Tech TipsGet that extra edge you need to succeed on your dream climb with Climbing’s Tech Tips – Aid, Alpine, Sport, and Trad Beta for the vertical world. Illustrations by Jamie Givens, Mike Clelland, Mike Tea, Kieth Svihovec, and Joe Iurato.
Pulling Down While PregnantDo’s and don’ts – Deciphering what you can and can’t do on the rock when you’re pregnant is no easy task. Few scientific studies even mention rock climbing and pregnant women in the same analysis. Individual women should talk to their doctors about what’s best for them, but since few doctors understand climbing, we sought general advice from Long Huynh, an ob/gyn doctor and climber practicing in Boulder County, Colorado.Pre-Rigging RappelsA safer way to set up – Imagine you’re at the top of a multi-pitch climb and a few rappels are the only thing between you and a nice walk out. Usually what happens is the most experienced person rappels first to find the next station, position the ropes, and deal with any other issues that arise. At the next station she yells “off rappel” and leaves her less experienced boyfriend to fend for himself. This always makes me nervous—it leaves too much room for mistakes due to fatigue and darkness. Two-Rope Rappels With One Chopped CordImprovising with a single strand – Rockfall happens, and sometimes ropes get chopped. If you’re 1,000 feet up a route with one rope that’s badly damaged, there’s a trick you can use to keep doing full-length, double-rope rappels. It’s sometimes called the Reepschnur rappel—I have no idea what that means, but I know from experience that it works.Chilling ImagerySeven tips for cold-weather shooting – The sunscreen is frozen in the tube. The toothpaste, too. Your hands freeze within seconds without gloves. The thermometer reads –35ºF. It’s cold—really cold. But can you still photograph? You bet. Here are a few tips. Keep your batteries warm. Cold temps rapidly drain a battery’s strength. Carry a back-up battery—or several—in an inside pocket. At night, keep batteries in your sleeping bag. Short-FixingOne way to move faster on long routes – Short-fixing is an experts-only technique that essentially separates a climbing team into two roped soloists via a knot at an anchor, allowing the climbers to move simultaneously. It’s most commonly used on one-day ascents of big walls, or to speed up the process during multi-day ascents. Don’t confuse short-fixing with simul-climbing, when both climbers move together, without the rope fixed to an anchor in between. When simul-climbing, if one climber falls, the results can be catastrophic. Worth a ShotBonus uses for your digital camera – Halfway up a new route, roofs and blankness loomed above. Where was the long hand crack that had lured us up here? I pulled out my camera and scrolled through photos of the face, taken earlier from camp. After identifying our position on my glowing camera screen, I saw that a short traverse rightward would bring us below the splitter, and from there the route-finding looked simple.Escape SystemsHand drilling an emergency anchor – If you’re climbing a little-traveled big wall, or venturing into soft-rock climbing areas like Utah’s San Rafael Reef (click here), you may want to carry an emergency bolt kit—and know how to use it. Here’s the lowdown. A basic bolt kit consists of a hammer, drill holder, drill bits, blow tube (a short length of 1/4-inch plastic tubing), nylon hole brush (try a test-tube brush), correctly sized wrench for your bolts, and slings and rings to rig your anchors.Thumbs Up!Use that fifth finger to help get a grip – Climbing holds are like snowflakes—no two are identical—and clever use of the thumbs adds important diversity to your gripping arsenal. Here are four “thumb” techniques that could make the difference during your next tough climb. The thumb catch is the most basic of thumb tricks—it isn’t so much a grip as a supplement to many open-hand gripping positions. As you work a tricky hold in search of the best purchase, feel around for nubbins or divots for your thumb. Social ClimbingTips for speedier threesomes – You and your regular climbing partner have planned to climb the East Buttress of El Capitan (IV 5.10b), and at the last minute, she invites a friend along. Now, at the top of pitch 10, the three of you are looking at climbing the final pitches in the dark and onsighting the descent by headlamp. Here are a few tips to speed up a threesome and finish your climb with plenty of daylight. Stop the Flying CircusHow to belay a heavier leader – People whose partners outweigh them by 25 pounds or more routinely get yanked off the ground when catching sport-climbing leader falls. Although this phenomenon is disconcerting at first, it can be perfectly safe with a few simple precautions—and it provides a nice, soft catch for the climber. Some climbers recommend anchoring a light belayer to the ground, but this may cause the falling leader to experience a hard, shocking fall. In most cases, allowing a sport-climbing belayer to move around decreases the chance of injury to the leader and belayer, and also lowers the force applied to the system.The Pre-thread TopropeSetting up an anchor-friendly TR session – You’re climbing outdoors with novice friends, and you want to rig a toprope from a fixed-chain anchor. You’re the only one in the group who can safely install and clean a toprope setup, but you loath having to climb each route twice—once to hang the rope, and once to clean the anchor and rap from the chains. It’s tempting to thread the rope through the chains and lower off, letting everyone toprope through the fixed hardware. Don’t—it’s a sin and you know it. Repeated lowering will wear out the chain or rings faster than any other abuse.No More TanglesStacking ropes on multi-pitch climbs – Good rope management at belays saves time and headaches. When you belay on a ledge, feed the rope into a small pile, about two feet around, as you take it in. Compact the growing rope pile with your hands or feet to keep it stacking bottom to top, and to keep it from sliding off the ledge. If your partner leads the next pitch, just pay out rope from the top of the pile. If you’re leading in blocks, you’ll want to “pancake” the pile: Once your partner has arrived at the belay, flip the rope pile like a pancake so your end is now on top. Tech Tips: Cam-hooking 101A speedy alternative to nuts and pins – Cam-hook technique has been honed to a fine edge by Yosemite’s speed-aid climbers, but even if you prefer to climb walls slowly, as I do, cam hooking can save you a lot of hassle when aiding thin cracks, as well as protect the rock and win you “clean aid” points. Cam hooks, originally designed by Ed Leeper, are simple, hard-steel levers that wedge in thin cracks, dihedrals, under roofs, and even in pockets or boxy pin scars. Tech Tips: Better BoinkingA useful trick for working steep routes – Boinking is a little trick that all sport climbers should know. When you’re working a very steep route, falls may leave you stranded in space, too far from the wall to regain the rock. Instead of lowering to the ground, you can often “boink” back up to your last quickdraw by pulling up on the rope, unweighting, and allowing your belayer to quickly take in slack.Tech Tips: Adventure Climbing 101Nine ways to smooth the path – Adventure climbing: an eight-pitch jaunt up Cannon Cliff, New Hampshire; an all-day route in Colorado’s Black Canyon; a 1,000-foot line in the canyons of Red Rock, Nevada. On long outings like these, you want to be nimble, time-efficient, and physically and mentally ready for challenges and surprises. “Adventure” implies danger and unknown risks, and if you get caught in a storm, benighted, off-route, or otherwise thrashed, that’s part of the game.Tech Tips: Contact!Hangboarding 101 – Hangboard training is one of the most time-efficient ways to build hand and finger (or “contact”) strength, especially if you can’t train at a climbing gym. Two or three 30-minute workouts per week can deliver excellent results. All you need is a hangboard—many models are available for about $50— and a little motivation. The basic exercise is a dead hang from small holds. Mount the board so you can easily reach the holds. Tech Tips: Anchors AwayUsing personal anchor tethers safely – Traditionally, climbers have anchored to the belay by tying in directly with the rope. Now, many prefer the convenience of personal anchor tethers specifically designed for this purpose for belays, as well as for cleaning the top anchor on a sport climb or anchoring during multi-pitch rappels. When used properly, these systems can be safe and strong, but when used improperly, they can lead to fatal accidents. Climbing Video 101A beginner’s guide to making a great short film – Just as digital photography opened up the world of image-making to the masses, so have the many gadgets that shoot video opened up the creative possibilities for amateur filmmakers. Whether you have an iPhone or a $6,800 Canon XF300 camcorder, you can be your own media mogul thanks to Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and similar sites. Point and Shoot CamerasHow to pick ’em, how to use ’em – Today’s compact digital cameras are slimmer, lighter, and more durable than their predecessors—and their image quality is much better. They’re also a lot more portable and a lot less expensive than full-sized digital SLRs—meaning you’re more likely to carry them on your climbs—and many have features that even the pros respect, including image stabilization and continuous-shooting modes. If you want quality photos from your climbing trips, but don’t want to drop $2,000 or more on a digital SLR, a good point and shoot is a great option.Tech Tips: Purcell Prusik Video by Tree Climbing Etc – The Purcell Prusik: a prusik-basedlanyard that offers excellent adjustabilityand energy-absorption potential, with justa bit more weight and bulk than daisies.The Purcell can be purchased (from SterlingRope) or easily tied from 6mm nylon cord. The prusik knot will slip under highload, avoiding the extreme impact forces offalls on more static tethers. Read more about using the prusik in your personal climbing anchor in the August issue of Climbing.
Tech Tips: Daisy Chain DangersVideo by Black Diamond – These are aid climbers’ tools, used to linkone’s harness to aiders or ascenders, butthey’re commonly and improperly usedas personal anchor tethers. Daisy chainsshould not be used as anchoring systems,for two important reasons. First, the bestcasescenario for a climber dynamicallyloading a daisy chain is a perilously harshimpact that could break the daisy, rip theanchor, or injure the climber. Second, itis extremely easy to clip a daisy chain insuch a way that you are clipped throughloops that only are designed to hold bodyweight. Read the full article on personal anchors in the August issue of Climbing.Tech Tips: Come to PapaShort-hauling your partner with a guide-style belay – It’s been a long day on the rock. If your partner can just fi nish this pitch quickly, you can be down on the trail before dark. But he’s exhausted, and a crux overhang has stopped him. “Take!” he yells. You give him tension, with your belay device rigged in guide mode off a cordelette power point. He tries again. “Take!” Again and again. Your coaching ends in futility, and the sun is getting low. Tech Tips: The Safety StickStick clipping, big-wall style – Many big-wall climbers see stick clips (aka cheater sticks) solely as emergency tools to use when they run across a broken rivet or missing copperhead. However, a stick clip also can greatly assist in retreating off overhanging walls like the right side of El Capitan or Leaning Tower. Some overhanging rappels may leave you dangling in space, unable to reach the next anchors. In such cases, the usual solution is down-aiding instead of rappelling—a slow and awkward task. With a stick clip, you can often simply rappel down, reach in with your stick to clip the anchors, and reel yourself in.Tech Tips: Sack Up!How to make a chalk bag – If you can use a sewing machine, in 15 minutes you can custom-make your own chalk bag for about $1, using an old pair of blue jeans or any other sturdy fabric. You’ll only save a few bucks, but the stylish, personalized bag will be one of a kind. Take the 8” x 14” strip of chalk-bag fabric, fold it in half lengthwise, inside out, and sew the ends together to form a tube. Sew the bottom piece on to the tube, with the good side facing in. Turn the tube right side out. Determine where you want your cinch cord to go through. “Oh, Shit…”How to get by without the gear in the 2011 Gear Guide – Dropped, forgotten, or mysteriously vanished gear can ruin a climbing day. Worst case, it can be life-threatening. But with a little know-how, you can recover from bone-headed mistakes and keep climbing—and also impress friends with your savvy.Tech Tips: Finger YogaLimber up those climbing hands – “Extremities need yoga like every other part of the body,” says fingeryoga.com. “To a certain extent, hands represent a microcosm of the organs of action.” I’ve found that finger yoga helps keep my climber fingers from becoming painful claws after hard climbing. Of the many possible stretches and “poses,” the ones described below are my after-climbing favorites.Tech Tips: Friction FactsA slab-climbing primer – Friction climbing—holdless slab climbing—can be effortless or desperate, or both at the same time. Strength plays no role; there’s nothing to pull on. Technique and mindset are paramount. Friction climbs typically involve long runouts between the stances where a first-ascensionist was willing and able to stop and drill a bolt. The easiest path to that next bolt may not be a straight line. Dips and waves change the rock’s angle and can make the difference between sticking and sliding. Tech Tips: Guide’s Tip – Protect Your GogglesGoggles are standard equipment for alpine journeys, but how can you keep them from breaking in your pack? Like this: Get a pair of two-liter soft-drink bottles and chop off the spout ends, creating two cylinders. Put the goggles inside, and slide one container over the other to make a reasonably solid but very light container.Tech Tips: Big-Wall TacticsThe “hooksion traverse” – Eight pitches the 1988 first ascent of Waterfall Wall—a dry-season-only Grade VI A4+ that follows the line of Upper Yosemite Falls—Rick Sylvester and I were eager to get to the first good crack of any length we had seen in four pitches. A slanting dihedral began about 15 feet to right, but a pendulum would leave us too low.Tech Tips: Speak Up!Choose your words to climb harder – Attitude affects your climbing, and the right attitude can be worth two letter grades or more. The solution to a performance plateau may be as simple as rephrasing the things you say—out loud or to yourself—so you apply energy toward your goal, instead of allowing your words to create doubt. Climb harder by “speaking up,” not down.Tech Tips: Swing TimeProtect your follower on traverses – Pitches that traverse sideways can be as dangerous for the follower as for the leader, exposing both climbers to the risk of long, swinging falls. When leading, a climber naturally seeks pro before the crux; after the difficulties, however, he may cruise across easier terrain unprotected. This leaves the second dangerously exposed.Tech Tips: Dirty Little SecretsAn alarming new study tests the strength of soiled cord – The old adage “the person who steps on the rope buys beer” took on new meaning at the 2010 International Technical Rescue Symposium (ITRS) this November. We all accept that dirt reduces a rope’s strength. Presumably, grit inside a rope cuts and abrades the fibers as the rope stretches and relaxes during use. But to what degree is a dirty rope weakened? Tech Tips: How to (Politely) Extend a QuickdrawWhen climbers “fix” quickdraws on a sport route, they often link one or more draws to make the clip easier to reach from a convenient stance. Standard procedure is to clip a second quickdraw, minus one carabiner, to the existing draw. While this is a great technique to know for lengthening draws while leading, it’s not ideal for fixed draws. Tech Tips: Avoid Finger BlowoutsProtect your pulleys by taping right – Taping to support finger tendons can help prevent injury, but studies show the most commonly used taping method doesn’t do the job. Here’s a better way. There are two main flexor tendons in each finger: one that flexes the middle phalanx, and one that flexes the fingertip. These tendons are supported by a system of ligament-like “pulleys” that hold the tendons close to the finger bones and give them the mechanical advantage needed to flex the fingers. Tech Tips: Rescue InsuranceWhat do you need? – One of the beautiful things about climbing is the ability to see the world on the cheap. But be warned: Rescues—especially internationally—are the opposite of cheap. A helicopter ride out of some hairy situation can cost $10,000, depending on your altitude and position. If you’re climbing in the U.S., rescues are often free to the victim, but it’s still wise to have some basic insurance. If you’re headed out on an expedition overseas, rescue insurance becomes critical. Tech Tips: Run For Your LifeStay off the deck with a ground-runner belay – Your buddy has toproped his gnarly new headpoint 317 times—blindfolded, barefoot, and singing the national anthem. Despite all the rehearsals, now and then his foot still pops on that desperate last move. But the season is winding down, and the air is crisp—today’s the day. He brushes the 30-foot mini-monster one last time and calls his mom for an awkward “I love you.” Tech Tips: Escaping the StormGuide’s Tip: Preventing snags during rappel retreats – The single most important thing when retreating in a storm is to maintain steady downward progress. Foremost, this means avoiding a stuck rope. As you descend, be mindful of rope-eating blocks or flakes. If you encounter a rope-eater, set your next rappel anchor on or near it, instead of continuing down to a lower stance. This way, if the rope does snag when you pull it, you’ll be right there to clean up the mess. Tech Tips: Rodeo ClippingA clever climbing cowboy realized some time ago that he could avoid hazardous soloing to a preclipped first bolt if he just “lassoed” the hanging quickdraw. Instant toprope—without looking like a stick-clipping ninny. The “rodeo clip” is simple enough in theory and very stylish, but if this is your first rodeo, I advise practicing when no one else is around. Here’s the method…Tech Tips: Ropework 2 – Relaxed-Fit RappingA friction-hitch is popular among climbers who desire maximum control and safety while rappelling. The most common back-up is to link a harness leg loop to the rope with a prusik hitch. Your brake hand holds the friction hitch to keep it from locking while you rap, but in the case of lost grip—due to injury from rockfall, lightning, or simple fatigue or pilot error—the knot will lock, keeping you from sliding down the rope.Tech Tips: Ropework 1 – Single-Strand Backpack CoilTired of repetitively flaking out a backpack-style rope coil before starting each new pitch? Here’s how to make a single-strand backpack coil that you can unwrap, drop, and then immediately start your lead. Instead of grabbing both ends of the rope to begin coiling, start your coil at one end. Coiling single-strand takes twice as long as the two-strand coil, but you’ll make up this time and more by not having to detangle the rope at the base of the climb.
Tech Tips: Gear – Happy FeetBy Kate Nelson – Shoe and foot care for climbers – It’s this simple: sore feet and neglected shoes lead to poor performance. Climbing your best means paying attention to footwork before the rubber touches rock. Revive your footwork in three steps: get the right rock shoes, treat those shoes like your firstborn, and give your feet some TLC along the way. See? Your edging is looking better already.Tech Tips: Sport Climbing – Flight SchoolBy Arno Ilgner – Practice falling for more consistent sending – Just because you don’t actually feel afraid to fall does not mean you are completely comfortable falling. It’s the uncertainty that gets us. We know we might fall, so at committing cruxes we hesitate, second-guess, slap lamely for a hold, or simply let go. What we need is more practice with the whole falling process, so we can commit 100 percent to hard climbing. It’s important to dial down the stress of falling a little at a time. Tech Tips: Technique – The Heel-Toe CamBy Chris Van Leuven – Extend reach and stave off the pump – You’ve dogged your last project for the last three weeks. You’ve got the moves, but each time you get into the steep finale, the pump forces you to succumb, and you whip. One member of the peanut gallery below has stated that your Tourette’s cursing is “harshing his mellow,” and your long-suffering belay slave is threatening to bail. Now what? Tech Tips: Be Prepared – The What-if PlanBy Kate Nelson – Eight bases to cover before the big climb – I knew what I was signing up for when I married a climber. So when I crawled between the cold sheets on a September night alone – again – I wasn’t particularly concerned that my husband wasn’t home yet from the Diamond’s Full House. I had learned that “I’ll be home around eight” translates to “I’ll be home, uhhh… sometime after dark.” And quittin’ time isn’t hard and fast when you’re on a remote big wall.Tech Tips: Climbing Photography – Light, Camera, ActionBy Jeff Achey – Photo Basics for the don’t-wannabe – As a Climbing reader, you trust us to bring you the best in climbing eye candy. You know as well as we do that nothing kills the buzz quicker than a climbing photograph that’s drab, cluttered, boring, predictable, or obviously posed. You’re not a pro climbing photographer, and probably don’t want to be, and you’d rather spend your cash on cams or gas than on expensive camera gear. Tech Tips: Photo Motive – ButtshotphobiaBy Andrew Burr – Tips for Beautiful Butt Shots – Sure, we’ve all had a good laugh when a friend proudly shows us the classic, horrid photo of his buddy’s derrière hanging above you. While the “butt shot” is not always the first-choice angle for climbing photography, sometimes we just don’t have a choice. Here are a few simple tricks to keep the demeaning laughter to a minimum.Tech Tips: Photo Sharing – Photo NationBy Julie Ellison and Randall Levensaler – Tips for Online Photo Sharing – The best thing about digital photography today is how easy it is for anyone to take good photographs. Another great aspect is the virtually limitless number of images you can take. The downside to this digital revolution is that most photographs rarely make it out of the memory card. After all, what good is a picture if you can’t share it and show it off?Tech Tips: Rope Work – Tangled Up in BlueBy Bennett Barthelemy – Rope-work for leaders 101 – “Damn it — I know what I’m doing, Bennett!” shouted my partner, Cedar Wright. “Uh, OK, Cedar, but you’re still kinda tangled up in the . . . never mind,” I said. I watched as Cedar — as solid on cracks as the day is long — ran out a sandy 5.10 offwidth in Canyonlands, the rope twisted around his leg. Even as I hoped for the best, I pictured the worst. Tech Tips: Trad – Munter MagicBy Caroline George – The little belay knot that does it all – In 2005, I was lucky enough to have Mr. Werner Munter, the father of the Avalanche Reduction Method, as my avalanche-course examiner in Switzerland. With his Lennon glasses and straight grey hair and beard, he’d impersonate an avalanche’s characteristic Whumph! by spreading his arms wide and collapsing them onto the lecturers’ table.Tech Tips – Technique – WALK (AND CLIMB) SOFTLYBy Bernadette Regan – Leaving the smallest desert trace possible – Partway up P1 of Community Pillar (5.8+), in Pine Creek Canyon, Red Rock, my partner looked down, cringing. It was time for his morning constitutional, and his look told me he wouldn’t make it through the next 700 vertical feet. I lowered him and handed him the TP. He soon returned carrying a very full Ziploc. A few hours later, we were back on the ground, packing out his overloaded poop sack.Tech Tips – Travel – UP, UP, AND AWAY…By Emily Harrington – …in style for globetrotting dirtbags – So you’re a travel gumby. We’ve all been there — that first trip overseas. I’ve had a few such adventures, dream trips to Venezuela, Greece, and Spain with their fantastic climbing, bluebird weather, and succulent food and drink. Still, travel can be exhausting, confusing, and irritating, especially when you’re disorganized and unfamiliar with your destination. Prepping is essential, so follow these seven savvy tips.Tech Tip – Alpine – THE WETTER, THE BETTERBy Blake Herrington – How to find and quickly collect water in the high alpine – While in Alaska’s Mendenhall Towers last July, my partner and I found ourselves in the warmest weather system in years. For climbers like us hoping to establish new alpine rock routes, the timing was perfect. But with 20-hour days and a desire for light packs, we had a serious challenge finding enough to drink on the walls.Tech Tip – Training – TALES OF POWERBy Steve Bechtel – The real secret to effective power training – You can train long or you can train hard, but not both – which is probably why so many of us train power so wrongly. (By “power,” we mean the product of strength and speed, i.e., the explosive force recruited any time you use momentum, or “go for it.”) Properly training power allows you to get stronger – to muckle through otherwise impossible cruxes.Tech Tip – Trad – SCUM MANIFESTOBy Matt Samet – Total friction with 7 neglected body parts – “Knees off the rock, Samet!” barked my instructor, an old-school mountain clubber in New Mexico. This was 22 years ago, and I flapped up a 5.6 corner to a midway ledge. Unsure how to highstep and rock over, I’d pressed a knee to its lip, scrabbling for purchase.Tech Tip – Big Wall – Pig-free big-wallingBy Chris Van Leuven – 4 tips for going light, fast, strong . . . and free – What’s not to love about walls? Climbing sunup-to-sundown, sleeping on a giant face, great views. Oh, and the dreaded haulbag — that pig digging into your shoulders on the approach; hauling and docking the massive load; digging water bottles from the pig’s bowels like Oscar the Grouch doing a handstand. And don’t get me started on trying to free-climb while hauling — fuggedaboutit! I’d rather help Sisyphus with his boulder.Tech Tip – Sport – THE HOT ZONEBY JUSTIN ROTH – 9 warming tricks for cold-weather cragging – A GUNKS REGULAR IN COLLEGE, I spent many a windy, frigid day bouldering on the Carriage Road. Fingers and toes would turn to wood, shoe rubber harden and lose its stick-um, and my psyche grow brittle still, I had to climb. Over time, I developed these nine coldweather techniques, to squeeze every drop of frozen fun from an arctic sesh.Tech Tip – Technique – HEELS OF STEEL BY FITZ CAHALL – 6 keys to master-class slab climbing – CLIMBERS TYPICALLY FALL INTO TWO CAMPS when it comes to slabs. Some gag at the connotation of meat-grating, nipple-raking falls. But others say friction climbing is our most elegant discipline, a communion of mental grit and technical grace that rewards brains and finesse, not mindless brawn. Tech Tip – Training – TARGETED OPPOSITIONBy Stacy Mccooey, MSPT, DPT – TENDONITIS LIKE IT OR NOT, if you’re an avid climber, at some point you’ll feel that deep, dull ache in your elbows or shoulders, a sign of inflamed tendons. The constant tugging is what does us in using loads of pulling muscles (lats, shoulders, biceps, forearms) while neglecting the pushing muscles (pectorals, anterior deltoids, triceps), thus placing unidirectional strain on your tendons.Tech Tip – Technique – DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK!By Craig Demartino – An amputee’s tips for smarter, smoother movement – AS AN AMPUTEE (I’m missing my right leg below the knee after a 100-foot fall ultimately claimed the limb), the way I climb has changed in several ways. For one, I’m forced to use my feet more precisely than before. But other things have changed, too.Tech Tip – Training – “5.15” ACLS BY THOMAS ROSENBERG – A COMMON CLIMBER INJURY is tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and/or meniscus. One of the knee’s four major ligaments, the ACL is a connective-tissue cord about 8 or 9 mm at its narrowest; it connects the distal femur to the tibia’s top. The menisci are C-shaped, gasket-like pads at the perimeter of the knee’s two weightbearing compartments — medial (inside) and lateral (outside); they absorb shock, lubricate/nourish, and expand load distribution.
Tech Tip – Trad – QUICK TRANSITIONSBy Sarah Garlick – ONE OF ALPINISM’S BEST-KNOWN ADAGES is “Speed is safety,” useful wisdom that reminds us the less time we spend on route, the less likely we are to run into thunderstorms, get benighted, or otherwise epic. Likewise, make good time and you’ll have more of it to deal with the unexpected: a snagged rope, cryptic route, or slow party ahead.Tech Tip – Training – TO SUPPLEMENT OR NOT TO SUPPLEMENT?By Thomas Rosenberg, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon – Joint health, from the inside out – Climb long enough, and you’ll experience setbacks: tendonitis, torn pulleys, injured tendons/ligaments, joint pain, or shoulder injuries. They’re our war wounds from battling gravity. But just as year-round conditioning is important to stave off injury, so, too, is “training” from the inside out. Tech Tip – Technique – WHISPERS OF WISDOMBy Kevin Jorgeson – The awesome power of Silent Feet – Nothing is more frustrating than falling because your foot slipped. It’s not frustrating because you passed the crux, were still fresh, or had just one move to finish your project. No, it’s frustrating because it’s preventable. Reader Tech Tip – An Improved Way to Coil the Rope for Backpack-Style CarryBy Lee Myers – I’ve discovered a way to simplify the conventional method of coiling a climbing rope for carrying like a backpack — nice for hiking to or from a climb when you don’t want to use a pack. This method makes it easier to coil and uncoil the rope, and it prevents tangles.Tech Tip – Training – The Beat DownBy Justin Roth – Heart-rate training for max sending power – You’re gunning for your project, a pumpy 90-foot route with a crux on hateful crimpers at bolt 11. For the umpteenth time, you enter the crux feeling juiced: your footwork crumbles, your arms chickenwing . . . and then you whip, huffing like the Big Bad Wolf as you hit the end of the rope. Could be you were “pumped” or just “blew it again,” but what you might not know is the role your heart rate played in the meltdown.Tech Tip – Bouldering – Spot On!By Abbey Smith – When 6’4” Corey Dwan first plucked me from the sky, I’d just pitched from a Grampians, Australia, highball he quickly earned a place on my all-time spotting dream team. Dwan’s masterful bodycatching technique is even a matter of public record, as seen in the 1998 climbing flick Free Hueco. Dwan, 38, who works in real estate in Colorado, has refined his spotting technique over the past two decades.Tech Tip Trad – Soft-Man Link-UpBy Kolin Powick – Half Dome and El Cap in a day . . . for mortals – In 2002, Dean Potter linked the Regular Northwest Face (VI 5.12) on Half Dome and El Cap’s Freerider (VI 5.12d/13a), climbing 57 pitches in sub-24 hours. In 2008, Leo Houlding and Sean Leary did the same, team free. Both were heroic feats of master-class endurance by worldclass climbers. Thus, according to conventional wisdom, a Half Dome/El Cap free link-up remains beyond the means of all but the hardest hardmen or does it?Tech Tip – Sport – Kiddy Craggin’By Heidi Ahrens and Trina Ortega – 10 cliffside-survival tips for climbing families – If you’re a new (or SOON -TO-BE) parent, it’s not unreasonable to fear that kids might crimp your climbing style. Still, it is possible to keep cranking as a mom or pop — even to turn climbing into an engaging family affair.Tech Tip – Alpine – Stayin’ AliveBy Dave Sheldon – The pitches flew by on Polar Circus, our one-day Canadian Rockies winter objective. So when my partner said he’d forgotten his headlamp, I didn’t sweat it. Then, a few hours later, I dropped our shared thermos (bummer). But when my crampon’s toe bail snapped and a falling rock halved our ropes, our day climb morphed into a grovelfest replete with unplanned bivy.Tech Tip – Sport – Welcome to the Jungle (Gym)By Krisitn Bjornsen – YOU FEEL EYES UPON YOU — is that panting you hear? You flee to the bouldering cave . . . but you’re cornered. Any second, the lone, roving male will pounce, turning your once-pleasant session into a socially awkward morass.Tech Tip – Trad – The Lost Art of DownclimbingBy Mic Fairchild – Whether it’s backing down a runout lead, navigating a sketchy descent, or merely exercising the unlikely (I will sometimes climb up and down the same route, just for fun!), the ability to downclimb (DC) is a skill worth polishing, especially for budding trad leaders. Tech Tip – Alpine – Of snowfields and glaciersBy Martin Gutmann – A descent through a whiteout is usually remembered in two ways: over a cold beer with friends or as a bestseller written by the sole survivor. In fact, descending a snowfield or crossing a glacier in a whiteout can be a complete horrorshow: the ground and the air blur into one, leaving you disoriented …Tech Tip – Trad – Extending an Anchor on a multi-pitch routeBy Molly Loomis – As the adage goes, speed equals safety in the mountains. But this doesn’t mean speed instead of safety. Maintaining constant visual and vocal contact between you – presumably, an experienced climber and/or guide – and a neophyte under your tutelage will yield easier passage through terrain otherwise known as time-suck territory.Tech Tip – Alpine – Hauling senseby Matt Samet – On steep alpine free routes, where you need to have extra clothing and food along, but can’t be burdened by climbing with a heavy pack, there’s an easy albeit time-consuming solution: hauling.Tech Tip – Big Wall – Super dooperBy Mike Clelland – You’ve decided to do whatever it takes to go light on your next wall. Everything is laid out nice and tidy on the ground. You and your partner scrutinize every item that goes into the haulbag. How many hooks? Which jacket is lighter? But what do you do about that homemade PVC poop-tube?Tech Tip – Sport – The 10 essentials of sport climbingBy Matt Samet – If you’re a crusty old dinosaur like me then you probably remember being taught the importance of the 10 Essentials upon your introduction to climbing and the mountains.Tech Tip – Trad – Storm’s a comin’!By Matt Samet – It happens to the best (and even the fastest) of us. Hundreds of feet off the deck, you suddenly find yourself trapped, pinned down by an ugly beast spitting white-hot lightning and drowning the rock.Tech Tip – Training – Cheater’s BanquetBy Matt Samet – Because I work 9,000 hours a week and — fattening with age — am increasingly cowed by real, outdoor rock climbing, I’ve become an unrepentant gymrat. But a wondrous thing has happened since sport climbing’s Dark Ages (the 1980s)…Tech Tip – Aid – Topstep ManiaBy Chris Van Leuven – After several seasons in Yosemite, tallying sloth-like aid lead after sloth-like aid lead — as does many a big-wall nOOb — I finally got it: if I efficiently highstepped in my aiders by using the top rung/s, aka topstepping, I could drastically reduce lead times and clip those oh-so-distant fixed pieces. (Revelation!)TECH TIP – Trad – HIGH EXPOSUREBy Mark Synnott – We left the Black Canyon’s North Rim Campground a little before 9 a.m. — fine if we weren’t climbing Stratosfear (VI 5.11+ R), on the Painted Wall. Come dark, we still had three pitches left, including the crux.
TECH TIP – Sport – SPACE CADETBy Lee Sheftel – We all have one: a climbing partner so lovable that we put up with with his intractable spaciness. Take my friend Dave, who’s always losing his keys and often has at least two or three Grigris (only one his own, of course) floating in his climbing pack.Tech Tip – Sport – The MonthBy Andy Raether – My training schedule comes as a result of eight years of focused effort. When I train well, I can redpoint climbs like Stockboy’s Revenge (5.14c FA; Rifle), an 80-foot limestone power-endurance route, but I can also tap raw power, say that required by the Rocklands’ roof The Vice (V13/14).Tech Tip – Alpine – Alpine GrovelingBy Freddie Wilkinson – With my back against a smooth granite wall and both feet planted across from me, I stare into an 18-inch-wide runnel of WI5. It would be great climbing… had I brought screws, ice tools, and crampons. I shimmy up several inches but slide back down a foot.Tech Tip – Alpine – Shelter For The StormBy Molly Loomis – When a storm hits, most expedition climbers play cards, pick lint off of their boot liners, or fantasize about sipping Mai Thais. A little “tent pitching” and a flask of grandpa’s cough syrup easily bide the downtime for most …Tech Tip – Sport – The quiet art of solo topropingBy Jeff Achey – Which is worse: training on the same old greasy boulder problems or losing your climbing partner in a fight over unmarked gear?Tech Tip – Ice – Mix and MatchBy Sean Isaac – We’ve all heard it: “Leashless ice climbing is the wave of the future.” And, indeed, the freedom it offers is unparalleled — complex, flowing, three-dimensional movement on modern mixed routes, and a greater sense of liberty on vertical pillars.Tech Tip – Sport – Redpoint RestingBy Brittany Griffith – “Just dirt me!” I squawked. Hopelessly hanging 10 feet from the anchor for the umpteenth time, I was nearing tears. A local, who had the route ruthlessly wired, coolly suggested that I “work the rest” more. Tech Tip – Training – Amino-Acid TripBy Kyle Vassilopoulos – It’s probably happened at one time or another: menacing thoughts about energy deficits hurting your climbing performance, keeping you up at night. Unfortunately, climbers don’t always have the best methods for maintaining. We often go on harmful, unhealthy diets. And the dirtbagging approach to eating often proves detrimental, too.Tech Tip – Sport – Flash Pump Begone!By Matt Samet – Now you’ve done it — you wanted to wow the entourage, so you warmed up on a route two number grades harder than usual, hoping you would style. You were pumped at bolt two, but hung on anyway, scrapping and flailing skyward out of sheer stubbornness.Tech Tip – Sport – Developing über strengthBy Eric J. Hörst – Want to increase your maximum strength and power? Would you like to feel stronger on small handholds and increase your prowess on dynamic moves? Are you stuck in a performance plateau and need a boost to surmount it?Tech Tip – Alpine – The soft-knot methodBy Dave Nettle – I actually began to focus on the glacier travel and realized that there’s a more versatile and functional way to rope up, especially for climbers who travel in a party of two and want to keep their equipment to a minimum.Tech Tip – Big Wall – Portaledge cookingBy Mark Synnott – For alpine big-wall climbing, a stove is mandatory for melting snow. A butane-canister hanging stove is the way to go for almost all domestic wall-climbing trips as it is easier to maintain and operate, and less prone to accidents (read: fireballs) than a liquid-fuel stove.Tech Tip – Ice – Assessing mixed-route placementsBy Ryan Nelson – Eye your holds. As with rock climbing, studying the route’s features from the ground allows you to build a mental roadmap of the best sequence without getting pumped.Tech Tip – bouldering – Avoiding the beached whaleBy Chris Van Leuven – You’ve just hiked the crux of your latest proj. Just a few easy moves and a nasty topout separate you from victory. You stick the final grips with ease, and pull up to the lip. Then it hits you: Your feet are way off the deck, and you’re not sure what to do next.Tech Tip – Trad – SidewinderBy Craig Luebben – On the first ascent of the striking parallel-sided squeeze chimney Sidewinder, in Long Canyon, near Moab, I reached a spot where the crack was just wider than the length of my foot. I was struggling for every inch of progress with my body in a vertical orientation.Tech Tip – Trad – Fancy feetBy Jared Ogden – Ever feel puzzled by how to best utilize your feet on crack climbs? Splitters can feel desperate if you don’t have solid footwork. Whether you’re heading out to send your granite nemesis, or to the cracks of Indian Creek, these techniques will have you better prepared for tight fingers to loose hands.Tech Tip – Sport – A Faster BelayMechanical-assist belay devices — the Petzl Grigri and Trango Cinch — are popular both at the cliff and in the gym. Many people favor these units for single-pitch climbing and hangdog sessions, but using them properly is key to using them safely. Tech Tip – Alpine – The ultimate alpine kitchenCooking is the art of necessity in the alpine world. Given the choice, I’d rather have linguine with sun-dried tomatoes, clams, and parmesan cheese than ramen noodles any day, especially when I’m fueling up for a big climb. Tech Tip – Big Wall – CopperheadingCopperheads are a quintessential foundation of granite aid climbing, and my favorite modern-aid-climbing tool. Every aid climber should know how to engineer a copperhead placement, even if it’s just to replace the odd one that rips out on a Yosemite trade route.Tech Tip – Big Wall – Hang Your StoveWhile there are excellent commercial hanging stoves available, they have two disadvantages. First, they are costly, and second, they only run on canister fuel, which has its problems in cold weather.
Tech Tip – Trad – A safe retreatClimb enough trad routes and you’re bound to find yourself high on a wall, forced to bail. Good planning and an efficient process can help you escape quickly and safely.Tech Tip – Trad – Wide-hands crack techniqueWhen I first learned to crack climb, I loved tight hand cracks. But when things got a little wider — around three inches — my spirit sank, and all my strength suddenly drained from my body.Tech Tip – Sport – The matter at length.As sport climbers, we deal with draws that are usually between four-inches and six-inches long. A sportie using a long trad draw is considered old school. However…Tech Tip – Alpine – Difficulties with diesel.Your long-awaited overseas climbing trip is just a few days away. You’ve packed everything, but what fuel will you use?Tech Tip – Sport – Resting … the strategic wayRest. How long, how much, how often — everyone has an opinion. To a climber with a strict training background, to whom more than one rest day is nearly unthinkable, three rest days could seem counter productive.Tech Tip – Aid – Taming dicey aidSketchy aid climbing can be a brain-numbing, adrenal-gland-tapping affair, especially when the consequence of falling is a monster whip or a trauma-inducing impact.Tech Tip – Safety – Old rope safety – the rugI become dangerously attached to my old ropes. I use them until they have the nap of an old blanket and the hue of a faded pair of jeans. When I get a new rope, I’ll still keep breaking out the old one when I’m in need of the mountain karma of my youth, or a whiff of the lichens of yore.Tech Tip -Trad – Can You Hear Me Now?Get out your copy of Freedom of the Hills. There’s a command that’s heard often enough at crags nationwide to deserve a spot on the list of common rope commands: “F-ing slack!”Tech Tip – Sport – Core Strength That CountsTalking about the importance of “core strength” is in vogue these days, yet many climbers are uncertain just how the core muscles — the muscles located between your shoulders and pelvis — affect climbing performance and, furthermore, how they are best trained.Tech Tip – Alpine – Snowshoeing for ClimbersDuring the 1992-1993 winter, while training for a spring attempt on Everest’s north side, I climbed a Colorado Fourteener every weekend. I sought full-on winter conditions, and the Colorado mountains didn’t disappoint.Tech Tip -Trad – Making the CallDeciding when to retire gear is tough. Losing half your rack to an unplanned escape is one thing, but decommissioning gear is quite another.Tech Tip – Ice – Use your head … and your feetRegardless of how much better ice-climbing equipment gets — better tools, easier-to-place screws, heel spurs, or better clothing — ice climbing has a different learning curve than rock, and, in general, it’s best not to fall off.Tech Tip – Alpine – Four features of mixed mountain routesOverhanging dry tooling and free-hanging daggers are now standard fare in the relatively low-risk cragging environment, but moving on to mixed climbing in the alpine arena is a step.Tech Tip – Sport – The basics of fallingFalling is part of the climbing process. A hold breaks, we slip, pump out, and we’re off. It’s important to find appropriate ways to practice falling so we learn to do it safely.Tech Tip – Aid – HookingAnyone who’s done much hooking can tell you that there’s something undeniably special about hanging from a fingernail-sized piece of chrome-moly steel.Tech Tip – Trad – Avoiding the stingI was lying in the Yosemite Medical Clinic, the entire left side of my face horribly swollen; it would be 10 full days before the inflammation subsided and I could climb again. Tech Tip – Sport – Commitment“Until one is committed there is always hesitancy, a chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.” So begins a frequently quoted passage from W.H. Murray’s book Scottish Himalayan Expedition.Tech Tip – Alpine – Stealthy mountain travelBeyond the razor wire surrounding the maximum-security prison lies a vast range of mountains and wilderness. To the non-climbing detainees, the mountains are an impossible pipedream; to the incarcerated alpinist, freedom awaits there.Tech Tip – Aid – Block leadingYou’ve done some walls, you’ve got your system dialed, and you move efficiently on the rock, yet you find yourself asking, “Why does it take me four days to do a route that locals hike in a day?”Tech Tip – Sport – Slowing the pump clockTraining to get stronger is a good thing. Climbing in ways that conserve energy and enable rapid recovery is a smart thing!
Tech Tip – Aid – A0: Aid climbing for free climbersA0 – quick and dirty aiding, generally without etriers – is not glamorous, but it’s a handy skill to have in your repertoire, especially for moving fast.Tech Tip – Big Wall – Bucket containersIn the multi-day vertical world — where something as simple as taking a leak can turn into an embarrassingly awkward ordeal — luxury and convenience are golden.Tech Tip – Trad – Choss rockWhile loose rock is never pleasant, you can turn a potentially lethal experience into merely a scary one by keeping your head together and tip-toeing up friable terrain.Tech Tip – Alpine – Digging inYou’re hours from the road with waning daylight and a blizzard brewing on the horizon. You’ve left your palatial tent at home, opting instead for a fast and light approach. A forced bivy is imminent.Tech Tip – Sport – Eco-friendly boulderingWith public land managers clued in to the existence of us Pad People and closures looming left and right, it’s time to start bouldering smart and reducing impact.Tech Tip – Sport – Road-Trip-itus“Road-Trip-Itus” is a well-known condition caused by spending too much time in close proximity to the same person.Tech Tip – Aid – Cheap aiders and daisy chainsScoot down to the gear shop and buy four 20-foot sections of one-inch flat webbing and four 10-foot sections of 9/16 tubular webbing.Tech Tip – Trad – Friction slabsStay focused, regulate your breathing, and don’t let your doubting mind make the rock appear steeper than it actually is.Tech Tip – Big Wall – Your first one-dayProper technique and strategy are keys to turning that Grade VI into a mere 12-hour climb.Tech Tip – Alpine – Lightning aversionLightning-related accidents kill approximately 200 people each year. Those who spend their time in high, exposed terrain are at a greater risk — especially climbers and mountaineers carrying metal gear.Tech Tip – Sport – Four limbsFrench or not, you’ll begin to flow effortlessly over the stone if you increase your body awareness.Tech Tip – Aid – 2:1 Hauling RatchetBig-wall climbing is just a different kind of suffering, and never do you suffer more than when hauling, especially during the first few days when your loads are heaviest.Tech Tip – Training – Pilates your way to stronger deltoidsLook around the crag or climbing gym and you’ll notice all the people with forward-rolling shoulders, like those of the hunch-backed gargoyles atop Paris’ Cathedral of Notre Dame.Tech Tip – Ice – Stein PullingStein Pulls — tool placements where the pick and the head of your axe are set in opposition — are the coolest holds you’ll encounter when dry tooling.Tech Tips – Trad – Grateful headWhy do I sometimes feel confident high above a row of tiny pieces, half a mile off the deck, and other times reach peak pucker factor with my shoe laces still threatening to tangle with my last bomber placement?Tech Tips – Aid – Froggy goes a juggin’You’re back at the base of El Cap, ready to jug the ropes you fixed on the radically overhanging Tangerine Trip. Nothing to do but clip on your ascenders and start jugging.Tech Tips – Alpine – Cold playGlove management is a complex issue, even to those well versed in winter travel.Tech Tips – Sport – Gym dandyWith their well-padded and obstruction-free environs, indoor bouldering gyms are supposed to be safer than outdoor rocks.Tech Tips – Aid – Avoid the big rideThe term “Expando” refers to any crack or flake that moves when pressured. These fissures can run the gamut from huge, creaky flakes to micro splitter cracks.Tech Tips – Trad – Rubber upThis day, however, was the day I would climb it: I’d recently developed a rubber crack-climbing glove that worked extremely well on the many other splitters at Frog Buttress.
Tech Tips – Alpine – Grin and bear itWhen visibility goes, confusion often arrives. Unless you have a Scottish Highlands sixth sense for whiteout navigation, knowing basic compass work is a necessity.Tech Tips – Sport – Hands downAs you climb the friendly slab, you constantly remind Bubba not to release his brake hand. He doesn’t seem to be getting it.Tech Tip – Aid – Neatness countsIt’s essential that everything in a big-wall anchor be redundant, meaning that if any one thing — a sling, carabiner, etc. — breaks, the anchor is still sound.Tech Tip – Trad – Rapping smartSuddenly, it’s late evening — you need to rap quickly, but can’t afford to get sloppy. Follow these tips and you’ll soon be swilling brewskis at the local Mexican-food joint, not stuck on some ledge for a long, miserable night.Tech Tip – Alpine – Don’t spit in the windUntangling the ropes as you descend is going to be a miserable and time-consuming affair — a veritable nightmare. The solution, then? Don’t throw them at all.Tech Tip – Sport – The support teamBeing a good belayer involves more than just holding the rope — positive vibes, attention to your leader’s needs, and gentle coaching complete the package.Tech Tip – Trad – Silent communication!”Whaaaat?!” is the word most commonly spoken on multi-pitch climbs, where river noise, wind, acoustics, and helmets and stocking caps make it difficult, if not impossible, to use traditional verbal belay signals.Tech Tip – Sport – S.L.E.D. for safetyAfter a trip to the climbing gym, you’re hooked. With brand new shoes and chalkbag, you venture out to the boulders, a confusing new world.Tech Tip – Alpine – Frazzle-free rappellingPerhaps my least favorite thing about climbing is the constant need to rappel. Hanging directly from the rope with no backup has always seemed like a great way to get into trouble.Tech Tip – Aid – Stormy horrorClimb enough big walls, and sooner or later you’re going to spend a night in Hell.Tech Tip – Aid – Yosemite Secret WeaponAs most accomplished speed climbers will tell you, technique is as valuable as strength and bravery when it comes to blitzing the Captain.Tech Tip – Alpine – Sans dragonnesWhile leashless mixed climbing may not be for everyone, it can greatly expand your freedom of movement by enabling you to climb faster and lighter on all kinds of routes. Tech Tip – Sport – Open those hipsListen up, Jocko! Hip and leg flexibility are directly related to technique — when you improve one, you improve the other.Tech Tips – Trad – Helmet kitThe small space between a helmet’s suspension and outer shell can often accommodate a bare-bones emergency kit.Tech Tips – Sport – Road TrippingGet organized. Store staple items such as canned foodstuffs, the stove, a few canisters of gas, and some baby wipes in a heavy-duty rubber bin.Tech Tips – Alpine – The future is nowLeashless tools can open up many doors and avenues previously unexplored, such as efficient crossovers and hassle free clips.Tech Tips – Trad – Evading the pumpBefore leading out, preview your pitch and note features with promising rest potential. If you have a detailed topo, carefully examine it for corner systems, ledges, slabs, or any sort of stance.Tech Tips – Aid – A game of inchesThink tall. Sometimes this means using your finger to push that cam just a bit higher, or linking the cables of two nuts together to extend your reach.Tech Tip – Aid – Flying the flagA six-hour hanging belay may be boring (OK, really boring), but it doesn’t have to painful. With proper technique and a little caution, you can safely haul your portaledge while it’s open.Tech Tip – Trad – Discrete tensionSick of being the weakling and the buffoon? Forget excuses. “Discrete tension,” aka DT, can earn you credit for routes significantly harder than you actually redpoint.
Tech Tip – Alpine – Making a pointThere may be no situation more dire than slipping in a whiteout and careening down an icy, 55-degree snow slope, possibly without your axe.Tech Tip – Sport – Epic insuranceYou’re psyched to try The Gift (5.12d) at Red Rocks, but it’s several letter grades beyond your previous hardest redpoint. You’re unsure about pulling the crux moves, and you might have to bail before the anchors. Tech Tip – Aid – The Alpine ButterflyA knot that is both easy to undo, and provides the convenience and safety of a separate point of attachment to clip into when passing the knot on free-hanging fixed ropes.Tech Tip – Trad – Packless and proudWhether climbing into and out of deep canyons or scaling alpine walls where the approach and descent are far apart, you’ll face extended periods of time when you have to travel with your rope and rack on your back.Tech Tip – Alpine – For womenI can write my name in the snow. I can pee in a bottle. I can guarantee consistent size and extension in minus-20 degree Fahrenheit weather on Denali, and plus-20 temps on Cotopaxi in Mexico. I am a woman.Tech Tip – Sport – Leave No TraceNothing provokes landholders more than crowded cliffs, over-stuffed parking lots, and dirtbags who shortcut day-use fees.