Here is a recap of Elías de Andrés Martos’s recent expedition to the Moose’s Tooth to climb Ham n’ Eggs.
Our trip to the Moose’s Tooth was a memorable climbing experience! There’s nothing like a motivated, competent and fun partner to undertake such a challenge. Brian, who spent the winter training hard on our fantastic southwest Colorado ice, came up to the task, and crushed it on Moose’s Tooth.
We flew into the Root Canal on the best weather day possible, and soon after setting up camp, we were contemplating climbing that very night. With decent forecast in the AK Range one needs to take advantage of any possible window. And so we launched! At 4:45am or so, we started our approach. A light cover of new snow had fallen on that night, and after a few pitches on the route proper, visibility became sparse, and a few sluffs added weight to our decision to take it as an exploratory day, and turn back to camp.
Soon after a deserved nap, the now obvious materialization of a high pressure system, was giving us hopes of trying again at night. A bit earlier, this time we left the comfort of our tents at 4:30am, on a way more bitter cold morning, filled with stars in the sky, we were now sure weather wouldn’t be an issue. With the lower part scouted the day before, our progress to the base of the crux pitch only took 2h from our tent. Moderate rock and snow climbing, preceded a couple dozen feet of rotten “snice”, topped by a slightly overhung mushroom of ice. A laughter and an out loud “that was fun” from Brian, assured me the quality of my partner at this point.
The coming up section, or middle third of the route, proved very enjoyable; narrower steps of nearly vertical, short sections of ice, followed by moderate snow were just pure joy, all while entrenched in the narrow granite of the Moose’s Tooth, and with the breathtaking views of the great Ruth Glacier and surrounding peaks when we turned our heads around.
A couple more hours and we were be at the Col, with expansive views in every direction over the Range. A short break behind a serac, parkas on for the remainder, and the summit smiles wanted to pop on our faces already, we knew that the corniced ridge would be the last bit of terrain to manage before an incredible reward.
Denali, Hunter, Huntington, Dickey, Bear Tooth… and countless other peaks were all visible from the top. With no weather to rush us back, we enjoyed a few extra minutes of pictures and high fives. Shortly after, a careful down climb preceding hours of rappelling, would be our uneventful descent, only interrupted to peel layers off as we dropped elevation, and to snack while the views of the surrounding walls changed with the new lower elevation.
Some 14h after our start in the morning, ropes were being pulled, and another 20 min walk to camp urged us to discuss the most important part of the day; “what would be for dinner?” The answer was clear; “steak is for dinner!!!
Come climb in the AK Range with SJMG!!!
Elias had a great trip in the Root Canal Glacier to climb the Moose’s Tooth. They are safely back in Talkeetna celebrating. Stay tuned for a recap of their trip!
Our second AK expedition is en route to Talkeetna today. Andrés Marin is accompanied by two great guests, they are planning to fly into the Root Canal in the next day or so. Stay tuned on their progress.
Elias and his partner had a successful climb of the Moose’s Toothe formation via the Ham n’Eggs route yesterday. He informed us via In Reach message that the weather was perfect and the summit views were awesome. They completed ascent and descent back to camp in just over 14 hours. Way to go guys! Congrats! Now the team is back at camp planning next move. Stay tuned.
Our first trip to the Ruth Gorge in the Alaska Range is in progression. Elías de Andrés Martos is there with a solid partner. They flew onto the Root Canal Glacier two days ago. Their plan is to climb the Moose’s Tooth formation today, weather & conditions allowing. The ultra classic route Ham n’ Eggs (V,5.9,AI 4) is 2,800 feet of technical alpine ice/mixed climbing.
Winter is at our doorstep here in Ouray. We have had some great snow storms over the past few weeks which will transfer nicely to good skiing and ice climbing. It is important to note the type of snow we have been receiving has had good water content. This especially makes for a perfect ice recipe. When we get sunny days and cold nights the melt freeze cycle will put us in excellent shape for ice formation. We eagerly hope that the precipitation keeps coming to beef up our snowpack and ice flows for this winter.
With the joy of winter’s arrival, we hope that everyone has begun to train for ice climbing. This week’s Pre-Season Stoke Training Series will focus on CORE STRENGTH. Your body revolves around your core. All of your movement originates from your abs, therefore having a solid core will transfer to good balance and body tension while climbing. Maintaining body tension with strong abdominals will promote good control & efficiency during your movement.
For a slew of great core exercise ideas checkout this article by CLIMBING.
Here are a few a really good core/grip strength combination exercise. This incorporates our previous Pre-Season Training topic, Grip Strength with Core Strength.
Dead Hang on Ice Tools with Ball Support
Lock-Offs with Ball Support
One Arm Dead Hang with Ball Support
Disclaimer: These exercises are intended to give you ideas to enhance your pre-season training sessions. Please consult a professional trainer or athlete for appropriate training schedules that fit your climbing goals and fitness level.
Have you busted out your tools yet?
Grip Strength is very important to ice climbing. Often the forearm pump & lack of grip strength will cause an ice climber to get exhausted, just not being able to hold on any longer. In your training sessions, be sure to incorporate exercises that develop grip strength to get ahead of the pump come ice climbing season. Remember to work opposing muscles to balance your body and avoid injury.
I caught up with two of our lead guides Andrés & Gary in the gym and asked them which specific exercises they recommend to enhance grip strength. They gave me great ideas to share with you. Here are some grip strength exercises to add to your training repertoire.
Dead Hang – Simply hang on a pull-up bar. Or use ice tools. Hook tools high on a secure surface. Hold each tool and hang with shoulders engaged, think of squeezing shoulder blades together and maintaining good posture through-out shoulders, chest, & neck. Suggested Set: Hang for 10 seconds and then rest 10 seconds; do 10 rounds for one set. Do three sets total with a few minutes of rest between each. Add five to 10 seconds to each hang every week. For varied grips try using a finger board for dead hangs. You can change the grip based on the holds you use.
Pull Ups with an Open Grip – On a pull up bar do open handed grip pull ups. You can also do this on a finger board to change the grip. Doing regular pull-ups on a pull-up bar or on ice tools would be great too. Use good technique while doing any kind of pull-up. Obviously pull-ups not only enhance grip strength, but the entire upper body will benefit from properly executed pull-ups.
Farmer’s Carry – Chose appropriate weight dumb bells or kettle-balls to hold in each hand with a straight arm. The weight should be somewhat challenging. Walk with good posture holding these weights for as long as you can, or incorporate it as a station in a circuit training session.
Hand/Finger Curls – Hold a weight bar with straight arms either in front or behind you. Slowly & smoothly uncurl and curl your hands & fingers. Do controlled repetitions of this grip strength exercise. Another great station in a circuit training session.
Simple Wrist Weight Bar Raise – This is a good one that mimics the swing of an ice tool by engaging the forearm muscles while working on grip strength. With a small weight bar hold it straight down by your side, slowly & smoothly raise the bar with your wrist, and then lower it.
Disclaimer from SJMG: This pre-season stoke training series is intended to give you ideas to enhance your training sessions. Please consult a professional trainer for a specific training schedule appropriate for your fitness and climbing goals.
Pre-Season Stoke Series: Ideas to enhance your training sessions for the upcoming ice climbing season.
There are many parts to the training puzzle. We hope you are eager to get tuned up for ice climbing season. We suggest connecting with a professional trainer or athlete to get a specific training schedule that is appropriate for your fitness level and climbing goals. In addition, do your homework and read-up on how to effectively train for ice climbing. There are many great resources out there to help you. This training series is intended to give you ideas to compliment your training sessions. Pre-Season Training is essential to get you stoked for ice climbing.
Many people over look their lower body when thinking about working-out for ice climbing. In reality, your calves can get an amazing pump when ice climbing. So, be sure to intertwine calf exercises and other leg exercises into your routine training. Having strong calves that are familiar with repetitive movement that mimics ice climbing will compliment your upper body strength & overall climbing efficiency. Our legs (and abs) have much bigger muscles than our arms, so let’s be sure to use them wisely when we ice climb.
Here are a few ideas for calf exercises in the gym. Be sure to properly warm up (jump rope, jog, cycle, etc.) and stretch your calves pre/post calf work-outs. When doing these focus on quality repetition, not on maxing out the weight, if weight is involved. The purpose here is to create muscle memory and endurance through repetition. You may decide to do a circuit session that integrates these calf exercises.
Weighted Calf Raises (seated). Make sure to maintain good posture while doing this exercise. Use a weight that allows you to do quality repetitions. If you do not have the machine to do this exercise you can do this with the weight bar across the top of your quads in a sitting position and a block under the balls of your feet to create the downward stretch. Make sure to breath with the movement. Inhale down, exhale up.
Calf Raises (standing). Go for quality movement and repetition. Pause at the top and at the bottom. You may decide to do this as a weighted calf raise exercise. Simply choose dumb-bells that are an appropriate weight for you to do quality repetitions, hold one in each hand with a straight arm as you do the calf raises. You can isolate each leg by doing one leg at a time. Casually bend one leg at the knee and put your weight on the standing leg, then keep good, balanced posture and do the calf raise.
Assisted Calf Raises. This exercise promotes quality repetition and provides a solid structure to help you maintain balance & posture. This can be done single legged too. The assist can either be above you or in front of you at about waist height. Single Leg Assisted Calf Raises.
Other ideas to improve your calf strength & endurance: run stairs, jump rope.
Happy Training! Get stoked to fire-up ice climbing!
Stay tuned for more pre-season stoke training tips. Thanks!
Disclaimer: SJMG recommends individuals to consult professional trainers & athletes for an appropriate training program. These training tips are intended to help give you ideas to enhance your training sessions.
Here in Ouray we have had rain over the past few days and snow in the high country. This makes us eager with anticipation for the upcoming winter season and ice climbing. This moisture seeping into the ground is great for future ice flows. Once we start to get a melt / freeze cycle this precipitation will turn into ice, one of our favorite forms of water!
With Ice Climbing around the corner, now is the time to start pre-season training. This series of blog-posts is intended to give you ideas for your training sessions. At SJMG we get the opportunity to learn from Professional Climbers and Mountain Guides about how to prepare for Ice Climbing. By being dedicated to a training program you will be more physically & mentally ready for the challenges of climbing ice. There are many layers involved with a training program, we encourage you to consult experienced professional athletes and trainers to create an appropriate training program for your climbing goals and fitness level.
Whatever your goals are for this ice season whether it is climbing in the Ouray Ice Park, climbing steep backcountry ice routes, honing your mixed climbing skills, the possibilities are here in the San Juans. Start your pre-season training to give yourself the best opportunity to enjoy your ice climbing experience. We look forward to ice climbing with you!
Please stay tuned to our Pre-Season Stoke Series: Ideas to enhance your training sessions for the upcoming ice climbing season.
Here is a useful & insightful link from a professional climber that we very much admire and respect, Will Gadd. He is an amazing athlete with many incredible accomplishments. Taking the time to read material written by experienced athletes is a great way to learn how to reach your potential.
Pre-Season Stoke Series presented by SJMG: Disclaimer: training should be taken seriously and we recommend consulting a professional trainer to learn what training program is best suited for you. This series of training tips is intended to give you ideas for your training sessions.
The San Juan Mountains have rugged alpine canyons to explore. Different than the desert sandstone slot canyons of Uath, the canyons in the San Juans are wild with rock diversity, log-jams, high alpine-style mountainous gorges with ferns and raspberries flourishing among the pines. These canyons are rich with adventure and scenic delight. Ouray is home base to several amazing alpine canyons of varying difficulty including: Angel Creek, Portland Creek, Oak Creek, Cascade Creek, Weehawken Creek, Bear Creek, and the Uncompahgre Gorge, just to name a few outstanding descents.
Michael Dallin has written a terrific guide book for the Canyoning in the San Juans Mountains surrounding Ouray titled, Ouray Canyoning, Explorations in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. This book has great photos, route beta, and maps. Ouray has become a destination for canyoning aficionados over the years and is more recently becoming better known for it’s rugged, exciting alpine canyons. This August will be the 6th annual Ouray Canyon Festival in conjunction with the 14th annual Rendezvous International for Canyoneering. We are thrilled that Ouray is hosting this awesome event for people to come together & enjoy the wonderful canyons in our area.
Recently I had the opportunity to descend Middle & Lower Oak Creek Canyon. It was awesome! It is super easy to access directly from town. No cars necessary! This type of adventure really gets me stoked, human powered exploration of very unique places. The only requirements are that you are well practiced at rappelling, you have good rope management skills, and you are up for the adventure.
It is also nice to be properly dressed and rigged for any circumstances that may come your way in the canyon. Myself, I wear polypropylene long underwear type of base layers with a drysuit or dry-top & pants (some people wear wetsuits to insulate) to keep warm while rapping through cold waterfalls.
Essential items are:
- Ropes, proper length & number of ropes, we recommend Bluewater Rope’s 9.2 Canyon Rope
- Harness & Helmet
- Rappel Device
- VT Prussik or short Prussik Loop for Rappel back-up
- Purcell Prussik or other personal anchor system
- Extra cordelette & quicklinks in case you need to make a new anchor or beef one up
- Shoes with super good rubber/traction, highly recommend 5.10 Canyoneers, 5.10 Stealth Rubber is the ultimate best!
- Gloves, leather work gloves or similar
Oak Creek is easy to get to from town. After a steep 2 mile hike up Oak Creek Trail (left at the trail junction about 1.2 miles up for the middle section) you will come to the creek crossing. This is the start for Middle Oak Creek. There are at least 8 rappels in the middle section, the tallest is about 80 feet. Lower Oak Creeks has about 8 rappels, the tallest is 170 feet, quite exciting! Lots of down climbing, rappelling through waterfalls, and super scenic creek hiking highlight the beauty of this extraordinary place. It is a magically unique space that can only be accessed with the right knowledge and know how to explore safely. We feel lucky to have these canyons right out our back door.
Our Alpamayo Expedition Team had a great summit climb 07/14/15. They had a day of rest, post summit, at high camp and then yesterday they journeyed down to Base Camp. Today, 07/16/15, they will enjoy the day at Base Camp relaxing and relishing in the beauty of the Cordillera Blanca. Andrés called this morning, they are all doing fantastic. Tomorrow they will make it back to Hauraz to finish the trip. We are so happy for them and wish them smooth travels home.