Friday, July 30, 2021

Campfires Prohibited on Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington

 This should come as no surprise:


Due to dry conditions that are forecasted to worsen, campfires are prohibited across the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

 

All campfires, charcoal or briquette fires, pellet fires, or any other open fires are prohibited under a Forest Order, including in developed campgrounds. Portable cooking stoves, lanterns, and heating devices using liquefied or bottled fuel, such as propane, are still allowed as they can be instantly switched off.

 

“We are abnormally dry here in Western Washington, and we are having another busy fire season nationally,” said

 

Kit Moffitt, Fire Management Staff Officer Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. “Wildland fire crews are badly needed on large fires occurring throughout the West. With a scarcity of firefighters and engines, we need to do everything we can to reduce the chances of another wildfire.”

 

Fireworks and exploding targets are always illegal on the National Forest. The new campfire restriction will begin Friday, July 30th, 2021 and remain in place until conditions are such that it can be formally rescinded. Most other state and federal land management agencies have already prohibited campfires statewide.

 

To report a fire dial 911.

 

Visit the following for information on wildfires across the state and various regulations:

 

The Rodeo Clip

The Rodeo Clip is a very unusual technique in climbing. It is a means by which one can essentially swing their rope into a draw. This is done by whipping the rope in a circle and hitting the gate of the carabiner.

So, why would I do this?

You might do this if there are pre-placed draws on a route and you're worried about the moves up to the first draw. You might do this if you are worried and you don't have a stick clip. And you might do this if you want to look cool...

But it won't look cool if you do it poorly. So, here's a video on how to do it well:



Obviously, it's possible to back-clip the rope. Be careful when you're doing this and take appropriate precautions not to do so.

--Jason D. Martin

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Cleaning an Anchor and Setting Up a Rappel

We have a few different videos on this blog that deal with cleaning an anchor and rigging a rappel. But this video, from Red Rock Rendezvous and featuring AAI Guide Doug Foust, is incredibly good. It is a very comprehensive look at this transition. Check it out:



--Jason D. Martin

Monday, July 26, 2021

A History of Competition Climbing

With Olympic Climbing starting this week, it's time to take a look at the history of climbing competitions. This is a great little video with a lot of tidbits that I had no idea about. Competition climbing is much older than I thought.

Check it out!


--Jason D. Martin

Friday, July 23, 2021

Funny Climbing Quotes

Climbing is a sport rife with literary characters who have said some very funny things. With the help of this website, I was able to come up with a nice list of quotes. Here are some great one liners:

"A climber's day always starts at the crux: getting out of bed." -- Unknown

"I don't want to write about climbing; I don't want talk about it; I don't want to photograph it; I don't want to think about it; all I want to do is do it." -- Chuck Pratt
"One method of getting loved ones to look more fondly on your climbing is to tell them that since you've started climbing you hardly do drugs anymore." -- David Harris

"There is no difference between religion and politics. Both involve lies and fanatical beliefs that generaly defy logic... Just like rock climbing." -- David Schuller

"To qualify for mountain rescue work, you have to pass our test. The doctor holds a flashlight to your ear. If he can see light coming out the other one, you qualify." -- Willi Pfisterer

--It's pretty common for people on the internet to talk about how they're great climbers. We often refer to this as spray. Dawn Alguard had a great response to such an individual on the rec.climbing google website:

"Here's the thing. You'd like to talk about yourself and what swell stuff you've climbed lately. Well, who wouldn't ? As it turns out, we have a format in which that sort of spray is acceptable. It's called a TR. In a TR, every other word can be 'I' and the words in between can be numbers representing how rad you are, though it's a time-honored tradition to throw in a few sentences about how afraid you were that you *weren't* going to [insert heroic deed here] before getting to the part about how you do.

Your trouble is that you're trying to disguise your spray as RFIs or attempts at actual human conversation and no one is fooled. It is quite possible to say 'Now that I climb outside so often I find that I absolutely suck at gym climbing and since I'm having a miserable time there, what with everyone snickering at me and falling off of things I think I should be able to do, I'm asking myself why I spend the money on a gym membership when I can go to rec.climbing and get snickered at for free' without mentioning a single number."

--A student working on a research paper once asked Mike Garrison how glaciers move. The student asked, "can you please tell me what you know about the movement of glaciers?" Mike's response follows:

Glaciers feel best when they have one movement per day. Some glaciers do just fine with fewer movements, but when they don't have movements for a long time the result can be quite bad. Glaciers which move much more frequently tend to have loose and soft terminal moraines (also called rock piles).

Glacial movement is almost always associated with the release of water. But sometimes glaciers release water without experiencing a movement.

 AAI Guide Ben Traxler, dressed appropriately for toproping.

--One time Greg Hamilton was asked what he suggested as a high altitude training regimen. He responded with the following comment:

I suggest going out to the nearest pub and getting completely, and utterly, wasted. Make sure you smoke at least 1 pack of unfiltered Camel's. Get the full ashtray, pour a drink in it and then pour the mixture into a water bottle.

When you get home (ideally around 3:30am) stick the vile mixture into your freezer. Put on your best goretex and thermal layer. Climb in. At 5:30am, get out, drink (chew?) the mixture and go run the biggest flight of stairs you can find. Run until your heart threatens to explode.

The dehydration caused by the alcohol should adequately simulate what you may experience at higher altitudes. Your lung capacity should be sufficiently impaired by the smokes to simulate a oxygen poor environment. The freezer episode should adequately replicate a bivy. Drinking the booze/butt mixture should simulate your lack of appetite.....

Oh — once your finished your workout, go to work (to replicate the long walk out).

These are all great and the website that I found these on has a great deal more. What climbing quotes have you heard? We would love it if you would post them on our comments page!

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 7/15/21

Northwest:

--Teton Gravity Research is reporting that, "The ski industry has lost a legend. Last Thursday, Mike Wiegele Heli Skiing announced that their founder Mike Wiegele had passed away at the age of 82. For the last 50 years, Wiegele’s name was synonymous with the best feeling in the world: skiing bottomless, untouched powder. In 1970 this humble farm boy from Austria offered his first-ever heli guided ski trip in Valemont, BC. It was a wild and revolutionary idea, but Wiegele was certain that it would take hold despite the lack of initial success." To read more, click here.

--A climber was injured at the bottom of the Pumice Ridge on Mt. Baker over the weekend. The individual slipped and fell on a steep pitch that many use to access the ridge. Here's a bit more on the accident. It should be noted that many recreational climbers are going up the steep pitch to gain the ridge. It is easier to go right and to climb up onto the ridge on second class trail near the toe of the ridge. This avoids the steep section.

This photo was taken from the easy access point to the Pumice Ridge. Many climbers are going up the yellow line, which is icy and exposed. If a climber goes right at the base of the ridge, they will find an easier line that converges with the yellow in the photo. 
The green line is where it comes together.

--The speed at which the Coleman Glacier on Mt. Baker is shrinking due to anthropogenic climate change is stunning. Check out this article and the associated photos.

--The public lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources in Washington State have been closed due to wildfire hazard. To read about it, click here.























--Washington Pass remains closed east of the Hairpin. The climbing in the Pass can still be accessed, but it is not possible to get to Mazama that way.

Sierra:

--So a drunk guy started his car on fire to keep the bears away. It seems to have worked. But the guy was arrested for being under the influence and arson. To read about it, click here.

--There are fires burning near Mammoth Lakes and above Big Pine.

--Another fire is burning south of Lake Tahoe.

Desert Southwest:

--Backpacker is reporting that, "Starting on July 16, some of the most popular trails in Phoenix, Arizona will close during extreme heat events, the city has announced. The trails, selected based on the number of rescues conducted there each year and the level of difficulty, include Echo Canyon Trail and Cholla Trail on Camelback Mountain and all of the Piestewa Peak trails in Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Those routes will now close between 11 pm and 5 pm when the city is under an excessive heat watch; the pilot program runs through September 30." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--It's always sad when there's a fatality, but this is horrible. From SnowBrains: "A 40 year old Roosevelt man died after he apparently fell while climbing near Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon on Saturday. A nine year old boy who was with him was not injured and came down from the mountain on his own. On July 17, shortly after 7:00 PM, Deputies with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office (UCSO) were dispatched to a report of a man and a nine year old boy missing near Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon, UT.  The man, Adrian Vanderklis, 40, of Roosevelt, was climbing with his fiance’s 9 year old son above Bridal Veil Falls. The woman reported that she could see her son, who was crying, but that she could not see her fiance, and that she hadn’t seen him for 'several hours'." To read more, click here.

--Fox 31 is reporting that, "Emergency crews worked overnight to rescue an injured climber along Highway 14 in Poudre Canyon. The injured climber was 200 feet up and across the Poudre River, requiring a coordinated effort from multiple emergency rescue crews." To read more, click here.

--The Access Fund is reporting that, "Access Fund is excited to announce that it will put two Climber Stewards on the ground at Indian Creek in Southeast Utah this fall to help provide visiting climbers with information and resources to help them minimize their impacts at this increasingly popular and sensitive area." To read more, click here.

--9 News is reporting that, "Four women are sharing their stories with 9NEWS after police arrested their former coworker for allegedly taking lewd videos of them at work without their knowledge. Golden Police said Chun Min Chiang had 13,000 videos secretly recorded under women's desks, in restrooms and in changing rooms at various locations, many filmed while they were at work at the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC). Police also said they found 200 images and videos of suspected child pornography and exploitation." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Snowbrains is reporting that, "a new study led by the Desert Research Institute in Reno, NV, has linked wildfire smoke exposure to an increased susceptibility to COVID-19. The study was published last week in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology." To read more, click here.


--The death of a 65-year-old nurse in Montana marked the fifth death due to bear attack in 2021. From Backpacker: "Last year, black and grizzly bears combined killed four people in Alaska and Canada, and in 2019, only 2 fatal bear attacks occured. Between 2000 and 2015, grizzly bears killed a total of two dozen people in North America, according to a report on nature.com. So with five months left of the year, 2021 is shaping up to be one of the deadliest years on record for bear attacks. But is that a fluke, or a larger trend?" To read more, click here.

--And finally, if you're looking for a serious waste of time. Check out MountainProject's climbing memes forum thread...

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Pre-Climb Checklist

There is no doubt that the vast majority of accidents that take place in the mountains happen due to human error. Indeed, many climbers read accident reports looking for the human error, just so that they can say to themselves, "at least I won't make that mistake."

This is a very dangerous thing to think. Any of us can make a human error mistake anytime. As a result, we should do everything in our power to keep such a mistake from happening. Things to consider include, tying knots at the end of the rope before belaying or rappelling, using an autoblock for a rappel, wearing a helmet, etc. In this blog post, we will go through the steps required for a safe and fun climb.

A Climber in Joshua Tree
Photo by Ian McEleney

1) Anchor -- Is the anchor you built for the climb adequate? If you're top-roping, are there two opposite and opposed locking carabiners at the top? Are the pieces good? If you're using bolts, are the bolts good?

Does the belayer need to be tied into a bottom anchor? The default answer is, "yes." If the belayer is not tied into a bottom anchor, you should be able to articulate why.

2) Belayer -- Is the belayer's harness on correctly? Is it doubled-back? Is the belay device threaded properly? Are you using a locking carabiner on the belay device? Is the carabiner locked? Usually a visual check is not good enough to prove that a locker is locked. It's always good to give it a quick squeeze check. Is his helmet on properly? Does he have a nut tool to remove gear if he's going to follow?

3) Climber -- Is the climber's harness on correctly? Is it doubled-back? Is the belay device threaded properly? Is he tied-in properly? Is his figure-eight dressed and neat? If he is leading, does he have the rack? Is his helmet on properly?

4) System -- Is the system closed? In other words, have you made sure that the end of the rope is either tied directly into the belayer or that there is a knot at the end? Open systems are responsible for a large percentage of climbing injuries and fatalities.

5) Commands -- Are you both on the same page as far as commands are concerned? Many people use different variations of commands and it's not a good thing to get them mixed up. Do you have a communication plan for places where it's difficult to hear?

6) Multi-Pitch -- Do you have the climbing topo? Do you have food, water and clothes for the day? What is the weather forecast? Do you have a second rope in case you need to descend in an emergency? Do you have extra cordage and sling material to leave behind? Do you have a strategy?

Climbing is a game with few rules. One of those few is to make sure that you are completely prepared for the situation at hand. Go through the check-list every time. It could save somebody's life...

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, July 19, 2021

Technique: Oppositional Forces

The Beta Angel series provides a series of excellent coaching tips for beginner to advanced level climbers. In this video, the Beta Angel coach demonstrates several techniques for oppositional climbing.



--Jason D. Martin

Friday, July 16, 2021

The Murder of the Impossible

In 1971, Reinhold Messner was already a well-known alpinist. So when he wrote an essay that became one of the most heavily quoted and debated pieces of writing in climbing's history, people paid attention. In 1971, Messner wrote, The Murder of the Impossible.


Reinhold Messner

Messner became one of the most well-known alpinists in the world after he became the first person to summit Mount Everest without oxygen in 1978 and then the first person climb all fourteen 8000-meter peaks in 1986. These accomplishments culminated to make him an important voice in the world of climbing. It also served to keep his essay alive and under constant scrutiny.

Following are a series of select incendiary quotes from the essay. Some of the most quoted parts have been highlighted:

Expansion bolts are taken for granted nowadays; they are kept on hand just in case some difficulty cannot be overcome by ordinary methods. Today's climber doesn't want to cut himself off from the possibility of retreat: he carries his courage in his rucksack, in the form of bolts and equipment. Rock faces are no longer overcome by climbing skill, but are humbled, pitch by pitch, by methodical manual labor; what isn't done today will be done tomorrow. Free-climbing routes are dangerous, so the are protected by pegs. Ambitions are no longer built on skill, but on equipment and the length of time available. The decisive factor isn't courage, but technique; an ascent may take days and days, and the pegs and bolts counted in the hundreds. Retreat has become dishonorable, because everyone knows now that a combination of bolts and single-mindedness will get you up anything, even the most repulsive-looking direttissima.

Times change, and with them concepts and values. Faith in equipment has replaced faith in oneself; a team is admired for the number of bivouacs it makes, while the courage of those who still climb "free" is derided as a manifestation of lack of conscientiousness.

Who has polluted the pure spring of mountaineering?

"Impossible": it doesn't exist anymore. The dragon is dead, poisoned, and the hero Siegfried is unemployed. Now anyone can work on a rock face, using tools to bend it to his own idea of possibility.

Anyone who doesn't play ball is laughed at for daring take a stand against current opinion. The plumbline generation has already consolidated itself and has thoughtlessly killed the ideal of the impossible. Anyone who doesn't oppose this makes himself an accomplice of the murderers.

I'm worried about that dead dragon: we should do something before the impossible is finally interred. We have hurled ourselves, in a fury of pegs and bolts, on increasingly savage rock faces: the next generation will have to know how to free itself from all these unnecessary trappings. We have learned from the plumbline routes; our successors will once again have to reach the summits by other routes. It's time we repaid our debts and searched again for the limits of possibility - for we must have such limits if we are going to use the virtue of courage to approach them. And we must reach them. Where else will we be able to find refuge in our flight from the oppression of everyday humdrum routine? In the Himalaya? In the Andes? Yes certainly, if we can get there; but for most of us there'll only be these old Alps.

So let's save the dragon; and in the future let's follow the road that past climbers marked out. I'm convinced it's still the right one.

Put on your boots and get going. If you've got a companion, take a rope with you and a couple of pitons for your belays, but nothing else. I'm already on my way, ready for anything - even for retreat, if I meet the impossible. I'm not going to be killing any dragons, but if anyone wants to come with me, we'll go to the top together on the routes we can do without branding ourselves murderers.

So fifty years later, we have to ask whether or not the impossible has been murdered? Has the advent and popularity of sport climbing changed the way that we think of climbing? How about aid climbing? What about mixed climbing? We've seen ascent after ascent over the last few years that required such a high level of commitment and technical ability, that it's hard to say that the impossible has been murdered. I mean, think of Alex Honnold...

On the other hand, imagine a route up a blank rock face where every four feet there is a bolt. Anybody could climb such a route using aid techniques. This would definitely fit into Messner's description of the murder of the impossible. But now imagine that same route with a bolt every seven feet. There might be climbers out there who could climb such a route and then again there might not...

Most climbers don't think about whether or not they are murdering the impossible with their techniques. Most are just out there to have a good time and maybe do something cool.

The reality is that the introduction of 5.15 into the grade system and wild expeditions to the edges of the Earth continue to show us that every generation of climbers has a new "impossible" to overcome. As long as we continue to follow the ethics of a given area or range, meeting the impossible on its own terms will always be possible...

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 7/15/21

Northwest:

--A 9-year old boy was struck by rockfall at Index on Sunday. It appears that the boy was playing at the base of The Country when the rock hit him. The boy is in critical condition and there's a go-fund-me to help pay his hospital bills. To see the go-fund-me, click here.

--The Wenatchee World is reporting that, "Rescuers hoisted a climber to safety early Monday after they slid down a snowfield near the top Mount Stuart on Sunday night. State emergency management notified RiverCom 911 of an emergency beacon activation on the east side of Mount Stuart at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, said Jason Reinfeld with the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office." To read more, click here.

The aftermath of a wildfire.

--There are currently three different fires burning east of Washington Pass. As of this writing, the Pass is still accessible from the west, but the highway is closed near Mazama.

--CNN is reporting on the heat dome incident: "The unprecedented heat wave in the Pacific Northwest in late June "would have been virtually impossible without the influence of human-caused climate change," according to an analysis by more than two dozen scientists at World Weather Attribution." To read more, click here.

--A big rockfall incident was caught on camera last week at Asgard Pass next to Dragontail Peak. Massive rocks pummel the standard route over the pass. At this point, no injuries have been reported. To read about it and see the footage, click here.

--On Saturday July 24th, Squamish Access Society in conjunction with corporate partners Arc'Teryx Vancouver and Midnight Lightning Chalk will be hosting a stewardship event at Chek. Goals will be garbage collection, trail clearing and one major trail improvement project. The event will occur from 9am till 1pm leaving your afternoon free for climbing in the afternoon shade. No formal sign up is required but please email info@squamishaccess.ca. Any volunteers with trail building experience please highlight your skills.

--The AP is reporting that, "a federal jury has convicted a timber thief who authorities said started a large forest fire in Washington state, a case that prosecutors said marked the first time tree DNA had been introduced in a federal trial." To read more, click here.

Sierra:

--From Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park: "Recent lightning strikes in the Sierra Nevada resulted in two new wildfires in the wilderness of Kings Canyon National Park. The Lost Fire, spotted on July 10, is currently mapped at 92 acres, and the Sugar Fire, spotted on July 11, is currently mapped at one-quarter acre. Neither fire currently poses any risks to life or property, and there are no closures due to the fires at this time. In order to mitigate smoke potential impacts throughout the remainder of the summer, and to minimize resource damage due to critically low fuel moistures, both fires are being suppressed. Firefighters have been inserted via helicopter to suppress the Sugar Fire. For the larger Lost Fire, located in remote, rugged terrain, south of the Middle Fork of the Kings River in the Slide Bluff area, fire personnel are utilizing a confine and contain strategy." 

Desert Southwest:

--The Sierra Wave is reporting on the heat wave in Death Valley: "Death Valley is the hottest, driest, and lowest place in the country, but last Friday, July 9,  it was really hot as it hit 130 degrees Fahrenheit for only the fifth time in its recorded history. On the following Saturday, July 10, it was 129.4 degrees, according to the National Weather Service." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--CBS Denver is reporting that, "Wildland firefighters stepped in to rescue a 30-year-old woman who was struck in the back by a “microwave”-sized rock while climbing Saturday near the Lime Creek Trail." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Gripped is reporting that, "n July 10, Kananaskis Country Public Safety Section performed a longline rescue of a rock climber who took a whipper on pitch-nine of Generosity 5.9 on EEOR above Canmore. There have been a number of rescues on Generosity over the years." To read more, click here.

--NYup.com is reporting that, "State Forest Rangers came to the rescue recently of an Adirondack climber who suffered a lower leg injury after a fall. The rescue included a “hoist extraction by a helicopter." To read more, click here.

--Outside is reporting that, "one year after a crowd of campers left popular Appalachian Trail peak Max Patch strewn with garbage and human waste, the Forest Service’s Appalachian Ranger District has announced a two year ban on camping in the area." To read more, click here.

--The Hill is reporting that, "Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is creating a task force aimed at increasing trust in the Interior Department's law enforcement agencies following incidents involving the National Park Service (NPS) law enforcement that have come under public scrutiny. In a new memo issued Wednesday, Haaland said she would create a task force seeking to improve law enforcement programs through the NPS, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs." To read more, click here.

--Ski is reporting that, "a judge ruled late last month that a lawsuit against Ikon Pass parent company Alterra Mountain Co. can continue to be litigated. The suit, Goodrich et al. v. Alterra Mountain Company, brought by plaintiffs in Colorado, California, Illinois, Utah and Wisconsin, claims breach of contract following the pandemic-related resort shutdown last March." To read more, click here.

--And finally, there's video footage of what some people believe is Bigfoot crossing the Cass river in Michigan. It looks like a guy in a suit. Here it is! 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

How Alex Honnold Conquered Fear & Achieved Mastery

Alright folks. Get your chalk or a rag out, because your hands are about to get sweaty. Check out this cool little film about how Alex conquered his fear and achieved his mastery. There's value in the process Alex engaged in for us mortal climbers...


--Jason D. Martin

Monday, July 12, 2021

Climbing Rope Inspection and Retirement

How long does a rope last...?

Well, that depends. It depends on use and damage. For some, a rope will last several years...whereas for others, not so much.

A few years ago I opened up a new rope and took it on an ascent of Cutthroat Peak in the Cascades of Washington State. On the descent, the rope was damaged right in the middle. So literally, on the very first day of use, I had to cut a rope in half.

Assuming that there is no obvious damage, the length of time that you use a rope should be directly connected to the frequency of use. Check out this chart:



A second consideration is how you're using a rope. The longer you use it, the less it will retain its dynamic elasticity. And if you do something weird with a rope (i.e. use it to pull a vehicle - not recommended), that elasticity can disappear even faster.


Part of your process before climbing should be to do a check of the rope. You should ensure that the rope is in good shape before putting your life on it. The following video covers all the basics of checking your rope before use:


Many climbers use a rope beyond it's capacity for safety. It's important to retire your ropes when they need it. Your life is worth more than a rope...

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, July 9, 2021

Lightning Hazard in the Mountains

I remember it like yesterday. I was in Bolivia, on the top of a mountain. My helmet was buzzing and sparks were jumping off my ice screws.

I was in the middle of a major lightning storm, at 17,000-feet.

We survived the storm. We were not hit by lightning. But it felt like it was very touch and go there for a bit. And honestly, I didn't know that much about lightning in the mountains. That storm really focused me. And ever since, I've been extremely aware of the potential.

While there are some ranges -- like the Wind Rivers or the Colorado Rockies -- where lightning is common. It's far less so in many other ranges. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't happen. A lightning storm can happen anywhere, and a strong knowledge of what to do could literally save your life.

The following video covers a number of lighting considerations. The lighting aspect of the video ends at about 5:30. The remainder of the video discusses other high elevation hiking issues and may be worth the watch for many.


Here are some takeaways:
  1. Pay attention to the weather. Go to lower ground to avoid the greatest hazard. Getting into a car is a good option, if possible.
  2. Stay out of caves and do not go into picnic shelters, as these things may attract lightning...and if their hit, you may be the easiest conduit for the grounding of the electricity.
  3. Hide in a uniform stand of trees, if possible. Stay away from tall lonely trees.
  4. If you're with a group, spread out from one another (at least one-hundred feet) to avoid all getting hit by the same strike.
  5. Use lightning position, if needed.
In the video, lightning position is described as crouching down, holding your hands over your ears and picking up your heels. An additional consideration is the use of a pad or backpack beneath your feet. 

It may not be possible to hold the position for long, so you may have to sit down. 


Many ask, does the lightning position work...? 

The answer is that it's better than nothing. One video produced by Backpacker magazine notes that this is an absolute last resort. Indeed, there are a handful of articles stating that it doesn't work. By that, they mean that it won't keep lightning away, but will decrease the impact if you are hit.

The best way to stay safe in a lightning storm is to avoid it totally. As stated in the video, keep your eyes open and get to lower terrain if it seems like a storm is on its way...

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 7/8/21

Northwest:

--An earlier notice stated that Washington Pass was to be closed on July 15. That work has been cancelled due to fire danger.

--From the office of the Governor: "Gov. Jay Inslee today declared a statewide state of emergency relating to the growing risk of wildfires, including a statewide prohibition on most outdoor and agricultural burning through September 30, 2021." To read more, click here.

--The bridge at the start of the Ridley Creek Trailhead (an alternate approach to the south side of Mt. Baker) is out.

Sierra:

--From Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park: "Due to extreme fire danger, record setting temperatures, drought, and commitment of firefighting resources both regionally and nationally, the parks are increasing fire restrictions to Stage 3 – their highest level. Effective at 12:00 p.m. on July 1, 2021, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are enacting a parks-wide campfire and smoking ban. This includes all campgrounds, picnic and day-use areas, and wilderness locations inside the parks. There are no exceptions to this change." 

Desert Southwest:

--The New York Times is reporting that, "A California couple who mowed down 36 protected Joshua trees to clear their land for a new house have been fined $18,000, a punishment the authorities hope will discourage others from uprooting the iconic desert plants." To read more, click here.

--From SnowBrains: "Death Valley National Park, CA, had its hottest June on record this year, with an average day/night temperature of 102.9°F. June 2021 beat the previous record by 1.1°F. The normal average June temperature is 95.0°F, for records extending back to 1912. Every June for the past decade has exceeded this average." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--Ouray News is reporting that, "rescue crews on Saturday recovered the body of a man who died after falling while descending Mount Sneffels. The man was climbing by himself, had summited the 14,158-foot peak early Friday afternoon — he signed his name in the summit record — and was descending the southwest ridge when he fell roughly 1,000 feet, according to Ouray Mountain Rescue Capt. Ruth Stewart." To read more, click here.

--A climber died near Colorado Springs at Cheyenne Cañon over the weekend. It's unclear what led to the incident. To read more, click here.

--A technical rescue was performed on a female climber who had an accident in Utah's Echo Canyon. Information is sparse. To read about it, click here.

The Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

--Arches National Park is turning people away due to crowding. We experienced this in the Spring, but found it to be easy to deal with by getting up earlier the next day. Read about it, here.

Notes from All Over:

--The Hill is reporting that, "a grizzly bear killed a camper in Montana early Tuesday morning, according to a state wildlife agency spokesperson. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks spokesperson Greg Lemon said the incident occurred between 4 and 5 a.m. near Ovanda, adding that a team will attempt to track down the bear." To read more, click here.

--Footwear News is reporting that, "REI Co-op is making a quarter million dollar investment to support all-women fire crews who look after the country’s national parks. The leading outdoor retailer announced an investment of more than $250,000 in the National Park Foundation, which will be made this year. REI stated it will fund women’s fire corps crews as part of a larger effort to promote diversity, equity and inclusion within the charitable organization’s wildland fire program. Also, it is part of the retailer’s ongoing fight to combat the effects of climate change." To read more, click here.

--The Hill is reporting that, "The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that it will raise pay for federal firefighters to at least $15 per hour as part of a broader strategy to respond to wildfires. A senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday that the raise will come through bonuses in 2021 so that the pay for firefighters rises to the equivalent of $15 per hour." To read more, click here.

--The Outside Business Journal is reporting that, "The North Face on Friday announced it will discontinue the logo the brand had used for its FutureLight apparel technology after an artist named Futura filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the company earlier this year. Futura, whose name is Leonard McGurr, posted a statement about the matter to Instagram on June 21, outlining his legal claim against The North Face and how the brand reacted in its legal response." To read more, click here.

--A team just completed the first adaptive ski descent of Denali. Check it out!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Gear Backpackers Ditch First

Homemade Wanderlust is another backpacking oriented site, though mountaineers can learn a lot from this as well. The idea here is to lose weight. 

No. Not that kind of weight.

Packweight.

This video looks at some things that you can leave behind that often beginners really want to bring with them. Check it out:


To be clear, there are some things on Dixie's list that I carry. I usually carry a wide-mouth Nalgene bottle (easier to pour water into and to use as a mug), and I often carry a camp-chair which I also also part of my sleeping system.

I have historically carried a multi-tool, but it is a very heavy item. I seldom carry one anymore, except for on ski tours when there's a higher likelihood that something that I can fix with a multi-tool will break.

And finally, I often remove my pack brain for ascents, but use it extensively until then.

Here's a minute-by-minute breakdown of the information in the video:

00:00 Hey y’all
00:46 Extensive Wardrobe
01:12 Excessive Med Kit
01:54 Rambo Knife
02:26 Multitool 
02:49 Saw, Hatchet, Axe (on hiking paths)
03:45 Bear Bells, Bear Spray (except in Grizzly Bear Country)
04:21 Camp Chair
04:43 Heavy Trowel
05:09 Extra Light Source 
05:30 Huge Pack of Batteries
05:57 Kindle, iPad, etc.
06:19 Fire Starter
06:53 Mess Kit
07:21 Nalgene Bottle
07:58 Large Camp Towel
08:15 Solar Shower
08:45 Digital Camera
09:11 Dry Sacks/Stuff Sacks
10:16 Soap, Deodorant, etc.
10:51 Pack Brain 

--Jason D. Martin



Friday, July 2, 2021

Trail Openings in Rocky Mountain National Park - Rocky Mountain National Park News Release

Due To Efforts Of Many

Additional Trails In Rocky Mountain National Park Reopen After East Troublesome Fire Impacts

Additional trails have reopened in Rocky Mountain National Park, as park staff continue to address impacts from the East Troublesome Fire. Crews have removed down trees and replaced and repaired bridges and trail stabilization materials. Many bridges and replacement material, like pressure treated logs, were prefabricated over the winter. These items were flown in this spring to expedite re-opening of areas and limit further damage to the trails. Pressure treated logs are being used to rebuild burned staircases, retaining walls and turnpikes.  

On the west side of the park, the North Inlet Trail has reopened.   

On the east side of the park, the Fern Lake Trail has reopened, however the Spruce Lake Trail remains closed. The Mill Creek Basin area has reopened including the Hollowell Park Trail to Bierstadt Lake, as well as the Mount Wuh/Steep Mountain junction from the Cub Lake Trail.       

These specific trails experienced significant impacts during the East Troublesome Fire. Park visitors should be aware of additional hazards when recreating in these burn areas including: 

  • Burned-out stump holes where the ground may be weak and unstable  
  • Unstable dead trees, especially in windy conditions   
  • Loose rocks, logs and rolling debris  
  • Flash flooding and significant debris flow possible in burn areas 
  • Dry, hot conditions with little forest canopy to provide shade   

Ninety-four people are working in the park on repairing burn area trails this summer.  Fifty are Rocky Mountain National Park trail crew members, and four are from the National Park Service Southeast Utah Group.  Assisting the National Park Service include forty additional crew members; one crew is from the Rocky Mountain Conservancy Fire Corp, one crew from the Larimer County Conservation Corp and one crew from the Rocky Mountain Youth Corp based in Steamboat Springs.  

For the most current status of trails, including maps, please visit https://www.nps.gov/romo/learn/fire-information-and-regulations.htm 

On Wednesday, October 21, the East Troublesome Fire ran approximately 18 miles before it moved into the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, and then spotted approximately 1.5 miles from the head of Tonahutu Creek on the west side of the Continental Divide to the head of Spruce Creek on the east side of the Continental Divide.  Rapid evacuations took place in Grand Lake on October 21. Evacuations for the majority of the Estes Valley were implemented on October 22, as weather predictions forecast major winds on the night of October 23 through October 24 pushing the fire further to the east.  Firefighting actions and favorable weather on October 24 and 25, helped halt the major movement of the East Troublesome and Cameron Peak Fires.  

Approximately 30,000 acres or 9 percent of Rocky Mountain National Park has been impacted by the East Troublesome and Cameron Peak Fires.   

Rocky Mountain National Park’s non-profit partner, The Rocky Mountain Conservancy, is accepting donations to support the park’s future restoration efforts from this season’s fires https://rmconservancy.org/join-or-give/donate/ 

-NPS- 

Fire Restrictions in Olympic, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests and in North Cascades NP

Forest Service Joint News Release

Olympic National Forest
Contact: Public Affairs Officer
Corina Rendón

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Contact: Partnership Specialist
Aleta Eng

Unprecedented conditions and recent heatwave lead to early fire restrictions at Olympic and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests

Everett, WA, July 2, 2021— Due to the combination of unprecedented conditions, the recent heatwave and the Fourth of July holiday approaching the Olympic and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests are implementing fire restrictions, effective immediately, that will only allow fires in designated areas (linked below). Officials are also reminding the public that all fireworks – sparklers included - are prohibited on all federal public lands, including the Olympic and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests, year-round regardless of weather conditions.
 
Prior to the recent heatwave, precipitation levels were already below average this year elevating wildfire risk across the western side of Washington state. The record-breaking temperatures felt across the Pacific Northwest this week have resulted in rapid drying, quickly elevating the fire danger across the state to a level not typically seen at this time of year.
 
"Much of Western Washington is abnormally dry, the recent record-breaking heat wave has exacerbated the situation, and we are still expecting hotter- and drier-than-normal conditions as we continue into the peak of summer,” said Kit Moffitt, Acting Fire Staff Officer for the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
 
“People often assume parts of Western Washington are not at risk of wildfire,” said Todd Rankin, Fire Management Officer for Olympic Interagency Fire Management. “But even places like the Quinault and Hoh rainforests and beaches along the coast are susceptible too."
 
By following these safety tips and only having fires in areas where campfires are allowed, visitors can help prevent avoidable wildfires:
 
1.     Let the night sky be your show
  • Fireworks are illegal on public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service. Violators are subject to a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail and may be held liable for suppression costs. Check local jurisdictions if visiting State, County or City Parks.
2.     Keep campfires small
  • A campfire is less likely to escape control if it is kept small. A large fire may cast hot embers long distances. Add firewood in small amounts as existing material is consumed.
3.     Attend your campfire at all times
  • A campfire left unattended for even a few minutes can grow into a costly, damaging wildfire. Stay with your campfire from start to finish until it is dead out, as required by law. That ensures any escaped sparks or embers can be extinguished quickly.
4.     Extinguish all campfires before leaving – even if gone for a short period of time
  • Bring a shovel and a bucket of water to extinguish any escaped embers. When you are ready to leave, drown all embers with water, stir the coals, and drown again. Repeat until the fire is DEAD out. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.
 
Call 911 or your local non-emergency line to report illegal use of fireworks or unsafe fire use. Additional campfire and wildfire safety information can be found at www.smokeybear.com.                   
                           
To view the list of campgrounds where campfires are allowed on the Olympic National Forest visit: https://go.usa.gov/x6sJd
 
To view the list of campgrounds where campfires are allowed on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest visit: https://go.usa.gov/x6sJV


###



Campfires Banned in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area and Portions of North Cascades National Park 

 
Sedro Woolley, WA– Effective Friday, July 2, campfires or the ignition of wood, briquettes, or any fuel in fire pits, fire pans, and barbeque grills, are banned in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area and the area of North Cascades National Park located in Chelan County. This includes all National Park Service lands south and east of Cascade Pass, Park Creek Pass and Rainy Pass as well as the entire Stehekin Valley. Stoves or grills that are solely fueled by liquid petroleum fuels for the purpose of cooking are allowed in all locations.
 
In the areas of North Cascades National Park unaffected by this ban, campfires are permitted in established fire pits. Check with surrounding agencies and counties for any additional fire restrictions.
 
Ensure that campfires are out and cold to the touch before leaving the area. Use caution when smoking and do not discard cigarette butts.
 
Discharging, or using any kind of fireworks, tracer ammunition or other incendiary devices in any location on federal lands is always prohibited.
 
If smoke or flames are visible, please dial 911 or report at any ranger station. 

Miranda in the Wild - Mistakes I Made as a Beginner Backpacker

In this video, Miranda talks about what she did and didn't know the first time she went backpacking. She a number of things in the video...with the focus being on assumptions she made that were incorrect. This is a good video for beginner backpackers...
 


And if you're new to backpacking, don't forget that AAI has a two-day Wilderness Skills program that covers all the basics of backpacking.

--Jason D. Martin