Friday, May 24, 2019

Training Drills - Footwork

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.

They always say "use your feet." And indeed, it's pretty common for people to come off because they aren't using their feet. This video shows several drills that one can use to increase the precision and efficacy of their footwork.



--Jason D. Martin

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Film Review: Third Man on the Mountain

There really haven't been that many movies made about mountain guides. I mean, there have been some...

Sanaa Lathan plays a world class guide in Alien vs. Predator...and she clearly demonstrates that bloodthirsty extraterrestrials are no match for an experienced mountain guide. I would tend to concur.

Robin Tunney plays a mountain guide on K2 in the worst best climbing movie of all time, Vertical Limit. We all learned a valuable lesson about guides in that movie, the lesson that it's important to bring nitroglycerin on any and all mountain expeditions.

And then there's Third Man on the Mountain.


You'd be forgiven if you didn't know this 1959 Disney film. But you're probably aware of the Matterhorn ride in Disneyland. This film was the inspiration for that ride. And it's no wonder, because the iconic mountain plays a central role in the film, as an infamous peak known as the Citadel.

Third Man on the Mountain is a beautiful film set high in the Alps during the golden age of alpinism. In other words, it was a time when guides and their charges worked together to develop new lines on unclimbed peaks. 

Disney promotes the film with the following plot synopsis:

Rudi Matt, a young kitchen worker, is determined to conquer the Citadel – the jagged, snowcapped peak that claimed his father's life. Encouraged by both a famed English climber and the youth's devoted girlfriend, Rudi goes through a grueling training period before he is ready to face the incredible dangers of the killer mountain.

What they don't say in this short synopsis is that the character Rudi Matt is the son of a mountain guide. And they don't say that the young man has a great desire to become a guide himself...



There is a great deal of climbing in the film that doesn't seem realistic, but it can be forgiven. Why? Because the heart of the film is in the right place. It's a coming of age story about a climber who wants to make the mountains a permanent part of his life. It's the story of an imposing route that that young man looks at every day. And it's ultimately the story of the young man's journey to the mountain.

Most of us can relate to this story.

It's sometimes difficult for those of us who are used to high end special effects to watch older films. It's usually obvious when they shift from scenes that were shot on location to scenes that were shot in a studio. Occasionally you can tell that you're looking at a matte painting... But the story is so nicely portrayed that I was able to suspend my disbelief and live in the moment throughout the film.

Of particular note, Gaston Rebufatt directed the second unit film crew for all the mountain and climbing shots. Rebufatt was the French guide who wrote the iconic book, Starlight and Storm, and participated in the first ascent of Annapurna.

Third Man on the Mountain was based on the 1954 young adult novel Banner in the Sky by James Ramsey Ulmann. This award winning book was republished in 1988 by Harper Teen and is apparently used as a middle and high school reading assignment.

Though I haven't read Banner in the Sky, I'm glad to know that this story is being read and even taught to young adults. It's likely that most students have the opportunity to watch the film after they've completed the book. It's good to know that this film has a life somewhere... It deserves it. It really does...

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, May 20, 2019

Route Profile: Liberty Bell - The Beckey Route (5.6, II)

When I was twenty-years-old, some friends and I made our way up toward Liberty Bell Mountain in the North Cascades. We had climbed a few multi-pitch routes prior to that, but this was going to be one of our first real alpine multi-pitch climbs.

We approached in the late afternoon with the intent to bivy. That was the night that a marmot tried to cuddle up with me in my sleeping bag. I awoke with a shout, just as scared as the little furry animal as it darted away into the night.

The next morning we made our way up to the Beckey Route. I remember thinking that it was hard for the grade, which is something that I still think over twenty years later. I remember my partner being terrified on the rappels, even though they're not that exposed. And that's about all I remember from that first ascent of the route.

Since then, I've climbed the route literally dozens of times. I'never camped below it again. The route is totally reasonable from the car and back in a day. But it remains an incredibly fun line.

Most of the time the approach to the base is trivial. But in the spring of 2013, we found
getting on the route to be the crux of the day. A snowstorm had plastered ice all over the 
base of the route. Luckily, we were able to climb past it and up into the sun.

 This is a photo of a climber leading the first pitch of the route.
As this is an easy photo to get, it is a popular spot to take an iconic photo.

 Climbing the chimney on the second pitch. This pitch is always easier
without a backpack.

 AAI Guides James Pierson and Jeremy Wilson high on the Beckey Route.
Jeremy is on a variation in this photo.

Climbers moving down the upper part of the mountain.

The AAI Guide Class of 2012, on the summit of Liberty Bell.
From left to right: Liz Daley, Everett Chamberlain, Tad McCrea, James Pierson, Jeremy Wilson

--Jason D. Martin




Friday, May 17, 2019

Self-Arrest with Crampons

We teach self arrest a lot.

You could argue that we teach this skill more than any other. Every single course that goes out onto a glacier will spend at least some time covering this foundational skill. Some will spend all day, whereas others may only spend a short period of time. But it happens on just about every mountaineering trip...

There are a lot of different elements to a successful self-arrest and this particular post wasn't written to address them all. Instead, this post was written to discuss the one area of self-arrest where there is a fair bit of contention: toes up or toes down.

One school of thought is that when you arrest, you need to kick your toes up off the ground. This is so that if you are wearing crampons, they won't catch and flip you over.

The second school of thought is that you should kick your toes into the snow to help arrest the fall. In this school of thought, your toes should go in immediately to provide more resistance to the slide. However, this school also believes that you should only do this if you are not wearing crampons. This school believes that you should not kick your toes in if you are wearing crampons for fear of injury or flipping over.

The third school of thought is that you should always kick your toes into the snow, regardless of whether or not you are wearing crampons. The theory here is that stopping is the most important thing and that it's worth the risk of getting flipped over or injuring your ankles to stop.

Most AAI guides teach a combination of the second and third schools of thought. Programs that teach the first concept are definitely in the minority these days. The number one focus of any self-arrest activity is to stop a slide and most of the time, that means using your feet as part of the arresting system.

The real question comes when we look at the most obvious break between the second and third schools of thought. In the second, you kick your feet up while wearing crampons and in the third, you put them into the snow no matter what. Each of these styles of thinking are a little bit too rigid. In alpine climbing there are seldom absolutes. Both concepts have validity in one venue or in another. The problem is that it depends on snow conditions.

If you are on hard, solid ice or neve, then it's usually better to kick your feet up into the air. If you are on semi-solid terrain with occasional harder sections, then it's probably better to kick your toes in. This "it depends" approach isn't what most people want to hear. They want to hear a black and white answer; in part because a black and white answer is easier to remember in the heat of the moment.

Strategical thinking when moving in the mountains, in any kind of terrain, should always be composed of two questions. What is is the likelhood of a fall? And, what are the consequences of a fall? If these questions are always at the forefront of your thinking, then a black-and-white answer may not be so important. If you are constantly strategizing what you'll do in the event of a fall, then it is likely that you will react appropriately when the right skill is needed.

There is no easy closure on this question. There will always be people who argue vehemently for one of the three schools of thought. When all is said and done, none of the arguments matter. All that matters is that you can stop yourself when you fall.

--Jason D. Martin

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Film Review: Blindsight

Our culture has evolved to a point where we are very accommodating to people with disabilities. There are special parking areas for people who have trouble walking or are in wheelchairs. Computer systems help the deaf to speak on the phone. And many crosswalk signals use a series of clicks and vocal announcements to help the blind determine when to cross the street.  And indeed, these are just a few examples of many hundreds of things that we do in a first world culture to accomodate the disabled.

In the developing world things are very different. People who have lost limbs, who can't walk or who can't see, must often resort to begging on the street. In Tibet, the problems that come with a disability like blindness are compounded by the fact that many Buddhists believe that the reason that a person is blind is because they have done something terrible in a previous life. The result is that blind people are often treated like pariahs, or half-humans...


In 2004, acclaimed climber, Erik Weihenmayer was asked to lead an expedition of blind Tibetan youth up a 23,000-foot peak adjacent to Mount Everest. Why? Because Weihenmayer was the first blind man to summit the tallest mountain in the world.

Sabriye Tenberken, a blind German woman, runs the only school for the blind in Lhasa. It was at her school, Braille without Boarders, that she learned of Weihenmayer's successful ascent of Mount Everest. The mountaineer became an instant hero to the children of the school. Tenberken wrote a letter to the man, that started with the following lines:

After you reached the top of the world our Tibetan neighbor rushed into our center and told the kids about your success. Some of them first didn't believe it, but then there was a mutual understanding: if you could climb to the top of the world, we also can overcome our boarders and show to the world that the blind can equally participate in society and are able to accomplish great things.

She finished her letter with the question, "I wanted to ask if you would like to come to Tibet, maybe even to do a small climbing workshop with our kids."

Weihenmayer agreed and subsequently put together an expedition for the kids to climb Lhakpa-Ri, a 23,000-foot satellite peak of Mount Everest. Indeed, the trek to the base of the climb follows the same course that Everest climbers attempting the North Ridge tend to take. The Advanced Base Camp is the same as it is for Everest.


Weihenmayer put together a group of guides and filmmakers to show the inspirational story of these kids, their plight in Tibet, and their adventure on a mountain. The result is an amazing and inspirational story.

The DVD of this film that I received from Netflix was a bit unusual though. It was designed for both sighted and unsighted viewers. That may sound weird to readers of this blog. I wasn't aware that some films were designed to be "viewed" by the blind.  A narrator explains what is being shown on the screen throughout the film.  One might think that you could turn this feature off through your DVD player, but for whatever reason (likely my basic lack of technical prowess with such things) I was unable to do this.

With that in mind, I watched the film with this extra element. And I found it to be a very enlightening thing.  Of course, the film is about blind people, but by watching the film and hearing it the way a blind person might I had a different -- and very positive -- experience with the film than I might have otherwise.

Additionally, I watched the film with my four-year-old and my five-year-old. Being my kids, they're very familiar with mountain climbing films. But also being young kids, they haven't been exposed to many people with disabilities. It was very cool to watch them first come to an understanding that there are blind people out there. But then second, to also come to the conclusion that if the kids can go rock climbing, mountain climbing and skiing, then they're really no different than anyone else...

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, May 13, 2019

Denali West Buttress Expedition Team 1 (May 12 - June 1, 2019) Dispatch 1

In the Company of Ticks

As the weather warms, it feels surreal as I step out of my winter dreams of warmth and into a bright sunny reality. I love wearing shorts on approaches... But as it warms I cannot rid myself of the feeling that some little bloodsucker feels the same spring euphoria as I when he sees my bare white calves approaching.

Now I don’t want to sound like some kind of entomophobian (yes, there actually is a word for fear of insects), but lets be honest, nobody enjoys cavorting with these little monsters. So if you're like me and want to avoid ticks this summer, here are some tips, tricks and general info about these crazy arachnids.

Adult Deer Tick
Photo from Wikipedia

Ticks are viscous little creatures. They've figured out that since they can't jump or fly, the best way to get their vampire on is to wait in brush, tall grass, and bushes along deer and human trails. Some ticks have even developed the “oh-so-not-cool” move of falling out of trees and onto an unsuspecting host.

Once they have reached their delicious meal, ticks will insert a barbed feeding tube into the host to secure themselves in place while they feed. This blood feast can last from a few hours to several days. Once satiated the creepy little parasite will drop off and hide while it spends some time digesting your blood.

While the tick is stuck to the host it might feel guilty about taking so much away and thus want to give a small poisonous “present” in return. These presents are numerous as ticks are capable of transmitting a variety of diseases, the most common of which is a fun little thing called Lyme disease. If you are one of the lucky 1% of all tick bite recipients to contract Lyme disease, you will know in anywhere from 3 to 32 days after being targeted by the creature. The present will start off as a headache with fever, fatigue, depression and a bulls-eye shaped rash around the bite mark. If at this point you decide that you don’t want to keep this gift, you will not be able to return it to the tick, (besides that would be rude). Instead, you will need the help of a doctor and his antibiotics, which in most cases will rid you of the disease.

However, if you decide that you would rather keep the bloodsucker's gift, then you will begin to contract chronic problems as the disease attacks your organs, especially the brain, heart, and bone joints. The longer that you wait to get treated, the harder it will be to treat the disease. In an extreme case Lyme disease could lead to a permanent paralysis.

Luckily though, there are ways to prevent ticks from getting to skin level. When playing in popular tick habitats (pretty much any wooded or forested area in the world), one should wear long sleeved shirts, pants, and a hat. Another trick is to tuck your pant legs into your sucks so as to look like such a dork that the tick will be embarrassed to be seen on you (it also will prevent them from crawling up your boots and socks into the promised land).

However, even with the best of defenses, the ticks still might find their way through and therefore it is good to do a thorough tick check a few times a day while paying special attention to the warm places of your armpits and groin. It's also a good idea to check your pets over to make sure that they haven’t become a blood buffet.

If a tick is found, then the best method of removal it is use tweezers. Pull in line with the creatures body and it's entrance hole while holding it its body as close to the head as possible. Be careful and move slowly; as much as you might hate these guys, the last thing that you need is for one's head to pop off while beneath your skin.

Following are two videos which show methods of tick removal. The first shows the use of a forceps and the second discusses a number of tick related issues before demonstrating removal.



Ticks are gross, but good prevention and treatment will keep them from being anything more than a major nuisance.

--AAI Staff

Friday, May 10, 2019

Diamox - The Wonder Drug?

Diamox is the trade name for a drug called Acetazolamide. This is a "altitude wonder drug" that many people take to increase the speed of their acclimatization. It is also a drug that some people put a little too much hope into instead of acclimitizing properly.

The reality is that Diamox is not a wonder drug. It is is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor that is commonly used to treat glaucoma, epilepsy, hypertension, cystinuria, dural ectasia and of course, altitude sickness. The drug is designed to help your body make the chemical changes that it needs to make in order to function better at altitude.

We get a lot of questions about this drug from people who are planning a Denali climb or other high-altitude objective. But we also get them from people who are going to go on relatively low-altitude climbs.

Those who are climbing peaks that are less than 14,000 feet tall really shouldn't worry about any type of specialized drug to acclimatize. They should just take their time. Those who are climbing peaks that are between 14,000 and 16,000 feet should only take the drug if they've had problems in the past. And those climbing peaks that are 16,000 feet tall or more, should really see how their body reacts before filling it full of drugs.

The reason that we advise caution with this drug is that it has side-effects that can be difficult to deal with. Diamox is a diuretic. It causes you to urinate frequently. This, of course, can lead to dehydration, which is a contributing factor to altitude sickness. It can also cause a very unusual sensation in the fingers and toes. It feels like they have fallen asleep. This could be confusing or even scary in extremely cold environments.

Diamox - A Prophylactic?

Some climbers choose to take Diamox prophylactically, starting a few days before going to altitude. A percentage of climbers respond well to this, especially if they take between 125 milligrams (mg) to 500 mg per day before ascending rapidly to 10,000 feet or more.

What is rapidly? This is generally a fast one to two day ascent from sea level. Examples of rapid ascents might include Mount Rainier or Mount Whitney in two days...

Those who have a history of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) are urged to take Diamox prophylactically especially with plans for a rapid ascent or plans to ascend 2000 feet or more per day after reaching 10,000 feet.

Diamox forces the kidneys to excrete bicarbonate, the conjugate base of carbonic acid. The more bicarbonate excreted, the more acidic the blood gets. The more acidic the blood gets, the more that ventilation is stimulated. This will ultimately result in more oxygen in the blood.

Clearly the changes in the blood take time. It takes time for the body to catch up to your altitude. As such, Diamox cannot be seen as an immediate fix for AMS. If the symptoms are bad, then climbers are urged to immediately descend before the AMS devolves into a life-threatening cerebral or pulmonary edema.

When to Take Diamox


Many guides argue that the best time to take a drug like Diamox is right before bed. As I know that I don't tend to breathe as deeply at night as during the day, I will usually take Diamox before I go to bed when I'm at high camps on high altitude peaks.

On the one hand an evening dose of the drug may help you acclimatize better up high at night. It may also keep you from getting sick at night. But on the other, you are unlikely to sleep well due to the whole, "I have to pee every five minutes" thing.

Others feel that the morning is better because it doesn't interrupt your sleep.

Alternatives

There has been a lot of research over the last few years that indicate that Ginkgo Biloba may work extremely well in acclimatization. As this is easily attainable at health food stores and has few side effects in healthy people, it may be a much better alternative to Diamox.

On the other hand, those taking anticoagulants such as ibuprofen, aspirin, warfarin, or antidepressants should be wary of potentially dangerous side effects.

Altitude Research

Understanding altitude and its effects on the body is an extremely broad topic. This blog has only touched on the bare surface of the subject and indeed, only on the bare surface of the uses of Diamox. Those interested in learning more should check out Going Higher: Oxygen, Man and Mountains by Charles Houston or Altitude Illness: Prevention and Treatment by Stephen Bezruchka.

A Final Note

We are not doctors. We are climbers. And the advice here is just that, advice. All the information here is based on our experiences working at altitude and everyone's body reacts differently under such circumstances.

Diamox is a prescription drug. And it is extremely important that you get proper medical advice before self-medicating with any such drug. If you are on an expedition with a guide, it is also important to tell your guide whenever you take any drugs.

High altitude climbing is an awesome experience. Diamox is merely one tool that will help you to get up high. Another, and perhaps far more important tool, is to use good sense, good judgment and to acclimitize properly.

--Jason D. Martin

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Using Your Rope in Climbing Anchors

It's not uncommon for us to get up to an anchor point only to find that we've left our cordellete on our partner's harness or to find that it is impossible to hear.  Most people will just deal with these problems without thinking outside-the-box.  One outside the box thought though is to use your rope for these things.



This first photo was taken in Red Rock Canyon at the start of the "Tunnel Pitch" on Tunnel Vision (III, 5.7).  If you're not familiar with this route, it is an absolutely stellar ascent.  On the fourth pitch, one has the opportunity to actually climb through the mountain in a tunnel. In other words, the route requires a bit of vertical spelunking.

The top of the third pitch, at the start of the tunnel, it is difficult to see or hear the second.  The route follows a corner and chimney system up the wall.  In order to see my climber, I built an anchor and then, using the rope, extended the anchor to the edge where it was far less difficult to see and hear.

Some might argue that this system lacks redundancy.  I'm not too worried about that as I can see the whole anchor to ensure that there is no rubbing and we never have redundancy in the rope while we're climbing with a single line...

This second picture was taken in Leavenworth, Washington on one of our AMGA Single Pitch Instructor courses.  The assignment was for the student to create a fixed line across a catwalk on the slab shown.  This particular student didn't have the webbing or the cordellete to create a perfect SRENE anchor.  Instead, he built a pre-equalized anchor with his rope. In this application, this worked really well.


In this picture, another Single Pitch Instructor candidate built a top-rope anchor, wrapping a rope around a boulder and tying it off with a double-bowline.  In order to create some flexibility in the anchor he tied an figure-eight on a bite and clove-hitched it to the line going to the edge of his top-rope anchor.


This last picture shows a close-up of the figure-eight and the clove-hitch mentioned above.





One last thing to be aware of is that dynamic climbing ropes stretch 8-12%. Usually there isn't much rope in the anchor so there's not going to be that much stretch, but this should be taken into account before the system is loaded.

Flexibility and thinking outside the box are two major tenants of climbing efficiency.  One way to be efficient and to be flexible and to be outside-the-box is to use your rope for anchoring instead of other materials.  Your rope is always on you and as such, it definitely provides an option that really shouldn't feel like it's that far out-of-the-box...

--Jason D. Martin

Top Ten Tips for Beginner Bouldering

We don't really spend much time on bouldering on this blog. Our focus tends to be bigger climbs, alpine routes and ski objectives. But bouldering shouldn't be shunned. It can really help you improve as a climber.

With that said, the following video from Boulderning Bobat provides you with some thoughts on how to start bouldering indoors and how to improve. Check it out:


1) Use Your Toes - This will increase your efficiency of movement. Standing on a hold midsole will restrict your movement. With the toe on the hold, it's easier to pivot.

2) Use Your Legs - These are big muscles and they don't wear out as quickly as your arms.

3) Climb with Straight Arms - Hang on your skeleton. Use your legs to push yourself up and out, instead of pulling down and burning muscle.

4) Read Your Route - Preplan your movement before you get on the route.

5) Don't Use Too Much Chalk - If you use too much, it can have a detrimental impact on your ability to grip the holds. Liquid chalk can take too long to dry for it to work well. Too much loose chalk can make it feel like you're climbing up sloping holds with tiny marbles under your fingers...

6) Don't be Afraid to Fail - Falling is a good thing. It means that you're trying hard. If you never fall, you never improve.

7) Climb with as Many Different People as Possible - When you watch others work routes, you can learn from both their successes and failures. Indeed, there is great value to watching how someone with a different body type takes on a problem. And there's always value in climbing with people who are better than you.

8) Beginner Climbers Shouldn't Worry about Muscle Specific Training - New climbers should just get time on the rock. This will help them improve more than anything else.

9) Invest in a Pair of Shoes that Fit Well - They shouldn't be too small so their painful, and they shouldn't be too big so they don't provide precision.

10) Have Fun! - Alex Lowe famously said that the best climber is the one that is having the most fun.

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, May 6, 2019

Route Profile: Cotopaxi



Cotapaxi and the José Ribas Refuge Seen From The Entrance

Ecuador is home to a lot of great climbing throughout the country, but what brings most climbers down is Ecuador's range of highly accessible glaciated Andean peaks, which cut through the middle of the country.

Of these Volcanoes, Cotopaxi (5,897m) is most likely the most famous and most popular. It is located in the Cotopaxi province of Ecuador, about 50 km south of Ecuador's largest city Quito.

The volcano is a very popular destination for foreigners and Ecuadorians alike, bringing in thousands of visitors each year. Due to its close proximity to Quito, the volcano is very easy to access and trips from Quito are just as easy.

The ease of travel, combined with the fact that the volcano is one of the world’s most aesthetically shaped peaks (a perfectly symmetrical cone), surely adds to its appeal.

Most of the visitors, however, don’t make it past the base camp, and of those who attempt the summit, success rates are only around 50%.

Though the route itself isn’t considered very “technical”, it is still requires a relatively high level of fitness and acclimitzaion. For that reason, the undertaking should not be taken lightly, especially if you are new to high-altitude climbing.

Those who do make the summit will be rewarded with breathtaking views of nearby Chimborazo, the Andean Mountains, and an experience they will surely remember for a lifetime. 

The Climb (PD/WS+)


Ecuadorian law requires that you hire an approved guide prior to attempting to summit Cotopaxi, no matter your level of experience. Luckily, the American Alpine Institute provides several programs in Ecuador.

Though the climb is not “technically” difficult, it still requires the use of crampons, ice axes and the ability to safely navigate glaciers.

In addition to these challenges there are also two crevases which must be crossed with ladders (already set up for you). This challenge requires that you have a good level of fitness, be comfortable with heights, and have good balance.

Prior to attempting the summit, it is advisable that you spend a few days acclimatizing, especially if you are coming from a low elevation. The more time you spend acclimatizing, the higher your chances of successfully reaching the summit. There are no shortage of nearby hikes or climbs to keep you busy for a few days after you arrive.

All summit expeditions arrive via the main highway through the park entrance. From the entrance it is a one to two hour hike up to the José F. Ribas Refuge. The Refuge has some simple but comfortable beds, a restaurant, and a small shop with basic supplies.

When we arrived, we spent the day hiking around the Refuge and practicing the use of crampons and ice axes. The climb to the summit started at night (around 12am), and took approximately six hours to reach the top. The path was well marked and easy to follow and, of course, we were working with a highly trained guide the whole time. We reached the summit just after dawn, spent some time taking pictures, and then started our descent before the sun’s powerful rays began to defrost the glacier.

Memorials To Climbers Lost at the Base of Cotopaxi

By 10am, we were back where we stared at the Refuge, where we enjoyed a quick cup of coca leaf tea, organized our things, and then hiked back down to the entrance to catch a bus back to Quito.

Cotopaxi was a very enjoyable climb. Much like Huayna Potosi in Bolivia, the climb is mostly a steep jaunt with crampons, ice axe and rope. But due to the accessibility of the volcano, the non-technical route, and the incredible views, it is likely that Cotopaxi will remain one of Ecuador's most popular places to climb for years to come.

Author

Jacob Bushmaker: Avid Climber, Professional Traveler, an expert on South American climbing destinations and Founder of The Wandering Climber. Go here now to download his FREE PDF, learn the “best places to climb” in South America and plan your next adventure.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Review: Packit Gourmet

Camping at Moose Lake in Sequoia and Kings Canyon.

There are few things more important than getting the right nutrition in the backcountry. On Denali, we like to say that you "eat and drink your way up the mountain" — in short, nutrition and hydration are key to taking care of yourself, especially at altitude. But with food, you run into the same problems you often run into with other gear: what matters the most to you, comfort or weight? With Packit Gourmet, you don't have to make tradeoffs because you get delicious, packable and fairly lightweight (though not "ultralight") meals.

Packit Gourmet was kind enough to send me a set of breakfast, lunch and dinner foods to test, which I and a friend tested on an overnight backpacking trip to Echo Lake in the Sierra Nevada, another overnight to Kennedy Meadows in the Sierra, an 8-day, off-trail backpacking trip in Sequoia and Kings Canyon and again on an overnight skiing and camping trip outside of Lake Tahoe.

Packing for an 8-day trip in Sequoia and Kings Canyon.

Packit Gourmet is a small, family-owned company based outside of Austin in the Texas Hill Country. Their meals are hand-mixed and made in small batches. The meals are composed primarily of dehydrated and freeze-dried ingredients and are shelf-stable. While some meals are more involved, many you can cook by adding boiled water and then heating in an insulated "Cook-in-Bag" you can get from Packit Gourmet.

The thing that stands out the most to me about the food from Packit Gourmet is how delicious it is. It tastes far better than anything I've ever had from Mountain House or Backpacker's Pantry. The meals are clearly created with care — their "Austintacious Tortilla Soup", for example, comes with dehydrated lime and a packet of hot sauce to add — and the higher-quality ingredients are reflected in the taste. Apart from the "Austintacious Tortilla Soup," for dinners I also tested "Dottie's Chicken and Dumplings," "Texas State Fair Chilli", "Ramen Rescue" (which you add to regular Ramen), "Shepherd's Cottage Pie" and "The 'Big Easy' Cajun Gumbo." Each one was a winner and filling after a long day in the backcountry.

Packit Gourmet also has an array of breakfast and lunch options. While I didn't try the breakfast smoothies, my friend reported general deliciousness, though you need to be sure to pack your own straw. For lunches, we tried both the "Many Beans Salad" and the "Kickin' Chicken Hot Wings Wrap" and they were great. The lunch portions were incredibly filling, and even when splitting a lunch we still often had leftovers. Be sure to check the directions because sometimes you need to pack additional ingredients — for the wrap, for example, Packit Gourmet sends you the filling but you have to pack your own tortillas.

Getting lunch ready.

These meals are quite packable for mountain adventures. For our 8-day trip, we were able to pack enough food for two people in two large bear canisters. Because of the number of steps and spice packets involved in each of the meals, I wouldn't pack these for a gnarly bivy in storm conditions but would pack them for just about everything else.

On both weight and price, they are comparable to meals offered by Backpacker's Pantry and Mountain House, only way more delicious. Most breakfasts are $6-8, lunches are $8 and dinners are $8-9. The lightest dinner that doesn't require additional ingredients (like your own tortillas) is the "Austintacious Tortilla Soup" at 3.8oz and the heaviest is the "Pasta Beef Bolognese" at 7.4oz.

If you're looking for an easy, tasty, grab-and-go meal for the mountains, I'd definitely recommend Packit Gourmet. I expect to be enjoying their meals for many years to come.

--Shelby Carpenter, former AAI Instructor and Guide, Outdoor Writer

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 5/2/19

Northwest:

--If there's any such thing as Bigfoot, he's safe in the Mt. Baker foothills. It's a Bigfoot Protection and Refuge Area. To read more, click here.

--The Seattle Times is reporting on a sad loss for the Seattle climbing community. "After 23 years of serving the outdoors community, gear retailer Ascent Outdoors has permanently closed its stores in Redmond and Ballard and its partner store, Ascent Cycles, also in Ballard. The company has made no official announcement, but last weekend, several patrons noticed their stores were closed and posted images on social media of a sign on the door of the Ballard location that stated it was 'no longer open for business.'" To read more, click here.

Sierra:

--The Yosemite Facelift will take place on September 24th. Information about the event can be found, here.

Desert Southwest:

--The Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive was closed for a period of time on Tuesday, while police tried to find and apprehend a suicidal woman who was armed. Eventually, she was located and taken into custody. To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--SGB Media is reporting that, "Vail Resorts reported season-to-date total lift ticket revenue at the company’s North American mountain resorts, including an allocated portion of season pass revenue for each applicable period, was up 9.3 percent compared to the prior year season-to-date period." To read more, click here.

--The outdoor industry is trying to limit single use plastic from its key event, the Outdoor Retailer Show. Ninety-six brands have signed onto the plastic impact alliance. To read more, click here.

--There is a move amongst some Colorado climbers to develop a better infrastructure for those dealing with grief after a friend or family member dies in the mountains. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--High Country News is reporting that, "the Blackfeet Nation is trying to open its own national park
Members of the Blackfeet Nation want tourists to understand how the story of Glacier National Park is really the story of their nation." To read more, click here.

--The Nepalese are cracking down on the sale of faulty oxygen equipment to climbers who wish to climb Mt. Everest. To read more, click here.

--Montana's Bear Tooth Basin, a summer ski hill, is looking for support to help it stay open. To read more, click here.

--The New Yorker has a piece out about a crazy ski party in the Alps. To read the piece, click here.

--Here's a great piece on eight women who are changing the face of the climbing community.

--Outside ranked all the gear used on Game of Thrones. Check it out!

--Rock and Ice is reporting that, "The sport of climbing is growing rapidly in the United States and around the world. With this expansion comes responsibility from the community to ensure that the sport is open and inclusive to everyone no matter their race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. USA Climbing wants to become a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sport. USA Climbing announces the formation of a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force (DEITF) to best assess, identify, and implement changes to these areas in competitive and recreational climbing throughout the country." To read more, click here.

--So for what it's worth, there's a new Guinness record for the fastest person to run a marathon in ski boots...

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Rappelling - The Basics

The American Alpine Club produced a nice piece on rappelling. The following video looks at both considerations and techniques for a successful rappel.



Following is a review of the video:

Counterweight Rappelling vs. Fixed Line Rappelling

This is a standard rappel technique. Both strands of the rope are threaded through a tube style device. The fact that both strands are threaded allows the climber to counterweight herself.

In fixed line rappelling, the rope is tied off and the climber descends a single strand. This can be done with a tube style device or with an assisted braking device.

Why Do Climbers Rappel?

The first reason a climber might rappel is because the climber ascended a multi-pitch route that requires multi-stage rappels. The second reason may be to clean anchors in a single pitch setting. And finally they rappel in emergencies.

Four Key Principles of Rappelling

1) Climbers must be secured during the setup.
2) Climbers must use a backup.
3) Rope ends should be managed and systems should be closed.
4) Avoid entanglements - keep hair and clothes out of devices.

The remainder of the video addresses how these fundamentals are managed by a climber. It also addresses anchor cleaning and fireman's belays.

Rappelling Accidents Happen Because:

1) A climber didn't understand how a rappel worked.
2) A climber didn't double-check everything carefully.
3) A climber didn't have an adequate backup.
4) A climber didn't manage the ends of the rope.

Rappelling can be super dangerous. It's important that you manage your rappels adequately.

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, April 29, 2019

Spring-Cleaning: How to Clean an MSR Whisperlite Stove


The MSR Whisperlite is arguably the world's best wilderness stove.  While not the lightest stove on the planet, nor the fastest boiling, it has one distinct advantage over all others- simple maintenance and repair that can be done in the field.  MSR has been making the Whisperlite with very few design changes since the late eighties and they are reliable and (almost) indestructible.

While they are easy to maintain in situ, I give mine a full cleaning at the beginning of any season or anytime it seems to be running a little ragged.  Some signs that your Whisperlite needs cleaning are uneven or "coughing" jets, leaking fuel, difficulty starting or holding pressure, or any other problems pertaining to performance.  Even if your stove isn't exhibiting signs of being dirty, it is a good idea to give it a good clean once a year.  Here's how:

If you don't already own an MSR Maintenance Kit, go get one.  Just the basic kit is all you need for regular maintenance. The basic kit contains extra parts, tools specific to your stove, and a helpful diagram to help you keep all the parts together.  If it has been a while since you did any maintenance on your stove, the "expedition" kit might be the way to go.  This contains a more comprehensive set of replacement parts, including a pump cup- a part that without regular maintenance and lubrication, can pretty easily become cracked.

I was excited to provide step-by-step instructions on cleaning a whisperlite, with beautiful, detailed pictures I took all on my own, but then a quick internet search revealed that in fact there is a multitude of info out there on cleaning these legendary stoves, including some great videos from MSR themselves.  Rather not get in the way of the experts, so...

Pump Cup Maintenance and Cleaning



Stove Maintenance



Well there you have it, your Whisperlite stove is all ready for another glorious year keeping you fed and well-hydrated in the backcountry!

--Andy Stephen, AAI Instructor and Guide

Friday, April 26, 2019

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 25, 2019

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 4/25/19

Climate Advocacy:

--Will Gadd is working with climate scientists to help them understand the impact of climate change on the mountain environment. To read more, click here.

Northwest:

--A female climber was rescued this week after suffering bilateral broken ankles after sustaining a fall at Little Si near North Bend. To read more, click here.

Smith Rock State Park

--There was an accident in Smith Rock this week. News Channel 21 reports that, "A 24-year-old Smith Rock climber from Portland fell about 20 feet Monday morning, prompting a three-hour rescue effort and trip to the hospital for treatment, Redmond Fire officials said." To read more, click here.

--The Seattle Times is reporting that, "trailhead Direct, the popular transit-to-trails service that connects city dwellers to nearby hiking destinations, will return this week with even more pickup locations and trailheads." To read more, click here.

--AAI's Executive Director, Jason Martin, was interviewed for this article on climate change and its effect on the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

Sierra:

--The Sierra Wave is reporting on the "state of the Inyo National Forest." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--An 18-year-old climber is recovering after she was fell rappelling in Wasatch Mountain State Park in Utah. To read more, click here.

--Teton Gravity Research is reporting that, "with an unprecedentedly snowy winter in Colorado, avalanche mitigation was more essential than ever to keep Coloradan skiers/snowboarders, drivers, and residents safe. According to KDVR, CDOT used 1,500 ordinances this winter and were forced to mitigate zones they haven't touched in decades. However, there is growing concern around the devices that failed to detonate and were labeled as 'duds'." To read more, click here.

--Everybody selected to work on the Bears Ears Monument committee is critical of the existence of the monument. The Access Fund and other conservation groups were not given a voice. To read more, click here.

--Planet Mountain is reporting that, "Jeremy Collins and Jarod Sickler have made the first ascent of Moonshadow, a big new climb to the right of the famous Moonlight Buttress in Zion" To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--The bodies of Jess Roskelley, Hansjörg Auer, and David Lama have been recovered off of Alberta's Howse Peak. It appears that the trio were killed on descent. To read more, click here.

--The Boston Globe is reporting that, "A skier Monday survived a fall into a waterfall hole on Mount Washington in New Hampshire, less than two weeks after a 32-year-old man died in an avalanche on the mountain, officials said." To read more, click here.

--Climbing is reporting that, "the 2020 Games will take place in and around Tokyo, Japan, beginning on Friday, July 24, 2020, and concluding with the closing ceremonies on Sunday, August 9. Of note is that Saturday, August 8, will feature more than two dozen event finals." To read more, click here.

--In Jackson Hole, four skiers are facing potential jail time for ducking the rope and entering closed backcountry terrain. The group had to be rescued in dangerous conditions. To read more, click here.

--Lodging costs in the national parks are skyrocketing!

--The Access Fund is reporting that, "last week, David Bernhardt was confirmed as Secretary of the Department of Interior (DOI), the agency that manages 500 million acres of public land in the United States and oversees the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management. About 30% of America’s climbing areas are located on DOI lands, including iconic climbing areas like Yosemite, New River Gorge, Joshua Tree, Red Rock, and Indian Creek. So, what can we expect from Bernhardt on recreation and public lands conservation?" To read more, click here.

--This is cool. Outside compiled a breakdown of all the articles they've published about raising adventurous and environmentally conscious kids.

--Gripped is reporting on a new line in Alaska. "Jackson Marvell and Alan Rousseau recently made the first ascent of Ruth Gorge Grinder AI6+ M7, 1,500 metres, on Mount Dickey." To read more, click here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Mountain Film: A Higher Crawling

Eric Becker has put together perhaps the most important climbing video of our time. It's about two major rivals and their work to outdo each other in the mountains. But there's a catch... They're babies...!



--Jason D. Martin

Monday, April 22, 2019

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

Friday, April 19, 2019

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

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 4/18/19

Update:

--Rock and Ice is reporting that, "According to Tiroler Tageszeitung, an Austrian newspaper, professional alpinists Jess Roskelley, David Lama and Hansjörg Auer are missing in the Canadian Rockies. Search operations are ongoing. Early reports are citing an avalanche that occurred Tuesday. Rescue flights started on Wednesday, but thus far no climbers have been located. Gripped is reporting that the climbers were attempting M16 on Howse Peak." To read more, click here.

--A second article states that these climbers are presumed dead...

Climate Advocacy:

--Several sources are reporting that the Earth has lost nine trillion tons of ice over the last sixty years. Mashable puts it this way. "If one were to assume an average weight of 735,000 pounds for a 747 airliner, that comes out to around 27 billion 747s worth of ice lost over this period." To read more, click here.

--The North Face is petitioning to make Earth Day a national holiday.

Northwest:

--Freeskier is reporting that, "Canadian professional skier Dave Treadway died after falling into a crevasse in Pemberton, British Columbia, Canada, yesterday, April 15, 2019, according to Pique News Magazine. He was 34. There are unconfirmed reports that he fell after a snow bridge he was crossing collapsed. The Canadian skier is survived by his wife, Tessa, and two sons, Kasper and Raffi." To read more, click here.

--KIRO 7 is reporting that, " Seattle backcountry skier is in stable condition after being swept in an avalanche Sunday afternoon. Shanna Hovertsen, 29, was with a group of friends skiing near Cohchuck Lake at about 1:15 p.m. when a small avalanche caused her to tumble down a slope and twist both of her knees, Chelan County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Brian Burnett said." To read more, click here.

--Here is an excellent piece from the New York Times on shrinking glaciers in the Pacific Northwest.


A free-soloist on the new 10-pitch 5.8 in Squamish, Frontside.

--There's a new ten-pitch bolted 5.8 in Squamish! To read more, click here.

--Washington State's Highway 20 is opening today.

--Oregon Live is reporting that, "Three exceptionally large avalanches were triggered earlier this week inside gate-accessed terrain at Mt. Hood Meadows, prompting the resort to close entry to the popular Heather Canyon." To read more, click here.

--The Squamish Climbing Magazine is reporting that, "With an increase in visitors during the summer months, wild camping and van dwelling in Squamish has become a increasing issue for the city. On April 9th, Squamish City Council took action to address the camping situation and voted to draft a bylaw to regulate camping in public places including crown land within the municipal boundary." To read more, click here.

A lot of people need Bigfoot to sell stuff.

--Wild is a podcast about Bigfoot. It is insanely popular and has reignited the debate outside communities of hardcore believers as to whether the hairy beast is real. Laura Krantz, the journalist behind the podcast, has written an excellent piece on why we need Bigfoot, even if it's not real.

--Glacier Hub is currently hosting a video that shows a three-dimensional 360-degree view of Mt. Baker. Check it out.

--Several crag stewardship projects are coming up in Washington State in May and June. To see a list, click here.

Sierra:

--There's a new lottery system in Yosemite for Camp 4. Check it out.

--People should not interact with bears. They should be left alone. Habituating bears to people generally ends poorly for the bear. A snowboarder in Tahoe recently videotaped the following encounter with a bear cub:



--The East Bay Times is reporting, "Bowing to nature, Yosemite National Park is closing for the entire summer season its five world-renowned High Sierra Camps. Deep snow means there’s not enough time to fix a bridge or repair wastewater treatment facilities, damaged tents and other parts of the outposts’ fragile infrastructure, according to Yosemite officials." To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--KGUN 9 is reporting that, "A Pima County Sheriff's Department helicopter crew rescued a man who fell while rock climbing on Mount Lemmon Friday." To read more, click here.

--A hiker died of what appears to be natural causes this week in Joshua Tree National Park. To read more, click here.

--Those trying to develop Blue Diamond Hill across the street from Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area lost another key vote to develop the hill. To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--There was an accident in Indian Creek this week, but there is almost no information available about it. Here's a little bit.

--The Daily Herald is reporting that, "Human remains found by a climber in American Fork Canyon on Sunday may be those of Jerika Binks, a Utah County woman who has been missing for more than a year. Deputies with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office were contacted by a man who said he discovered human remains while climbing in a remote ravine in the canyon Sunday, according to a press release from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office." To read more, click here.

--2 KUTV is reporting that, "a woman who was injured at Alta Ski Resort is hoping the skier who hit her will come forward and accept responsibility for the crash. Rachel, who requested 2News not use her last name, said the crash put her in the hospital for five days. 'I consider it an assault, I don’t consider just a normal accident on the mountain,” Rachel said.'" To read more, click here.

--The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that, "Angels Landing’s sheer sandstone face in southern Utah’s Zion National Park will largely remain a rope-free zone for a while to avoid disturbing a pair of California condors that recently established a nest nearby." To read more, click here.

--Unofficial Networks is reporting that, "Arapahoe Basin, CO made news earlier this season when they announced that they would be dropping out from their 22-year-old partnership with Vail Resorts. The announcement meant that A-basin would not be included on Vail’s EPIC pass." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--KTUU is reporting that, "A 25-year-old New Mexico man died after a 500 foot fall from Goat Mountain near Eklutna Lake outside Anchorage on Wednesday." To read more, click here.

--CBS Boston is reporting that, "a skier was buried in an avalanche on Mt. Washington, which saw at least three human-triggered slides Thursday afternoon." To read more, click here.

--Grizzly bears are being tracked from space!

--Could Elizabeth Warren become our public lands president...? Outside notes that, "the Democratic candidate released her comprehensive plan for saving our national parks and public lands. It's impressive, even if it never comes to fruition."

--Alpinist is reporting that, "Four recipients have been selected for the second annual Kyle Dempster Solo Adventure Award." To read more, click here.

--Bloomberg headline: "It Was a Huge Year for the Ski Pass Locals Love to Hate. A new multi-mountain ski pass generated controversy across the West this year. Does it deserve the hate?" Check out the article, here.

--Outside is reporting, "a recent report found that 259 people died between 2011 and 2017 while stepping in front of the camera in often dangerous destinations. Our writer went deep on the psychology of selfies to figure out what's behind our obsession with capturing extreme risk-taking." To read what she found, click here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

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

Monday, April 15, 2019

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. 

An assortment of Bigfoot magnets at a rural Washington gas station.

A Bigfoot Wanted poster at Maple Fuels in Maple Falls, Washington.

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

--Jason D. Martin