Hallet Peak: Putting the BlueWater 9.1 Icon to the Test

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:

Thinking About the Climbs We Guide

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, for example, has never enjoyed a single climb that I treasure.  And could I love her any less?  Probably not. I love that she loves different climbs, and that each climb enjoys the exclusive affections of some of us, but not all of us.  It makes us all so much richer, so much more privileged and mirthful in each other’s company.

“Did you like that climb?” I have asked.

“Well, no offense, but I hated it.”  Some have responded.

My reaction is always the same.  I laugh with joy, despite myself.  So wonderfully rich and diverse are our experiences of the world, that my most revered climbs can be scorned in one breath and lauded in the next.

“I liked the first one we did much better.”  Some have said to me.

“The chossy warm-up I did because everything else was taken?????” I have responded.

“Yeah, it was fun, and the rock was so much different than everything else out here.”

And I can’t help but cackle with delight.  I love these climbs, all of them, I confess.  I’ve been taught to love them by the unpredictable preferences of my great friends, and guests, and partners.  It is always such an impressive thing for me, even after all these years.

A Quick Jaunt Up The Glass

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 ‘Nose’ on Looking Glass Rock just for a bit of fun. The Nose is the Southeast classic climb home of the fabled ‘eyebrows’. The 400ft, four pitch 5.8 climb is a must do for any climber visiting the area. We headed out to Looking Glass, hiking to the base of The Nose and casting off on the first pitch at 7.30pm. I combined the first two pitches and belayed them up with parallel rope technique, reorganized and fired up to the ‘Parking Lot’ and the 3rd pitch ledge. For Callum, Henry and Grace this was their first taste of North Carolina Granite and view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

From the Parking Lot I lead the last pitch to the summit and brought them up to check out the stunning views and sunset from the top of Looking Glass. Three rapps down and we were coiling the ropes at 8.50pm, one hour twenty minutes with a team of five up the Nose and down again, not bad for the beginning of the season! I must say it’s nice to hike down the Nose trail by flashlight in these nice cool temps rather than running from a storm or sweating in 100 degree heat.

Here’s to another great summer season!

REI Presentation: Aconcagua


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


March 9th: @ 7pm @ REI Kennesaw

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


March 10th: @ 7pm @ REI Asheville

REI Asheville located at 31 Schenck Parkway Asheville, NC 28803