Thursday, May 31, 2018

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


--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.


--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.


--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.


--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

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

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

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


--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.


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


--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.