A Week in the Life of My Deuter SpeedliteJanuary 13, 2017 fmg-adminGear Reviews Rock Climbing The Guides' Climbing Adventures
I like versatility. I love it when my gear can transition between many tasks and suit each one with ease. In fact, as a guide, I NEED my gear to be able to fill multiple roles. This single best piece of gear I have that fits this bill is the Deuter Speedlite 20. To iIlustrate just how versatile it is, consider how it performed as I got ready for a climbing trip to Las Vegas recently.
Saturday - Sunday: I spend my weekends guiding guests who have waited all week to get out into the mountains and enjoy a carefree day of rock climbing in Western North Carolina. Often this is a multi-pitch, day and I'm meeting my guests in the Linville Gorge. Our objective is Table Rock on Saturday and the remote Amphitheater on Sunday. I put my harness on with my “Guide’s Rack” on my waist. In my Speedlite, I have climbing shoes and a chalk bag, first aid kit, 2L water bladder, single rack of protection, and an extra layer or two. Inside the small, quick access pocket, I put in my lunch, snacks and headlamp. On the outside, using the compression straps, I secure my helmet neatly on the outside. This pack goes from a full 20+L and compresses to less than 10
What to Bring Cragging: Trad ClimbingDecember 13, 2016 fmg-adminGear Reviews Rock Climbing The Guides' Climbing Adventures
In the time I have spent rock climbing, I have really loved going to crags that rely on the use of traditional gear. What I love most is the type of terrain and the areas that can be visited. You can challenge yourself on hardstuff or climb really fun, longer, moderate terrain too. Multi-pitching allows you to get higher off the ground, giving a greater feeling of exposure. It usually involves climbing with a partner, and you can develop strong bonds with those you share a rope with. Crack climbing has been my favorite traditional pursuit. I love the art of jamming! Cracks form striking natural features that catch the eye first. It’s an obvious path to the top, and they usually protect really well.
Trad climbing is gear intensive, requires a higher level of technical skill, and is a more thoughtful type of climbing. These places are rich with climbing history, can feel more adventurous, bold, and at times (especially on slabs, or here in North Carolina) downright scary. I recommend getting guidebooks because they are a great source for this information. They can be expensive, but they make a great souvenir, and help avoid unnecessary epics.
More Tools, Fewer RulesNovember 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
The Flat Overhand, Not the EDK…October 18, 2016 fmg-adminGuiding Rock Climbing
There has been much controversy over the flat overhand knot, otherwise know as EDK (Euro Death Knot) for rappelling in the media lately. Much of the controversy has to do with the “rolling” of the knot, and most of the time it is actually the flat figure eight that everyone is talking about. I have recently even seen the flat figure eight called the other version of the EDK, and now there is an article called “A Better EDK." These of course are published by well-known American climbing magazines.
So lets first get the names of the knots correct.
This is the Flat Overhand:
This is the Flat Figure Eight:
This is the EDK:
Notice there is no picture…
Because we should stop calling any knot a Euro Death Knot, but if you must, use that term to describe the flat figure eight knot.
This is the knot being referred to as a “A better EDK”:
It is really easy for me to give you instances of when and when not to use these knots for the weekend warrior climber.
Flat Figure 8 should be used, never.
“A better EDK," never.
Use a flat overhand when rappelling.
Since we onl
Changing of SeasonSeptember 28, 2016 fmg-adminRock Climbing The Guides' Climbing Adventures Uncategorized
As climbers, we all know those magical months of Sendtember and Rocktober. The temperatures begin to shift into pleasant ranges and we start to spend more time on our projects and trying to squeeze in as many pitches in the day before the glorious fading to dark which always seems to come just a bit too soon. The joys of climbing in the fall are always something I look forward to each year. This year I have plenty of routes on my tick list that I hope to send or at least make some progress on.
With the changing of the season from a risk management perspective this is the time of year, I start to change how I pack for a day out and how I plan for the day. The earlier sunsets remind me to change out my headlamp batteries and have spares in my pack in case I decide that one more pitch by headlamp is worth it. Adding extra layers and a warm hat to my multi-pitch pack also just in case my leader gets off route on that last pitch and we have a longer than intended night. In addition to those things when it comes to warmth I plan for some extra food to keep the furnace stoked. Other items I may try to find room for may include a good size trash bag,
Bumblebee Buttress: A Linville Gorge AdventureSeptember 22, 2016 fmg-adminRock Climbing Route Beta The Guides' Climbing Adventures
With the recent lifting of Peregrine Falcon closures (http://carolinaclimbers.org/closures/2016lifted.html) , cool temperatures in the Linville Gorge, and a willing partner, I decided to venture to the rarely traveled North Carolina Wall to sample a classic NC moderate, Bumblebee Buttress (5.8).
I have heard many stories of BB, and it’s intimidating reputation. Imagine the classic movement of White Lightning on Table Rock with the remoteness and position of the Amphitheater. Put those two things together and you have the truly classic climbing that is Bumblebee Buttress. Here is a detailed description of the route with some personal accounts and suggestions of each pitch. As always, please use this information in conjunction with a guide book and other sources like Mountain Project and trip reports.
What to Bring:
Pack: I prefer to tackle multi-pitch objectives in Linville by placing all of my things comfortably into my 32 Liter Deuter Guide Lite and then, upon reaching the top of the cliff, switch out with my Deuter Speed Lite 20 for decent and climbing.
Rack: Full set of cams from single set BD C3’s 00-2, BD C4’s .3-4 with d
Rappel Extension OptionsJuly 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminGuiding Rock Climbing
When a technical descent requires a rappel, choosing to add an extension is often beneficial for adding safety and efficiency. There are a variety of methods for creating rappel extensions, each one carrying advantages and disadvantages making use of materials and application important. With this in mind we will explore some of the ways to extend rappels while looking at the nuances of the individual methods.
First, lets take a look at the girth-hitching methods. The girth hitch with anchor attachments has come under scrutiny in the last decade due to it causing weakening of the material used, so it is best to use nylon and stay away from super static, ultra-high-molecular-weight polyurethane, (UHMWPE) materials like dyneema for this application.
This “girth hitched master-point” method makes a very obvious master-point for the rappel device and attachment to the anchor. Once you start to descend you clip the anchoring carabineer to your belay loop to make the system redundant while on rappel. The downside to this method is you should use nylon and the tether is not all that long as tying the master point eats up a lot of material.
Nature Deficit Disorder?July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminGuiding Rock Climbing
Nature Deficit Disorder! Really? There has been so much great conversation in the press the last several years about the value of kids getting outside more often and I love the conversations it has sparked. Do I think we need another set of letters to throw around describing behaviors that worry us as parents? No, not really. I love taking people climbing, often for me those days are more rewarding than sending a new route from my personal tick list, I suppose that is one reason I enjoy my work with Fox Mountain Guides. The interactions between family members while out climbing are one of my favorite aspects of this work. Watching a child belay a parent and seeing the parent trust that child when they take a fall or get lowered down from a high ledge is inspiring for me. Siblings pushing one another and building each other up to tackle a harder climb or give the crux one more try are other moments always grand to witness. When young people engage in climbing I believe that some amazing things can happen.
A concept in psychology that often gets discussed is Internal versus External Locus of Control. Being too rigidly entrenched on either side
AMGA SPI student Zach SilbermanJuly 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAMGA Courses Guiding Rock Climbing
his Spring, on April 5-7, Zach Silberman participated in the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course with Fox Mountain Guides. Zach was a great student, and he documented much of his experience. Here is rare glimpse into the day to day insights and experiences of an aspiring single pitch instructor:
Today we ventured to the base of Looking Glass, South Side. After a long but modest hike, we set up at the base of a slabbed out 5.10, a couple moderate crack climbs, and another climb that Ron selected to demonstrate the difference between leading a lead and instructing a lead.
Lesson 1: Organize the Locker Room.
Ron gave us a quick rundown of professionalism at the crag and to make sure clients understand the process.
Why wear a helmet?
How and where do I poop?
How do I belay?
What is a back up belay?
After the quick chat, he laced up and talked us through the climb to point out key cruxes and demonstrated proper hand, foot, and cam placement.
Once setting up a top rope for us to climb, Ron led us through the history of belaying. Beginning with the elusive butt belay, then the Munter Hitch, followed by the
FMG Summer Camp 2014 RecapJuly 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminGuiding Rock Climbing
Regular Camp A with Travis
Our first summer camp of the season was a great success! Campers started this exciting week with a quick session at the Nose Area of Looking Glass on arrival day, which prepared them for some serious crushing at the South Face on Monday. Taking a break from ropes, they pushed themselves on the boulders at Rumbling Bald Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday campers covered hundreds of feet rock multi-pitch climbing at Looking Glass and Table Rock. Camper Cathy Kramer even got to lead the first pitch of the "Cave Route" at Table Rock! Camp ended with a fun day of top roping at Rumbling Bald on Friday where campers tried hard on climbs like "Frosted Flake."
Regular Camp B with Ron
Sunday started what would become a trend for the week- water soloing, or climbing ropeless on boulders overhanging swimming holes. Campers' incentive not to fall was the icy water below! Monday and Tuesday camp went top roping at the North Side of Looking Glass and at Cedar Rock. At Cedar Rock, camper Davis picked "Glass Dancer" for Ron's instructor challenge- an opportunity for campers to choose any route they want to see an instructor cl
Patagonia Trip ReportJuly 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
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!!
Coiling a Climbing Rope with Fox Mountain Guide Travis WeilJuly 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Guiding Rock Climbing
The White CoastJuly 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminGuiding Rock Climbing The Guides' Climbing Adventures
When you mix the world’s two largest features, the mountains and the sea, you can bet there will be breathtaking views with vast, dramatic landscapes and succulent food to round out the climbing experience. The Costa Blanca region of Spain didn’t let me down.
If I ignored the setting and just had raw climbing, I would have still had fun. The steep limestone feeds the need for a pump while the larger formations give the enduro day its due. The area is mostly bolted with the longer routes needing supplemental gear. We climbed routes ranging from 3+ to 7a+ (5.6 to 5.12) and only tapped the surface. There is much unclimbed rock in the region for those FA adventure seekers. Here are a few crags, restaurants, and sites one doesn’t want to miss:
Penon de lfach: The landmark of the Costa Blanca, this 332m tower perched above the Mediterranean Sea has multi pitch routes ranging from 5+ to 7b (5.10 to 5.12b). We climbed a 6a+ variation of Via Valencianos, a route with quite a bit of loose rock and polished cruxes but with a view that is among the most spectacular in the world.
Olta: Fantastic rock quality and bir
Ron Funderburke takes over as the AMGA Single Pitch Ins. Discipline CoordinatorJuly 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAMGA Courses Guiding Rock Climbing
Fox Mountain Guides Head guide Ron Funderburke took over the American Mountain Guides Single Pitch Instructor Discipline Coordinator position on Monday. This position puts Ron in charge of the direction of the program as well as the training for all the AMGA SPI providers across the country. Ron's extensive experience instructing in single pitch terrain as well as his back ground in teaching helped him secure this position. Fox Mountain Guides is excited for Ron and as always values his leadership to keep us on the cutting edge of guiding and instuction in the United States and the world. Here is Ron's statement to the AMGA membership:
With utmost excitement, I am pleased to accept the post as Discipline Coordinator for the AMGA SPI Program. The program has enjoyed some unprecedented successes since it's inception in 2008, and that is a credit to the excellent students, instructors, providers, and trainers. My fervent hope is that everyone out there is still as invested as I am. The front lines of American climbing instruction have always been the single pitch crags, and single pitch instruction is the face of our guides association. That was
Locking Munter HitchJuly 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Guiding Rock Climbing
Tyrollean Makes the Red River Gorge SPI Assessment a Go!July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAMGA Courses Guiding Rock Climbing
The AMGA Single Pitch Instructor assesment that was just taught in the Red River Gorge was a full-conditions course. Karsten had to set a tyrollean over the river because there was so much rain on the first day that there were flash floods!
Find out More about our AMGA SPI instructor programs.
Where’s That Fox?July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminGuiding Rock Climbing The Guides' Climbing Adventures
Congratulations to Michael Morely for correctly identifying this route as "White Trash" (12a) at Smith Rock and winning a BlueWater 9.1 Icon rope.
Thinking About the Climbs We GuideJuly 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminGuiding Rock Climbing
I love these climbs more than most. I know them like my children’s faces. I love them on the hottest day. I love them in accumulating snow. I love them in the pouring rain. And, I love when people meet the climbs I love.
Tonight, I can barely remember the first time I kissed my wife. I remember the story of our first kiss, because I have told it many times. But I don’t remember what I my own lips felt like back then, much less hers. In the same manner, I do not remember when I first deciphered the Nose of Looking Glass Rock, or bashed my way to the top of Gumbie’s Rampage, or first dangling off the Tilted World. Those climbs are so far into my past that the first time is no longer a feeling that I can remember. They have become fluid, unpretentious, thoughtless motion. Affectionate, but familiar, like kissing my wife.
That’s why I love when people meet the climbs that I love. I can look into their faces, flash through the vortex of time, and experience, and hundreds of laps up these climbs, and revive my own past in that vicarious moment.
Sometimes, people do not love the climbs that I love. My wife, f
A Quick Jaunt Up The GlassJuly 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminGuiding Rock Climbing The Guides' Climbing Adventures
Nineteen years ago I came to North Carolina for the first season at Camp Blue Star as a climbing ‘specialist’ to work for the summer. Nineteen years later I am still proud to be affiliated with Camp Blue Star and serve in a staff hiring and training role for their climbing program. This year, sounding like the start to a cheesy joke the climbing team is an American, a New Zealander and two English guys. Trey is AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Certified and Callum is the UK equivalent (MLTE Single Pitch Award) but Blue Star is still putting him through the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course and Assessment. All four will also be taking the two day AMGA Climbing Wall Instructor Course this weekend and eight day Wilderness First Responder certification (as well as five days of climbing training with me later this month). For me this is what sets Blue Star apart from other summer camps, the comprehensive unparalleled staff training for their Outdoor Adventure Program Staff.
Even though we don’t technically start climbing staff training for another week I rounded them up the other night at the dining hall to take them on a quick trip up the ‘N