Friday, October 30, 2015

Training for Endurance

Endurance is an extremely important part of climbing and mountaineering. Obviously, these two pursuits require different types of endurance. Rock climbing requires an individual to climb a series of moves without getting to pumped. Additionally, rock climbing also requires that you build endurance in a way that allows quick recovery when you find a rest on a route. Mountaineering is completely different. It's the art of going...forever.

Professional climber Joe Kinder has recently been putting out videos on techniques for climbing. His most recent foray into that realm is a piece on rock climbing endurance. Check it out below:



--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 10/29/15

Northwest:

--The Northwest Snow and Avalanche Workshop (NSAW) is coming up on Sunday, November 8 at the University of Washington HUB. NSAW is a professional development seminar bringing together professionals and avid backcountry recreationists for a full day of avalanche education presented by some of the leading researchers and avalanche practitioners in North America.

Colorado:

--A Fort Collins man who went missing and was found dead near Allenspark trail head has left behind a legacy as a Colorado climbing pioneer. Thomas Mereness was the first person in Colorado to climb all of the 14ers in the winter. Mereness climbed the 54 mountains between Dec. 21 and March 21 and accomplished his goal in 1992.  Full article here.

Notes from All Over:

--Newly developed Leave No Trace guidelines for winter snowsports. Winter backcountry recreation is on the rise.  As is so often the case, increased use can lead to greater impacts to the landscape as well as on others seeking the same experiences. Trash, human waste issues, excessive noise and disturbances to wildlife have all been cited as issues that can be addressed successfully with relevant Leave No Trace education. Full article and guidelines can be found here.

--REI is paying its employees to take Black Friday off by closing for the day in all 143 stores for a 1st time in push to #OptOutside.

REI is taking direct aim at the frenzied consumerism that dominates the holidays with a message to do the exact opposite of what Black Friday demands. Instead of buying new skis, go skiing!  More here and here.

--Colossal Rock Climbing Gym Coming to Crystal City: With footprint exceeding 45,000 square feet, DC Metro location will be among the biggest climbing gyms in the nation. See it here.

--Russian alpinists claim first ascent of virgin Thulagi Chuli in Nepal.  On 25/09/2015 the Russian mountaineers Aleksander Gukov, Ivan Dozhdev, Valeriy Shamalo and Ruslan Kirichenko completed the first ascent of Thulagi Chuli (7059m) a hitherto unclimbed peak in the Nepalese Himalaya. The new route up the West Face is called Happy Birthday, is 1850m high and is graded TD+, VI (5c), AI 4+, M4.  Get the details here.

--Utah’s newest ski resort prepares for inaugural season. Richmond, Utah’s newest ski resort, Cherry Peak, is scheduled to open this winter. With three chairlifts and 280 acres of terrain for all levels, officials say it will provide fun for families in Cache Valley and across the state. Scope it out here

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 10/22/15

Northwest:

--Soldier Mountain Ski Area, situated 53 miles southwest of Sun Valley Resort, announced their current financial status does not allow for the ski area to open this year via Facebook on Wednesday. “After much deliberation we have decided to sell. Help us to find a buyer that can open up this ski season,” the statement read. The non-profit ski area is on the market for $149,000, the amount owed to the bank for the past three years of improvements and operations. After purchasing the ski hill in the late 90s, “Die Hard” star Bruce Willis donated the mountain to the recently formed 501[c]3 Soldier Mountain Ski Area, Inc in 2012. To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--The 13th annual “Mountain Gear Presents: Red Rock Rendezvous" rock climbing festival will return to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Friday through Sunday, April 1-3, 2016. Mountain Gear is offering early registration packages that start at $119 for the weekend clinics with world-class athletes and the nation’s top climbing guides. For more information on registration options or to register, visit www.RedRockRendezvous.com.

Colorado:

--A California start-up with $10 million in venture capital funding has partnered with Copper Mountain and Winter Park ski areas to offer drone video services this season. Cape Productions on Tuesday announced nine resorts — including Copper and Winter Park — as partners in the company's plan to deliver drone-captured video to ski resort visitors. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--U.S. Navy veteran Scott Mace was napping under a bunya pine in San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park when a huge cone fell from the tree and hit him on the head, rendering him unconscious and bleeding. The 16-pound seed pod caused permanent brain damage, required multiple surgeries, and left the 51-year-old with a four-inch dent in his skull. Now he’s suing the park, the National Park Service, and the Department of the Interior for $5 million in damages. To read more, click here.

-Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed two important measures that will help move California’s world-class state park system and its steward, the Department of Parks and Recreation, forward in the 21st century. To read more, click here.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article38234100.html#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Piton

We don't really use pitons very much anymore. Some climbers will use them on mixed mountain routes and other will use them for high end aid climbing, but even in these venues pins are certainly less used than in the past.

Why?

There are two reasons. First, modern clean climbing equipment like nuts and cams have replaced the widespread need for pins. And second, modern pitons tend to damage the rock. Every pin placement subtly changes things until you have very well-defined pin scars.

The Canadian guide Mike Barter has put together a very nice video on pitons and piton placement. Check it out below:



There are two notes that I'd like to make about Mike's cleaning method.

First, some climbers will use a "cleaner carabiner" that they clip to the pin while pounding on it. This is then attached to the climber. This is so that the pin is not dropped while taking it out. The cleaner carabiner is commonly a very old and very beat-up carabiner. It's important that it is not a carabiner that you will be climbing on, as it will likely be struck by the hammer when the pin is being cleaned.

And second, Mike clips two quick draws together to pull the pin out. While this is fine for an occasional pin, climbers on big walls that require a lot of hammering will use a funkness device to pull out pitons. This is essentially a metal cable that has been designed specifically for this purpose. To see a funkness device, please click here.

Practicing with pitons is a tricky thing. The fact that they damage the rock makes them heavily frowned upon. I would strongly suggest that ground-school with this kind of hardware should take place primarily in areas where there is little to no climbing, otherwise someone may get very upset at you...

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, October 19, 2015

First Aid: When Animals Attack!

So you're on the third pitch of a route when you accidentally annoy a cute and fuzzy squirrel. And while squirrels are cute and fuzzy, they also have very sharp teeth. So while finishing your lead, you note that the cute and fuzzy squirrel has fastened his not-so-cute and not-so-fuzzy teeth to your wrist...

So obviously, you do what any big and tough climber would do in such a situation...you scream like a little girl.

You scream and you scream. And the squirrel looks at you like it's possessed by the devil and its no longer cute and fuzzy at all. In fact, at that moment, you know that you will have nightmares about squirrels attacking you for the rest of your life. Every time you see a little fuzzy animal -- even a happy teddy bear at Build-a-Bear -- you'll roll up in a little ball and sob...

And while all that is going through your head, your partner laughs.

And then tells everyone about your little girl scream for years and years and years.

While being attacked by a squirrel might give your partner a great story, it could also be very dangerous. Animal bites can happen on any type of trip. And the most important thing a victim can do is to note what kind of animal it was that attacked and what the nature of the attack was. Were you poking it with a stick and throwing rocks at the animal, did you disturb it's "nest," or did it just seem to attack for no reason?

Don't mess with me, I've got a lot more than rabies.

Unprovoked animal bites are particularly dangerous. The unfortunate likelyhood is that warrantless animal attacks are due to rabies, which is almost always deadly in humans who contract it and do not receive treatment. As a result, animal bites must be taken extremely seriously and medical attention should be sought with all animal bites.

Puncture wounds are also dangerous. Animals teeth are covered in bacteria and a bite that breaks the skin could inject said bacteria deep into the tissue. Infection from such a bite develops extremely quickly. A serious infection can develop in as little at 24 hours. Tetanus -- a life-threatening illness -- can develop from any bite, human or animal.

Additionally, bites to the hand, the wrist, the foot or a joint can be very serious. Bite wounds to the hand may result in major complications because the skin's surface is so close to the underlying bones and joints. Other wounds in such areas could create life-long disabilities without proper treatment and antibiotics.

The jist of this is that while being bit by a squirrel might be funny to your partner...all animal bites should be seen as serious events and medical attention should always be sought. Once you're better you can beat-up on your partner for spreading rumors about your childlike scream...

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, October 16, 2015

Route Profile: Cayenne Corners - A Forgotten Red Rock Classic!


It is hot and dry in the desert most of the year down here in Las Vegas.  Temperatures don't start to get reasonable until October, and throughout the summer it averages a sweltering 100+ degrees.  

The city is fast-moving, and home to a strange collection of sprawling suburbs and outlandish attractions and amusements.  But living in the city of sin has its perks for a rock climber- just to the west of the city is Red Rock National Conservation Area, one of the greatest and most popular rock climbing meccas in North America.  While filled with classic routes, the park has a 45+ year history of rock climbing, and living here allows you plenty of time to explore unique and forgotten areas and routes in the Red Rock canyons.  While these explorations aren't always fruitful, more often than not they lead to some excellent climbing.  

One such forgotten and undiscovered route is Cayenne Corners.  Located in the alcove to the right of Ginger Buttress on Juniper Peak, Cayenne Corners is a wild and amazing line, characterized by stellar crack climbing on mostly bullet-proof rock.  The highlight of the route (and namesake) are two corners capped by roofs.

Looking up at Cayenne Corners from the start of the first pitch.  The climb
begins in the left facing corner and continues up the right side of the lower pillar through
corners and roofs. (A. Stephen)
The first pitch is a delicate and thin 5.9 left-facing corner  The crack takes good small gear, and there are two bolts protecting some thin face climbing and stemming where the crack pinches down.  This brings you to a nice handcrack with plentiful face-holds leading to a good two bolt anchor on the left side of a pillar.

The next pitch is the crux- It is called 5.10d in the guidebook, but I felt it checked in a little easier than that- maybe 5.10b.  After traversing to the left side of the pillar, you climb an amazing corner that starts as perfect hand jams. After a few body lengths, the crack thins to green camalots and the corner turns into a slot that you can get great knee-bars in.

Chalking up for the roof! (A. Stephen)
The pitch continues up to a roof with a perfect hand crack leading out its right edge.  Traverse out of this with smearing for your feet and then continue into a finger crack with great locks and face-holds but finnicky gear to a hanging belay.  What a RAD pitch!  Don't forget to put extended draws on any gear placed inside the roof...




PNW climber Micah Faville crushing the stellar corner crack
climbing of the 2nd pitch. (A. Stephen)
 The fun isn't over yet though!  Next, a 5.8 pitch heads up a crack and traverses to the base of another pillar.

The next pitch checks in around 5.10a and traverses out yet another awesome roof on a slightly wider crack (#3 camalot) with better feet.

Two more 5.9 pitches continue up through cracks, neither of which weren't totally memorable, but fun nonetheless.  We rappelled the route with two ropes.

The author traversing around another roof on splitter cracks.
(M. Faville)
If you are looking for a route to do when the other routes on Ginger Buttress are busy or a super fun route that is off the beaten path, Cayenne Corners should be on your list!  Here is a link to some more specific beta- http://www.mountainproject.com/v/cayenne-corners/106413414.  

--Andy Stephen, Instructor and Guide

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 10/15/15

Northwest:

--A Boise man sustained injuries from a black bear attack near the Middle Fork of the Salmon River early Friday morning, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. To read more, click here.


Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2015/10/07/4024015_boise-man-survives-black-bear.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy
--The B.C. Coroners Service is recommending the province consider making helmet use mandatory on all B.C. skill hills, following an investigation into the death of a young international student on Grouse Mountain. Luca Cesar, a 16-year-old exchange student from Brazil studying at Carson Graham secondary, died from a traumatic brain injury on Nov. 29, 2013, when he fell off a ledge. To read more, click here.

--The 42 Ski Resorts that get the most snow in the world. Surprise. Surprise. Mt. Baker Ski Area is at the very top of the list!

Click on Image to Enlarge

--Today marks the start of the 5-Point Film Festival in Bellingham. Come out tonight and join AAI at the Elizabeth Station for a mountain trivia contest! Then check out the rest of the 5-Point Festival. To learn more, click here.

--Political pressure is mounting to get the federal government to change the name of a lake in the North Cascades that is likely a racist slur. The lake and connecting creek, which lie in the Stehekin River Valley in the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, are labeled Coon Lake and Coon Creek on federal maps. But a south Seattle man with ties to the area, Jonathan Rosenblum, convinced state officials that those names were likely racist references to a black prospector who worked claims there in the late 19th century. The state’s board of geographic names agreed, and officially changed the names to Howard Lake and Howard Creek after the prospector, Wilson Howard. To read more, click here.

--The Three Fingers Lookout, based atop Three Fingers mountain in the North Cascades has a new roof. To read more, click here.

Sierra:

--The historic 4-year drought in California has been affecting California ski resorts powerfully the past 4 winter seasons. Since 2010, California ski resorts have seen a 40% drop in skier visits. California ski resorts are responding by putting up zip-lines, mountain coasters, rope courses, and mountain bike trails to turn their ski resorts into year round destinations that rely less on annual snowfall amounts. To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--Here are some additional details about the Joshua Tree Climb Smart Festival, running from October 16-18.

--A damaged helicopter was left abandoned in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area last week. A student pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in a wash inside the Conservation Area. To read more, click here.

--Parking will be severely limited at the Delicate Arch parking area in Arches National Park this fall and winter. To read more, click here.

--Representative Raúl M. Grijalva and tribal leaders from across Northern Arizona held a press conference Monday in Flagstaff to introduce the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act, a bill establishing a new national monument that reflects the long history and deep cultural roots of the region’s Native American tribes. To read more. click here.

Colorado:

--A settlement has been reached in the lawsuit brought by the estate of a woman who died after a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in 2013. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--The Linn County Sheriff’s Office and an Oregon Army National Guard helicopter rescued a 20-year-old Bend woman who was injured in a climbing accident on Sunday and spent the night on Mount Washington, where temperatures dipped below freezing. Sheriff Bruce Riley said Sarah Ford was hiking and climbing alone, and he believed she was rappelling from the summit of the peak in the dark when she was struck in the head with a rock and fell about 15 feet. To read more, click here.

--Maxim Magazine has done a profile on the two fastest men in the mountains, Killian Jornet and Karl Egloff. To read the article, click here.

--The name change of North America’s tallest mountain is causing a trickle effect all the way down to Alaska's fast-food restaurants. The McKinley Mac previously available at Alaska McDonald’s restaurants will now be marketed as the Denali Mac. The change comes after President Obama renamed Mount McKinley to its traditional Athabascan name of Denali ahead of his three-day visit to the state in August. To read more, click here.

--A New Zealand suspension bridge snapped on September 3rd sending four hikers into the river below. To read more, click here. To see horrifying Go Pro images of the bridge collapse, click below.


--The American Alpine Club is looking for an intern to help them build their new website. To learn more, click here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Crack Climbing Basics: Tape Gloves

A climber makes use of her tape gloves to jam the awesome Mithral
Dihedral on Mt. Russell, High Sierra (A. Stephen)
Today we will learn how to make tape gloves to better facilitate hand jamming.  I've been seeing "hand-jammies" more and more these days, but when I tape, I still use the tried and true athletic tape.  Made properly, tape gloves don't leave too much adhesive residue on your hands, have a lower profile than hand-jammies, and you can reuse the same gloves over and over again.  All you need is a roll of 1" width athletic tape.  Here's how:

THE FOUNDATION
In order for the gloves to hold their form, it is important to build in some framework.  Rip your tape into 1/2" wide strips.  You want the strips long enough to reach from your wrist bone, around your finger, and back again. You will need three strips per hand, and will wrap a strip around your pinky finger, first finger, and thumb.  Spread out your fingers as much as you can while doing this process.



THE PANELS
Once the foundation of the gloves is set, it is time to put on the outer layer.  I use a panel method to do this so that I can keep my palm free of tape, both for comfort's sake and for ease of removal and reuse.  To do this, use the full width of your tape, and cut strips that are a 1/4" longer on each side than the width of the back of your hand.

Align the strips so that the edge of the first panel is even with your knuckles.  Fold the overlap at each end so that it sticks back on itself and the framework strip.  Then add panels moving down towards your wrist, with a 1/2" of overlap on each, and stop just before your wrist joint.  I usually need about four panels per hand, but this is all dependent on your hand size.  Remember to keep your fingers spread far apart during this process.



WRIST WRAP
Once you've built your foundation and added the panels, the final step is to secure it all to your hand by wrapping a length of tape around your wrist.  Make sure to keep your wrist in a relaxed, prone position.  Start the wrap on the inside of your palm and, keeping the 1/2" overlap on the previous panel, wrap the tape around your wrist twice.  Don't wrap too tight-you don't want to restrict the movement in your wrist too much. End on the inside of your palm once again.


REMOVAL
The best feature of these gloves is that you can reuse them.  I used one pair for an entire season before they were shredded!  Once you are finished sending, all you have to do is cut the wrist strap on the inside of your palm, gently unstick the tape from your hand, and wriggle your fingers through the loops of the foundation.  When its time to jam some splitters again, just put them back on and wrap your wrist again.  Try to keep it to a single wrist wrap every time you reuse the gloves to keep the bulk down.

Ok, there you go!  For less than $10, you have your own home-made "hand-jammies."

--Andy Stephen, AAI Instructor and Guide


Friday, October 9, 2015

Film Review: Everest

I had significant concerns about the film, Everest. In the trailer, it looks suspiciously like the same type of garbage that we saw in films like Cliffhanger and Vertical Limit. I was also very concerned that Hollywood was going to create something out of the 1996 Everest Tragedy that was disrespectful to both those that died and those that lived...

Arguably, the 1996 Everest Tragedy is one of the most well known incidents in the history of mountaineering. The film binds together several books, including Jon Krakauer's best selling Into Thin Air, Anatoli Boukreev's The Climb, and Beck Weathers' Left for Dead. But these books are by no means the only narratives out there. Several other books were written about the incident as well, including, After the Wind, by Lou Kasischke, Everest: Mountain without Mercy, by Broughton Coburn, Climbing High: A Woman's Account of Surviving the Everest Tragedy, by Lene Gammelgaard, and A Day to Die For, by Graham Ratcliffe.


Many of the books paint different individuals as heroes or villains. But they don't all paint the same people as heroes or villains. Indeed, they tend to contradict one another, and it has always been difficult to work one's way through the conflicting narratives to find the "true" story.

That said, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the film did little to paint anyone as a hero or a villain. Instead, it does it's best to find a few central threads in a large cast of characters to tell the story of two tragic days in May of 1996. And it does find those threads, primarily in the story of Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), the New Zealand mountain guide who died high on the mountain and in Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), a pathologist from Texas who survived a brutal night on the mountain.

The film's primary weakness is also it's strength. We are interested in Rob and Beck, but there are so many others on the mountain that it's hard to follow them all. Those of us who have read extensively about the incident are capable of keeping a large number of them straight, but it becomes significantly harder when the characters don down suits and oxygen masks. I was reminded of Black Hawk Down in this way. It's similar to that film in that everyone is dressed the same, there are a lot of characters and it's hard to keep everyone straight.

There are a few real people who were not covered in the film as well as they were in the different books. These include Scott Fisher (Jake Gyllenhaal), the famous American mountain guide; Sandy Hill-Pitman (Vannessa Kirby), the New York socialite; Anatoli Boukreev (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson) the Russian high altitude guide; and John Krakauer (Michael Kelly), the now best selling author. Each of these individuals appear in the film, but they regularly fade into the background.

The preceding list includes several of the most controversial people on the mountain. Each of these individuals has been both lionized and condemned in the different accounts. Indeed, both Jon Krakauer and Sandy Hill-Pittman (now going by Sandy Hill) have come out to defend their actions on the mountain. Krakauer has even stated the the film is "total bull."

Certainly Everest doesn't make either of the two look good. Neither of them come out smelling like roses, but it doesn't condemn them either. Honestly, neither of them are in the film enough to truly paint them as much more than one dimensional figures (I'm a reporter!/I'm a socialite!).

And while Krakauer and Pittman have commented on the film, Fisher and Boukreev are no longer here to do so. Fisher died in the tragedy, and Boukreev died a few years later. Neither of the men are portrayed negatively -- Boukreev rightfully looks like a hero -- and Fisher seems like a laid back hippie who believes it will all work out. Boukreev was criticized for guiding without bottled oxygen, and Fisher was criticized for that same laid back style, a style that previously had provided a lot of success.



There is one major problem with the overall Everest narrative. Something didn't feel right about the film. It wasn't until I read, What Disaster Films Miss about Death by James Douglas that I understood. It is really really really hard for a filmmaker to honestly and effectively portray a character who slowly loses the will to live. Hollywood films are all about fighting. Characters fight foes both internal and external. So it's incredibly hard for someone who comes from that background to effectively portray a very realistic non-dramatic death in the mountains...

The most unfortunate thing about this is that Everest is about the best that we can expect from Hollywood. They spent a tremendous amount of money on the film. But without real Himalayan climbers behind both the development of the script and the film shoot, there will never be a completely narrative film the comes out of Hollywood, that "gets it right."

That said Everest is visually stunning. Much of the film was shot in Nepal and feels authentic. And they clearly tried really hard to make the who film feel real. This level of attempted verisimilitude is damaged by two scenes. In the first, Beck Weathers nearly falls off a ladder crossing a crevasse. But of course, there's ice fall and heavy breathing and scary music and it's just dumb. Also the fixed line he's attached to has an unlocked carabiner.

In the second, Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), falls off a fixed line somehow and goes ripping down the Lhotse Face...that is until Rob Hall tackles him and self arrests, presumably stopping both of them from sliding off the mountain. After the incident, no one questions why Hansen apparently wasn't on the fixed rope that everyone else was on. It's another dumb moment in a mostly well done film.

And though there is a little bit of Vertical Limit in the aforementioned scenes, and the script could have been better in a few areas, and maybe they needed a little bit more guidance from real Himalayan climbers here and there, the bulk of the film is pretty good and is worth watching...especially for those who have some knowledge of the tragedy.

Everest is certainly not the last word on the 1996 Tragedy. That particular incident will continue to be discussed and debated for decades to come. But for now it presents a perspective on what happened, and it does so in a way that is about as engaging and thoughtful as possible for such a sprawling event...

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 10/8/15

Northwest:

Click on Image to Enlarge

--The 5-Point Film Festival will be having a major festival in Bellingham, Washington from October 15-17. There will be a number of events including a Trivia Night hosted by AAI at Elizabeth Station on October 15, as well as a festival honoring the dirtbag vehicle living lifestyle. And there will be lots and lots of movies. To read more, click here.

Sierra:

--Yosemite's annual Facelift event took place last night. Nearly 1,500 volunteers helped to clean up the crags of Yosemite National Park. To read more, click here.

--The fourth principal of Leave No Trace is to Leave What You Find. This means to leave cultural artifacts in place, as they lose their value once they are removed from their context. Johnathan Bourne probably should have taken an LNT class before transporting a bunch of native artifacts across state lines. To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--A 50-year-old Utah man died in a canyoneering accident in Zion National Park on Friday. The man, identified by park officials as Christian Louis Johnson, was found dead about 7:20 p.m. by a search and rescue team in Not Imlay Canyon, a park release said Saturday. To read more, click here.

--Sigh... Do people really think that desert potholes filled with water are wishing wells? Apparently they do in Arches National Park. People are dumb. To read more, click here.

--Officials with the Santa Fe National Forest have offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever cut down hundreds of trees to create what are believed to be illegal ski runs. To read more, click here.

--Here are some additional details about the Joshua Tree Climb Smart Festival, running from October 16-18.

--Five Four Corners-area tribes have united to propose a 1.9 million–acre Bears Ears National Monument that would be the first truly collaborative land management effort between Native Americans and the federal government. To read more, click here.

Colorado:

--A 41-year-old climber died on Christiana Peak after falling 200 feet Monday afternoon when a piece of rock he was using as a hold flaked off, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. The body of Travis Boyle of Union, Kentucky, was taken out of the backcountry west of Capitol Peak by 3:20 p.m. Tuesday, according to a Sheriff’s Office statement. To read more, click here.

--The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments in a wrongful-death case that could shake the foundation of the law that shields ski areas from liability for on-slope injuries and deaths. Lawyers were grilled by the justices weighing this question: Are avalanches an inherent risk of skiing, or should resorts be liable for injuries caused by sliding snow within their boundaries? It depends, they said, on how you interpret dangers listed in the Colorado Ski Safety Act — which doesn't specifically name avalanches but does include the conditions that create them. To read more, click here.

--The Denver Post wrote an editorial concerning the case in the preceding news item. They argue that avalanches inside a ski resort are NOT an inherent risk of skiing. We agree with this. One of the many reasons to ski inside a resort is because avalanche danger is supposed to have been mitigated. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Late last week, the most successful land conservation program in U.S. history expired. Despite bipartisan support for the program in both the Senate and House of Representatives, congressional leaders have neglected to include the program in recent budget negotiations and are letting it die. To read more, click here.

A climber walks across a ladder in the Khumbu Icefall.
Photo by Guy Cotter

--This year, 2015, will be the first in 41 years that no human has stood on the summit of Mount Everest. To read more, click here.

--There has been a lot of debate this week about the term and designation, "first female ascent." To read about it, click here.

--A university in Louisiana lost a lawsuit concerning a campus climbing wall accident due to the fact that the state doesn't allow liability waivers. To read more, click here.

--Two American brothers made the first ascent of Greenland's Polar Bear Fang. To read more, click here.

--The Mugs Stump award committee is now open for applications. To read more, click here.

--Following the announcement that there is water on Mars, there was an article about how they can study it. Climbers will be needed! And considering there are some walls on the red planet that are nearly 18,000-feet tall, I'm sure there won't be any deficit in climber/scientist/explorers who will one day want to participate in a manned mission to Mars. To read more, click here.

--They also witnessed an avalanche on Mars from space. Check it out.

--And finally... A woman thanks a black bear for not messing with her kayak. She then subsequently uses bear spray on the animal and it seems to immediately know the best way to get revenge...by eating the kayak. Check out the video below:



--And of course, every viral video needs a parody. The following is a lot of fun:

Monday, October 5, 2015

Equipment Review: Camp Blitz Harness


The Camp Blitz Harness is designed as a versatile, lightweight all-mountain harness. The padding is light (but there) and you can remove the harness by undoing a series of buckles and clips and without needing to slip your legs through--which means you can whip off your harness while leaving your crampons or skis on.

While I love the principle behind this harness, it loses major points on comfort for the way the gear loops are designed. The gear loops are loose and floppy and, crucially, they are attached to the upper part of the waist belt rather than the lower part. This means that when you clip things to the loops, they tend to drag the upper part of the waist belt down and twist it. I've generally found this to be uncomfortable, but it was particularly bothersome on a Denali trip this year when I was dealing with a harness loaded with a lot of gear and then a 60-plus-pound pack on top of that. The waist belt twists all around and can end up riding up against your clothes and then directly against your skin. This is an issue that could easily be fixed by adding more structure to the waist belt and gear loops or moving the gear loops down lower on the waist so that it doesn't twist it.

Pluses for the harness are that it's light (just 7.7 ounces) and easy to take on and off. The belay loop floats freely rather than being permanently locked in to the waist belt, and unlike some other lightweight harnesses (like the Petzl Hirundos, for example) there are clips for the leg loops that you can undo rather than having permanently sewn loops. There's also a loop for hub racking carabiners, which makes it easy to carry ice screws. The fact that this harness has some padding on it (as opposed to the Black Diamond Couloir) makes this harness suitable for alpine rock climbing and ice climbing rather than just pure glacier walking. You wouldn't want to spend the whole day in a hanging belay in it, but you can put your weight in the harness without feeling like you're slowing cutting off circulation to your legs.

Camp has long been on the cutting-edge of lightweight climbing gear, and the first iteration of this harness has promise. But the gear loop issue is a major one, and while I want to love this harness, instead I think I'll just replace it.

-Shelby Carpenter, AAI Instructor and Guide

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Climbing News from Here and Abroad - 10/1/15

Northwest:


--The Live Like Liz campaign to develop a new climbing facility at Tacoma's Point Defiance Park to celebrate the life of AAI Guide and professional snowboarder, Liz Daley had a hugely successful fundraiser over the weekend. Their goal was to raise $50,000. They did much better than that and raised $75,000!!!! To learn more about this awesome project to remember this awesome person, click here.

--The new Washington State Ski and Snowboard History project has found a permanent home at Snoqualmie Pass. To read about it, click here.

--The U.S. Forest Service has temporarily closed a northern Idaho hiking trail over concerns about aggressive mountain goats after one animal bit a hiker and others reportedly tried to head-butt or charge visitors. Scotchman Peak Trail, which leads to the summit of Bonner County's tallest mountain, was closed last week. To read more, click here.


--The book Crossing Zion will have a release party/presentation on October 1st at Village Books in Bellingham. To learn more, click here.

--Are non-profit ski hills the wave of the future...? Maybe for community hills. Check this out.

--Your first sniff when you open the car door at the North Cascades Visitor Center on the edge of Newhalem tells the story: Did you ever put your nose really close to a cold, dead campfire the morning after a wienie roast? That’s what Newhalem smells like. No mistaking that there have been wildfires nearby. To read more, click here.

--Aerial drops of fire retardant on wildfires are one of the most dramatic images of firefighting. But critics cite high cost, limited effectiveness and potential harm to fish. To read more, click here.

--For 24-years a people have been fighting a large scale ski resort from being developed on Jumbo Mountain in British Columbia's Purcell Mountains. Following is a trailer for a film to #KeepJumboWild.




--Some forests may not grow back after the intense burns. The New York Times has posted an article about the changing landscape of the West. To read it, click here.
Sierra:

--Today marks Yosemite's 125th birthday. To read more, click here.

--The drought crippling the West is the worst it has seen in 500 years—and maybe even in 1000 years. It’s so bad that it’s taking a toll on some of the region’s oldest and largest residents: California’s stately sequoia trees. To read more, click here.

--Here's an interesting accident report from a rescue that took place on Yosemite's Lurking Fear in mid-September. To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--A major national parks concessionaire has dropped efforts to trademark names of the Grand Canyon's most popular properties, including a group of rustic cabins, cottonwood trees and cantina on the canyon floor. Xanterra Parks & Resorts, based in Greenwood Village, applied for roughly 20 trademarks before its contract to manage hotels, restaurants and mule rides at the Grand Canyon's South Rim expired in December. It later won a temporary, one-year contract. To read more, click here.

--Zion National Park is now reevaluating its permit system in the wake of a flash flood that killed seven canyoneers. To read more, click here.

--The Joshua Tree Climb Smart Festival will run from October 16-18. To learn more, click here.

Colorado:

--A climber in the Capitol Peak area fell about 200 feet to his death Monday, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said. A climber called authorities about 5:45 p.m. to report the man had fallen and that a third climber was stranded on a cliff band above the fallen climber near Christiana Peak at about 12,700 feet. To read more, click here.

--A 22-year-old climber was found dead Sunday morning after an apparent fall from a rock formation known as the Fifth Pinnacle. The Boulder County Sheriff's Office says he was not wearing protective equipment. To read more, click here.

--Already a banner year as it celebrates its 100th anniversary Rocky Mountain National Park is also poised to smash last year’s visitation record. Through August, the country’s fifth-most visited national park has attracted 2.9 million visitors, up 20 percent over the same time span last year, which ended as the busiest in the park’s history, with 3.4 million visitors. The park is on pace to draw more than 4.1 million visitors. To read more, click here.

--Visitors, volunteers and staff are helping Colorado Parks and Wildlife track wildlife in state parks with a mobile application. The Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1Wm6Egn ) that the free smartphone app iNaturalist launched in mid-July and since then hundreds of observations have been entered into the State Parks NatureFinder project. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:


--The tourism ministry of Nepal announced that it will seek a ban on climbers who don’t have mountaineering experience above 6500 meters, as well as those under 18, over 75, or dealing with disabilities. To read more, click here.


--The heroine of the Tomb Raider video game is apparently now and ice climber. The preceding image is in malls across the globe to promote the Rise of Tomb Raider.

--After a recent decision, it is highly likely that climbing will be a sport included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. To read more, click here.

--A Seattle-area woman has set a new speed record for an unsupported hike along the Appalachian Trail: 54 days, 7 hours, 48 minutes. To read more, click here.

--At one of the most popular winter riding destinations in Southcentral Alaska, backcountry conditions are getting a little bit more predictable and possibly safer for skiers and snowboarders. This fall, snow sensors designed to measure depth and temperature will be installed at Tincan Ridge in Turnagain Pass at 2,400 feet in a project led by the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. To read more, click here.

--More mountain naming controversies...? You bet. Harney Peak in South Dakota is likely next. To read about it, click here.

--Here's an interesting article on what a summer of guiding does to the body...

--Trail Runner magazine is hiring.