Climbing in a Time of Coronavirus, vol. 13

The self-tying knot is an advanced skill. This particular variation takes years of practice and may be beyond the scope of our upcoming clinic.
photo: Ann Revill


Hello climbers:

As we’re entering month three of no in-person climbs, classes, or meetings, we can see this is going to be more of a big-wall-first-ascent kind of a trip than a one-pitch sport route. But we’re remain undaunted.

In fact, we’re happy to announce the first ever Virtual AMC Event!

(So 21st century, right?)

Join us this Thursday, June 18 at 7 p.m., for Knots with Scott, a BYOB Skills Clinic for practicing some really useful climbing knots. There’s so much more than the figure eight! Scott Kuchman, longtime AMC member and avid mountaineer, will cover the one-handed overhand, variations on bowline and butterfly knots, and even the specialized Frost knot, invented by Tom Frost himself. Grab a practice rope and a beverage and we’ll see you all there! (“There” meaning “wherever you are.”)

In other local climbing news, a recent Arizona Republic story about how area businesses are keeping customers safe from coronavirus included a profile of Focus Climbing and the creative steps they’ve taken to minimize risk for gym members.

Sticking to your at-home workouts? Well, if you’re still struggling with pull-ups, powerhouse climber and Melanin Base Camp contributor Favia Dubyk has a plan for you. A five step plan, to be precise.

Or perhaps you’re taking your social distancing outside?

If so, remember that the Sawtooth Fire continues to burn near Weaver’s Needle, so the Forest Service has closed several access points to the Superstition area, including Broadway, Peralta, Rogers Trough, and Woodbury Trailheads.

And there’s a new fire burning along the Bush Highway.

As always: it’s a good idea to check current closures before you head out.

Also, Stage II Fire Restrictions are now in effect across most public lands in the state. That means no fires, no smoking, no target shooting, no chainsaws, and no welding. So ixnay on the eldingway, folks.

And the Grand Canyon North Rim is now closed due to the Magnum Fire.

Aaaaand the Bighorn Fire is still blazing on Pusch Ridge.

By the way, did you know that fire crews have their own weather experts? It’s true! An Incident Meteorologist helps wildfire teams by interpreting the weather and assisting in planning operations by accounting for wind, humidity, and other factors.

So, with fire season ramping up, the coronavirus still spreading, and the local temps looking somewhat inhospitable, let’s talk about some out-of-town adventures, whether for near-term planning or long-term dreaming.

Yosemite National Park—maybe you’ve heard of it?—started a limited reopening on June 11. But key to the park’s coronavirus containment plan is a drastic (like 50%) reduction in visitors. So if you’re thinking of big walls this summer, you’ll want to learn about their new permit system.

But while you’re waiting for that permit, you can download the new e-book Big Wall and Aid Climbing—How to Climb the Big Stone from climber Neil Chelton’s VDiff publishing company. Downloads are by donation, so choose your own price.

Headed up to bear country? Lucky you! Backpacker offers a roundup of advice on how to comport yourself properly (manners, please!).

And if you really want to hang out with bears (or just cool down), we’ve also got a video roundup of some classic alpine routes in the Canadian Rockies. [C’mon, you had to know Canada was coming into this.]

Or maybe you’ve got some overnight alpine objectives in your sights? Steve House, alpinist and co-founder of Uphill Athlete, shares his packing methodology.

If you’re looking to lighten your backpacking load, get some ultralight strategy from this professional hiker, who, incidentally, happens to be blind.

You really can’t know too much about backcountry navigation, and GAIA has a new podcast about exactly that topic.

But no matter where you wander—or for how long—you don’t have to be stinky. The Mountaineers article on Backcountry Hygiene 101 will help you keep it clean. And Outdoor Research has 25 additional pointers on outdoor hygiene just for women.

For now, we can only dream about being able to fly (In an airplane! With other people!) to the Alps, but some areas have reopened for summer mountaineering.

But we can tag along on an epic trip up K2 with this excellent documentary from Adrian Ballinger with support from Eddie Bauer.

Not every expedition gets a film crew, but in Nepal, even the smallest are documented. Mountaineer Billi Bierling remembers her mentor, Elizabeth Hawley, the pioneering U.S. journalist who moved to Kathmandu in 1960 and never stepped foot on a mountain but spent decades chronicling every Nepal-based expedition in her meticulous Himalayan Database. And she become fast friends with Sir Edmund Hillary and Reinhold Messner along the way.

For more grand-scale climbing, American Alpine club has posted the second classic video in their Alpinists-at-Large series, with an incredible short film from the 1981 attempt on China’s Mt. Siguniang.

And Rock and Ice is featuring an interview with Yvon Choinard in the newest installment of their “What I’ve Learned” series.

Meanwhile, in France, Théo Blass just became the youngest person to climb a 5.14b, when he flew up “Souvenirs du pic” in Saint Guilhem le Desertin. He’s ten. TEN!

Pretty sure Théo doesn’t need an espresso boost, but Eric Hörst has some good news for the coffee-lovers among us [Like Andrea.]: Caffeine can help your climbing—if you use it wisely.

While we’re on the topic of exercise and chemistry, here’s an incredible study about how your workouts affect your body… on the molecular level.

Of course, taking your exercise outside is especially good for you. It can even heal psychic wounds, as it has for Will Robinson, a war veteran who discovered thru-hiking as a way to recover from PTSD.

But, as we mentioned last week, black people and people of color sometimes have fraught relationships with the outdoors. Chelsea Murphy, who runs the popular Instagram account She Colors Nature, discussed some of the challenges she has encountered during a recent episode of the Travel Tomorrow podcast called “Hiking While Black.”

On the topic of race and the outdoors, the newest edition of Outdoor Retailer’s The Weekly asks: How will the outdoor industry follow up on all of those feel-good social media posts about racial justice by actually working to make outdoor spaces safe for black people? Also in this issue: a call to action about how all of us can address racism and inequality in outdoor spaces, written by leading outdoor activists José González and Teresa Baker.

One group already hard at work on that very issue is Outdoor Afro, a national non-profit —with a Phoenix chapter—that connects black people with a variety of opportunities for outdoor recreation and stewardship and which helped organize the first all-black American team to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in 2018.

And, in addition to New York’s Brothers of Climbing, which we mentioned last week, there are several climbing groups across the country that organize virtual and real-life meetups specifically to introduce more people of color to climbing and encourage them to feel more at home in climbing gyms and at outside crags, including Brown Ascenders, and Tucson-based Climbing in Color.

In the podcast realm, Outside Voices aims to celebrate the full diversity of people who don’t always see themselves reflected in the traditional “Great Outdoors” narrative. Each episode shares stories that reflect a variety of voices and outdoor experiences.

For more audio explorations, check out Wolfgang Schüssler’s podcast, “Schnitzel Show,” where he interviews pro climbers …with delightfully weird results.

Need a little eye candy, too? Don’t miss this incredible aerial view of Fitz Roy from Daily Overview.

And if you’re on Instagram, add some color to your feed with this great (and growing) list of outdoor accounts featuring athletes who are black, indigenous, and people of color (a.k.a. BIPOC), compiled by Field Mag.

We hope to see you Thursday. Until then, stay safe, and remember: no welding in the wilderness.

Isolate on!

Ann & Andrea

Author: Andrea Galyean

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