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.


--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.


--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

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


--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.


--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.


--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.

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.

Bigfoot in the town of Kingston at a coffee shop.

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

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 4/11/19


--The National Parks Traveler is reporting that, "At North Cascades National Park in Washington, the Diablo Lake Overlook will close to all visitors and traffic May 20-22 while crews transport toilet-related materials via helicopter to campsites along Ross Lake." To read more, click here.

--People keep freaking out and thinking that steam from the crater on Mt. Baker means it's going to erupt. To read more, click here.


--There was a rescue on Mt. Russell this week. It appears that a party got off route on the descent and became stranded. To read more, click here and here.

--The California Sunday Magazine is reporting that, "For the past 148 years, Yosemite’s Lyell Glacier has taught us about the Earth — how it was created, where it was going, and now, how it might end." To read more, click here.

--There's a cell tower being built right in the middle of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. To read about it, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--There are trailhead break-ins all the time, but they don't always get reported online. Here's one in Joshua Tree.

--Musician Miley Cyrus came under fire for posting a picture of herself in a Joshua Tree. The photo may have been taken in Joshua Tree National Park, but also may have been taken closer to Palm Springs. To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--A fallen climber required a technical rescue from Colorado's Clear Creek Canyon on Friday. To read more, click here.

--A second climber was injured at Colorado's Urban Alpine Crag. To read more, click here.

--Will a ski resort without lifts work? Some entrepreneurs near Aspen want to find out. To read more, click here.

--The following video is terrifying. A couple of guys skied the Notch Couloir on Longs Peak. Our hands sweat through the whole video.

--The Washington Post has an excellent article out entitled, What Remains of Bears Ears. To read the piece, click here.

--Vail resorts just keeps buying stuff.

Notes from All Over:

--Gripped is reporting that, "a bolt ripped out of the rock on the nine-pitch of the classic Rockies mixed route Rocket Man this week. It’s not the first time that a bolt has ripped out of a climb in the Canadian Rockies and it won’t be the last." To read more, click here.

--For a long time we put all our human waste into the glaciers of Denali. Now those glaciers are melting and it could become a problem. To read more, click here.

--Do wheelchairs belong on hiking trails...?

--So I'm not really a fan of the "I'm going to the the youngest person to..." competition. But it is still newsworthy. There's a 12-year-old out there vying to be the youngest person to climb the highest point in each state. The last one on his list is Denali, which is no doubt the hardest...and a massive challenge for someone that age. To read more, click here.

--The Access Fund is reporting that, "Access Fund is pleased to announce that it has awarded $30,635 in the first round of the 2019 Climbing Conservation Grant Program. These grants fund local climbing advocacy work across the country, including trail work, climbing area restoration, human waste management, research studies, climbing area acquisitions, grassroots organizing, and much more." To read more, click here.

--In more Access Fund news, the Access Fund has just awarded 13 companies, individuals and coalitions with their advocacy award. To read more, click here.

--There is an awesome Instagram page out there that's shaming social influencers about the way that they negatively interact with our public lands. Check out the account, here. Check out an article about those running the account, here.

--And finally, Rock and Ice found all the best climber April Fools jokes and put them together. Check it out, here.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Route Profile: Triple Couloirs, Dragontail Peak, AI3, 5.8, Grade III-IV

Situated on the southern edge of Colchuck Lake with Aasgard Pass to its east, Dragontail Peak stands as a guardian to the Enchantments area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.  Topping out at 8,840', it is a giant of the Stuart Range, second only to range's namesake.  With dozens of routes winding up the peak's bony ridges and deep couloirs, it is a true alpine playground.

The Triple Couloirs Route is a classic alpine snow and ice route, with even a little mixed climbing thrown in for good measure.  The route is typically climbed in the spring, but can also be done in the winter if the avalanche conditions are stable enough.  The first ascent was done by Bill Joiner, Leslie Nelson and Dave Seman in May 1974.  As you will soon see, the cruxes of the route are not necessarily the Couloirs themselves, but the transitions between the Couloirs.

Looking across Colchuck Lake to Dragontail Peak.  James Pierson.

The approach starts by driving south out of Leavenworth down Icicle Creek Road for 9.2 miles to the Bridge Creek Campground.  In winter, the road is plowed to here, so plan on walking, snowshoeing or skiing in the 3.5 miles to the Stuart Lake/ Mountaineer Creek trailhead at 3,400'.  The trail winds along the east side of the creek for about 2 miles before crossing over to the west side.  After another mile, the trail forks.  Take the left fork and cross back to the other side of the creek.  After winding generally southeast, you finally arrive at the north side of Colchuck Lake.  It is approximately 5 miles from the trailhead to here.  There are numerous campsites along the western banks of the Lake.

To start the climb, head counter-clockwise to the south side of the lake then head up hill and just a bit east of the lowest point of the north face of Dragontail (the prominent snow finger at the bottom of the first photo).  You will warm up on 40-50 deg. snow and ice for about 800' of the First Coulior before you are forced to make a choice between three options.

Climbing through the First Couloir.  Scott Schumann.

Your first option is to climb the steep ice runnels for about 3 pitches to the base of the Second Couloir.  These runnels are 70 - 80 deg. and the difficulty and thickness of the ice varies greatly depending on the snow conditions.  Be sure to bring some pitons along if this is your desired route.  

At the base of the ice runnels between pitch 1 and 2.  Coley Gentzel.
The second option is to continue up the First Couloir for another pitch or two, then heading up and left for two more pitches.  From this point, you can downclimb (5.8) or rappel over to the base of the Second Couloir.

Midway through the climb, with Colchuck Balanced Rock
in the background.  Scott Schumann

Your third option is to continue on to the top of the First Couloir.  By doing this, you essentially bypass the Second Couloir and come out on a broad snow slope on the Northwest Face.  The entrance to the Third Couloir is found behind a large tower at the top of these 40 - 60 deg. slopes.  However, because this variation does not ascend the Second Couloir, it is not, technically, the the Triple Couloirs route.

Nearing the top of the Second Couloir.  Scott Schumann.

If you take either Option 1 or 2, you are rewarded with over 600' of 40 - 50 deg. snow and ice.  Eventually, you exit up and right then start into the Third Couloir, which is another few hundred feet of 40 - 50 deg. climbing.  This brings you to the northeast face of the summit with the top of the peak up and to your right.

Transitioning from the Second Couloir up into
the Third.  Andrew Yasso.

A short snow scramble from the top of the Third Couloir up
to the summit of Dragontail Peak.  Andrew Yasso
The standard descent from Dragontail is to head east to Aasgard Pass and follow it back to Colchuck Lake.  According to the Nelson and Potterfield guide, the climb should take 5 - 9 hours one-way from the lake.

This is just one of the great alpine ice routes that are available to climb with AAI.  As I mentioned previously, the route is usually done in the spring, so this is a great follow up if have taken our Alpine Ice Course during one of the past summers.  If this gets you excited and yearning for more, give us a call and we'll get a trip set up for you!  

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Speak to Me Softly - Self Doubt and Climbing

Climbing is a tough sport. It is not only physically challenging, it is deeply mentally challenging. We are constantly fighting, not just our muscles, but our brains...which sometimes tell use that we can't do something.

OR has put together an absolutely awesome film about Jenny Abegg's personal struggle to free Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park. Yes, Moonlight Buttress is really hard. But that's not the point. The point is that we all struggle with self-doubt when we're pushing ourselves, and this short film does an awesome job of chronicling that...


--Jason D. Martin

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Dogbone Conspiracy

This post is another in our pantheon of things to never try at home, or do, or think about...

Nate Murphy put together a video where he and his friends build a wide array of quickdraws out of random items. Then Nate takes lead falls on them to see if they work.

I don't want to blow the video for you, but they don't...mostly.

--Jason D. Martin