- New Haven, CT -- Mark Synnott, Life on the VerticalBuy Tickets.

    4/27 -- Vienna, AUT -- IFSC Climbing WC Live on the internet: Bouldering.

    4/28 -4/29 -- Boston/Everett, MA -- HERA Climb4Life Ovarian Cancer Benefit:

    5/1 -- Evergreen, CO -- HERA Foundation/Silent Auction:

    5/1 -- Burlington, VT -- Mark Synnott, Life on the VerticalBuy Tickets.

    5/1 -- Seattle, WA -- Seattle Bouldering Project -- Send and Social 6 - 10 pm

    5/3 -- Charleston, SC -- Mark Synnott, Life on the VerticalBuy Tickets.

    5/5 -- Smith Rock, OR -- 20th Annual Spring Thing Clean up and Maintenance

    5/7 -- West Chester, VA -- Dean Kamazes, Life in Motion: Buy Tickets.

    5/12 - 5/13 -- New York, NY -- Peak Experience VII, Climb Everest without Leaving Manhattan: Learn More.

    5/15 -- Twin Falls, ID -- Clean the Crag Bouldering Competition:

    5/16 -- Anchorage, AK -- Kit DesLauriers, Journey through the Arctic Refuge: Buy Tickets.

    5/17 - Seattle, WA -- The Old Breed, Steve Swenson's ascent of Saser Kangri II: Toilet for Vantage Fundraiser

    5/24 -- Houston, TX -- Mark Synnott, Life on the VerticalBuy Tickets.

    5/25 - 5/28 -- Telluride, CO -- Mountainfilm Film Festival:

    Saturday, April 21, 2012

    Weekend Warrior -- Videos to get you STOKED!!

    Here's a clip of some great Southwest climbing near Albuquerque with Cody Roth.

    Ines Papert was allowed to climb the towering ice sculptures at Harbin, China's Winter Festival. There is a second video out there of her poaching another sculpture within the city, but there is some contention about it because she did not get permission for this other climb and is essentially destroying an artist's work. Have a good weekend! James

    Friday, April 20, 2012

    Book Review - Triumph and Tragedy: The Life of Edward Whymper

    There are lots of famous mountains in the world. We regularly hear about peaks like Everest, K2, and Annapurna. But in some ways important peaks of the past have become almost passe. It's easy to forget that there was a time when The Matterhorn and Chimborazo were two of the most important unclimbed mountains in on the planet.

    Many consider the era of 1854 to 865 to be the Golden Age of Mountaineering.  It was during this time that Edward Whymper, the undisputed king of early climbing, made first ascents of dozens upon dozens of mountains, including the iconic rocky crags of the Matterhorn and the ice encrusted double-summit of Ecuador's Chimborazo

    Triumph and Tragedy: The Life of Edward Whymper by Emil Henry is an engaging historical read that brings one back to the beginning of alpinism. In some ways, the book is standard biographical fare, it chronicles Whymper's life while exploring his motivations.  But there is something more to the narrative than this.  When the story takes us into the mountains, the biographical elements begin to fall away and we feel like we are on the flanks of major peaks in the Alps or in the Andes. Along with the story of a Victorian climber stuck in a stuffy society of ladies in corsettes and gentlemen in stiff suits, there is another story, a story of one who is seeking out true adventure on the highest mountains accessible to man at the time... It is an amazing tale and an amazing exploration of an extraordinary man.

    Edward Whymper is perhaps most famous for completing the first ascent of the Matterhorn. The climber made numerous attempts on the mountain from a number of different sides before finally reaching the summit on July 14th, 1865.  Whymper reached the top of the mountain with Lord Francis Douglas, Charles Hudson, Douglas Hadow, Michael Croz, and the father and son guide team of Old Peter Taugwalder and his son Young Peter Taugwalder.

    It was during the descent of the mountain that tragedy struck. Hadow slipped and pulled Douglas, Hudson and Croz down the north face of the mountain. Whymper and the two Taugwalder's survived the descent, but were accused of cutting the rope during the fall to save themselves.  Subsequent inquiries found no evidence of this.

     "The Fall" by Gustav Dore

    The tragedy on the Matterhorn affected Whymper for the rest of his life.  Indeed, the incident was so famous at the time that it became a part of the mythos of mountain climbing. It's hard to understand how deeply this impacted popular culture; the only comparable thing today might be the 1996 Everest Tragedy and the numous books that were written afterward. The incident was so infamous that Whymper could never really escape it.

    In the 145 years since the first ascent to the time of the book's writing in 2010, "431 climbers have died on the mountain, 58 of them in the 21st century. An interesting subset of these numbers is that no guides -- and only one amateur accompanied by a guide -- have died on the mountain."

    This continuing death toll on the Matterhorn since the end of the Golden Age -- despite the many advances in climbing equipment, weather forcasting and communications technology -- is a foreful reminder of the skill and courage of the mountaineers who first conquered the Alps all on their own.

    After the Matterhorn incident, Whymper retired from climbing for the sake of climbing, and instead became focused on climbing for science.  His scientific inquires culminated in a trip to Ecuador where he studied high altitude physiolgy by climbing Chimborazo.  At 20,564 feet, Chimborazo resides on the equatorial bulge giving it a height greater than Mount Everest when measured from the center of the Earth.

    It's strange today to read about the Victorian climbers and their attempts to understand how altitude affects the human body. They knew so little about so many things, it's interesting to see them trying to come to terms with how their bodies were reacting to altitude and also to imagine them completely confounded by the idiosyncracies of acclimitization.

    Triumph and Tragedy is an exceptional read. The book is intriguing for multiple reasons. First, it's fascinating to read about how major alpine ascents were completed in the Golden Age of Mountaineering.  Second, it's fun to imagine how hard these peaks -- which are totally climbable by an intermediate climber today -- stood out as being the hardest sent at the time.  And third, it's incredibly engaging to see the achacic way that these men climbed and to be impressed by their fortitude with absoultely terrible equipment.

    The armchair mountaineer and the active mountaineer alike will find something engaging and inspiring in the life of Edward Whymper and in his intelleligent biography by Emil Henry.

    --Jason D. Martin

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    First Ascent: Wright-Pond Route

    The Cascades, our home range in Washington, have incredible first ascent potential. During the last few years, I've had the fortune to be able to sneak a few new lines in in between guiding with AAI. One of them was the "Wright-Pond Route" on the Cutthroat Creek Crag, at Washington Pass.

    My friend Chris Wright guides a lot, too, which made it pretty hard to make plans. In the summer of 2009, Chris was training for an AMGA course and I had a few day off. I showed up in Mazama and we packed the bags for a new route, on a virgin cliff that we later named the Cutthroat Creek Crag. The cliff itself is the first chunk of rock that you pass on the way to Washington Pass from Mazama. It's a clean piece of granite with with high-quality granite cracks all around. Its low elevation, however, meant that there was ample vegetation in the cracks, which took a lot of work to clean out. We did the first ascent of the Wright-Pond Route in 2009. We bolted only anchors on the first ascent, but returned the following day to clean the cracks, put a few protection bolts to help some runouts, and add a bolted variation to pitch 2. We were going to give it a go that second day, but it started raining. I had to guide the next day, so we returned a short year later and climbed the Wright-Pond Route.

    The Cutthroad Creek Crag, with the Wright-Pond Route (III 5.11-)

    We did the ascent "ground up," which means that we did not rappel the route first to inspect or equip the climb. We started from the bottom and went to the top. We brought Chris's power drill to bolt anchors on the way up. The next day, we rap-bolted and cleaned the pitch 2 variation and add protection bolts to pitches one and three.

    The author leading the first pitch of the climb. This pitch is a beauty!

    Chris, drilling the pitch 1 anchor.

    All in all, this climb was a true pleasure. Each of the first three pitches is challenging, technical, and has high-quality climbing on clean granite. (Well, it's clean now). We hope that more people go and check out this crag, as its lower elevation often has better weather than the Spires or Silverstar, and has a mellow one-hour approach. There are numerous other cracks and faces that can be established without too much engineering or gardening.

    The Cutthroat Creek Crag, from the approach. This angle definitely shows the off-vertical angle of the cliff.

    Here's a pitch-by-pitch breakdown of the climb:

    P1: 5.11 a/b, 55m. Begin climbing the obvious, left-facing arch. It seams up right before the crux. Clip the bolt, and move left to a handsome right-facing corner and up to the anchor. A bold, but not dangerous lead.

    P2: 5.10 b/c, 50m. Head up bolts up clean granite up techy and fun climbing. Exit toward a clean, shallow, right-facing corner and anchor.

    P3: 5.10a, 50m. Head up obvious right-facing corner until it closes out. Go past small roof and into a left-facing corner with a nice crack. Belay at tree ledge.

    P4: 5.8, 45m. Climb blocky corner/chimney past tree. Go up a slab to a left-facing corner with a hidden hand/fist crack that leads to slabs. A tree with rappel slings is on the left.

    Descent: Rappel the route with two 60m ropes. There are bolted anchors equipped for rappels.

    Rack: Doubles to #3 Camalot, emphasis on small cams and wires. RPs useful.

    Chris leading the original pitch 2. The new version goes further to the right.

    If you want any more beta or pictures, feel free to drop a line. I would love to see someone else climb this route or another on the cliff!

    --Mike Pond, instructor and guide.

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

    Climbing Events April & May 2012

    4/21 -- Loc Dragomer, SVK -- IFSC Climbing WC Live on the internet: Bouldering

    4/21 - 4/28 -- Joshua Tree, CA -- National Park Week: Free Entry to JTree National Park.

    4/24 -- Vancouver, CA -- Will Gadd Slideshow: 30 trips in 60 minutes.

    4/27 -- Vienna, AUT -- IFSC Climbing WC Live on the internet: Bouldering

    4/28 -4/29 -- Boston/Everett, MA -- HERA Climb4Life Ovarian Cancer Benefit:

    5/01 -- Evergreen, CO -- HERA Foundation/Silent Auction:

    5/15 -- Twin Falls, ID -- Clean the Crag Bouldering Competition:
    5/25 - 5/28 -- Telluride, CO -- Mountainfilm Film Festival:

    Friday, April 13, 2012

    Red Rock Rendezvous Roundup!

    We just returned from the 9th annual Red Rock Rendezvous and this was a party to beat all parties. I have been involved with the Rendezvous since the second annual event in 2003 and there is no doubt in my mind that the festival is growing up. Mountain Gear has been sponsoring the event since the start and they have once again done an absolutely excellent job running a quality event...!

    This year we had approximately fifty athletes -- well known climbers from the magazines -- as well as twenty American Alpine Institute guides. Attendees had the opportunity to participate in climbing clinics, mountain bike tours, climbing competitions, avalanche awareness clinics, first aid courses, mountain photography classes, service projects and a whole lot more.

    Oh yeah, and the whole lot more includes things like parties and beer drinking...

    Brad Meyers of Mountain Gear put together the following video recap of the 9th Annual Red Rock Rendezvous:

    Following is a photo essay of some of the event's highlights. Click on the photos for larger images:

     AAI Staff Members Working the Rendezvous
    From Left to Right: Higinio Gonzalaz, Lyle Haugsven, Angela Seidling, Ben Traxler, Alasdair Turner, Mike Pond, Kurt Hicks, David Farkas, Ian McEleney, Paul Rosser, Tom Kirby, Dustin Byrne, Andrew Yasso, Ben Gardner, Tim Page, Ian Wolfe, Cliff Palmer, Chad Cochran, and Jason Martin

    Pro-Climber and Base Jumper Steph Davis skydived into the event.

    Night at the Vendor Booths at Spring Mountain Ranch

    Tom Kirby, Tim Page and Andrew Yasso answer questions at the AAI Booth

    As always, there was a dyno competition at Spring Mountain Ranch.

    A beautiful morning at Spring Mountain Ranch.

    Slacklining at Spring Mountain Ranch

    A Climber ascends a rope at Moderate Mecca.
    Photo by Paul Rosser

    The vendor area at Spring Mountain Ranch

    While this year we didn't have that much wind, some big wall tents still couldn't handle it...

    There is a history of wind at Red Rock Rendezvous. Indeed, Red Rock is a very windy place with a major wind event (winds above 40 mph) at least once every ten days.  This year things were pretty mild. We had a minor wind storm on Saturday night that lasted from about midnight to 10am.  In other words, it didn't really have an impact on the event.

    A little tiny bike.

    New Belgium Brewery brought a couple of giant Connect Four games.  
    I have to admit that I got quite competitive at it. Photo by Jon Jonckers

    David Farkas, hanging out in the evening.

    A Climber Learning Leadership Skills at Moderate Mecca.

    Omega Pacific's Jon Jonckers, AAI's Tim Page and I participated in a VIP designer beer tasting event put on by New Belgium Brewery.

    Every time I go to this event I'm amazed by New Belgium Brewery and their commitment to outdoor recreation. The two women who put on the beer tasting event told me that they do fifty events a year, nearly all of them at outdoor events.

    AAI's Paul Ivaska and Angela Seidling

    A Climber on Jabba the Hut

    AAI's Paul Rosser, myself, and Mountain Gear's President, Paul Fish

    It should be noted that Red Rock Rendezvous isn't all fun and games. One focal point of the event was a service project sponsored by the Las Vegas Climbers Liaison Council. The project expanded the Pine Creek Parking area to add ten new parking spaces, a major accomplishment. Additionally, the event included raffles and auctions which raised money for the American Safe Climbing Association, the Access Fund, the American Alpine Club, and of course, the Las Vegas Climbers Liaison Council.

    Mark your calendar, because the Red Rock Rendezvous ten year anniversary will take place April 5-7, 2013...and the rumor is that it is going to be bigger than ever! I personally wouldn't miss it for the world!

    --Jason D. Martin

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    The Bowline

    The Canadian Guide Mike Barter is getting funnier and more creative with every video he makes. In one of his most recent videos, he covered the bowline and the bowline on a bite. And he did it all dressed like a cowboy...

    Perhaps the best line of this video is when he says that a bowline is "strong enough to pull a snowboarder off his sister."

    There are a couple of things that I'd like to add to this excellent video.

    In addition to what Mike demonstrated, we are now teaching the double-bowline in the curriculum for the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor course. This knot is quite a bit stronger than a single bowline and not as easily untied due to cyclic loading.

    Mike repeatedly states that he doesn't want to see people tie-in with a bowline. You may be aware that there is a trend in the sport climbing community wherein people tie in with a double-bowline. There are two big problems with this. The first is that many climbers don't use this technique to tie-in and will not be able to check their partner adequately. And second, if there is a problem in the knot, it is far more likely to fail than a figure-eight follow-through.

    There have been a few high-profile accidents with people using a double-bowline for their tie-in. These accidents could have been avoided if the individuals simply used the industry standard figure-eight and checked each other out...

    The bowline is a very important knot. And as Mike said in the video, it could even be considered a king of the knots. But when all is said and done, it really should only be used for anchoring to boulders and trees.

    --Jason D. Martin

    Sunday, April 8, 2012

    April & May Events

    3/31 - 5/20 -- Snoqualmie, WA -- Mountains to Sound Greenway Volunteer Opportunities

    4/11 -- Tucson, AZ -- Tucson Climb-n-Brew

    4/12 --  Phoenix, AZ -- Phoenix Climb-n- Brew

    4/12 -- Chongqing, CHN -- IFSC Climbing WC  Live on the internet : Boulder and Speed

    4/13 -- Flagstaff , AZ -- Flagstaff Climb-n-Brew

    4/13 -- Las Vegas, NV -- "Welcome to the Hood" video release party: Learn more

    4/21 -- Loc Dragomer, SVK -- IFSC Climbing WC Live on the internet: Bouldering

    4/24 -- Vancouver, CA -- Will Gadd Slideshow: 30 trips in 60 minutes.

    4/27 -- Vienna, AUT -- IFSC Climbing WC Live on the internet: Bouldering

    5/01 -- Evergreen, CO -- HERA Foundation/Silent Auction,

    5/15 -- Twin Falls, ID -- Clean the Crag Bouldering Competition,

    Saturday, April 7, 2012

    Weekend Warrior -- Videos to get you STOKED!!

    This first video is a behind the scenes look at a route featured in last year's Petzl Roc Trip to China.

    These next two clips are from the Bridger Point and Chute video competition and are winners of the "Best POV" from Spencer Jonas.

    Here's Part 2 if you are yearning for more!

    This last clip, while it is full of some beautiful lines from Xavier de La Rue and Johan Jonsson, it also offers interesting behind-the-scenes insight on how the day is put together on a heli day photo shoot.

    Have a great weekend! - James