Friday, April 28, 2017

How to Make Tape Gloves

Professional climber Beth Rodden recently put out a video where she demos two different ways to make tape gloves. At the beginning of the video she says that she's going to show two tape glove techniques and one technique to tape a split finger. Unfortunately, she never goes into the split finger aspect in the video, but her tutorial on tape gloves is excellent.

The best way to really learn how to do this is to watch the video at home with tape. Try to make the gloves a couple of times until you have one of the styles mastered.



--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 4/27/2017

Northwest:

--The toilet at Vantage (Frenchman Coulee) needs our help. There is a movement to build a second toilet at this heavily used climbing area. To learn more or to contribute, click here.

--The Idaho Mountain Express is reporting that, "The Sun Valley Resort had 400,000 skier days this winter, an approximately 4 percent drop from the 419,000 it had in the winter of 2015-2016." To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

Rainbow Wall can be seen in the center of this photo.

--So Alex Honnold soloed three major routes in Red Rock in a day. He started with the Original Route on Rainbow Wall (5.12b). Then drove over to Black Velvet and sent Prince of Darkness (5.10c), and then down-climbed Dream of Wild Turkeys (5.10a). To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--The Huffingtonpost is reporting that, "San Francisco rescue workers made a dramatic save from the air of a man clinging to a steep cliff over the sea on Friday. The man, who officials said was homeless, hiked to a frightening height on a cliff near China Beach in the northern end of the city and apparently became paralyzed with fear. Surfers saw the hiker clinging to the sheer rock face and called 911, the San Francisco Chronicle reported." To read more, click here.

--Vox is reporting that, "It’s no secret that oil and gas companies are on the hunt for new places to drill. But the quest for more fossil fuels could heat up in places you might not expect: our national parks.With President Donald Trump’s executive order on energy, federal agencies are now reviewing all rules that inhibit domestic energy production. And that includes regulations around drilling in national parks that, if overturned, could give oil and gas companies easier access to leases on federal lands they’ve long coveted." To read more, click here.

--In New York City, there's a Girl Scout Troop for homeless girls. To read more, click here.

--Killian Jornet is eyeing the Everest speed record. To read more, click here.

--Outside is reporting that, "On Tuesday, the Outdoor Industry Association made a bold announcement: according to research done by the trade association, outdoor recreation now contributes $887 billion in direct consumer spending to the U.S. economy every year—$200 billion more than the industry’s initial estimate. The new report bumps up several other numbers, too, estimating that outdoor rec generates 7.6 million jobs (up from 6.1 million) and $120.2 billion in tax revenue (up from $79.6 billion)." To read more, click here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Training: Deadhangs

The Climbing Movement Essential Training Series on Youtube is kind of awesome. The series is composed of a number of well produced videos that focus on different aspects of training for climbing.

This particular video focuses on deadhangs. A deadhang is essentially just hanging from a hold. The longer you can do a deadhang, the stronger you likely are.



In review:

  1. Select 5 hold types. And make sure that you can hang from them for 2 to 12 seconds.
  2. You will do one deadhang on each hold (each hand).
  3. There should be a 90-second rest between deadhangs.
  4. Failure should take place in 12 seconds or less. If you can hold on for longer than 12-seconds, then you should choose different holds.
  5. Keep track of your time and identify holds that are harder for you. Work on those and establish goals and benchmarks to measure your ability.
And as always, be sure to warm up before using a hangboard. Those things can be dangerous to your tendons!

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, April 24, 2017

Route Profile: Dream of Wild Turkeys, 5.10a III

Dream of Wild Turkeys is an exceptional climb located on the Black Velvet Wall very near to the classic long Red Rock climb Epinephrine. I made it to Red Rock a week ago and after a couple days of sport climbing and bouldering I had the chance to get on this route with fellow AAI Guide Britt Ruegger. Britt is preparing for the AMGA Rock Instructor Course and we thought this route with 8 pitches of 5.9 or harder would be a good training ground for the course.

The beauty of this route is the sustained nature of the climbing combined with a comfortable amount of protection. Where the climbing follows cracks traditional protection is easily attainable, and when the cracks peter out bolts pop up to protect the face climbing. This casual mixed protection makes me feel warm and fuzzy and is a credit to the first ascentionists George and Joanne Urioste's dedication to putting up routes you want to repeat!


AAI Guide Britt Ruegger pulling past the first 5.10a crux on Pitch 3. 
The highlights of the route include pitch 2, a long right angling crack that eats up gear and is sustained at the 5.9 grade. Pitch 3 brings the crux and you go straight up a thin crack with small crimps on the face at 5.10a until you reach a bolted traverse to the right. This sets you up for the long fist to hand crack of pitch 4 that ends with a few tricky 5.10a bolt protected face moves to the anchors.

Britt demonstrating the delicate footwork necessary on this technical face climb.

The rest of the route continues on with endless face climbing mainly at the 5.9 grade. Ten pitches of fun sustained climbing make this a must do route!


The leader of another party climbs pitch 7.
Every belay is also a bolted rappel station, so you can go down at any point. This makes the route a great objective for folks just starting to climb longer routes that are not confident in their speed and efficiency.

Things to take into account on this route:

-Two ropes are required to rappel this route. We climbed with twin ropes but a single rope and tag line would work just fine as well. You end up going straight down with the rappels and utilize a couple anchors that are on variations to this route.

-This is a very popular route and you should get an early start if you want to be first! However, there are many great back-up routes close by if the route is taken.

-The road into the Black Velvet Canyon parking area is rough dirt and rock and requires a vehicle with a reasonable amount of clearance. Not impossible in a passenger car, just much quicker and enjoyable with a truck.

-There are many hanging belays on this route which leads some folks to nickname the route Dream of Belay Ledges! Its not that bad but worth noting in comparison to the more common comfortable Red Rock belays.

The Red Rock season is in full swing here in Vegas and I'm excited to be working with some folks next week on a Learn To Lead Course. If you're after some great desert sandstone climbing or want to improve your skills in traditional and multi-pitch terrain come visit us in Red Rock!

--Jeremy Devine, AAI Instructor and Guide

Friday, April 21, 2017

Natural Anchors

Okay, kids. The question for today is easy. What is a natural anchor?

The most straightforward definition is that a natural anchor is any simple anchor point that nature provides.

The class know-it-all in the front row raises her hand and asks, "but Mr. Martin, isn't a crack a natural anchor?"

A crack is a crack. We actually have to put something inside the crack before we have a piece. It is a natural spot to place an anchor, but it is not a natural anchor point. No, instead a natural anchor is anything that is already there. The most common examples of natural anchors are trees, bushes, boulders, pinches and thread-throughs.

Trees
This tree, found on the iconic Northwest route, Outer Space (III, 5.9), 
has little more than a few roots in the crack system keeping it in place.

Before you elect to use a tree as an anchor point, you should make sure that it is "Five-and-Alive." In other words, that it is at least five inches in diameter, five feet tall, has a good root-base and is alive. You should be wary of trees that could have a root-base in dirt or sand and on top of the rock. An anchor with this kind of structure could easily fail.

This photo shows a tensionless wrap with a static rope on a very large tree.

Bushes and Shrubs

In the mountains and in the desert, it is not uncommon to use bushes and shrubs that clearly don't meet the Five-and-Alive standard. These are primarily used as rappels to get down obscure gullies or to get off the backside of a peak, so the tendency is to try to avoid leaving too much gear. The tendency is to want to only leave webbing or cordage.

When you elect to use these less-than-stellar natural anchors, consider equalizing a number of them together. If you're tying your cord around a desert bush that is comprised of a number of finger-sized sticks, you'll probably want to equalize this with similar bushes. Depending on the size and density, I would want at least two of these, if not more.

And lastly, when it comes to bushes and shrubs as anchors, use common sense. Don't put your weight on something that might blow out. You could always back up the first person (usually the heavier person) on rappel with a loose gear anchor. If all goes well, the second person could tear down that anchor and then descend. If the equalized bush anchor didn't come apart during the first rappel with the heavier climber, it's reasonable to believe that it wouldn't come out with the second climber either.

Boulders

Boulders can be absolutely fantastic natural anchors. But there are a few things to look at before committing to a boulder. First, make sure that it is in good contact with the ground. Boulders on sandy or sloping surfaces should be considered suspect. Second, make sure that it won't wobble or roll toward the edge. Every boulder should be checked by pushing and pulling on it to confirm it's position. And lastly, if there is any possibility of movement, don't use it. The last thing you need is a boulder falling down on top of you.

Pinches and Thread-Throughs

Pinches are places where two large boulders come together so tightly that you can wrap cordage or webbing around them. Thread-throughs are places where there is a hole in the rock that you can something through to tie-off.

It is not uncommon for people to simply miss these opportunities while trying to build an anchor. They simply aren't as intuitive for most people as the other natural anchors out there. If you can keep the fact that these exist in mind and you look for them, you'll find them.

Like boulders and trees and bushes, it's important to make sure that pinches and thread-throughs are sturdy enough to handle the stress of being an anchor. This is particularly important in sandstone or in other soft and friable rock-types.

Natural Chockstones

In the following video, the Canadian Mountain Guide, Mike Barter demonstrates a quick and dirty improvised anchor.



Ultimately, the great value to natural anchors is that they don't require much gear. And since they don't require much, you'll have plenty to use on your next lead.

Class dismissed. Now go build some natural anchors!

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 4/20/17

Northwest:

--We post a lot of SAR and mountain rescue stories on our blog...especially here on the weekly news blog. It's important to remember that most people who are involved in wilderness search and rescue in the United States are unpaid volunteers. A recent video about King County Search and Rescue provides a taste of what Search and Rescue and Mountain Rescue units do, everywhere:



--Crystal Mountain Ski Resort has been sold.

Desert Southwest:

--The Las Vegas Sun is reporting that, "The fate of a planned housing development near Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area won’t be decided by the Nevada Legislature after a proposed bill that would have killed it was gutted and rewritten. But officials believe the revised bill still sets a foundation for responsible development of lands located near the state’s national conservation areas." To read more, click here.

--The Access Fund is reporting that, "The US Forest Service (USFS) is back on track to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) this fall that will evaluate the feasibility of re-opening Williamson Rock to climbing in a way that protects the endangered Mountain Yellow Legged Frog and its surrounding habitat. Williamson Rock was Southern California’s premier summer sport climbing destination until it was closed in 2005 to protect the endangered Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog (MYLF). The Angeles National Forest restricted access to Williamson as a result of successful lawsuits brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation organizations." To read more, click here.

--Pay attention for threatened desert tortoises in the desert. At least three died in Joshua Tree recently due to visitor impact. To read more, click here.

--The Las Vegas Review Journal is reporting on opposition to new oil and gas leases near Zion National Park. "At an auction in September, the Bureau of Land Management is planning to offer “fluid mineral leases” on three parcels totaling just over 4,700 acres near the iconic national park in Utah, 160 miles northeast of Las Vegas." To read more, click here.

--The Saint George News is reporting that, "Public comment is now open on a plan to reconfigure the south entrance to Zion National Park to help ease traffic congestion and make other improvements." To read more, click here.

Colorado:

--Aspen Times is reporting that, "A district court judge is leaving it to a jury to decide whether Vail Resorts properly closed an in-bounds expert ski run before an avalanche killed a local teenager in 2012. District Court Judge Fred Gannett also ruled that it will be up to a jury to rule if the resort company’s signs on Prima Cornice were sufficient. 'If a jury finds that Vail intended to close Prima Cornice or a portion thereof, and that Vail’s signage was insufficient or improper under the Skier Safety Act, a verdict in favor of plaintiffs may be possible,' Gannett wrote in a ruling issued Friday." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Climbing is reporting that, "Trango has elected to voluntarily recall all Trango Vergo belay devices in batch numbers 16159 and 16195 that were sold after 1 October 2016. Please IMMEDIATELY cease use of all such Vergos and return them to Trango for replacement as described below." To read more, click here.

--The Access Fund has a great article out entitled "5 Things You Can do to Fight for Public Lands." To read the article, click here.

Click to Enlarge

--Treehugger is reporting on an artist's interesting take. Drawing upon the WPA’s classic National Parks posters, Hannah Rothstein’s new series envisions our natural treasures ravaged by climate change.With a wry and poignant twist, artist Hannah Rothstein has reimagined the great WPA posters once used to lure visitors to the splendors of U.S. National Parks. Where the original might have promised Yellowstone’s campfire programs and nature talks, the new version offers dying trout and starving grizzlies. Welcome to the National Parks of the year 2050 if climate change is allowed to stake its claim." To read more, click here.

--Alpinist is reporting that, "The Piolets d'Or jury is giving awards to two climbing teams this week, along with two honorable mentions, at the annual international ceremony that acknowledges exemplary alpine ascents from the previous year." To read about the winners, click here.

--Outside Magazine has an interesting article on all the people who have gone missing on public lands never to be found. Check it out, here.

--The votes are in. Black Diamond had one of the funniest April Fools day products. Check out the Honn Solo...

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bigfoot Sightings

With many programs based in the Pacific Northwest, we occasionally get questions about the elusive Sasquatch, or Bigfoot. The first and most common question is, "do you believe in bigfoot?"

The near universal answer amongst the guide staff is, no. Most of us don't believe that there is a big hairy apeman in the woods of the Pacific Northwest.

The second question is often, "have you ever seen Bigfoot?"

Most guides would say no to this question. But that answer would be a lie. In the Pacific Northwest Bigfoot is everywhere. And contrary to popular belief, he -- or she -- isn't that hard to photograph. Bigfoot is a part of our culture here. The beast is everywhere. You just have to open your eyes...

A Native American female Sasquatch mask.
This Native American mask is often used in ceremonies.

This image of Bigfoot is in a mural in Larabee State Park, just outside of Bellingham. 

We all knew that Bigfoot was a snowboarder. 
This piece of chainsaw art is near Index at a coffee shop on the way up to Stevens Pass Ski Area.

Bigfoot lives in a lot of small towns throughout the Pacific Northwest.
This photo was taken in Marblemount, WA.

 Bigfoot is very popular at Seatac Airport. 
I think that this blurry image is of the mythical monster at a cafe.


It also seems important that Bigfoot goes shopping.

 More Bigfoot junk at the airport.

And they even have Bigfoot t-shirts there. 

Yep. In the Pacific Northwest, we see Bigfoot all the time!

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, April 17, 2017

Basic Rock Climbing Technique

The Mountaineers Club has put together a very nice little video that provides some tips and techniques for the beginning level climber. The following video does a pretty good job with its description of:
  • Face Climbing
  • Edging and Smearing
  • Downclimbing
  • Steep Terrain
  • The Mantle Technique
  • The Bear Hug Technique
  • Opposing Forces
  • Stemming
  • The Lieback Technique
  • Use of a Backstep
  • The Undercling Technique
  • The Heelhook
  • Friction Climbing
  • Hand Traverse
In seven and a half minutes, the video quickly demonstrates each of the techniques. And while they don't go into depth on any one technique, the do present a nice overview for those who are just starting out.



--Jason D. Martin

Friday, April 14, 2017

Backclipping

Backclipping is one of the most common mistakes that beginning level leaders make. This is the process of misclipping a quickdraw so that the rope does not run smoothly out of the top of the carabiner, but instead runs behind the gate. If a leader falls with the rope clipped in such an orientation, it is possible that the rope could become unclipped.


This diagram from Spadout.com shows an incorrectly clipped rope
and how it may become unclipped in the event of a fall. Click on the photo for a larger image.


This image from Greatoutdoors.com shows the proper way that a rope should be clipped.
Note that the rope runs out of the top of the carabiner and over the spine.

It is quite common for those that are learning -- and even some of those that have been climbing for a long time -- not to recognize a backclipped carabiner. It is important for both leaders and belayers alike to be able to easily recognize an incorrectly clipped draw. It is also important to quickly correct this once it is recognized.

One of the best ways to avoid backclipping is to practice the art of clipping a rope into a draw. Climbers should be able to do this with both hands, regardless of the direction of the gate. This is a great technique to practice while vegging in front of the television. If you can wire it at home, then your muscles will remember how to do it and will do it right.

Click here to see a video that provides a quick lesson on clipping a rope to a draw. Be sure to obtain real instruction from a live person before doing this in an environment that has consequences...

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 4/13/17

Northwest:

--Five climbers were killed over the weekend in British Columbia when a cornice collapsed. A sixth climber survived. The group fell over 1500-feet down the side of Mount Harvey. To read more, click here.

--A 36-year old skier was killed in an avalanche at Red Mountain near Snoqualmie Pass this week. Morgan Miller was a guide and avalanche educator. He To read more, click here.

Mary Anderson and her husband Lloyd

--The Washington Post, as well as a number of other new sources, is reporting that, "Mary Anderson, a climbing enthusiast who helped start the outdoor retailer REI that has become the nation’s largest consumer-owned retail cooperative, died March 27. She was 107. Her death was confirmed by REI and reported by the Seattle Times. No other details were immediately available. Mrs. Anderson and her husband, Lloyd, along with 21 mountaineering friends, started the consumer cooperative in 1938 out of a desire to find high-quality, affordable climbing gear in the United States. By forming a co-op, they were able to buy outdoor gear in bulk from Europe and other places." To read more, click here.

--This weekend there are two access fund events with the American alpine Institute:

Saturday, April 15 - Dallas Kloke Memorial Work Day at Mt Erie: Join in on trail work, trash clean-up and invasive species removal at one of the state's most scenic crags. Big thanks to Anacortes Park and Recreation, the Mt. Erie Climbing Committee, Solid Rock Climbers for Christ and American Alpine Institute or teaming up year after year! Click HERE for more info.

Sunday, April 16 - Larrabee Climber Gathering & Clean-up: Meet at the Larrabee State Park Boat Launch at 9:00am for a fun day of trach pick-up, graffiti removal, and tour some of park's sandstone blocks. WCC, American Alpine Institute and American Alpine Club will have tents and info set up in the morning with small crews going out to pick-up trash and remove graffiti along the Boat Launch Road and beach boulders. More details can be found HERE.

Click to Enlarge

--As with other National Parks, the North Cascades has seen tremendous growth. The Seattle Times reports that, "There were 979,578 visitors to the North Cascades National Park Service Complex during the National Park Service’s 100th year." To read more, click here.

--The American Alpine Institute will be working with the Liz Rocks campaign to provide a scholarship for our Leaders of Tomorrow program for youth who come from a diverse background or who face significant hardship. TheLeaders of Tomorrow program is the American Alpine Institute's premiere program for young people who wish to become climbers and mountaineers between the ages of 14 and 17. To learn more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--Alpinist is reporting on the future of public lands. "April is likely to be a pivotal month for looming questions about the future of Bears Ears National Monument. The monument includes world-class climbing areas such as Indian Creek, and its fate will be indicative of how national parks and monuments might fare in the future. For those who are in favor of the new monument, there is good news and bad news. Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante and other national monuments appear to be secure for the time being in spite of Utah lawmakers' efforts to have President Donald Trump rescind or reduce them—which is not to say rescission can't happen; only that the law currently protects these designations. An outpouring of letters and phone calls to government representatives appears to be making a difference as well, according to the Access Fund." To read more, click here.

The irony is that this person scratched, "respect the Earth, 
know it's worth" into the rock.

--Las Vegas 3 News is reporting on the ever-present battle against graffiti in Red Rock Canyon. To read more, click here.

Colorado:

--News Channel 13 is reporting that, "A 31-year-old died while climbing Mt. Princeton on Monday. Matthew Wayne Lackey, 31, from Boulder, Colo. died from his injuries after falling around 40 feet and then tumbling an additional 100 feet down the side of Mt. Princeton." To read more, click here.

--Westworld is reporting that, "Logan Goodwin, a twelve-year-old from Hermosa Beach, California, died from injuries sustained while skiing at Breckenridge resort on Saturday, April 8. He is the fifth skier to die at Breckenridge during the 2016-2017 ski season and the thirteenth person to perish at a Colorado ski resort during that span. The tragedy makes this season the deadliest in five years." To read more, click here.

--The Associated Press is reporting that, "Federal authorities are looking at Vail Mountain's proposal to add 42 acres of skiable terrain for a training and competition area. The Vail Daily reports that the U.S. Forest Service held a public meeting on the proposal last week. About 60 people attended, most of them in favor of the proposal." To read more, click here.

--And in other ski news, the Denver Post is reporting on the consequences of a new 1.5 billion dollar acquisition in the resort industry. "And suddenly Colorado is ground-zero for what will become the most hawkish rivalry in the U.S. ski resort industry, with Aspen Skiing – KSL vying against the world’s largest resort operator Vail Resorts in an escalating battle of consolidation. In the past year Vail Resorts has spent$1.1 billion for three-quarters of Canada’s Whistler Blackcomb ski area and $50 million for Vermont’s Stowe in an aggressive expansion plan anchored in a strategy to sell more of its wildly popular Epic Passes." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--There has been a recall on several Wild Country Friends. To read more, click here.

--The Billings Gazette is reporting that, "Federal investigators say there is credible evidence of unwelcome conduct toward female workers in Yellowstone National Park. Alcohol, inappropriate contact and remarks that female employees said made them feel “uncomfortable and degraded” were revealed during a seven-month investigation into Yellowstone’s maintenance division. The report was issued Wednesday by Interior’s inspector general, who concluded that harassing workplace behavior by male employees had gone on for years because of actions or inactions of men in charge of the maintenance division." To read more, click here.

--An 85-year-old man is vying to become the oldest man to ever climb Mt. Everest. To read more, click here.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Technical Rescue: Webbing Storage

Technical rescuers use a lot of webbing. And there are a lot of ways to stow that webbing. Tom Evans of SAR3 has put together a nice video on two techniques that are commonly used to stow webbing...


Coincidentally, the second style that Tom demonstrates is used by guides in a completely different application. Guides commonly use something similar to the Lobster Tail in short rappels. They wrap the rope around a tree or object and then macrame the line together. They then rappel on one end. Once down, they pull back and forth on the rope to get it to drop down as a loop. The hitch used -- which is quite similar -- is referred to as the equivocation hitch...

The short description above provides nowhere near enough information to merit the use of an equivocation hitch. That is certainly a technique that if done wrong, could result in injury or fatality. I bring it up here, merely as a note to those out there that already use the equivocation hitch to help them understand the Lobster Tail.

In addition to the Daisy Chain and the Lobster Tail, there is a third technique that you may use. It is also possible to simply roll the webbing up into a spool.


This technique is good if you have a nice way to store it. If you're just throwing it in a box, it's likely to come unrolled. But if you're putting it into a bag with little zipper pockets and storage areas, it will likely stay as is...

There are a lot of ways to stow webbing. The best thing for you to do on your rescue team is to experiment with each of the styles.

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, April 7, 2017

Climbing Scenes in Non-Climbing Movies

High budget narrative climbing movies are a genre in and of themselves. There are not very many of them out there and those that do exist tend to be filled with plot holes and ludicrous situations. But what about non-climbing movies that include elements of climbing?

Mountaineering, rock climbing and ice climbing are generally seen as extreme or eccentric things by filmmakers. The result of this is that they only use climbing for three things.

First and foremost, they use climbing to emphasize a character's bravery or uniqueness. You can see this in the following two clips.

In Mission Impossible II, Tom Cruise does things on desert towers that are completely impossible. This is a perfect example of climbing used for character development to show how "extreme" someone might be. There's a moment in this clip that is supposed to result in a laugh. They make a comment about Tom Cruise being on holiday. The joke of course is the question, who would ever go rock climbing for a vacation?



In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Captain James T. Kirk free solos the Nose on El Cap, badly. By the time this film came out we didn't need a lot of character development for Captain Kirk. Instead, this is -- perhaps unintentionally -- designed to reinforce the character's cocky arrogance.

Bob Gaines, AAI Guide Jason Martin's co-author for Rock Climbing: The AMGA Single Pitch Manual, was Captain Kirk's double for the climbing scenes.



Recently Bollywood has gotten in on the action. The following sequence from a film called Shivaay is one of my personal favorites. It's pretty hard to beat in how ludicrous and funny it is:


The second use of climbing by filmmakers is simply to show something that is "different." They'll use it more for its novelty than for any other reason. Movies that do this include Axe, The Descent, and Wrong Turn. It's weird that most films that come up on a quick search are horror films...

The third use is when a character is forced to climb. This is an incredibly common thing in film. Movies that have scenes like this include North by Northwest, The Princess Bride, The Good Son, and Deliverance. Recently we saw this in Game of Thrones.

Though they're not all available, there are tons of movies with climbing scenes in them. Check out the female mountain guide hero of Alien vs. Predator or Keanu Reeves as a Himalayan climber in The Day the Earth Stood Still. I'm sure there are dozens and dozens more out there that I haven't thought of. I'd be curious to know what they are.

What other non-climbing movies with climbing scenes can you think of?

--Jason D. Martin

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Breaking barriers: The female mountain guide battling machismo

We wanted to draw your attention to a great article from BBC that highlights a special woman. Last Friday, Ecuadorian Juliana Garcia became the first female mountain guide in Latin America to become fully IFMGA Certified.

Juliana below the cerracs on Antisana. Roberto Espinosa F.
In the article, Juliana talks about some of the additional challenges that she encountered being a female in a predominantly male field, both from her peers and from the climbers that she was guiding. Click here to read the full article.

Congratulations to Juliana and best of luck to you!


Friction Hitches

The American Mountain Guides Association and Outdoor Research have teamed up to develop a handful of instructional videos. In this particular video, AMGA instructor team member, Patrick Ormond, demonstrates three major friction hitches: the autoblock, the prussik, and the kleimheist.



--Jason D. Martin

Monday, April 3, 2017

Placing Protection: Wires

Passive protection is protection with no moving parts. The most common type of passive pro -- and the cheapest -- are wires (often referred to as nuts). These most popular wires are Wild Country Rocks and Black Diamond Stoppers.

Those new to traditional climbing often start their careers working with wires. On easier rock climbs where there are a lot of stances, it's reasonable to take your time and place these well.

In the following video Jullie Ellison from Climbing magazine discusses how to place wires.



In the video Julie uses the mnemonic Running Dogs Chase Squirrels. Following is a breakdown of that saying:

Running - Rock Quality - Is the rock good? What kind of rock is it? Will it break? Are you placing your protection in a crack in the rock or a crack in the earth? If it's a crack in the rock, is it acceptable?

Dogs - Direction of Pull - Is the direction of pull appropriate for the piece. If the climber falls is the piece oriented appropriately to catch it? If the piece is part of an anchor, is the piece oriented properly for that?

As a sidenote, it's not uncommon for a draw to pull a wire out of its placement. It's often better to use a sling or an alpine draw on this type of protection.

Chase - Constriction - Is there a good constriction for the piece? Have you put it in the perfect spot to ensure that when it's pulled on, it will be pulled into a tighter position?

Squirrels - Surface Contact - Does each side of the wire have good contact? Or is it only marginally in the crack?

Cleaning the Wire:

Julie also mentioned ways to clean a wire. She started with pulling upward on it, and then jumped to using a nut tool. There is a mid-level technique as well. If you place your fingers right below the head of the wire and push up on it, this will often allow you to clean it.

If you elect to use a nut tool, it's always a good idea to keep the draw clipped to the rope and then clip the nut tool to the piece. This way, when the piece pops out, you won't lose your piece or your nut tool.

There is a tendency amongst those who have the money to buy a full rack early in their climbing careers and to neglect nutcraft. I would argue strongly that, even if you have a thousand dollars to lay out on cams, you shouldn't do that. Instead, you should spend some real time learning to climb with wires. This will radically increase your long term skills as a traditional climber. Cams are great, but they should be the second stage of your learning...

--Jason D. Martin