alpinism, rock climbing, ice climbing, skiing, ski mountaineering, training, nutrition
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Early Winter Snow & Ice Conditions
One week ago in the Gastein valley I looked around at a few falls. Ice was there, but it was really thin. Additionally, the forecast Föhn weather was already in effect in the valley, so there was water running between the ice and rock and the ice was not always well adhered. It made for some nerve racking climbing; very smooth delicate movements.
Snow conditions (amounts) are much better in comparison to the ice conditions. In the Tauern regions there is about a meter to 120cm of snow. It has gone through a cycle of changeable temps and humidity levels, with some sunny spells, so the snow pack is stable and settled. There seems to be enough snow for touring above 1400 - 1500m with passable amounts lower down between 800 - 1200m depending on aspect.
This coming weekend colder temps and snow is forecast into the next week. We look to be in for a period of unsettled winter weather for the next 6-7 days.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
AIS-Salzburg in the Climbing Gym
Kletterhalle Salzburg. The group of eight students, accompanied by AIS-Salzburg staff member Valerie Cicero, started up last Wednesday. The group is mostly made up of beginning climbers, with two students who have taken climbing courses from me before at the USI Salzburg/Rif on the outdoor climbing tower.
On Wednesday mornings the group has the climbing gym all to themselves between 08:00 - 10:00am.
Our first day started with the basics of climbing and safety. After getting the shoes sorted out, we did some easy bouldering that focused of precise footwork.
Then we put on our harness and then learned how to tie in to the rope with a figure-8 knot.
Our goal for the morning was to climb on top rope. The students learned how to thread the belay device, attach it to their harness and do a pre-climb safety check of the climber and belayer.
We learned, and then did a dry run through, of the proper way to belay: pull the rope out through the belay device, bring the right hand down to create a 90 degree bend in the rope, left hand grips the rope just above the right hand, and then bring the right over the left hand and re-grip the rope.
The students then were ready to climb on the top ropes in the course area of the gym. The routes are designed for practicing on and are about 6 meters in length. Everyone got to do a lap or two on the short wall before we ran out of time.
Of course, the two hours went by far too quickly for the students liking. However there is always next week ...
In our second meeting, we will climb more on top rope in 3-person teams. We are going to try the longer routes in the main section of the gym.
As the students get more accustomed to belaying each other correctly and safely, we will be able to do a lot of climbing in our brief two hours on Wednesday mornings.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
OeAV-Salzburg alpine.ausbildung: Winter 2009
Kurse / Termine sind:
Fr. - So., 16. Jänner 2009 bis 18. Jänner 2009
Kurs Begin Fr. Um 18:00 AV-Haus Nonntal, Sa. und So. Tagestouren Raum Salzburg / Berchtesgaden
Stop or Go / Notfall Lawine
Do. - So., 22. Jänner 2009 bis 25 Jänner 2009
Kurs Begin Do. und Fr. um 18:00 AV-Haus Nonntal, Sa. und So. Tagestouren Raum Salzburg / Berchtesgaden (Event. Hütten Übernachtung Sa. bis So.)
Fr. - So., 06 Februar 2009 bis 08 Februar 2009
Kurs Begin Fr. Um 17:00 Gasthaus Hubertus Maltatal (Mitfahrgelegenheit ab Salzburg, Treffpunkt um 15:00), Übernachtung Fr. Bis So.
Do. - So., 19. März 2009 bis 22 März 2009
Kurs Begin Do. um 11:00 Franz Senn Hütte, Stubaier Alpen, Tirol (Obligatorisch Treffpunkt in Salzburg um 07:00, Mitfahrgelegenheit) Übernachtung Do. bis So.
Ich würde auch ein paar Termine für Übungstouren zwischen Jänner 2009 und ende März 2009 aussuchen. Ich habe Übungstouren fürs Eisklettern, Skitechnik im Gelände, und Skibergsteigen vor.
Weitere Infos sind auf der AV-Salzburg alpine.ausbildung webpage:
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Fall Rock Climbing
A short overview of routes includes, amongst others, climbs on the Austrian and Bavarian side of the Untersberg and in the nearby Tennengebirge. My friend Erwin and I climbed on the "Kleine Südwand" on the Untersberg and then a few days later roped up again on "Fun in the Sun"/"Panorama" (VI/550m) on the Große Fieberhorn in the Tennengebirge. Here's the obligatory ass shot as I smear up one of the cruxes on "Panorama". The photos are from the multi-tasking Erwin.
10th rope length, "Fun in the Sun", VI
Toni and Berni climbed as a second rope team with us too. It was a great way to welcome them back after an extended trip to South America, Canada the USA and a bit in the western Alps in between. We got to the top of the Große Fieberhorn at about 3:00pm. It gave us enough time to scramble down to the fixed ropes and ladder of the Via Ferrata in daylight and finish the hike out by headlamp.
Me, Berni and Toni on top of the Große Fieberhorn.
A couple days later, my friend Gernot and I did the route "Samsara" (VII-/450m) on the Gamsalmkopf on the Bavarian side of the Untersberg. This was a great climb: a very nice two hour approach, a long route that was fairly consistent, and again a descent by headlamp.
As I write this, I think the outdoor rock climbing season is over as winter takes hold. This week has been damp and frosty with snow in the mountains. Cold temps and snow storms are forecast for the coming week. With a bit of luck, the ice climbing season will start up in a couple of weeks and will have enough snow to be confronted with choice of, "skis or ice tools?"
Friday, October 17, 2008
OeAV-Salzburg Klettern Basics Kurs
OeAV Sektion Salzburg alpine.ausbildung Klettern Basics Kurs, 31.10-02.11.2008
Kletter einsteiger, all jene die Drinnen oder Draußen mit dem Klettern anfangen wollen.
Berg Erfahrung vom Wandern oder Bersteigen, Trittsicher, Schwindelfrei
Kennen lernen des Mediums Fels, Grundtechnik Klettern und Sichern, erste Kletterversuche, Einführung in Vorstiegen und Abseilen, Stürztraining.
Einführung Klettern: in der Halle, Bouldern, im Klettergarten, Kletter- und Sicherungstechnik für „Top Rope“/Nachstieg: Anseilen, Partnercheck, verschiedene Sicherungsgeräte, Körpersichern (Führungshand, Bremshand), Seil ausgeben, Kletterregeln für Drinnen und Draußen, Abseilen mit kurz Prusik
EUR 55,-- exklusive Eintritt in Kletteranlage, Transfer, usw.
Kletterhalle Salzburg, Wasserfeldstr. 23, 5020 Salzburg, ++43(0)699 11 21 1000
Bankhaus Spängler Bank
Empfänger: OeAV Sektion Salzburg
Verwendungszweck: Mitgliednummer + Klettern Basics
Freitag, 31.10.08, um 15:00
Kletterhalle Salzburg, evtl. ULSZ Sportzentrum Rif Kletterturm, Plombergstein (Wetter/Verhältnisse abhängig)
Joe Fratianni, mehr
1 Abseil/Sicherungsgerät - (Tuber wie Black Diamond ATC, ATC- Guide, Petzl Reverso, usw., werden empfehlen)
1 120cm Bandschlinge
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Mont Blanc Conditions
In general conditions on the routes were good. However, a lot of snow made approaches and descents physically demanding and somewhat dangerous in regards to avalanches and crevasses. The summer had not been too warm and the fall brought some snow and cold temps. There was a lot of snow at the upper elevations, between 70cm to a meter of snow from the end of September to the beginning of October.
We were on the Glacier d’Argentière, Glacier du Gèant and on the north side of the Aiguille du Midi (Glacier des Pèlerins / Glacier de Blaitière).
The amount of relatively fresh snow kept us from doing any of the north face routes in the Argentière basin on Les Courtes, Les Droites or Aiguille Verte. We hiked up from the village of Argentière and up to the glacier to get a feel for conditions (Les Grands Montets Téléphérique was closed until winter ski season). There was just too much snow.
The following day we went up to the Triangle du Tacul and did the classic Chèré couloir to the top of Mont Blanc du Tacul. The descent turned out to be complicated due to crevasses, seracs (this past summer an Austrian guide and his clients were killed here by collapsing seracs and an ice avalanche on the standard Mont Blanc traverse route from the Cosmique hut) and deep snow. I broke into a number of crevasses and fell in over my head once. There was one particularly nerve racking snow bridge crossing over a huge crevasse and a lot of steep down climbing on slopes that were at times blank with hard ice and at other times wind loaded with snow up to our waists.
Our warm up climb turned into a long hard day. We got into the Refuge des Cosmiques at dark at about 20:00. We were the only guests. We greatly appreciated the warm hut and great food. The next day would be a rest day – down to Chamonix to sleep in a pension.
Riding up and down the Midi cable car gave us ample opportunity to check out all the mixed lines under the Aiguilles de Chamonix. We decided that we would do some reconnaissance under the Aiguille du Plan, Aiguille du Peigne and Rognon du Plan.
It was a great surprise to find out after stopping in at the guide’s office in Chamonix that the Refuge du Plan de l’Aiguille was still open and manned. We got the first cable car up to the Midi middle station and hiked into three different glacier basins to evaluate the conditions and see which routes would match up with our capabilities and motivation.
We climbed over verglassed boulders to get onto the Nantillons, Blaitière and Pélerins glaciers. The cold shadows and looming seracs reinforced the reputation of this area as being at the forefront of modern mixed climbing since the 1990’s. It was very interesting to see the routes up close that previously I had only read about. The ice looked particularly good under the Col de Blaitière, Aiguille des Pélerins and Rognon du Plan.
Once on the Glacier des Pélerins, we decided to make our way through the crevasses to establish an approach route over the glacier that we could use for our early morning starts. We settled on doing the route “Le Fil à Plomb” and the Col du Plan Couloir. We then would traverse the easy ridge from the Col du Plan over to the Midi cable car station for our descents. In the back of our minds was also the thought that we could do the Réuffat-Terray route on the Pélerins if all went well with us and the weather.
There was enough day light and sun left by the time we got to the Plan de l’Aiguille hut that we could dry out or clothes and gear. The hut was wonderful; again we were alone. We edited out all unnecessary stuff, sharpened our picks and front points and packed. We ate a great and plentiful dinner and were in bed before 21:00.
We were up at 02:00 and out the door by 03:00. We got to the beginning of our chosen route by 05:00. On the way I spotted a shooting star. I took this as a good omen. With the light from our headlamps, we got the ropes and gear ready under the protection of a slightly overhanging rock wall and waited to there was a little day light. I led through a mixed rock and snow pitch to what I thought would be the start of the steep snow slope at the beginning of the Col du Plan couloir. Surprise! There was a huge gapping bergschrund bordered on the left by smooth 50 meter granite slabs and stretching all the way across the glacier to underneath the huge hanging serac to the right of the Col du Plan. We could not see anyway to cross. We thought that trying to work our way through this problem would take at least a couple of hours. This would cause us to be at the exit of the couloir at a dangerously late time for the upper snow slopes below the Midi-Plan ridge. We rappelled and retraced our steps down the Glacier des Pélerins. The routes would have to wait for another day.
We had some time left, at the most a day and a half, The desire was not strong enough to work out another glacier approach, do a midnight start, complete a demanding route and also drive for nine hours on the same day back to Salzburg. We decided to go down to Chamonix and drive back to Austria after lunch. Accepting this was a bit difficult.
All in all the weather was okay; cold and winter like. The routes seemed to be filled in nicely with ice. North side routes would not see the sun until spring. There were not many people around and a lot of the lifts and huts were closed. I really like this time of year in the Western as well as the Eastern Alps. However, to climb you have to be willing to sleep in winter rooms or bivouac, carry heavier packs, undertake longer approaches, and deal with the dangers of route finding on glaciers.
Tactics need to be much more thoroughly planned – approach skis or snow shoes, taking extra time to establish approaches through complex glaciers, bivouacs on the approach and/or descent, short days, the cold, etc., etc.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Kurse im Herbst
Jeder möchte in die Berge gehen und klettern. Das ist großartig. Hier ist ein Überblick über meine Kurse im Herbst:
In der Kletterhalle habe ich am montags, dienstags und mittwochs Kletterkurse für Kinder, Jugendliche und Erwachsene. Ich kann jederzeit Programme für Schulgruppen, Probeklettern und auch für Personal Training arrangieren. Individuelle Kurse der einzelnen oder kleinen Gruppen können jederzeit organisiert werden. Treten Sie direkt mit mir oder mit der Kletterhalle Salzburg / denkundstein in Verbindung.
Für den Salzburger Alpenverein habe ich einen Mehrseillängen / Plaisir Kurs von 17. Oktober bis 19. und einen Klettern Basics Kurs für Anfänger von 31. Oktober bis 02. November. Ich hoffe auch, dass die Eiskletter-Saison früh beginnt und ich einige Touren ab Mitte November anbieten kann. Ich gebe sämtliche Termine und Veranstaltungen bekannt, sobald sie festgelegt werden. Nagelneu im AV-Salzburg alpine.ausbildung in diesem Jahr ist, was wir „Ausbildungs-touren“ nennen. Dies sind Programme, die weiterführende Kurse zu den schon angebotenen Kursen sind. Programmideen können von den Instruktoren oder von den Teilnehmern kommen. Die Gruppengröße kann von zwei Leuten bis zu 6 oder 7 Leuten betragen. Ich plane einige Sachen zu organisieren, die von Interesse für diejenigen sind, die mehr Eisklettern möchten, oder anspruchvolles Ski-Bergsteigen unternehmen möchten, oder leistungsorientiert Kletter-Training für Gruppen, usw. Nehmen Sie Kontakt mit mir auf beim Salzburg Alpenverein.
Die Amerikanische Internationale Schule Salzburg hat wieder begonnen und des bedeutet, dass ich den Kletterkurs des Herbsttrimesters jedern Mittwoch in der Früh wieder abhalten werde.
Neu dieses Jahr ist ein Bouldering Seminarkurs für das Pädagogische Institut Salzburg. Der Nachmittagskurs ist mit meinem denkundstein Co-Trainer Martin am Montagnachmittag, den 17. November. Dieser Kurs ist für öffentliche SchullehrerInnen des Salzburg-Bereichs konzipiert, die eine Boulderwand in ihrer Schule haben und möchten lernen, wie man sie besser verwendet. Wir konzentrieren uns darauf, wie man Bouldering mit Fitnesstraining verbinden kann und zeigen ihnen alle Arten von Boulderspielen.
Zwischen allen Kursen bin ich wie immer beim Training und Klettern. Ich freue mich darauf, Sie dort zu sehen.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Everyone wants to climb and get in the mountains. That is great. Here is an overview of my courses for fall:
In the climbing gym I will be holding climbing for kids, teenagers, and adults on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Arrangements can be made at any time for school groups, introduction to climbing and of naturally personal training too. Individual or small group custom courses can be set up at your convenience. Contact me directly or the Kletterhalle Salzburg / denkundstein.
For the Salzburg Alpenverein I have a multi-pitch course October 17th -19th and a climbing course for beginners on October 1st – November 2nd. I also hope that the ice season starts up early and I can offer some tours from the middle of November. I will post things as they are scheduled. Brand new in the AV-Salzburg alpine.ausbildung this year is what we are calling “Ausbildungs-touren”. These are programs that are follow ups to the established course offerings. Program ideas can come from the instructors or from participants in the courses. Group size can be as little as two people up to 6 or 7. I plan on organizing a number of things that will be of interest for those who want more ice climbing, ski mountaineering, training groups for climbing, etc. Get in touch with me at the Salzburg Alpenverein
The American International School Salzburg has started and that means that I will be running the fall trimester climbing course on Wednesday mornings again.
New this year is a bouldering seminar course for the Salzburg Pedagogic Institute. The afternoon course is with my denkundstein co-trainer Martin on Monday afternoon November 17th. This course is designed for
In between all the courses I will be training and climbing as always. I hope to see you out there.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Yesterday I was able to get back on one of my area training routes; the
A training route such as this gives you a nice warm-up, an aerobic power workout and sport-specific skill work. Of course the volume is also great, with 2 to 3 hours going up and about 90 minutes to 2 hours coming down. The whole thing takes more or less four and one-half hours.
The greatest benefit of such a workout is developing the ability to move fast over moderate terrain, transition from hiking to climbing and developing a feel for pacing and concentration for exposed climbing while being aerobically taxed.
Kelly Cordes talks a bit about this in his piece for
I think it’s really important to have a handful of training routes within a very close distance to your front door. Off the top of my head that means for me the Kleine Watzmann south face, south ridge and routes on the west face, routes on the south face of the Untersberg and routes on the east face of the Watzmann. I can get to these routes by mountain bike and hiking various trails. The climbing is between UIAA II - IV and from 350 to 700 meters of elevation. With a total amount of elevation gain from 1400 meters to a bit over 2000 meters.
I try to add variety to the climbs by wearing different footwear, testing clothing systems and equipment, carrying various amounts of weight and also trying for super light, fast times. I know what my level of fitness is by my established times on the various routes.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Climbing with the Girls
The approach is around 1000 meters of elevation gain and then you have the climbing with a short bit of easy scrambling to link up pitches 2 & 3. In total there is about 1350 meters of hiking and climbing involved. We climbed as two 2 person rope teams. We shared the belay anchors so that the lead climber of the second team could directly follow the second climber of the first team. for the two crux pitches we needed about 30 minutes, and for the others a bit less. Efficient, clean, uncomplicated climbing.
Jennifer and Sabine making a short slab traverse just before a steep bit in the fourth rope length.
Coming up to the belay in the fourth rope length. The climbing is a slight bit overhanging with big and plentiful holds.
Valerie exiting at the end of the last pitch. The last rope length is a slab with cracks and water runnels.
We were finished at about 14:30. Te weather held for us and there were no problems while underway.
The route tops out at about 1950 meters, not too far away from the hut "Stöhrhaus". This was the second alpine climbing route for my wife, Jennifer. Valerie and Sabine have done some multi-pitch climbing, but are also still gaining experience. With the long approach, including scrambling on steep grass and rocky slopes (with lots of loose rock), to get to the start of the route - Plus the long hiking descent - the whole endeavour was serious and demanding for everyone. The smile on my face says it all; we had a great, very full, day.
Monday, June 16, 2008
However, unsettled does not mean that you should sit around and bitch about questionable weather or bad conditions. On my old white Petzl helmet I had written after a particular spell of being feed up with excuses, "It's better to try and fail than sit on your ass and do nothing". I try to always keep this in mind. To paraphrase what Will Gadd recently wrote on his blog, "It's always better when you do something".
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Back in the Gym
I wanted an overall body workout with a bit of emphasis on my legs. Later in the day I planned on going to the indoor climbing gym to do climbing specific strength endurance work.
The weight room workout looked like this:
- warm-up with cross trainer, about 10 minutes (easy)
- bar bell complex, 6 sets of 6 reps of dead lift/row/power clean/front squat/overhead press/back squat/push up - 20 to 50kg
- squat complex of overhead squat/front squat/back squat on bench (legs below 90 degrees) super set of 10 reps each, 20-80kg, five rounds (first round is ohs @ 20kg, fs @ 40kg, bs @ 60kg) with a focus on form, movement and flexibility
- cool down with an easy 1000m row
The source for all my training in the weight room is from Gym Jones and the Mountain Athlete. Mark Twight and Rob Shaul have both done so much work in the area of applying training principals to people who are working out to improve themselves for mountain activities.
I had a few hours of personal training work in the indoor climbing gym later in the afternoon. Afterwards, I did my climbing workout which involved strength training with pull-ups and boulder intervals, and then technique work with roped climbing easy warm-up routes plus on-sight climbing and then finishing off with three laps on a 5c to cool down.
A training day like this is really efficient in regards to getting the most training effect for your time. It is also something that I have come to realize brings me more benefits than always spending day after day in the mountains.
As I mentioned, this was the first time I have done a training day like this for about a month. In that month interval, I have climbed a lot of multi-pitch routes, ski touring, ski mountaineering and sport climbing. I felt really fit hiking or skinning on the approaches. I lost about a kilo over the month too. However, the workout day described above stressed my body and wore me out more than any of the days spent in the mountains during the previous month.
Intensity and its effects are very interesting.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
What Makes A Good Course?
I have been fortunate to take part in some great courses as an instructor and participant. But, there have also been some duds, and one experience as a participant in which my intuition was screaming, "wtf!" throughout, and after the training concluded I left with feelings of anger and spite.
I have hopefully learned from all of this.
So, what makes a good course? I am talking about the type of experience where participants leave with a feeling of , "wow, that was really cool!", "I can't wait to do more", and are totally motivated to improve and learn.
Here's a list in random order with a few thoughts:
- A course is about the participants - their needs, wants, level, etc. It is not an opportunity for the guide or instructor to demonstrate how technically advanced, fit, cool, superior, etc., that they are.
- An course leader has to transmit the feeling consciously and subconsciously that they want the participants to be successful.
- As a course participant it is your responsibility to have the right equipment, know how it works and have it properly fitted and adjusted. Do not waste valuable course time fiddling with your stuff (or having the guide mess with it) when it should have all been taken care of at home.
- Please, modern ice screws.
- The general concept and overview of the course comes from the life-long experience of the guide or instructor. At every level there are some basic things that participants need. These concepts need to be presented in a flexible manner that takes into account weather, conditions and daily time constraints.
- Participants learn by doing things for themselves. They need to internalize the information from the guide or instructor and then find their own methods and systems for correctly setting up crevasse rescues, building anchors, searching with a transceiver, etc.
- A verbal explanation from the course leader is just that. It does not mean that anything close to learning has occurred.
- Patience is essential for any instructor or guide.
- Participants are usually nervous about their abilities during a course. It is reassuring for them to get an explanation that is an overview of the course, daily modifications to the schedule and activities and the rational behind why tasks and exercises are being done.
- The quality of how something is done is much more important than simply reaching the perceived goal. For example, the perceived goal when climbing a two-pitch 5b route is getting to the top. However, what is the actual aim is that participants should climb in complete balance and control, rope management should be safe and clean, the change over at the middle belay point should be organized and efficient, and lastly the climbers should execute everything in a calm, unhurried, confident state of mind.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Alpinverein Salzburg alpine.ausbildung, "Schihochtouren"
On the left are some of the group heading to the hut. The Oberwalder hut is on top of the rock outcrop obscured by clouds on the left side of the picture. The hut is at just under 3000 meters.
Below shows a fast way to build an equalized snow anchor with skis. In the right snow conditions this type of anchor is great for crevasse rescue and belaying steep snow slopes. The skis are rammed into the snow slightly against the direction of pull and off-set. I am using a 240cm sling with a twist to create a sliding point of equalization. When we are travelling high in the mountains on glacier covered terrain, we have two great snow anchors already on our feet.
One of my favorite things to do in the ski mountaineering season is to combine steep snow and ice faces with ski descents. For the course we used our "best weather day" to climb the north east face (45 degrees / 250 meters) and ski down the north facing shoulder of the Johannisberg. The route is a great introduction for newbies into this type of ski alpinism. The next few photos give you a good feel of the face.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Weizenbier & Fat Skis
You gotta love both. Tradition and a bit of punk attitude in the middle of the north eastern Austrian Alps. Stick with the good stuff but keep your mind open for newer, better solutions - Seths with Dynafits ski better in all conditions and are lighter than wimpy touring skis with heavier bindings. Oberwalder Hütte end of May after climbing and skiing the north east face of the Johannisberg. Prost!