Monday, October 31, 2016

Super Munter and Zooper Munter

In this blog, we have covered the super munter before. This is a technique that is used to add more friction to a munter-hitch lower for seriously heavy loads.

The super-munter is a variation on the munter-hitch. It creates a tremendous amount of friction and doesn't have one of the main problems of the munter-hitch, it doesn't tangle the rope. Indeed, the action of the rope as it goes through the super-munter twists the rope and then twists it back.



There are very few applications for the super munter (also sometimes called the monster munter) in normal climbing. Instead, the applications are more rescue oriented. This particular hitch provides so much friction that it is possible to lower two climbers -- one cradeling the other -- or perhaps a litter and a liter attendant in a SAR operation.

Super munters on two separate legs of a mountain rescue system, backed up by tandem prussiks make for an excellent redundant lowering system with limited equipment. And indeed, such a system would also pass the "Whistle Test." (The Whistle Test is a concept used in mountain rescue. The idea is that if everyone let go of their given strands at the sound of a whistle, the system would stop on its own and no one would get hurt.)

The problem with the super munter is that you have to anticipate that you are going to add the additional friction at the beginning of the operation. In other words, you have to tie the munter with the appropriate position of function, so that you can easily cross the break-strand over the load-strand and then clip it into the carabiner. If you did not do this right then a second option is to make a zooper munter.

This essentially requires a second carabiner behind the first, with the gate facing the spine of the first carabiner. To build the zooper munter, just bring the rope around the back and clip the second carabiner. You can see this in the second video which is a bit shaky since I was holding the camera and tying the knot at the same time.



The zooper munter allows you to create additional fiction without pre-planning. In many ways, this is a far more useful version of the super munter because it doesn't have to be pre-planned and -- even if the carabiner is situated correctly, you wouldn't have to open the gate.

Large amounts of friction are important when it comes to SAR operations and indeed, are super important when you are in a mountain rescue setting with limited gear...

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, October 24, 2016

Book Review: Climbing Self-Rescue

Most climbers are concerned about what might happen if there were an accident high on a steep face. Most climbers play-out some kind of heroic scenario in their heads where they get out of said accident. But most climbers don't spend the time required to learn how to deal with a serious situation. In other words, the reality vs. what plays out in a climber's head could be quite different. As such, all climbers need to invest some time in learning about rock rescue.

The best way to acquire the skills required to deal with an accident in a multi-pitch setting is to take a class on it. But for those who don't have the time or the money, the late Andy Tyson and Molly Loomis wrote an excellent textbook a few years ago on the subject entitled, Climbing Self-Rescue: Improvising Solutions for Serious Situations.

Tyson and Loomis put together a book that starts with what one should do in the case of an accident and then goes into an overview of baseline knowledge. They discuss knots and hitches as well as ropes, webbing and carabiners. After this introduction, they present the alternatives available to a climber during a rescue. These are escaping the belay, rappelling, hauling and lowering. And though these sound like simple things, in reality they are quite difficult with a injured or unconscious patient. Each technique requires a series of steps that are outside the average climber's knowledge base.

The primary competitor to this book is A Falcon Guide: Self-Rescue by David J. Fasulo. While this book is also excellent and covers much of the same ground as Climbing Self-Rescue, Tyson and Loomis have one-upped the Fasulo book by adding a comprehensive series of scenarios at the end of their text which could be used in "practice rescues." The scenarios are complex and often require mastery of multiple rescue techniques in order for a climber to achieve success. And indeed, it is when one has mastery that one will actually be able to deal with a real situation. This element above all others makes Climbing Self-Rescue the better book.

Can you find the crossloaded carabiner in the photo
on the cover of this book?
There is no better way to learn any new technique than with a qualified guide, but for those looking for an introduction to self-rescue or for a supplement to their training, there is currently no better book on the market than Climbing Self-Rescue: Improvising Solutions for Serious Situations.

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 10/20/16

Northwest:

--The Idaho Statesman is reporting that, "A group of homeowners at Tamarack Resort has bought part of the financially troubled resort, ensuring it will be open to skiers this winter. The Tamarack Municipal Association also will control all skiing and summer and operations, including all six chairlifts and lodging, said the resort’s general manager, Brad Larsen." To read more, click here.

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/business/article107954127.html#storylink=cpy
Sierra:

--Tom Evans, the longstanding photographer who regularly chronicaled what happened on El Capitan with his lens, has retired. Over the years Evans took thousands of photos of climbers on El Cap, including some of AAI guides. These were published on his site, El Cap Report. He will be missed. To read more, click here and here.

--There are two new accident reports up on ClimbingYosemite. To read the reports, click here.

--In inspiring news, a parapalegic climber recently made an ascent of Zodiac on El Capitan. Enoch Glidden and his partners took five days to climb the route. To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--Red Rock Canyon is still under threat. Here's an article about what's going on...

--The October Fire on Mt. Charleston near Las Vegas increased by two acres overnight and is now at 27 acres. The fire is located southeast of Mary Jane Falls near Big Falls on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s Spring Mountains National Recreation Area (SMNRA) near Las Vegas. The October Fire was reported at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14, and the cause has been determined to be an escaped illegal campfire. To read more, click here.


--Red Rock Rendezvous will take place from March 24 to 27. This is the premire climbing event of the year. Early registration is now open. Early registration allows you to save money and while also providing you with better clinic options than when you register closer to Rendezvous! To register for the event, click here.

--It is possible that Zion National Park will start to limit tourists. There is no word yet on how this will impact climbers. To read more, click here.

--So a random dude built a random monument to Woodrow Wilson behind his house in the desert. Randomly, it turns out that he built it inside Joshua Tree National Park. Weird. To read more, click here.

Colorado:

--Neptune Mountaineering, one of the staples of the climbing and skiing communities in Boulder, is facing eviction. The Daily Camera reports that the beloved outdoor retailer owes $70,000 in unpaid rent. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--The Access Fund and American Alpine Club are pleased to announce the 2016 Anchor Replacement Fund grant awards. Now in its second year, the Anchor Replacement Fund was launched to address the growing concerns of anchor failure and the access issues that could result from these incidents. Across the United States, bolts installed in the 80s and 90s are aging, and there is an immediate need to address inadequate fixed anchors and increase support for the growing number of local organizations and national partners that are tackling this problem. To read more, click here.

Bigfoot's hiding at the airport shoping mall in Seattle.
It is currently illegal to hunt at the airport.

--So apparently Bigfoot hunting is legal in Texas, but not California... To read more, click here.

--Are pay to climb resorts the future of climbing? We hope not. But here is an article by Climbing magazine on that topic.

--It's not a bad time to support the American Safe Climbing Association. Donations prior to November 1st will be matched by Planet Granite. To read more, click here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Giddy Climbing Balm Review

We do a handful of gear and equipment reviews on this blog, but we've never done one on any type of climbing balm or salve. Maybe that's because climbing balm has always seemed like lip balm or sunscreen. In other words, something you don't necessarily put a lot of thought into, but pick up occasionally...


However, a few months ago a guy at Giddy sent me some climbing salve to review. This caused me to think a little bit more about what is inside this kind of material.

But before I get into that, I want to make sure everybody is on the same page as to what this product is for...

Climbing can be really hard on your hands. The more time you spend gripping rock and dipping chalk the more dried out and callused your hands get. This doesn't bother everybody, and there are a lot of people out there that don't use any kind of salve to treat their calluses, cuts and splits in their skin. But some of us are bigger babies than others and we need some kind of lotion or salve to keep our hands from coming apart at the seams.

According to my research, the base ingredient in most climbing balms is beeswax. Here's a note on this from the Giddy website:

Beeswax, which is produced by female worker bees at a 10:1 honey to beeswax ratio (meaning it takes 10 pounds of honey to product 1 pound of beeswax), is primarily used in skin care products to bind, or emulsify, the oil components of cosmetic recipes. However, due to wax esthers found in beeswax that are similar to those found in human skin cells, beeswax has a wide variety of skin benefitting properties all on it’s own outside of the oils it binds together. First and foremost, similar to how beeswax is used as a protective agent for cloth, lining, and leathers, beeswax provides protective properties for your skin as well. Also, high in Vitamin A, beeswax helps penetrate skin and retain moisture without the risk of clogging pores.

Giddy adds a number of other ingredients to this base. They include things like almond oil, aloe vera gel, and apple cider vinegar. To see a complete list of ingredients, click here. Giddy states that each of the ingredients is organic or green. Indeed, one of their main marketing points is that their company is a green company...


My hands tend to get trashed in different ways, primarily based on the type of climbing I'm doing at any given time. My palms and finger pads get trashed when I'm sport climbing, and the backs of my hands and fingers get seriously beat up when I'm trad climbing. Occasionally, on longer climbing trips, my hands don't heal very well... There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Giddy Climbing Salve increased the speed at which my skin healed and decreased the pain of split skin.

There are several scents to the salve. They include cedar mint, cooling mint, lavender, sweet orange and unscented. The unscented version is also vegan friendly. And though some of the scents were quite nice, I didn't care for the sweet orange. I would recommend that you smell these, if possible, before ordering as this will be an issue of personal taste.

I didn't do any type of scientific comparison between different skin salves or balms. Instead, I just used this particular brand non-stop on a week-long climbing trip. There may be other good products out there, but Giddy works, and it works well...!

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Climb - Videogame

Okay. Okay. So there is a virtual reality video game out there about climbing. And when I say virtual reality, I mean the type of game where you're wear a headset and look around and see what's behind  you.

It's kinda' cool!

Here's a trailer for the game:



And here is a really funny video with a guy who is clearly not a climber, testing out the game:



--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 10/13/16

Northwest:

--Search and Rescue teams are frustrated that even after two high profile fatalities, people continue to venture into the Big Four Ice Caves. To read more, click here.

--It looks like it will be a snowier winter in the Pacific Northwest.

--The Washington State Department of Natural Resources is likely to regulate target shooting on its lands after several close calls around hikers and mountain bikers. To read more, click here.

Sierra:

--There is a petition to reintroduce grizzlies to the Sierra. To see a thread on the controversy and a link to the petition, click here.

Desert Southwest:


--There is once again a movement to build thousands of houses across the street from Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It is possible for climbers to fight this by becoming informed and signing a petition to stop this development. To read more, click here.

--The Access Fund has recently announced that an Inter-Tribal Coalition has come out in support of climbing at Bears Ears. This is the area that is currently under threat from extractive industries in southeastern Utah. To read more, click here.

--The Las Vegas Sun published an editorial about conservationalists working together on grassroots campaigns to defend and protect public lands from development. To read the editorial, click here.

Colorado:

--The Denver Post has an interesting piece this week on how social media plays into mistakes in avalanche terrain and how avalanche educators grapple with it. To read the story, click here.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 10/6/16

Northwest:


--The Bellingham Mountain Rescue Council announces its annual fundraising slideshow at Backcountry Essentials (214 West Holly Street, Bellingham, WA) with Washington-based photographer and ski mountaineer Jason Hummel. The slideshow will take place on October 7th at 7:30pm.

Ashima Shiraishi and Kai Lightner examine a climbing problem 
in the Reel Rock Film Festival.

--The Reel Rock Film Festival will take place tonight at Western Washington University. To read more, click here.

Sierra:

--The Yosemite Climbing Rangers have posted an accident report concerning a fatality that took place on the East Ledges descent of El Capitan. To read the report, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--The BLM is doing the best that it can to undermine historic racism in the area. They have renamed a trail that used to have a racist name. But it took just a few days for vandals to steal the trailhead's new sign. To read more, click here.

--Spooky - haunted Joshua Tree campsite?

--Speaking of Joshua Tree National Park, there's actually an asteroid named after it.

Colorado:

--A 61-year-old man was killed in a climbing accident on Longs Peak this week. It appears that the individual slipped on ice in "The Narrows" section of the Keyhole Route. To read more, click here.

--Aspen Daily News is reporting, "Friends and family of missing New Mexico climber David Cook are asking for help in pouring over thousands of images of the Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak taken during the official search, which was suspended on Thursday, hoping that someone will notice something that will bring the efforts to a conclusion." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Canadian climber Anna Smith passed away unexpectedly on an expedition to the Indian Himalaya. The 31-year old complained of headaches prior to going to bed at advanced basecamp near 15,000-feet. The woman did not wake up the next morning. An autopsy will be performed in India. To read more, click here.

--A hiker in Montana was attacked twice by a grizzly bear. After surviving the attack Todd Orr decided that the best thing to do next was to videotape himself covered in blood. To read the story and to see the graphic video he made, click here.

--If you haven't signed the Land and Conservation Fund Coalition letter, you should consider signing it. This legislation created in 1965 requires that a percentage of royalties from oil and gas drilling be used to preserve natural areas. Unfortunately, Congress often breaks it's promise to the American people and sends the funds to other places. If you'd like to see those funds used for what they were intended for, click here to sign a petition.

--Is you're local chairlift a deathtrap?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Parkour and Art

Steve Casimiro at The Adventure Life posted the following video a couple of weeks ago. If you haven't checked out The Adventure Life, it's definitely time to take a look. They have a very good blog.

Parkour is the urban climbing, bouldering, gymnastic movement that has become popular in some circles. The Urban Dictionary defines Parkour as:

Parkour can be thought of as being chased by someone. You want to get away as fast as possible, right? But lets say you begin running into rails or walls or other obstacles as such. If you go around them you're only wasting time and energy.

The trick of parkour is to use as little wasted movementt while going past an obstacle. This is why most consider tricking and flips "not parkour" as they simply aren't necessary and will most likely slow you down in someway.

To parkour is to be able to control your body and mind into one being, so that you can find a path quickly, and move your body in a way that the path can be followed into the next path you're given. If you're running towards and obstacle and start to slow down in order to maneuver around it, most likely you need to practice more.


In the following video an artist has developed a cartoon of sorts showing parkour movement...and it is awesome. Check it out below:



--Jason D. Martin