Climbing in a Time of Coronavirus, vol. 11

We’ve been outside! Ann even got to backpack in Hellsgate Wilderness last weekend.
Photo: Ann Revill.

Hello AMC family:

Is it just us or has this last couple of weeks somehow been even weirder than the lockdown? The stay-at-home orders are lifted, but the pandemic is still very much here, so we’re all just trying to figure out how to navigate the risks for ourselves. As climbers, we think a lot about identifying and managing risk, of course. And, just as we all make different decisions on the wall, we’ll probably make different decisions about where to go and what to do in the days and weeks to come.

But with many of us still sticking close to home (or possibly sticking TO home), we’ll continue to bring the climbing (and climbing-related) world to you.

We start, sorry to say, with sad news from Italy, where alpinist Matteo Bernasconi died in an avalanche on May 12.

Barely a week later, British climber John Allen died in a fall in the UK.

So, please: if you’re going out, be extra careful. Please.

If you’re being careful AND the natural world cooperates, then you will probably never need a backcountry rescue. However, the SAR team at Zion N.P. has put together a behind-the-scenes video about the gear and techniques that rangers use to help people (not you) who do get in trouble.

And do you know which national park has the busiest Search and Rescue team in the whole country?

Yep. Our very own Grand Canyon had 265 SAR incidents in 2018 alone. But, as high as that number is, it would be even higher without the Preventative Search and Rescue volunteers—a crack team of dedicated outdoors-people that even includes a few AMC members. (Thank you all!) The Grand Canyon PSAR team was founded in 1997 to help reduce heat-related illnesses among summer visitors by providing education and regular trail patrols. Also, they get to hike a lot.

Long-time Grand Canyon ranger Bill Vandergraff helped launch the PSAR program and, upon his retirement in 2015, shared some great tips on backcountry survival that are still good information to consider before you head out.

But, even if you’re staying safe at home, you might find that some of the skills you’ve honed in the outdoors can still come in handy.

And whether you’re sidelined by an injury or a pandemic, Training Peaks offers some advice on how to use your mental skills to cope.

Need more of a tough love boost? Ice climber Will Gadd has thoughts on “sucking less.” Available on Spotify or Apple podcasts.

You know who does not need tough love? Pamela Shanti Pack. She’s an off-width master and plenty tough on her own.

No off-width here, but plenty of great rock: Hazel Findlay took a climbing tour of South Korea and Black Diamond has just released the short film that Colette McInerney made of that trip.

If you’re in the mood for longer films, Climbing has put together a list of lesser-known flicks ranging from climbing documentaries to feature films with climbing as central to the plot (including the, er, best of the worst).

Or, if you’ve had enough screen time for a while, may we offer this list of mountain-themed books?

Speaking of mountains, here’s a distinctly 21st-century problem: a glacier in the Canadian Rockies is melting so much that it may also be shifting provincial boundaries. Fair warning: the graphics on this story are stunning. And slightly dizzying.

Before all those glaciers melt away, an international group of researchers known as the Ice Memory team are racing against time (and global warming) to preserve ice cores for future generations.

Meanwhile, former Patagonia CEO Kristine Tompkins has ideas about how we can preserve the world itself, through rewilding.

If you need a little wilderness fix yourself, Brooklyn-based film director Janssen Powers hiked the Teton Crest trail last summer and has used some of his quarantine time to compile the footage of that trip into a three-minute escape that includes archival narration by Ansel Adams.

We can’t decide if this is inspiration or heresy: an alpinist has discovered the joys of mountain biking.

But for those of us who are sticking with climbing, we offer this (ever-growing) list of climbing faux pas. Know them. Don’t make them.

And right away we have to add another one: Please do not burn down the boulder problems. (?!?)

Perhaps climbing still feels a little dangerous (what with the bonfires and all), but maybe you’re thinking that backpacking is a great way to get away from the crowds.

If so, why not go all the way and make it a solo trip? Can’t get more socially distant than that!

If you’re taking along a hammock, make sure you know how to hang it properly (as in: responsibly).

And you’ll definitely need to plan your backpacking food properly in order to avoid the 10 classic mistakes. True story: After Ann’s first backpacking trip, she immediately went to the grocery store and bought (and ate!) a whole bag of carrots (as a result of Mistake #8, and really Mistake #2, and actually Mistake #1 as well…).

Speaking of Ann and backpacking, should you ever encounter any beautiful butterflies, intriguing insects, or flat-out terrifying spiders that you’d like to ID, check out the helpful And ask Ann how she feels about Fishing Spiders after last weekend…

If you’d like help identifying any of the other flora and fauna that you see in the great outdoors—or if you’d like to be part of a massive citizen science project, then take a look at iNaturalist, which lets people from around the world share observations about nature.

Whatever you’re finding out there in the world, we’d love to hear about it! (Except maybe for Fishing Spiders. We’re set on those.)

Isolate on!

Ann and Andrea

Author: Andrea Galyean

4 thoughts on “Climbing in a Time of Coronavirus, vol. 11

  1. Nice work ladies! Your the “A” team for sure! Love the content, the variety and it is just so much fun to hear about your latest adventure Ann!

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