The Guiding Life

Fox Mountain Guides Summer Camp

I have been working with the Fox Mountain Guides Rock Climbing Summer Camp in some capacity for the last 9 years. It has been ever evolving into a very high end teen climbing camp where teenagers come to experience climbing for the first time and after a few years leave having lead multi-pitch climbs and learned technical rescue skills that most adults would be envious of. Some of these campers have gone on into the world to pursue guiding, as well as a couple students are even professional climbing athletes and now pushing the leading edge of climbing today. Here is a little preview of what...

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Rescue in Michigan

The Michigan Ice fest had another awesome year and the turnout was amazing! Ice climbing in the U.P. has really grown just like it has around the rest or the U.S. This of course means folk trying things that maybe push their abilities a little over the edge and they can wind up in some trouble. Here is the incident report I put together for ANAC:   Rescue Report February 17, 2017 Rescuers: Jeff Whit Sam Magro Carlos Beuler Karsten Delap   The call from the 911 center to Bill Thompson happened about 6:45 PM. The call came through that there was a climber that...

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Bad Decisions and the EDK

It is incredible that we are still referring to the Flat Overhand as the “EDK” let alone having Rock and Ice magazine tell people it is unsafe, should be thought of “like the 13th floor”, and not use it. Rock and Ice Article I just went to some continuing education at the American Mountain Guides Association’s annual conference where I sat in on a great talk by Silas Rossi on how as humans we just make bad decisions. This clinic was held at the Petzl institute about a half hour after some of the worlds most experienced guides tested the flat overhand for the millionth time. Now Silas,...

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Climbing the Midi-Plan Traverse

My partner was sick yesterday so I went out on a solo mission and wanted to see some new terrain. Not knowing exactly what I was going to get into I packed my Deuter Speed Lite 20 and took off for the Aiguille du Midi. After leaving the Midi I could see the Aiguille du Plan and it seemed the obvious choice for an outing but I knew nothing about the route. In my Speed Lite 20 pack I brought a 7.5mm tag line if I needed to rappel, a half liter of water, one GU, my Petzl Altitude harness, my Reverso, Sarken crampons, a sling and locking carabiner, and my La Sportiva Hail Jacket. So I was definitely...

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Why do you climb?

Why do we climb?     “Because it is there.” This is the obligatory first line and the historical answer to this question that George Mallory so kindly provided us with in 1943. While this reason could be reason enough for most involved in the sport, I think many of us that have been climbing for over a decade and logged thousands of miles on stone, ice and snow, it is a much more in depth question.   I was just in a private conversation on Facebook with a few climbers talking about ethics (never a good subject), and it dawned on me that even these dedicated, weekend...

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Ground Up Bolting

Ground up bolting has been long thought to be the "Leave No Trace" way of bolting, and making the most ethical sense. As climbing continues to grow we are needing to think about our impacts to areas and also how we can accommodate more climbers at the crag. When climbs are bolted from the ground up, great adventure is had by the individuals opening the new ground. They sometimes are not sure if the route goes, bolts get placed where convenient, holes are not very round leaving spinning hangars and in some cases one has to place bolts to pull on or aid to move forward. While this provides the first...

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2016 Ice Fest Tour

I just ended my ice fest tour for the year. I was able to attend and teach clinics at the Ouray Ice Festival, Mount Washington Valley Ice Festival, and the Michigan Ice Festival. All have there unique qualities and different styles, vibes, and even the ice feels different in all three areas. Here are some of the cool parts of each and recommendations for those thinking of going. Ouray Ice Fest was held January 14th - 17th and most activities take place within walking distance of the center of Ouray. This fest hosts many clinics, gear demos, and slide shows from some of the top alpinists...

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Deuter Guide Lite 32 Review

The Deuter Guide Lite 32 With summer season in full swing here at Fox Mountain Guides we are putting gear to the test. One piece of gear that our guides use daily is the Deuter Guide Lite 32+. This pack is a lighter version of the guide series packs due to the ripstop nylon and Duratex Lite fabrics that are used. This makes it a great pack to save weight for bigger climbs as well as keep your knees healthy all season long. I have personally put the pack to the test this season on the rock as well as skiing some volcanoes in the Northwest. The pack has held up exceptionally well and seems...

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Sliding on Volcanos

As I delve into my final AMGA discipline, I am finding the beauty of carrying boards to the top of the mountains, the descent! It is some feeling when you get to the top of peaks and know you only have a few hours and you will be back at the car when all the other climbers have a knee banging descent. But it is also about experiencing the alpine environment in a different way. Sliding across endless fields of glaciers, taking routes because they present a steeper slope, managing terrain that I would typically brush off and sliding over cracks I would typically want a rope on. Experiencing the “flow”...

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One Hand Clove Hitch

The clove hitch is used in climbing for many different applications. It is handy for attaching oneself to an anchor because of the ease of adjusting it during its use. Tying it one handed can be of great benefit to secure yourself when you are hanging by one hand. Here is a tech video I made where Cody Bradford shows the one handed clove hitch.

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Ice Climbing Looking Glass Falls

The climb that I did [Saturday, Feb. 21], was Looking Glass Falls, one of the classic falls of the Pisgah National Forest with many visitors every year. I pass the falls frequently, as most of the climbing guiding and instruction I do is on Looking Glass Rock, so I am always yearning to climb it. Rarely do we have temperatures like we have had in the last week that enable waterfalls with as much flow volume as Looking Glass to freeze. We have had some of these temps in the past few years but, due to the nature of my job and traveling to far off places, I wasn’t able to catch the falls “in...

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Ski strap skins (tech tip)

Ski straps have many uses. Today I found out a new one. As Lindsay, Buster and I got to the top of Red Mountain Pass and started getting our gear ready I heard some choice words coming from the back of the truck. Lindsay who was so psyched to use her brand new skis had just realized that she had forgotten her skins. It was a long ride back to Ouray and with out missing a beat Buster looked at me and asked how many ski straps I had. After digging around the truck we found six. We put the straps on the skis and were off to earn our turns. A few things we learned. Keep the straps under foot...

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Life, on the road, in my house…

  In 2011 I moved out of my Subaru and into a Toyota Tacoma Double cab truck with a Four Wheel camper. The Subaru was great, but eventually you kinda want a bed. I was spending 50 to 80 nights a year in my car and was doing this in every season as well as needed off road capabilities for those long approach desert rock climbs. I had a look around for what the best options were, Sprinters, Sportsmobiles and truck campers and came to the conclusion that 4 wheel drive is a must and it had to be an everyday driver. What fit the bill, the Four Wheel camper on a Double Cab, Long Bed Toyota...

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La Sportiva Swing Sandal “review”

The perfect summer approach shoe I just got done testing out one of the best summer approach shoes I have ever worn. The La Sportiva Swing offers exceptional comfort. Your feet feel free in them, and the leather is placed perfectly to allow maximum breath-ability. This helps keep the odor down and also helps keep your feet dry, which is important since they are not GoreTex. The bottoms have FriXion rubber, which the website says is “for everything.” I couldn’t agree more: they hook up on the sandy, muddy, and rocky approaches and still handle smears on the overhanging rock. They have a great...

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Footwear Choices in the Alps

As I got ready for the Alps I inquired to some friends who were already there as to what boots would be appropriate for the conditions this season. There has been quite bad weather and much more snow than is typical has fallen this summer. Most of the recommendations I received were that the “red boots” would be too cold and I should instead go with a Batura to stay warm. Having recently upgraded from the Trango GTX to the Trango Cube, I really wanted to try the boot out, so I brought both. On our first afternoon up the Aiguille du Midi we did a small glacier stroll over to the Cosmiques...

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Equivocation Hitch

The equivocation hitch, also known as the daisy of death, has been getting more mainstream use as of late in the guiding world. I went ahead and put together a tech tip for Fox Mountain Guides, and a few of us went out and "red-neck" tested it. The EQ hitch is useful in a few different situations; the main one being when the ends of the rope are not available. I find this happens when short-roping clients as well as cleaning a single pitch climb with a Gri-Gri counterbalance. The latter is usually less applicable since time is not much of an issue when working in single pitch terrain. It is also...

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Rock Climbing Summer Camp Video

Here is a video that I put together of a Fox Mountain Guides's summer camper's thoughts on "The Seal" at Looking Glass Rock.   Click here to see more: www.rockclimbingsummercamps.com

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Guiding’s Professional Problem… Follow up (2 trends that will kill crossfit)

Ok, so this article on Crossfit (pasted below as well) finally got me to write about a touchy subject in the guiding industry. It is amazing the parallels I see in these two industries’ problems. In the U.S., a guide or climbing instructor doesn’t need any training at all. Many folks just start a web page after a few years of climbing and proclaim themselves “mountain guides” and start taking people out on to the rock and into the mountains. Others, like myself and those that I am proud to work with, take the long path of years of personal climbing followed by spending tons of money...

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Ice Climbing: “A Leader’s Game”

Ice climbing is one of the essential tools for alpine climbing. Moving efficiently across mixed and ice terrain is a must to be efficient in the mountains. Ice climbing as a sport itself has exploded over the past ten years. There are now “ice fests” all across the country, and many folks attend these, take clinics, and try out all the new exciting gear.   This year in New Hampshire, I helped run the first ever Advanced Ice course that Fox Mountain Guides has offered, with the main focus on leading ice. In this course we talk about the seriousness of the leads and how ice climbing...

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Every day is the last best day

My early life was guided much by my grandfather and grandmother, Mamaw and Papaw as I refer to them.  Papaw would play endless hours of pitch and catch or sneak me out to McDonalds to get a cheeseburger and maybe stop by and get a pack of baseball cards against my grandmother’s knowing. He never had but just a few dollars in his wallet and we would always spend most of it. He joked that Mamaw would not let him have anymore. I assume that many of us have these fond memories of a grandparent, parent or loved one in our life.  As we grow older these memories carry us through good and bad days...

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