Thursday, January 31, 2019

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 1/31/19

Government Shutdown:

--Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association, had the following to say about the government reopening: "Fully reopening the federal government will mean so much to so many. Federal employees will finally get paid and be able to return to their jobs. For rangers and other park staff, it will mean returning to our national parks, assessing the terrible damage done to them while they were open with such limited staff, and once again welcoming visitors to the places they all love. Now is when the real work begins. The damage done to our parks will be felt for weeks, months or even years. We want to thank and acknowledge the men and women who have devoted their careers to protecting our national parks and will be working hard to fix damage and get programs and projects back up and running. We implore lawmakers to use this time to come to a long-term funding agreement and avoid another disaster like this. Federal employees, businesses, communities and national parks deserve better.” To read more, click here.


--A pilot was killed when his plane struck Mt. Hood this week. Wreckage was found on the Elliot Glacier. To read more, click here.

West Face Bryant Peak - Photo by Kyle McCrohan
(Click to Enlarge)

--Two potentially new alpine and water ice routes have recently gone up on Bryant Peak. Both the West Face route and Melakwa Flows were discovered (rediscovered?) by Jacob Krantz and Kyle McCrohan. To read more, to see photos and route topos, click here and here.


--The Sierra Wave is reporting on some quick and excellent work by lift operators and ski patrol when a 14-year-old girl suffered a heart attack on the ski lift. To read more, click here.

--From the Bishop Area Climbers Coalition Facebook Page:

--Some Sierra ski resorts have had up to 13-feet of snow in the month of January. To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--Huffpost is reporting that, "It could take Joshua Tree National Park up to 300-years to recover from damage it sustained during the partial government shutdown, a former park superintendent said Saturday." To read more, click here.

--Here's a fun post about funny route names in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Colorado and Utah:

--A man from Ohio was revived by skiers and snowboarders who discovered him upside down in soft snow. The group in Vail, successfully used CPR. To read more, click here.

--Actress and pseudoscience advocate, Gwyneth Paltrow, apparently crashed into a skier at Utah's Deer Valley and then skied away. This alleged "hit-and-run" incident left the 72-year old victim unconscious, with a traumatic brain injury and broken ribs. To read more, click here.

--Alta Ski Resort now has an ultra luxury hotel. To read more, click here.

--Rock and Ice is reporting that, Sam Elias and Marianne van der Steen won the Mixed Climbing Competition at 2019 Ouray Ice Fest. To read the article, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--ABC 8 is reporting that, " A 35-year-old California man has died in an avalanche while backcountry skiing in southwest Montana. Madison County Sheriff Phil Fortner says another skier was injured when the avalanche occurred about 1 p.m. Friday in the Tobacco Root Mountains." To read more, click here.

--The following video from Europe shows the terrifying moment when a snowboarder is swept away by an avalanche. The guy videotaping seems to think it's hilarious. Thankfully, the snowboarder is fine...

--The women's climbing festival organization, Flash Foxy, now welcomes men at one event. To read more, click here.

--In a very paparazzi-ish story, you should know that Angelina Jolie took her twins rock climbing at a gym in Los Angeles. The photos and video from the family's outing are terrible. It seems like it was more about some random photographers trying to sell photos to tabloids than showing a celebrity doing something cool with her kids. Anyway, for those who are inclined, here's a link.

--Huffpost is reporting that, "An Alaska judge sentenced a man to three months in jail for his role in the slaughter of a mother bear and her two cubs in their den — actions that were caught by a research camera." To read more, click here.

--A lot of your big name climbers are giving motivational speeches these days. To read more, click here.

--Rock and Ice is reporting that, "on January 23, five indigenous Bolivian women, aged 42 to 50, completed a climb of Argentina’s Aconcagua (22,841 feet), the tallest peak on both the continent and in the world outside of Asia. The women, who worked as porters and cooks in mountain camps on Huayna Potosí (19,974 feet), one of Bolivia’s tallest peaks, for a number of years, are members of the Aymara indigenous group." To read more, click here. To see a video about these women, click below.

--A new documentary is telling the story of immigrants in ski towns. To read more, click here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Sharpening Ice Tools, Crampons and Ice Screws

The American Mountain Guides Association has teamed up with Outdoor Research and Petzl to create a series of instructional videos. In the following video, AMGA Instructor Team Member Patrick Ormond demonstrates how to sharpen ice tools, crampons and ice screws...

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, January 28, 2019

Book Review: Cascades Rock by Blake Herrington

Professional climber and writer, Blake Herrington, has been a staple of the North Cascades climbing scene for several years now. He has over two dozen new routes and first free ascents in a combination of the Cascades, the Alaska Range, in Colorado and in Argentina. His writing has been featured in Alpinist, Climbing and Rock and Ice...

Digging deeply into the treasure trove of knowledge he has acquired throughout his years a climber in the North Cascades, Blake has just finished a new guidebook. Cascades Rock details 160 routes in the region and includes dozens of topos, interviews and photos. And, it's in full color!

Blake took a chance with this book. Many of the mountains and features covered here are covered in other texts. There is a lot of competition. But he needn't worry too much. His book is absolutely beautiful and stands out dramatically against the competitors.

The book covers peaks, like Dragontail and Prussik. And it also covers walls, like Snow Creek and Green Giant. But what makes this book stand out is the attention to detail. I've climbed Green Giant Buttress three or four times, and every time I've found myself floundering, trying to understand where routes are. But Blake's book is so detailed the I don't think that will happen again.

In addition to some of the well-known walls, Blake's book also includes several lesser known areas. He covers places like the Twin Sisters, Mamie Peak and the Supercave Wall.

Each chapter starts with a map of the area, a breakdown of camping issues and red tape and then launches into the meat. Many of the routes have photos and topos, and every route has a description. Each page is filled with multi-color information which is incredibly pleasing to the eye.

Some of the routes are a bit remote. It can be somewhat daunting to burn a day trying to get to a route, only to get stymied by bad approach or climbing beta. This is unlikely with Cascades Rock. The book doesn't get bogged down in any one thing. Instead it provides all the beta you need to climb a route.

A Topo for the Northwest Arayete on Mt. Shuksan

The only criticism that I have of this book, is that it is heavy on harder climbs. There's no doubt that the climbs in the book are awesome, but he probably could have added a couple dozen more routes in the 5.5-5.7 range for those who want to get after it with a little bit less commitment.

The most important thing that any guidebook can give you is a bit of psyche. There are a lot of routes in Blake's book that I was aware of, but didn't have that tight a grasp on. The situation is different now. I can't wait to get out there and try some of the lines that he's detailed in this book!

Check out Blake's book, here.

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, January 25, 2019

How to Place an Ice Screw

In the following video, AMGA Instructor Team Member Patrick Ormond, describes how to place an ice screw.

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 1/24/19

Government Shutdown News:

--Volunteers have done a lot throughout the country to help the Parks during the shutdown. To read about it, click here.

--It could take years, or even decades, for the National Parks to recover from the current Government Shutdown. To read more, click here.

--SNews is reporting that, "As the federal government shutdown continues into its fifth week, the business of outdoor recreation is feeling the effects. Specialty retail stores and adventure outfitters located in gateway communities near national parks are on the front lines of a political conflict that has put at risk the conscientious management of public land. Among the 800,000 employees who have been furloughed from their jobs or required to work without pay, more than 27,000 are National Park Service professionals. Interpretive rangers, law enforcement officers, and maintenance personnel have a long tradition of working in partnership with local environmental advocates in the communities they serve. Now with a dramatically reduced federal workforce, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and chambers of commerce are struggling to protect the natural resources that are so vital to their economic stability and way of life." To read more, click here.

--In an op-ed at Outside, a former park ranger makes an argument to get politics out of NPS operations. To read the article, click here.

--At Outside, Wes Siler writes about is recent interactions with government workers. "he most surprising emotion I’ve encountered while reporting on the partial government shutdown? Fear. Everyone from park rangers to administrators to government lawyers to guides who operate independent businesses on federal land are all too scared to publicly go on the record about how the shutdown is impacting them. And let me tell you, that is anything but normal." To read more, click here.

--The Atlantic is reporting that, "After observing, if not exactly understanding, the magnetic field’s recent behavior, scientists decided to update the World Magnetic Model, which underlies navigation for ships and planes today. As Nature reported, the update was supposed to come January 15. But the model is jointly developed by the British Geological Survey and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. government is shut down." To read more, click here.


--The Sawtooth Avalanche Center in Idaho is reporting that, "A skier and snowboarder were caught, carried 100-150 yards, and buried in an avalanche they triggered in the Warm Springs Creek drainage on Sunday, 1-20- 2019. The skier was fully buried and was able to dig himself out of the debris in approximately 25 minutes. The snowboarder was partially buried with his head and torso beneath the snow. He also extricated himself. They were riding in the 'sidecountry' or 'out-of-bounds' terrain on Bald Mountain, outside the ski area boundary. Neither rider was seriously injured. The avalanche was at least 100 feet wide and released on a northerly aspect near 7800' in elevation." To read more, click here.

--A couple of new alpine mixed routes have gone up over the last couple weeks on Vancouver Island. To read about it, click here.


--Teton Gravity Research is reporting that, "Two British hikers were rescued in extremely steep terrain in Yosemite early last Wednesday morning, just as heavy snowfall was materializing. According to rescue reports, the two hiked up the Yosemite Falls trail, planned to descend the Snow Creek Trail, but got lost around snowline and accidentally started descending a steep dead-end gully as darkness fell." This, of course, was done with a complete skeleton crew due to the Government Shutdown. To read more, click here.

--Buzzfeed and several others are reporting that, "Two married travel bloggers who fell to their deaths in Yosemite in October were drunk when they died, according to autopsy results released Friday. The bodies of Meenakshi "Minaxi" Moorthy, 30, and Vishnu Viswanath, 29, were recovered roughly 800 feet below Taft Point on Oct. 25 after a specialized team of rangers was able to reach them. Together, they ran the Instagram account @holidaysandhappilyeverafters, which had accrued 25,000 followers, where they posted about their world travels." To read more, click here.

--Alex Honnold's Free Solo has been nominated for an Oscar for best documentary.

--Here's a piece on the mood of employees of Yosemite National Park right now.

Desert Southwest:

--A small group of Las Vegas residents are trying to save the Bonnie Springs Ranch near Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. To read more, click here.

--This is a spooky video of a flash flood in the Ice Box Canyon in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The video is not recent, but it does show how quickly water can come after a rain storm...and how much water can come...

--A 20-year old in Arizona realized a dream this week. He went hiking, naked, in the Chiricahua National Monument. Due to the Government Shutdown, there was no one there to tell him he couldn't hike naked. To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--From the Colorado Avalanche Information Center: "A group of backcountry tourers staying at the Markley Hut near the town of Ashcroft were involved in an avalanche on January 21, 2019. One was buried in the avalanche. The group located and extricated the tourer from the snow and tried to revive them, but their effort was unsuccessful." To read more, click here.

--A skier hit a tree and died in Granby. To read more, click here.

--A skier who went missing in Emery County, Utah has been found dead. He was killed in a soft slab avalanche near Electric Lake. Neither the skier nor his partner were wearing avalanche tranceivers. To read more, click here.

--A skier triggered an in-bounds avalanche in a closed area at Loveland Ski Resort on Friday. Nobody was injured in the event. To read more, click here.

--A bull moose chased two skiers at Brekenridge Ski Resort. No one was injured. To see a video of the encounter, click below:

--In another "what's-a-matter-with-people-these-days" story, a skier at Utah's Brighton Ski Resort attacked a police officer when he learned that the parking lot was full. To read more, click here.

--Both Alta and Snowbird closed early this week because of too much snow. Yep, you heard that right. The avalanche hazard was too high for the patrollers to control. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--There was an inbound avalanche at New Mexico's Taos Ski Resort last Thursday. The avalanche resulted in two fatalities. It appears that the run had been controlled with explosives that morning, but there were no results. To read more, click here.

--New York's Daily Freeman is reporting that, "A skier died of injuries suffered in an accident at the Hunter Mountain ski resort, a Hunter spokeswoman said Tuesday." To read more, click here.

--The Conway Daily Sun is reporting that, "New Hampshire’s congressional delegation is seeking financial support for the state Department of Fish and Game since it, among other agencies, has been conducting rescues in the forest without compensation. That was the gist of a letter sent by U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and U.S. Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster (all D-N.H.), along with Acting Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen, and Acting Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Margaret Everson." To read more, click here.

--This shouldn't be news to people who read our blog, but you should take your kids rock climbing...

--The Seattle Times is reporting that, "China will cut the number of climbers attempting to scale Mount Everest from the north by one-third this year as part of plans for a major cleanup on the world’s highest peak, state media reported Monday.

--The total number of climbers seeking to summit the world’s highest peak at 8,850 meters (29,035 feet) from the north will be limited to less than 300 and the climbing season restricted to spring, the reports said." To read more, click here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Multiple Burial Avalanche Search

Backcountry Access (or BCA) is a leader in avalanche technology. In the following video, BCA's Bruce Edgerly demonstrates advanced avalanche transceiver search techniques that can be used for  multiple avalanche burials.

This is a dense video with a lot of information. It is well worth watching several times...

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, January 21, 2019

Avalanche Awareness: Strategic Shovelling

Avalanches are terrifying.

I’ve never been caught in an avalanche, but I’ve had a few close calls. Most winter backcountry travelers have logged one or two these. But there are some that have encountered something worse than a close call. They’ve been caught in an avalanche. Or they’ve had to rescue a partner from an avalanche.

The modern winter backcountry traveler has an arsenal of tools that can be used to locate a buried avalanche victim. First, she has a transceiver. This should get her into the vicinity of the victim. Second, she has a probe. This should allow her to poke around until she pinpoints the location of the victim. And then finally she has a shovel. This should allow her to dig the victim free.

The only way than an individual will ever be able to rescue a companion is with practice. A strong rescuer that has extensively practiced will be able to locate her companion quickly with a transceiver and probe. The digging part though, is another story. It’s not uncommon for rescuers in practice scenarios to take up to 30-minutes to free a mock victim. This is way too slow.

The statistics tell us that most recreational avalanche victims are buried between 1 and 1.3 meters deep. To the uninitiated, this doesn’t sound that deep, but the reality is quite different. An average burial of this depth requires the rescuer to remove up to one-and-a-half tons of snow!

If you have to remove so much snow, then you better do it as strategically as possible. Following is a video on this topic.

Review and a Few Additional Thoughts:

Choosing the right spot for your excavation is essential. If you select the wrong spot you have to move significantly more snow, while simultaneously leaving the victim buried for a longer period of time. In order to effectively save one’s partner, a rescuer has to have a plan, and a rescuer has to shovel her partner out strategically.

Once the probe strikes the victim, many rescuers are inclined to start digging straight down. There are three problems with this. First, if you’re standing right on top of the victim, you might collapse any air pockets that he was able to create during the avalanche. Second, digging straight down requires one to remove a great deal more snow than other strategies. And third, it’s very difficult to do first aid in a vertical hole in the ground.

Once you’ve found the victim, leave the probe in. This will help you to estimate where you need to dig.

In a shallow burial (less than 1 meter), the rescuer should dig just downhill of the probe-strike. Think of it as digging toward the victim, instead of down to the victim.

If the victim is deeper than 1 meter, then the rescuer should begin digging a terraced hole toward the victim 1.5 times the burial depth downhill of the probe-strike. The depth should be apparent to the rescuer from the probe-strike.

Start with a small hole, approximately as wide as your extended arms. If there is more than one rescuer, then the starter hole can be as wide as a body-length.

Begin the excavation by digging on your knees and throwing snow off to the side. If you throw snow behind you it will create a mound that may have to move again. You never want to move snow twice! However, if it’s a deeper burial, it’s possible that you will eventually have to terrace the hole and throw snow behind you. This usually happens once you get down approximately waist deep.

Keep the avalanche probe in sight. Don’t bury it or move it. The last thing you want to do is to dig in the wrong spot or dig below the victim.

Once you’ve found the victim, focus on clearing snow from the head. And once you can reach the victim’s face check the mouth and airway for compacted snow that may obstruct breathing.

Rescuing someone from an avalanche is hard work. Be sure that once you know where the victim is, that you have a solid digging strategy. The less dialed your strategy is, the more likely it is that your partner will die…

Avalanches are terrifying…

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 1/17/19

Government Shutdown:

--Outside Magazine is reporting that, "This is the first year parks have remained open during a government shutdown, thanks to a Department of the Interior contingency plan. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding this new protocol—few know who signed the order in the first place or why it was implemented—but it’s reasonable to assume that the Interior didn’t want to close the parks and risk a PR fiasco like the Obama administration faced in 2013. Now, nearly a month into the latest shutdown, the Trump administration is facing its own PR crisis, with reports of parks—minus most of their full-time staff—getting trashed by visitors and their poop." To read more, click here.

--National Geographic is reporting that the Government Shutdown will have a multi-year impact on the National Parks. To read more, click here.

--FN is reporting that, "The North Face waded deeper into political territory Saturday with a tweet seemingly designed to troll U.S. President Donald Trump. The outdoor brand said in the tweet that it planned to build free public climbing walls in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver and Brooklyn, N.Y., “as places to unite us.” The message was part of the marketing campaign it launched in 2017 called “Walls Are Meant For Climbing.” To read more, click here.


--There is limited information about a skier who suffered a six to seven-hundred foot fall on Mt. Hood over the weekend. It appears that he will make a full recovery and merely suffered a concussion. This information came via Pacific Northwest Mountaineers on Facebook.

--KOIN6 is reporting that, "a rescue team brought a climber who got lost on Mt. Hood back to safety after a five hour search and rescue effort. While search and rescue crews said this was an operation where everything went right, 68-year-old Ed Lipscomb still thought he might die on a mountain he'd climbed 182 times before." To read more, click here.

--The Jackson Hole News and Guide is reporting that, "A High Mountain Heli-Skiing client was buried in an avalanche Friday while skiing in Vacation Canyon just southeast of Upper Palisades Lake in Idaho. The skier was completely buried for six minutes while guides dug him out, but he walked away with only a few bruises." To read more, click here.

--Crystal Mountain Ski Resort is offering free lift tickets to federal employees during the Government Shutdown. Good job Crystal! To read more, click here.


--An 80-year-old dentist became lost overnight while snowshoeing last week on the Tahoe Rim Trail. Wendell (Raymond) Murdock states that the reason he became lost was a malfunctioning GPS within his phone. To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--Joshua Trees in Joshua Tree National Park have been cut down during the Government Shutdown. To read more, click here.

A climber rappelling in Joshua Tree National Park.

--The Access Fund is reporting that, "For the first time in nearly 20 years, Joshua Tree National Park is reviewing its climbing management plan (CMP). This world-class area has a long and colorful climbing history and is home to over 10,000 routes and boulder problems within a two to three hour drive of major cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas—making the future of climbing management a critical issue for the climbing community." To read more, click here.

--Think Progress is reporting that, "Federal employees aren’t the only ones nervous about making ends meet during the government shutdown. Hotel and restaurant owners near Joshua Tree National Park say the shutdown has left them without their usual flow of customers and that employees are concerned about paying their bills and making rent." To read more, click here.

--The developer says that there will be a smaller footprint than the current Bonnie Springs outside Red Rock Canyon, but this kind of change in such a special place feels dangerous. To read more, click here.

--The Las Vegas Review Journal is reporting that, "Nevada’s third tallest peak is a step closer to shedding its Confederate name in favor of something far older and less controversial. The Nevada State Board on Geographic Names voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend a new name for Jeff Davis Peak at Great Basin National Park, 300 miles northeast of Las Vegas. If the U.S. naming board agrees, the second tallest point in White Pine County’s Snake Range will return to its traditional Shoshone moniker, Doso Doyabi, which means White Mountain." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--A 22-year-old skier tragically died on Summit County's Quandary Peak on Sunday. It appears that Peter Wing fell at the 13,400-foot level of the mountain and then succumbed to his injuries. To read more, click here.

--The Aspen Times is reporting that, "A skier and snowboarder had to be rescued from West Willow Creek basin near Snowmass Ski Area after getting lost off the backside of Snowmass Ski Area on Monday. The two men separated after getting lost to try to find their way back in-bounds but were forced to call 911 around 5 p.m. Because the two separated, Mountain Rescue Aspen had to create two search areas and find each man individually." To read more, click here.

--On Friday morning, two skiers near the Lindley Hut south of Aspen were washed into the trees in an avalanche. Neither skier was seriously injured. To read more, click here.

--Former AAI Guide Kelly Cordes wrote a piece in the New York Times about how gateway towns like Estes Park are doing during the Shutdown. To read the article, click here.

--I've often said that the outdoor industry was drowning in alcohol. But it's not just the industry, it's the participants within in. This is an excellent article that raises some very good questions about how we relate alcohol to outdoor pursuits and how it might impact our "healthy lifestyle."  The article focuses on the culture in Colorado, but it's my belief that this is a universal thing in the US and Canada outdoor adventure scene.

Notes from All Over:

--A father and son snowmobile team were tragically caught in an avalanche in Calgary this week. Both were killed in the slide near Mt. Brewer in the Purcell mountains. To read more, click here.

--So an Oklahoma woman bragged about bagging a deer to a game warden on a dating app. It turns out that it was poached...and and easy catch for the warden. To read more, click here.

--Gaia, the mapping software company, has several job openings of all sorts. It is an all remote company. To read more, click here.

--The Government Shutdown forced a German mountaineer to abandon his solo winter ascent of Denali. Check out a video about this below. To read more, click here.

--I've often said that the outdoor industry was drowning in alcohol. But it's not just the industry, it's the participants within in. This is an excellent article that raises some very good questions about how we relate alcohol to outdoor pursuits and how it might impact our "healthy lifestyle."

--Outdoor Sportswire is reporting that, "Snowsports Industries America (SIA) announced the launch of United By Winter, a climate advocacy platform for the winter sports industry. The campaign is intended to give SIA members the education and tools to address climate change and it’s impacts on the snow industry." To read more, click here.

--The Access Fund is reporting that, "we have strengthened protections for climbing access at two of Austin’s most popular climbing areas—Barton Creek Greenbelt and Bull Creek." To read more, click here.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Guide Like Liz Scholarship Winner: Grace Anderson

Grace Anderson is another one of the phenomenal women who won the Guide Like Liz Scholarship in 2018. She is unwavering in her pursuit of the outdoors and spreading her joy to others along the way. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, and went to college at Winston Salem State in North Carolina. Before college, she didn’t really consider herself an “outdoorsy” person.

“The first peek I had into the outdoor world was through a college professor who recommended a program for people interested in science that also focused on conservation at the Bronx Zoo. So for two summers, I learned about teaching conservation to elementary school students at the Bronx Zoo.”

Before that, Grace wasn’t really interested in conservation. She was an elementary school major at the time, but this professor randomly recommended this program. “It was awesome,” she said wholeheartedly.

Grace descending Pingora in the Wind River Range, Wyoming.
After she came back from that second summer working in the Bronx, she saw that the Student Conservation Association (SCA) was offering alternative spring break trips. She applied for one in Joshua Tree and unexpectedly got a spot on the trip. “It was a week of camping, removing invasive species and climbing in Joshua Tree. It blew my mind away.”

From then on, Grace made environmental education her priority and worked in many states including North Dakota and New Hampshire. She started working with NOLS in 2013 in Lander, Wyoming.

“When I moved to Lander I had never really climbed, skied or experienced temperatures below 20 degrees; I wouldn’t have wanted to be introduced to snow sports or climbing any other way. Cross-country skiing was a lunch break activity in the winter and climbing year-round.”
Climbing in Wild Iris, Wyoming.

Throughout her outdoor and environmental education experiences and background, Grace has found her heart for connecting more people, especially those with limited access and/or marginalized access, to the outdoors. She intends on taking the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course and Exam with her scholarship.

“Completing an AMGA SPI course opens many doors for me to teach climbing with folks who might not otherwise see themselves reflected,” she wrote in her scholarship application. “I would like to increase more role models of color in the outdoors.”

She is involved with organizations like Brown Girls Climb and GirlVentures that have similar goals. “The best way to increase the diversity of the outdoors and who is leading in the mountains is to radically share skills. With opportunities like the Guide Like Liz scholarship, we have the ability to change the narrative of who is out front in the outdoors and to invite other people, previously excluded, in,” she wrote.

When we talked more about short and long-term goals she has for herself, she said, “I am at a place where I know a lot about climbing, but the biggest barrier is certifications and learning to lead students in certain ways. I have taken climbing seminars, but I want something more generally recognized.

I believe that climbing is one of the best teaching tools - for leadership, confidence and challenging and so much more. I look forward to using the skills gained from this opportunity to continue to use outdoor education as a teaching tool.”

"Hiding from the multitude of people in Black Corridor." Red Rock Canyon
Congratulations, Grace! Thank you for choosing us to be a part of your amazing journey! Keep crushing!

All photos provided by Grace Anderson.

--Sara Jung, AAI School Certifying Officer and Guide

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 1/10/19

Big Picture National Parks Shutdown News:

--The Washington Post is reporting that, "The National Park Service will take the unprecedented step of tapping entrance fees to pay for expanded operations at its most popular sites, officials said Sunday, as the partial federal government shutdown threatens to degrade some of the nation’s iconic landmarks. Under a memorandum signed Saturday by the Interior Department’s acting secretary, David Bernhardt, and obtained by The Washington Post, park managers will be permitted to bring on additional staff to clean restrooms, haul trash, patrol the parks and open areas that have been shut during the budget impasse that has lasted more than two weeks. In a statement Sunday, National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith acknowledged that the administration’s practice of keeping parks open but understaffed has become unsustainable at some of its most beloved sites." To read more, click here.

--There have been three fatalities in the National Parks since the Shutdown began:
  • December 24 - A 14-year-old girl fell to her death at Horseshoe Bend in the Glen Canyon Recreation Areain Arizona.
  • December 25 - A man died of a head injury after slipping at Silver Apron in Yosemite National Park. This went unreported by the NPS for a week.
  • December 27 - A woman was killed by a falling tree in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in the Southeast (North Carolina and Tennessee).
  • There were at least four additional deaths by suicide in the National Parks since the Shutdown began.
There's no evidence that the shutdown is responsible for these deaths, but how they were handled due to the lack of resources is an open question. To read more, click here.


--Gripped is reporting that, "A skier died from their injuries after being caught in an avalanche at Pebble Creek near Pemberton on Thursday. The 42-year-old man from Squamish was skiing with a group who was equipped and prepared for backcountry situations. They were reportedly staying at a backcountry cabin, possibly the Pebble Creek Hut." To read more, click here.

--This is a cool piece on a couple that created a new long distance trail link-up in the Pacific Northwest.

--This is an excellent retrospective on an avalanche that took place on the Shuksan Arm near Mt. Baker Ski Area last spring.

--Sierra is reporting, "Rose Freeman and Anastasia Allison think nothing of waking up in the dead of night and hauling a violin and a piano up a snowy mountain. Once they find the right spot for a serenade, they each change into full-length recital gowns and break the solemn silence by beginning to play just as the sun appears. The two women call themselves the Musical Mountaineers, and they perform in remote wilderness settings for the sheer joy of it all." To see a video of the pair, click below. To read more, click here.


--Outside posted a piece from a longtime Yosemite resident about how the Government Shutdown is affecting people. Here's a quote from a ranger within the piece: "People are screaming about paying their taxes and having rights,” my friend wrote, quoting the ranger. “Keeping parks accessible is reasonable if people can fend for themselves and care for the park themselves, but the large majority can’t. … That is why they hire the National Park Service. To provide a service to the vast majority who don’t know how to be a true steward for their land or don’t care to be. I beg all of you to stay home and not visit your parks until everyone comes back to work. Your experience will be ten thousand times better.” To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--The Nevada Current is reporting some very serious news about Red Rock Canyon. "Documents filed with Clark County confirm rumors that the owners of Bonnie Springs Ranch are seeking to divide up the 63-acre property in order to build residential housing. On Dec. 13, land-use plans were submitted to the county. They show the 63-acre property being broken into 22 different parcels. The largest would be an 8.5-acre property directly off Bonnie Springs Road that would encompass a restaurant, motel and event barn. The other 21 are residential properties ranging from 1.84 to 3.39 acres each." to read more, click here.

--Joshua Tree National Park is closing today, due to maintenance issues that have festered during the Shutdown. To read more, click here. UPDATE: Joshua Tree avoided closure. UPDATE II: Our local guide states that the gate is closed.

--The Las Vegas Review Journal is worried about human waste in Red Rock Canyon during the Government Shutdown. "If you’re heading out to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area during the partial federal government shutdown, be sure to bring your own toilet paper." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--The Denver Post is reporting that, "One skier died and four others were rescued Saturday night after the group got caught in an avalanche on Red Mountain Pass in the San Juan Mountains." To read more, click here.

--A new avalanche mitigation system is being implemented to protect the roadway near Berthound Pass. To read more, click here.

--ABC4 is reporting that, "Zion National Park is getting some help staying open through the government shutdown. The City of St. George, roughly 40 miles away, says it, Washington County and two other groups are each writing a check for thousands of dollars, to fund basic services at the park through Saturday." To read more, click here.

--In non-Shutdown news, the Star Tribune is reporting that, "A family that owns land along the northeastern boundary of Zion National Park has agreed to let hikers continue to wade through their section of the narrowest stretch of Zion Canyon." To read more, click here.

--The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that, "After a hard-won and historic victory that will shift the body from a long-standing white Republican majority to a Democratic and American Indian one, the new San Juan County Commission took the oath of office in a packed ceremony Monday. The occasion was met with celebration from many in southeastern Utah who hope the change will improve conditions for the county’s majority American Indian population." This is important because this group has had some sway over the decisions regarding Bears Ears. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--A 35-year-old snowmobiler was killed in an avalanche near Wyoming's Teton Pass on Monday. It is believed that the snowmobile triggered the slide. To read more, click here.

--The San Gabriel Valley Tribune is reporting that, "The rifle-toting man with a history of gun crimes who was found hiding in Malibu Creek State Park last year was charged Monday in a series of mysterious shootings in the area, including one that killed an Orange County father of two as he slept at a campground." To read more, click here.

--Black Diamond isn't too happy with Walmart for using images of their products on the Walmart website. Black Diamond sent them a cease and desist letter. To read more, click here.

--There is some controversy about the unassisted crossing of Antarctica that just took place. The controversy is that it probably happened 30 years ago. To read more, click here.

--The Outdoor Alliance is reporting that, "last week, the new House majority abandoned a rule of the last Congress that made it easier to transfer or sell off public lands. The old rule, enacted by Republican leadership in 2017 at the start of the 115th Congress, established that that “certain conveyances of federal lands” would “not be considered as providing new budget authority,” basically meaning that the House could transfer or sell off of public lands and treat them as valueless for the purposes of budgetary accounting. In reality, public lands are a large source of government revenue, second only to taxes. And we know that our National Parks, Forests, and Wildlife Refuges are invaluable for the climbing, hiking, camping, paddling, mountain biking, and skiing opportunities they provide." To read more, click here.

--The Burlington Free Press in Vermont is reporting that, "Jay Peak Ski Resort, which was at the center of one of the biggest EB-5 frauds in history, moved a giant step closer to being sold Friday with the selection of an investment bank to represent it to potential buyers. Federal receiver Michael Goldberg said he would file a motion in federal court late Friday or early Monday to retain Los Angeles-based Houlihan Lokey to "assist us with the sale of Jay Peak Resort." He said the resort would be on the market "within a few weeks." To read more, click here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Guide Like Liz Scholarship Winner: Vladka Behrova

Vladka Behrova is one of American Alpine Institute’s inspiring and motivated Guide Like Liz Scholarship winners for 2018. Her background, her future goals and what the outdoors mean to her are all extraordinary and it is my pleasure to share them with you!

Vladka grew up in Czechoslovakia and started climbing after “a magical date with this guy from the mountains”.

“This guy wanted me to see the night sky because I love the stars, but it was raining so he took me to this super tall building,” Vladka explained. “I was curious.” She followed him up a ladder into a dark room. He turned to her: “stay here”. He walked away and then suddenly the lights came on, but only the lights behind a climbing wall. “He had turned on the night sky,” Vladka said. The lights shone through the bolt holes and that night Vladka started climbing. “It was a really fun way to be introduced to climbing,” Vladka laughed.

Vladka practicing placing gear in Leavenworth. 

A month after that magical date, she went climbing outside and was instantly hooked. She climbed in the Czech Republic and used knots for protection. “I moved to bolts and draws later, but I had no idea what cams where back then,” she giggled.

A year later, Vladka was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. “Doctors had no treatment for me in Slovakia so I decided to search for treatment on my own.” In the meantime, she kept climbing.

“You can’t really plan on when you are going to have a terminal illness...climbing took my thoughts away from thinking, ‘I am going to die tomorrow’. The only way I could keep fighting and face the truth was climbing.”

Vladka climbing Cunning Stunt at Index.

Vladka started to approach life like she did a climb, being more present and focusing on day to day like focusing on a hard route, bolt to bolt. She experienced excruciating pain, but she tried her best to be healthy, stay active and meditate.

“I found treatment in the US,” Vladka said thankfully. “It was very lucky how I ended up in the US too. While in college, I worked in a climbing shop and a good friend offered me a job in Alaska and long story short, here I am...I have to thank many people for this journey who lent me the money to come here. I was poor as a mouse.”

Since moving to Seattle in 2008 and getting treatment, Vladka has pursued many other outdoor endeavors and her pain has subsided for the most part. She still feels unpredictable pain doing activities at times, but she said, “I just override the pain with different methods and enjoy my time.” She has climbed all over Washington, in Squamish, Utah, and Oregon and has summitted Mt. Adams, Mt. Saint Helens and summitted Mt. Rainer then skied down. She is earning her bachelor degree in logistics now and loves skiing, surfing and playing with her dog, Roxi.

Climbing in Mazama. 
When we talked about her long-term goals and what her vision is for using the scholarship towards the Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership Part 1 course, Vladka explained, “the climbing and mountain culture back home was not very supportive to me as a woman. You had to be very man-like in the climbing community. I was looked down as a young woman because I hung out with the climbers. Even the girls were not friendly and were competitive and bossy to each other. They were territorial. 

Skiing Mount St. Helens in 2018.
“I do not know if the culture or community has changed back home. But I would love to show ladies in Slovakia and the Czech Republic what they can do. My dream is to help more women who are eager to go into the mountains. I think education is very important. I would love to help educate women through courses and teach them how to be confident in themselves. Being in the mountains can do that in a special way.”

Congratulations, Vladka! We are honored to be a part of your inspiring journey. Keep crushing!

Vladka and "her one and only", Roxi.
All photos provided by Vladka Behrova.

--Sara Jung, AAI Vocational School Certifying Officer and Guide

Monday, January 7, 2019

Mt. Everest - High Altitude Film Footage

There's nothing else to say... This short video of Mt. Everest and the mountains surrounding it is awesome. Check it out:

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 1/3/18


We didn't post the news round-up last week as it was the holidays and things were a bit busy, so this report covers December 20th through January 2nd.

Government Shutdown / National Park News:

--There are a lot of problems in the National Parks right now. We're hearing reports of fights over campgrounds, off-road vehicle use on pristine lands, overflowing toilets, and now many campground closures due to bad behavior. A government shutdown is bad for outdoor recreationalists of all stripes. Check out this overview from Gripped about what's going on.


--This isn't really a northwest story, but the person featured is a north-westerner. Oregon Public Radio is reporting that, "Colin O’Brady is a professional endurance athlete, a motivational speaker, a world record holder and, now, the first person in history to cross the continent of Antarctica alone and without wind assistance. The 33-year-old Portland native set out on a brutal 921-mile journey across Antarctica in early November. He was alone and unassisted, dragging a sled weighing hundreds of pounds that contained everything he needed to stay alive in some of the harshest conditions on earth." To read more, click here.

--CBC News is reporting that, "One of Metro Vancouver's biggest search and rescue teams has broken its record for the highest number of callouts in a year. With the rescue of two lost, cold hikers Thursday night, North Shore Rescue (NSR) has now responded 141 times in 2018." To read more, click here.


--On June 2, 2018, Tim Klein and Jason Wells -- two extremely experienced Yosemite climbers -- were killed while traveling over easy terrain on El Cap. What happened? Why did it happen? Outside online looks at the tragedy and tries to understand... To read the article, click here.

--It's not clear what happened, but a skier died at Lake Tahoe Ski Resort last week. The story doesn't note whether the death was the result of an accident or a medical issue. To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--News Channel 3 is reporting that, "A rock climber who fell 50 feet while traversing an area of Joshua Tree National Park was airlifted to a hospital for serious, but non-life threatening injuries sustained in the fall, San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies said today. Peter Muffoletto of Berkeley, 30, fell at 5:10 p.m. Wednesday somewhere within the park while rock climbing." To read more, click here. It appears that this might have been a bouldering accident that resulted in an open compound fracture. It's also possible that this second report is a separate incident. To read a thread on it, click here.

Joshua Tree National Park is suffering during the Government Shutdown.

--Things are not going well in Joshua Tree National Park during the Government Shutdown. The LA Times is reporting that, "The federal government’s partial shutdown has granted outdoorsy travelers free access to national parks that usually charge up to $30 per carload. And with that freedom, some locals say, has come a surge in scofflaw activity and a ticklish toilet situation, especially at Joshua Tree National Park. At Joshua Tree, Death Valley and Channel Islands national parks — all within 220 miles of Los Angeles — conditions vary as widely as the geography. All three parks are open, and their lodgings and campgrounds are open, as are other services generally run by park concessionaire companies. But all visitor centers and many restrooms are closed and many other services have been disrupted, including bathroom maintenance and trash collection. Those conditions pose a particular peril in Joshua Tree, locals say, because these are some of the busiest days of the year." To read more, click here. And here's a story on the same subject from Outside.

--It's a similar story in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Historically, the gates have been closed during government shutdowns. However, this time the gates have remained open, which is good for climbers, but not so good for sightseers. There is a lot of traffic in the Conservation Area after 10am, and no one to shut the gate to decrease the load. To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--The Denver Post is reporting that, "an unidentified 66-year-old man died on Tuesday afternoon after losing consciousness on a ski run at Keystone Resort, according to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. The man was unconscious when others discovered him at about 12:26 p.m. on Christmas Day. Emergency responders took him to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead." This appears to be a medical fatality. To read more, click here. It appears that there was a second medical issue that resulted in a death at Keystone as well. Click here for more on that.

--A hiker in Eldorado Canyon got pinned under a 1-ton boulder last week. Rescue crews had to remove this massive block of rock with all sorts of mountain rescue tricks. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Rock and Ice posted a "Climbers We Lost" article this week. The magazine posts an article like this once a year to celebrate the lives of those that were lost. To read the article, click here.

--Gripped is reporting that, "An ice climber was climbing alone on Cascade Falls (WI 3) when an accident occurred and he died from injuries on December 25th. An outdoor gear store in Canmore remained closed on boxing day due to an “unforeseen emergency” after the Christmas Day accident. There are no details about the cause of the accident or the climber who was soloing.' To read more, click here.

--The Times Union is reporting that, "The body of a rock climber, who fell to his death while climbing in New York's Shawangunk Mountains, was recovered Sunday afternoon. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said in a press release on their website that a man had been solo climbing at the privately owned Mohonk preserve, in Gardiner, Ulster County, when he fell to his death." To read more, click here.

--NECN is reporting on what appears to be yet another solo fall: "A Vermont man suffered serious injuries in a 60-foot fall while ice climbing Thursday. Vermont State Police said 39-year-old Steve Charest, of Jericho, was climbing in the Smugglers’ Notch area of Jeffersonville Thursday when he somehow fell. Rescue agencies said Charest first hit a bluff, then crashed through tree limbs before finally landing on the snow-covered ground." To read more, click here.

--The Post Register is reporting that, "A female skier triggered an avalanche in the Broken Branch area south of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort on Wednesday and was carried down a chute and buried up to her helmet. She was the second skier caught in avalanches in the past three days in the backcountry area just outside the ski resort. The other skier was hurt on Monday in the Spacewalk Couloir." To read more, click here.

--Mass Live is reporting that, "A Tufts Medical Center doctor died Sunday after being struck by falling ice while hiking in the White Mountains in Hart’s Location. The Boston Globe identified the victim as Dr. Judith Pinsker, a 57-year-old Wellesley, Mass., woman who was hiking the trail with her husband, her sons and several friends. Pinsker and her party were hiking on the Frankenstein Cliff Trail around noon Sunday when falling ice struck her, causing a serious head injury, according to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department." To read more, click here.

--The Idaho Statesman is reporting that, "a Montana man was out target shooting when he became a target himself — and it was because a man “mistook him for Bigfoot,” he told authorities. The 27-year-old from Helena told dispatchers on Monday that a day earlier he had been putting up targets on public lands outside the city when bullets started flying toward him, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said in a phone interview with McClatchy. The man said one bullet hit three feet to his left on Sunday and another whizzed past him on the right. He explained that he ran into the trees for cover as more gunfire came his way. Eventually he came out to confront the man in a black Ford F-150 who shot at him, he said." To read more, click here.

--So it appears that a snowmaking pipe broke on Stratton Mountain in Vermont and blasted a few gondolas violently with water. Check out the crazy video of this below. To read more, click here.

--The Flathead Beacon is reporting that, "A mechanical error on Whitefish Mountain Resort’s Chair 5 lift prompted the evacuation of approximately 140 passengers Saturday afternoon, with everyone lowered to safety and no injuries reported." To read more, click here.

--And finally, there are currently two teams that are trying to make the first winter ascent of K2. To read more, click here.