The Guides' Blog

Fundamentals Fridays

Staying Warm for Winter Sports

January 6, 2023 fmg-adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Fundamentals Fridays Guides' Tech Tips

It’s officially winter now, and many people are eager to get outside to enjoy the beautiful winter scenery, either by skiing, ice climbing, or just hiking. No matter the activity, staying warm is essential to an enjoyable outing. With a little bit of planning and diligence we can turn what could have been a cold, miserable day into a fun, memorable experience. By following a few basic principles, we can begin to develop good habits which will help keep us warm while out ice climbing or enjoying any cold weather activity. For this blog I’m going to talk about ice climbing, but again these principles work no matter what cold weather activity you are doing.    

To keep it simple and easy to remember, I’ve broken it down into three principles or guidelines: 

Maintain calories and hydration

Dress appropriately: layer & stay dry

Anticipate conditions

Maintaining Calories and Hydration

To efficiently produce heat, your body needs to be well nourished and hydrated. Before a day of ice climbing, I like to eat a dinner high in protein along with some carbohydrates. I also try to drink plenty of water to get ahead o




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The Figure Eight Follow-Through Knot

December 22, 2022 fmg-adminFundamentals Fridays Guiding Rock Climbing

Why do I choose to tie in with the figure eight follow-through knot? Well, that's easy: it's the knot we all know and can readily identify! The figure eight follow-through knot has many great attributes. It's simple, strong, self-cinching; it takes two complete motions to untie; it's fairly easy to untie after being loaded, and most importantly, it's easy to identify and therefore double check! That ease of identification is my number one reason for using this knot.

Over the last eleven years of climbing I've dabbled with quite a few tie-in knots, and I always find myself coming back to old faithful. I’ve gone through the phases of finishing my eight with a Yosemite finish or even the Kentucky tuck. I've tied in with rethreaded bowlines and even the brotherhood knot. I've been told and heard all sorts of reasons why these knots are all better for sending or climbing above your limit. Things like, the bowline is much easier to untie after loading it versus an eight or, the "bro" knot is way more streamlined and keeps your tail out of the way when clipping. Yeah…..those things might be true to an extent, but do the pros outweigh the c




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Fundamentals Fridays: A Back-to-Basics, KISS Resource for Rock Climbing Information

December 19, 2022 fmg-adminFundamentals Fridays Guiding Rock Climbing

With the social media explosion in the last decade and the attendant perceived need to constantly create new content to stay relevant, we have seen post after post on Instagram with climbing “tech tips.” Some are solid, but more often than not, they are just “clickbait”--some new slick trick to make you like a post, but not something you should necessarily be incorporating into your climbing repertoire, especially if you are new to climbing.  Given the limits of the forum , you are not likely to get all the caveats of a particular application or appreciate the qualifications and motivations of the person posting. 

Our goal with our Fundamentals Fridays series is to introduce you to (or reacquaint you with) tried-and-true fundamentals of climbing: simple systems, redundancy, back-ups, and preparedness, rather than showy, slick-tricks designed to get clicks. The reality is, most people just want to have a fun, meaningful, and safe climbing outing. We seek to provide you with basic knowledge that will apply in most situations rather than esoteric techniques that have limited value at best and could be dangerous if misappli




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Climbing First Aid Kit

December 8, 2022 fmg-adminFundamentals Fridays Guides' Tech Tips Rock Climbing

A climbing first aid kit should be one item that gets packed in your climbing kit no matter what......or your mountain biking kit, hiking kit, etc; basically a first aid kit should be an essential part of any kit for venturing into the wilderness. However, WHAT you put in your first aid kit can be tricky. There are plenty of kits out there that come pre-loaded with many of the essentials, but often there are items either missing or items that are not necessary.

The longer I have been climbing the less I want to carry to the crag or up the mountain. Over the years I have worked on dialing in my climbing kit which includes my first aid. I used to just buy one of those pre-loaded kits and throw that into my pack, but I started to realize that there were items in those kits that I didn’t need and they lacked items I deem essential. For this blog I’m focusing on a basic first aid kit for a single day out cragging or multipitch climbing. If you’re planning longer trips, the items below will provide a good foundation to add to. 

Prevention

Before I get into discussing the contents of my first aid kit, I’d like to emphasize that preve




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Second Coming: An Example of How to Manage Risk when Climbing

August 12, 2022 fmg-adminFundamentals Fridays Guides' Tech Tips Guiding Rock Climbing Route Beta

A few weeks ago, myself and another guide were climbing with guests and witnessed an experienced climber fall and break his ankle at the crux section of Second Coming, a popular 5.7 multi-pitch climb at Looking Glass Rock in North Carolina. We managed to get the climber to the ground, splint the ankle, and help him walk down the trail to meet with the local rescue squad. While the injury was not life threatening, it resulted in surgery and an estimated six months of recovery for the climber involved. While climbing is an inherently risky activity, this particular accident could have been prevented. Read on to find out how.

The Route

Second Coming follows a beautiful crack system for roughly 300 feet up the south side of Looking Glass. The first pitch starts off easy as 4th class terrain, but around halfway up it begins to steepen gradually. The top of the first pitch is guarded by the technical crux of the route which has some polished foot and hand holds and is steeper than the terrain below. Depending on conditions and overall comfort level, this is where you’re most likely to fall, which is roughly 80 feet off the ground. In the case




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The Pre-rigged Rappel: What is it and Why Should You Use it?

June 13, 2022 fmg-adminFundamentals Fridays Guides' Tech Tips Guiding

Most people know what rappelling is, but are you familiar with the pre-rigged rappel, what it is, and why you should use it? Essentially "pre-rigged rappel" means that everyone who will be rappelling from the top of a climb sets up their rappel device before anyone leaves the rappel station. For example, if you are in a party of three at the top of multi-pitch climb, all three of you would set up your rappel devices on the rope before the first person rappels. Why would you want to do this? We'll explore that below and also discuss how to set it up.

Rappelling Fundamentals

When I’m teaching newer climbers, one of the first questions I ask is, “what is our primary level of security when climbing a route?” Most times, people will answer “the rope.” Though the rope is certainly an integral part of climbing, it is only a backup to our movement. Our ability to climb is our first level of security, and then the fall protection system (rope, bolts, gear, belay, etc…) is in place to arrest a fall. While climbing up, the rope is just a component of the backup system we have in place. This totally changes however when it is time to desce




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Tethering on Multipitch Rock Climbs

December 15, 2021 fmg-adminFundamentals Fridays Guiding Rock Climbing

When multipitch climbing, it is imperative that we attach ourselves to the rock with some form of tether. After I first got into multipitch climbing, many people were using daisy chains as a method of securing themselves to the mountain. Due to my lack of experience at the time, I assumed that this was a standard and safe practice. Fast forward a few years, and I learned that daisy chains are intended for aid climbing and are not designed to be used as a personal anchoring system (PAS), and in fact can be dangerous if used as such. I ditched my daisy chain and started attaching myself with a sling, or sometimes two slings. While not an unsafe practice, I learned that this system is unnecessary, inefficient, and creates clutter at the anchor. Eventually I learned the practice of anchoring myself by tying a clove hitch into the rope I’m attached to and securing the clove to a locking carabiner on the master point of the anchor. 

Clove Hitch Tether

When I first discovered using the clove hitch, I felt stupid for not learning it sooner. “How simple but utterly genius!” I thought. By attaching yourself to the anchor with the rope, yo




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