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Rock Climbing

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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A Quick Jaunt Up The Glass

July 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




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