Tag Archives: rock climbing

Oh Henry’s

What I really like about National Parks (and ZAC, the company I work for, for that matter), is that they make the concept of “adventure” very accessible, regardless of what people’s level of adventure is. That to say, what really inspired our staff outing to the Henry Mountains was how very inaccessible those mountains are. Bordered on the West by Capitol Reef’s Waterpocket Fold and on the East by Utah Highway 95, they’re far enough beyond the middle of nowhere that it really is no wonder that they were the last explored and geographically mapped mountain range in the lower 48. In fact, to get there, we first had to drive many hours from anywhere to the middle of nowhere, make a right, and drive far enough that where we had previously thought was nowhere began to really feel like it was… somewhere. And then we kept driving. Mostly up. Hang a right towards that ‘road’ down there, keep driving through the canyons and up and down the mesas until you get to those mountains in the distance. Then keep driving. …But not before a stop at Hell’s Backbone Grill for breakfast and coffee. If we were going to leave … Continue reading

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Mountain Top Reflections: Desert Oasis

My first draft of this blog post was a detailed description of my recent Red Rock climbing trip. The salient points were, a) I am good at climbing rocks, b) I know some good places for Asian cuisine in Las Vegas, and c) I am moderately witty. Realizing I spent far too much time coloring such a story, and valuing your time, dear reader, I will spare you my narrative of rock climbing heroism, and ask you to trust me on these points. What I would rather illustrate is the notion of finding one’s self through suffering. By “one’s self,” I mean some greater understanding of who I am, or what I’m capable of. Whilst climbing last week, on the side of an obscure rock, miles from anybody besides my climbing partner, I found myself fully panicked and hyperventilating. Tiptoeing and thrutching up the face of a mountain, I surprised myself by resisting gravity over and over again. The route (Time’s Up, 5.11d) had an exclamation mark next to it in the guide book; I interpreted this as a sign of exciting climbing, and it certainly delivered. The climbing itself was not unique or terribly difficult, but the protection was … Continue reading

Posted in Autumn, Rock Climbing, Spring, Trip Reports, Uncategorized, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

CCH Alien Cams – Coming Soon

I had a bunch of equipment and personal items stolen from my car while I was out climbing in St. George yesterday. It was a fairly upsetting experience, and without going into it too much, I have yet another opportunity to grow and to let go. I am reminded of a question asked about another upsetting experience this year. A co-worker asked, “Is it a problem or an opportunity?” His words echo in my head today and have helped me step back and find a new perspective. So, I have the opportunity to buy a bunch of new climbing equipment. In the midst of researching climbing gear I stumbled upon some information regarding CCH Alien Cams. These have been indispensable parts of my climbing rack, especially for aid climbing. For the past two years I have babied my few Aliens, because they are no longer in production. Well, I discovered today that Aliens are BACK. This discovery is very exciting for a climbing nerd like me. For a minute I forgot that I was preparing to spend a thousand dollars on new climbing gear. Anyhow, Aliens are set to be released by two European companies, Fixe-Fader and Totem. Both are … Continue reading

Posted in Climbing Equipment, Gear, Gear Reviews, Rock Climbing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


Last fall, Sam Tickle accepted a challenge: to push himself for 30 days, in 30 sports, in 30 US cities. The challenge is part of a web-series sponsored by EAS Sports Nutrition. Sam is testing the limits of athleticism. Without a rest day, or any way to prepare for the next sport, this is a training regimen that would destroy most people. Sam stopped by to visit Zion on Day 21 of his Unstoppable Tour, and I took him on a multi-pitch climb on Tooele Tower (aka Aunt Jemima or Mrs. Butterworth). Guiding Sam was only a small part of the adventure; there are many additional challenges on a filming shoot, with camera men, sound technician, director, trainer, etc. in tow. The goal of the event was “officially” to test Sam’s mettle in the vertical realm, but the day proved an adventure for the entire crew. Most of my guiding is with people that do not have a great deal of experience in the outdoors, so getting everyone prepared for the day was not too hard. But anytime I am taking people into the backcountry, I am very aware of the risks we can control vs. those we cannot. After … Continue reading

Posted in Rock Climbing, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Petzl Elia: Women-Specific, Ponytail-Compatible Climbing Helmet

Leave it to the French to make not only a highly engineered, comfortable headpiece, but also a beautiful 5+ minute video to tell the world about it. The new Petzl Elia helmet was designed specially for women’s heads. How are female heads differnet than their male counterparts? That’s what I wondered. But the video help point out the subtleties: 1. Perhaps obviously, women sport a much greater variety of hairstyles than men, and accomodating for this seems to be a major feature of this helmet. 2. Women generally care about fit and comfort more than men (and rightly so), so this helmet was specifically designed to hug the entire head evenly, rather than the rear-center weighting most helmets feature. 3. Female heads are much smaller than male heads (in more ways than one). 4. The removable interior helmet foam allows washing for a cleaner, odor-free experience, which women seem to value more than us smelly dudes. As per usual, Petzl’s color choices seem a bit… Euro?… but that’s to be expected. Thanks to Petzl for helping fill to void of women’s climbing products; hopefully we will incorporate them into our guiding line-up soon. Here are the rest of the specs … Continue reading

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The Hit List: Zion’s Best Climbing Routes and Areas

In Zion, the sheer volume of climbable terrain and inconsistent rock quality make it difficult for visiting climbers to maximize their time here. Zion climbing is wild, untamed, and unpredictable, and there are few local climbers who have not had a day of climbing turn epic. The most recent local guide book, Zion: Free and Clean, by Brian Byrd, offers a wealth of information and is opening up the Park to a whole new audience, but without a defined rating system it may be just enough information to get folks in over their head. While I think a climber’s seasoning depends upon some degree of misadventure, my time logged on sandy, chossy, run-out, and off width rock could help you avoid the same. For specific information on routes listed below, consult the guide book and/or mountainproject.com To all the climbers out there looking to experience the full value of Zion climbing, I offer you my “greatest hits collection”. All the usual small print and conditions apply; don’t assume you’ll enjoy them just because I have. But hopefully these will help you gain a direction, if you don’t have one already… Here are some great areas to get a feel for … Continue reading

Posted in Rock Climbing, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Tribune Takes Stance on New Arches Restrictions Proposals

I don’t often notice a newspaper taking a clear position on an environmental issue. Below is the Salt Lake Tribune’s position statement on the proposed climbing & canyoneering regulations in Arches National Park: CLIMBING RULES August 3, 2010 Opinion Editor, Salt Lake Tribune There is a reason the name of Delicate Arch contains the word “delicate.” Although the iconic span often featured in photographs and paintings, as well as on Utah license plates, has withstood centuries of wind and rain, human contact now threatens to ruin its natural beauty. That’s why we support park managers’ plan to revise and possibly strengthen limits on rock climbing and canyoneering in Arches National Park. The changes would expand rules already in place that prohibit all rock climbing on any arch or natural bridge named on U.S. Geological Survey 7.5 topographical maps. Also prohibited is the practice of slacklining, walking on a flat nylon webbing or rope between rock formations, trees or other natural features in the park. The existing rules did not stop Dean Potter, a professional climber who scaled Delicate Arch in 2006. Potter said that making the ascent had become an obsession. We saw it more as an ego trip and … Continue reading

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Gear Review: Best Shoes for Zion Crack Climbing

Being a crusty trad climber is quite romantic. There is something sexy about scars on the back of your hands, the frayed and mungy gear, and, of course, the nuts. Few climbers are willing to endure a hanging belay. I can’t explain why one would twist their fingers into tiny cracks or grind and thrutch their way up 6-inch offwidth cracks. Trad climbing can be torturous, but I love it. I do not judge climbers on their preferred discipline for moving over rock, but I find trad climbing, especially long multi-pitch routes, provides the most intimate climbing experience. Like most intimate experiences, one must use some sort of protection and my series of gear reviews aims to help you practice safe trad climbing in Zion. Being a big wall climber here requires a fairly high pain tolerance, and in this installment I will discuss protection for an often abused and mutilated appendage, the foot. The best climbing shoe is one with a comfortable fit, a stiff sole, and protection for the techniques specific to crack climbing. Shoe construction falls into two main categories: slip lasted and board lasted. The “last” is the form on which the shoe is built. A … Continue reading

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Small Gear for Your Zion Free Climbing and Clean Aid Rack

Climbing in Zion is gear-intensive and specific; for most free climbs in Zion, the guidebook recommends a double rack from .5″ to 3″. There are many ways of approaching the protection dilemma, but there is a delicate balance between having enough gear, having the right gear, and not bringing so much equipment that it holds you back. Aspiring Zion big wall climbers should pay special attention to the small gear. Climbing above thin pro can be nerve racking, and feeling secure can be a tremendous mental challenge. The sandstone in Zion is typically quite good, but when you are climbing on small gear (1″ or smaller), it typically means the climbing is difficult, and you need to trust the gear to hold a fall. When you know and trust your gear, you gain significant confidence that helps you climb better. Passive Protection (i.e. nuts) The DMM alloy offset nuts are, hands down, the most useful passive equipment for Zion climbing, especially in the big wall and aid categories. These nuts are light, inexpensive, and fit pin scars and flaring seams where no other nut or cam will. The larger DMM brass offset nuts (sizes 4, 5, & 6) are also … Continue reading

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