Inspiration from Imagery
Labor Day Weekend
We’ve had a busy weekend here in the San Juans, with fantastic weather and plenty of summits throughout the range – not to mention a few laps on the Telluride Via Ferrata. Hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend!!
4 Easy to Follow Tips
by Dawn Glanc
AMGA Certified Rock & Alpine Guide
So many times when we go climbing, the sole focus is on the climber. However, the belayer is equally important to the team. A lead belayer should not take their job lightly. A casual approach can cause injuries – and possibly worse. The belayer’s job is to provide a safe and reliable catch should the leader fall. The last thing the climber wants is to stress about the belayer’s ability. Here are four easy to follow tips to help you become the best lead belayer at the crag.
1. Stack the rope
This seems so simple and rudimentary, however it sets you up for success. Start with one end of the rope, and flake the rope into a neat and orderly pile until you get to the climbers end of the rope. Consider using a rope bag, tarp or ground cloth if you are outside. Keep the rope on the tarp to help eliminate snagging on rocks or tree roots. By taking the time to complete this process, it will help to keep the rope free of knots and will help you feed rope out with ease.
2. Wear Gloves
No matter what type of belay device you choose to use, you should consider wearing a pair of belay gloves. We rely upon friction to control the rope. The smaller the diameter of rope, the harder it can be to control the friction. A gloved hand will simply protect the skin from the heat created when handling the rope. This seems even more important if you choose to use an ATC style device to belay. There are many styles and manufactures to choose from. Whatever brand you choose, be sure the glove fits well. The gloves may take some getting used to, but they will protect you and the climber in a fall scenario and when lowering the climber to the ground.
3. Stand up and have a good stance
When you are belaying, you should be fully engaged. Begin by finding a comfortable stance that you can maintain for the duration of the climb. It is important to find a place that will help you stand in balance, so that you do not pull the climber off the route. Standing up right in an athletic stance will also allow you to be in a ready position if a fall occurs. Allow yourself to be light on your feet if a fall comes and be prepared to be pulled upward. Finally, standing upright will allow you to stay safe and move out of the way if rock falls. Also consider wearing a helmet.
As the belayer you should be one hundred percent focused on the climber. This is not the time to be eating your sandwich or using the phone. Pay attention and be aware as the climber advances. Keep talking and idle chitchat with the climber and others to a minimum. Be aware of over spraying beta as well. Be mindful and do your best to watch the climber. If you are having problems looking up constantly, try using belay glasses such as *CU glasses or *belaggles to help you see. The last thing you want to do is be an absent minded distraction to the climber.
Belaying is a real job with consequences. It as an example of a very trusting give and take relationship between two partners. The climber is putting their life in the belayer’s hands every time they agree the belay is on. This verbal contract is the foundation for a safe day out. By implementing good judgment, being mindful and following these four tips, you will be on your way to being a great belayer. A great climber once said, “If you are not belaying, you are just climbing.” Have fun out there!
For more info, to see photos or to follow Dawn Glanc go to:
*CU Belay glasses- cubelayglasses.co.uk
*Belaggles belay glasses– www.belaggles.com
The last couple weeks have flown by! Here are some of the highlights…
Shawn, Nick and I climbed Sunlight(14,059′) and Windom(14,082′) in Chicago Basin.
I met Ken, Daniel and Aaron in Telluride to climb Wilson Peak(14,017′). While waiting in the gas staion parking lot at 4:30am I got to see who was making a mess by knocking over all the trash cans, and going through the contents. We were surprised to find a 1/2″ of fresh snow on Wilson Peak. It quickly melted as the sun came up and started heating up the rock.
Lastly Bob and I hiked up Noname Basin to climb Jagged Peak. We ended up climbing the rarely attempted Peak 6(13,705′) instead.
It was great climbing with all of you! Its hard not to have fun in the San Juans this time of year. Hell any time of year is great!
Success on the French Direct
SJMG Guide Andres Marin
Our expedition was just incredible. Every moment was just fantastic, in our journey to the top of Alpamayo: from our long bus ride from Lima to Huaraz, meeting great people in Huaraz, putting all our gear together in H town, taking the bus to Cachapampa, the magic hike through the majestic canyons that took us to our first camp where we spent our first night out where we can hear the Santa Cruz River running with its clear mountain water.
Our next day hike to Base camp where the first view of our objective and lots of other just stunning mountains that captivate our attention. Once at BC the UNO games start and the scores start to accumulate. The meals that Max (our chef) made for us were out of a 5 star mountain hotel. Our way up making carries and getting and higher we got to see different parts of the incredible Cordillera Blanca mountain range and the glaciers and high alpine lakes open right to our view.
Moraine camp at the foot of the main glacier was a great place to observe our surroundings. After spending the night there it was time for us to head up and get to Col camp, where cool glacier travel and little bit of steep of climbing was waiting for us. We also witnessed the strengh of our porters Zacarias and Pelayo, and that carrying 90 pounds of stuff did not slow them down a bit to climb steep snow at 16,000′!
Once at Col/High camp the hole entire SW face of Alpamayo was just in front of us with its dreamy looking ice runnels that go from the top all the way to the base. After the rest day, it was time for us to attempt the summit climb. We woke up super early with an alpine start and started heading to the base of the route. 300M of 45 to 60 degree ice runnel was waiting for us.
The climb was just fun super sticky ice and dreamy snow took us to the top of Alpamayo where, we all enjoyed our success. All of our clients climbed the route in great style, using the techniques they learned climbing with us in the Ouray Ice Park. We took some photos and started rappelling the face.
It was a very long route 10 hours round trip of just fun climbing and rappelling, before we knew it, we found ourselves back in camp, a rest day was in order and then we started back tracking our way down to BC where Rodrigo and Max had planned a fun day of rest and eating for us.
They made a very special plate call PACHAMANCA. It takes long time to make since they make a fire first, dig a hole put all the food in the hole cover it and let it cook for 45 min. It was a great feast and a great way to celebrate the success of our trip!
The next day it was time for us to start our hike down to Huaraz. We spent couple of days there and we all flew back home safe and sound. All and all it was a superb expedition full of great times and incredible views and company. I’m totally looking forward to do it again next year. I also wanted to thank Ted, Chris, Julie, Charles, Rodrigo and company for such incredible times.
AMGA Certified Rock & Alpine Guide
Outdoor Research Guide Uniforms
SJMG Guide Ben Kiessel
As a partner guide service with Outdoor Research, each season we get a few new pieces of technical outerwear to use on our trips – part of our SJMG Guide Uniform. This year, and after a hearty bit of field work already I might add, SJMG Guide Ben Kiessel has had the chance to review this season’s gear.
Everyone gets excited at the start of the summer guiding season. Given the vast expanse and terrain types of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains – we put our gear through a lot of tough use. From multi-day backpacking trips in the Weminuche Wilderness (with plenty of afternoon thunderstorms I might add), to the alpine rock of the Grenadier Range and the Wilson/El Diente Traverse – I’ve put my technical outerwear through more than it’s fair share of mountain days. I’m pleased to report that our Outdoor Research Guide Uniform has been more than up to the task.
The Ferrosi Pants and Hoody are both super beathable yet offer excellent wind and water resistance. So whether we are guiding Telluride’s Via Ferrata or the Snake Couloir on Mt. Sneffels we are dry, warm and able to focus on our job not our layering system. The Ferrosi Hoody is light enough that I have worn it on hot, sunny days for sun protection. The Ferrosi Pant is burly enough that it doesn’t show any wear after guiding long trad routes in the Black Canyon or towers in Moab area. In addition, they are cut perfectly for alpine and rock climbing objectives alike, with minimal extraneous fabric in places you don’t need extra fabric.
I usually layer on the Sequence S/S Polo – which is both comfortable and stylish, and then the Radiant LT Zip Top over that for cool evenings or mornings. I’m particularly a fan of the thumb holes on the Radiant and find that the piece is cut perfectly so that those sleeves don’t ride up or make you feel like they are going to cut off circulation to your thumb when using the thumb holes. Seriously, I have had some other pullovers from different manufacturers who made the sleeves of the pullover too short such that the thumb holes were basically unusable for me – and I have long arms.
As our season progresess in southwest Colorado we experience daily afternoon thunderstorms in July and August that generally last for an hour or two. It’s key to have a rain coat that will keep you dry even in the heaviest rain storms yet is light as possible and compresses down for easy packing. I was impressed last year when we were wearing the Helium. The Helium II is lighter, more water poof and more breathable then its predecessor. At 6.4 oz it’s super light but is resiliant enough to thrash through dew covered willows on an alpine start for Wham Ridge on Vestal Peak.
Overall, you can’t go wrong with anything from OR. Well built, functional, stylish – the list goes on and on. I highly recommend their technical outerwear for all of your outdoor endeavors, wherever they may be. Have fun out there!
AMGA Certified Rock Guide
Although Ken lives in Texas he is on a mission to climb Colorodo’s 54 14,000 foot peaks! Last week we went into Chicago Basin with his son and climbed the areas three semi technical 14ers; Windom, Sunlight and Eolus. I believe after our trip Ken has climbed 38 14ers! We will be seeing Ken again in a couple weeks to climb Mt. Wilson and El Diente near Telluride. Stay tuned!
Its not super common that we hike into Vestal Basin from Molas Pass. We usually take the train which cuts off about 6 miles round trip and a 2,000 foot climb from the river back to the car on the way out. Aaron, Jacob and I left Molas on Wednesday morning and made great time getting into Vestal Basin in 5 hours. We set up camp and talked about the strategy for Thursday. Vestal Peak would be first via the incredible and classic Wham Ridge. From the Vestal summit we would descend the South Face back to the base of Arrow and then climb Arrow’s Northeast Face and descend to camp. Although we woke up to clouds on Thursday the skies cleared and everything went as planned. Except that when we got back to camp Aaron and Jacob decided that they didn’t want to spend another night out as planned but would prefer to hike back out to Molas Pass. It’s amazing what two soccer players from Iowa can do when they have been at altitude for a few days! All total we hiked about 20 miles and gained 8,000′ of elevation.
We wanted to let everyone know that the team is safely back at basecamp and enjoying some rest before the final push back to Huaraz. Soon, they will be enjoying a Pachamanca! More details to come with pictures once Andres and team reach Huaraz. Nice job everyone!!
Safely Back at High Camp
Just got word that Alpamayo Team #2 summited yesterday and are safely back in high camp! We will post a full recap once we hear from Andres about the details of the climb. Great work everyone!
At Alpamayo Basecamp
Our second Alpamayo Expedition of the season is underway and going very well. Everyone in the group arrived to Lima on time, with no delays and all their bags (whew!). After a night in Lima, the group boarded the Cruz del Sur bus – with VIP seating – for the trip to Huaraz which is approximately 8 hours from Lima.
Upon their arrival in Huaraz they were picked up by our support staff and transported to The Olaza’s Guest House, where they spent the next few days acclimatizing and packing for the trip, not to mention enjoying the views of the Cordillera Blanca range from Olaza’s wonderful roof top patio. The trip preparations with our support staff went very smoothly, and after a final gear check everyone was feeling prepped and ready for the following days transport to Cashapampa, and the start of the trek into basecamp which is supported by burros.
Andres called on Monday to let us know that the team had successfully made it to Basecamp and everyone was doing fantastic. Spirits were high all around. The team was planning to do a load carry, with the help of their porters and cooks, to Moraine Camp the following day (Tuesday) and then establish themselves completely at Moraine Camp today (Wednesday). The pictures attached to this post are not from this trip but give a general sense of where they are headed in the days to come.
We will post another update as soon as we hear from Andres and the team – hopefully later today!!
Alpamayo Expedition #2