Thursday, September 24, 2020

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 9/24/2020


--KOIN 6  is reporting that, "a climber was airlifted from Lewis and Clark State Park (near Portland) Sunday afternoon after he fell roughly 40 feet, according to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office." To read more, click here.

--Gripped is reporting that, "across Canada, route developers and guidebook authors have been working to identify rock and ice climb names that their local communities have deemed racist, sexist or just simply offensive. The most recent example is in Squamish, where the new Squamish Select guidebook has published updates that include new route names for some old climbs." To read more, click here.

--There is an attempt amongst the members of the Canadian outdoor coop, MEC, to stop an investment firm from taking over the company. To read about it, click here. 

--This is a cool article about North Cascade mountain scenery used in films.

--A couple got married while climbing at Mt. Erie recently. Here are some photos from the day, including wedding dress ascents...


--Last week, Yosemite closed due to air quality. MyMotherLode is now reporting that, "While Yosemite National Park remains closed due to poor air quality, many of the major roads traveling through it are back open. They include El Portal, Wawona, Big Oak Flat and Tioga roads. Glacier Point and Mariposa Grove roads remain closed. All lodging, restaurants, campgrounds and visitor centers are also closed. Visitors should be prepared to drive through the park without stopping. It is prohibited to hike, cycle, camp and rock climb." To read more, click here. UPDATE: The park should reopen on Friday.

--The Cal Fire website is probably the best resource to watch when it comes to wildfires in California. It provides daily updates on the different fires.

Desert Southwest:

--There may have been some kind of climbing incident in Red Rock Canyon on Wednesday, but there is limited information. It might have been this very short report about a broken ankle on Frigid Air Buttress.

Colorado and Utah:

--A climber was rescued from Eldorado Canyon State Park near Boulder after breaking his leg on the Bastille Crack. For more information, click here.

--The Colorado Sun is reporting that, "as ski resorts announce plans to manage crowds, avalanche equipment sales are soaring, leaving search and rescue teams and land managers bracing for record crowds exploring snowy mountains." To read more, click here.

--The Aspen Times is reporting that, "a part-time Colorado resident with a history of ignoring backcountry rules may be temporarily banned from U.S. Forest Service land, a law enforcement official said Monday. The U.S. District Attorney’s Office in Grand Junction will ask that David Lesh, 34, 'be restrained from going on Forest Service lands' for the duration of the federal case filed against him last week that alleges illegal activities at Keystone Ski Area and Hanging Lake outside Glenwood Springs, said Peter Hautzinger, assistant U.S. attorney." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--The Concord Monitor is reporting that, "A Massachusetts climber died when a tumbling boulder severed his rope, causing him to fall 150 feet while climbing on Cannon Cliff in Franconia Notch State Park, conservation officers said." To read more, click here.

--The election is coming soon, and this may be the most important one of our lifetimes. Certainly, the future of our public lands and our climate are both on the ballot. Protect Our Winters has created an excellent tool to help you #MakeADamnPlan to vote. Check it out.

--Snews is reporting that, "Robert W. "Bob" Gore, the inventor of Gore-Tex and longtime CEO of W.L. Gore & Associates, passed away at his home in Earleville, Maryland, on September 17. The cause of death was not disclosed. He was 83." To read more, click here.

--So officials at Khao Yai National Park in Thailand were a bit sick of the litter problem brought on by thoughtless tourists. As a result, they picked up the litter and mailed it to the tourists. This is a tactic that should be employed in North America. To read more, click here.

--Outdoor Sportswire is reporting that, "the Outdoor Economy Conference, the nation’s premier event for those looking to grow the outdoor industry in their own regions, is thrilled to return for its third year, this time with an all-new virtual format. Split into five creatively crafted half- virtual workshops, the 2020 Outdoor Economy Conference will take place every Thursday in October from noon-4 p.m. EST." To read more, click here.

--Somebody hung a black bearskin over the sign for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with a cardboard sign saying, "from here to the lake, black lives don't matter." According to the Charlotte Observer, "a reward of up to $5,000 is offered for tips 'leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of those responsible.'"  To read more, click here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Film Review: Avalanche Sharks

So. Yeah.

Avalanche Sharks...

I really really really hoped that this B-film would be one of those B-films that relish in their Beeness. You know, a hokey horror film that is self-aware, like Sharknado or Zombeavers or Eight Legged Freaks. These are movies that are total trash. But you know what? They know their total trash and they relish in it... And as a result, you can relish in it too. A guy slicing a giant flying shark in half with a chainsaw...? If it's done right, it can be awesome and funny and fun. But if it's done wrong, it's just dumb.

Avalanche Sharks is a film that doesn't know it's dumb. And boy o' boy is it dumb...

Here's the write-up on the film from Wikipedia:

After a snowboarder inadvertently starts a major avalanche, the moving snowfield uncovers and wakes prehistoric "snow sharks" which had been trapped beneath. The sharks develop an appetite for human flesh and the staff at the Mammoth Ski Resort begins to get reports of missing people and strange finned creatures moving under the snow. Fearing financial loss on what is their busiest event day of the year, the Bikini Snow Day, the resort's management tries to hide news of the missing skiers and sightings of strange creatures. Disaster strikes as the bikini-clad snow bunnies one-by-one become meals for the shark. The local sheriff allies with snowboarders to track down the monster.

Okay. Where to start...? I don't think I can begin with what a stupid idea this is. You guys already know that. You're probably aware that it would be really difficult for sharks to travel through the anemic snowpack that exists in the eastern Sierra where the film is supposed to take place. You probably know that -- even if the sharks could travel through snow -- it would need to be a light and fluffy snowpack, not the hard-packed ice found in a ski area that makes its own snow. And you're probably aware that sharks don't have a preference for bikini clad snow bunnies over stinky snowboarder dudes...

Here's the thing. This movie is so poorly paced, I could leave the room get something to eat and then come back and sit down before a character finishes explaining a strange occurrence that we just witnessed. The film is full of exposition that doesn't move (and I use this word lightly) plot forward.

Every female character is an over-sexualized prop. They're often giggling and drunk and half-naked, apparently waiting for a shark to come and bite them in half. Male characters are not much better. The over-sexualized relationships between the characters are so severe that they are forced to define their relationships to one another within one sentence. There are two options here, "I'm so glad I have you as a cousin...!" Or, "come on soldier boy, it's time for your duty. Get your military ass over here and take care of me!"

Somewhere, someone thought that second line was good. They thought, "hey, I can use this line to sexualize this character and I can provide exposition that the guy was in the military." Ironically, the same writer seemed to feel that we didn't get it from that line. So he preceded to have the military character tell us he was in the marines several dozen times in case we forgot.

The acting in this film is atrocious. Imagine the worst high school production of Music Man that you can imagine. None of the kids know their lines. They're coming on stage too soon and leaving too early. They're so nervous that they can't stop pacing and they're talking like robots. They all have the flu and keep throwing up... And maybe somebody trips over somebody else on stage and knocks down half the set. But the show must go on, so the kids keep talking like robots and forgetting lines and tripping over each other and throwing up on the audience...

Nobody in Avalanche Sharks is that good. Watching the full production of Music Man I just described would be like sitting on a beautiful beach with a margarita compared to watching any of the acting in Avalanche Sharks.

This is a terribly written and terribly directed film. According to the credits, Quaid Brinker adapted the screenplay from a story by Keith Shaw. Brinker also directed the film. Shaw can be found on IMDB, but Brinker is nowhere to be seen. I suspect that whomever directed the film -- and it's quite possible that it was Shaw -- knew it was so bad that he made up a director so it wouldn't hurt his career...

I have to admit. I turned it off. I couldn't get to the end. I got about an hour into it and realized I still had twenty minutes to go. That's when I realized that I could be doing anything other than watching that film. Anything...

My suggestion? Don't even turn it on to begin with...

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, September 21, 2020

Anchor Technique: The Quad

In cooperation with Outdoor Research, the American Mountain Guides Association has made several videos for beginning level climbers.

In the following video, AMGA Instructor Team Member Jeff Ward, demonstrates how to construct a Quad and then talks about the anchor's benefits.

The benefits listed at the end of the video include:

1) Self-Equalizing
2) Separate clip in points
3) No need to break it down
4) Limited extension if there is bolt failure
5) Limits belayer and second from pulling on one another

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, September 18, 2020

Film Review: Vertical Frontier

Mount Everest is deeply embedded in the minds of climbers and non-climbers alike all over the world. People think about it constantly.  We hear it all the time: "what do I need to do to climb Everest?"

Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world. But that's not what's made it such a household name. No, instead, it was the countless books and documentaries that have been produced over the years describing the gruesome details of expeditions gone wrong, and the heroic efforts of climbers on successful ascents. Popular culture lore helped to create the Everest that exists in our minds...

And while there are other mountains that the collective climbing psyche is fixated on, there are few that have seen so many popular culture references. And fewer yet that have hundreds of documentary films chronicling the tales on their flanks.  Mount Everest is an international household name.  It was the scene of many heroic alpine struggles...but there are other places that deserve such an honor.  One of those places is Yosemite Valley.

Like Mount Everest, Yosemite holds an important place in the history of climbing. It is where modern rock climbing evolved the furthest, the fastest.  And it is a place where technical skill and big wall proficiency is still at the cutting edge.  One great difference between Mount Everest and Yosemite is the fact that there simply have not been as many popular culture explorations of the place and its history to climbers.

Vertical Frontier, subtitled, "A History of the Art, Sport and Philosophy of Rock Climbing in Yosemite," is a Mount Everest style documentary built for the masses.  But unlike many of the Everest documentaries, Vertical Frontier caters to climbers as well as to non-climbers, making it one of the rare films that is entertaining to both audiences.

Vertical Frontier is a slick PBS-style feature documentary narrated by Tom Brokaw that tells the story of climbing in Yosemite from the first forays onto big features in the 1800s to a battle between climbers and the National Park Service at the turn of the century.  In between these two bookends, the film follows the development of climbing skill and technique by chronicling the important ascents over the last 100 years.

Much of the film is done in a standard documentary format; a format that easily allows the filmmakers to tell the story. And though engaging, climbing history is fraught with emotion and one-upsmanship. This, unfortunately, doesn't always penetrate the documentary style.

The capstone of Yosemite's story in the film is the "coming-together" of climbers after a flood seriously impacted the valley's tourist infrastructure in 1997. The National Park Service proposed a change in Camp 4, the campground used by generations of Yosemite Climbers. They wanted to build a new lodge at the historic site.  The last minutes of the film are quite different from the rest, as they are filled with emotion as decades worth of climbers pull together to save the place that provided them with such inspiration.

This 2002 documentary won the "Best Film on Climbing" at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in 2002 and at the Kendall Mountain Film Festival in 2003. The film won first prize in the Mountaineering Category at the International Mountaineering Film Festival at Teplice nad Metuii in the Czech Republic in 2004.  Additionally, it won the "Viewer's Choice" award at the International Festival of Outdoor Films in 2004 and the "Best Cameraman" at the Tbilisi International Mountain Films Festival in Georgia in 2006. It may be one of the better-awarded documentaries of its type...

Many of the films we see on Youtube or at the Banff Film Festival today are about people pushing standards. They are often slickly produced and are extremely entertaining. But they don't usually give us a glimpse into what came before the climbers on screen demonstrating their acrobatic skills.  Vertical Frontier provides this and is extremely entertaining for it...

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 9/17/20


--Late last week there were several false reports that claimed Antifa members were starting wildfires in Oregon. Armed men met journalists of color and threatened them as a result. From the Oregonian: "No, anti-fascists have not been arrested in connection with wildfires ravaging Oregon, and public officials are asking people to stop spreading the various false rumors claiming this to be the case." To read more, click here.

Wildfire smoke in the North Cascades on Saturday, August 12th.

--Last year I was in Squamish when I heard what I thought was rockfall. Instead, it was the Sea-to-Sky Gondola. The cable had been cut at the middle of the night, and it collapsed. Well, it's happened again. From CBC: "The cable of the Sea-to-Sky Gondola has been deliberately cut in the middle of the night for the second year in a row, leaving the tourist attraction in shambles and staff at the company completely bewildered. The company and the RCMP confirmed the 55 millimetre-thick line of the gondola was severed overnight, sending cars crashing into the mountain." To read more, click here.

--Here is a map that shows real-time updates of the forest fires in Oregon.

--The REI headquarters that was built in Bellevue, Washington, but the company never moved into, was recently sold to Facebook.  To read more, click here.

--So a bunch of dudes are skateboarding and biking down climbing routes in Squamish. To read more, click here. To see a video of the first skateboard descent of the Apron, click below:

--If you're a user of the Mountain Loop Highway (Vesper Peak, Pilchuck, Big Four) in the Cascades, please take this survey. It will help dictate where trail building resources are focused.


--There have been two rattlesnake incidents in the last couple weeks in Yosemite. One snake bit a barefoot fisherman on the Tuolumne River. And the other bit a hiker on a steep slope. Both victims were in the hospital for several days. To read more, click here.

--Climbing is reporting that, "unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings and the wildfires currently burning in California, the 2020 Yosemite Facelift has been called off. However, in lieu of the Yosemite Facelift, the YCA is holding a Facelift: Act Local event from September 22-27, encouraging climbers to clean up their local crags and outdoor spaces." The Facelift is an annual Yosemite clean-up event. To read more, click here.

--And the most famous couple in American climbing just got married at Lake Tahoe. You probably already know who they are, but if you don't, check it out... Side note: This is the first post ever here from Brides Magazine.

Desert Southwest:

--KOLD News reported that, "following an investigation by Special Agents of the National Park Service and U.S. Park Rangers, a Flagstaff man pled guilty to misdemeanor violations for starting a wildland fire within Grand Canyon National Park. Thomas Grabarek, 71, pled guilty on Sept. 8, 2020 to misdemeanor violations for starting the Cottonwood Creek Fire which spread approximately 64 acres in the Inner Canyon along the Tonto Trail near Horseshoe Mesa." To read more, click here.

--Unofficial Networks is reporting that, "two trails at Taos Ski Valley’s Kachina Bowl will honor Matthew Zonghetti and Corey Borg-Massanari, both of whom died tragically in an avalanche in 2019. The trails will be known as Z-chute and She Gone. The Zonghetti and Borg-Massanari families selected the names." To read more, click here.

--This is a sad piece from the National Parks Conservation Association about a fire that destroyed thousands of joshua trees in the Mojave National Preserve.  The piece starts with the lines, "I lost the center of my world last week. I’m feeling a kind of vertigo of the soul." With the changing of the climate, it's unlikely those trees are coming back.

--It looks like we might start to have to make reservations to climb in Red Rock Canyon, near Las Vegas...

Colorado and Utah:

--Sophia Tang recently became the first woman to complete the 485-mile Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango, unsupported. In other words, she carried all her food for 21-days in one go. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--The National Parks Traveler is reporting that, "a black bear found scavenging human remains was put down at Great Smoky Mountains National Park early Saturday, leaving investigators to determine whether the man was killed by the bear. Backpackers Friday afternoon on the Hazel Creek Trail spotted what appeared to be human remains and a bear scavenging in the area near campsite 82, where there was an unoccupied tent, a park release said Saturday." To read more, click here.

--Climbing is asking whether the crags are an appropriate place for protests and demonstrations.

--Canada's iconic gear store, MEC has been sold. From Cision: "MEC's Board of Directors (the "Board") announced its unanimous support for an agreement with Kingswood Capital Management, LP ("Kingswood"), whereby Kingswood will acquire substantially all of MEC's assets through the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act ("CCAA") and ensure a thriving future for the Canadian retailer." To read more, click here.

--Unofficial Networks is reporting that, "in a move mirroring Sugar Bowl’s decision to suspend season pass sales, Jackson Hole’s portal to purchase season passes was updated yesterday showing a halt to sales. Jackson Hole News & Guide reports the resort announced a bevy of new COVID-19 protocols including limiting capacity at the mountain by capping the number of tickets that can be purchased daily, sanitization of Aerial Tram cabins and the Bridger and Sweetwater Gondola cars multiple times daily, placing thermal imaging cameras “in certain areas” to detect fevers among skiers, and limiting capacity on the tram." To read more, click here.

--The outdoor industry is in the process of recovering...

--And finally, on the upcoming election, Patagonia hid a message on some of their clothing: Vote the Assholes Out. To read about it at Backpacker, click here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Finger Injuries in Climbing

The hangboard.

It sits above the doorway in the office, taunting me. It sits above the doorway, daring me to train. It sits above the doorway, and stares me down. It sits above the doorway...

I can't help it. I'm a climber. It's in my genes. I have to hang on it. I have to do pull-ups on it. I have to climb.

But the reality is that hanging on a hangboard is not climbing. Hangboards are supposed to be for training. In truth hangboards are one of the best ways climbers have devised to obtain sports injuries.

I know only too well. One day I succumbed to the devious taunts of the board and began to train on it. I succumbed and pulled something in my ring finger.

A climber on the Boy Scout Wall in Red Rock Canyon
Photo by Jason Martin

After doing a little research I discovered that I probably injured one of the pulleys in my finger. A great website called climbinginjuries.comprovided me with everything that I needed to know in order to get better. They indicated that I had a pulley injury in my finger and they identified three levels of pulley injury.

  • Grade III: A grade three injury usually involves a complete rupture of the pulley creating bowstringing of the tendon. Symptoms of this severe soft tissue injury includes local pain in the pulley, swelling or even bruising, pain when squeezing, pain when extending the finger, and most disturbingly those who get this injury often hear a pop inside their finger.
  • Grade II: A grade two injury is identified by a partial rupture of the pulley tendon. This injury is characterized by local pain at the pulley, pain when squeezing and occasionally pain when extending a finger.
  • Grade I: A grade one injury is characterized by local pain at the pulley, pain when squeezing and a sprain of the finger ligaments (collateral ligaments).


These injuries can be quite serious. Some people may require months to recover from a Grade III pulley rupture. has a prescribed method for treatment:

Go buy some TheraPutty! All orthopedic doctors and physical therapists will recommend putty as a tool for successful recovery.(2) The fingers generally receive poor blood flow so getting blood to the injured area is important. Contrast baths have had mixed results in the literature, but it wouldn't hurt to try. To do a contrast bath, get a bowl of warm water, and cold water. Put injured finger in cold water for a few minutes, then place it immediately in the warm water for a few minutes. Repeat 3-5 times. Finish with the cold water. This could be done after squeezing the putty ball to "flush out" the injured joint. Massaging the effected area can be effective as well. Start out lightly and gradually increase the pressure.

  • Grade III: - Immediately- Stop climbing Apply ice or cold immediately, no more than 15 minutes at a time (1-2 days) Take ibuprofen for 1- 2 day Keep the hand elevated Week 1-2 Don't climb! Don't immobilize the finger. Unless there is a lot of pain, open and close your hand often VERY light massage at the site of the injury. Concentrate on other aspects of your life. Week 4-8 Warm the hands by use of a bath or an electric blanket, then squeeze the yellow (softest) putty. Don't push it, if there's pain…stop. Repeat a few times per day. Go to Grade II Treatment.
  • Grade II: (Week 1-2) No climbing Warm the hands by use of a bath or an electric blanket, then squeeze the red putty. Don't push it, if there's pain…stop. Repeat a few times per day. Lubricate and lightly massage at the site of the injury. (Week 3-6) Tape the injured finger, stretch your forearms (this relieves the stress on the finger tendons) and climb thebiggest holds you can find. Start easy, this will be the quickest way to recovery. If you climb too hard, too fast, then return to the start of Grade 2 and do not collect $200. Always stretch your forearms after warming up and prior to climbing. Start squeezing the medium to firm putty. Lubricate and massage the finger at the site of the injury a couple of times/day. Start lightly and gradually increase the intensity using very short strokes on the injured site. Go to Grade I Treatment
  • Grade I (Week 1) Tape the injured finger and continue to climb at a level well below your normal level. Gradually increase the stresses on the fingers. Stretch your forearms after warming up and prior to climbing. This relieves the stress on the finger tendons. Squeeze the medium to firm putty a few times per day. Lubricate and massage the finger at the site of the injury. Start light and gradually increase intensity. Very short strokes on the injured site. Expected outcome Take advice from a practitioner who specializes in climbing. However, if treated early and effectively, with an appropriately graded return to activity, recovery will usually take 3-8 weeks. However, if the injury is pushed beyond its stage of recovery, re-injury will occur and may result in a chronic injury that will require a much more protracted rehabilitation period.

The best way to recover from a finger injury is to avoid getting hurt in the first place. Here are a few rules to live by:

  • Always warm up on easy climbs. Don't jump straight onto the hardest thing you can get up. 
  • Stretch your fingers. 
  • Don't overtrain. If you are climbing hard then you should probably avoid climbing every day. Strong sport climbers will often climb every other day. 
  • Stretch your fingers again. 
  • Massage your forearms between burns. 
  • Stretch your fingers more.

Sooner or later my finger will heal up and when it does I'll train more consciously. The hangboard definitely requires a bit more care. The last thing I need is another finger injury to crimp my crimping style!

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, September 14, 2020

Snake Bites: First Aid and Prevention

As most of the programs we run in the Southwest are in the desert, we are often asked about venomous snakes. Are there snakes in Red Rock? Are there snakes in Joshua Tree? Are they dangerous?

The answer to all three questions is yes...and no. There are rattlesnakes in both Red Rock and Joshua Tree, but they are uncommon in both venues. Large populations of predatory birds help keep the snake populations low. It is unlikely that you will encounter a snake in either location. And even if you do, the likelihood of a problem with a snake is very low.

Many rattlesnakes blend in with their surroundings.

Statistically the mostly likely group of individuals to be bitten by a snake are between the ages of 15 and 25 years-old and are male. Most of these bites take place on the hands or forearms. I couldn't find any statistics about the involvement of alcohol in snake bites.

Based on my last sentence, what do you suppose such statistics suggest?

Yep, you guessed it. They're messing with them.

Millions of people live, work and play in the same places where snakes live, work and play. In the continental United States less than 8,000 people are bitten by snakes every year and as stated above, a large percentage of them are literally asking for it.

In the unlikely event that somebody in your party does receive a snakebite, don't panic and try to keep the victim calm. Many snakebites happen because the snake is defending itself. When a snake bites out of defense it is less likely to envenomate. So there is the possibility that there is no venom in the bite. So there may be nothing to panic about.

If there is venom in the bite, panicking will only raise one's heart-rate and allow the venom to move more quickly through the system. It is incredibly important to keep the victim calm. Remove any jewelry or rings from any extremity that has been bitten. If there is venom in the bite, there will be significant swelling -- so much that a ring could become stuck, cutting off blood flow and ultimately causing the loss of a finger.

In the old movies, John Wayne loved to cut open a snakebite to suck out the venom. John Wayne was apparently unaware of hepatitis, HIV, cytomegalovirus or any of a number of other blood-borne dangers. Doctors and nurses don't wear latex gloves for nothing. Sucking venom out of a wound flies in the face of a basic tenant of first aid, body substance isolation.

Obviously if someone is bitten by a snake, call for emergency assistance immediately. Responding quickly is crucial. While waiting for emergency assistance:
  • Wash the bite with soap and water.
  • Immobilize the bitten area and keep it lower than the heart.
  • Cover the area with a clean, cool compress or a moist dressing to minimize swelling and discomfort.
  • Monitor vital signs.
If a victim is unable to reach medical care within 30 minutes, the American Red Cross recommends:
  • Apply a bandage, wrapped two to four inches above the bite, to help slow the venom. This should not cut off the flow of blood from a vein or artery - the band should be loose enough to slip a finger under it.
  • It is possible to place a suction deviceover the bite to help draw venom out of the wound without making cuts. These devices are often included in commercial snake bite kits. However, the value of these devices is debatable.
Physicians often use antivenin -- an antidote to snake venom -- to treat serious snake bites. Antivenin is derived from antibodies created in a sheep's blood serum when the animal is injected with snake venom. Because antivenin is obtained from horses, snake bite victims sensitive to horse products must be carefully managed.

The best way to avoid a snakebite is to avoid a snake. If you see one, don't mess with it. Both you and the snake will be much happier in the long-run.

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, September 11, 2020

How to Sleep Warm while Camping

REI has a fairly good group of videos on entry level tips and techniques. In this video, they cover:
  • Sleeping Bag Selection
  • Air Pad and Closed Foam Pads
  • Sleeping Bag Liners
  • Clothing for Sleeping
  • Exercise in Your Sleeping Bag
  • Snacks and Beverages to keep You Warm
  • Hot Water Bottles

Staying warm in the backcountry is just as much of an art as anything else in the backcountry. It takes practice to do it well...

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 9/10/20


--An individual died on Glacier Peak this week, after falling down a "glacier hole." Glacier hole is the term used in the news report. It's not clear if this was a crevasse or a moat. To read more, click here.

Mt. Baker and the Twin Sisters this morning, as seen through the wildfire smoke from the Chuckanut Mountains.

--Here's a piece on the slow process that Steven's Pass ski patrollers partook in to unionize after Vail Resorts bought the ski area.

--Trails near the Mt. Hood Meadows were shut down on Monday due to a wildfire.

--The Spokesman-Review is reporting that, "Mount Rainier National Park is now home to wolverines again after a more than 100-year hiatus. A reproducing female, named Joni, and her two babies, called kits, were discovered by scientists of the Cascades Carnivore Project in collaboration with the National Park Service, according to a recent announcement. To make the rare and historic discovery last week, scientists used camera stations designed to photograph the animals and identify them using their uniquely patterned chest markings." To read more, click here.

--The Downy Creek and Sulphur Creek trails are currently closed due wildfire. To read more, click here.

The fact that Mt. Rainier posted this on Twitter, makes me think that they're having problems there.


--KATU 2 is reporting that, "More than 200 people were airlifted to safety early Sunday after a fast-moving wildfire trapped them in a popular camping area in California’s Sierra National Forest, one several fires that broke out amid record-breaking, triple-digit temperatures that baked the state." To read more, click here.

--All National Forests in the Sierra are currently closed due to wildfire. This includes Stanislaus National Forest, Sierra National Forest, Sequoia National Forest, Inyo National Forest, Los Padres National Forest, Angeles National Forest, San Bernardino National Forest, and Cleveland National Forest. These areas may not reopen until October 1st. Additionally, there are campfire bans in most of California, both in established campgrounds and in the backcountry.

--Gripped is reporting that, "A wildfire in the Sierra National Forest trapped vacationers over the weekend and helicopter rescues were required. The fire sent billowing smoke into the Yosemite area and heaps of ash onto classic rock routes." To read more, and to see the entire Yosemite NPS instagram post, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--The campground in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area has reopened

Colorado and Utah:

--There is at least one fire that has broken into the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park. Much of the access to the Park has been shut down or limited due to the Cameron Fire. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Rhea Dodd, a well known climber and a survivor of a major tragedy on Mt. Rainier in 1979, died this week after a long struggle with cancer. To read more, click here.

--A 35-year-old woman was killed in an accident on Wyoming's Pingora on Saturday. Information about the accident is still scarce. But what we do know can be found, here.

--A climber suffered a head injury on Maine's Bald Mountain this week. To read more, click here.

--The Tribune is reporting that, "Firefighters rescued an injured rock climber from Bishop Peak in San Luis Obispo on Monday morning after she sustained major injuries in a 30-foot fall, according to the San Luis Obispo City Fire Department." To read more, click here.

--You probably heard this one already. From EcoWatch: "A couple hosting a gender-reveal party on Saturday set off a smoke bomb to reveal the baby's gender when the device lit the nearby dry grass and sent partygoers scrambling. That mishap has now led to the El Dorado wildfire in Southern California's San Bernardino County." To read more, click here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The History of the Climbing Shoe

Albert OK is a YouTuber and climber. The bulk of Albert's channel is dedicated to competition climbing. And though that may not be your cup-a-tea, he's put together some really slick videos. The video featured here today is one of them. You will learn more in this 18-minute video about climbing shoe history, construction and purpose than perhaps anywhere else. 

It is well worth the watch:

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, September 7, 2020

How to Use and Autobelay

Many rock gyms have auto-belay devices. These devices allow you to do a roped climb without a climbing partner. They increase your ability to use your training time at the gym effectively because it's much easier to do laps or work a route, without putting someone else out.

In this short video, a rock gym employee discusses how to use an auto-belay device.

There are a couple of important things that he mentioned in the video:

First, remember to actually clip into the auto-belay carabiner. There's no one there to check you, so you have to check your harness and carabiner yourself. If you don't clip in properly -- or at all -- you may get hurt.

Most auto-belay accidents happen because the climber forgot to clip into the belay.

Second, if you accidentally let go of the carabiner, don't worry about it. Don't try to climb up and get it. Just tell a staff member. These things happen all the time.

Third, the first few times you use the auto-belay it will be very scary. It doesn't rally catch you until you've fully weighted it, and so it can feel like you're falling for a moment before it engages. There's value in getting used to this close to the ground.

Auto-belays are great. I personally really appreciate it when gyms have this option available...

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, September 4, 2020

Everest: Start to Summit in Three Minutes

This is a super inspiring little video of a guy who went to Mt. Everest in 2018. I'll spare you the suspense, he made it! But it's clearly the journey that is the most interesting...and his short video gives us a taste of that:

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 8/31/20


--An injured climber was airlifted this week from Mt. Townsend in the Olympic Mountains of Washington State. To read more, click here.

--A climber was injured in a fall in Index late last week. Little information is available about the accident. There have been reports that this was a 20-year-old woman and that there were head and spinal injuries, but these have not been confirmed. A bit more can be found, here. A video of the helicopter hoist of the victim can be found, here.

--A climber near Cutthroat Peak in the Cascades recently found a duffle bag with a mysterious white substance in it in a densely wooded area. It is believed that the duffle was ejected from a plane being chased by the Border Patrol in November. The bag does appear to have been dropped from a plane, but the substance was not drugs. To read more, click here.

A new via ferrata route has been installed in Smith Rock State Park in Oregon.

--There is some serious controversy over a new via ferrata route at Smith Rock State Park. To read about it, click here.

--Mount Rainier National Park is studying transportation and visitor use in the Nisqually to Paradise corridor. To share your input on this, click here.


--Here are some updates on the SQF Complex Fire in the Sierra. 

--And here is some road construction info on the road (South Lake Road) and trailhead to Bishop Pass.

--Also, bears in Tahoe have figured out automatic doors:

Desert Southwest:

--The Deseret Sun is reporting that, "Joshua Tree National Park officials announced on Friday that a body was found a day earlier within the park near a sedan along Black Eagle Mine Road." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--Salt Lake Magazine is reporting that, "in an attempt to enhance skier safety during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Vail Resorts, owners of Park City Mountain, will require all guests to utilize an online reservation system in order to ski at their resorts during the upcoming 2020/2021 winter season. The reservation requirement applies to all skiers and snowboarders, including Epic Pass holders, in an attempt to make sure resorts do not exceed daily capacity to operate resorts safely during the pandemic. The move is sure to ruffle some feathers among locals and pass holders who are used to showing up to ski the country’s largest resort whenever and however they please, but executives at Vail feel it’s the only way to keep the mountain open while coronavirus still impacts everyday life." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Gail Bates, the very first employee of the American Alpine Club, died recently at the age of 103. To read an obituary on this pioneer, click here.

--Travel and Leisure is reporting that, "An American tourist who violated Canada’s coronavirus travel restrictions at least twice to sneak a visit to Banff National Park in June is now facing a six-figure fine and up to six months in jail." To read more, click here.

--A new thru-hike is being proposed in Alaska. The Alaska Long Trail will cover 500-miles and will go from Seward to Fairbanks. To read about it, click here.

--Outside has published an article about changing mountain names back to their native names: "Giving Mountains Back Their Indigenous Names. Navajo climber Len Necefer is using social media to remind us of our wild places' indigenous histories." To read the article, click here.

The aftermath of a recent forest fire in Washington State.

--We've long understood what leads to the types of insane wildfires that we've seen in California. But there's little political will to change. Check out this article on the subject from Mother Jones.

--And finally, if you haven't had the opportunity to watch Patagonia's phenomenal feature film about climbing and how it impacts our lives, check out Stone Locals, for free.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Route Profile: Cross Country Hiking - Welcome Pass to Yellow Aster Butte

The High Divide is a popular and physically demanding trail in Washington's Mt. Baker Ranger District that goes from the Excelsior Trailhead to the Welcome Pass Trailhead. And Yellow Aster Butte is a crazy popular trail up to a high viewpoint, while also providing access to Tomyhoi Peak.

Several years ago, I began to wonder what it might look like to travel "cross country" between Welcome Pass and Yellow Aster. I finally made the high country trek, and found it to be an excellent outing for a fit party with some mountaineering and map-reading skill.

Mt. Shuksan from low on the route.

This is a tremendously scenic route that I did solo in the summer of 2020. I placed a bicycle at the Yellow Aster Trailhead and left my car at the Welcome Pass Trailhead. I completed the trek, including the bike ridge between the two trailheads in just under six hours (five hours of hiking + 40 minutes of bike riding). The caveat to that time is that I was by myself and didn't take any breaks. I'm not a superman, but I am a guide. So I would expect most parties to take six to eight hours to complete the trek and ride (though you could put cars on either end).

Here's the weird thing. It's only about eight miles from trailhead to the other...but it is a tremendous amount of work to go between them.

The Green Line is the Welcome Pass Trail. The Pink Line is the link-up. And
the blue line is the standard Yellow Aster Butte trail to the Yellow Aster camp.
(Click to Enlarge)


From I-5, follow State Route 542 (Mt. Baker Highway) 46-miles (approximately 12 miles after the town of Glacier) and look for the WSDOT Shuksan Maintenance Facility. Turn left onto Twin Lakes Road (FR 3065) immediately following the DOT station. Drive 4.5 miles to the Tomyhoi Lake/Yellow Aster Butte Trailhead and parking area. And then either chain up a bike or leave a car.

Proceed back down to the DOT station and turn right (westbound) and drive approximately 1/2 mile. The very first right-hand turn will be the Welcome Pass Road (3060) and drive 1.5-miles to the parking area.

Section One: Welcome Pass

Hike steeply up the trail to Welcome Pass, completing sixty-six switchbacks in the process. This first 2.3 mile section is by far the hardest of the day. The bulk of your elevation gain for the day will be made here. The trailhead starts at 2480-feet, and Welcome Pass is at 5,200-feet.

Section Two: Welcome Pass to Yellow Aster Butte

This is what you came for and it won't disappoint. The easy beta is to follow intermittent trails, staying on the crest as much as possible, northeast to the Yellow Aster camp. Here are several beta photos:

Looking North Above Welcome Pass

Looking South Back to Welcome Pass

Looking North to the First Crux

The first crux on the northbound route is a section in the heather with mildly loose rock. There is some exposure and it's probably class 2. But you should take your time here, a fall would be catastophic.

Looking back south, after the first crux.

Continue to follow the ridge north, either on the crest or
just right of the crest. Be aware of potential cornices in the snow.

At the 5933 highpoint, as seen in the preceding photo, you will reach the second crux. Stay right. There are some small cliffs, but they can be negotiated by carefully picking your way down right of the crest. Take your time here.

It should be noted that depending on the snow coverage, there could be several cornices on the ridge. I didn't bring an ice axe on this trip, but I did bring a Black Diamond Whippet, which seemed appropriate given the snow coverage in late July.

Looking back south at the 5933 highpoint from the Yellow Aster Camp.

Like the first crux, the second crux is probably never more than class 2 and is near the summit. If you find yourself downclimbing something and using both hands, you probably screwed up. Look around for something less sketchy.

Looking north from the 5933 highpoint at the Yellow Aster Camp 
and trail out.

It is possible to click on any of the preceding photos to enlarge them.

Section 3: Yellow Aster Trail

Once in the Yellow Aster Camp zone, make a handful of switchbacks up to the Yellow Aster Trail. It is possible to continue up to Yellow Aster Butte from here, or simply walk 3.6 miles down to your bike or car.


It would certainly be possible to do this southbound, and if you did you could avoid some additional elevation gain. 

There are two issues with southbound. First, if you wish to use a bike, northbound is better because it's all downhill to the highway, with a little steep uphill trek back to  your car. Second, the Welcome Pass trail is steep enough going downhill that it might actually feel a bit sketchy at times.

Hikers on the Yellow Aster Butte Trail

This is a very cool and somewhat obscure high route.  It's certainly possible to take more than a day on it and to camp, but it's short enough that going light and moving quickly might be the best way to enjoy it.

This route isn't really kid friendly, or beginner friendly. It's not sketchy at all for seasoned climbers, but for those who have never negotiated snow - potentially steep snow - cornices, or easy rock loose rock climbing with exposure, a different route should be selected...

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, August 31, 2020

Film Review: Arctic

There are a lot of wilderness survival films out there. In most of them, you can't help but yell at the screen when someone is doing something really dumb that no one would ever do. For example, if you're stuck on a ski lift in sub-zero temperatures in Frozen, then you should probably put up your hood and put your hands in your pockets...! If the dude at the local gear shop recommends that you bring a map in Backcountry, then you probably shouldn't scoff at it...! And if your "guide" is under the age of twenty-five and says he's climbed pretty much every mountain in the United States in Devil's Pass, for the love of God, find a qualified guide before you commit to going somewhere where there have been several fatalities...

You simply don't have this kind of feeling in the film Arctic! Instead of yelling at the screen during the film, I was dragged along by a powerful performance from Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal Lecter in NBC's Hannibal, and Galen Erso in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Overgård. The character barely talks and the film is mostly about this individual fighting for his life, mostly alone, somewhere inside the Arctic Circle.

Arctic doesn't start with a dramatic plane crash. Instead, at the start of the film we meet Overgård, a man who is stranded and alone at his downed plane. He's been there for some time. His entire life revolves around a series of daily tasks (fishing, maintaining a giant SOS sign, using a hand crank to run a survival transceiver). He lives a quiet life on a barren arctic landscape, eating raw fish and living in the husk of his downed plane, while he waits for a rescue.

Finally, a rescue helicopter arrives. But in a dramatic windstorm the aircraft crashes, killing the pilot and severely injuring a twenty-something female passenger (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir). The woman is barely conscious throughout the film, and her wound becomes infected.

As the woman begins to deteriorate, Overgård must change everything. He has to act. He can no longer wait passively for a rescue. The only way the woman will survive is if he hauls her across the mountains to a base that appears to be several days away...

Arctic was the directoral debut for the musician Joe Penna. In addition to directing the film, he co-authored the tightly written script with film editor Ryan Morrison. The duo clearly work well together, as every scene of the film is tightly wound, making it mostly impossible for the viewer to step away and armchair quarterback the decisions made by the protagonist.

I say mostly because there is one sequence that might irk those with rescue training. Overgård tries to haul a sled up a slope using a hip belay. The terrain is steep, likely over fifty-degrees, capped by several overhung boulders. Inevitably the character cannot pull the sled up. He has the equipment to rig a system, but doesn't know how to use it...which is realistic too. Your average climber without rope rescue training would find this to be a difficult proposition, much less a person with no mountain skills.

In many ways Overgård's ignorance of mountain skill and his innovation at survival is exactly what makes this film worth watching. This is a movie about a normal guy in a uniquely abnormal circumstance. It's a piece about how this normal guy deals with significant adversity. And it is awesome...!

There are a lot of wilderness survival movies out there. It's a genre within itself. And when we dig deeply into these movies, we find that mostly they're not that good. But if we dig long enough, eventually -- sometimes -- we find a gem. Arctic is definitely one of those rare finds, and should be high on your list of must-see outdoor films...!

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, August 28, 2020

Saddlebags for Rappelling

Rappelling is always tricky. It is the most dangerous thing that we do in the mountains and there are a lot of things to worry about. Are the ropes touching the ground? Are you clipped in properly? How many rappels do you have to do? Should you knot the ends of the rope or not? Are there people coming up below? And will the rope hang up when you throw it?

This particular article is about the last two issues. Are there people climbing up from below and will the rope get hung up when it's thrown? If there are people below or the rope looks like its going to get hung up, then the best means of descent might be with saddlebags.
Saddlebags are essentially a means by which you can stack your rope in a sling and clip it to yourself so that it will easily feed out as you rappel down.

A climber sets up his saddlebag on the side of his harness.

In order to create a saddlebag for your rope:
  1. Center your rope on the rappel anchor.
  2. Coil the rope from the ends to the middle.
  3. Clip a single shoulder-length sling to your harness.
  4. Center the rope on the sling.
  5. Clip the other end of the sling to the carabiner already clipped to your harness.
  6. Put an extension on your rappel device.
  7. Add a back-up friction hitch to the double-ropes going through your device. This can be clipped directly to your belay loop if you are using an extension or to your leg-loop if you are rappelling directly off your harness.
  8. Rappel.
  9. If the rope gets tangled, unclip the carabiner that isn't clipped to your harness and allow the rope to fall down the cliff-face.
A climber rappels on an extension with a single saddlebag.

One of the best uses of this technique is to navigate low-angled terrain
where it might be difficult to throw the rope to the ground.

The term "saddlebags" is plural because you might have to manage a great deal of rope in a rappel. If you have to tie two ropes together to do a full-length rappel, then you should place one coil on one side of your body and the other coil on the other side of your body. In such a situation, you will have to rappel on an extension in order to effectively deal with the amount of rope on your body.

I regularly use this technique to deal with climbers below, low-angled terrain or wind. It is an easy and effective way to keep the rope from knocking someone down or becoming a mess...but like everything else, it takes practice to get it to work properly...

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 8/27/2020


--A Eugene-based woman set the Oregon Pacific Crest Trail speed record by completing all 455-miles of the trail in just seven days. To read more, click here.

--And speaking of fast, an ultrarunner ran the 93-mile Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier in under 17-hours. To read about it, click here.

--Global News is reporting on a wildfire in British Columbia: "A large area of land to the east and south of Penticton is now restricted to essential travel until mid-October. The B.C. Wildfire Service issued a restriction order at noon on Friday to protect public safety and avoid interference with fire control." To read more, click here.


--From Squaw Valley: "After extensive research into the etymology and history of the term “squaw,” both generally and specifically with respect to Squaw Valley, outreach to Native American groups, including the local Washoe Tribe, and outreach to the local and extended community, company leadership has decided it is time to drop the derogatory and offensive term “squaw” from the destination’s name. Work to determine a new name will begin immediately and will culminate with an announcement of a new name in early 2021. Implementation of the name change will occur after the winter season concludes in 2021." To read more, click here.

--The Sierra Wave is reporting that, "On three separate days (July 24, August 18, and August 19) the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), U.S. Air Force National Guard Unit, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Department of Justice (DOJ) CAMP Team # 3 and 4 eradicated 42,306 illegal marijuana plants from three locations off public lands within Inyo County. Street value is estimated to be between $84,612,000 and $169,224,000." These backcountry grow operations are sometimes boobytrapped. Climbers and hikers are encouraged to stay away from them. To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--3 News Las Vegas is reporting that, "A reward is available to catch the vandals who painted graffiti on a gateway sign at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area last week. Black paint was found on the sandstone gateway sign the morning of Thursday, Aug. 13, said a spokesperson for the Bureau of Land Management." To read more, click here.

--8 News Now is reporting that, "Advocates for Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area are working to secure funds to pay for projects — and to say 'thank you' at the same time. Save Red Rock’s 'Attitude of Gratitude' campaign allows anyone to send thank-you notes to Nevada’s US senators and representatives, who unanimously supported the Great American Outdoors Act." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--The Associated Press is reporting on how some redwoods survived wildfires in a California state park. Check it out, here.

--The Rapid City Journal is reporting that, "a Michigan man admitted to illegally climbing Mount Rushmore after he was found “on top of George Washington’s head,” court records show. Ayman Doppke was fined $1,500 after pleading guilty Thursday at the federal courthouse in Rapid City. Prosecutors dismissed charges of disorderly conduct and violating an area closure." To read more, click here.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Route Profile: NE Buttress, Johannesburg Mountain (V, 5.8, AI 2)

Johannesberg Mountain is massive. It is one big mountain and it literally towers above the popular Cascade Pass trailhead.

The Northeast Buttress is the longest line on the mountain on one of the biggest walls in the range. There is a long history of people suffering epics on this route, and it is not uncommon for people to return one to two days late from an ascent of the mountain.

This reputation has always scared me a bit. I've spent a lot of time looking at the mountain from Boston Basin and I've always thought, I should try that. But then figured it was a dumb idea, that the wall was too big, too bushy and too demanding.

But with the help of the internet, some of my fears dissipated. Steph Abegg has an awesome website devoted to climbing in the Cascades and everywhere else. Her excellent description gave us just enough to commit.

So in July of 2015, we climbed the line. And this is what we found...

Johannesberg Mountain Route Topo
Click to Enlarge

Johannesberg Mountain
Profile by Steph Abegg
Click to Enlarge

The route can be split into several sections:

Chossy Start

Climb up to the base of the slabs on steep snow. Climb up onto the slabs and work your way up to a place where you can cross the waterfalls.

These slabs look benign from below and they aren't really any harder than 5.5, but they are loose and there is very little protection. Knife-blade pitons can provide some extra security.

A typical lead low on the mountain.

Vertical Bushwacking

After the slabs, the goal is essentially to climb up and right toward the ridge. This sounds reasonable at first, but then you realize that to do this, you will have to make your way through a literal wall of brush. Climb up vertical and semi-vertical brush and trend right. You'll be doing a lot of tree climbing on this trip.

If you brought an ice axe or a picket or anything else, be sure to put them inside your pack. The trees will try to take them away. Rest assured, anything and everything on the outside of your pack will get caught on branches.

Steep Heather

Eventually you will break out of the trees on the buttress proper. The character of the route changes here. Now you will be working your way up steep heather slopes on the ridge. If you elect to simul-climb there will be marginal protection every 200-feet or so.

You may wish to use your ice axe and crampons in the heather to increase your security.

AAI Guide Will Gordon on the Buttress in the Heather

Moderate Rock

Eventually the heather begins to fade into rock. You'll reach a sharp ridge followed by a headwall.

Some parties elect to rappel down into the gully climber's right of the ridge. Apparently there is a piton rap station somewhere. From there they climb forty-degree snow. We elected to traverse to the left to a short chimney that was mostly 5.5, with a couple of 5.8 moves right off the deck.

Following the chimney follow moderate rock up to a bivy site at 7,100-feet, at the base of the glacier.


For most parties it will take 8-12 hours from the base of the buttress to the bivy site. If summer, there will likely be running water at the site.

AAI Guide Will Gordon at the Bivy
with the Torment-Forbidden Traverse in the background.

Snow Arete

Following the bivy, climb up onto the glacier. Follow the steep snow arete up onto the broader glacier. The arete drops off steeply on both sides. Be prepared to take appropriate precautions here.

The snow arete.

Looking back down at the snow arete from above.

Glacier Travel and Ice Climbing

Continue up the glacier, trending toward the final steep headwall. There are reports online that the final headwall can be quite steep and icy. In July of 2015 we found it to be a single 200-foot ice pitch. Three ice screws were adequate to protect it and we didn't feel the need for a second tool.

Trending toward the ice pitch. The ice pitch can be seen up in the left-hand corner of the picture.

It should be noted that there are many low-angle and flat spots on the glacier that could be carved out for a higher bivy than the one found on the rocks below the glacier. However, due to sun cupping in the summer, you may have to do some work to create a platform.


Once on top of the ice pitch, there will be two notches in front of you. Climb up to the notch on the right and drop over to the west side. Scramble to a small notch and then up to the summit.

AAI Guide Will Gordon climbing up and through the right-hand notch
near the summit.

You may leave your packs at the snow if you want to move quickly. The summit is only a few minutes away.

It should take between 1 and 3 hours for most parties to get to the summit.

East Ridge Descent

Many of the descriptions on the internet do not give credit to the sketchiness of this descent. They often say things like, you can rappel or descend a loose third and fourth class gully. This is all true, but there is significant traversing along the southwest side (right) side of the ridge before you reach the gully and rappels.

From the summit go back to the snow and climb through the left-hand notch. You will now be on the right-hand side of the ridge. Descend along this side of the ridge, staying below the ridge crest until the final two small ridge summits come into view. There may be a few carins along the ridge to help you along your way. When you see the final two mini-ridge summits, climb back up onto the ridge onto better rock.

At this point you will be looking down a sketchy gully. Note that on the left-hand side of the gully, approximately 200-feet down there will be a little tower. In 2015 there was a carin on this tower next to the first rap anchors.

Scramble down to the rap anchors and make one rope stretcher rap or two shorter rappels to a big block. Make two or three more rappels down until you are in the heather once more. Climb down through heather to another slightly hidden rap station and then make two more rappels down to the CJ Col. This could require up to seven rappels.

Many of the rappels are around large blocks. Be sure to bring lots of cord to backup sketchy anchors. And double check the boulders that are wrapped, some of them are suspect.

In theory, one could descend the loose gully instead of rappelling, but that looks sketchy.

It will take 3-5 hours for most parties to negotiate the ridge descent.

Doug's Direct

There are three ways that you could get back to the Cascade Pass parking lot. The first is to descend the CJ Col, which would be super sketchy. The second is to traverse below the Cascade Peak, the Triplets and Mixup Peak to join the Ptarmigan Traverse Trail and to drop over Cache Col. And the third, and perhaps quickest way is to use Doug's Direct.

To use the Doug's Direct Route, traverse under the south faces of Cascade Peak and the Triplets and then ascend up the North Ridge of Mixup Peak. The crossover is not obvious, and it's not a bad idea to have a waypoint or the awesome picture that Steph Abegg took below.

Doug's Direct
Overlay by Steph Abegg
Click to Enlarge

The other side of Mixup is composed of slightly better 3rd and 4th class rock, that steps down. Drop down on the steps and contour right into steep heather and 3rd class terrain. Be careful here as a fall would be deadly.

Eventually you will find a heather filled gully that will drop you down onto the Cache Glacier.

Personally, I found the steep heather to be a bit much when dehydrated on day two of the climb and would probably opt for the Cache Col option if I were to do the route again.

It will take most parties 4-6 hours to complete the Doug's Direct descent and make their way back to the parking lot.


People go a lot of different ways on this mountain. Amazingly, trip reports vary from people finding literally vertical ice at the top, to people finding a way to avoid roping up for most of the ascent. If these notes don't make sense to you, follow your nose... You'll get there.


--Small single rack up to a #2 Camelot
--3 ice screws
--1-2 snow pickets
--2-3 knife blade pitons (optional)
--Ice Axe (with a hammer if you have pitons)
--60-meter rope


It took AAI Guide Will Gordon and I, the following to get to each area:

--Base to Bivy - 9 hours, 15 minutes - we took one 15 minute break, but spent a lot of time in the brush. Upon later reflection it's likely that we weren't on the best line. It took Steph Abbeg about 8 hours. It was also 90-degrees on the day we climbed and we ran out of water. This slowed us down a bit.

--Bivy to Summit - 2 hours, 30 minutes - Others report two hours, some report more. We had one ice pitch and a little poking around to find the actual summit. If you have to climb an overhung bergshrund, this could be a lot longer.

--Summit to Base of East Ridge - 5 hours - Another complex area. This would be a lot faster with better beta. Hopefully, I've given that to you above.

--Base of Ridge to Car via Doug's Direct - 6 hours - This was at least two hours longer than it needed to be. We were definitely slow due to dehydration again and it was ninety degrees out again. But we spent some time trying to figure out where Doug's Direct was...

In the summit register it shows a well known sponsored climber's name who has since passed away as being 11-hours, car to summit. Our total time was 11:45 car-to-summit. So this seemed good. However, AAI guide and super-athlete Chad Cochran and AAI Guide Mike Pond, did the route car-to-car in 11-hours...!

--Jason D. Martin