Thursday, April 27, 2017

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


--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.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

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


--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.


--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...

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 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 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 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


--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.


--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.

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!