Showing posts with label learning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label learning. Show all posts

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Crack Climbing Skills Seminar


Salt Pump Climbing Gym in Scarborough, Maine has several climbing seminars that are held each month. I signed up for their crack climbing seminar which is limited to 6 climbers. Janet Wilkerson taught the seminar and we learned hand jamming and finger locking. We met upstairs and introduced ourselves, then climbed and down-climbed 5 bouldering routes for warm up. There are 3 floor-to-ceiling crack routes and each is a different size, offering practice for jams, from fingers to fist, depending on hand size. We moved downstairs to the crack routes and broke up into two groups. Janet offered beta to everyone and we got to practice hand, foot and finger locking jamming techniques. In addition to the instruction, I really enjoyed the opportunity to practice techniques with other climbers who are motivated to climb crack! If you want to give crack climbing a try, sign up for the 2-hour seminar. You'll learn essential techniques to get you started, and have fun climbing crack routes! 

**Janet Wilkerson is the Marketing Director of Salt Pump Climbing. She is also an AMGA guide with Cathedral Mountain Guides.


Janet Wilkerson teaching us how to tape up

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Beginners Route - Multi Pitch Rock Climb



North Conway, NH

Beginners Route (5.5)
Trad
Whitehorse Ledge
North Conway, NH

We were both were surprised when we pulled into the parking lot. We expected the parking lot to be packed, but it wasn't. When we got to the base of the Slabs, Sean and I were the only climbers there. But after finishing up the second pitch, a group of three showed up at the base of the C-M route to set up top rope at the pine tree. And a 3rd party of two climbers showed up for Sliding Board just as we were finishing up our 3rd pitch. 










Back to climbing with Sean again. He had injured his foot earlier in the season and only now was getting back to climbing. Since he was still experiencing a bit of pain when walking, we decided to cut the route short to rappel down instead of topping off and walking down the trail. We only climbed the first 5 pitches (490ft) but I got to lead the first 3 pitches. It was so much fun, especially that 2nd pitch. 
I was also stoked that we had no one behind us on the route. I didn't feel rushed and I was able to focus on looking for pro placements. 





Trad lead is addicting. Besides the mechanical aspect of the sport, I love that it involves problem-solving and climbing/risk management - it's totally fun! Looking forward to more trad climbing!

I didn't get a chance to take a lot of photos, so here are a few. Too busy climbing! ;D


Looking up at P2 from the belay

Bringing Sean up P2







Looking up at P3 from the belay

I was tempted not to place any pro
on this pitch since the climb was so
easy,  but I did end up placing 3 pieces; a cam, a pink tricam, and then another cam.






Little pedestal at the end of P4


Piton just above the P5 belay




Views from the Smile Belay






Sunday, June 19, 2016

Multi Pitch Leader Course - Day 2

cathedral ledge, belay, north conway
Upper Refuse P2 Belay Ledge

Another fantastic day of instruction with Cathedral Mountain Guides co-owner (and American Mountain Guide Association certified guide) Bayard Russell! Ashley and I met Bayard at Cathedral Ledge for Day 2 of the 2-Day Multi Pitch Leader Course. Day 1 Lesson here

On our Day 2 lesson we headed up to Fun House for some mock leading. Before heading up to the base of the climb, Bayard took out the “North Conway Rock Climbs” guidebook and handed it to Ashley and I. We looked up the route to check its description, primarily what gear we would need. Ashley and I went through the gear and we put our water, food, camera in my small backpack. Bayard said to look through our backpack at the end of our climb and see what was left in it, then determine if we really needed it. I’m on “hiker mentality” and usually over-pack (just in case) and it wasn’t any different on this day. Bayard gave a solid piece of advice - climbing with a backpack as light as possible will help us go faster. He was right.  I found a section on the start of Fun House to be tough, especially with a heavy pack.

Fun House, Cathedral Ledge
Bayard on the start of P1

At Fun House we waited behind a party of two. The start of this route is definitely sandbagged. It’s a 5.7 but I thought it was way harder than the Pipe Pitch of the Whitney Gilman Ridge route! The first section of the dihedral was fine but I struggled up the overhanging section. Afraid that I’d put myself into an asthma attack, I had to rest and catch my breath. My backpack was also too heavy....2.5 liters of water, a camera, two pairs of approach shoes, hiking compass, hankie, bottles of bug spray and sunscreen, chemical handwarmers, Giddy hand salve, headlamp, several packs of tissue!! And I brought way too much food (PB sandwich, pear, banana, 5 protein bars, 1 Nuun) and I only ate the PB sandwich!  Bayard was right about having too much weight in my pack. I finally made it to the belay station, rested a bit and Ashley and I switched leads. Also, I didn’t think it would matter, so I didn’t organize any of the gear on my harness at this point.

Fun House, Cathedral Ledge
Ashley at the top of Fun House P1

Like the day before, Bayard kept out of our system at each belay station. While we came up on the route, he’d rap down to check our gear placement offering advice and pointing out proper/good placements, and overseeing our transitions. I had a bit of a problem trying to figure out what to place but it was because my rack was totally disorganized with cams, nuts and draws all mixed up on my harness – I was a bit annoyed at myself for not taking the time to organize the gear on my harness. At the base of Upper Refuse Bayard told me to organize all the cams & nuts on one side with the quick draws on the other side of my harness. This helped immensely!

Fun House, Cathedral Ledge
Ashley and I at the top of Fun House P2

 At Upper Refuse there was one party already on the climb. A second party started up Black Lung  then up left on Final Gesture to finish. To keep Ashley and I out of the way of the other two parties, Bayard combined the first two pitches into one, and kept to the left side (crack) of our first pitch. I found lots of good holds and kept placing gear in the crack as I went up. I found that the more gear I placed, the easier it got to figure out what to place. And what a joy it was to have all the gear organized on my harness. Made the process so much more easier and faster! 

Upper Refuse, Cathedral Ledge
Ashley and I at the top of Upper Refuse P2

Once past the first belay station I got into the chimney and the rope got insanely heavy! I kept telling myself that I'd do Upper Refuse again and on lead but I wouldn't combine the first two pitches because there is just way too much rope drag and I'd prolly get pulled off. But that climb out of the chimney onto the ledge was good. There was a sweet undercling that made the rope drag bearable. On the last pitch Bayard wasn’t tied into Ashley so she lead it legit! Yay Ashley! Like the last scramble pitch of Fun House, we finished the last scramble pitch of Upper Refuse using a terrain belay. Bayard also demonstrated the "Kiwi Coil" used for short roping protection on 3rd & 4th class terrain. And since Ashley had never been to the top of Cathedral Ledge, Bayard led the way so all three of us stood atop the summit. We hiked down back to the parking lot and Bayard went over lowering techniques. I also went through my backpack....too many stuffs I didn't use/eat and shouldn't have brought along!  :(

Upper Refuse, Cathedral Ledge
Ashley and I at the top of Upper Refuse P2

All in all, the weekend was a fantastic learning experience - Ashley got to try trad leading and I got to place as much gear as I could!

I don't know what I don't know
[Again] which is the reason I took Multi Pitch Leader course from an AMGA Guide. As with my private ice lead lessons with AlexaSiegel this past winter, I wanted to learn multi pitch trad lead climbing skills so I wouldn't have to "wing it". It was also important that I learn the most current skills used in the industry.

Bayard's services as a guide are invaluable and the semi-private professional instruction was perfect. He answered all of our questions - and we had a lot! The personal attention and constant feedback were invaluable! Not once did I feel overwhelmed, afraid or unsafe. Thank you Bayard for an awesome two days of lessons, it was fun and gratifying to learn new climbing skills. These lessons were another milestone for me. I have been rock climbing for 6 years and seconding (both ice & rock) for 3 years. I wanted to be able to have the fun opportunity of trad leading on a multi pitch climbs with my climbing buddies.


And a final thanks to my husband for his love and support!

The Multi Pitch Trad Leader Course is designed for those with a background of gym climbing and sport climbing who are comfortable leading bolt protected routes. Covered are basics of Traditional protection, anchor building, lead climbing systems and multi pitch rappelling. Taught at a 2 participant to 1 guide radio. 2 days, semi-private course.

Bayard Russell has been guiding in New Hampshire since 2003. He is a certified AMGA Rock Instructor, a team leader and director of the Mountain Rescue Service, New Hampshire’s volunteer technical rescue group, and a passionate year-around, all conditions climber. In 2008, he founded Cathedral Mountain Guides.


Links of interest:
How To Move Faster & More Safely Through 3rd & 4th Class Terrain
http://www.outdoorresearch.com/blog/stories/how-to-move-faster-and-more-safely-through-3rd-and-4th-class-terrain

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Multi Pitch Leader Course - Day 1

cathedral, north conway, rock climbing

A fantastic first day of instruction with Cathedral Mountain Guides co-owner (and American Mountain Guide Association certified guide) Bayard Russell! Ashley and I met Bayard at the North End of Cathedral Ledge to start the Day 1 of the 2-Day Multi Pitch Leader Course. Day 2 Lesson here.





The first thing Bayard showed us was a typical “Cathedral Ledge Trad Rack”. We went over the different types of Cams, stoppers, slings, quickdraws needed for a typical climb at Cathedral Ledges. I was actually surprised that the rack wasn’t larger.












He showed us how to place gear in cracks starting with stoppers. I have to admit, I was not a fan of stoppers. But after this weekend’s lesson, I really like their versatility. Their tapered shape as well as their concaved side can allow it to be placed in pretty much any orientation.



















Afterwards, we practiced building trad anchors using cams and nuts. I really dig this “quad anchor”!


















What I like about the Quad Anchor is that it's super easy and fast to build. And the leader and second can be anchored in and equalized neatly, very quickly and with ease.







Nice crowd at the North End






After covering multi pitch rappelling, we headed out to Whitehorse Ledge. We did 4 pitches up the Standard Route via The Crystal Pocket to the thread anchor in the main arch. Ashley making her way up to The Crystal Pocket.






Selfie at The Crystal Pocket


From there we practiced multi pitch rappelling where Bayard stayed out of our system at each rap station in order to oversee our transitional process.




On our way out to the parking lot a couple in a pink golf cart drove by and her putter fell out. I called out to them and they stopped and let me get a photo next to her custom cart! It was meant to be!


Links of interest:
Revisting the Quad for Load Distribution and Stance Management
by Dick Chasse
http://www.rockandice.com/Article-Images/Quad-Anchor-full-paper.pdf

Climbing Anchors and the Evolution of the Quad
by Dick Chasse
http://www.rockandice.com/climbing-news/climbing-anchors-and-the-evolution-of-the-quad

The Masterpoint, The Shelf, The Components: Anchor Anatomy In Action
by American Alpine Club
https://americanalpineclub.org/resources-blog/2016/6/27/the-masterpoint-the-shelf-the-components-anchor-anatomy-in-action



The Multi Pitch Trad Leader Course is designed for those with a background of gym climbing and sport climbing who are comfortable leading bolt protected routes. Covered are basics of Traditional protection, anchor building, lead climbing systems and multi pitch rappelling. Taught at a 2 participant to 1 guide radio. 2 days, semi-private course. 

Bayard Russell has been guiding in New Hampshire since 2003. He is a certified AMGA Rock Instructor, a team leader and director of the Mountain Rescue Service, New Hampshire’s volunteer technical rescue group, and a passionate year-around, all conditions climber. In 2008, he founded Cathedral Mountain Guides.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Private Lead Ice Climbing Lesson - Day 2


first ice lead, lesson, thresher, cathedral ledge
On the sharp end! Thresher (WI3)
Cathedral Ledge, NH



Today I had my second private lesson with Alexa Siegel of Cathedral Mountain Guides. We headed out to Cathedral Ledge for the day. It was warm and we didn't know if it would be good for me to start leading, but there were cold temps for several nights providing some good enough ice. So when we got there, we found that the conditions of the ice were ideal for learning to lead. I had good sticks and feet all day! I ended up leading two easy short routes at Cathedral; the North End slab (WI2) & Thresher (WI3).



At the North End Pillars I did a warm up climb on top rope, then a mock lead climb on top rope. On my warm-up climb I got to try out Alexa's Nomic Ice Tools and they were definitely aggressive and weighed differently from my Quarks. She also had pick weights on her tools. Following my warm-ups, I got a lesson in building an anchor with one ice screw and a v-thread.




Alexa

After a quick snack and a lesson about "Harness Organization", we were off to the nearby North End Slab (WI2) to do my first lead. We turned the climb into a 2-pitch climb so I could lead, bring Alexa up and swap leads to finish. 


Leading up the North End Slab







My anchor. Oops, that rope is supposed to be in the right side of my belay device! I did have a bit of trouble with the v-thread.  At first, the two holes didn't quiet match up - the right side was just a wee bit higher than the left. After several unsuccessful attempts to thread it, I realized I should just take that extra 30 seconds and re-do the hole. Sure enough it worked. Alexa said I shouldn't rush. Also, once I clove-hitch into my anchor, I should let my second know that I'm "off belay".... forgot to do this on both my leads and kept Alexa waiting on my belay.







Happy lead!

Coming up on the second pitch


Hauling & Lowering
After our lunch, Alexa set up an anchor on a nearby tree and we went over more skills sets. We went over Lowering and Hauling again, but this time I really had to lower and then haul her up. Alexa set up an anchor onto one of the trees and we both tied in. We were on an incline and I had to lower her and then haul her up. And Alexa didn’t let up either….she put all of her weight onto the rope and made me haul her – it was a lot of work, even for just a couple of feet!

Rappeling
I have never liked extending my rappels and always attached my “third hand” to my leg loop. But Alexa said that setup allowed for possible tipping if stopped suddenly. And it was also possible for the leg loop to come undone. I learned how to extend my rappel with a Nylon (not Dynema) tether, and to connect my “third hand” onto my belay loop - especially handy/quick for multi-pitch raps. 

I got onto Thresher (WI3) for my second lead. By that time of the day there was so much water running. Alexa advised me to place a second piece of pro as high up and directly above my first piece of pro. If the ice is questionable, back up the first piece of pro in case it fails. I continued on and placed my 3rd piece of pro just below the bulge. Once over the bulge and on the ledge, I brushed away the snow looking to place another piece of pro, but all the ice underneath was baked. So I ended up running it out and set up an anchor on the tree in the back. Then I brought Alexa up, and we both rapped down. Such a mellow day of learning and climbing!


*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

New Gear
On my last lesson I got the op to try out some OR gloves. Using the discount Alexa gave me, I purchased a pair of OR Women's Stormsensor Gloves which I received in time to use them in today's lesson. They are fabulous! They fit well, I don't have to remove them when using my iPhone, they are the perfect "lead gloves"! I also bought a Sterling Hollow Block 6.8mm to use in place of my Prussik cord. Faster for setting up Autoblocks for rapping, hauling and lowering! Yup! 




V-Thread Tool
I also bought a new v-thread tool. Practicing threading the cordllette made me realize that the Candela v-thread tool wasn't for me. It couldn't catch the cordlette like the one that Alexa had. Her's had a pointy hook on it and catching just one thread on the cordlette was enough to pull it through to set up the v-thread. So I ended up getting the Cassin Scoprio V-Thread Tool. 



I don't know what I don't know
Which is why I took private lessons from a AMGA Guide for learning how to lead ice. I learned a lot in my two days of lessons with Alexa - she was patient, positive and clearly loves to teach! There was no "winging it".... I was confident that not only would I learn the skills necessary in order to lead, but learn the most current skills used in the industry. Alexa's services as a guide are invaluable and the one-on-one professional instruction was perfect for me. Not once did I feel overwhelmed, afraid or unsafe. I was indeed nervous when it came time to actually lead, but it was partly because I really wanted to do well at leading and hoping I wouldn't forget anything.

Like my first Private Lead Ice climbing lesson, I also got an outline of everything that was covered so that I can practice the new skills.

Thank you Alexa for an awesome two days of lessons, it was fun and gratifying to learn new skills for ice climbing. These private lessons were a milestone for me. I have been ice climbing for 5 years and seconding (both ice & rock) for 3 years. I wanted to be a "strong second" before learning to lead ice. And a final thanks to my husband for his love and support - these private lead ice climbing lessons were his Christmas (2015) gift to me!

Alexa Siegel works year round as a climbing guide for Cathedral Mountain Guides, Mooney Mountain Guides, The White Mountain Climbing Camp and The Kismet Rock Foundation. She is an AMGA Certified Single Pitch Instructor and Wilderness First Responder. Along with Janet Wilkinson, Alexa started a Ladies Only Climbing Series with Cathedral Mountain Guides teaching women of all abilities ice climbing and mountaineering skills. She is a grassroots athlete for Outdoor Research and a member of Mountain Rescue Service.


YouTube Channel - Hawaii Girl Adventures

Check out my YouTube channel at:  Hawaii Girl Adventures I will eventually be phasing out blog posts and be posting videos of my climbing, h...