The Guide's Blog

Alpine & Ice Climbing

More Tools, Fewer Rules

November 3, 2016 fmg-adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Guiding Rock Climbing

It is easy to have an idea that is “black and white."  Concepts are easily digestible when there are rules to abide by.

“ALWAYS do it THIS way! NEVER do it THAT way!”

This is especially true given the mortal danger that is inherent in mountain sports. Rules often represent security to us thereby allowing us to relax a bit and enjoy the dance of climbing. These rules however, are concrete and we are not likely to rearrange or adapt them with changing contexts. Principles, however, can be sorted in different ways and allow us some flexibility when the environment throws us a curve ball. I tend to recommend a PRINCIPLE-based approach to climbing instead of one dominated by RULES.

There is a good reason why we learn anchoring fundamentals with acronyms such as NERDSS or ERNEST. They are systems of principles that should be met, and not a formula or prescribed method for the perfect anchor in all situations. The real world is not a laboratory, and no two environments are congruent. If you are only climbing single pitch routes using a sling shot top rope system, you will likely use a well built anchor on two bolts, trees ,or multiple we




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Ice Climbing

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing AMGA Courses Guiding

As the summer guiding season comes to an end, I finally have some time to write. Also my thoughts begin to wander towards what is to come. Most rock climbers are getting excited about the fall temps with drier air. Fiction will be plentiful and many projects will fall to those who have been training over the past few humid months. But for me, I am more excited about the cold temps that tend to follow the cool of the fall. I cannot wait for winter to get here.

I thoroughly enjoy climbing in the winter, particularly the ice climbing. I have been ice climbing since 2008 when I took a trip to Ouray, Colorado. There I was blown away at how much fun climbing frozen water can be. I loved it so much that upon my return to Illinois, I began scheming of ways to go back to Ouray. The plans were never put into action and I remained in Illinois for a few more years. During those years, I did begin to purchase boots, crampons, and ice tools. That same winter, the weather was cold enough to form some of the waterfalls at Jackson Falls into ice climbs.

The next winter I did my first ice leads in North Carolina and in New Hampshire. I was hooked. That next




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Book Review of Training for the New Alpinism by Steve House

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Gear Reviews

Recently, Patagonia Books published Training for the New Alpinism: A Manual for the Climber as Athlete by Steve House and Scott Johnston. Constantly seeking to better myself as a climber, I could not resist the title. I have read Mark Twight’s Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light, Fast, and High cover-to-cover numerous times. At the time of publication, it was widely considered a template for cutting-edge alpinism involving structured physical training and unconventional techniques on next-level climbs. House and Johnston’s new book appeared to be a worthy successor to Twight’s title, and it certainly proved so on the first read.

The first thing I noticed when I got the book was its size; this thing is BIG. The author’s choice of the word “manual” for the title was clearly intentional. The book is textbook-sized and organized like one. Like any good textbook, though, the material is presented in an extremely accessible manner. The writing style utilizes clear, concise, and palatable word choice. It addresses complex topics in a way that allows for comprehension while avoiding oversimplification as well as unnecessary details. The text




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Ice Climbing: “A Leader’s Game”

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Guiding

Ice climbing is one of the essential tools for alpine climbing. Moving efficiently across mixed and ice terrain is a must to be efficient in the mountains. Ice climbing as a sport itself has exploded over the past ten years. There are now “ice fests” all across the country, and many folks attend these, take clinics, and try out all the new exciting gear.

This year in New Hampshire, I helped run the first ever Advanced Ice course that Fox Mountain Guides has offered, with the main focus on leading ice. In this course we talk about the seriousness of the leads and how ice climbing isn’t like rock climbing in that falling is not an accepted part of leading. We look at videos like this one (Dracula Fall) and this one (Kennedy Gully). We talk about what went wrong and how to avoid these problems.

By the time we put our guests on the sharp end, they tend to style WI3+/4-. The reason: they understand they can’t fall. We teach them to be very methodical and to move with the confidence of an unroped ascent. They understand what the risks are and accept them before they leave the ground. I can teach someone who is reasonably athletic to cli




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Whiteside Mountain Ice Topo Map

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing

With ice season in full swing here in North Carolina, I've been spending a lot of time sinking my picks into the frozen stuff at Whiteside Mountain.  With fickle ice conditions in the Southeast, it can be hard to know when the ice is in.  But with ice climbing beta so hard to come by, it can also be challenging to know where the ice is in.  I thought I would rectify this by producing the first complete, publicly available topo map of Whiteside Mountain, NC, where the ice is frequently great and there is plenty of it to choose from.  Single pitch or multipitch, moderate ice slabs or overhanging mixed projects--there's a little bit of everything at Whitesides.  If you'd like the personalized tour, book a day with one of our guides.  Or, if you've got a handle on southern ice but would like to try your hand at some crystalline waterfalls a bit further afield, check out our full bevvy of ice climbing programs in New Hampshire.




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Patagonia Trip Report

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Rock Climbing The Guides' Climbing Adventures

In November 2013, Derek DeBruin, Kevin Shon, and Karsten Delap traveled to Argentina to attempt a new route on the east face of Cerro San Lorenzo. San Lorenzo is located in central Patagonia, north of Chaltén in the Santa Cruz province. Entrance to the southern reaches of the Argentine portion of the mountain is gained through Parque Nacional Perito Moreno.

The trio began the trek via the Rio Lacteo Valley on November 15 with enough time and provisions for approximately 8 to 10 days while waiting for a weather window. After 5 days camped in the morainal talus near the head of Glaciar Lacteo, the group experienced only poor weather, predominantly freezing rain and snow with extreme winds.

Finally, a morning of fair skies led to a brief 12-hour weather window. This was not enough time to attempt a route on San Lorenzo’s approximately 5,000 foot east face, but did provide an opening for climbing on the agujas of nearby Cerro Penitentes. The team completed a first ascent of the northernmost pillar of Cerro Penitentes at an elevation of 2211 meters (7,254 feet). The pillar included approximately 80 feet of 5.7 climbing atop approximately 5




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Karsten becomes first AMGA Certified Alpine Guide in Southeast

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing AMGA Courses Guiding

Fox Mountain Guides strives to be on the pinnacle of the guiding profession. The founder of FMG, Adam Fox, came to Western North Carolina and saw a need for American Mountain Guides Association certified guides. Burton Moomaw and Bryan Haslam had become AMGA certified Level 1 Rock Guides (now Rock Instructor) in the 90’s and Adam decided he wanted to take the certification to the next level, the international standard.

Setting the bar high, Adam became the first AMGA Certified Rock Guide in the Southeast in 2001. A few AMGA certified Rock Instructors popped up following Adam's lead: Ron Funderburke, Patrick Weaver, Karsten Delap, and Swis Stockton; three of whom were FMG employees at the time of certification. With the continued education that FMG presented to its employees, it was no surprise that Karsten Delap would become the next AMGA certified Rock Guide with Lindsay Fixmer and Ron Funderburke following closely behind. The bar had been raised to its peak for rock guiding certification.

In the alpine realm, only two individuals in Western North Carolina had pursued any training: Stuart Cowles and Josh Whitmore, both taking the Alpine




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Early Season Ice Gear Thoughts

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Guiding

Thank you nature, there's a chill in the air. Sweaty season is over. I'm putting on a light jacket in the morning and that means ice season is on its way.

What kind of gear should you let dry by a fire after a great day of ice climbing? I asked the Fox Mountain Guides and below is a summary of answers to some questions from a client joining us for the upcoming New Hampshire ice trip.

Leashes,tethers, or nada?

Nada is the most common answer. Leashes are handcuffs. I admit to dropping a tool near my belaying son last year though and plan to get tethers for multi-pitch terrain where a tool loss would be a major problem.

Adzes, hammers, or nothing?

Hammers on both tools. Less fear of severe face lacerations. A hammer to hammer pick setting can be good for the nerves when things get scary on lead. The answers from guides who visit alpine terrain remind us that an adze can be handy for carving out steps,bollards and platforms.

Mono point or dual point?

Dual. Mono points are well liked for the most technical ice but two point crampons were the most frequent answer. Some serious efficiency was mentioned however by using mono points




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Where’s That Fox?

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Guiding Rock Climbing The Guides' Climbing Adventures

Congratulations to Karen Peress for correctly identifying The South Face of the Petit Grepon and winning a new Black Diamond X4!!




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Coiling a Climbing Rope with Fox Mountain Guide Travis Weil

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Guiding Rock Climbing


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Locking Munter Hitch

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Guiding Rock Climbing


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Alpine Slideshow by FMG Guides!!!

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Events and Slide Shows Guiding

 




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New Hampshire Ice Trip Tops My List

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Guiding

The annual Fox Mountain Guides New Hampshire Ice Trip is well underway and in fact coming to a close! As one of my favorite trips, it saddens me to see it come to a end every year! The ice climbing in New Hampshire is world class with short approches and everything from easy, beginner level ice to hardman mixed climbing.

Our month up here starts off with our Ice Climbing 101 Course and the Mountain Washington Valley Ice Fest. I am always psyched to hang out and watch slideshows from some of the best climbers in NH and the world as well as help put on the clinics for this event. Our 101 guests join us in the fun as we cook every night in the chalet and play games and the occasional joke (or magic trick this year) on each other.

We head out to local crags every day and make sure no one goes home without a forearm pump! For those wanting to stay a little longer or pick up where they left off from the previous year, the Ice 201 Course brings an even bigger "pump." It culimnates with multi-pitch climbing for the all-around ice climbing experience!

Many clients come and book their favorite guide for a few days of climbing where




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Hallet Peak: Putting the BlueWater 9.1 Icon to the Test

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Gear Reviews

Fellow AMGA Rock Guide Lindsay Fixmer and I recently tested out the BlueWater 9.1 Icon on spectacular Hallet Peak in the Rocky Mountain National Park. As you can see, this rope sets a new standard for performance in the alpine:




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REI Presentation: Aconcagua

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Events and Slide Shows The Guides' Climbing Adventures

The tallest mountain outside of Asia, Aconcagua stands at 22,840 feet offering all inspired climbers an exhilarating experience full of physical and mental challenges. From hiking through the Vacas Valley, crossing flowing rivers lush from summer glacial thaw to cramponing snow fields above Camp 2 at 20,000 ft, Aconcagua offers it all!

Join guides Karsten Delap and Lindsay Fixmer as they lead teams trekking through the beauty of an Argentinian summer in the mountains. Follow them on an amazing journey with breathtaking views, overcoming numerous.

March 8th: @ 7pm @ REI Atlanta

REI Atlanta located at 1800 Northeast Expy NE. Atlanta, GA 30329

404-633-6508

March 9th: @ 7pm @ REI Kennesaw

REI Kennesaw located at 740 Barrett Parkway Ste. 450 Kennesaw, GA 30144

770-425-4480

March 10th: @ 7pm @ REI Asheville

REI Asheville located at 31 Schenck Parkway Asheville, NC 28803

828-687-0918




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