Headjamming for a first ascent in Ireland on the recent trip there. In 2018, as part of a general safety upgrade, I made the decision to wear a helmet all the time while rock climbing. This is the only time I’ve found wearing one to be an issue. Modern helmets (I use the BD Vapor ) weigh nothing and provide good benefits, there just really isn’t a solid argument for not wearing them anymore in general. But here the plastic just wouldn’t stick to the rock. The fall was clean and the rock impeccable so I felt ok about it, but after so much time climbing with a helmet I felt naked. But it was a first ascent, and worth grinding my head into the granite for the rest. So many good routes to do in Ireland, a lifetime of high quality, high adventure outings to be had! @johnpricephotography shot, @uniqueascent hidden as he dodges the rising tide. So many good moments from this trip, a huge thanks to @johnpricephotography for capturing them, and @redbullcanada , @arcteryx and @tourismireland for making it happen. I love climbing in new places! If you’re interested in climbing there you’d make your trip a lot simpler by hiring @uniqueascent for a day or two, he knows the area ridiculously well and is a solid person. #ireland #donegal #climbing #headjam #firstascent #yeah !
Sometimes the climbing in Ireland isn’t the wildest part of the adventure! @uniqueascent looked a lot more confident than I felt about the pounding seas, it was pretty real. Maybe the first time a @sterlingrope Nano 9 has been used as a throw bag : )? @johnpricephotography was running stills, video and a drone on this mission, and slayed it all. Great team. Thanks to @mustangsurvival for the suit, I’ve used it a bunch and totally appreciate it!
Four years of wearing this harness like this: Half buckled. This has killed people. Rule 1: if something seems weird STOP AND FIX IT. The climber isn’t stupid, nor was her “ @& @$ x partner” who showed her how to use it. I thought it looked odd, but then couldn’t figure out how to fix it under time pressure, and the climber was strongly adamant that it was correctly threaded. Our day was relatively low angle and easy, but it kept bugging me. I had to google the buckle and make sure I wasn’t crazy to think it was wrong somehow. It was wrong. I had a lot on my mind that day and was kinda blown mentally with travel from Ireland, where I was and what was going on, but if this had of gone bad in a crevasse fall or other higher load situation the outcome could have been bad, and totally preventable. I let my guard down a little, and got away with it. This time. Mistakes happen. The trick is to expect that, and listen to that little voice that says, “something isn’t right here...” Maybe by listening to that voice (finally! ) I prevented an accident in the future, and got lucky nothing happened until I listened. Safety for me is based on understanding the environment and being humble with respect to our own fragility and capacity to err. On the other hand, this person now knows how to buckle her harness correctly, and I’ll be tighter out there too. This was day 2 of the Arc’teryx Academy, an amazing event in the heart of alpine climbing, Chamonix. A huge thanks to everyone who puts it on! I always learn a lot, live a lot, and am impressed with my community of mountain people. Let’s keep watching and listening to the big screaming joy of the mountains and the little voices that help us keep enjoying the mountains for a lifetime. I hope people use this photo to check friends who are using old double back harnesses.
That way lies the @arcteryxacademy , Chamonix style! Wild to go from Irish Sea stack climbing to 3700M on the Mt Blanc massif, but a great day out with @mattgroom1 and @hugopilcher from @epictvclimbing A big thanks to our super dialled guide, @davidsanabria1 , and the whole @chamex_chamonix team for keeping the clinics running smoothly and safely. This is an awesome event to be part of, love the Arc’teryx Academy scene! #chamonix #alpineclimbing #fun #firehydrant #yeah !
When you’re biting gear and pulling roofs above a crashing sea you know it’s getting real! I love onsight climbing, where you just go at it until you either succeed or fly. Today @uniqueascent aimed us at two of the best new lines I’ve climbed in years. Gymnastic, tech, 3D granite goodness on gear. If these sea cliffs were in any other area they’d be wildly popular, but this part of Ireland is so far off the beaten path that there are, as Iain says, “A dozen lifetimes of new routes to do!” He’s not exaggerating, it’s just great climbing on the sea stacks and sea cliffs. One of the most satisfying climbing trips I’ve been on for sure, looking forward to more! This route had @johnpricephotography and me sharing fist bumps once the jams were good! “OutdooRecreation” is relatively undeveloped here, but there’s a lot to do! And Happy Canada Day from Ireland!
Ireland has one less unclimbed seastack as of today, and it was a good one! @johnpricephotography on the shots, amazing first day in Ireland!. A huge thanks to @uniqueascent for the enthusiastic invitation and inventive fun climbing, and @thewildatlanticway for the solid boat operation, as well as @tourismireland Donegal is a relatively unknown and still wild area, just stunningly beautiful with tremendous opportunity for new routes and adventure of all kinds, but don’t tell anyone : ). #ireland #seastack #atlantic @neptunalia__
The best possible “recycling” is reusing, and not sending stuff to the landfill in the first place. It’s always been important to me that Arc’teryx makes extremely high quality gear that lasts forever (I have some of my original pieces from almost 20 years ago! ), but now they’re going to buy old gear back, recondition it and sell it? Rad! Very cool program. I was in NYC for the launch of Rock Solid program (which is a throwback to the very origins or Arc’teryx, extra points for anyone who knows their Bird history! ). It’s a really pleasing moment in my career as an athlete to see that more and more companies are thinking about their long-term impact on earth, not just selling stuff for the day. Nice one to the team at the Bird! Some guidelines: -Customers can bring used gear into local Arc’teryx stores and items deemed lightly worn to excellent condition, with the inner label still attached, will be eligible to receive a gift card of 20% of the product’s original retail price. -The company will buy back used gear in good condition, clean and repair products with plenty of life left in them and resell the items at a fraction of the original cost. Only in the USA so far, but likely to expand out. @arcteryx , #rocksolid #reuse
Could you please go to the link in my bio and cote for this wicked @christianpondella shot? It’s a throwback to the Athabasca glacier project we worked on, and I’d be really stoked if Christian got this shot into the Como with your vote, thanks! There are a lot of amazing shots on that link so you likely enjoy it too : ).
Last night, all smiles in the sky. A huge thanks to @mullerwindsports and @gingliders for one of the best evenings I’ve had in years. Paragliding is pure freedom to me, and I am extraordinarily lucky to have spent thousands of hours in the sky with both the birds and my own flock of nylon feathered friends. Yesterday @mullerwindsports and I spent the first half of the day chasing records on the flats again, but the forest fire smoke shut us down. I still had a great couple of tow flights on my new Leopard, and then rode an epic evening of soaring in Cochrane. By epic I mean the whole valley lifting off, just an insanely fun ride in the sky. Sometimes just finding amazing conditions when you least expect it is a kind of mental reset in the best way; it’s like a gift direct from the gods. Thanks to Eric for the driving and tows, and the fun crew out on the flats, it was a great day! We’re going to try again tomorrow. And Keith, let’s check firesmoke.ca first : ). #chromapop
A huge congrats to everyone who ran, rolled, slid or somehow took part in The Wings For Life World Run today! The run raises money for spinal research. All, every penny, of the entry fee goes straight to help people move more. I have three friends who could use a little more movement from their spines, and a lot more who are doing sports that put our spines at risk. The money from Wings for Life gives people who have a spinal accident better hope for a full recovery, and all of us will be touched by spinal injury at some point. I couldn’t run this morning due to a family commitment, but I’m going out at 3:00 p.m. today, I’m on the App as Will Gadd, come play! You can download the App on the App Store or Google Play. @redbullcanada , @ wflworldrun @justdueck @midtoad @justjeff22037
I am haunted by these photos from 2002 and 2019, both likely on top of Howse Peak. Lama, Auer and Roskelley are gone. Semple, Mahoney and I are alive. We made the first full ascent of the face in 2002, and our smiles echo the stoke, as do those from 2019. Is the outcome different due to skill, luck or fate? In 1999 House, Backes and Blanchard climbed a line they called M16 to just short of the top of the face. Blanchard nearly died on the descent, and was flown off. Our climb took two tries, and on one of them we speed soloed down the easy parts of the face as small avalanche poured through the night around us. We were lucky. The others were not. We can not claim we were more skilled or had better judgement. We were just lucky. Some people have attacked the 2019 team for pushing conditions. There are no safe conditions on any big face. There is just dying and not dying. I would ask three things of my climbing community in light of the 5 deaths in the Rockies this spring and elsewhere over the last 30 years: 1. Wear an avalanche beacon in avalanche terrain. When you don’t you endanger the lives of the people coming to rescue you, and add heartbreak to the families when they can’t find you. Don’t do that. Wear a fucking beacon in avalanche terrain, no more excuses. I am drawing my own line here as of today. I will not climb with you if this doesn’t make sense. 2. Recognize the luck involved in doing anything high consequence. Celebrate the climbing, not the danger, but be realistic about both. Success isn’t just surviving dangerous climbs. In fact, seeking danger in climbing is missing the point. Success is playing with a real understanding of all the cards in the deck, and being realistic about all the outcomes. 3. Everybody is doing their best. No one is a hero or a villain in climbing, and judging people harshly usually says more about the person doing the judging than the judged. Care for our tribe. Peace.
David Lama, Hansjorg Auer and Jess Roskelley recently died on this face. I knew two of them through long talks, and respected all three for their vision and action. I know this face because I walked in there six times and climbed it once. I know the joy in climbing on it, and also the pain of loss that’s written into the fabric of going into the mountains. I feel most for their families and close friends, and also that the world lost some genuinely fired up people who lit a path upwards. David Lama inspired the hell out of me by free climbing Cerro Torre after a media beat down about bolts his crew placed. The climbing took vision, overcoming the nay-sayers took real grit. I spent hours speaking with him about that climb, and respected his integrity. Respect to all three men, and Howse Peak. Had they lived my social media would have been full of, “Amazing! So sick! Incredible knowledge!” comments. Instead their families and friends grieve until their eyes go dry from the soul crushing emptiness of loss. My friends on Parks rescue recover the bodies of fine young men from under a beautiful mountain, and carry that memory forward. It’s not so simple as the comments and outcome suggest: Success isn’t just living through a dangerous climb, nor is dying an unexpected result of living fully in wild places. Many people won't let that truth into their heads; doing so means admitting we aren’t in total control, the mountains are. But if we are going to give people credit for being competent when they succeed then we must also give them credit when they don’t. I trust that the climbers were where they wanted to be doing what they wanted to be doing, and it didn’t go their way. Lama’s family put it best: "David dedicated his life to the mountains and his passion for climbing and alpinism shaped and accompanied our family. He always followed his own path and lived his dream. We will accept what now happened as a part of that.” That is truth. Peace to all involved.
Ice world in the Cineplex. @austin_siadak shot from the last day of our @travelalberta shoot. The Cineplex is home to the first M12 and M13 routes in the world, and after climbing there I’d say those grades are still solid compared to many “harder” routes. For me mixed climbing needs ice. It’s always the most beautiful part of the climb, and often the most memorable. A mixed route without ice is like a taco without hot sauce. I like hot sauce. I’ve been climbing in the Cineplex for going on 20 years, and every time I go back I’m reminded of where this sport came from for me, and great times over many years with so many stellar people. Thanks to Ben Firth, Grant Meekins, and Dave Thomson for the vision.
Take six stoked guys, high avalanche conditions as Colorado conditions invade Canada, add a cool ice climb, mix and boom. @tedhesser shot from yesterday’s adventures. We’re on a four-day mission with @travelalberta and @blackdiamond , sure is great to be climbing icicles even when the temps are 20C on the surface...
Let’s never forget the joy of living found in doing totally pointless things. Yesterday’s adventures with the kidlets and both old and new friends made me really laugh for the first time in a very difficult week. We skated, climbed, swung tools at ice and swung from trees, and just ate big pieces out of an endless beautiful day. It was beautifully pointless, and that was the kind of point I really needed. I haven’t been on Instagram lately due to the death of a friend, a situation that has thrown rocks through both my personal and professional glass houses of belief and understanding. Last week a beautiful person died in an avalanche. She wasn’t doing anything I wouldn’t have done, nor were the people she was with. Just the opposite: I would and could have been there with an enthusiastic smile but for a shake of the cosmic dice that had me leave in the morning rather than guide that day. Lives are forever changed. A crew of heroes showed their true colours in a tough situation, and each continues to inspire me now. This week I saw tears of pure sorrow run like rivers through a situation that made no sense in a rational world. It’s unthinkable to think about but impossible not to. It will never go away. I don’t want it to. Cormac McCarthy said it best, writing about a gravedigger’s view on grief: “It was the nature of his profession that his experience with death should be greater than for most and he said that while it was true that time heals bereavement it does so only at the cost of the slow extinction of those loved ones from the heart's memory which is the sole place of their abode then or now. Faces fade, voices dim. Seize them back, whispered the sepulturero. Speak with them. Call their names. Do this and do not let sorrow die for it is the sweetening of every gift.” Her name was Sonja Johnson Findlater, and I will remember her, but it’s her close friends and family who will always carry her closest with love. I have seen that love, and I am in awe. Seize the sun in the day. Love your friends and family. Live. Love. Remember the passed. Peace to all who are hurting, may the sun find you! Photo from my friend @rockiesalpineguide
Spent international women’s day in the fine company of these four climbing women who also design the @arcteryx clothes I wear every day from the mountains to the stage. Thanks to them, and all the women who make life massively better for all of us. Our group had some interesting conversations about how men and women approach risk and life: our conclusion was that the spectrum of how men and women “are” is way broader than we often perceive it. My hope for my daughters and all people is that they have the best chance to find their own places in the spectrum of life rather than having that dictated to them. #internationalwomensday
Today I can finally share the video from @jason_gulley_science Beneath The Ice Project exploring caves under the Greenland ice cap, link in my profile! Absolutely wild adventure, a huge thanks to @jason_gulley_science , @redbullcanada , @scott simper, @reelwater , @christianpondella who took this rad pic of course!
Della Falls first ascent, what an adventure! Last week Chris Jensen, Peter Hoang and I snuck a high-speed trip in and climbed Della Falls, the highest waterfall in Canada. And, surprisingly, it’s on Vancouver Island. And that location is why it hasn’t been climbed, and why it was one of the most epic adventures I’ve ever done. Vancouver Island does not give up its secrets easily; never have my boots and head been so wet at the same time. Della Falls is recognized by the government of Canada as the highest waterfall in Canada, though of course there are good arguments for other waterfalls. I’ve wanted to climb it for years, but it’s on Vancouver Island, which is normally more about golf than ice. But there is ice on Vancouver Island, so maybe Della Falls would freeze up? A few years ago Peter Rothermel sent me an email asking me if I knew about Della Falls, and a long email chain started. It had been a very cold year on the Island, and he thought it might, just might, freeze up. It didn’t work out then, but the seed was planted, and he put me in contact with local grizzlyman and ice climber Chris Jensen. Short story long, conditions were really cold this year, and a sudden change in my schedule gave me a very tight four days to fly out to the island, boat across a 35K lake, hike 15 K, and climb it. I’m going to share the story over the coming week with more of @pete hoang ’s pics, but it was an all-time adventure! The beautiful and legendary Della Falls, 440M, WI 6, goes! Seven good pitches (more if the coastal snow doesn’t cover up the ice steps ), FA Will Gadd, Chris Jensen, Peter Hoang, February 22-25 2019. A huge thanks to Chris Jensen, Peter Hoang, Peter Rothermel, Chris Istace, Captain Ron for the best boat ride ever, and @arcteryx and @redbullcanada for the last-minute logistics help, really appreciated! More pics to come but the cat is out of the bag and wanted to share some of Pete’s great images. So stoked! @redbullcanada @arcteryx @blackdiamond @scarpana @sterlingrope @smithoptics #chromapop #dellafalls #iceclimbing #stoked #vancouverisland
At their rawest, science and exploration ask the same question: What’s out there? Very stoked to be touring Canada for the next week sharing stories and lessons learned from the wildest adventure I’ve ever been on: Exploring Beneath the Greenland ice cap with @jason_gulley_science Tour dates in link in my bio. This was a difficult, complicated and flat out dangerous adventure that pushed me like no other project I’ve ever worked on. Because so little is known about the inner workings of the Greenland Ice Cap I had to learn a lot just to operate there. A huge thanks to @redbullcanada for believing in a wild project with solid results, @jason_gulley_science for turning a climber into a technical diver and the entire trip, @reelwater , @scott simper, and of course this shot and many more from @christianpondella Tonight’s show @arcteryxcalgary is sold out, but there’s still space at the CCC this afternoon. Oh, and last week Chris Jensen, @pete hoang and I climbed the recognized highest waterfall in Canada, Della Falls, so I’ll be sharing that story too. It’s been a crazy month, and it’s not slowing down!
Short ice screw video from today’s fun guiding adventures in the Ghost. Air temp -20, Ice very cold below the surface due to -30 overnight, cleaned a pitch and was able to pull the screws out with just a turn or two. Food for thought when leading, building belays and especially unattended anchors while toproping. These screws were on Malignant Mushroom in the Ghost, mostly vertical and facing the sun. Amazingly fun day despite it being -25 when we left the car. What would you do in this situation?
A lot of popular routes around the world are pin-cushioned with ice screw holes, often to the point where finding fresh good ice can be difficult at some belays or crux sections. Until recently I operated under the idea that re-bored screw holes were close to the original screw in strength. But when Petzl came out with their aluminium screws I noticed that the threads on my BD steel screws did not feel like they were engaging as well in old aluminum screw holes. Given that the threads in a screw are where most of the holding power comes from having “rattly” threads did not seem good. Turns out it is an issue, with steel screws in aluminum holes substantially weaker. Link in profile to my good friend Kolin Powick’s recent research. Two takeaways: -Be aware that relatively skinny steel screws rebored in old aluminum holes are likely weaker. -Use aluminum screws in old holes if in doubt. The relatively new aluminium BD screws are the fattest, so I’ll tend to save a couple of these for belays on pincushioned routes. Diving a bit deeper, I’ve been using the BD and Petzl aluminum screws a lot this year, and for a while was running a full rack of the new superfly, I mean light, aluminum BD screws. In general I really like them—they start super fast, spin in well, and are super super light, all good things. But iIt was a relatively warm year in Canada until recently, so I found myself placing the aluminum screws more often in wet ice than I had in testing for the last year or so. They work very well in relatively dry ice, but in wet ice they tend to bind more. They work, but you’ve got to keep them spinning. For that reason I’m running about half steel and half aluminum screws on my rack these days, they both have their place. My 22cm “Abalakov” screw is aluminum as that’s where the weight difference is most notable in that I carry it a lot more and use it a lot less, and I like the bigger bore for fishing slings through threads for top rope and other guiding/industrial anchors where I want something really really strong (thread material often defines strength in an abalokov ). Link in profile.
Drilling on lead just before my “rescuer” arrived. The temps spiked for ice climbing, but the rock climbing is excellent here too! The new 2-pitch route is Linzhou Rescue, 5.11, first rock route of about one million possible here. Put up on lead with @riverhechuan while a revolving crowd of thousands watched. The police showed up—to direct traffic, not arrest us. Then someone decided we needed rescuing, and two hours later a smiling guy came over the lip on a rope. We had a good laugh and fist bump together, then a great dumpling party with the rescue team. One of the best adventure days ever!! @pete hoang photo, one of his rejects. He’s done an amazing job!
The look when you find exactly what you’re looking for and then some. @riverhechuan and I getting very stoked for another epic ice line. @pete hoang 📸. River and I should have talked about wardrobe, we’re both living in the red Alpha IS jackets. I wear that jacket most winter days, love it, a big thanks to @arcteryx for making the good stuff for so many years!
When the going gets weird keep smiling and swing ‘em hard! @pete hoang shot on the rapidly warming top pitch of Wung Fo, WI fun. Ice climbing to me is more like kayaking or surfing: it’s the experience and story, maybe shared through a picture, that matters far more than a grade. For me ice grades are like kayaking grades in that above about Grade 5 it’s just ice climbing. This was a fantastic experience with @riverhechuan and the whole @crossroadmediaproductions crew, and @pete hoang ‘s photo sums it up. We were going to shoot on a few pitches but reeled the goal in to just the top pitch due to warming temps. I made the difficult call and then watched some ice peel off the wall and fall down to where we would have been climbing and shooting. As it warmed up I ended shooting for the day early, my tools were ripping through the waterlogged ice and the hazard spiking. We ran away and celebrated one of the best climbs of my life. #iceclimbing #safety #runaway #china #fun #climbing
If life gives you an opportunity like this sink both tools into it and hang on for the ride. The two red dots are @riverhechuan and I doing just that on the first ascent of Wung Fo yesterday. The stoke among everyone here is fantastic, a huge thanks to @crossroadmediaproductions for pulling this all together. The whole climb we were telling each other how lucky we were to be there. I feel the swing of luck especially strongly right now as @Huens should be here. We found this line together last year, but a rock I broke off sport mixed climbing broke her collarbone, which made her miss Ouray and this trip. That just sucks. It could have been worse; we did enough things right the outcome wasn’t much worse... But it could also have been better. The knowledge of how close extreme beauty and total darkness is something I’ve known intellectually since I was young but feel personally more and more as I get older. I value days like yesterday as the diamonds of life because I know the dice of life aren’t ours. @huens , we will come back. The route name is a play on Chinese words that mean both cookie, which we are a lot of, and a woman who makes her husband better over time... Photo by @blackhawkuav , who is absolutely killing the drone work. I am amazed at how he can fly with so much control in really difficult windy conditions, a true professional, as is everyone here. @pete hoang
China 2019, very cool new route today with my good friend @riverhechuan ! In the midst of a trade battle and diplomatic cluster we’re climbing wild ice with the local climbers. One of the best things about climbing is the way it draws us all together. The psyche is strong and growing, we have good conditions and weather, game on! We’re also shooting a pilot adventure travel show, great team of professional. Photo by @blackhawkuav ,who is slaying the drone shots!
Ouray 2019, @smileysproject As always my main goal was to climb the route, done, but it finished on a trapeze bar so I just had to hang and flip, way too much fun! This year they added a wild swingy bits section at the end that had the strong field flying through space and saddling up to get it done. I finished only seconds behind my first place friend @bookofsamuel , who @nerd_in_nature and I warmed up with in Ouray’s warm sun. The route, set by @andresmarin22 and @icevince was excellent—four tops, not too sketchy, just good cranking and some techno route finding at the end. This year wasn’t easy for me as @huens is on the injured reserve, more on that later, so second place feels like a huge win to me. Very impressed with the younger Durangotangs coaches by @mgclimber1 I feel really lucky and inspired to be competing against the grown children of my friends. I’m also happy to climb well in a place that feels like home after more than 20 years of competing here. Long live the @ourayicepark and the Ouray Ice Festiva community! Thanks to all the volunteers who make it happen! #iceclimbing #ourayicefestival
Ever feel like winter is on thin ice? Today @arcteryx is donating 100 percent of sales to Protect Our Winters Canada. All the money from a day’s sales, pretty cool thing to do! This video clip is from a couple of weeks ago, just having winter fun in my hometown of Canmore. Ice doesn’t gave to be steep to be fun! @protectourwinterscanada
Cover girl @Huens and I mid-battle on China’s amazing Christmas Tree! A lot of success is going hard when the going is good, and running away when it isn’t. Very excited to see this @johnpricephotography shot on the cover of the latest Rock and Ice! The story behind this image is in a feature I wrote for the magazine with John’s excellent shots, but short version is that it almost didn’t happen. We arrived in China late one afternoon and were warned temps were due to rise for the next three days. @huens and I really, really wanted to climb the coolest ice route in the world, China’s Christmas Tree, and drove most of the night with the super solid first ascentionist @riverhechuan , to the climb. A groggy walk in, a much later start than was prudent, a pack with a rock rack in it in case the ice warmed up too much to be safe, and we were on top of the wildest ice I’d ever climbed at dark-thirty. The low light made the shooting challenging for John, but he nailed it. @huens and I tried to climb on it again for more photos, but the heat wave that made too dangerous. All of John’s shots from the trip are combat shots, no using any of my patented posing skill. So very glad we went hard when the going was good, amazing trip with a great team. And we’re going back for new routes next week! @arcteryx , thank you for believing in the madness! #iceclimbing #china #christmastree #bigrig @redbullcanada @arcteryx @blackdiamond @scarpana @sterlingrope @smithoptics @rockandicemag
"Take your kid to work day" has a different meaning in our house : ). Short clip from a really piece sharing the mountains and sport I love with Travel Alberta and the Sherpas Cinemas crew, and my daughter sent the climb too! Big thanks to everyone who made it happen. Full clip at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ddp1vIjUbfI @travelalberta @redbullcanada @arcteryx @blackdiamond @scarpana @sterlingrope #iceclimbing #funwithkids
Here’s a, “Don’t do this you can die” pic of my own from the first winter ascent of the North face of Howse Peak. Lessons: Don’t belay two people up with each on a single strand of half or twin ropes, and don’t cross ropes with two seconds, as I’ve done in this picture. I’m seeing a lot of belaying two people up on half or twin ropes out in the wild lately, and bluntly it freaks me out. Here’s why: -Stretch. Single ropes in the 10mm range stretch about 5 to 8 percent under an 80kg load. This means if you have 50M of rope out and the second falls he’s likely to go about 2.5M or so before stopping. A single strand of half rope stretches much closer to 12 percent, or a six meter/ 20 foot fall, a two-story house! So if the second falls off low on the route he or she is likely to hit the ground, a ledge during that 20 foot fall etc. Bad. -Rope damage. Very thin ropes are inherently more prone to damage or failure. In this picture the lower climber’s (Kevin ) strand is running over the upper (Scott ) climber’s strand. If Kevin falls off his rope is going to run for several meters over Scott’s rope, with a really high load ‘cause Kevin is a big guy climbing with a multi-day pack. I’ve got Scott’s rope pulled tight, and a loaded rope running over another rope may severely damage or even cut it. Bad. If the ropes run over a rock edge or around a sharp corner a really thin rope whipping across it with a full body weight, well, my stomach hurts thinking about it. For these reasons I no longer use single strands of half or twin ropes to belay two seconds in technical terrain. And even with single-rated ropes for each climber still take care with how the ropes run on the pitch with respect to each other, and keep ‘em snug to pull out some rope stretch, especially low on the climb. #dontdothis , #safety #iceclimbing #gaddgear
We have a long and solid ice climbing season here in Canada, a lot of great ice routes, and a lot of people wanting to climb them. We also welcome visitors from all over the world, some of whom may bring unique perspectives that are very different than how we approach ice climbing here. The occasional conflicts that result are mostly avoidable with communication and respect (and don’t always involve visitors, we’ve got some unique people here too ). A bunch of local climbers and guides wrote the following down as a summary of how we generally approach ice climbing here in Canada, but I think it generally applies to ice climbing in most areas of the world. It seems to apply to apply to a lot of communication and interaction in all forms of climbing and life as well. I’m happy to answer any questions if they’re asked here. Safe and smooth climbs to all!
Our mountains and glaciers tell us a lot about the health of our world. I’m proud to share my direct experience with climate change on international mountain day through the United Nations Mountain Heroes program. Link in my bio for more information. Photo @christianpondella from a trip @huens and I did with @pablo_durana to Kilimanjaro a few years back. There the glaciers aren’t just receding, they are disappearing. Climate change isn’t a theory when you experience it first hand. #unenvironment #kilimanjaro #climatechange #glacier #iceclimbing @redbullcanada @redbull @arcteryx @blackdiamond @scarpana @sterlingrope @smithoptics
Just another really good day climbing in the Canadian Rockies. @huens lowering off The Solarium at the Temple.
Helmcken Falls Gear Testing short tease video, full link in my bio! Really fun trip experimenting, learning, falling, knocking huge icicles off and all-around loving winter climbing! A big thanks to @huens for being the Voice of Reason, @cameraoperator for keeping it smooth when I was whipping off the route and things weren’t smooth, and of course Black Diamond for making all the whacky protos. I’m very lucky to work with great teams in everything I do, this stuff just wouldn’t happen without a lot of belief and backing. Thank you to all that make it happen! Note that this is not how I teach ice climbing or guide : ). Looking forward to a return trip this winter @huens , @timemmett @klemenpremrl , @daniarnold_alpinist , yeah! #chromapop
Weird bear encounter today; they’re close when you can smell them. @huens and I were walking into the Waiparous when we hit a regular circus of bear tracks. I figured they were probably getting ready to den nearby, so we changed direction to give the den some room. More bear tracks, very fresh, and from a largish bear and a smaller bear, maybe a first year cub. We turned around and walked out with our ice tools in our hands, but about one K later found super fresh bear tracks on top of our old tracks... And smelled the pungent smell of a grizzly. Shit. I normally bring bear spray, but it’s almost December and I’ve never seen a bear in the Ghost before. We acted big and loud and kept walking, fortunately Mrs. Bear wasn’t looking for a fight. This time of year ice climbers and bears have had a few bad encounters, happy that ours ended well for us and the bear. A couple of years ago my friends Nick Bullock and Greg Boswell had a horrible encounter. I’d suggest avoiding the walk into Hydro, Marion and Caroline Falls for a few more weeks. And bringing bear spray! Nice teamwork with @Huens today, we had each other’s backs with ice tools...
For me, really good climbing is often about answering the question, “What if?” Fun new video from @blackdiamond , link in profile! When @timemmett and I discovered ice climbing at Helmcken Falls it was because we asked, “What if?” From the article in link, “Three years ago, I climbed Niagara Falls with Sarah Hueniken, and BD made us some wild “soft ice” pro, Spectres with a small shovel blade welded onto the back. These were made off-hours by the BD design team—a bunch of stoked climbers who loved the idea of making wild new gear. I used the new Spectres in the very soft spray ice to safely climb Niagara, but always wondered, “What else could I do with these?” The answer came to me when looking at the wild spray ice of Helmcken: Climb it with the Niagara spectres, the new Ultralight Ice Screws, and whatever else I could come up with! I just needed someone crazy enough to believe in the idea. Sarah Hueniken and I climb together a lot in addition to guiding and living together. When I proposed the idea of climbing at Helmcken on natural gear she invoked the Voice of Reason, which basically says don’t be an idiot. I hear this voice from her a lot, and it’s both annoyed me and saved my life. But eventually we agreed to go to Helmcken and try; when you’re really going for it you don’t just want a belayer, you want a partner, an equal. The difference is that a partner can see the big picture and tell you about it whether you want to hear it or not. I was worried about flying Spectres taking out an eyeball or worse as they zinged down the rope at me if I fell, so I got fully Canadian and bought a used CCM hockey helmet to shield my face. I like the Vapor helmet a lot, but BD doesn’t make a hockey face shield for it … yet. That market may be limited. Anyhow, I took a bunch of long falls backed up by the odd bolt at Helmcken, and the Spectres kept ripping, with painful results... rest of story in link! @christianpondella photo, yeah!
Time doesn’t tick by at a constant rate. Add new experiences and each moment lasts longer, with more learned, retained and felt. Get into a repetitive, comfortable if numbing groove and time speeds up until it’s whipping past rather than a long slow drink of life. The last month and especially the last week has meant waking up in different cities so many times that I often wondered where I was, but learning every day. From learning about how different organizations approach risk and sharing my own experiences to surviving Greenland to loving Greece and then the last short week that included Canmore, Toronto, Vancouver, back east to DC, and then this season's opening route, Dark Nature (Pic by @huens ). Hotel gyms, walks in the dark in big cities, finishing articles and books on flights, airline lounges, finally the sight of my truck at midnight, home, a few hours of sleep, then @huens prodding me to get going and do this route, Dark Nature. The first ice climb of the season is always a joy to me, like eating a favourite old food you’ve forgotten about. The sounds of ice and metal meeting. The internal dialogue of where to swing, where to climb, and the communications with your partner about the avalanche hazard, where to belay safely, ropes flaking, then pulling on tools, sliding points into the perfect spot, the moment when you start getting vacuumed up into the sky and forget about everything but just climbing. A great day on a local classic, Dark Nature. A big thanks to @huens for packing the bags so that when I got home at 01:00 from Washington we were out the door on time at dark thirty, and back with a few hours to spare before getting the kids off the bus. Three parties did this route today, and they all were stoked on it, just super fun ice climbing! The last week has been nuts in a great way. Canmore to Toronto for the Risky Business conference (Sheraton Hotel gym, B+ ), Red Bull meetings on Greenland (coming soon! ), back to Canmore (splice and hike up Lady Mac ), Vancouver for Providence Health Care (great risk management group, thank you! Also 4 Seasons Hotel Gym, A+ ), then Washington DC for @UPindc drytooling clinic and AAC speaking. Thank you.
Good morning from Canmore, now, pre-airport aerobics. It’s been an insanely great month, from Greenland to Greece and back, and yet this walk is as good as anything. There’s no place like home. I’ve taken a social media break for a bit, but I’m coming back at ya now, yeah! Hope winter is treating you well whenever you are!
A huge congrats to my partner, mentor and crusher, @huens for sending her first 13c today, after a lot of not sending days. She showed that climbing at your own raw limit is as more emotion and grit than finger strength (although that counts too! ). Really trying means really caring about the outcome. “OK” isn’t, enough isn’t until it is. When your fingers bleed and still you go then you care, really care, and that is both a box and freedom. Try. Fail. Try again. Fail in a new way. Learn. Try and fail and learn many more times. Take the gains, remove the evil voice of “can’t,” and a beautiful moment happens. @huens reaching for escape velocity on Buffet Royale. I’m very proud of her, but the best is to see her proud of herself for digging through it all and caring enough to put it all on the line, and then cross it. Yeah!
Jeff wrote the credo below, and I have it on my wall as inspiration, reminder and whip: 1. Life is really short. Make the most of it. Do it now, tomorrow may never come. 2. The end rarely justifies questionable means, in climbing or the rest of life. 3. The impossible is only that which has not yet been accomplished. 4. Real difficulties are eased by a positive attitude. 5. Embracing reality sets one free, even if reality is difficult. 6. Commitment works magic, conquering fear and despair. 7. Boldness is central to creativity. 8. Love based motivation trumps fear-based motivation every time. Or revenge based, or greed based motivation, etc. 9. Deep curiousity/desire takes me where I want to go, even if in advance I don’t know where that is. A reluctant desire keeps me safe in the dangerous places, and cautions me to take care, or turn back. 10. It’s not the gear, it’s the climber. 11. Learning never stops. It’s physically, psychically, and spiritually dangerous when you think you know it all. 12. This planet is perfectly designed as a classroom for humans. The dimensions and living architecture of the mountains, polar ice caps, rivers, oceans, jungles and forests are perfect for extracting every last ounce of effort and creativity from those who approach them b fair means, lightly equipped. We must not continue to destroy our environment and its ecology, for not only is our well being tied directly to its condition, as individuals we learn the most about ourselves by adapting ourselves to its challenges—by an intimate acquiantance with all of its natural laws and forces both known and yet to be discovered; all of its colors, textures, sights, sounds, smells and tastes; all of its miraculous plants and creatures and the fantastic balance of the entire system. Yes. Photo of Jeff going for it on a route we did in 1997.