Friday, December 30, 2022

Avalanche Awareness: Proper Probing Technique

The following video is the second in a three-part series put together by backcountry access.

Once again, I'd like to state the importance of having proper avalanche training before traveling into the winter backcountry. And proper training doesn't come from a two-minute video.

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, December 26, 2022

The Danger of Open Slings

UK Climbing has posted an interesting video about the danger of draws with rubber bands or rubber holders on them.  This video really demonstrates how it is important to check your gear before every climb!


--Jason D. Martin

Friday, December 23, 2022

Emergency Rescue Sleds

In the backcountry there is no ski patrol. This means that there is nobody managing avalanches and this means that there is nobody to immediately rescue you if you get injured. That means that you have to manage these things yourself. The best way to do this is to take an avalanche course and to carry a rescue sled.

A rescue sled is a lightweight system that may be employed by a backcountry skier to haul out an injured partner.

Brooks Range Ultralight Rescue Sled

There is an argument out there that people aren't going to carry the extra weight of a commercial rescue sled. As I ski with ski guides a lot, I feel like this is absolutely not the case. There is nearly always someone in my ski parties with such a sled.

There are some very light systems that can be used to build rescue sleds. Some brands of shovels may be used to convert a patient's ski system into a rescue sled as well. 

The following video shows the Brooks Range rescue sled set-up:

As with all the other rescue systems that we cover in this blog, it is important to note that practice makes perfect. Every backcountry skier should practice with their avalanche beacon every year. It's not a bad idea to practice with your rescue sled system at the same time.

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 12/22/22


--GoSkagit is reporting that, "Deception Pass State Park will expand by 78 acres by early next year. Washington’s most-visited state park acquired the new parcel due to a collaboration between state and county agencies, Skagit Land Trust and Fidalgo Island community members. The parcel is located on the north side of Deception Pass, close to the popular Tersi Trail and to Rosario Beach, and bordering the current state park." To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--Climbing is reporting that, "earlier this month an unidentified 54-year-old-man died in an apparent fall in Death Valley National Park. Leading up to the discovery, a campground host first noticed a tent that remained standing past its due date. Rangers left a note in the tent, attempting to contact the tent user. A day after failing to connect with the visitor, officials returned to remove the property from the site and found technical gear within the tent. After the discovery, the rangers recalled seeing a vehicle at the Mosaic Canyon Trailhead a few days earlier. Officials returned to the trailhead, and ran the plates on the vehicle. The plates matched the campsite registration information, prompting a rescue attempt." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--Fox 13 is reporting that, "a man collapsed while skiing at Deer Valley Resort in Park City Tuesday morning and was later pronounced dead." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--CNN is reporting that, "a skier was rescued on Friday in Teton County, Wyoming, near Jackson Hole after getting caught in an avalanche and carried about 500 yards. Matt Hansen, communication director for Teton County Search and Rescue Foundation, told CNN that two skiers were on a ski tour that began on a trail head on top of Teton Pass in the backcountry." To read more, click here.

--Outside is reporting that, "new testing by a consumer advocacy group warns that a number of sports bras and athletic shirts on the market contain high levels of bisphenol A, or BPA, an industrial chemical that has been linked to cancer and other health concerns when exposed to the human body. The finding is prompting scientists and gear makers to more closely inspect next-to-skin materials." To read more, click here.

--SnowBrains is reporting that, "The Arena Group Holdings, Inc. (NYSE American: AREN) (the “Company” or “The Arena Group”), a tech-powered media company home to more than 240 brands, including Sports Illustrated, TheStreet, Inc. (“TheStreet”), and Parade Media (“Parade”), today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the digital assets of Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Surfer, Powder, Bike, SKATEboarding, Snowboarder and NewSchoolers from accelerate360. The collection of active lifestyle brands, which will provide the core components of The Arena Group’s fourth major vertical, has been a staple of those enjoying active and adventurous lives." To read more, click here.

--Gripped is reporting that, "rock climbing continues its move into the mainstream. Actor (and climber) Jason Momoa and climbing legend Chris Sharma have teamed up to produce a new reality competition series for HBO Max titled, The Climb." To read more, click here. To watch the trailer, click below:

--SnowBrains is reporting that, "Vail Resorts, who own and operate 37 ski areas across the United States including Vail, Breckenridge, Heavenly, and Crested Butte, have announced that they have sold 2.3 million pre-purchased passes for the 2022-23 Season. This serves as a 6% increase from the 2021-22 season, which means you can definitely expect to see a lot of skiers and snowboarders out on the slopes this year. These statistics were released as part of the company’s earnings report for the first fiscal quarter of 2023, which came to a close on October 31st." To read more, click here.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Book Review: Psycovertical

I became aware of Andy Kirkpatrick some years ago when I was an avid reader of every climbing magazine out there. Kirkpatrick has written for the American magazines Climbing and Alpinist as well as for the UK magazines Climb and Climber. His articles were always engaging, often funny, and even more often, terrifying.

Recently Kirkpatrick's award winning autobiography, Psychovertical, made it's way across the pond and was reprinted by Mountaineers Books. And like his shorter work Kirkpatrick's stories from the mountains of his life are always entertaining and enlightening.

I'm well aware that a large percentage of our blog readers are Americans and are far more interested in tales from Alaska and Yosemite than stories from the Alps. And I also know that some of you might already be turned off to this book because it was written by a Brit. But rest assured, Kirkpatrick's sense of humor has a flair that we Americans can appreciate, and he even writes about the Sierra...extensively...

I don't believe in God, and intelligent design is only for those who know nothing about either, but when I stand beneath El Cap I always have second thoughts. How could nature be so brash and showy? And if there is a God, he must be an American, or the road wouldn't be so close to this glorious wall.

Kirkpatrick frames the story of his life around a solo climb of the Reticent Wall (VI, 5.9, A5) in Yosemite Valley, an incredibly committing and dangerous climb. The book is written as if from the climb. Kirkpatrick tells us the story of his life and his obsession with high end alpine climbing in a series of vignettes, always returning to the pinnacle of his climbing career on the solo climb of the Reticent.

Early in my climbing career, I become obsessed with big wall climbing. The idea of vertical backpacking was extremely attractive. And as such, I poured over articles about big wall routes throughout the world and found many of them to be...dull. This is not at all the case with Kirkpatrick's wall adventures. Even as he describes individual moves, which in the hands of a lesser writer would be incredibly boring, we are engaged. And we are never more engaged with this type of climbing than we are when he is relating comic stories from living on the wall:

For breakfast we had a big tin of fruit to share, and every day he would eat his half, then in the same motion as he passed the tin to me, pull out a paper bag, pull down his pants, and have a dump. It's not surprising that more often than not I would lose my appetite, the sight, smell and sound unconductive to keeping a mouth full of pineapple and grapes.

Many of us learn the art of climbing with a little bit of trial by fire. Some of us end up running out of food. Others spend unplanned nights in the mountains. And a few of us even get hurt. But almost none of us jump out of bed one day and right into high end climbing. Kirkpatrick was one of those who did just such a thing. He learned the art of alpinism as most of us do, by climbing local rocks and then graduating to the mountains. But most our graduation climbs do not include travel to a new range in the winter for our very first alpine climb...

Early in his life, Kirkpatrick threw himself at his climbing and became totally enamored with winter ascents in the Alps and in Patagonia. Psychovertical chronicles a number of these in his trademark comic, self-deprecating style. The winter ascents are incredibly engaging in part because so many of them turn epic, with dangerous descents in massive storms, rappels off terrible anchors into the unknown and freezing bivys in tiny snow caves...

After an hour we'd dug a coffin-shaped cave, just big enough as long as we left almost everything outside. I was putting the finishing touches to our temporary home, scraping any irregular lumps in the roof so water wouldn't build up on them and drip onto us, when, as I was leaning against one wall, my hand shot through and I fell onto my shoulder. I rolled away and realized we'd dug through into the side of a crevasse. It was so late that I just filled in the gap and climbed back out into the storm. I said to Aaron that he could sleep on that side, neglecting to tell him why. He was lighter anyway.

And while the book is chalked full of intermittent intensity and comedy, the heart of the book is in Kirkpatrick's obsession with high end climbing and the guilt he feels when he leaves his family for climbing trips. This is a theme that many climbers deal with. Most of our spouses understand that we need to climb in order to be who we are, but our kids don't understand that. Instead, they just see us as not being there. Kirkpatrick describes significant anguish around his lifestyle and how he feels when he's in the mountains that he should be home with his family; and conversely that when he's at home with his family, he wants to be in the mountains.

Late in the book, he makes this point more eloquently than any other climbing writer ever has, and by doing so places himself in the top tier of mountaineering authors:

I thought about talking to Ella, imagined her voice, what she would say.

She would ask when I was coming home. 

I often wondered about writing her a letter, to tell her who I was, why I climbed, and why I left her, even though she was the greatest gift I had ever been given. But every time I started, my words sounded like the excuses they were. The only thing I had to give were the photos I had taken of her, boxes full. Through them you could see my love for her. And her love for me.

One day, I would write a book and hope she would then understand that fathers are only children too.

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, December 16, 2022

The Dangers of Tree-Wells

At the American Alpine Institute, we spend a lot of time talking about avalanches.  We run dozens of avalanche courses a season and highlight avalanche near misses and fatalities on this blog.  But we haven't spent much time talking about another major frontcountry and backcountry danger: tree-wells

Every year there are stories about people who have gone into a tree-well upside down and suffocated.  Essentially, a skier or a snowboarder takes a fall and slides into a tree-well upside down. When this happens it's very difficult for one to extract him or herself. Indeed, struggling upside down in a well can actually cause an individual to slip down further. The result is very similar to an avalanche, an individual suffocates in the snow.

Occasionally we report on frontcountry avalanches, but they are rare. Tree-well accidents happen every year both in-bounds and out-of-bounds.   The wells are particularly dangerous after a big snow storm that dropped a lot of powder.

The Tree-Well and Deep Snow Safety website indicates that, "the odds of surviving a deep snow immersion accident are low; especially if you are not with a partner. In two experiments conducted in the U.S. and Canada in which volunteers were temporarily placed in a tree well, 90% COULD NOT rescue themselves."

The following video portrays a shocking demonstration of just how dangerous tree-wells can be:

Following is a breakdown of what to do in the event of a tree-well accident:

Ski with a Partner

First and foremost, skiing with a partner is the most important part of staying safe on a powder day.  And skiing with a partner means keeping track of him or her visually.  If you speed ahead and are waiting at the bottom of the slope for your partner in the tree-well, then you have failed to truly ski with your partner.  Many of those who have died as a result of a tree-well incident were with partners, but they did not actually witness the fall.  Visual contact is important!

In addition to staying in visual contact, it is important to be close enough to your partner that you could dig him out if an accident occurs.  How long does that person have? Well, about as long as you can hold your you should be close enough to perform a rescue quickly.

If your partner goes into a hole, don't leave to get help.  Dig him or her out!  Once you have reached the person's face, be sure to clear the airway as there might be snow in the mouth.

Carry Backcountry Equipment

Obviously digging requires a shovel. Be sure that you have a shovel, a beacon and a probe on any big snow days, in-bounds or out.

If you're a skier, remove your ski pole straps. People who go into tree-wells often have trouble removing these straps while in a hole.

Stay on Groomed Trails

On big powder days, groomed trails are always the safest.  However, if you really want to enjoy the powder or you want to ski in the backcountry, you'll expose yourself to tree-well danger.

If you are off the groomed trails, stay away from the trees. There will not be a tree-well where there is no tree.

If You Fall in a Tree-Well

If you realize that you are falling into a tree-well, try to grab the tree and the tree-branches.  Once you've fallen in, try to hold onto the tree or branches so that you don't fall in further.

Struggling in a tree-well often makes you sink more deeply. So if you're in the hole, think. Don't panic. Try to breathe calmly in order to conserve the little bit of air you might have while waiting for a rescue.

If you are in the hole, try to create a breathing space near your face. If you're secure, try to rock your body gently in order to increase this space. Over time, heat from your body, along with rocking motions, will compact the snow. The hardening of the snow around you might allow you to work your way out of the hole.


Following are a few great sites with information about tree-well related incidents:

Stevens Pass Tree-Wells
Tree-Well and Deep Snow Safety
How to Escape a Tree-Well

Tree-wells are dangerous, but they are a danger that can be mitigated and avoided.  Pay attention to your surroundings and to your partners in order to stay safe while skiing or snowboarding.

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 12/15/22


--Cascadia Daily News is reporting that, "a male snowboarder died Saturday in a deep snow immersion incident in the Pan Dome extreme danger zone cliff area of Mount Baker Ski Area, CEO Gwyn Howat said. The Bellingham man, 44, appeared to be riding alone in the rarely frequented area, located to the north of Chair 1. He was not reported missing to the Mount Baker ski patrol, Howat said." To read more, click here.

--This situation near Stevens Pass Ski Area in Washington is unsustainable:

--To train for a trip to Indian Creek, a Squamish local found a thin roof crack on the bottom of a bridge that she climbed and re-climbed for training. Check it out.

Desert Southwest:

--KLAS is reporting that, "Fees for entering the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area just outside of Las Vegas are about to go up, according to the Bureau of Land Management. Currently, the daily entry fee for Red Rock Canyon is $15 per vehicle. As of January 1, 2023, this is going up $5 to $20 per vehicle. Other fees are also increasing in the new year." To read more, click here.

--Patch is reporting that, "Joshua Tree National Park and the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians will join forces with a co-stewardship agreement, officials reported. Tribal Chairman Darrell Mike and Joshua Tree National Park Superintendent David A. Smith and are among the representatives expected to sign the agreement next month." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--KSL TV is reporting that, "Search and rescue crews on Tuesday located the body of a skier who was reported missing Monday night. 'He was found at about 8:15 (a.m.), just off of the Sensation ski run in some trees,' said Unified Police Department spokesperson Melody Cutler." To read more, click here.

--KSL TV is also reporting that, "One skier got caught and was injured in an avalanche in Little Cottonwood Canyon Tuesday near Tanner's Campground. Unified Police Sgt. Melody Cutler said the call came in about 2:15 p.m. from an area known as pink pine. Two skiers in their 20s, one male and one female, were skiing when an avalanche was triggered. Police said the man was caught in the avalanche but was not buried. He did, however, suffer significant injuries to his leg, ribs, shoulder and face." To read more, click here.

--SnowBrains is reporting that, "avalanche danger is high in Colorado right now. In the last 10 days, observers have reported over 400 avalanches as the snowpack has passed a tipping point. An avalanche warning has been issued by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center for the northern Front Range Mountains, including Cameron Pass and the Park Range." To read more, click here.

--In late November there were a lot of base jumpers that suffered cliff strikes near Moab. In at least one case, a climber came to the rescue of a jumper who was stuck. To read the story, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Don't hire unpermitted guides. From Backpacker: "A Missouri man who led a 31-person hike on the Buffalo National River where one participant died in a fall will face criminal penalties for acting as an unpermitted guide, a federal judge ruled this week." To read more, click here

--Climbing is reporting that, "Black Diamond is stepping up to match up to $80,000 in donations to Access Fund, the national non-profit advocacy organization that protects America’s climbing. Gifts made HERE will be matched through December 19." To read more about this initiative, click here.

--SnowBrains is reporting that, "Glacier National Park in British Columbia, Canada, was forced to close an entire backcountry skiing area because skiers failed to stay out of avalanche mitigation areas. On December 1st, skiers entered the closed MacDonald West area. This area was closed due to avalanche mitigation concerns." To read more, click here.

Friday, December 9, 2022

Gifts for the Backcountry Skier in Your Life

Tis the season to be thinking about holiday gifts. And boy-oh-boy, if there's one person who needs a lot of stuff, it's the backcountry skier in your life.

Backcountry skiing is an expensive sport. Skis, boots and bindings are all extremely expensive. A thousand dollar purchase is not uncommon for an individual outfitting themselves with a mere part of the backcountry kit. So it may come as a surprise to find out that there are many inexpensive items that a backcountry skier could certainly use.

Following is a list of not-to-crazy-expensive gift ideas for a backcountry skier:

Ski Straps ($4-$8)

This is one of those items that skiers lose all the time. They are also one of those items that skiers can use to fix a myriad of backcountry problems. They are a very nice thing to have. We recommend the Voile Ski Straps.

Glop Stopper Skin Wax ($12-$15)

Nothing is more frustrating that having snow glop up on your skins during a spring tour. This inexpensive wax can quickly be placed on the skins to eliminate the problem. It is a must have... We recommend, the Black Diamond Glop Stopper.

Warm Socks ($8-$30)

Darn Tough Hike/Trek Boot Sock

Who doesn't need a new pair of warm wool or synthetic socks.  Look for a pair that is tall and will protect the skier's shin from the boot. I am personally a big fan of Darn Tough socks.

Lightweight Gloves ($20-$40)

OR PL Base Glove

Skiers often wear heavy thick gloves for their descents. But a good chunk of a backcountry skier's day is spent going up hill. No one wants to wear super heavy gloves while skinning up. Most want light gloves that breath, but still keep their fingers protected from the cold.

There are several options out there, but we recommend the OR PL Base Glove.

Brooks-Range Field Organizer ($20)

At this point I don't think I know any guides who don't have one of these protective book covers for their avalanche "blue books." This inexpensive piece of gear is a well-loved part of my everyday backcountry kit! I'm not sure if anyone but Brooks-Range makes these...

Buff ($10-$25)

A Buff is a tube of fabric that can be worn over the face, head, ears or neck. There are several companies making these accessories, but Buff is still the original and best.

The first time I ever saw a buff, I thought it was goofy. But now I wear one in the snow, in the desert and in the summer on the rock. This essential piece of equipment protects me from the sun, but also can protect my face from stinging snow. Nearly every AAI guide regularly wears a Buff in some form or another...

Portable Battery Charger ($25-$100)

As smartphone technology has improved, most skiers have begun to use their phones throughout their tours. That means that they're also using up battery power. Portable chargers have become a key piece of equipment, just in case one's battery starts to run low. The Goal Zero Flip Series works well and there are several sizes available with different charging abilities.

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 12/8/2022


--Here's some video from Sunday when a snowboarder experienced an avalanche in the Mt. Baker Backcountry:

Desert Southwest:

--Climbing is reporting that, "Around noon on December 4, local authorities received a call that a climber had fallen around 200 feet while climbing on the Left Wall on El Cajon Mountain, near San Diego. Nathaniel Masahi Takatsuno, 22, had, according to eye-witness accounts, been free soloing Leonids—a three-pitch 5.9—when he fell." To read more, click here.

--A TikTok influencer is in trouble after hitting a golf ball into the Grand Canyon. From USA Today: "In the video, which appeared on 20-year-old Katie Sigmond’s accounts on Oct. 26, Sigmond hit a golf ball and subsequently lost most of her club when the driver’s shaft flew into the canyon after the ball. Social media users were quick to share Sigmond’s stunt on platforms such as Reddit, where a screen recording of Sigmond’s Snapchat Story garnered more than 900 comments. Commenters condemned Sigmond for littering as well as endangering people and wildlife below her. The influencer – who has a combined 10 million followers across TikTok and Instagram – was going viral for the wrong reasons and she appeared to delete the posts." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--SnowBrains is reporting that, "On Saturday, at least two people were caught in two separate avalanches in Colorado. Both of these large and dangerous avalanches were near Berthoud Pass." To read more, click here.

--There was an inbounds avalanche at Snowbird on Sunday.

--This guy is celebrating his one hundredth year skiing...

Notes from All Over:

Climbing is reporting on some unfortunate news from Iran: "The family home of Elnaz Rekabi—who competed without her hijab at the Asian Continental Championships in October—has been destroyed according to IranWire, a pro-reform media source. A video has reportedly circulated showing footage of climbing medals among the ruins." To read more, click here.

--The Iphone 14 has a emergency message service that works through satellites, similar to an inReach. SnowBrains is reporting on the first known rescue using this new technology: "On December 1, 2022, at around 2:00 am, the Alaska State Troopers were notified that an adult male traveling via snowmachine from Noorvik to Kotzebue had activated an Apple iPhone Emergency SOS via satellite on his iPhone after becoming stranded." To read more, click here.

--Speaking of the Iphone 14, it does appear that an unanticipated problem with the device is that it is reporting ski crashes as car crashes. Check it out.

--SnowBrains is reporting that, "on the morning of December 1, 2022, Colorado second-grade elementary school student Maddock Jefferson Lipp set a new world record as the youngest person to ski on all seven continents. Maddock, age eight years and 25 days, went from the Ocean Diamond ship off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula via Zodiac craft to shore, near a gentoo penguin rookery. From there, Maddock, along with his older sister (Keira Lipp), father (Jordan Lipp), and IFMGA ski mountaineering guide (Jorge Kozulj), ascended the lower portions of Mount Hoegh in Antarctica. With several inches of fresh powder, the four skied down the slopes of the glaciated mountain back to shore and the penguins." To read more, click here.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Winter Backcountry Campsite Construction

Outdoor Research has posted a nice video on how to create a backcountry winter campsite. Specifically, they design a site for a Megamid or Mega Lite style tent. These are circus style tents with no floor and a center pole. In the snow, this style of tent allows for quite a bit of customization.

It should be noted that this style of tent is often used for cook tents on expeditions. Historically, AAI guides used this style of tent to create cook tents on Denali. Climbers still slept in tents with floors, but the ability to customize cooking space makes this a very desirable tent to operate with in an expeditionary setting.

Check out the video on how to build a backcountry campsite in the snow, below:

  1. Stamp out a platform with your skis.
  2. Start small with digging out the tent area.
  3. One person will climb down onto the "table" and hold the center tentpole. That person should place the tentpole on something that will disperse the weight appropriately.
  4. Once the tent is up, fill in the snow around the edges.
  5. Dig down inside to create bed areas or benches.
  6. Cut blocks with a snow saw and stack the blocks around the tent to decrease the impact of wind.
  7. Finally, when taking down the tent, be sure to fill into the holes. There's no reason to leave a place where someone could ski into a hole and get hurt.
People who do a lot of light backpacking also often use this style of tent. However, the tent is not as good if you have bug or rodent issues, issues you won't have in the snow.

One more interesting thing... These tents are often used in outdoor education. Outdoor educators have started to refer to the pole in the center of the tent as a "chastity pole." In other words, it blocks someone from rolling over to snuggle with someone else. So if snuggling is your thing, this probably isn't the tent set-up for you...

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, December 2, 2022

Secrets, Nuances and Selecting Ski Bindings.

Cody Townsend is a well-known pro skier. His profile has really taken off recently as he has released several videos about his attempts to ski the Fifty Classic Ski Lines in North America. His YouTube series entitled, The Fifty, is well worth watching.

But you know what else is worth watching...?

This video. I have now watched it three times. The knowledge about ski bindings here is insane. If you're a backcountry skier, then this 13-minute video is an essential thing to watch:

I know I missed something. I think I need to watch this again...

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 12/1/2022


--Access to Paradise on Mt. Rainier will only be open on weekends. From Mt. Rainier National Park: "Beginning today, November 29, the park will maintain public vehicle access to Paradise on Saturdays and Sundays, but due to staffing limitations the road will be closed to public access during the week. The Longmire area will continue to be open seven days a week barring any major storm events. Park staff will continue to revisit the Paradise access schedule should staffing levels change during the winter season." To read more, click here.

--Gripped is reporting that, "North of Lillooet is an ice climbing area with routes over 400 metres and up to WI6. The area was only recently discovered and is called Top Gun. On Nov. 26, Tim Nielsen and Josh Zahl climbed a new “fun and varied route in a fantastic setting.” They called it You Can Be My Wingman Anytime and graded the 300-metre WI3. It’s one of the biggest new routes at the grade climbed in a decade in the province." To read more, click here.


--Outside is reporting that, "Palisades Tahoe skiers and boarders have long-known that more than a few of its black diamond runs warranted another diamond due to cliffs and other hazards. The resort finally agreed this year. Palisades Tahoe upgraded nearly 40 of its 245 Alpine Meadows and Olympic Valley runs to double black diamond status–on paper anyway–including Granite Chief Peak, Funnel, Kathmandu, Idiot’s Delight, Tom’s Tumble and Chimney. The extra diamond can be seen on the resort’s 2022/23 map available on its app." To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--The Hill is reporting that, "a popular camping spot in Grand Canyon National Park has been renamed, making it just the latest federally-managed space to undergo rebranding. It isn’t the last, either. After a unanimous vote by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names earlier this month, the Indian Garden campground has been renamed Havasupai Gardens. The vote came after the Havasupai Tribe formally requested the National Park Service change the campground’s name." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--A backpacker died in the Zion Narrows, likely due to hypothermia this week. To read more, click here.

--SnowBrains is reporting that "Loveland Pass—home to two Colorado ski areas and an area infamous for avalanche activity—was reportedly closed for four hours on Monday morning after a large avalanche buried a section of highway." To read more, click here.

--Shuttle service in Zion will end on Monday

--From the Access Fund: "Following the lead of the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and the Pueblo of Zuni, Access Fund filed a motion to intervene in a state of Utah lawsuit that attacks President Biden’s decision to restore Bears Ears National Monument. Bears Ears is a sacred landscape to Native American Tribes and home to world class rock climbing visited by climbers from around the world." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Gripped is reporting that, "Ed Webster, who pushed the limits of what was possible on Mount Everest in 1988, has died at the age of 66. He was born on March 21, 1956, in Boston and grew up in Massachusetts before moving to Colorado where he earned a degree in anthropology in 1978." To read more, click here.

--Gripped is reporting that, "the climbing community has lost one of the most prolific route developers in the Canadian Rockies and Skaha Bluffs with the passing of Jon Jones. If you’ve cragged in the Rockies or Okanagan Valley, you’ve likely climbed one of his routes. Jones recently died at the Penticton Regional Hospital with his partner Christine Wright by his side." To read more, click here.

--Cocaine Bear is a real movie. It is supposedly inspired by true events (a bear eats cocaine from a downed drug-runner's plane) and the movie is coming out in 2023. Check out the absolutely awesome trailer, here!

--SnowBrains is reporting that, "Vail Resorts today announced the appointment of Angela Korch as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, effective Dec. 22, 2022. Angela rejoins Vail Resorts from CorePower Yoga, where she served as Chief Financial Officer since May 2020, after previously spending more than a decade in successive leadership roles within Vail Resorts’ finance organization, working closely with the company’s current CFO, Michael Barkin." To read more, click here.


Thursday, November 24, 2022

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 11/24/22

Thanksgiving Update:

As most of you know, this is often the busiest long weekend of the year in places like Smith Rock, Red Rock, Joshua Tree and Indian Creek. If you intend to visit one of these places, make sure that you have a back-up plan for camping. In addition to that, it's good to have backup plans for any popular routes that you intend to climb.


--Mt. Bachelor is moving to heat its base area with biofuel. They will use locally sourced wood chips to heat their buildings. Theoretically this will decrease greenhouse gasses. They state that this will lead to "150,000 gallons in propane savings and 1,000 tons fewer CO2 emissions annually." To read more, click here.

--So a mountain biker rode down the descent route for the Apron in Squamish. On his way down he passed a free soloist and a base jumper passed him. Check out the video, here.

--Gripped is reporting that, "Danny O’Farrell and Steve Janes have made the first ascent of Great Balls of Fire, a 420-metre WI4 at the Top Gun area near Lillooet, B.C. It’s one of the province’s longest ice climbs that is this less than an hour approach from the road." To read more, click here.

A winter sunset in the Little Lakes Valley in the Eastern Sierra.

--The Sierra Wave is reporting that, "Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center will be holding its annual Season Kickoff Event and Fundraiser on Saturday, December 3, 2022. The ESAC Kickoff is a two part event, with free daytime avalanche workshops in Mammoth and the evening kickoff event and party in Bishop! The evening Kickoff event features a presentation by Jeremy Jones, a world renowned big mountain snowboarder, environmentalist, climate change activist, and entrepreneur!" To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--Z107.7 News is reporting that, "Joshua Tree National Park asked for public comment regarding changes to back country permitting in July, and has received 28 responses to the proposals. Superintendent David Smith and park management have said that they are currently reviewing and responding to these public comments as they finalize their decision about the changes." To read more, click here.

--The Hill is reporting that, "a popular camping spot in Grand Canyon National Park has been renamed, making it just the latest federally-managed space to undergo rebranding. It isn’t the last, either. After a unanimous vote by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names earlier this month, the Indian Garden campground has been renamed Havasupai Gardens. The vote came after the Havasupai Tribe formally requested the National Park Service change the campground’s name." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting on the death of a canyoneering guide. "A 21-year-old woman died Saturday in a climbing accident at Morning Glory Arch near Moab, according to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office." This canyoneering objective is referred to as the Medieval Chamber and has a couple of 100-foot rappels. It's not clear what happened that led to this accident. To read more, click here

--Unofficial Networks has published an article on cost estimates for riding the gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon: "One expert estimates it could cost as much as $200 per rider if UDOT is attempting to turn a profit. Another expert believes the fare could be as low as $14/day as long as UDOT implements as $25-$35 toll for vehicles. Other estimates included in the report ranged around $100 per rider." To read more, click here.

--The Colorado Sun is reporting that the name of a mountain that used to honor a governor that approved a Native American massacre has been changed: "The Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board moved to make an official recommendation to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to change the name of Mount Evans to Mount Blue Sky.  The unanimous decision by the board came during the Nov. 17 meeting where all suggested names were considered.  The suggested names included Mount Soule, Mount Rosalie, Mount Sisty, Mount Cheyenne-Arapaho and Mount Evans." To read more, click here.

--Snowbrains is reporting that, "Park City Mountain Resort lift mechanics & electricians yesterday voted 35-6 to unionize with the United Professional Ski Patrols of America, CWA 7781. The vote comes after a months-long organizing effort and signifies the first ski resort lift maintenance department in the country to unionize. They have organized as the Park City Lift Maintenance Professional Union." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--The Skier Responsibility Code has gone from seven points to ten. Check out what has been added.

--Climbing is reporting that, "Access Fund, in partnership with the American Alpine Club, has awarded $15,000 in anchor replacement grants to nine local climbing organizations." To read more, click here.

--Snowbrains is reporting that, "students in a Fort Lewis College (Durango, CO) marketing research course have developed a survey exploring how snowsliders view safety messaging while on the mountain. They are interested in finding out how much safety signage impacts people while out on the slopes." To read more, click here.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 11/17/22


--Oregon Public Broadcasting is reporting that, "Environmental groups on Thursday hailed a decision by the Biden administration to resume studying whether grizzly bears should be restored to the remote North Cascades ecosystem in Washington state. The National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said they would jointly prepare an environmental impact statement on restoring the endangered bears to the North Cascades." To read more, click here.


Yosemite's El Capitan

--Reservations will not be required to enter Yosemite National Park in 2023. These were required prior to now to deal with COVID, not congestion. More from YNP.

--The Tahoe Daily Tribune is reporting that, "Sierra-at-Tahoe is opening for the season early next month after suffering extensive damage from the Caldor Fire and were unable to spin lifts for all but one weekend during the 2021-22 season. The resort has announced it will open on Saturday, Dec. 3, and plan to fully reopen all 46 trails, weather and conditions permitting." To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--Climbing is reporting that, "Riverside Mountain Rescue (RMRU) went into action again when on Saturday, October 22, they responded to a call for help from two climbers stranded in a storm high on Tahquitz’s five-pitch Northeast Face West (5.7)." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--SnowBrains is reporting that, "a powder day will be a bitter-sweet experience for skiers at Eldora Mountain Resort, CO. The sweet is obvious; Colorado’s famous blower pow. The bitter; if there’s 10″ or more of fresh snow, parking could cost you $10. The resort explains that 'as required by Boulder County in alignment with its sustainable transportation priorities, single occupancy vehicles (SOVs) will be charged $10 to park at Eldora on weekends and holidays, as well as on non-holiday weekdays with ten or more inches of snow in the forecast.'" To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--SnowBrains is reporting on two skier triggered avalanches at Alaska's Hatcher Pass. No one was hurt in either. To read more, click here.

--The Inertia is reporting that, "Two years ago, professional skier Dean Cummings called 911 to report that he’d shot and killed a man in self-defense. This week, Cummings stood trial for the murder of 47-year-old Guillermo Arriola, who ended up dead on the floor of Cummings’ trailer. And just a few hours ago, a jury found Cummings not guilty of second-degree murder." To read more, click here.

--SnowBrains is reporting that, "Mount Snow, VT, is being sued for $50 million by a guest who suffered life-changing injuries after falling from a closed-off chairlift platform. The lawsuit, which accuses the resort and its owners Vail Resorts of negligence, was filed in federal court in Vermont last week." To read more, click here.

--Gear Junkie is reporting that, "a shuttered Cotopaxi retail location in San Francisco reopened today after hiring private security, Cotopaxi founder and CEO Davis Smith announced. Three weeks ago, Smith announced the initial closing of the Hayes Street Cotopaxi location via a LinkedIn post notable for its strong language regarding crime in San Francisco." To read more, click here.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 11/10/22


--The Mountain Loop Highway closed for the season this week, and the North Cascades Highway will stay closed for the winter after the recent storm.

--AAI's director has written an editorial about prescribed burns.

Desert Southwest:

--The streak of car break-ins is continuing at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and the areas adjacent to it. To read about it, click here.

--Several climbers got together to do a climbers cleanup of Joshua Tree last week. Check it out.

Colorado and Utah:

The Flatirons are right outside Boulder, Colorado.
Many people free solo lines on these features.

--Gripped is reporting that, "a rock climber survived after falling around 30 metres from a route on the Second Flatiron in Boulder, Colorado, this week. At 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the Boulder County Communications Center got a call about a 48-year-old who fell and was seriously injured, the Boulder County Sheriff’s office said. He was not using a rope." To read more, click here.

--From the Friends of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center: "Since November 3, there have been 41 avalanches recorded throughout Colorado. 11 of those were human triggered. The majority of these are being triggered on northerly aspects. Be alert of cracking and collapsing in the snowpack, and pay attention to how far the cracks shoot away from the tips of your skis, snowmobiles, or feet." To read more, click here.

--Snowbrains is reporting that, "A Colorado backcountry skier had a close call after triggering an avalanche that carried him 1,000 feet down a gully according to a Colorado Avalanche Information Center report. The incident, involving two skiers, occurred on Greg Mace Peak, south of Ashcroft, on October 27th. Skier one descended first, skiing a short chute that fed into a larger one beneath. Immediate signs of instability were seen, with multiple cracks in the storm slab on top. Skier one descended carefully to a safe zone about halfway down the couloir and stood behind a large rock outcropping. Skier one alerted skier two of the conditions and told skier two to make a large ski cut across the larger adjacent slope." To read more, click here.

--Water rights for the Ouray Ice Park are a little more secure today. As the ice in the park is "farmed" from pipes, a consistent water supply is essential. But as water becomes an increasingly scarce commodity in some regions, there was fear that the Ice Park could become victim to cuts. Read about it, here.

Notes from All Over:

--A former director for the National Park Service, believes that the NPS would be better situated if it were completely detached from the Department of the Interior. To read about it, click here.

--Veterans and Gold Star Families are now eligible for a free lifetime pass to the National Parks. To read more, click here.

--Gripped is reporting that, "Andrew Slootweg and Derrick Van Es have made the first ascent of a two-pitch WI4 just west of the town of Banff. Overall, it’s been a slow start to the ice climbing season in the Canadian Rockies, a range known for having routes formed by mid-October. The new ice line is near Sunshine Ski Resort and can be accessed from the parking lot for the skiing." To read more, click here.

--Here's a breakdown of the winners of the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

--And finally, here are some of the coolest photos you will ever see. This photographer got several exceptional photos of a snow leopard in the Himalaya.  

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 11/3/22


--High Country News is reporting on a very problematic arrest: "A U.S. Forest Service employee leading a prescribed fire in central Oregon was arrested after the fire crossed onto adjacent private land Wednesday night, according to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office. According to a press release from the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, a controlled burn “escaped” Malheur National Forest lands north of Seneca, Oregon, before burning about 20 acres of a nearby ranch. Officers arrested the burn boss, the person in charge of planning, organizing and executing the operation, for what they deemed 'reckless burning.'" The concern is that if these fire managers are arrested for doing their jobs, it could have a chilling effect on controlled burns, making fire issues in an area worse. To read more, click here.

--Mountaineers Creek Road, with access to the Enchantments, closed this week for the winter season.

--Climbing is reporting that, "on October 26 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Massacre Rocks, Idaho, stating that they intend to permanently close numerous crags to climbing. Massacre Rocks is the single largest climbing area in southeast Idaho, with hundreds of single-pitch basalt sport routes. The BLM’s decision, which was made to protect historical and cultural resources important to the Shoshone-Bannock people, will prohibit all forms of rock climbing on 3,846 acres of the American Falls Archeological District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places." To read more, click here.


--After a high profile accident on Yosemite's Snake Dike (5.7, 6 Pitches), one of the first ascentionist is arguing that the route needs more bolts. To read bout it, click here.

--The Tahoe Daily Tribune is reporting that, "The Tahoe Fund on Tuesday announced the start of ‘Plates for Powder,’ an annual program that offers free skiing opportunities to those who purchase a Lake Tahoe license plate. Proceeds from plate sales and renewals support environmental improvement projects in the Lake Tahoe Basin. " To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

Red Rock Canyon from Turtlehead Peak

--The Las Vegas Review Journal is reporting that, "attorneys for the developer of a long-stalled housing project at Blue Diamond Hill alleged in federal court Thursday that Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones deleted all his text message history hours after voting against the development in 2019. Gypsum Resources LLC asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Elayna Youchah to schedule an evidentiary hearing to explore possible sanctions for “destruction of evidence” against Clark County and Jones, who was legal counsel of a conservation group that opposed the project before he was elected to the commission." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--9News is reporting that, "a man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to shooting a ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park was sentenced on Monday to federal prison. Daron Ellis pleaded guilty to attempted murder of a federal officer and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, prosecutors said. He was sentenced in federal court to 23 years and six months in prison, followed by eight years of supervised release, according to court documents." To read more, click here.

--Yahoo is reporting that, "as an outdoor customer, have you ever wanted to attend an industry trade show to get sneak peeks at all the gear coming out next season? Soon, you'll be able to. The Big Gear Show (BGS), the exclusive hardgoods-only event created in 2020, is attempting to reinvent and revitalize the outdoor trade show model by inviting the public next June." To read more, click here.

--There has long been a competition to beat the fastest known time on Eldorado Canyon State Park's The Naked Edge (5.11b, 6 pitches). Someone just did it in less than 24 minutes. To read about it, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Rossignol is sharing it's recyclable ski formula with other companies. From the Outside Business Journal: "The French company announced it is designing a (mostly) recyclable, all-mountain ski called the Essential, with an eye toward converting at least a third of all the brand’s ski models to recyclable versions by 2028. The Essential will be made with 62 percent recycled materials, with even its topsheet graphics using no solvents or water, Rossignol said. Even more crucially, Rossignol said it plans to share its proprietary manufacturing process with other ski makers so that more brands can start producing recyclable models." To read more, click here.

--Backpacker is reporting that, "Two college wrestlers are lucky to be alive after sparring with an aggressive grizzly bear in Shoshone National Forest last weekend. Northwest College wrestling teammates Brayden Lowry and Kendell Cummings were antler hunting when the bruin came running out from the trees." To read more, click here.

--Several bolts were chopped at an entry level sport area in Eastern Canada. From Gripped: "Ascent New Brunswick issued a statement after a few bolts were chopped on a relatively new sport route at the popular Cochrane Lane. House Sass is an 18-metre 5.5 at the right side of the Waterfall Wall that was developed in 2018 by Dom Caron, Anna Schneider and Amanda Savoie as a fully bolted line. It’s one of three sport routes on this part of the wall. The climb is popular for people learning how to lead. When Caron shared the route details after the first ascent, he said, 'The closely spaced bolts and the grade of this route are sure to attract a fair share of traffic – whether for a warm up, a cool down or for a first outdoor lead.'" To read more, click here.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Training for Endurance

Endurance is an extremely important part of climbing and mountaineering. Obviously, these two pursuits require different types of endurance. Rock climbing requires an individual to climb a series of moves without getting to pumped. Additionally, rock climbing also requires that you build endurance in a way that allows quick recovery when you find a rest on a route. Mountaineering is completely different. It's the art of going...forever.

Professional climber Joe Kinder has recently been putting out videos on techniques for climbing. His most recent foray into that realm is a piece on rock climbing endurance. Check it out below:

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, October 28, 2022

Toproping Etiquette

The following is a series of etiquette oriented questions that arise around toproped climbing at popular cragging destinations. The answers to these questions should be adhered to at North American Climbing destinations. Locations outside of North America may have different etiquette issues.

A Climber Lowers Off a Route in Leavenworth, Washington
Photo by Ruth Hennings

1) Where should I set-up my "camp" at a crag that I'm going to climb at all day?

Gear and equipment should not be placed directly under the wall. It's good to set-up a "safe" area away from the wall where you can relax without a helmet on and eat lunch. This will also keep the base of the wall from being crowded with gear and packs.

It's a good idea to consolodate your group's gear. Avoid allowing equipment and packs to be scattered around.

A Climber Leads Tonto (5.5) in Red Rock Canyon
Photo by Jason Martin

2) What if I have a large group and want to "take-over" a crag for the day?

It is not appropriate for a group to "take-over" a crag. Climbing areas are public areas that are open to everyone. As such, it is incredibly rude for a group to hold an entire area -- or even a few routes -- hostage for the day.

If you have a large group, you have a large impact on both other users as well as the area. The best thing that you can to mitigate that impact is to keep a low profile, allow others to work in on the wall that you're using. Never leave a rope up that is not being used to "hold" a route.

If you do have a lot of ropes up and other users wish to climb routes that you have ropes on, it is okay to allow people to use your ropes if they look like they know what they're doing. If they don't appear knowlegable and they are climbing on your gear, you could become legally liable if something happens to one of the climbers that aren't with your group.

A group climbs at the Cowlick Co. Crag in Red Rock Canyon
Photo by Jason Martin

3) What if a large group is using a crag and refuses to give up a climb to my small group?

If you've got moves, then offer to have a dance-off for the climb. Seriously, joking with people will often loosen them up. In most cases, people that have had a good laugh will be more polite and more open to allowing people to climb.

If the large group is very rude and refuses to give up a climb, then politely find another place to go. It's not worth lecturing an ignorant climber about crag ettiquete. More often than not, a lecture will just reinforce negative behavior.

4) Is it okay to use the same anchor bolts as the person on an adjacent route?

Yes and no. Will this cause the person next door problems? If so, they were there first. If not, then be sure to ask them before clipping in next to their carabiners. If they say yes, then clip the bolts, but be sure not to do anything that changes their set-up in any way.

5) Where should I go to the bathroom when I'm cragging?

If there is an outhouse nearby, always use that first. Avoid urinating at the base of the wall and always avoid urinating in cracks on a wall as this causes the smell to linger.

If you have to defecate, know the rules of the area. Some areas require the use of WAG Bags, while other areas require you to dig a cat hole and pack out your toilet paper. Never go to the bathroom on the ground, stack the toilet paper on it and then put a rock on top.

6) When should I say something to a person who is doing something dangerous?

This is up to you. I usually don't say anything unless there is real and iminent danger. If there is mild danger, I will usually chat with the people for awhile in a non-threatening way before providing any unsolicieted beta.

7) Is it okay to toprope the first pitch of a multi-pitch climb?

More often than not, the answer is no. This is a more complex issue than the others and it does depend on the route and the route's history. People who are doing multi-pitch climbs always have the right of way over those who will TR a climb.

Some climbs are multi-pitch climbs, but nobody does anything but the first pitch. In this case, all the other ettiquete rules apply. Other climbs are commonly climbed as multi-pitch routes and are seldom done as single pitch routes. Such climbs should not be toproped.

8) Is it okay to yell beta at people who didn't ask for it that I don't know?

No, many climbers like figure out the moves on their own.

Climbers who keep these concepts of etiquette in mind will almost universally have a much better time with a lot less conflict at the crags. And climbing isn't about conflict. It's about having fun...!

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 10/27/22


--Gripped is reporting that, "Squamish-based Nathan Roberts died in a climbing accident in Cheakamus Canyon on Oct. 15. The BC Coroners Service have not released any information, saying they’re investigating." It is currently believed that Nathan died free-soloing. To read more, click here.

--NPR is reporting that, "a Washington state woman left her home to let her dog out early Saturday morning and ended up fending off an attack from a black bear. The woman, who sustained non-life threatening injuries, punched the bear "right in the nose," which led it to run away, according to one official." To read more, click here.


--An 8-year-old boy has set out to become the youngest person ever to climb El Capitan. Check it out!

Desert Southwest:

--The Las Vegas Review Journal is reporting that, "authorities are warning visitors to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area to be vigilant after a rash of car break-ins this month. According to the Bureau of Land Management, which manages the popular hiking and camping refuge west of Las Vegas, there were multiple break-ins at one of the conservation area’s parking lots in early October." To read more, click here.

--Joshua Tree National Park is in the process of closing up old open mine holes. To read about it, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--It has started...let's be careful out there. Snowbrains is reporting that, "the last flakes of the first significant snowfall of the winter in Utah had barely even settled when a skier triggered an avalanche in Little Cottonwood Canyon. According to Utah Avalanche Center (UAC) forecaster Craig Gordon, the slide was triggered near Main Chute on Mount Baldy above Alta Ski Area. Nobody was injured." To read more, click here.

Moab's Delicate Arch is a major tourist attraction in Arches National Park.

--Arches National Park is completely filling up as early as 8:30am. To read about it, click here.

--From Rocky Mountain National Park: "Beginning in late October and early November 2022, construction will begin on a new and improved entrance station at the Fall River Entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. The Fall River Entrance is one of two major entrance stations on the east side of the park and is located on U.S. Highway 34, just inside the park boundary. During this major construction project, only one lane at Fall River Entrance will be operational to enter the park and one lane to exit. Park visitors are strongly encouraged to avoid the Fall River Entrance and use the Beaver Meadows Entrance." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Outside is reporting that, "Citing lawlessness and “chaos,” Cotopaxi CEO Davis Smith announced on his personal LinkedIn page yesterday that he has closed the company’s sole San Francisco retail location. 'As of today, we are closing the store due to rampant organized theft and lack of safety for our team,” Smith wrote on October 18. “Our store is hit by organized theft rings several times per week.'" To read more, click here.

--SGB Media is reporting that, "The North Face plans to open more than 70 stores in North America and up to 300 additional retail and partner locations globally over the next five years. The North Face also said it plans to continue transforming existing sites to ensure consistent store formats for consumers who shop brick-and-mortar." To read more, click here.

--And finally, Climbing has some costume ideas for your upcoming trick-or-treat festivities.