Friday, January 29, 2021

The Super-Eight

The Super-Eight, also known as the Figure-Eight-with-Bunny-Ears and the Double Loop Eight, is a very useful knot. It is commonly used to equalize two points with a rope. In other words, sometimes there are two pieces and you don't have a sling or a cord to equalize them, but you do have a rope. this particular knot will accomplish equalization.

Following is a short video on how to tie the knot.



Once the knot is tied, it is easily manipulated by adjusting the interior of the knot. This will allow one of the ears to move, changing the size. Ultimately, you will be able to adjust the ears to the desired length.

The primary application of this knot is in institutional anchors for toprope site management. It is common for institutional anchors to be built with a static rope oriented like a giant v. Each end of the static rope is tied off to an object or to an anchor. It's common for one end to be tied off using a super-eight because it is a quick and easy knot that eliminates the use of a sling or cord.

A secondary application of this knot is in multi-pitch climbing. Occasionally an individual will build a two-piece anchor and use this type of knot to tie into it. But of course, this forces the team to swap leads and fixes a climber at one end of the system.  As such, it should be carefully considered before being used in such a setting...

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 1/28/21

Climate News:

--The Sierra Club and others are reporting that, "The Biden administration today is expected to set a national goal of protecting 30% of the country’s lands and waters by 2030, part of a suite of actions on climate. The conservation effort is ambitious, but also the minimum scientists say is needed to save nature and buffer against the worst impacts of the climate crisis." To read more, click here.

--The Revelator has published an op ed from a BLM employee who talks about the agency's science-denying nature and how to overcome it in the face of climate change. To read the piece, click here.

Northwest:

A climber on Hall Peak, a popular winter climb in the Cascades.

--Mother Jones is reporting that an Oregon-based pro-logging/anti-climate group has deep ties to extremism, and includes includes members that stormed the Capitol. To read the piece, click here.

Sierra:

--To promote the Yosemite Facelift -- the annual adopt-a-crag style event in Yosemite -- Tioga-Sequoia brewing has produced Facelift Pale Ale. To order some, click here.

--The Sierra Wave is reporting that, "The National Forest Recreation Association (NFRA) is very proud to announce that  has been selected as the 2020 ‘Ranger of the Year.’ Michael is the Co-Director of the Region 5 Pack Stock Center of Excellence; a Special Uses Permit Administrator; and the Wilderness and Trails Supervisor on the Mammoth Ranger District, Inyo National Forest He is a man of many talents and highly deserving of this award." To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--Climbing is reporting that, "In the final days before leaving office, the Trump Administration initiated the transfer of 2,422 acres of Oak Flat in Arizona, an Apache ancestral territory and world-class rock climbing destination, to foreign-owned Resolution Copper (RC). Access Fund filed a lawsuit today in Arizona federal district court, seeking to prevent the destruction of the sacred site and the largest-ever loss of climbing on America’s public lands." To read more, click here.





















Colorado and Utah:

--The Gephardt Daily is reporting that, "Members of the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue crews had some help Wednesday in aiding an injured ice climber in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Crews were called out for the injured climber at the top of the second pitch of Great White Icicle just before 11 a.m.,  according to a Facebook post from Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office." To read more, click here.

--The Park Record is reporting that, "A skier died at Deer Valley Resort on Friday after losing consciousness on a lift, the Park City Police Department said. The police said the man was 78 and from Costa Mesa, California. The man was on the Carpenter Express lift at approximately 3 p.m. when he lost consciousness, the police said." To read more, click here.

--Winter Park in Colorado has had a reservation system in place for most of the ski season. It has recently decided that a reservation is NOT required, IF you arrive after 2pm. To read more, click here.

--We Know Outdoors is reporting that, "while conceding the reservation system instituted last year at Rocky Mountain National Park will be evaluated as a potential long-term solution to managing the park’s surging visitor numbers over the past decade, park officials say they are not planning to employ that same system this year." To read more, click here.

--Here's a round-up on the results of this year's Ouray Ice Festival Mixed Competition.

Notes from All Over:

--A skier survived an avalanche on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire this week. To read about it, click here.

--This is a beautiful video of the all Nepali team making the first winter ascent of K2, summiting the mountain shoulder-to-shoulder and singing the country's national anthem. K2 was the last of the 8000-meter peaks not to be summited in the winter season. It was the first to be summited in the winter by an all Nepali team.


--COVID 19 is being blamed for a spike in avalanche deaths in Europe. From the Daily Mail: "Covid-19 has been blamed for a spike in avalanche deaths, with experts saying skiers are going off-piste to avoid crowds and ignoring warnings because they are sick of following coronavirus rules. So far this winter, 14 people have died as a result of avalanche accidents in Switzerland, including eight people over the last weekend alone." To read more, click here.

--Ski Patrollers at Stevens Pass in Washington and at Park City in Utah are picketing their resorts. From Outside: "Union members at Stevens Pass and Park City Mountain Resort want better wages and working conditions but say their parent company has dragged its feet in negotiations." To read more, click here.








--The Oklahoman is reporting that, "an Oklahoma representative from southeastern Oklahoma filed legislation this week to establish a Bigfoot hunting season. House Bill 1648, filed by State Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, would direct the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to promulgate rules establishing the annual dates of the season and creating any necessary specific hunting licenses and fees." To read more, click here.

--Patrollers in Jackson Hole are getting their vaccinations, due to their status as first responders. To read more, click here.

--Outside is reporting that, "the long foretold COVID-19-inspired global boom in backcountry ski sales is upon us. Even ski makers that were smart enough to boost production of backcountry skis and boots have burned through their product. By November 2020, backcountry ski sales were up 81 percent, backcountry snowboard sales were up 146 percent, and the all-important backcountry accessories category—which includes safety gear like beacons, shovels, probes, and climbing skins—was up 150 percent, according to Eric Henderson, a spokesperson for Snowsports Industries America." To read more, click here.

--There's also been a massive boom in the sale of snowshoes.

--The Climbing Business Journal continues to survey the climbing wall industry. In December, they found some good news: "Perhaps most remarkably, over 75 percent of gyms responding to the survey question have retained at least 50 percent of their total membership at year’s end." To read more, click here

--The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that, "in a huge win for filmmakers, a D.C. federal judge has ruled that it's unconstitutional for the National Park Service to require permits or charge fees for commercial filming on its land." To read more, click here.

--So a guy got chased by a bear while skiing in a Romanian ski resort. The guy ultimately got away by tossing his backpack off. There's a ton of video of this event, here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Avalanche Problems Explained

The National Avalanche Center has put together an excellent educational resource on how to read an avalanche forecast. This is a really good video and even if you feel well-versed in avalanche education, it's worth the five minutes it will take to watch it...



--Jason D. Martin

Monday, January 25, 2021

Avalanche Rescue: Patient Care

BCA has put together a nice series of instructional videos about avalanche safety and companion rescue.

In this video, avalanche instructor Sarah Carpenter talks about what to do after you have unburied your partner...



Once you've dug the patient out, do the following:
  1. Check the mouth and airway. Clear any snow plugs.
  2. Check the chest and lungs. Make sure that patient is breathing. If they're not breathing, stop and fix that! Provide CPR.
  3. Check for a pulse. If there's no pulse, commence with CPR.
  4. Check for bleeds. If there are any massive bleeds, stop and fix that.
  5. Check for spinal injury and check for that. Stabilize if needed.
  6. Can we stay and work on this problem? Or do we need a rapid evacuation.
  7. As soon as someone is dug up, they are exposed to the cold. Get the patient off the snow and bundled up. Treat for hypothermia.
  8. Do a complete patient assessment from head-to-toe to determine if there are other injuries.
  9. Carry and emergency kit that allows you to build a shelter, make a fire and make water.
--Jason D. Martin

Friday, January 22, 2021

Avalanche Airbags and You

It was February of 2012, and three skiers were dead just outside of the Stevens Pass Ski Area in the Tunnel Creek drainage. Five people were initially caught in the backcountry avalanche. One of the survivors became wedged between two trees while snow rushed over him. The other survivor – Elyse Saugstad – deployed an avalanche airbag, which kept her near the surface of the snow and allowed rescuers to find her quickly.

Saugstad’s survival created a great deal of interest in avalanche airbags. Our shop at the American Alpine Institute began to receive almost daily inquiries about these potentially lifesaving tools. And now today, these devices are standard for ski patrollers and backcountry ski guides.

The BCA Float 42 is a single balloon pack
with 42-liters of space.

But what are they?

In essence an avalanche airbag is a regular backpack with one or more large balloons stowed in the top and the side. The idea is that if there is an avalanche, the skier can pull a ripcord and deploy the rapid inflation balloons almost immediately. And then in theory, these balloons will keep your body near the surface of a moving avalanche, allowing for an easier rescue.

There are many aspects that must be taken into account prior to the purchase of one of these systems. First, of course, there's affordability. Second, there's the difficulty of refilling the cartridge. Third, there's the question of how easy it is to stow and retrieve the trigger. And lastly, one's perception of a given brand and indeed, even one's loyalty to it.

Before making any purchasing decisions, you must look at the advantages and disadvantages of three main aspects of this system.

  1. What type of gas is being used to inflate the balloon chamber?
  2. How many balloons are being inflated?
  3. What type of mechanism is being used to trigger the deployment of the balloon(s)?
To decide what kind of gas (compressed air or nitrogen) is the most appropriate for you, first and foremost, you must think about where you are going to use your pack. Air temperatures and altitude may have an effect on cartridge performance and in effect, the speed by which the gas moves from the cartridge to the balloon(s). It appears that the compressed air works a little better at lower altitudes – like those found in the PNW – while nitrogen works a little bit better up high, like those found in Colorado.

One additional concern that should be mentioned is the difficulty that some have had taking these backpacks abroad. For some reason the TSA doesn't like weird cartridges of gas stashed inside backpacks on their planes...

North Face Avalanche Airbag Pack
Note that this is a two balloon system.

The terrain that you're skiing is another factor to take into account. If you’re skiing in a place where there are lots of sharp trees and branches, or in a place where there are a lot of sharp rocks, there is the possibility that you are going to puncture a balloon. Some systems employ a two balloon pack with two valves for two reasons -- first, in case one of the valves malfunctions; and second, in case one of the balloons is punctured after deployment. Some brands have worked hard to develop a configuration that provides more "floatability" by playing with the volume and spatial adjustability of the balloons...

If you are going to be using the pack as a recreationalist you may have different needs than a ski patroller or a guide. Why? Because each group has different needs. The recreationalist needs affordability and functionality with a simple pull. Professionals often use packs with mini-explosives that (according to the respective marketing departments) will guarantee deployment above and beyond the minimum standards. And lastly, a guide may want a remote control triggering mechanism in case one of his or her participants is in a slide, but fails to trigger the system.

Now the real trick of these packs is not that they might "save" you from an avalanche. Instead, it's that they might trick you into a false sense of security. The pack will give you a better chance if you're in a slide (about 16% overall or about a bit more than half of those who would have otherwise died in an avalanche), but it won't save you from drop-offs or trees or boulders or any number of other terrible things that could happen to you if you're involved in a slide. The best tool that you have to avoid an avalanche is your own brain and your own ability to use it. If you haven't taken an avalanche course, then you're missing the key ingredient.

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 1/21/21

Northwest:

--The North Shore Rescue Team is the busiest volunteer SAR team in Canada, with over 130 missions a year. There's a new book out about the team: North Shore Rescue: If you get Lost Today, Will Anybody Know It? To learn more about the book, click here.

Michael Telstad makes his way toward the true summit of Chair Peak
on the first winter ascent of the west face of the mountain. Photo by Doug Hutchinson.

--A new line was completed on the West Face of Chair Peak this week by Michael Telstad and Doug Hutchinson. The line goes at WI 4+/M4. To read about it, click here.

Sierra:

--The BLM has released a new management plan for the Alabama Hills. From the Sierra Wave: "The plan is designed to provide diverse, high-quality recreational opportunities while minimizing user conflicts, addressing human health and safety concerns, reducing recreational impacts, and enhancing other resources, values, and uses." To read more, click here.























Desert Southwest:

--The Desert Sun is reporting that passes to Joshua Tree National Park may be purchased online, even though the area is currently in lockdown. To read more, click here.







Colorado and Utah:

--The Denver Channel is reporting that, " A skier died after an accident at Eldora Mountain Ski Resort Thursday, according to the Boulder County Sheriff's Office." To read more, click here.

--The Colorado Sun is reporting that, "Colorado’s resort communities are teetering on the edge of increased restrictions as a potential surge in COVID-19 cases from the busy holidays looms. But public health officials in eight tourism-dependent communities have not linked any outbreaks to ski areas." To read more, click here.

--Should gates from a resort into the backcountry be closed. The Park City resort is struggling with this after a fatality in Dutch Draw last week. This is the second fatality in recent years of an individual who accessed backcountry terrain from the resort. To read more, click here.

--Snowbrains is reporting that, "Because traffic on a powder day up to Alta Ski Area and Snowbird equates to living hell, one of the proposed solutions to mitigate traffic in Little Cottonwood Canyon has captured Utah’s Governor Spencer Cox’s attention. That option is a 30-seat gondola that would cost an estimated $576 million to build and $6.9 million to operate." To read more, click here.

--Solitude Mountain Resort is yet another resort that is experiencing problems with guests that will not adhere to COVID protocols. In many cases, the skiers and boarders are being hostile to employees that are trying to enforce these policies. Please. Please. Please. Adhere to these resort policies. Many are on the precipice of shutting down due to state regulations. To read more, click here.

--Vail Resorts is documenting some serious declines in revenue. From The Vail Daily: " (1) Season-to-date total skier visits were down 16.6% compared to the prior year period. (2) Season-to-date total lift ticket revenue, including an allocated portion of season pass revenue for each applicable period, was down 20.9% compared to the prior year. (3) Season-to-date ski school revenue was down 52.6% and dining revenue was down 66.2% compared to the prior year. (4) Retail/rental revenue for North American resort and ski area store locations was down 39.2% compared to the prior year." To read more, click here.

--Rock and Ice is reporting that, "While going virtual promises to keep the 2021 Ouray Ice Fest small, there’s one area where the park isn’t skimping: the mixed climbing competition—the Festival’s traditional centerpiece— will be the biggest ever. A whopping 47 climbers applied to participate in this year’s Ouray Elite Mixed Climbing Competition on January 21-24, which has historically been an invitational. This is the first time park officials have opened up the application process to the general public." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Gripped and others are reporting on the death of the Italian climber Cesare Maestri. "One of the most legendary figures in the sport, has died at 91. Born in Trento, he began climbing at a young age and was given the name 'spider of the Dolomites' early in his career. In 1952, he became an alpine guide and would go on to make bold free-solos of difficult climbs, such as The Solleder Route on the Civetta, The Solda/Conforto Route on the Marmolada, and the Southwest Ridge of the Matterhorn in winter. He made hundreds of first ascents over the years." To read more, click here.

--Gripped is reporting that, "man has died in the Crowsnest Mountains in southern Alberta while soloing The Chutes. On Jan. 9, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. MST, Crowsnest Pass RCMP were dispatched to a Garmin SPOT emergency activation. The information that was provided indicated an injury." To read more, click here.

--The Calgary Herald is reporting that, "A man was airlifted to a Calgary hospital after surviving a long fall during an ice climbing accident in the Rockies Friday. According to Rocky Mountain House RCMP, the 28-year-old man fell about 12 metres while ice climbing at the south end of Abraham Lake, approximately 210 kilometres west of Red Deer." To read more and to see a video of the rescue, click here.

--For the second time this month, an avalanche ripped through a Russian resort. This one was manmade, and resulted in at least one fatality. To read more, click here.

--On January 16th, a team of ten Sherpas stood on the summit of K2. This was the last 8000-meter peak to be completed in the winter season. All other 8000-meter peaks had been climbed in the winter. The mountain in this season, has long been considered the last great prize of Himalayan climbing. To read more, click here.













--Gear Junkie is reporting that, "Each state in the U.S. has its own plan for doling out the COVID-19 vaccine. Those at the top of the list include obvious professionals like healthcare workers and emergency responders. But in Vermont, that first wave of vaccines will also go to ski patrollers." To read more, click here.

--Backpacker is reporting that, "If those vaccine selfies popping up in your timeline have you feeling optimistic about your hiking plans this year, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy doesn’t feel the same way. Like in 2020, the organization is encouraging hikers to stay home to avoid spreading the virus, and won’t recognize those who do hike as 2,000-milers." To read more, click here.

--Some in the Northeast are upset that Vail Resorts isn't abiding by promises made around COVID and Epic Pass refunds:



--The UIAA is reporting that, "In response to the evolving Covid-19 situation, the UIAA – International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation – has made further changes to the calendar for its current 2021 Ice Climbing season. In November, the UIAA confirmed that no World Tour would be held during the winter of 2020-2021, and instead would be replaced by Continental Competitions with the highlight being the three-week Tour des Alps, a mini-series which would see athletes take on three European Cups and ice climbing community days while staying in their own travel ‘bubble’." To read more, click here.

--Footwear News is reporting that, "renowned street artist Futura is taking The North Face and its parent VF Corp. to court over alleged copyright infringement. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in California Central District Court, Futura claims that the outdoor brand knocked off a stylized depiction of an atom that has appeared in his artwork for years. The allegedly infringing logo was spotted in the designs of The North Face’s “Futurelight” collection of waterproof apparel, footwear and accessories that, according to the suit, ended up in a $20 million ad campaign." To read more, click here.

--Here are some numbers, graphs and charts that show what's happening in the climbing wall industry around Coronavirus. These statistics show things like how close these facilities are to closing, number of staff infected, how their businesses have fared, etc.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Managing Your Sleep System: Pads and Padding


When thinking about what they will sleep in at night most climbers zero in on their sleeping bag. However, it's important to think of your bag and pad as a "sleep system" that works together to keep you warm and comfortable throughout the night. As with your sleeping bag, a number of adjustments to the pads you use can lighten your weight on the trail and increase your comfort at night.

For long, cold trips like Denali comfort and warmth are key--and worth a few sacrifices in terms of weight. For Denali I will therefore use a foam pad on the snow and then an inflatable pad like the Thermarest Neoair XTherm above that. This system works well because the inflatable pad provides warmth and the foam pad blocks the upper pad from the cold snow so that it can work its magic.

For shorter trips, I've ditched foam pads altogether because they're too bulky. For trips where I anticipate it getting below freezing at night, I will bring my full-length Neoair. To provide a barrier between the sleeping pad and the snow, I will remove the foam liner from my Cilogear backpack and put the rest of the backpack at my head and the foam at my feet. Obviously, a backpack like a Cilogear or Cold Cold World model with the removable foam in the back is necessary for this technique. Sometimes I will also bring the rope into my tent and flake it out and put that between the snow and my pad.

For trips where it is above freezing, I will do the same thing but use a 3/4-length Neoair XLite instead of the full-length to save on weight. Any time you are using the inflatable pads, you will want some sort of barrier between the pad and the ground. If you're camping on snow you want something that provides insulation, and if you're on rocks or dirt you will need just a tent footprint or Tyvek sheet so that your Neoair doesn't rub up against rocks and get punctured.

-Shelby Carpenter, AAI Instructor and Guide

Monday, January 18, 2021

Fingerboard Repeaters - Training for Climbing

Every fingerboard is different. Here are a few holds I commonly train.

Fingerboard repeaters or dead hangs are one of the core exercises for building pure, unadulterated, raw finger strength when training for climbing. These are not to be confused with other workouts where you are moving between hangs, lock-offs and pull-ups or whatever else. Fingerboard repeaters are the real deal and should provide the foundation for any climbing strength training phase.

Why Fingerboard Repeaters?

When training there are two basic types of movements or exercises, isotonic and isometric. Isotonic exercises are characterized by movement. What that means is that the muscle/joint angle changes throughout a range of motion. These are the types of exercises you normally picture when you think about working out.

On the flip side, isometric exercises are static in nature. During these exercises the muscle/joint angle remain fixed throughout the contraction. A perfect example of an isometric exercise would be gripping down on a hold. Once your fingers hit a hold and your muscles squeeze to grip, they are essentially fixed at that joint angle and muscle length until you relax your hand.

It is common sense, but research suggests that athletes should train isometrically if their activity primarily requires isometric movements. Like the example above, in climbing the fingers are almost always used isometrically. That said, the crux is that strength gains do not easily carryover between different joint angles or grip types. What that means is that in order for isometric training for climbing to be truly effective, it needs to be performed using the exact grip types employed during climbing.

Luckily, there are only a small number of grip types for climbing. More importantly, these hand positions are easily simulated, which is where fingerboard repeaters come into play. Outside of HIT training, there is no other training tool or exercise other then repeaters (climbing included) that lets you completely isolate and train each specific grip type to failure... period.

How to Perform Fingerboard Repeaters



To perform fingerboard repeaters, place each hand on whatever grip type you would like to train. Your hands should always be using the same grip size and type for each set. In other words, if you are training the medium edge with your right hand then you should also be training the medium edge with your left hand. I use an older Metolius fingerboard, but I have friends who love the new Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center.

Once you are set, drop your weight and using an open hand grip just dead hang completely static. In order to perform each hang with proper technique, your hands should be shoulder-width apart, arms slightly bent, with the muscles in your shoulders, arms and upper back engaged. This keeps you from hanging directly from your joints and reduces your chance of elbow or shoulder injury.

The goal of each fingerboard repeater workout is to complete a predetermined number of sets and repetitions for each grip position. A repetition consists of holding the dead hang for a fixed number of seconds.

Sample Beginner Fingerboard Repeater Workout


For this workout you are going to complete 1 set of 6 repetitions (or "reps") for 8 grip types. A rep is a 10 second dead hang followed by 5 seconds of rest. You should keep your hands on the board while resting between reps.

After completing each set, rest for 3 minutes between each grip type. Overall workout should take around 36 minutes to complete.

Number Grip Set Reps Resistance
1 Warm-up Jug 1 6 Baseline
2 I/M/R Large Edge 1 6 Baseline
3 Medium Edge 1 6 Baseline
4 I/M Large 2 Finger Pocket 1 6 Baseline
5 Sloper 1 6 Baseline
6 M/R Large 2 Finger Pocket 1 6 Baseline
7 Large Edge 1 6 Baseline
8 M/R/P Large Edge 1 6 Baseline
I = Index Finger, M = Middle Finger, R = Ring Finger, P = Pinky

The goal of this workout is to complete each rep with perfect form. In order to accomplish this you will most likely need to use a fingerboard pulley system to remove weight from your body or if you are advanced, hang weight plates from your harness to add weight to your body. The objective is to use just the right amount of weight so that you're struggling to complete the last rep for each grip type. This weight is referred to as your baseline resistance for this specific workout. Different grip types are going to have different baselines since obviously certain grips will be stronger then others.

Building a full strength training phase is beyond the scope of this post. I just wanted to give you a snap shot of what a single workout in a smaller micro-cycle would look like. That said, for a climber new to the fingerboard, repeating a cycle of the above workout 2x a week for 4 weeks with at least a week or two break from fingerboarding between cycles is a good start.

Quick Notes on Fingerboard Repeaters and the Beginner Fingerboard Repeater Workout


-Fingerboard repeaters are an extremely effective tool for building raw finger strength, but they put tremendous stress on your fingers, elbows and shoulders. If you have never "seriously" trained on a fingerboard in this fashion, even if you are an advanced climber, err on the side of using less weight in beginning so your body can adapt to the higher stress. Moreover, always focus on performing each rep with perfect form... even at your limit!

-Again, because of the stress placed on your fingers, elbows and shoulders during a fingerboard repeater workout it is recommended you take at least 2 days of rest between workouts. Should you climb during those 2 days, only engage in light easy climbing. This will give you time to recover between workouts and avoid stress/overuse injuries.

-Don't be a hero... thoroughly warm up and stick with an open hand grip when training fingerboard repeaters. Unless you are an advanced climber with years of hardcore fingerboard training under your belt, do not use a full crimp grip when performing fingerboard repeaters. It is the absolute fastest way to get a finger injury... guaranteed.

-As you get more advanced, when choosing grip types it is important to think about what exactly you are training for. If your goal route is a jug haul in the Red, then train the larger grips/pinches with a lot of added weight. If you are training for a delicate face where you are inching up dime edges in Devil's Lake, focus on strengthening the smaller grips. Make your training make sense in the larger context of your goals.


A page out of my training log.

-Given different grips will have different baseline weights it is very important that you keep an accurate record of them. This way you can use them as a benchmark and track your progress as you build fingerboard training into your overall climbing routine. Also, add new grips slowly each cycle, you do not want to be using completely different grips cycle to cycle because you will not be able to track your progression over a longer time period.

-It is unlikely that you are going to walk into the gym on your first day of fingerboard repeater training and know your baseline. As frustrating and annoying as it is... establishing your baseline is going to take some trial and error.

A strategy that worked well for me when I started out was to find a weight I was initially comfortable with and perform a set. If I could complete it and it felt easy, I would add 5 lbs next workout. If it it was too difficult and I could not complete it, I would remove 5 more lbs next workout.

After 3 or 4 workouts, I was able to establish my baseline for each grip. Then by the 6th or 7th workout as I became stronger, I would add 5 lbs each time I was able to finish as set and it felt easy. I repeated this process for every grip that I trained.

-Finally, a fingerboard repeater workout is more akin to limit bouldering. It needs to be performed at super high intensity, the "stoke-meter" needs to be on full blast, and if you are not sweating, grunting, or feel like your forearms are on fire by the last rep, then you are not doing it correctly.

--Chris Casciola, Guest Blogger and Author of SeekingExposure. For more tips on training for climbing make sure to check out his blog and follow SeekingExposure on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 1/14/21

Northwest:

--Mt. Rainier National Park is reporting on a fatality that took place on January 10th: "Rangers at Mount Rainier National Park today recovered the body of Constance Markham, 65, of Eatonville, Washington, from a steep slope below Ricksecker Point in the southwest corner of the park. Markham’s accidental fall was reported at 12:30 pm yesterday. Searchers located her in steep, hazardous terrain and confirmed that she was deceased. A ground team returned to the area today and she was recovered using a helicopter to complete the extrication." To read more, click here.

--On January 7th, a 26-year-old snowboarder died after falling off a 65-foot cliff at Whistler near the Peak Chairlift. To read more, click here.

--Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho is partially closing over the Martin Luther King weekend (January 15-17). In a statement, the mountain's CEO cites an "overwhelming lack of compliance with our mask policies and social distancing in the rental shop, day lodge, and lift lines during twilight skiing." Additionally he notes that he, "will not continue to tolerate the verbal abuse that has been directed towards our staff as they have attempted to enforce our safety requirements." To read more, click here.

--Following the Sea to Sky Gondola sabotage -- the cable was cut for the second time this summer -- the Squamish based attraction has found that it is not adequately covered by insurance. They are suing their insurance broker. It's not clear what this means for the gondola's future. To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--A snow cave collapsed this week on a Boy Scout near Red Lake in New Mexico. Adult leaders dug the boy out and transported him to the hospital, but the child did not survive. To read more, click here.

Recent new graffiti in Red Rock Canyon.
It's not clear if the BLM is pursuing the individuals who defaced these rocks.

Colorado and Utah:

--The Utah Avalanche Center has posted a report on the fatality of a 31-year-old man in the Dutch Draw area near Park City late last week. To read more, click here.

--Snow Brains is reporting that, "A $10,000 reward is offered for anyone offering information to help identify the hit and run skier that put a 74-year-old lady in the hospital with serious injuries. Betty Benjamin was skiing in the China Bowl area of Vail Mountain, CO, at 2 pm on January 6th, 2021, when she was hit straight on by a teenage male on skis. She is currently recovering in hospital with a collapsed lung and every one of her right-hand side ribs broken. Her brother, Jim, is offering the reward." To read more, click here.

--The following video is an emotional recount of an avalanche that took place on January 9th in Steep Hollow, Franklin Basin, Utah. Thankfully, the victim survived:


--Out There Colorado has posted a story and a video of someone getting avalanched near Loveland Pass on January 8th. To see the post, click here. And here's a news story on the accident. The snowboarder did deploy his airbag on the 1000-foot slide.

--The Colorado Sun is reporting that, "Colorado Court of Appeals panel last week delivered the first state appellate decision affirming the use of waivers to protect ski resorts from lawsuits filed by injured skiers. " To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--KURL 8 is reporting that, "A group of Bozeman-area skiers climbing up The Fin on Republic Mountain outside of Cooke City were swept down by an avalanche on January 8, 2021. According to a report by the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center (GNFAC) one skier was seriously injured and had to be evacuated by helicopter and another was temporarily unconscious and not breathing." To read more, click here.

--A Wisconsin skier was airlifted to a hospital after hitting a light pole on Saturday. To read more, click here.

--The Access Fund is promoting a free slot in the Uphill Athlete training program. The slot is for a woman, or person who identifies as a woman, in the women's training group. To read more, click here.

--This is a spooky story about some climbers that were attacked by killer bees in Hueco Tanks, Texas.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Understanding Mechanical Advantage

The ability to understand mechanical advantage is an essential part of technical rope rescue, crevasse rescue and climbing self-rescue.

The best way to begin an understanding of mechanical advantage is to understand how a toprope works. If a 150lb person is on one side of a rope, then a belayer has to provide at least 150lbs of force to keep the person from lowering to the ground.

In order to make it easier to understand, we should consider the 150lbs as a unit of one. So to stop a unit of one from lowering, then an individual must put an equal amount of force on the other side, essentially a unit of one. The weight of 150lbs is arbitrary. The important thing to remember is that we have to put a unit of force on the opposite side to keep the first unit from going down.

If there is one unit of force on one side, countering a unit of force on the other side, that means that there are two units of force on the anchor.

The man in the image is putting one unit of force on the right side to counter one unit of force 
on the left. There are two units of force on the anchor.


In this image, there are two units of force on the load, and one unit of force on the anchor.
The hand is putting one unit of force into the system, because the rope travels through a moving 
pulley, it exerts  two units of force on the load. This is a simple 2:1 hauling system.

To count out mechanical advantage, one should always start with the haul line and always start by counting it as a single unit. Traveling pulleys multiple mechanical advantage. 

In this image, the rope remains a unit of one all the way through to where the green prusik is 
attached. At the pulley with the prusik, there is a 2:1 mechanical advantage.
The two in the traveling pulley are added to the one that follows the rope.
This is a 3:1 simple system, commonly called a z-pulley system.

In this image, the haul line is a unit of one. The upper traveling pulley is a unit of two.
The unit of two travels on the lower line through the lower pulley, multiplying at the load.
As there are two lines, with the unit of two traveling through the pulley, this is a compound
4:1 mechanical advantage system. It's compound because one pulley is compounding the force
of the other pulley.

In this image, a 3:1 has been laid on top of a 2:1, creating a 6:1 compound system.
The haul line places a unit of two on the upper traveling pulley. The line then runs through 
to the prussik, adding an additional unit. So the system is 3:1 at the green prusik. The 3:1
is mirrored on the opposite side of the lower traveling pulley, creating a 6:1.

It's important to note that the idea behind mechanical advantage is that pulleys and changes in direction theoretically decrease the amount of force required to haul a load. However, friction from rock or snow can increase the load.

It's also important to note that for every increase in mechanical advantage, one will have to pull more rope to move a load. For example, n a 2:1 mechanical system, a rescuer has to pull two-feet of rope for every one foot the load moves; in a 6:1 mechanical system, a rescuer has to pull six-feet of rope for every one foot the load moves...

Following are some challenges for you. Try to count out the mechanical advantage and then look at the bottom of this blog to get the answers. To avoid looking at the answers before you're ready, don't scroll past the section that says, "Don't scroll down any lower until you want to see the answers!"  There are five mechanical advantage challenges:

1)
2)


3) 

4) 

5)

Understanding mechanical advantage is an important part of rescue. It is possible to memorize what certain systems look like, but there is great value in being able to count out a system...

Don't scroll down any lower until you want to see the answers!

1) 9:1 Compound
2) 9:1 Compound, Offset
3) 4:1 Simple
4) 5:1 Complex (Complex systems often have pulleys traveling toward one another.)
5) 27:1 Compound

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, January 11, 2021

Beginner Tips and Techniques to Improve Your Skiing: Athletic Position in Motion

Kate Howe is a PSIA ski instructor that has spent hundreds of hours teaching beginner level skiers how to make their way down the slope. In this video, Kate discusses fore and aft ski work while moving down the slope.

Check it out:


If you are new to skiing, the best thing you could possibly do would be to hire a ski instructor at a resort for a day or two. You will learn significantly more and improve significantly faster if you do this...

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, January 8, 2021

Beginner Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Skiing: Fore/Aft Pressure Control

Kate Howe is a PSIA ski instructor that has spent hundreds of hours teaching beginner level skiers how to make their way down the slope. In this video, she discusses your stance and how to use pressure within your ski boot to improve your downhill technique.

Check it out:

If you are new to skiing, the best thing you could possibly do would be to hire a ski instructor at a resort for a day or two. You will learn significantly more and improve significantly faster if you do this...

--Jason D. Martin




Thursday, January 7, 2021

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 1/7/21

Northwest:

--A skier died last week after falling into a tree well near Whistler. It's important to be constantly vigilant of this threat if skiing alone inbounds, and it's always best practice to ski with a partner in the backcountry. To read more, click here.

--Access to the mountains on the east side of the Cascades is decreasing. From the Washington DOT: "the east side closure point on SR 20 North Cascades Highway will move from Silver Star Gate at milepost 171 to Early Winters at milepost 177. The change in closure point is due to increasing winter conditions and allows maintenance crews to focus snow and ice control elsewhere. The road will be gated, and a snow berm will be constructed at the closure point. Recreationalists should plan accordingly, as vehicles will not be able to access the highway past the closure point beginning Wednesday morning."

--The Pacific Crest Trail Association is reporting that, "The September 2017 fire that swept through the Columbia River Gorge temporarily closed 10 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail and a popular PCT alternate route, the Eagle Creek Trail. Pacific Crest Trail Association volunteers were able to reopen the PCT quickly, but the Eagle Creek Trail, which follows a steep and beautiful canyon, just reopened on Jan. 1." To read more, click here.

--The Bonner County Daily Bee is reporting that, "The Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center issued a warning early Tuesday morning recommending against travel in slide-prone areas of the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains. The warning comes after an alpine skier caused a slab avalanche slightly below the summit of Blue Mountain, a popular backcountry destination on the northern side of Schweitzer Mountain Resort." To read more, click here.

--A group of snowmobilers had a close call with an avalanche this weekend near Calispell Peak in Northeastern Washington. There were no injuries, and the person caught was rescued immediately, but it took some time to find his snowmachine. To read more, click here.


Sierra:

--NPR and others are reporting that, "He was the last surviving member of the first climbing team to scale El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. And he spent his life fighting for conservation, protecting the Sierra Nevada in California. But on New Year's Day, famed climber George Whitmore passed away at 89 due to COVID-19 complications, his wife Nancy told NPR." To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--The Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting that, "Outdoor recreation in Nevada in 2019 accounted for nearly $5.5 billion in economic output, up from roughly $5.2 billion in 2018 and $5.1 billion in 2017, according to data released in November by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Climbing posted their annual "Climbers we Lost" article this week. Please take the time to look at the list. Every one of these people were loved deeply by our community.

--Alaska Native News is reporting that, "Alaska Air National Guardsmen of the 176th Wing rescued a fallen ice climber Jan. 2 at Chugach State Park near Anchorage. Alaska Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Katie Magnuson, Alaska Rescue Coordination Center search-and-rescue senior controller, said the Alaska State Troopers requested assistance from the AKRCC reporting that the climber fell approximately 40 feet and suffered an injury." To read more, click here.


--This is a great piece on Deb Haaland, the Native American woman expected to be the new Secretary of the Interior. 

--Employees at Hunter Mountain Ski Resort in upstate New York seems have been hit with a COVID outbreak. We don't know the details here, but many resorts have employee housing and struggle to keep people safe:


--Gripped is reporting that, "the Edmonton Ski Club is building an arificial ice climbing wall with the Edmonton Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) section. Edmonton houses hundreds of ice and rock climbers who visit the mountains weekly" To read more, click here.

--Permits will be available for thru-hikers in 2021 on the PCT. To read more, click here.

--SGB Media is reporting that, "Garmin International and Garmin Services, units of Garmin Ltd., announced the acquisition of substantially all the assets of GEOS Worldwide Limited and its subsidiaries. A privately-held provider of emergency monitoring and incident response services, GEOS Worldwide operates the International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC), the nerve center for SOS rescue efforts triggered by Garmin’s inReach personal satellite communicators. The IERCC’s response coordinators have fielded more than 83,000 emergency incidents around the globe since 2007, including more than 5,000 SOS incidents generated by Garmin customers." To read more, click here.

Thankfully, the ski industry has taken a hint from some of 
the controversy around inappropriate climbing route names.

--So there's some kind of smartphone app that allows you to play a climbing game. A writer at Gripped downloaded and played the game. Here's his review...


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

An Introduction to Drytool Movement

Drytooling is the act of rock climbing with ice gear. Modern drytooling is a form of sport climbing, often on steep rock with an occasional ice move. It is both physically demanding, and quite fun...

Alpinists have been engaging in drytooling in the mountains since the very beginning of the sport. Ice climbers began to play with it to link ice features together. But then something happened. People realized that moving over rock with tools required special skills and techniques. So, like off-width climbing or aid climbing, a small group of people began to focus solely on this sub-genre of the sport.

AAI Guide Chad Cochran Drytooling near Mt. Baker.

The art of drytooling as a stand-alone discipline of climbing really took off in the early 2000s. Suddenly people were pushing the limits; and before you knew it, there were drytooling routes and competitions everywhere.

If you're already an ice climber, drytooling is an easy sport to get into. But not all of the moves on the rock are obvious. It's not just about hooking and pulling. There is some method to the madness. In the following video Ian Hanson talks about some of the basic techniques used in drytool movement:


It should be noted that drytooling is physically demanding. The first time you give it a try, you really should expect to get completely blown out. But as you develop technique and strength, you'll also develop success...

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, January 4, 2021

Belaying a Skier Over a Cornice

In this video, two techniques are described that may be used by a backcountry skier to check out the edge of a cornice. The first technique is a body belay. And the second technique employs a t-trench.


--Jason D. Martin