Thursday, May 31, 2018

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 5/31/18

Northwest:

--The body of a snowboarder missing since January was found in Mt. Baker Ski area last week. To read more, click here.

--A climber was killed in a fall on Mt. Adams this week. To read more, click here.

--A climber was injured in a fall on Mt. Hood on Saturday. To read more, click here.

--Oregon Live is reporting that, "The family of a 32-year-old fallen climber who died after waiting several hours for a helicopter rescue on Mount Hood filed a $10 million lawsuit Monday against Clackamas County. The lawsuit claims the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and Clackamas County 911 were responsible for a series of missteps that contributed to a more than four-hour delay in rescuing John Thornton Jenkins on May 7, 2017." To read more, click here.

--The tragic death of a mountain biker near North Bend, Washington has a lot of people wondering why a cougar attacked and killed the man. Outside Online has brought together all the theories. Read them, here.

--There will be two Adopt-a-Crag style events in the coming weeks. The first is on June 2nd. This will be a project working on the approach trail to 3 O'Clock Rock in Darrington. And the second will be at Little Si on June 16. To read more about the Darrington project, click here. To learn more about the Little Si project,  click here.

Sierra:

--There have been two fatalities on Mt. Whitney this month. To read more, click here.

--Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell brought the Nose speed record down to two hours and ten minutes this week. They are literally running up the mountain. To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--A climber was killed after suffering a 60-foot fall in Southern Utah. To read more, click here.

--The popularity of Joshua Tree National Park is taking a toll on rescue workers. To read more, click here.

Colorado:

--Charlotte Fox, one of the survivors of the 1996 Everest Disaster, died in Telluride this week. To read more, click here.

--Brady Robinson, the tireless crusader, is stepping down from his position as Executive Director at the Access Fund. The organization has nearly tripled in size under Robinson's leadership. To read more, click here.

Alaska:

--AAI Team 2 has moved to 17,000-feet on Denali. Team 3 and 4 are at the 14,000-foot camp. And Team 5 is at the 11,000-foot camp. To read more about AAI's expeditions, click here.

--Human waste is a real issue on Denali. AAI's Wyatt Evanson was recently interviewed by Rock and Ice about the subject. To read the article, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Brette Harrington and Rose Pearson put up a huge route on Mt. Blane in the Canadian Rockies. To read more, click here.

--Two lynxes were caught on video in an intense conflict near Avery Lake in Ontario, Canada. It is recommended that you watch this awesome video with the sound on. It is a very interesting encounter.



--There is something to the way that sponsors have reacted to the boorish behavior of Joe Kinder toward Sasha Digiulian. Kinder created a fake name to harass Digiulian online. It became public and sponsors fled. But maybe the reaction is too focused on Kinder and doesn't take into account the way that we as climbers ignore all kinds of things that we should be aware of and actively reacting too to make our culture and environment better. That's the point of an awesome piece by Chris Kalman at the Outdoor Journal.

--The Hillary Step on Mt. Everest is definitely gone. Check it out, here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Revisiting the Famous Bear's Reach Video

Alex Honnold is the most famous free soloist in the world. We have seen him in some of the most precarious positions on the planet many hundreds of times in different film and photo shoots. But Alex was by no means first.

Dan Osman was the Alex Honnold of his day. Indeed, he was at the pinnacle of the sport when he died in 1998. Dano (as he was known in the climbing community) was particularly famous for his participation in the Masters of Stone movies, which were the rock climbing movies to watch at the time. They were heavy metal infused stoke films that we -- those who were climbing back then -- could never get enough of...

Dan Osman doing a human flag.
This photo was everywhere in the 90s.

There was one film in particular that was perhaps the most famous of all. The film featured Dano on the Bear's Reach (5.7, II) at Lover's Leap, literally flying up the route without a rope. Indeed, there is one particularly awesome moment where Dano lunges for a hold and nearly comes off, recovers and then keeps going. And there's another moment where he does a flying dyno to a hold. The movie is awesome and you can check out the film below:



Dano was a big deal in the eighties and nineties. He was the essence of the cool climber, working a few months a year, dirt bagging, doing BMX tricks and climbing wicked hard.

Tragically, Dano was killed in an accident in 1998. He was one of the few practitioners of a sport that some referred to as "rope free-flying." This was the BASE jumping of the day and was just as dangerous. In essence, a climber would jump the whole length of a dynamic rope. Sometimes practitioners would tie two or more ropes together. Dano did this and somewhere the system failed. Outside magazine put together an excellent story on this.

Alex Honnold is the Dan Osman of our day. And Alex is keenly aware of climbing's history and those who came before him. As such, he put together a tribute to Dan Osman and climbed the Bear's Reach in red shorts and a mullet wig with heavy metal raging in the background.

To be frank, the video is glorious.

Check it out below:



--Jason D. Martin

Monday, May 28, 2018

Route Profile: Dorado Needle - East Ridge

There is almost no information whatsoever about the east ridge of Dorado Needle. In the Cascade Alpine Guide, Beckey merely gives it a mention:

EAST RIDGE: This sharp crest leads from the col E of Dorado needle toward the summit. First ascent by Joan and Joe Firey, Hans Hoesli, Dave Knudson and Peter Renz on July 4, 1971. The route involves class 3-5, sound, granitic rock. Ascend the ridge to the eastern subsummit, then rappel into the notch beyond for completion to the summit. Rating: 5.5. Time 4 hours.

On an ascent of the route in 2016, we found this description to be... less than adequate. The route clocks in at about 5.7 and most parties will take eight to twelve hours from the Eldorado East Ridge camp (where there's a toilet) to the summit of Dorado and back. Additionally, the route presents many different alpine problems that make it an interesting and fun route to climb!


Approach: From the camp at the base of the east ridge of Eldorado Peak (see Selected Climbs in the Cascades, Volume I), traverse the Inspiration Glacier to the north avoiding crevasses until you reach the Inspriation-McAllister Col.

This is a good time to take a picture of the NW Ridge of Dorado Needle and the glacier below. On the descent you will not be able to see all the options and an early photo that you can reference later will help with your return trip.

Drop down the glacier until you reach the Dorado Needle Col.

Topo for the East Ridge of Dorado
(Click to Enlarge)

Route: From the Dorado Needle Col, climb one very loose, nearly unprotectable 5.5 pitch, to a stance. Approximately 100-feet up from the Col there is a large horn that had a sling on it when I climbed it. This is the best anchor if you start from the Col.

There is protection, but it is thin. Everything that you might consider for pro needs to be checked to ensure that it is attached to the mountain.

An alternative is to cross the moat to the right of the Col and climb straight up underneath a cannonball hole in the mountain. While we didn't go this way, it is reportedly better climbing. However, you may have to deal with a very dangerous moat. It should also be noted that the cannonball hole is hard to see on the approach.

At the top of the first pitch, scramble up toward the ridge crest on better rock. Continue for several rope lengths along or just below the ridge. The climbing here is anywhere from third class to easy fifth class. All the ridge climbing throughout the entire route is either on the ridge or below it on the right-hand side.

Eventually, you will come to a notch. Down-climb third and fourth class terrain to a spot where the glacier touches the notch.

From here, cross the glacier to the base of the continuation of the east ridge. The best place to access the ridge is at a ledge with two quartzite lines. Beware of the moat here as it is bottomless.

East Ridge Dorado Needle
(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Many parties may choose to skip the loose bottom of the east ridge and simply access the mountain after this notch. The rock is significantly better from here on out.

After you access the rock, continue up for several rope lengths on terrain that ranges from third to low-fifth class to the top of a tower.

Make two short rappels into the notch between the ridge and the summit pyramid.

Working up 5.7 Terrain toward the Summit.

Climb good rock for another two pitches. This terrain looks harder than it is as you approach it. The climbing is never harder than 5.7.

Climb one to two more easy pitches to the summit of the mountain.

Descent: This descent can be easy, or it can turn into a nightmare. Stay awake and pay attention. There is a lot of tat on this mountain that leads you to difficult moat crossings.

From the summit, ignore the tat around the summit block and continue down the ridge toward the Northwest Ridge. Eventually you will come to a block that is inconveniently wrapped with tat. It's inconvenient because you will have to climb over to the other side to rig it for a rappel.

One way to tell that you're in the right place is that you can see that you'll be about five to ten feet above a stance when you rig it.

There is a lot of tat on the north side of the mountain. If the moats are not too difficult, you might be able to use some of these. But if the moats look like they'll be a problem, then you shouldn't rap that way.

East Ridge from Eldorado Peak
(Click on Image to Enlarge)

We rapped easily down the southwest side to a stance that is exactly 30 meters (100-feet) below. From there we scrambled on easy ledges back to the NW Ridge and to an easy rap that took us to a moatless notch at the base of the NW Ridge.

From the base of the ridge, you will have to find a way down through steep crevasses in order to make your way back to the McAllister-Inspiration Col. In 2016, we found a good path down on the skier's right side of the glacier.

Dorado Needle is an excellent climb. This is an adventure climb in the purest sense. The peak is remote, big and incredibly cool. An ascent of Dorado Needle is an ascent of something at the very heart of the North Cascades!

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, May 25, 2018

Film Review: Beyond the Edge

The first ascent of Everest...

Everyone knows the story of the first real attempt on Mt. Everest. Indeed, a tremendous amount of ink and a tremendous amount of film footage has been generated about the (possibly?) failed ascent of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine.

And of course, everyone knows the story of the first ascent. Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary made the first ascent of Mt. Everest on May 29th, 1953. News of the ascent reached London on June 2nd, the morning of Queen Elizabeth's coronation.

Everyone knows that story. Right?

The answer is, kind of...

A lot more modern literature has been written about the Mallory-Irvine ascent than about the Hillary-Norgay ascent. And though the Hillary-Norgay ascent is recounted in volumes of different pieces on modern ascents of the mountain, a lot of the detail is missing.

And that's where the documentary Beyond the Edge comes into play.


Beyond the Edge tells the story of the 1953 expedition to Everest and the struggles that took place. The following is the synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes.

In 1953, the ascent of Everest remained the last of Earth's great challenges. Standing at over 29,000ft, the world's highest mountain posed a fearsome challenge and had already claimed thirteen lives in previous expeditions. Faced with treacherous winds, sub-zero temperatures and battling altitude sickness, Edmund Hillary, a modest bee-keeper and keen mountaineer from Auckland, New Zealand, and the experienced Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, of Nepal, finally achieved the impossible and became the first men to stand atop Everest. It was an event that stunned the world and defined an era. Hillary and Tenzing carried the hopes and dreams of the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the people of the Himalayas and the entire British Empire on their shoulders. As the world slowly recovered from the horrors of World War II their efforts allowed people everywhere to believe a new age was dawning.

The story is told in a similar fashion to Touching the Void and The Summit. In other words, the tale is told using a blend of dramatizations, original footage and photographs. This provides one with the experience of reliving the expedition and all the drama that took place during it.



I consider myself to be a well-read climber. I've read all the historic and modern classics of mountaineering literature, but this documentary really made me feel like I didn't know that much about one of the most important ascents in mountaineering history. I mean, I suppose that I knew about all the hardships on the expedition. I suppose that I knew that they were on a razor thin timeline by the time they got high on the mountain, and I suppose I knew that Hillary and Tenzing were the second team to attempt the summit on the expedition...

But I didn't really know...

And that's where this film really fills in the gaps. For example, climbing the Hillary Step in 1953 was no different than committing to landing on the moon. You might not come back. In fact, it almost seemed more likely that they wouldn't come back than they would... Making those moves in such an exposed and inhospital place wearing all kinds of oxygen equipment was incredibly daring.

Beyond the Edge takes us into the minds of the Everest mountaineers. We live each of their struggles and fears on the mountain. And finally, we rejoice in their ascent to the summit.  Indeed, the film is so well done that I would hazard to say that no Everest history buff is complete without a viewing of Beyond the Edge.

As of this writing, Beyond the Edge is available streaming on Netflix.

--Jason D. Martin

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Route Profile: Cutthroat Peak, S. Buttress (5.8, III+)

Every winter the Washington Department of Transportation turns a cold shoulder to a stretch of State Route 20 that winds its way through the Northern Cascades.  This area sees so much snow and crosses so many avalanche paths that it is not feasible for them to maintain the road and keep it plowed.  This stretch can see sometimes more than 60 or 70 feet of snow in some places.  Every spring, we eagerly await the reports from the DOT as they start the clearing process.  Depending on the snowfall and the avalanche conditions, this can take a few weeks, or a few months.  This year, the highway was cleared and open by May 8, and climbers and skiers alike have already started enjoying the numerous routes there.

The Liberty Bell Group from the East.  Dana Hickenbottom.
SR 20 cuts through the heart of the North Cascades National Park, and is the access for hundreds of peaks.  One of my favorite areas along there is known as Washington Pass.  This Pass is home to some of the best alpine rock climbing in the state.  The most notable formation there is the Liberty Bell Group, which includes Liberty Bell, Concord Tower, Lexington Tower, North Early Winters Spire and South Early Winters Spire.  Each of these peaks have numerous routes on them ranging from 5.6 beginner routes to 5.12 Grade V monsters.

However, the Liberty Bell Group isn't the only fine chunk of granite in the area.  Another great is Cutthroat Peak, which is just to the north of Liberty Bell, on the other side of the highway.  At 8050', it tops out at about 300' higher then anything in the Liberty Bell Group.  When viewed from the east or west, you can see the distinctive North and South Summits, which form the shape of the salmon that it is named after.

Climbers approaching through the grassy meadows to
the southwest of the peak.  James Pierson

There are a hand-full of routes on the peak, mostly in the moderate range, although there are a couple in the 5.10 and over range, as well as some alpine ice routes.  From the highway, you park at a broad pull-off south and just west of the peak, approximately 1.5 miles west of Washington Pass.  Drop down into the drainage and start the brushy hike up the other side towards the meadows on the southwest of the peak.  Ascend the northern-most notch of the Southwest Arm to get to the base of the South Buttress to start the real climbing.  The South Buttress, shown middle-center in the photo below, is a great 5.8 route that follows the crest of the feature, with a few short sections that venture to the east before returning back to the ridge.  If you find yourself getting sucked too far to the left, be sure to steer yourself back to the crest again.

View of Cutthroat Peak from the summit of Liberty Bell.  James Pierson

The majority of the route is easier climbing with a few short but well protected 5.6 - 5.7 spots.  The crux of the climb (5.8) comes near the top, just before you start the final easy scramble.  This takes you up to the first of the two summits.

Rock Ptarmigan trying to blend in. James Pierson
Mountain goat coming to say hello.  James Pierson


Above is a 360 deg. panorama from the summit of Cutthroat Peak.  From this vantage point, you have spectacular views of the Liberty Bell Massif, Big Kangaroo Peak, Silver Star Peak, the Wine Spires, in to British Columbia to the north, and on a good day you can even catch glimpses of Mt. Baker.

Climber starting to rappel down the
West Ridge. James Pierson
For the descent, you have two options.  If there are no other climbers behind you, you can rappel the route.  The other option is to continue scrambling and drop into the notch between the North and South Summits, ascend the North Summit and then rappel down the West Ridge route.  There are fewer rappels this way, but there is also some loose scree scrambling as you come off the West Ridge.

Cutthroat Peak is often overlooked by climbers since its neighbors on the other side of the highway have such easy access.  But with a little extra effort on the approach, you will find a great climb for anyone looking for a long, moderate climb with beautiful surroundings.

--James Pierson, Program Coordinator and Guide

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Ice Bollard

Steep snow or ice can be descended two ways. A climber could downclimb the terrain or he could rappel. Rappelling is always a dangerous option as a lot can go wrong...but in the mountains, sometimes the speed of rappelling is safer than downclimbing.



A Climber Rappels Off of an Ice Bollard

In hard frozen snow or on ice, one option is to create a bollard. A bollard is essentially a tear-drop shaped pillar that is cut into a frozen surface with an ice axe adze. The rope is then wrapped around the bollard for the rappel. Once the rappel is completed, the climber can simply pull the rope.

Bollards are not the strongest anchors available, but they are quick and effective. If you choose to use a bollard, it is important to do two things. Back them up and reset the rope after each rappel.


An Ice Bollard loosely Backed-Up by an Ice Screw

To back-up a bollard, create the bollard and then preset the rope. Place a piece of snow protection (e.g. a picket buried as a deadman) and then loosely clip a sling to both the piece and to the rope. Once this is set-up, the heaviest person with the heaviest pack should rappel first. The theory is that if the heaviest person with the heaviest pack doesn't blow out the bollard, then a lighter person should be able to remove the back-up piece and safely rappel.

To reset the rope after each rappel, simply treat the rope like dental floss. Pull on each end of the rope once your down. Resetting the rope like this will ensure that it doesn't freeze into place and get stuck.


An Ice Bollard backed-up by an Ice Screw

Snow and ice bollards are a quick and effective style of anchoring that avoids leaving trash -- or expensive gear -- behind. Practice with this style of rappel anchor will lead to a solid and safe understanding as to how one should employ them effectively...

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Dangers of Glissading

Yep, you can find them in just about every issue of Accidents in North American Mountaineering. They have unwieldy headlines like:

"Climber injured in Glissade Accident"
"Out of Control Glissade Leads to Fatality"
"Inexperience, Lack of Proper Clothing and Glissade with Crampons On"

Gissading is an incredibly fun endeavor. I've often felt that after achieving a somewhat physical summit that a good glassade run back down makes it all worth it. It's as if nature gave you something back for all of the work that you did to get up there. The desire to glissade though should be tempered by the reality...and the reality is that a lot of people get hurt glissading.

Most injuries take place because an individual breaks one of the cardinal rules. To stay safe, the best thing to do is to take these rules seriously.

The Cardinal Rules of Glissading 
  1. Never glissade with crampons on. If you're wearing crampons it means that you're probably on hard snow or ice. This means that should you glissade, you will slide really fast. If you slide really fast and you catch a crampon spike, your leg will snap like a dry twig. As such one should never glissade with crampons on. 
  2. Never glissade on a rope team. If one person loses control on a rope team, then others may do so as well. 
  3. Never glissade on a glacier. It's likely that you'll be roped up if you're on a glacier so if you do glissade, you will be breaking two rules at once. We don't glissade on glaciers because of the possibility of hidden crevasses. 
  4. Always make sure that you can see where you're going. This should make sense. If you can't see, then you could end up sliding into a talus field or off a cliff. 
  5. Make sure that there is a good run-out. A good run-out is imperative. One should certainly avoid glissading above dangerous edges, boulders or trees. 

These rules are quite black and white. There are few gray areas in glissading. If there is some question, then the best thing to do is to err on the side of caution. Though you might be tired, sometimes walking down the mountain is the safer alternative.

--Jason D. Martin

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Mountaineers Rest Step

When I first started mountaineering it became clear to me that there were two things I needed to be successful. And no, I'm not talking about a lighter ice axe or more breathable clothing.

Nope. What I need were legs and lungs.

I realized that I needed to be able to walk uphill forever. And I realized that I needed to be able to breathe while I walked uphill forever.

The problem is that nobody can really walk uphill forever. Going up into the sky on a snowy peak really works the quads. Tired quads, plus walking uphill early in the morning, plus altitude, equals tired lungs.

There is a simplistic trick that can help you to preserve both your legs and your lungs. The Mountaineer's Rest Step is a technique that slows you down a bit -- which helps you keep your breath -- and allows you a micro-rest on every step. In the simplest terms, all that you have to do is lock your knee on every step. Locking your knee allows your body to rest on your skeletal system instead of on your muscles.

The Rest Step definitely slows you down. Some might say that this is far from ideal when trying to cover a lot of ground, but the reality is that slow and steady wins the race. It's always better to go slower and take less breaks than to go fast and have to stop a lot.

The Rest Step is a key mountaineering technique. On long summit days it doesn't get any better than taking a mini-rest with every step.

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, May 14, 2018

Two Nineteen Forty Four - The Fastest Time on the Nose

The following video chronicles Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds fastest time on the Nose in Yosemite. And the film is both awesome visually and inspiring. This is from the Vimeo page:

On a cold, misty morning in late October 2017, after 11 previous attempts, Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds broke the standing speed record on The Nose (formerly held by Alex Honnold and Hans Florine) with an unbelievable new time of 2 hours, 19 minutes, and 44 seconds. Watching this as it happened was one of the more incredible spectacles I've ever witnessed; an amazing display of superhuman mastery unlike anything I've seen before...

Make this film as big as you can on your screen. It's worth it...



--Jason D. Martin

Friday, May 11, 2018

First Female Ascent of Necessary Evil (5.14c)

Necessary Evil (5.14c) is a mythic route in hard sport climbing. The route is located in the Virgin River Gorge in the extreme northwest corner of Arizona right off the Interstate 15 Highway. The route was first completed by Chris Sharma in 1997 and never saw a female ascent...until Michaela Kiersch began to work the route. This is her story...



--Jason D. Martin

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Gate Direction on Quickdraws

The question about gate direction on quickdraws comes up pretty regularly on courses. There are two perspectives. The first is that it doesn't matter, place the carabiners on the dogbone however you like. And the second is that it matters and that not doing it right could be dangerous.

Kolin Powick -- the individual who runs Black Diamond's Quality Control Lab -- addressed this in the following video:



Kolin notes that there is a "better" way to put your carabiners on your dogbone. And that better way is to have the gates facing the same direction. He notes that there are two reasons for this:

1) The carabiner gates can easily be oriented away from you when you climb.

Ideally, the spine of the carabiner is oriented toward the direction you're climbing and the gates are oriented away. When you climb with the carabiners facing opposite directions it's harder to remember which way to clip in order to make sure that the spine is facing the climbing direction.

2) The gate can get caught up on the bolt hanger.

If you have set-up your draws with the gates facing opposite directions and you clip the draws appropriately, the gate and nose of the carabiner can ride up onto the bolt hanger. This makes it more likely that a fall will damage or break the carabiner.

As a side-note, the most common way that carabiners break in a climbing application is when they are "nose-clipped." In other words, the nose of the carabiner gets stuck on the bolt with the gate holding it in place. When climbers take falls on a carabiner clipped like this, the carabiner almost universally breaks.

The way you clip and how you have your clips set-up are important. It's easy to see sport climbing as a "safer" form of climbing...but that's not always the case. It's important to do things the right way in order to avoid catastrophe.

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Unquenchable Thirst - Dry-Throat in the Mountains

In the mountains, the air can be incredibly dry.

We all know that cold air tends to be dry air. And we all know that there is cold air in the mountains. So the logical conclusion is that the air in the mountains is dry...

Of course, those of us who spend time in the Cascades hiding from rain storms might dispute this. But I digress. Mostly, cold air in the mountains is dry...even high in the Cascades...

Most mountaineers tend to breath through their mouths. It's hard climbing up steep terrain with a big pack. The combination of stressing your body, sweating and breathing through your mouth can lead to dry-throat, a feeling like there's sandpaper in your throat.

The feeling of dry-throat can be so intense that an attempt to swallow will lead to a gag reflex. And a gag reflex will lead to vomit. And vomit usually means it's time to turn around and go home.

Healthgrades defines dry-throat as:

...a rough, scratchy, sometimes itchy feeling in the throat. The most common cause of dry throat is drying out of the mucus membranes, often as a result of exercise, sleeping with your mouth open, breathing through your mouth, living in a dry environment, or simply not drinking enough fluids.

Dry throat is also caused by tobacco or marijuana use, voice strain, vomiting, excessive coughing, throat inflammation, allergies, and, in rare cases, cancers of the throat and esophagus.

The article goes on to suggest that one seek medical treatment for this. But -- unless this is a condition that you are experiencing when you're not in the mountains -- you should be able to remedy it yourself. If these remedies don't work, or you're experiencing dry-throat in environments other than in cold mountains, then you might want to seek out medical advice.

There are two ways to manage dry-throat in the mountains. First, you can hydrate.

You could carry an easily accessible water bottle, or even use a hydration bladder. Taking regular sips of water will keep your throat intact, while also helping with your hydration.

The downside is that when the air is dry, water often freezes easily. It is possible to keep a water bottle inside your jacket to keep it from freezing. But if your dry-throat is chronic, you may have to take it out to take a sip every few minutes. This isn't super realistic when you're trying to move quickly in the mountains.

It can be difficult to keep a hydration bladder from freezing. One has to constantly think about it and do several things in order to ensure that the water stays liquid:

  1. Use a tube insulator. 
  2. Keep the bite valve in your collar. The bite valve is often the first thing to freeze. It's also the easiest thing to unfreeze by putting it back in your collar.
  3. Blow water out of the tube and back into the bladder after every use.
  4. On extremely cold trips, consider using a hydration bladder backpack. Put this under your jacket and under your pack. It's uncomfortable, but the bladder won't freeze.

Obviously, these things take time and energy. If you are not an organized person and you can't remember to put the valve back in your collar or blow the water out of the tube, a hydration bladder won't work for you.

A hard candy can keep your throat from turning to sandpaper in dry air.

A second option is to suck on a hard candy or a throat lozenge. I find this to work extremely well in super dry environments. The candy ensures that saliva continues to drip down your throat throughout the day. This will keep your throat moist, but it certainly will not hydrate you.

The idea with a hard candy or throat lozenge is that you keep it in your cheek for a long time. You shouldn't actively suck on it, as that will cause it to melt faster. Ideally, a single candy should last for 30 to 45 minutes.

Having a candy in your cheek for hours on end for a series of days probably isn't the best thing in the world for your teeth...but it does work. If this is something that is problematic for you, consider one of the water options, or some kind of hybrid option.

Dry-throat can be a debilitating issue for a mountaineer. If this is a real problem for you -- as it has been for me in the past -- experiment with these ideas and find what works best for you...

--Jason D. Martin


Friday, May 4, 2018

Grip and Hold Technique for Rock Climbers

Mani the Monkey -- the youtube climbing coach -- notes that many people use inefficient or inappropriate grip techniques throughout their early climbing careers. As a result, he notes that it's incredibly important for beginning climbers to "incorporate the whole spectrum of climbing grips as early as possible in a climbing career." This will allow one to avoid injury and continue to grow in strength.



In review, Mani notes that there is always a "least aggressive way" to take a certain hold, and a "most aggressive way" to take a hold. Taking a hold via the most aggressive way may lead to injury. And the most aggressive type of movement is the full crimp.

The full crimp takes force away from your muscles and puts it into your tendons and joints. Deferring this force away from the muscles and into the joints and tendons can lead to injury. Indeed, Mani says that, "unless you're a competition climber, you should never crimp fully indoors."

The video also reviews several other types of holds and grip types. The take-away is that you should work on all styles in order to be more effective on the rock...

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 5/3/18

Northwest:

--With 70-feet, Mt. Baker just had the third highest snowfall recorded this century. Read more, here.

--A multi-agency operation recently took place to find and convict thieves in Olympic National Park. To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--A couple were stranded in Red Rock Canyon overnight this week. It's not clear why. To read more, click here.

Alaska:

--The Alaska season is underway. A team just completed a hard first ascent in the Revelation Range. To read more, click here.


Denali

--The NPS is requiring people to carry a lot more of their waste off Denali now. Check it out.

Notes from All Over:

--The New York Times has a nice piece on that "other" Penn State scandal: "Nature is unscripted and hard to predict. Having recently discovered this reality, Penn State has decided that its 98-year-old, student-led Outing Club shall no longer be allowed to go on outings. Citing the high risk of remote environments and poor cellphone service, the university is recommending that the club restrict its offerings to films and speakers. Students are being funneled into engaging only in previously vetted human constructions. The students of the Outing Club are fighting back — and good for them. Driven to explore both nature and risk, they are well on their way to adulthood, which means knowing how to resist injunctions that are more protection against future lawsuits than they are in service of the students themselves." To read more, click here.

--Vista Outdoors was the centerpiece of a boycott this year when many companies, including MEC and REI dropped them because of the fact that they own a company that makes assault style weapons. They also own CamelBak and Giro. Vista has decided to sell off Savage Arms, the controversial part of the company. But they say it has nothing to do with the boycott... To read more, click here.

--Want to race from Portland, Oregon to Hudson Bay in Canada, with nothing more than paper maps and compasses? There's a reality show looking for people to do that. Check it out.

--There have been several high profile incidents over the last couple years in the Himalaya. In many of these cases families and friends of the missing people used the internet to crowdfund for rescue. Is that a sustainable model for rescue insurance? Probably not...

--Ryan Zinke. The dude doesn't know how to wear an NPS ranger hat...and people are not happy about it.

--Speaking of Ryan Zinke and the NPS. It looks like the Secretary of the Interior is shuffling people around in the Park Service. The idea is that if you make them move, they might quit. It appears that those who don't agree with Zinke on climate change and public lands policy are being shuffled the most. To read more, click here.

--Interested in outdoor writing? A writing competition might be a great way to start. Learn more, here.

--It looks like 3D printing is coming to your local rock gym. Imagine taking pictures of the route you're working and then replicating it indoors. Check it out.

--35.8 billion dollars has been added to the economy due to National Park visitation. To read more, click here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Crevasse Falls - Do Knots Work to Decrease Fall Potential?

In 2012, the French National Mountain Guide School (ENSA) began to research how knots in climbing ropes decrease the impact of a fall on a climber. Guides have been testing this for years in unscientific ways and have always come up with the same result. Mostly it works.

The difference between a guide does in a training and what ENSA did is that ENSA took a scientific approach to the question. They used a load cell to measure the force...and what they found wasn't terribly surprising. Knots do help...

Check out the following video for more:


In review, they found that bulky knots are better. They recommend that you use a figure-eight on a bight rethreaded through itself. Most American guides have been using butterfly knots, but this video may have a long term impact on that methodology.

They found that in icy conditions, knots don't help that much.

And they recommended the following distances for rope between knots:


It should be noted that they style in which you elect to haul someone out of a crevasse may be determined by whether or not you have knots in your system. If you intend to use prusiks and a single haul system, knots may hinder these things. It's important to make sure you have a plan for extraction (a drop loop works well) if you put knots in your rope.

--Jason D. Martin