Thursday, September 24, 2015

Three Things Thursday. Issue #3

I'm on the road this week. It goes like this: Leadville-Ridgway-Salt Lake-Bishop-Hulk-Palisades-Mammoth-Leadville. All in about 10 days. Ouch.

Obscure, weirdness. 9/18/2015

  • In guiding, I interact with an amazing array of passionate people. Many of the most impassioned are chasing some specific goal. Many of those are pursuing some sort of list completion. The most ambitious of the list seekers consult "Lists of John". Check it out, if you dare engage this sort of number-cruncher's inspiration. 
  • Pocket app. Everybody's got their favorite apps. This is one of my most recent favorites. Basically, it allows one to save any website for off-line viewing. It works with your computer browser and various social media apps to save content to your phone. What's the backcountry application? Well, first, I save weather and avalanche forecasts using it. Once in the wild, I never need again to try and remember exactly what the forecast was. Next, rather than kill precious social and "front-country" time reading the news and other articles, I save interesting links to Pocket. I can then read them during tent nights in the backcountry. 
  • Garmont and I are giving away a free pair of the DragonTail approach shoes. It's an Instagram photo contest. Post up a shot of some backcountry granite climbing this past summer. Equip it with a clever caption including little or nothing more than @garmontboots, @JediahPorter, and #garmontgranite. We'll announce the winner on October 15. (Incidentally, that's my wedding anniversary...) 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Three Things Thursday, Issue #2

This week, summer ends. Officially. It's snowing some places, with perfect rock climbing temperatures in many others. Git some. 

Warbonnet Peak, Winds. 9/5/2015

This week's tidbits
  • I know, I know... One of my three things last week was a death too. But damn, it happens. By far the most crushing news in my world this week is the passing of legend and mentor Bela Vadasz. While I would run into him periodically at guide gatherings and in the mountains, my most intimate experience with the guy was during my first AMGA ski course. In 2008 we toured up and down the Sierra, on peaks and terrain spanning hundreds of miles. I was, to put it mildly, starstruck to be skiing with, and learning from, this California and world-wide legend. On that course, near the end, Bela injured himself and had to be evacuated by helicopter. Years later I spoke with the rescuer that day. Dave G, from Inyo County SAR, remembers Bela in excruciating pain but continuing to instruct all of us students. 

  • There are many perspectives from which to view the explosion in popularity of gym climbing. As a climbing professional, I embrace the approach of more and more potential partners and guests. As one who values quiet, open space, I have some trepidation about the onslaught of this athletically-motivated, somewhat outdoors-ignorant cohort. Thankfully, the business as a whole is being proactive with assisting climbers through the gym-to-crag transition. Most readers here have likely already made that transition. We can help out now. I, for one, am stoked to be participating in a few weeks in Access Fund's ROCKProject, Denver. AccessFund is leading the way, while most gyms and large guide services are picking up the momentum with their own "head outside" programs. All such programs emphasize making this transition safely and with due consideration to the natural landscape and environment. It's an honor to be part of a proactive, positive movement at an exciting time in climbing history. 

Bela never withheld the kind words!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Winding the Winds

Viren motoring to the next climb. George Creek,
California. August 2014. 

I have mixed feelings about climbing with people after Viren has had his way with them. 

Viren Perumal, one of my best buds and a solid guide and instructor, has a very loyal following. He fills his seasons with strong guests on ambitious itineraries, year after year. With my expanding horizons, professionally, I have something to offer his guests now. He referred Phil to me this summer for some Wyoming climbing. 

What are those mixed feelings, you ask? First, I was intimidated. Phil is a huge Viren fan. As am I. Could I hold a candle? Next, it is an absolute pleasure to adventure with such a well-trained climber. Viren has made this guy badass! Phil's rock solid. He's relatively new to climbing, past his Social Security retirement age, and doing it essentially only on yearly vacations. Almost regardless of these qualifiers, his performance is absolutely remarkable. Finally, the itineraries that Phil is accustomed to are brutal! In six days in the Wind River Range we walked almost forty miles and climbed 34 pitches. Phil thinks this is a “normal” climbing vacation. Little does he know that the Viren experience is anything but normal. 

I basically closed out my Wyoming season with a binge in the Wind River Range. A returning client and Phil both booked trips there, and they turned out to be back to back. It was perfect. Now, my departure from the Sierra has been bittersweet. One of the things I miss the most is the amazing alpine granite climbing. The Cirque of the Towers is a little slice of Sierra-worthy granite perfection in the middle of wild Wyoming. Don't tell the Sierra, but Cali doesn't have the lock-down on wild adventure climbing. 
Phil on pitch 12 of 14. East Face, Pingora.
Wind River Range. September 1, 2015

The time with Phil showed me just how valuable excellent climbing instruction is. Our guide community is actively involved in a dialog about the distinction between, and the symbiotic value of both guiding and instruction. Our most recent trade publication, the AMGA's "Guide Bulletin" is entirely devoted to discussing this distinction and diversity. Phil, into middle age was, in his own words, "pathologically acrophobic."  Something about climbing appealed to him, and he had the excellent fortune to tie in with Viren early on. Viren is an educator. He cares about the details, the big picture, and he can articulate it to anyone. Basically, if you are looking to advance your climbing from any level, Viren is your guy. I've learned much from him, and intend to continue to do so. His influence is so strong that simply by climbing with Phil I feel I learned more from Viren over that week. 

Get good climbing instruction. It matters. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Three Things Thursday, Issue #1

Starting today, each week I'll post a list of three things for you. They may be links or gear recommendations or photos or ideas or who knows what. The only common theme is mountain athletics and adventure. 

High on the Exum Ridge, Grand Teton WY. 9/8/2015 

  • Alaskan hike and river. Trip Report from 2009. I stumbled on this just a few days ago. I love multi-sport Alaskan adventures. And, it turns out, this one features some of Meagan's coworkers and friends. Cisco just had his second baby! 
  • Tragic fall in the Cirque of the Towers.  I was in there, with a motivated guest, that week. The day these two fell we were on the next peak over. Rappel from only excellent anchors!
  • Have you seen the weather forecasts for the Interior Mountain West this coming weekend? There ain't bad stuff anywhere!  From Rocky Mountain National Park, to the San Juans, up through the Tetons and Glacier National Park, there won't be a cloud in the sky. Git some!