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Beta from Rick

Hey everyone,
Fall is here, or so it would seem up at Chaos Canyon. Temps when I was up a few Thursday’s ago were crisp and the friction was good. The monsoon weather pattern that’s been haunting Front Range Climbers seems to be changing. Come up to the Park for send season. The next month will be the best conditions to try and send your projects. Check out Autobots for one of the best and boldest V5 on the Front Range. 

Beer pick of the week:
For an outstanding beer, one of the best in the world, check out the Grand Cru from Brasserie de Rocs. It scores a 100/100 from BeerRate! This an outstanding ale in the Belgian Strong Brown Ale style. The alcohol content is 9.5 % ABV, so one is usually enough. It’s not overtly hoppy, with a fantastic malt balance and a wonderful spiciness that comes from its unique yeast. One drawback, be careful not to stir up the yeast in the bottom of the bottle. It affects the taste of this beer more than others. I hope you like it as much as I did!

How to Enjoy…and Survive, Your First Mixed-Ice Climbing Experience | Part 2

[ See part 1 of this article ]

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of climbing, let’s go over what options you have for tools.  There are leashed and leash-less tools.  Leashed tools have straps that go around you wrist.  The leashes help take some of your body weight off your hands and distributes it on your wrists.  A few problems that you may face when climbing with leashes are cold hands from the leash cutting blood flow, difficulty placing screws and you really can’t match or switch hands.

Climbing leash-less allows for a full range of movement and allows for a more “free” style of climbing.  Just make sure not to drop them because they aren’t attached to you, but on multi-pitch climbs you can attach them to you or your harness via cottontails.  Cottontails are long pieces of cord that you attach to your person so if you drop them they don’t fall to the ground.

Now it’s time to climb!  Before you go swinging your razor sharp tools and crampons into that virgin ice, make sure your hands and feet are nice and warm because if you leave the ground with cold hands, the chance the screaming barfies will catch [Read More]

How to Enjoy...and Survive, Your First Mixed-Ice Climbing Experience

[ This article is part of a 2-part series about Mixed-Ice Climbing, by Mike Caputo ]

Fall and winter are coming up soon…here is some advice for winter alpine climbing.

For the past few weeks, I’ve turned to the dark side of climbing and have experienced all of the side effects of higher altitude cragging.  The reason I say dark side is because mixed-ice climbing takes place in harsh, wet and generally un-savory places.  However, don’t be dissuaded from trying this amazing discipline of climbing.  Winter in the backcountry can be a very awe-inspiring and magical place.  Here are some tips to stay warm, dry, and most importantly, have fun.  This means, of course, to do whatever you can to avoid the “screaming barfies,” (Over-gripping the tool; your hands above your head for too long; just being out in the bitter cold until they are numb.  Once you have a chance to thaw your hands, blood starts flowing again and your fingers start to tingle and burn with such intensity, you just might be compelled to scream your head off and feel like vomiting…the “screaming barfies”.)
Every climb has five parts: planning, the approach, sitting around (going over the climb or just [Read More]

Slow and Light (ish)

That's me trimming the fat, mid expedition. Even the zipper pulls had to go. I mean, really, this isn't Boy Scout camp, after all.

Fastandlight! Let’s face it – it’s sexy. When you open up that Backpacker magazine at the Dentist’s waiting room and see some youthful, vibrant Caucasian couple leaping across a flower-crested, gurgling alpine brook, and their packs are all tight, tidy and petite against their backs, and their clothes are colorful and clean, and – get this – they’re smilling! They’re smiling even though they’re backpacking, and so they must be traveling SO light. So light and so fast! Don’t they just reek of freedom? Doesn’t it just make you want to buy a hybrid Subaru, get all hopped up on Mochaccino and go places? Quickly? With very little weight? Mmmm….

That’s a nice little day dream, as I stare down the business end of a summer filled with 70+ nights out in the field, instructing and directing courses for Outward Bound. So take that above image and flip it a little: yes there’s gurgling brooks and flowers a plenty, but clean? Ha! Secluded? Sure, for me and 12 of my closest friends for the moment. [Read More]

'Al Descanso!' Spanish for 'Offwidth'

Max, getting all froggy on the lower crux.

I learned how to crack climb in the land of the off-width: Vedauwoo. I can still remember taping up for the first time, and sinking those first painful but thrilling jams into Edward’s Crack. I still have my tape gloves that my climbing partner gave to me that day (thanks, David!). On some autumn weekends during a particularly car-less fall semester at CSU I’d stand on the side of 287 by Ted’s Place with a sign: “Going Climbing.,” and I’d hitch my way up to Laramie to grunt in the Woo with a Wyoming friend.

Since moving out of FoCo I haven’t climbed much off-width stuff, but I was inspired by off-width fiend friends the other day in Moab and we made the 15-minute, .8-second approach to some 5.10 splitter offwidth on Wall Street above the Potash Road. Vedauwoo gets a bad rap (you know, bring tape, advil, and plenty of thrift store clothes to shred). But after chicken-winging and road-runneering on slick sandstone, I realized that I’d been a little bit spoiled by the Woo. At least there the crystals are so big that if you can’t hang onto them, they’ll [Read More]

Learning to Be

Yellowstone traffic jam. In addition to the ever-present bison, we saw herds of elk and pronghorn, a coyote, and, according to a ranger, the season's first black bear.

It’s a recent and welcome development that I’m able to derive a legitimate enjoyment from things like animals, waterfalls, sunsets, and wildflowers.  This progression comes on the heels of a prolonged period where I mostly faked caring about all of it; I could intellectualize the reasons people provided when they talked appreciatively of nature’s simple gifts, and I parroted them appropriately.  I just didn’t much find much inspiration in it myself.  Nature was basically a peripheral concern – if the approach trail happened to wander through a pristine rhododendron grove on the way to the crag, awesome; if not, you know, whatever.  The joy was always in the doing, not the being.

Because of this, I’ve long had a dismissive attitude toward most of our national parks.  I considered them to be, on the whole, places where people went when they didn’t really want to do anything; rather, they just wanted to be.  They wanted to be near animals, they wanted to be near waterfalls, they wanted to be [Read More]