The Guide's Blog

Rock Climbing

The Munter Mule Overhand (MMO)

April 22, 2023 fmg-adminGuides' Tech Tips Rock Climbing

The munter hitch or Italian hitch is a foundational tool that can serve many purposes in the rock and alpine climbing environment.

It can work as a belay tool in the off chance that you accidentally drop your device, and it can be used to lower a climber or even rappel. When tied off with a mule hitch and backed up with an overhand, the munter-mule-overhand or MMO becomes a great releasable hitch that is integral to effecting any rescue involving a rope.

The MMO is material efficient, requiring a single HMS style carabiner and a rope, and it is easy to construct with some practice. 

Tying the MMO is simple yet should be practiced many times before being used in an actual scenario. You’ll start by tying a munter hitch in the loaded position, or lowering position, instead of the belay position. Next, you’ll use the brake strand to create a mule hitch around the load strand. Once you’ve created the mule hitch, you’ll need to pull enough slack through to then finish with an overhand around the load strand.

Now you have a MMO which essentially fixes the load strand of rope but allows that fixed s




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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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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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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. 

One of our goals with our blog posts 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 be




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Beginning Trad Rack: What to Buy and What to Skip-2.0

December 1, 2020 fmg-adminGear Reviews Guides' Tech Tips Rock Climbing

A lot has changed since our original “Beginning Trad Rack: What to Buy and What to Skip” blog post in 2017. Black Diamond discontinued the much-loved C3 Camalots, updated the C4, discontinued the short-lived X4 line, and replaced it with a new line called the Z4, which is supposed to take advantage of the best features of the X4 but eliminate the floppiness so many people found difficult to deal with. Our guides have been putting these new cams through their paces since they were introduced earlier this year and have some updated recommendations for you based on their findings. 

Standard Rack

Cams: BD Z4 0.2; doubles of C4 0.3-3

Nuts: BD Stopper set #4-13

Set of Tricam Evos, black through brown plus violet and blue regular tricams

Minimalist (cheapest) Rack

Cams: BD Z4 0.2 and C4 0.3-3

Nuts: BD Classic Stopper set (#5-11)

Set of Tricam Evos, black through brown

High-End Standard Rack

Cams: BD Z4 0.2, doubles; C4 doubles 0.3-3 plus a 4 and 5

Nuts: BD Stopper set #4-13

Tricam black-brown Evos plus violet and blue regular tricams

Rationale for These Choices

Z4 vs. C4 (




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Thinking About the Climbs We Guide

July 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




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