19, Issue 1
photo on Pyramid Peak in Death Valley
on descent from Pyramid Peak
excited to be on Stewart Point with Spring Mountains in the background
with a rock arch en route to Corkscrew Peak
and Roy on the knife-edge summit of Little Corkscrew Peak
up toward Brown Mountain
the narrow summit ridge of Eagle Mountain
and Jim climbing the short, but steep Old Dad Mountain
down along the way to Old Dad
photo on Old Dad
rock on the long ridgeline to Kingston Peak
near the summit of Kingston
of the many huge nolinas near Kingston Peak
2012 - March 2013
Report & Photos by Joel Brewster
Over the past few months, I have kept busy hiking some beautiful desert
peaks, mostly near the eastern border of Death Valley. I have recently
gotten more focused on the Sierra Club's Desert Peak Section list of peaks.
The majority of these 99 peaks are located in southern CA, but some are
in NV, AZ, UT, and four are in Mexico. A good number of these peaks are
within a reasonable drive from Las Vegas. Many of them lend themselves
to being climbed in the late fall or winter as the temperatures then are
quite pleasant, unlike the summer when they are scorched by triple-digit
I have organized quite a few of these trips recently visiting
the excellent, but seldom-visited summits of Pyramid Peak, Avawatz Peak,
Stewart Point, Corkscrew Peak, Brown Mountain, Eagle Mountain, Old Dad
Mountain, Old Woman Mountain, Kingston Peak, and Dry Mountain. All are
worthy and have their own personality. Each of these trips has been memorable,
mostly because of the terrific company. There has become a small group
of LVMC that is working on this DPS list of peaks (with various levels
of focus): Bart Stephens, Collin Kamholz, Jim Morehouse, Lorraine Wajda,
Jodie Schraven, Shaun Bisiaux, Brett Sapowith, Austin Hubbuch, Anji Cerney,
Harlan Stockman, and Eric Kassan. I always had at least a few people from
this group on each of these trips (as well as a few others), and they
provided great camaraderie.
and Susan descending Pyramid Peak
of several short class 3 dryfalls on the way to Stewart Point
steep, loose talus from Eagle Mountain
Some of these hikes long, and some were short. In an effort
to be time-efficient (not drive 5 hours for a 3 hour hike), I led a couple
"doubleheader" trips, with one peak in the morning, and one
to follow in the afternoon. We did Brown in the morning and Eagle in the
afternoon, which made for an excellent, but challenging day. Then in an
homage to our elders, we did Old Dad in the morning and Old Woman in the
afternoon (and evening). This was a long day including a two-hour drive
between peaks...we hiked the final mile or two in the dark, made quite
enjoyable thanks to Jodie's gluten-free beverages. Thanks Jodie!
We had a wide variety of terrain on these outings as
well. It ranged from loose talus on the descent of Pyramid, to easy trail
on Avawatz, to airy class 3 ascents on Eagle and Little Corkscrew, to
brushy, snowy gullies on Kingston. Thinking back on these trips, it was
amazing how few other hikers we saw. We saw a father and son on Eagle,
but on every other peak, we had it completely to ourselves. Thanks to
everyone who joined on one or more of these trips...good times!
shows her might on Stewart Point.
and Bart climbing a short class 3 "detour"
Bart, and Austin fuel up after Brown, before we make the short drive over
to Eagle, our second peak of the day.
ICE PARK & OURAY ICE FESTIVAL
skiing seminar took Sue and Sergio to Red Mountain Pass
Gal raps into the New Funtier area of Ouray Ice Park
climbs out of the Ice Park while Sue belays him.
tops out on Red Rooster (WI3) in the Ice park's School Room area.
works on staying warm before heading up another ice route.
climbs in the School Room.
of the Ouray locals
contemplates his next move while practicing mixed climbing and dry tooling
techniques in South Park.
Schager climbing in New Funtier
Report by Michelle Napoli, Photos by Michelle Napoli, Sue Schager,
Christine Gal, & Ilan Paltrow
The mile-long stretch of icy fun known as the Ouray Ice
Park lured LVMC members Mark Beauchamp, Michelle Napoli and Sue Schager,
along with friends and former members Sergio Colombo and Christine Gal,
for a week’s worth of climbing in January. The quaint former mining
town of Ouray, Colorado, with its Victorian architecture and the San Juan
Mountains as a backdrop, is home to the Ice Park and the annual Ouray
Ice Festival, considered one of the premier events of its kind in the
In addition to a few days of climbing on their own, the
five were among hundreds of participants in the Ouray Ice Festival, which
took place January 10-13. Each year the event attracts people from around
the country and the world, ranging in ability from total novices to notable
athletes and everyone in between, and this year was no exception. Among
the festival highlights are seminars and clinics taught by professional
guides and athletes. For instance, Mark sought guidance on leading ice
from instructor Dale Remsberg, Michelle worked on her climbing technique
with the teaching and feedback of pros Chad Peele and Karen Bockel, and
out by Red Mountain Pass, not too far from Ouray, Sergio and Sue got an
all-day lesson in backcountry skiing and avalanche terrain skills with
guides Mark Allen and Ilan Paltrow.
Other highlights of the festival include free demos from
the best gear and clothing companies out there (think Petzl, Black Diamond,
Grivel, Rab, Patagonia, La Sportiva, and many more), parties and auctions,
slideshows, and films (this year’s featured Hayden Kennedy, Ines
Papert and Cory Richards). There was also a chance to meet and socialize
with new friends and rub elbows with climbing royalty (attendees included
premiere alpinist Conrad Anker and old school rock legend and Stonemaster
Jim Bridwell), and also the opportunity to watch some pretty fierce climbing
by the sport’s leading athletes in competition.
The overall winner of this year’s Elite Mixed Climbing
Competition – a route that entailed scaling natural and manmade
features and ended with a 25-foot overhanging tower – was Simon
Duverney, while Ines Papert took first place in the women’s rankings
and ninth place overall. Ines donated her $2,000 prize money back to the
Ouray Ice Park, which not only hosts the festival each year but is a free
facility that has been open to the public each winter for almost 20 years.
A manmade ice climbing venue set inside the natural Uncompahgre
Gorge and walking distance from downtown Ouray, the Ice Park is a great
destination for ice climbers of all ability levels. If you’re totally
new to technical climbing in general or ice climbing in particular, local
guide services would likely be a good resource for gear rentals, important
safety and technique lessons, and showing you around the Ice Park. For
non-leaders who are proficient in setting up top ropes, belaying and other
safety basics, and have at least some ice experience (or have an experienced
friend willing to coach), virtually every route in the entire Ice Park
is waiting to be attempted by you. Climbers are able to set up routes
on top rope in all but one lead-only section of the park. More than 200
routes range from WI2 grades on the easy end of the spectrum to WI6 and
M9 on the stouter end, and are disbursed throughout the Park in different
areas with such names as “New Funtier,” “School Room,”
“South Park,” and “Scottish Gullies.”
If you go climbing in the Ouray Ice Park -- which is
jointly owned and operated by the city of Ouray, the non-profit Ouray
Ice Park, Inc., and private and public landowners - - consider buying
a membership. Despite the fact that it is free and open to the public,
it is not free to maintain and operate. Each afternoon, Ice Park volunteers
turn on the gravity-fed plumbing system that works with the natural cold
in the deep and shady gorge to replenish the ice overnight for the next
day’s climbing. In addition to some good climbing karma, the membership
gives you a discount on Ouray Ice Festival seminar and clinic fees, as
well as discounts at a number of restaurants and other businesses, including
the soothing Hot Springs Pool, which is definitely worth a visit after
a cold day of climbing.
You can find out more information about the Ice Park,
which is typically open mid-December to late March (weather and conditions
dependent, of course) as well as the Ouray Ice Festival, here: www.ourayicepark.com.
And check out this great video: http://vimeo.com/57924628.
It was a bit chilly!
One of the most important areas of focus for a lead climber
is assessing risk. Every decision a lead climber makes should be made
based on a thorough examination of the risks involved with choosing one
option over another.
Generally, protective gear on a lead route should protect
against four risk factors: ground falls, ledge falls, hard moves, and
long run outs. It is the leader's responsibility to determine if the protection
found on the route is sufficient and adequate to cover these main risks.
For a trad route, the risk assessment is determining
where and how much protection gear to place to avoid these four risk factors.
Bolted sport routes should be bolted to protect against the same four
risk factors. Some are, some are not.
In order for the lead climber to successfully avoid ground
falls and ledge falls, the leader must know how far a fall might be given
certain known conditions. For example, if a lead climber is half way up
a route and is 5 ft over his last protection piece and falls, how far
will he fall? It is not 10 ft as most would guess. He should expect to
fall ~15 ft. This is figured by adding the 5 ft above the piece, the next
5 ft before the protection is loaded, the rope stretch in the system after
the pro piece is loaded, the rope slack in the system, and any belayer
movement from getting pulled upward. Obviously significant variations
in stretch, slack, and belayer movement can significantly increase or
slightly decrease the fall distance, but generally speaking it is a 3X
multiplier. So a leader falling from 3 ft over the last protection piece
will fall ~9 ft, 4 ft over will fall ~12 ft, and so on. Keep this multiplier
in mind when you are climbing off the ground or past a ledge.
A lead climber must be aware of this risk potential in
order to accurately assess the risk of leading the route. In a trad route
scenario, one could literally “sew it up” and never risk falling
more than a few feet if they really wanted to (although hardly practical),
but a sport climber has only the bolts placed on the route to use and
one would hope the bolts are placed close enough to stop a fall before
hitting a ledge or the ground.
Keeping these basic concepts of risk assessment in your
“climber’s tool box” will greatly improve your ability
to be smarter and safer lead climbers.
MONTHLY BIO FEATURE
Where were you born?
How long have you lived in Las Vegas?
What is your occupation?
How long have you been an LVMC member?
What is your favorite hike/climb?
Too many. Some of my favorites have been Mt.
Wilson (AZ) and Bridge Mt.
What is the most challenging hike/climb you have done?
Toss up between McFarland Pk. and Rainbow Wall
How did you get into hiking/climbing?
Bart S. He was just getting into it and it sounded
What are your hobbies other than hiking/climbing?
My son and the Philadelphia Eagles (you'll always
see me wearing my Eagles hat).
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