Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The Math of Rock Climbing

Math and climbing...it's like peanut butter and jelly, or milk and cereal.

We've talked about fall factors and ape index here before, but this math professor does a pretty good job. Check it out:

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, March 1, 2021

Miranda in the Wild - Coffee in the Mountains

I admit it. I don't drink coffee...

I know. I know. I know. How do I survive...? I'm not really sure. 

But I do know that most of you out there do drink coffee. And not only that, but coffee is an important part of your day, even in the backcountry. I'm afraid that I don't have the skills to give you what  you need to get your fix. So, with that in mind, I've found two excellent Miranda in the Wild videos for you. Miranda in the Wild is a web series sponsored by REI that goes deep into all kinds of tricks and tips for backpacking. In each of the following videos, Miranda talks coffee, what works best and how to do it...

In this first video, Miranda tests all the different backcountry coffee options.

And in this second video, Miranda shows us how to make some fancy coffee drinks in the field.

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, February 26, 2021

Film Review: The Snow Walker

Not every film I review for this blog is completely connected to the mountains.  Occasionally, I post reviews of books and films that are only marginally linked to mountain culture.  Usually these are connected to our mission of bringing you the most interesting mountain content by some small thread.  The 2003 film, The Snow Walker is one of these.  No, it's not about climbing or skiing, but it is about indigenous culture and adventure, two things that we at the American Alpine Institute care about a great deal.

The Snow Walker is an interesting study of cultural understanding.  The story takes place in the fifties in a world where there is little tolerance for individuals who are not white and male.  Charlie Halliday (Barry Pepper) is a brash young pilot in Canada's Northern Territories who is enlisted to fly a sick Inuit woman (Annabella Piugattuk) who speaks very little English to a hospital in Yellowknife.  In the process of bringing her to safety across the barren tundra, Halliday crashes his plane.  The arrogant pilot must learn modesty, trust and understanding as the only way to stay alive in the barren arctic wastes is to put his faith in Inuit survival techniques.

Most of the stranger-in-a-strange-land culture-clash films have two elements to "make them exciting."  First, they tend to take place in a violent setting.  In other words, there is some kind of war or conflict, often between the cultures portrayed.  And second, there is usually a romance.  Sometimes the romance is between members of the same culture and sometimes it's cross-cultural.  Some excellent examples of these types of films include Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves, Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai, last year's ubber-blockbuster Avatar, and even Disney's Pocahontas.  The Snow Walker breaks away from these cliche models and does something completely different.  There is no war between cultures and there is no romance between the two lead characters.  Instead, the film documents a story of trust and friendship deep in the wilderness and in many ways, the simplicity of the story creates a far more powerful message than some of the other films that have dealt with this theme.

Barry Pepper -- the film's lead -- is one of those actors you know you've seen before, but often can't place.  He's the guy that's in every movie, but when it comes right down to it, you can't name a single one.  Well, let me do it for you.  Pepper has been in big Hollywood productions like Seven Pounds, Flags of Our Fathers, 25th Hour, We Were Soldiers, Knockaround Guys, The Green Mile, Enemy of the State, and Saving Private Ryan.  He has also played leading and secondary roles in a variety of television shows and lesser known Hollywood and independent films.  The actor has even performed a feature role in a "live action" video game.

Pepper's performance in The Snow Walker makes me wonder why this particular actor has been typed as a supporting character in most of the work that he has done.  The actor has a breadth of range that has been ignored by big Hollywood directors and producers.  As most of us only have the slightest knowledge of Inuit culture, we first empathize with Pepper's character, lost in the wilderness. And then as he begins to connect with his Inuit companion, so too do we.

The Snow Walker is not a film that will blow you away with its originality.  You've seen this story before.  Maybe you haven't seen it with this particular culture being explored, but you've likely seen it with everything from aliens to Samurai. However, it is unlikely that you've seen this type of cultural-understanding story done before in such a tender and "un-Hollywood" way.

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 2/25/2021


--Mt. Rainier National Park has switched its systems to online permitting. In other words, if you want to hike or climb in the Park, you'll have  to obtain an online permit first. To read more, click here.

--The Newhalem crags (including Ryan's Wall) on Highway 20 in Washington, are currently closed due to peregrine nesting.

Skiing the Baker Backcountry

--Gripped is reporting that, "resort and backcountry skiing is booming, and despite the difficult road ahead to approval, a proposal to build a year-round ski and mountain biking area in B.C. got the green light for the next stage of the application process." To read more, click here.


--KTLA 5 is reporting that, "The widow and a friend of a skier killed in an avalanche at a Lake Tahoe ski resort last year have filed separate lawsuits accusing the resort of negligently rushing to open the slopes in unsafe conditions for a holiday weekend that’s typically one of the season’s busiest." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--The Durango Herald is reporting that, "A petition has been circulating in recent days calling for Purgatory Resort to allow uphill travel on its slopes. Uphill skiing, also known as skinning, is when people climb mountain slopes with skis fitted for backcountry travel. Once at the top, skiers can adjust their gear and glide downhill." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--The New York Post is reporting that, "A skier was killed after getting caught in an avalanche in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, park officials said. Matthew Brien, 33, of Jackson, had been leading a group in the upper part of the Broken Thumb Couloir when the avalanche occurred around noon Monday." To read more, click here.

--TV 6 Fox is reporting on an ice climbing accident in Michigan: "An ice climber in Munising had to be rescued Friday after falling roughly 20 feet during a climb. According to the Alger County Sheriff’s Office, at 3:43 p.m. Feb. 19, Alger County Dispatch received a 911 call reporting that an ice climber had fallen and had significant injuries.  The sheriff’s office says the victim was climbing the ice formation known as “Sweet Mother Moses (WI 3+)” which is located approximately 1/2 mile east of Sand Point in Munising." To read more, click here.

--The National Park Service has quietly launched an app that provides a tremendous amount of information for the park visitor in each park. To read about it, click here.

--Holy smokes! Snews is reporting that, "there’s seismic news in the media, outdoor, endurance, and tech industries today. Pocket Outdoor Media (parent company to SNEWS, Backpacker, and nearly 30 other active living brands) announced news that will catapult the Boulder-based company into a powerful position in these industries: It has purchased Outside Magazine, Outside TV, Gaia GPS, Peloton Magazine, and athleteReg." To read more, click here.

--ABC News is reporting on an unusual bear attack.  An Alaska woman had the scare of a lifetime when using an outhouse in the backcountry and she was attacked by a bear, from below. 'I got out there and sat down on the toilet and immediately something bit my butt right as I sat down,' Shannon Stevens told The Associated Press on Thursday. 'I jumped up and I screamed when it happened.'" To read more, click here.

--E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin -- the team that brought us the Academy Award Winning Free Solo -- have multiple new projects lined up. From a documentary about the Tai cave rescue to the a series about outdoor adventure athletes, the pair are getting very busy. To read more, click here.

--It's important to respect others on the ski slope, and if you accidentally cut someone off, apologize. And if you get cut-off and you're not injured, no harm done. If someone is out-of-control, it's fine to say something, but it should never turn into a fight. But that's what happened at Vermont's Mt. Snow when a skier and a snowboarder got into it. One person is thrown to the ground. It's BS. A video of the incident is making the rounds.

--Two large new ice routes have been established in the Valdez area of Alaska. To read about them, click here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Avalanche Awareness: Beacon Check

The American Mountain Guides Association and Outdoor Research have come together to create a video on avalanche beacons and the morning beacon check. Arguably, this check is one of the most important parts of the day. If your beacon doesn't work, you're not going to be found if you get avalanched, and you certainly won't be able to find your friend if he gets avalanched...

Check out the video below:

Here is a good process for completing a beacon check:

1) Turn on the beacons and confirm that there is power. Each individual should state their battery life. Batteries that are at less than 80% should be changed out. Rechargeable batteries are not as good as off-the-shelf batteries as they appear to have a lot of power but then lose it quickly.

2) Everybody accept for one person (the leader) should switch their beacons to search mode. They should see if they can "see" the person in transmit mode and the distance on their beacons. Don't touch beacons together when you practice this as direct contact can fry the circuits.

3) The team should turn their beacons back to transmit. The leader can then switch his beacon to search and have the members of the team file by as he checks that he can "see" them with his beacon.

4) Once this is complete, one person should watch as the leader turns his beacon back to transmit.

5) Beacons can be stored in the beacon harness or in a pocket. If in a pocket, the pocket should be integrated (so that it can't tear off) and it should have a zipper.

6) Note that cell phones, Go Pros, radios, or other electronic devices may adversely impact the effectiveness of a beacon. These devices should be stored away from the beacon.

Your avalanche beacon is your life. Make sure that it's on and that it has been adequately checked before going out to ski!

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, February 22, 2021

Avalanche Awareness: Beacon Search

Seventy-five percent of all avalanche deaths are due to asphyxiation. After fifteen minutes of being buried in an avalanche, your chances of survival drop sixty-percent. Knowing how to use an avalanche beacon well is an essential skill for the backcountry traveler.

In the following video, the concept of an avalanche beacon search is described in detail:

Understanding the process of searching for a victim is essential. Practice with your beacon and take an AIARE Avalanche Level I course!

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, February 19, 2021

Body Position and Finger Strength Training

The Climbing Movement Essential Training Series on Youtube is kind of awesome. The series is composed of a number of well produced videos that focus on different aspects of training for climbing.

The following video is specifically oriented toward training for body position and strength. Essentially, you will put yourself into some difficult climbing postures and hold yourself there to build up strength.

Following is a breakdown of the workout from the video:

--12 Climbing Postures
--3 Times Each
--30-45 Minutes
  1. Set a variety of climbing positions using 3 points of contact.
  2. Choose 3 holds (2 arms, 1 foot)
  3. "Freeze" and balance your weight with the points of contact.
  4. Time each posture.
  5. For strength training, muscle failure should occur before 10-12 seconds.
  6. Recreate postures that you encounter in your climbing projects.
  7. Work with higher footholds and harder handholds.
  8. Increase the intensity and pressure as you progress.
  9. The key is to maintain a static contraction without momentum or movement.
  10. Repeat each posture 3 times.
--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 2/18/21

Avalanche Note:

February of 2021 may go down as one of the deadliest months for avalanche fatalities in history. At this point at least sixteen people have been killed, and maybe more (articles are inconsistent). This is terribly sad. Please be careful out there. If you're unsure about the hazard, go home, or ski/ride at a resort. We want everyone to come home from every mountain trip...


--Gripped is reporting that, "An avalanche in Brandywine Bowl (Whistler area) on Saturday afternoon claimed the life of climber and snowboarder Dave Henkel, 45, a member of the Squamish community. Outpourings of grief and disbelief flooded social media from his many friends and connections." To read more, click here.


--Snowbrains is reporting that, "Over the past year, healthcare workers have made an indelible impact on communities around the country. To honor their unwavering commitment and offer thanks, Homewood Mountain Resort is giving away lift tickets, access to the mountain an hour before the general public, and complimentary breakfast to 200 healthcare workers on Sunday, February 28, 2021." To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--A historic 5.14c in Joshua Tree National Park has been seriously downgraded, now clocking in at a still-quite-hard 5.12d. However, the original grade of 14c made it one of the hardest climbs in the country. Now? Not so much. To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--Two avalanches resulted in fatalities in Colorado on Sunday. To read more, click here.

--A skier died after striking a tree Breckenridge Ski Resort last week.

--The Denver Channel is reporting that, "A snowmobiler remains missing after an avalanche near Ruby Mountain in Jackson County on Tuesday." To read more, click here.

--The following is an excellent snapshot of what happened on the February 6th avalanche that killed four people in the Wilson Glades area of Wilson Peak in Utah:

--The avalanche hazard in Utah is off the charts right now. Little Cottonwood Canyon has been closed, as have some resorts. To read more, click here.

--Fox 13 is reporting that, "Officials are looking for help in identifying who vandalized parts of Bryce Canyon National Park." To read more, click here.

--A new gym is being planned in Moab. They're interested in hearing the community's thoughts.

Notes from All Over:

--Avalanches aren't the only hazard right now. On Sunday, a 27-year-old died in a tree-well at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Another skier died in a tree-well at Montana's Bridger Bowl. A third died at Vermont's Stowe Mountain, but this appears to be the result of a tree collision.

--A production company owned by the Obamas will be making a film about Tenzing Norgay for Netflix. Tenzing was on the first ascent of Mt. Everest in 1953. To read more, click here.

--Outside is reporting that, "Kilimanjaro could soon look quite different, and not just because of its shrinking glaciers. The Tanzanian government recently approved construction of a cable car on the 19,341-foot peak, the highest summit in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. Still, while it may technically be approved, the project is far from a sure bet." To read more, click here.

--Late last week, several ski resorts in Montana closed due to life-threatening cold weather. To read more, click here.

--Ski slopes in parts of Europe are yellow due to a storm in the Sahara that blew sand into the region. To read about it and to see photos, click here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Mixed Climbing Training

I really like mixed climbing. It's tremendously fun. But it's also tremendously pumpy. Clearly to do it well, you should train a lot.  And while I haven't built any special training walls or anything yet, I certainly love seeing what other people have built to train for this particularly odd type of climbing...

In the following video, a farmworker without easy access to the mountains demos several of his training contraptions while talking about mixed climbing.

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, February 15, 2021

How To Wrap a Cordellete

A few years ago I was guiding a multi-pitch line in Red Rock Canyon. Before we launched off the ground, I showed the climbers that I was working with how to wrap up a cordellete.

Their response?

"Oh, it's a Codyball."

"A what?" I responded.

"A Codyball," one of the climbers said. "When we were in the Gunks, we had a guide named Cody who showed us this technique. We didn't know what to call it, so we started to call it a Codyball."

So Cody, wherever you are...thank-you. For I too have started to call this technique of wrapping up a cordellete a Codyball.

Before launching into how to tie a Codyball, I'd like to point out that there are many ways to stow a cordellete. The two most popular ways are 1) to simply triple up the cordellete and then tie an eight into it and 2) to tie a Codyball.

It is easier, albeit sloppier to simply tie the cordellete into an eight. In addition to this, it is quite long. A long cordellete -- or anything long hanging off your harness -- can be dangerous when you are mountaineering or ice climbing. Things can get stuck in your crampons when you are not paying attention.

A cordellete tied as an eight.

A Codyball is a little bit harder to make. It requires you to spend a bit of time wrapping up the cord and it can also hang down too far if you are not careful. If you're wearing crampons, always be very careful about how far down things hang.

To make a Codyball:

1) Start with the end of the cordellete in your hand.

2) Wrap the cord around your hand until there is only about two feet left.

3) Take your hand out of the wrap and squeeze that section of cord together.

4) Wrap the remaining cord around the squeezed section. Be sure to capture the strand coming out of the squeezed section so that it all doesn't come unraveled.

5) Once there is almost no additional cord left, take the remaining line and push it through the eye of the Codyball.

A finished Codyball.

6) When the Codyball is finished, you may clip it to your harness. If it hangs down too much, simply add a couple more twists with the cord around the ball until the tail is at the desired length.

Codyballs provide a great way to stow your cordellete, but like everything else in this blog, they take some practice. When you're sitting around watching movies on your laptop, keep a cordellete in your hand. It will probably only take one or two viewings of The Eiger Sanction before you'll have it completely dialed.

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, February 12, 2021

Route Finding: Magnetic Declination

Your compass is pointing in the wrong direction. You know it's not north. Indeed, it's nowhere near north.

So what's up? Is it broken? Defective? What?

The problem is that it's not pointing at "true north." Instead, it's pointing at "magnetic north." Most people don't realize that there are two North Poles, the real one and the fake one, the true one and the magnetic one.

The Compass Dude puts it a bit more succinctly:

Why are there two different poles? Good question!

The magnetic north and south poles are the ends of the magnetic field around the earth. The magnetic field is created by magnetic elements in the earth's fluid outer core and this molten rock does not align perfectly with the axis around which the earth spins.

There are actually many different sources of magnetic activity around and in the world. All those influencing factors combine to create the north and south attractions at each spot on the globe. The actual strength and direction of 'north' is slightly different everywhere, but it is generally towards the 'top' of the planet.

The difference between true north and magnetic north is referred to as the declination. If you are not aware of the declination in a given area, then you may not be able to locate true north.
Example of magnetic declination showing a compass needle
with a "positive" (or "easterly") variation from geographic north.
From Wikipedia

Modern compasses are designed in such a way that the declination may be set. If you adjust the compass properly allowing the arrow to line up, then you will get a reading which shows both where true north is as well as magnetic north.

Most compasses require one to set the red compass point a given number of degrees off of true north. Usually there is a screw on the back of the compass that will allow you to set the declination. Two lines, often referred to as "the shed," will shift the appropriate distance off of true north. Once this is set, you will be able to shift the compass to the point where the needle is in the center of the shed. The printed "N" will then point toward true north.

Unfortunately, the declination is not always the same from one area to another. Every place on the planet has its own local irregularities and due to the fact that magnetic north isn't actually at the top of the globe, there are other variables that need to be taken into account before setting the declination. Following is a short explanation from Wikipedia on the variables:

Magnetic declination varies both from place to place, and with the passage of time. As a traveller cruises the east coast of the United States, for example, the declination varies from 20 degrees west (in Maine) to zero (in Florida), to 10 degrees east (in Texas), meaning a compass adjusted at the beginning of the journey would have a true north error of over 30 degrees if not adjusted for the changing declination.

In most areas, the spatial variation reflects the irregularities of the flows deep in the earth; in some areas, deposits of iron ore ormagnetite in the Earth's crust may contribute strongly to the declination. Similarly, secular changes to these flows result in slow changes to the field strength and direction at the same point on the Earth.

The magnetic declination in a given area will change slowly over time, possibly as much as 2-2.5 degrees every hundred years or so, depending upon how far from the magnetic poles it is. This may be insignificant to most travellers, but can be important if using magnetic bearings from old charts or metes (directions) in old deeds for locating places with any precision.

There are many ways to determine the declination. The first and most common way is to simply get it off of a USGS topo map. Unfortunately many maps are out-of-date and the declination may have changed. You may also get your declination from the web at the NOAA website, here.

Following is a short video which reviews many of the key points in this article:

To learn more about compasses and declination, the Compass Dude has a great site with a lot of valuable information.

Knowing how to use your compass well will help to keep you from getting lost... And staying found makes every trip a lot more fun!

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 2/11/2021

Avalanche Fatalities:

--This has been an incredibly tough year. Please be safe out there...


--Snow Brains is reporting that, "two backcountry skiers from Ashland, OR, were caught in an avalanche around 2 pm Wednesday (Feb 3) near Etna Summit, CA, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team. One of the skiers was able to self-rescue, while the other unfortunately died. He has been identified as 35-year-old Brook Golling." To read more, click here.

--The Daily Beast is reporting that, "A Washington State Patrol trooper was killed Monday by an avalanche while snowmobiling, the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday. Steve Houle, 51, was a 28-year veteran of the patrol, and out riding with another man when he became stuck in the avalanche." To read more, click here.

--The Seattle Times is reporting that, "Washington State Parks opened three temporary Sno-Parks along the Interstate 90 corridor this week to better accommodate a surge of visitors to the Cascades this winter as local residents seek outdoor recreation options during the colder months." To read more, click here.

--A man in Field, British Columbia, successfully rescued an elk that was hit by an avalanche. Check it out, here.


--The Sierra Wave is reporting that, "The Inyo National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office are holding a virtual public meeting to gather input for potential off-highway vehicle grant funding requests." To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--A man missing for 49-days in the Grand Canyon has just been found...alive! To read about it, click here.

--AAI Guide Lor Sabourin has just become the first non-binary climber to send a 5.14a on trad gear. They completed a line called East Coast Fist Bump in Sedona. To read about it, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--Four backcountry skiers were killed in an avalanche in Mill Creek Canyon on the northeast face of Wilson's Glade. This can be found just outside Salt Lake City. To read more, click here.

--Park Record is reporting that, "Park City Mountain Resort has indefinitely closed its backcountry gates, significantly curtailing backcountry skiing access to public lands from the Wasatch Back in the wake of two recent avalanche deaths just outside its boundaries." To read more, click here.

--There has been a breakout of COVID-19 at Winter Park among the ski resort employees. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--A skier was rescued by the Coast Guard in Alaska after being mauled by a bear. To read more, click here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Backcountry Ski Repair and First Aid Essentials

Sarah Carpenter is an AMGA certified ski guide and one of the owners of the American Avalanche Institute, one of AAI's partners in avalanche training. Sarah is one of the best, and when she speaks on backcountry skiing, wise people listen.

The following video covers her thoughts on what is needed in backcountry ski repair kit, as well as in a backcountry first aid kit for a skiing/splitboard outing.

The following is a quick list of what she covers. See the video for context...

Repair List
--Bivy Sack or Rescue Sled
--2-3 Carabiners
--4-5 Ski Straps
--Hose Clamp
--Bailing Wire
--Glob Stopper
--Spare Batteries
--Duct Tape
--Flagging Tape
--Binding Screw/Plummer's Putty
--Binding Buddy

First Aid List
--Ace Wrap
--Hand Warmers
--Blister Repair
--Athletic Tape
--Wound Closure Strips

Other Items
--Personal Locator Beacon/Satellite Messaging System
--Radios (Person -to-Person Coms)
--Backup Battery Pack

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, February 8, 2021

Skin Care for your Ski Skins when in the Backcountry

Climbing skins for your skis are an essential part of backcountry skiing. But they are also a piece of gear that are maybe not thought about or respected as much as they should be given how important they are to your day out.

Following is a short video from the AMGA and Outdoor Research on skin care during a backcountry ski or splitboard outing.

There are a lot of excellent tips in the video and you should definitely watch the whole thing, but here is a round-up of some main points.

--Keep skins warm and dry, dog-hair and pine-needle free.
--Do not leave them in the sun or too close to the fire.
--The glue backer is nice for summer storage.
--Have "bips" and "bops" to repair the tip and tail.

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, February 5, 2021

American Alpine Institute Social Media Resources

If you're reading this post, you're probably reading it because you were lead to it by one of our social media outlets. And you might not be aware that we have other social media outlets that provide different information.

Our primary social media interaction takes place through our primary Facebook account. We promote our blogs, interesting articles and our programs on this feed. Occasionally, we also post photos and videos. 

The primary Facebook account is super busy and we have conversations with climbers, mountaineers, hikers and backcountry users every single day on this medium.

Our Equipment Shop is a gem in the outdoor industry, with a focus on climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, splitboarding, and backpacking. With carefully selected items that range from expedition equipment to outfitting your first day on the trail, our shop staff are constantly testing and trying out new gear so that you don't have to. Check in for updates on new gear, services, Guides Choice testing reviews, and tech tips.

In addition to courses and ascents, AAI is also a Washington State Vocational School. We provide courses for people who would like to be outdoor educators, guides, backcountry rangers and ski patrollers. Our Vocational Facebook Group was designed to provide those who are going through our vocational programs with:
  1. A place for our vocational students to talk to each other.
  2. A place for us to promote vocational programs to those interested.
  3. A jobs board. Many, many, many jobs in the outdoor industry, in outdoor education and in guiding come across our desks. We post them all here.

This page was designed specifically for the womxm of AAI. This includes womxn guides, womxn participants, and womxn who are interested in what AAI has to offer. 

The page includes many conversations that are specific to the concerns of womxn in the mountains and on AAI programs. There are also a lot of tips and tricks, some of which are specific to womxn, and others that are simply good mountain techniques that may be employed by all users.

It should be noted that this is a closed group. Those who are interested will have to apply for entry.

The primary AAI Instagram account is a deeply curated collection of photos of mountain adventure. The photos include climbing, skiing, mountaineering, rescue, backpacking and scenic vistas. Occasionally, we have Instagram takeovers from Instagram influencers who focus on the mountain environment.

Climbing ice in Ouray, Colorado.
An example from our Instagram Feed
Photo by Will Nunez

While the primary Instagram account doesn't have a location specific focus, the AAI Southwest Instagram focuses directly on climbing, hiking, backpacking and skiing in the the Southwestern part of the United States. The feed is populated by excellent pictures from Red Rock Canyon, Joshua Tree National Park and the Sierra-Nevada mountain range.

An aid climbing program in Red Rock Canyon.
An example of our Southwest Instagram feed.
Photo by Andy Stephen

The AAI Twitter feed provides much of the same material as what's found on the primary facebook account. However, it also includes curated retweets from media sources, individuals and organizations that provide insight into conditions, techniques, and the politics of the outdoors. This is an active feed with approximately a dozen tweets or retweets every day.

AAI's TikTok feed is primarily a curated group of clips of climbers, skiers, mountaineers, guides and participants enjoying the mountains. The clips are short -- less than a minute, with most being less than 30-seconds -- and are all set to music.

Julie-Ann Holder and Jacqueline Thompson
do cartwheels on Mt. Baker.
An example from AAI's TikTok feed.

The TikTok feed may be the least educational of all of our feeds. It isn't populated with technical tips or thoughts on the state of a given outdoor area. No, instead, it's just mountain people having fun in the mountains...

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 2/4/2021


--KDRV 12 is reporting that, "Search and rescue teams successfully tracked down a cross-country skier who became lost in the Mt. Ashland area on Saturday evening, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office received a report of the missing skier just before 5:45 p.m. on Saturday. The cross-country skier was reportedly dressed for the weather, and was last seen on the Pacific Crest Trail near Grouse Shelter about two hours prior." To read more, click here.

Natural avalanches pummeled the Baker Backcountry on Monday.
Video by Kyle Dungan

--Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest lost a lot of firefighting equipment to thieves recently: "The United States Forest Service is requesting the public’s assistance in identifying suspects involved with the theft of wildland firefighting equipment from the Koma Kulshan Guard Station near Concrete Washington; the home base of the Baker River Hotshot Crew. During the weekend of December 18th - 21st, 2020, multiple suspects broke into the Forest Service’s Hotshot Compound stealing an estimated $45,000 or more of vital firefighting equipment." To read more, click here.


--The Daily News is reporting that a 54-year-old skier was killed at Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort when he was "buried upside down." This is likely a tree-well immersion incident, but they note that the accident is being investigated. To read more, click here.

--An individual survived being lost in a massive Sierra snowstorm for a week, last week. Check it out.

Desert Southwest:

--From Death Valley National Park: "A canyoneer died in an accident in Death Valley National Park on Saturday, January 30. Justin Ibershoff (38) of Los Angeles, was descending a technical route down Deimos Canyon with six friends. The group was very experienced, and most members of the party had descended this canyon several times before. The incident occurred while Mr. Ibershoff was descending a steep, rocky slope to the top of the third rappel anchor. He apparently stepped on a rock that moved, triggering a rockslide that swept him past two companions and over the edge of the 95-foot-tall dry fall." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--Three skiers were killed after an avalanche swept four people down a slope near Silverton on Monday. Vail Daily is reporting that, "The four men, part of a larger group of backcountry skiers, triggered a large avalanche between the towns of Silverton and Ophir while traveling in an area known locally as “The Nose” around the Middle Fork of Mineral Creek." To read more, click here.

--CNN is reporting that, " skier died after being buried by an avalanche Saturday in the backcountry of Summit County, Utah. Kurt Damschroder, 57, of Park City, Utah, was killed after he was caught in the avalanche, Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez said in a tweet Sunday." To read more, click here.

--Snow Brains is reporting that, "a Colorado Search and Rescue Team has started a GoFundMe to raise funds to replace the $10,300 worth of equipment they had stolen before Christmas. The Rampart Search and Rescue had equipment and belongings stolen after a thief broke into their storage unit early on December 14, 2020, on Huron Street in Northglenn, CO." To read more, click here.

--A ski resort closed since 2001 is slated to reopen in Colorado next year. The Cuchara Ski Resort on eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo range, operated from 1981 to 2000. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--East Idaho News is reporting on multiple avalanche burials in the Tetons: "Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received an emergency call at approximately 2:30 p.m. Sunday about several skiers involved in an avalanche in the Olive Oil area located in south east Grand Teton National Park. Park rangers and Teton County Search and Rescue members jointly responded. Four skiers were skiing the east face of Olive Oil when one of the skiers triggered an avalanche. All the skiers were caught in the slide, estimated to be 40-feet wide and 2-3 feet deep. One of the skiers was able to dial 911 and reach Teton Interagency Dispatch Center to ask for help and provide location information." To read more, click here.

--A new crime drama will take place in the National Parks. From Variety: "ABC has given a pilot order to the drama “National Parks,” which hails from Kevin Costner. The project was first announced as being in development at ABC in Dec. 2019.  Anthony Hemingway is now attached to executive produce and direct the pilot via Anthony Hemingway Productions." To read more, click here.

--Two Indian climbers have been banned from Nepal and from climbing Mt. Everest after lying about reaching the summit of the mountain. To read about it, click here.

--Snow Brains is reporting that, "last Saturday, January 30th, two men who had spent the day skiing at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Maryland got into an altercation about who was a better skier, causing a fight to break out. Paz Argueta, 28, has now been arrested for aggravated assault, simple assault, resisting arrest, and criminal mischief." To read more, click here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Goggle Fogging

So, there I was, a brand new pair of goggles on a wet northwest ski day. The light was flat and there was a lot of fog. It was really hard to see.

The following day...? Crystal clear.

Don't let a wet day ruin your goggles!

But still, really hard to see.

At some point on the rainy ski day, water got in between the lenses of my goggles. And from that point forward, it was almost impossible to get the water out. The goggles were constantly fogging, regardless of the day's weather.

And thus began my quest to fix my new goggles.

Over the next several days, I tried a number of different fixes. Depending on the goggle brand and build, one of these may work better than another.

Let Them Dry Out in a Warm Area

The first and least consequential way of dealing with water between the lenses is to simply place the goggles in a warm dry place. For example, I left mine in the laundry room for a week between ski trips. They were not in a cold garage or left in my car.

It is possible to pop out the lens' in order to make it dry more quickly. Airflow will certainly be better. But I found that my lens'  did not go back in well. Indeed, they constantly popped out of the frame after I did this, adding insult to injury.

Note the mismatch between the lens and the frame in this picture.
This remains a problem to this day with this pair of Julbo Goggles.

The Rice Treatment

Many of you have used rice to get water out of a cellphone. The idea here is the same. Place the lens' -- sans frame -- into a bag or dried rice. Often this will suck out the moisture.

As noted above, the lens may not go back in properly once out.

The Dryer Treatment

The thing that ultimately worked the best, was to put the goggle frames into the goggle bag, then put them in the drying machine. I ran the dryer on medium heat for a half-an-hour, and when they came out, they were all fixed.

Later I did this with a different pair of goggles without taking the lens' out. It worked just fine and allowed me to avoid trying to get the lens back in.

It should be noted that many goggles are designed for multiple lens'. These models may not have the same problem with the lens going back in as those models that don't have this feature.

Non-Between-the-Lens Issue

Sometimes fogging takes place because of something a bit more common than water between the lenses.

1) It's not uncommon for people to put their goggles up on their wet helmet. Snow and water often gets into the goggles that way. This is where a lot of fogging issues start. 

2) Another common reason that goggles fog is if a face mask is tucked up under them. Your breath can fog them. This can be avoided by keeping the mask out of your goggles.

3) This should be obvious, but after you fall down, make sure to clean snow off the goggles. Often snow gets plastered on the padding, which allows them to slowly get saturated as your body heat melts the snow.

4) Occasionally water drips down from above, and enters the goggle padding. A helmet with a visor can help reduce this particular problem.

5) If you're overdressed and you get hot on your descent, sweat and body heat can contribute to goggle fogging.

6) And finally, when all else fails, it's not a bad idea to have a backup pair...

Goggle Care

There are a few rules to keep in mind that will help decrease fogging issues.

1) Avoid rubbing water out of the goggles with your fingers or anything that is rough. It's best to try to shake them out. When you rub the lens, you can inadvertently rub off the anti-fogging agent that manufacturers apply.

2) When you aren't using them, it's best to keep your goggles in a place that is warm and dry. Extreme temperatures can cause them to wear out faster. Indeed, putting cold goggles on your warm face just causes fogging...so try to keep them at room temperature before use.

3) Don't store your goggles away somewhere where they can't dry off. Wet goggles should be treated like any other gear. Dry them, then store them...

Goggles are an essential part of a skier's kit. But if you can't see through them, they're essentially worthless. Take the time to buy a quality pair of goggles and then treat them well. Pay attention to them. They're just as important as any other piece of essential equipment.

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, February 1, 2021

Miranda in the Wild - Easy Meal Prep for the Backcountry

When you come on a domestic trip with the American Alpine Institute, you are required to cook for yourself. This is a bit unusual for guide services like ours in North America. Most feed you...but our mission is to help you become self-sufficient in the backcountry. As such, we like to see people cook for themselves.

When you do one of our trips,  we send you a menu with some ideas on how to cook for yourself in the backcountry. But occasionally, something cool comes along that's helpful. This video from REI and Miranda in the Wild provides directions for a few easy to make backcountry meals:

One thing that should be noted is that boiling anything for eight minutes will use a tremendous amount of water. I often bring my water to a boil, put the noodles in it and let them boil for a couple of minutes. Then I turn off the stove and let them soak. Sometimes that's enough. But if you want them really hot, you can always relight the stove for a minute or two.

Happy eating!

--Jason D. Martin

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.


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.


--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


--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.


--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.