Thursday, October 22, 2020

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 10/22/20


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


--From the Access Fund: "Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and Access Fund are pleased to announce that 11 acres in Icicle Canyon outside Leavenworth, Washington, are now permanently protected as public land. This conservation project is the result of a collaboration between Access Fund, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and local partner organizations. The parcel includes popular climbing areas known as Alphabet Rock and Icehouse Boulders, as well as the initial access path to the historic crag of Givler’s Dome farther uphill on adjacent USFS lands. Together, this critical inholding features more than 40 historic cracks, slabs, faces, and hueco-filled roofs, as well as dozens of boulder problems." To read more, click here.

Horne Lake is a climbing area on Vancouver Island.


--Tom Herbert recently set a new speed record on the Muir Wall (5.10, A2+, VI) on El Capitan in Yosemite. The route was first completed by his father in 1965. To read about the ascent, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--Rocky Mountain National Park is currently closed due to fire activity.

--The Vail Daily is reporting that, "In matters of the law, it’s true that anything you say can and will be used against you. But in submitting his GoPro footage to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center in March, Vail resident Evan Hannibal said he wasn’t expecting his comments in the video to help establish a case against him resulting in a reckless endangerment charge and a potential $168,000 in restitution." To read more, click here.

--The Durango Herald is reporting that, "A wildfire has scorched at least 15 acres and trapped nearly 20 hikers Monday near the popular Ice Lakes trailhead, west of Silverton in the San Juan Mountains. U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Esther Goodson said an aerial crew was en route Monday to battle the blaze, which had burned 15 to 20 acres as of 2:30 p.m. Monday." To read more, click here.

--Two snowboarders who unintentionally started an avalanche above I-70 near the Eisenhower Tunnel are being charged with reckless endangerment due to the avalanche washing over the road. Additionally, the state is trying to recover $168,000 for an avalanche mitigation device destroyed in the slide. No one was injured as this took place on March 25th at the start of the pandemic lockdown. Criminal charges have never been filed in Colorado for an avalanche before, and there is some question about what kind of precedent this will set. To read more, click here.

--This kind of stuff is the type of thing that leads to charging people for rescue. It's possible that a missing woman found in Zion National Park, faked her disappearance. From ABC 4: "The liaison of the Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue is speaking out about several discrepancies he says he sees in the case of a California woman who was found alive after being missing for 12 days inside Zion National Park." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--The CBC is reporting on a backcountry ski fatality in Alberta, Canada: "A skier has died on a backcountry trail in Kananaskis Country. It happened near the Robertson Glacier on Monday. RCMP say the 40-year-old man, from Invermere, British Columbia, was skiing with three friends when a whiteout hit and the group was separated." To read more, click here.

--Pocket Media, the company that owns Climbing magazine, has recently purchased Rock and Ice and Gym Climber. Climbing and Rock and Ice will come together under the title, Climbing. To read more, click here.

--The North Face is spending 7 million dollars in an effort to diversify the outdoors. From The Cut: "Part of its new global “Reset Normal” initiative, the brand is pledging $7 million toward diversifying the outdoors. It will do this through the Explore Fund Council, a global fellowship program launched in partnership with Emmy Award–winning screenwriter, producer, and actor Lena Waithe and climber and Academy Award–winning director Jimmy Chin. The idea is to create a group of experts across culture, entertainment, academia, and the outdoors to help guide the brand on spending that $7 million." To read more, click here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Knee Pain in the Backcountry

Knee pain is a real issue for a lot of backpackers and mountaineers. For some people, this can be a gamestopper.

There are a handful of ways to decrease that pain. First, there are a some things that you can do immediately, while on the trail. And second, there are some excercises that you can do to build the muscles around the knee. Today's video from Chase Mountains covers all of these things in depth:

In review, the things that you can do immediately to decrease pain are:
  1. Choose less steep trails.
  2. Reduce your weight and the amount you carry.
  3. Use trekking poles.
  4. Keep your hips low and squat a bit when on steep terrain.
The remainder of the video goes through two exercises that can be done to increase the strength of the muscles around the knees. These include:
  1. Trendelenburg Test (7:45)
  2. Sideline Hip Abduction (9:30)
The video creator also has a book entitled Hike Strong (it is not cheap), which provides several more exercises.

--Jason D. Martin

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, October 12, 2020

How to Fit a Backpacking Pack

REI's Miranda seems to be getting popular on YouTube. She often goes as Miranda in the Wild. This is because the content provided in these YouTube videos is excellent.

In this video, Miranda and friend discuss how to size a backpack. Check it out!

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, October 9, 2020

Projecting a Climb

Projecting a climb is the process of working out all of the moves so that you can do it cleanly.

Most commonly people project climbs that they want to lead, but it is also certainly okay to project a boulder problem, a mixed climb, an ice climb or a toprope problem. You get to decide what it means to project something. And you get to decide when you've completed your project and you're ready to go onto the next one.

There are a few things that one can do to work a project.

First, consider an appropriate route. The best route to project is one that is just out of your ability level. If you pick something that's super difficult, then it's going to take a long time to get it. 

Second, break down the project into sections. It's certainly okay to work sections separate from one another, even if you have to batman up the rope to get to them. Obviously the crux is the most important section to dial in. It's good to do every section over an over again, until it's possible to begin linking. If it's a trad route that includes gear placement, that should be included in the projecting process as well, prior to your redpoint. (A redpoint is the first time you do the route cleanly, without a toprope.)

Third, if the goal is to lead the route, dial in the entire line on toprope before you go for the lead. Climbing trainer, Eric Hörst, recommends that you do the route at least three times without without falls before you give it a lead attempt.

This video from Climbing Tech Tips has several additional ideas for projecting a climb:

Happy projecting!

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 10/8/20


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


Mt. Rainier Mid-Summer

--Mt. Rainier National Park is reporting that, "Superintendent Chip Jenkins announced today that the public comment period has opened for a proposed expansion of the lahar detection system at Mount Rainier National Park. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) Cascades Volcano Observatory has proposed changes to the existing volcano monitoring system inside Mount Rainier National Park as part of a broader effort to implement an expanded lahar detection system. Public input will be accepted during the scoping period from October 5-30, and will assist the National Park Service (NPS) in identifying concerns, potential alternatives, and suggested mitigations. To submit comments at any point during the open comment period, please visit the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website. A virtual public meeting to provide a project overview and answer questions is scheduled for 4:30-5:30 pm on Wednesday, October 21, 2020." To read more, click here.

--There was a moment when it seemed like the Canadian outdoor equipment coop MEC would survive a buyout by the American Investment Fund. No more. It's happening. Read about it at Gripped.


--The Tahoe Daily Tribune is reporting that, "Free parking, as precious to some skiers as virgin mountain powder, has returned to one Lake Tahoe resort but not before its corporate owner waged an expensive year-long legal battle with two season-pass holders. An 80-year-old attorney and another man whose first job out of college was parking cars at the mountain now owned by Vail Resorts filed separate lawsuits when Northstar California replaced traditional free parking with $20 daily fees ($40 weekends) — after they’d purchased their passes." To read more, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--The emergency phone in Hidden Valley Campground at Joshua Tree is broken. It should be noted that the only places where there is good cell reception are near the Park Entrances near Twentynine Palms and the town of Joshua Tree.

Colorado and Utah:

--ABC 4 is reporting that, "Search and Rescue teams from Utah County worked through the night to save a man stuck above Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon. The Utah County Sheriff’s office says the 37-year-old climber became stuck above the upper falls late Saturday and could not get down the mountain." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--A climber was rescued from North Carolina's Stone Mountain due to exhaustion this week. From the Wilkes-Journal Patriot: "Emergency personnel rescued a rock climber unable to continue at a point about 200-300 feet from the top of Stone Mountain after starting at the bottom near the Hutchinson homestead on Oct. 1. 'The climber had no injuries. He was just exhausted and unable to get himself down or up any further,' said Chief Cole Wyatt of the Wilkes Rescue Squad." To read more, click here.

--It's always sad when they have to euthanize a bear. From Anchorage Daily News: "Denali National Park and Preserve officials say they decided last week to kill a grizzly bear after it got into food stored in cabins, sheds and lodges in the Kantishna-Wonder Lake section of the park." To read more, click here.

--Should outdoor brands endorse politicians. REI and Patagonia disagree. From Snews.

--Gear Junkie is reporting that, "The Consumer Product Safety Commission today issued a voluntary recall, performed by Petzl, of its Low-Stretch Kernmantle Ropes. According to the notice, the ropes 'can have a deep cut or tape securing the ropes together,' potentially leading to a break and fall or injury hazard." To read more, click here.

--The Adventure Journal is reporting that, "the magazines Bike, Powder, Snowboarder, and Surfer are being shut down by owner American Media, which also owns Men’s Journal. This includes both print and digital products for Bike, Powder, and Surfer, and print for Snowboarder. Powder will print its remaining 2020 issues, with the photo annual dropping in mid-November and the gear guide being released later. We have been told but not confirmed that Snowboarder will also print its remaining issues." To read more, click here.

--The controversy over neck gaiters continues...or not. In a new study, they found that a single layer neck gaiter stopped 77% of the respiratory droplets, that a mask blocked 81% and that a double-layered neck gaiter blocked 96%. To read more, click here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Rock Climbing Rests

Rock climbing endurance takes time and focus to develop. The more time climbing, the more endurance one will have. However, no matter how much endurance you have, you still need to know how to conserve energy, so as not to "pump out."

In today's blog, two strong climbers share their tips on how to rest effectively mid-climb.

This first video features pro climber Jonathon Siegrist talking about how he looks for rests. Please note, only the first half of the video is pertinent to this blog post:

In review, Jonathon's tips are:
  1. Rest with arms extended.
  2. Keep hips open and keep the torso over the feet wherever possible.
  3. Don't over-grip. 
  4. Heel and toe hooks can provide additional resting positions.
In this second video, Lonnie Kauk discusses his thoughts on resting.

Lonnie's tips are similar to Jonathon's:
  1. Stay calm and relax.
  2. Keep arms straight whenever possible.
  3. Don't over-grip.
  4. Remember to breathe. Take deep breaths.
The key take-away from these videos...? Resting is important. You will climb better if you know how to conserve your energy as you go...!

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, October 5, 2020

Do I need Climbing Chalk...?

Do I need chalk...?

This is a really common question for new climbers. And the answer isn't always obvious.

Climbers tend to use chalk to keep their hands dry while climbing. The primary reason that one's hands get wet is due to sweat. But humidity and natural water on a route can also make a climber's hands wet. Chalk can be used to counter these issues.

When we talk about chalk, we're not talking about the type you saw in elementary school. That type of chalk has a calcium carbonate base. Calcium carbonate crumbles and comes apart when it's wet, so it's not that great for climbing. Climbing chalk has a magnesium carbonate base, which absorbs water (or sweat).

There are three primary options for climbing chalk: liquid chalk, loose chalk and chalk balls.

Liquid Chalk

Liquid chalk has really found it's niche as it is the primary chalk now allowed in rock gyms, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Liquid chalk has a calcium carbonate base and is mixed with alcohol. When you put it on, the alcohol evaporates (and kills coronavirus!), leaving a thin layer of chalk on your hands.

The big upside to liquid chalk is that it tends to last awhile on your hands. The downside is that you can't really put it in a chalk bag, so it's hard to "chalk-up" mid-pitch. Additionally, if you have even the tiniest cut or nick on your hand, it will hurt a lot to use, as the alcohol will sting...

Loose Chalk

Loose chalk is primarily used by boulderers and is commonly put into a big chalk bucket. It is easy to spill and often shrouds a rock gym in a veil of chalky mist. I don't really use loose chalk that much, except to refill my chalk balls.

Some chalk comes as a brick that needs to be broken up into loose chalk. However, this tends to be a cheaper and less effective option.

Chalk Ball

Chalk balls are fabric balls filled with chalk that can be placed in a chalk bag. They often come filled, and can easily be refilled with loose chalk. As chalk balls aren't that messy and tend to last for awhile, this is my personal "go to" chalk.

The question as to whether you need chalk really depends on the type of climbing that you intend to do. 

Alpine Climbing

Most alpine climbing isn't that hard. The vast majority of the alpine routes that are regularly climbed in the world, are 5.7 or easier. And even when the routes are harder, the cruxes tend to be short. Chalk isn't really required on these kinds of climbs. You can usually get away without it.

If you are doing a harder alpine climb, you'll have to consider where you're going to hang your chalk bag. The standard spot, at your tailbone, will most likely be covered by a pack. Often alpine climbers that need chalk will offset their bag from their pack, on one hip or another. This usually means it's easier to reach with one hand or another. Chalk balls are easier in this setting, because the ball can be pulled out and used by either hand.

Other Climbing 

In most other climbing settings, chalk is a good idea. However, in some areas there are Leave No Trace considerations. Hikers and birdwatchers don't like to see chalk smeared all over a cliff face. That said, it is possible to buy colored chalk for certain areas. Make sure that you're aware of the local ethics before using any kind of chalk.

A classic chalk bag with a belt.

Finally, you should be aware that there are really two ways that chalk is carried. Boulderers often use chalk buckets, so that they don't have to carry the chalk. However, most other climbers use chalk bags, because they can be clipped to a harness or worn on a belt. If you're doing anything longer than an eight move boulder problem a chalk bag tends to be a better option.

Happy climbing!

--Jason D. Martin