Saturday, April 08, 2006

Rock at last, Icebergs article in the NYT

Well, I've finally gotten out rock climbing, great to be back on the stone! Cory and I headed up to Grassi Lakes yesterday and had at it. We waited until relatively late in the day to let the rock dry out and warm up a bit--temps were still a bit chilly but not bad, we ended climbing eight pitches of decently hard routes, perfect afternoon. It's pretty funny how weak my fingers are after a season of mixed climbing, I was falling off 5.12a routes and loving it, giving everything to redpoint 12b, super fun! In the fall I can hike these routes, but part of the fun of spring is getting your ass kicked. Ben and I are heading south to Indian Creek tomorrow for some crack action, plus I really want to climb a few tower routes like Fine Jade that I've never done. I'm hoping mixed fitness translates a little better to cracks than it does to Grassi-style pockets, but whatever, it's about going climbing for me in the spring, not cranking really hard. I think the month off with sinus issues also really screwed my fitness, but it is what it is. I've had three good days in the Vsion and one on the rock, another week of rock climbing should start to improve the rock fitness.

A story I wrote on cimbing bergs with Ben Firth is up on the New York Times website. My editor emailed this morning to say it was the "most emailed sports article," nice to see climbing beating Golf in terms of popularity, who would have thought? Here's the link, and the URL if the Blogger link doesn't work:

I've spent some more time with the Sum from Faders, it's working well still, definitely better for lowering than Gri Gri on hot ropes. It takes some time to learn, and definitely do read the instruction manual!


Every other day in the Vsion, sent the double-star route into the three-star route, as well as the "bugs" red route. Yeah, so it's pathetic to be pumped up about sending plastic boulder traverses, but I am! Yoga and running too, the energy levels are back up to full bore. I'll hit the Vsion today again and hopefully get a short run in before the long drive south.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cool spring climbs

As many of you know, I also run a web site with current ice climbing conditions in the Canadian Rockies. I normally finish this site April 1, not because the ice is gone, but because people are sick of ice and looking for warm rock. I just received a couple more cool route descriptions and reports worth sharing, check this out!

A flurry of reports from people, I'm feeling left out on all the fun, grin, congratulations to everyone who has been getting after it!


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Faders "SUM" Review

Fader's SUM review:

Ropes have gotten a lot smaller in the last ten years. I normally climb on a 9.1 Joker, and it's just too hot for a Gri Gri to handle safely (Petzl says the same, but many people are using the Gri Gri on smaller ropes). The BD Guide works great for belaying the leader on skinny ropes and is my primary belay/rap device, but for sport climbing/mixed I like to have a full auto-lock device for belaying the leader, and the Gri Gri wasn't cutting it anymore. In Norway I saw this thing called a "SUM" that one of the guys in my clinic had. He didn't have the instructions for it, so we kind of screwed up using it, but it worked well enough that I went and bought one (thanks to Brad at Mountain Magic for the drop-off service!). Yep, I paid retail for a belay device, so no sponsor stroking going on here.

I've now used it a few times, and I'm pretty happy with it. If you read the instruction manual FIRST, grin, it's very easy to feed skinny ropes fast and safely, and it locks down easily without belayer input. It doesn't work well on any rope over 10mm, but who cares, I don't use fat ropes anymore. The design is really smart with a sort of double-cam locking action. Faders says the impact forces are lower than other auto-lock devices, but I don't see how that is true--I still wouldn't use it for climbing on gear. But for bolted climbing it grips well and--once I read the manual-- lowers well too. I see far more people using their Gri Gris incorrectly than I do people who know how to belay safely with them, and the SUM is open to that problem (DONT PRESS THE HANDLE TO FEED ROPE, NOT SAFE!) as well, but overall it's the first belay device I've used on skinny ropes that seems safe for the leader. It's not cheap (I paid about $80cdn), but it seems to work well so far. I'm going to keep using it unless some problem appears, so far it seems safer for skinny ropes than a Gri Gri. It's about time that there was a good autoblock device for skinny ropes. My rating is "pretty cool so far."

Spring Energy

OK, I got busy traveling and this blog slowed down, sorry for the delay.

Here's the fast update: went to Vancouver, did shows for the grand opening of Arcteryx's new store, saw friends, got in a couple of good gym workouts and hikes, came back through Kelowna, did a show for the new UBC campus, was home for two days and got one in shooting with Cory Richardson on Pilsner (first kitchen implement ascent, more on that later), went to Washington DC to help out with the Climb for Life benefit, stayed one day and got a good climbing session in, came home, went out and shot a final day on the "How to Ice/Mixed climb DVD project with Pat, Chris, Scott and Jonathon. Scott redpointed Swank, and Chris was also climbing worlds better than he was at the start of the project, great to watch. I'm really fired up on this DVD, it's organized just like one of my ice clinics with Chris and Scott as the protagonists, the video from day one vs the final day shows exactly how much better and confident on ice they have become, congrats!

Today is my first day at the desk in a long time. My sinus disease appears to have abated, and I just finished the antibiotics. Amazing how much better I feel after going off the antibiotics, my energy levels are back up to normal, I've been doing double or triple sport days the last couple of days, antibiotics zapped me.


Now that I'm off the antibiotics I'm able to train effectively again. On Monday I went skate skiing in the afternoon, then a quick yoga session (I call myself the "human board," but it's getting better) had a great boulderingsession at the Vsion. I'm focusing on building back into rock climbing at the moment, so lots of long traverses to get my fingers back. Ice climbing does NOTHING for your finger strength, frustrating to be sort of strong in my arms and pathetic in my fingers, but fun. On Tuesday we shot in Hafner, actually did a fair amount of climbing, then came home and got a nice run in on the bench above Canmore. My dog, Chili, is very excited to see the running shoes come out of storage! Trails a bit muddy but not too bad. It's not really spring but winter is finally ending, I am officially done ice climbing for the season, it's time to Rock and FLY!