The Guide's Blog

Alpine Climbing

How to Dress for Mountaineering & Ice Climbing

January 9, 2024 fmg-adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Guides' Tech Tips

It’s nearly winter, and I have started to gather my equipment together for my annual migration to New England for ice climbing and mountaineering.  It’s second nature now, but packing for a mountaineering objective was overwhelming when I was first starting out. I’m gonna share my systems with you all- I hope to clarify and simplify all the stuff that’s needed to be comfortable in the mountains.(let's’ be honest- there are plenty of ways to suffer. Poor kit choices shouldn’t be one of them)

One important note when you are assembling your kit: Have your detective hat on when looking at gear. I’ve noticed a trend in the mainstream outdoor gear industry-street style is now being integrated into the design ethos of the kit. Ask yourself, Is it designed for the mountains or is it designed for Starbucks? Speaking of trends, Some of these same companies are also using the bleeding edge of climbing to influence design choices. The $900 ultralight Dyneema backpack or tent may be super useful for a trip to the north faces of the Himalaya, but for a first time kit that’s nowhere near necessary. All that happens is the high spe




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Belaying Two Followers: Split Rope Technique

April 13, 2023 fmg-adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Guides' Tech Tips Rock Climbing

As an ice climbing guide, I often use a split rope technique for belaying two followers (primarily to keep two climbers climbing simultaneously far enough away from each other to avoid being hit by ice). Recently, I've been using it while guiding rock as well, as I've found it to be a useful technique to streamline my systems.

For context, let’s first discuss belaying two followers at a time, in a parallel fashion, on rock. Typically, we as guides (and competent climbers) have used a plaquette style device (Reverso, ATC Guide, GiGi, etc) with both strands through one device. Simple, right?  It’s straightforward, until you need to manipulate the system in any way. That's why I consider it a contingent system. Both ropes rely upon a single blocking carabiner that holds both of them in place within the device. In order to remove one rope, we need some sort of terminal closure to keep the other climber safe while removing a strand of rope.  The system gets complex quickly, and there is space for error in the potential mess. On top of this, the two-ropes/one-device system has a significant failure mode if used on a traversing pitch. The




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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 al




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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 kilom




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