Sunday, October 14, 2012

Live Life

“What would you do if money were no object? You do that, and forget the money. Because if you say that getting the money is the most important part then you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You will be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing. Which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way. And, after all, if you do spend your life doing what you really like doing then you can become a master of it. The only way to become a master of something is to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much; somebody is interested in anything you’re interested in. But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like so you can continue doing things you don’t like, and to teach your children to follow in the same track.”
-Alan Watts

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fall Outdoor Courses

Untersberg South-face
At this time I have some new dates for the fall outdoor courses from the Kletterhalle Salzburg / denkundstein:

Outdoor Level I - Climbing Technique, Sat., 15. Sept., 10:00-16:00
Outdoor Level II - Single Pitch Rope Skills, Sun., 16. Sept., 10:00-16:00
Outdoor Level III - Multi-Pitch Rope Technique, Sat., 22. & Sun., 23 Sept., 09:00-17:00

I also plan on offering some guided multi-pitch bolted sport climbing routes in September and October.

Monday, July 30, 2012

July Guiding & Courses

Direct South-face, Untersberg, Berchtesgadener Hochthron
With the few days of good weather in the past week I fit in some guiding of multi-ptich sport climbing on the Hohes Brett and Untersberg.  I also had the last of my outdoor courses before leaving for six weeks to Kalmnos.

I climbed the very nice, "Wenn der Vater mit dem Sohne" (upper "Dreierweg" exit), VI+/240m with Wolfgang last Friday.  The face was mostly dry after the showers on the previous two days.

Earlier in the week, I was able to organize a kids climbing afternoon on the Gaisberg.  The small group of six climbers from 8 to 13 years old had their first experience with sport climbing on a limestone crag.  They were excited, scared, tentative, ambitious - a full bag of emotions that made for an unforgetable adventure for all!

Later in the week I had a basic outdoor climbing course, again on the Gaisberg.  We got the full course in before the forecast heavy afternoon thunderstorms


Thanks to all the course participants for a great time!  Click on the slide shows to download any photos from the albums.

Hohes Brett, Sothwest-face

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Kalymnos Countdown

Were should we climb tomorrow?
Yesterday I finally completed a longish multi-pitch climb.  The way the weather has been acting this summer, finally finishing something in the mountains was a small victory over the forces of weather instability.  For the last three or four times out climbing or training, the weather has turned, bringing in thundershowers, lighting, high winds and even hail.  Every time out seemed to end with sitting in the car soaking wet with the heater going full blast.

The jet stream is abnormally low over north western Europe this summer.  The effect in the northeastern alps is very unsettled weather.  There has not been a strong high-pressure system with a dry and stable air mass for as long as I can remember.  Everyone is a bit fed up with the weather situation.

Fortunately a week from now I won't have to worry about afternoon thundershowers.  I'll be in Kalymnos.  Yes, it will be hot and perhaps there will not always be enough wind, but it will be dry.  Planning for the next day's climbing is simple when you don't have to factor in possible bad weather.

Jennifer on the overhanging jug-fest of "Phineas"
This past spring and early summer, I had planned trips to the western alps in France and Switzerland, or even a long week end in the Dolomite's.  Every time I had some free time the weather was not good enough to warrant an extended trip   Then of course all my outdoor guiding, coaching and course work got pushed back to the point that when ever we had a day or two of fine weather, I had to schedule all of my various appointments with course participants and clients.

I will be doing some personal training and 2 scheduled courses in Kalymnos this year.  There are still places available in the courses 29. July - 05. September and in the following week, 05. - 12. September.  There was a lot of interest from people at first when we published the courses and coaching opportunities.  But the initial interest has not translated into bookings and therefore I will only have at the most a handful of clients.  A great situation for the small number of climbers with me as they will get a lot of individual time climbing.

I must admit that I am somewhat baffled by the attitudes of people who want to improve their sport climbing,but don't really take advantage of opportunities that are so easy to take advantage of.  A week of sport climbing in Kalymnos for €450,-- (not including flight and accommodation).  Is just one of these opportunities.

the cliche of climbing above the Agean
I think it takes a bit of gumption to move outside of established habits.  At first it is certainly somewhat uncomfortable, but after getting past that, the potential for improvement more than makes up for the discomfort.  Most beginning and mid-level sport climbers are stuck in going to the same indoor gym and doing the same things once they are there.  They rarely climb outdoors, though they almost always say they want to.  What's the problem?

I think it is hard to accept that when you change from climbing indoors to out, there is the shock of finding that your perceived climbing level is many times drastically lower..  The problem(s) could be 1) you have overestimated your climbing level, 2) you have no experience outdoors with utilizing hand and foot holds, 3) you have to put time in outside, just as you have indoors, 4) you are too nervous and fearful in the new environment and it has a negative effect on your movement, 5) you are unaccustomed to the distance between bolts on many outdoor routes, 6) etc., etc.

Read Dave, he'll help too
There are techniques and strategies to overcome all of the above problems.  A good climbing coach can help you overcome these issues in a smart and efficient way.  But first, you have to take that first uncomfortable step and overcome your ego to put yourself in a situation in which you will most likely not be "successful" or "good".  Many people are not strong enough to allow themselves to enter into a situation in which they may feel embarrassed or seem to look out of control.

Of course Kalymnos is not perfect, but there are now over 2000 routes on the island spread over about 70 or so different climbing sectors.  The climbing is centrally located with very easy access.  If you go in the summer through the early fall it will not rain.  You can always climb in the shade, moving from sector to sector avoiding the sun.  You can train on-sight climbing, endurance, power, multi-pitch, push your grade, etc.

On Kalymnos, you can climb more outdoor routes at a beginning to mid-level of difficulty in one week than you could in a month or two in the Salzburg area.  A personal breakthrough and improvement in your sport climbing is almost guaranteed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

May & June Training, Nutrition, etc.

My training in May and June centered around gaining strength.  A short term negative side effect of strength training is weight gain.  This comes through muscle hypertrophy and some extra body fat.  towards the end of June I have concentrated on getting my overall weight back down, and hopefully retaining the increased muscle that I built up in the last six weeks.

soloing mixed ground on Les Courtes
In April, I calculated my lean body mass at 64 kg.  2 months ago, with about 10% body fat, my weight was between 70.5 kg. and 72 kg.  At the beginning of June I had increased my weight to almost 74 kg. but my body fat did not go above 11.3%.  The math than indicates that during my strength phase my lean body mass increased to about 65.5 kg., which means an increase of 1.5 kg. in muscle gain.

That sounds all well and good, but for all practical purposes that extra 1.5 kg. was simply what I call "dumb muscle".  In other words the newly gained muscle had to be converted into usable strength in all types of climbing applications.

The goal in body composition for climbing is the highest degree of strength at the lowest weight.  Additionally, you want to be able to recruit the highest possible percentage of muscle fibers when you exert force. So to paraphrase a cliche, quality of muscle over quantity.

boldering in the Watzmannkar
In May and June I had around 80 hours of training each month with over 30 training sessions.  I averaged 3,000 meters of elevation gain per week in my endurance training.  I did a lot of supplemental strength workouts paired with basic endurance climbing.  Along the way, I had a few days were I could test my fitness and effects of my training and diet.

First, my diet:  I have been eating a lot of protein to gain the extra muscle.  Secondly, I have been trying to condition my body to burn fat stores for energy.  I eat very little carbohydrates, and the carbohydrates that I do eat are complex carbs made up of mostly leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds.  I do not eat grains or simple sugar.  I have almost stopped eating fruit to limit fructose as well.

trail running & scrambling on the Untersberg
I have been doing a lot of training in a fasted state, trying to force my body to burn fat stores to fuel the exercise.  I have also restricted the amount of water that I drink during training  The purpose of these two practices is to physically and mentally adapt to functioning in a depleted state.  On long alpine outings, you can not possibly carry enough calories or always be well hydrated because of the weight of the food and water, or the time it would take to melt snow or cook.

I had a few different "test" days to evaluate how things were progressing.  The following are a few examples across a broad spectrum.  Basic alpine endurance was tested by climbing the Hochkalter (2600+m) over the Blaueis glacier route with a moderately heavy pack and doing "sprint" intervals at the upper part of the glacier where it steepens to 50 degrees.  I did 1900 meters of elevation gain in four hours and completed the descent to finish the training in under seven hours.

Gamsalmkopf south ridge
I did trail runs at a pace of 850 to 1000 meters of elevation gain per hour.  I did the standard hiking route to the top of the Höher Göll (2500+m), doing about 1500 meters of elevation gain (over a long distance) in 2.5 hours in a fasted state without food or water - though I had a real dropping spell on the descent and had to back off the pace.

Lastly, I was able to do a classic alpine rock climb with my friend Alex in the Reiter Alpe (Berchtesgadener Alps).  We did the Direct South Ridge on the Mühlsturzhorn (Hinterstoißer/Kurz, VIII-, VI+/A0, 350m) including a long approach with 1000 meters of elevation gain.  I did the 11 hour outing  in a fasted state with just drinking about a liter of water during a very hot day.  I had one spell of mental tiredness during the climbing, but overall felt really good and strong all the way through the descent.

Other small indications that I am on the right track with training and nutrition are the overall strength increases in pull ups, presses and fingerboard holds.  What has really shown improvement is my ability to generate power in climbing and running/hiking.  I feel a lot more dynamic while climbing and feel a "springiness" in my legs.

Italian ice in Cogne
I could on-sight my first 7a in the gym about a week ago.  I have been able to climb 450 to 500 meters in the climbing gym on endurance days.  I am in a phase of power endurance training in which I do climbing sets of up to 8 route laps without rest.  I have been able to push this up to 6c+.

I still have not reached my body composition goals with a standard weight of 68 kg.. (going down to 66kg. for hard sport climbing) and a body fat percentage of 6-7%.  I am now at about 70 kg. and 9-10% body fat, with my plans to reduce this further during my six-week stay in Kalymnos as I train hard sport climbing and off-day trail running.  I feel that I am primed to make some major advances in my sport climbing grades.

What is most encouraging to me is that I still can improve a number of elements of my training and nutrition, which will produce further benefits.  I always think there are ways of tweaking, balancing and adapting that bring about new physical and mental stresses that cause further gains.  I feel there are so many different elements in how I train, eat and live that I want to slowly adjust to get everything in harmony and working in a synergistic manner.

the search never ends
I have always loved jazz guitarist Pat Metheny.  In the 1980's, I first heard the Pat Metheny Group recordings.  There is a song of his on the American Garage album called, "The Search".  The tune fits into the fabric of the album as a part of the concept of the musical energy of young, idealistic, garage bands in the American mid-west.  The music is an aural metaphor of a basic philosophy of how to go through life.  Always trying, experimenting, evaluating, being open minded, knowing that you are fallible, and fully embracing change and evolution.  Because once one starts behaving in a way of repeating the same things, trying to repeat the past and fearing change, then training as well as life rots away, becoming boring, depressing and full of frustration.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July Outdoor Courses

In the last month I have been doing a few outdoor courses.  The latest was this past Sunday at the climbing tower at the Rif sport center.  The focus of the course was rope technique & safety for outdoor sport climbing.

A short list of resources that I recommend to the course participants are:

1) Sportkletterfibel, Österreichisches Kuratorium für Alpine Sicherheit
2) Seiltechnik (3. Auflage, 2008), Michael Lacher & Heinz Zak, Osterreichisches Alpenverein
3) Roch Projects (Salzburg & Berchtesgaden Kletterführer, Auflage 2011), Joachim Mayrhuber & Timo Gastager, Dreyer Ventures & Management
4) Vertical Secrets (Technik, Training & Medizin fürs Sportklettern), Peter Keller & Andres Schweizer, , turntillburn GmbH, Zürich

I enjoyed being able to help and work with all the Madels - thanks Martina, Nicole, Karolina and Nina for a great course!  Click on the slide show to get into the web album and download photos.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Half Century

As some friends know, I recently turned 50 a couple of weeks ago.  Well, can't say I'm too happy about it, but it's okay.  One of my climbing heroes, Stevie Haston, wrote this on his blog and being that I'm not as skilled with written, or especially verbal communication, I'll just borrow it:

"When you hit my advanced years you can become a bit grumpy, when you are just intelligent enough to know that the world is fucked, but too stupid and powerless to help, you can get a bit sad, if you dwell on those things beware, its time to discover a cliff and get overhung, it’s the cure, its Paradise, its Odins Hall.

I used to take chances, sometimes big ones, and on the last climbing trip I did a bit of that, and it was very good, hanging off your finger tips, just friction between you and your life blipping out. It was nice. Life is not sacred, it’s the way that you live life that can be sacred."

Monday, May 21, 2012

Outdoor Courses: Level 1 & 2

I held my first outdoor climbing courses for the season this past weekend (19./20. May).  The program is part of the four-level outdoor course series for the Kletterhalle Salzburg / denkundstein. The level 1 course focused on climbing technique and transitioning from the climbing gym to real rock.  The focus of the level 2 course was learning all the necessary rope technique for single-pitch sport climbing.

Outdoor Level 1, Gaisberg, 19.05.2012

Outdoor Level 2, Rif, 20.05.2012

Thanks to all the motivated course participants who made the two days very enjoyable!  Click on the slide shows to access the photo albums and download pictures.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Kalymnos 2012

I will be in Kalymnos for the eighth(!!!) time this August and September 2012.  I will be giving two-weeks of structured climbing courses and be avalible at other times for personal training.  I am already thinking about it and looking forward to focusing on sport climbing in a carefree, holiday-like atmosphere.

Here's the promo video for The North Face climbing festival scheduled for the end of September 2012.  The transplanted English climber (he's now living in Innsbruck) James Pearson, sums up nicely what makes Kalymnos so attractive.

Monday, May 7, 2012

April Training Record

April was a month of predominately sport climbing.  I had planned to be in Chamonix for the first part of the month, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate with my plans.  The weather was not really good in the Salzburg area either, so I was indoors in the gym and at sport climbing crags.

On the positive side, I sent four new 7a's in a relatively short time and flashed 2 6c's.  This confirms that my improvements in body composition and mental determination are starting to take effect.

April Totals
72 hours of training in month (actual time) / 18 hours of training per week
7,174 meters of elevation gain in month / 1,793.5 m per week
36 training sessions in month
2 rest/recovery days & 2 very long work days of <12 hours
weight = 70.1 kg., body fat at 10.4%, resting heart rate = 42, body mass index = 21.60

Endurance training activities included ski touring, trail running, mountain biking and hiking.  Sport specific training involved indoor & outdoor sport climbing, bouldering, weight training, circuit training, fingerboard, mobility & flexibility, alpine off-piste skiing and some sprinting intervals.

I have been focusing on food and nutrition for the last couple of weeks.  I have set guidelines of trying to eat enough protein at around 140-150 grams per day and keep my carbohydrate intake to between 50 and 100 grams per day.  I also have introduced periods of fasting and training while in a fasted state.  Occasionally I keep my total calorie intake to below 1,750 calories per day.

My goal with this nutritional focus is to rid my body of some of its last belly fat and get down to a set weight of 66 to 68 kgs.  To climb and perform at a higher level, I want my body mass index  between 20 and 21.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

We all just want to be big rock stars

Spring is here and it's time to get out of the climbing gym start pulling on real rock!  I like hanging out with climbers who are fun, positive, want to improve and train hard.  I also am always searching for information that I can use to get better.

Here’s a great post from Sonnie Trotter’s

“About 12 years ago, I recall a day in Utah with my friend Dave Graham, a phenom climber who was making quick work of all the hardest routes in Hell Cave, including Ice Cream, 5.14c (8c-8c+).  When we climbed at the gym in the evenings, a group of us would begin doing fun campus problems,  big moves between medium sized holds.  Although I could not touch the crux of Ice Cream, I could for whatever reason do these problems,  so could all our friends.  Everyone except Dave.  I’m not trying to single him out, he’s one of the best rock climbers to touch stone, I was merely shocked that he could not lock off with one arm long enough to reach the next hold,  yet,  he can climb V12 like it’s no big deal.  So what’s his secret?  Is he weak?  Are we strong?  No AND Not necessarily.  What I realized is that Dave is not only light, which helps a little, but he’s also very, very strong in the right places to climb hard rocks.  Core, fingers and mind.

I love climbing hard as much as anybody, but it’s hard work to climb hard.  I mostly go rock climbing outside these days because it’s my real passion, and I try hard when I get the chance, but if we are going to invest any precious time or energy into specific training to climb harder,  what’s the best use of that time?  Well,  here’s a little secret, don’t train one arm chin ups.

The worlds most accomplished sport climber and boulderer Adam Ondra has recently completed his first one arm chin up according to Planet   This fact only reinforces what I (and dozens of other climbers and coaches) have said for years, the key to climbing hard is not in the arms at all.  It’s mostly in the fingers and core.  Adam Ondra has onsighted more 5.14c’s (8c-8c+) than any human being EVER, climbed a handful of 5.15b’s (9a+-9b), and he’s just recently climbed a 5.14d (8c+-9a) on his very first try (though not technically a flash, he’s on his way to being the first person to do so).  In the bouldering field he’s equally as strong, having flashed V14, and climbed V16.  It seems if it can be done by anyone, it can be repeated by Ondra, and there’s no telling what he’s still capable of.  Especially considering he’s only 18.

I think, if you’re going to train specifically for climbing, keep it simple.  Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up over the years.

1) Focus on your strength to weight ratio, which means, stronger, leaner muscles.  Overall fitness is great, just as long as you’re not bulking up unnecessarily, unless you’re into that sort of thing.  More lean vitamin rich foods, and less Krispy Kreme donuts, more veggies, more protein, and more cardio exercise won’t hurt either.  Just add water, electrolites and antioxidants.  It’s all very simple and basic,  no need to do any sort of rigid regime here, just use common sense and a touch of will power.  No sweat.

2) Focus on your core .  If your core is weak it will tire quickly on steeper routes, and your body will sag, if you sag, you’re further away from the wall then you want to be, thus further from the holds you want to be grabbing.  If you’re strong, you’ll be tighter to the wall making moves feel easier and closer.

3) Stress your fingers.  If you don’t stress your fingers regularly, then they’ll forget how to dig into small holds, it’s a neurological connection.  Stress your fingers, crimp with thumb, half crimp, and open hand.  If you start doing funky things like one finger hangs I think it’s not very sustainable and you may end up getting injured,  if you musttrain one fingers for those 5.14d’s (9a) in the Frank, then do them for a period of time then lay off again for a little while to let them recover.  I personally prefer to keep it all very simple,  most if not all the holds I grab (even on really hard routes) are not often tweaky or one digit, they usually involve three or four fingers, but they are just hard to grab, so strengthen my fingers is still pretty crucial.   If you’re getting too strong for your finger board, don’t walk away, add a little bit of weight, but that doesn’t mean over do it.  Be sensible.  Again, this is very basic stuff, but it works if you actually do it, and don’t get carried away.

4) Climb as much as you can, as often as you can.  Sport climbing is not as hard on the body as bouldering, so get out, move the body around, get the blood flowing, get pumped, have fun, be nice to your fellow climbers and be thankful that you have the ability to do this.  If you have a local crag, be thankful for that too, some people live in Kansas you know.

5) Stay psyched.  Remember why you fell in love with climbing in the first place,  Climbing is like the coolest thing ever, it’s physical, beautiful and a wonderful mental exercise.  Achieving a new level is like discovering a different part of yourself.  Climb with people who force you to get outside, to expand your world, to keep you curious, and people that make you feel good about yourself and who laugh and don’t bitch about why the world is out to get them.  Mean people suck and climbing rocks doesn’t.”

If you don’t know the site, you should.  Volker Roth and his partner have collected a wealth of information about alpine, sport and all types of multi-pitch rock climbing in addition to their excellent topo guide books.

The article “Der Weg zum 10. Grad... „ (8a), in their quarterly on-line magazine ( was the inspiration for me to finally confront and do something about the biggest thing holding me back as a sport climber: body composition.

There is a lot of practical information in regards to training in the topoguide-Magazin section of the site, and you can also subscribe to the on-line newsletter.

And lastly, the best book ever written about improving your sport climbing is now avalible in a German translation.  Dave MacLeod’s “9 out of 10 climbers make the same mistakes” should be required reading for anyone who has ambitions about getting better on rock.  You can buy the German version through the website,

Don’t forget to go to the source at benefit from Dave Macleod’s unparallel insights about sport and traditional climbing, training, injuries, tactics, etc., etc.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hundstodkenlkopf Couloirs

I completed a long-standing project of mine in a back corner of the Wimbachgries (Wimbach drainage) at the end of March: linking the left and central couloirs of the Hundstodkenlkopf north face.  I wanted to climb up the left couloir, traverse over to the Hundstodkenlkopf peak, down climb and rappel into the central couloir and ski the remainder of the decent.

I wrote about an earlier attempt at this link-up

All the factors alined themselves at the end of March this year: conditions, time, motivation and the proper frame of mind.

The approach to the entrance of the left couloir is 1000 meters of elevation gain and about 9 kilometers.  There is an additional 200 meters of steep switchbacks before the actual climbing begins.
looking down the first couloir after putting on my crampons
At about 1800 meters, there is a short ice section (WI3) that leads to easy mixed terrain.  It was fun and relatively easy to climb as the snow and ice conditions were very good.

Looking up into the first ice section and mixed terrain

Climber's eye view at the top of the ice section
Getting into the narrowest part of the couloir was cramped with the skis on my pack.  Nevertheless I felt secure and didn't need to set up any kind of self-belay system.
100 meters above the ice and mixed terrain
After climbing the ice and mixed ground the couloir was filled with steep hard snow for 250 meters or so.  The next ice step was easy.  This led to a relatively flatter section of thirty-five to forty degrees which ended at an easy mixed ramp.
The exit ramp and sunshine is somewhere up there
I exited the first couloir at about 11:00.  It was the first sunshine of the day.  To This point I needed six and one-half hours to cover the ca. 1200 meters of skinning and 350 meters of climbing.
The view back into the left couloir from around 2200 meters
After getting out of the first couloir, there was 200 meters or so of skinning up to he Hundstodkenlkopf peak. The snow was 10cm of cold powder on a crust which made the last bit to the top quite tedious.

The next part of the link-up was the crux: finding the right entrance into the central couloir.  I had been in the central couloir on two previous occasions.  The second time I was in the central couloir I had gone up as far as possible with skis and then made the first ski descent two seasons prior.
Looking down into the 800 meter central couloir
At just under the Hundstodkenlkopf peak, I chose to down climb a snow ramp that transformed into a steep gully.  The conditions in the gully system were nerve-wracking; cold powder on friable, loose rock.
Just before my first rappel, after down climbing into the gully
Almost to the point of putting on my skis
By a combination of down climbing and rappelling I could eventually get to a point were I could put on my skis and start skiing down.  Despite not seeing any evidence of instability, I was nervous and just wanted to ski down safely and securely.  I didn't take any more photos because I didn't want to take any more time than absolutely necessary.

The ski descent went really well.  The snow pack was very stable and actually great to ski.  The pictures are from my first time in the couloir and give an accurate impression of the descent's ambiance.
About half way through the descent
Just before exiting the central couloir
Looking back after exiting the central couloir
Skiing out of the drainage was fast and pleasant.  I could get to about 750 meters before the snow ran out and I had to put my skis over my shoulder for the remainder of the walk out.

Hundstodkenlkopf North Face, Left & Central Couloir Enchainment
J. Fratianni, solo, 23 March 2012
Total elevation gain ca. 1800 meters, start 600m - peak 2396m
Left Couloir: WI3 & easy mixed, 60-70 degrees, 500m
Central Couloir: down climb & rappel ca. 150 meters, ski descent, ca. 50 degrees
Time estimates: 7.5 hours to peak, 3 hours descent and ski out
Alternative: 1) Ski descent by "Hundstodrieb" ski tour over Lofererseilergraben or Leogangerseilergraben, 2) "Hundstodrieb" in opposite direction over Trischübl-Alm & Wimbachgries-Hütte

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Outdoor Kletterkurse / Climbing Courses 2012

There is a new structure to the outdoor climbing program through the Salzburg Climbing Gym (Kletterhalle Salzburg) / denkundstein.  We have created a 4 level structure that will be more appealing to clients and better fit individual needs. 

Level 1 focuses on climbing technique on real rock.  Level 2 addresses all the nessary rope technique and saftey issues when climbing at a single-pitch sport climbing crag.  Level 3 covers rope management and safety for climbing multi-pitch bolted sport routes.  For more information or to register for a course, contact the Kletterhalle or me directly at

Sa, 19. Mai 2012, 10.00 - 16.00 Uhr; Treffpunkt Gaisberg - Parkplaz Zistelalm um 9.45 Uhr
Mi, 30. Mai+Do, 31. Mai 2012, 17.00 - 20.00 Uhr, Treffpunkt Gaisberg - Parkplaz Zistelalm um 16.45 Uhr
Di, 19. Juni+Do, 20. Juni 2012, 17.00 - 20.00 Uhr, Treffpunkt Gaisberg - Parkplaz Zistelalm um 16.45 Uhr
Sa, 7. Juli, 10.00 - 16.00 Uhr, Treffpunkt Gaisberg - Parkplaz Zistelalm um 9.45 Uhr
Sa, 21. Juli, 10.00 - 16.00 Uhr, Treffpunkt Gaisberg - Parkplaz Zistelalm um 9.45 Uhr

Anforderungen: perfektes Vorstiegssichern und Klettern in der Halle (4c)
Kursinformation und Anmeldung:; 0043 (0) 699 11 21 2001 (bitte innerhalb unserer Öffnungszeiten der Kletterhalle Salzburg anrufen, 10.00 - 22.00 Uhr)

So, 20. Mai, 10.00 - 16.00 Uhr, Treffpunkt Eingangshalle Rif um 9.45 Uhr
Di, 12. Juni+Mi, 13. Juni, 17.00 - 20.00 Uhr, Treffpunkt Eingangshalle Rif um 16.45 Uhr
So, 8. Juli, 10.00 - 16.00 Uhr, Treffpunkt Eingangshalle Rif um 9.45 Uhr
Anforderungen: perfektes Vorstiegssichern und Klettern in der Halle (4c)
Kursinformation und Anmeldung:; 0043 (0) 699 11 21 2001 (bitte innerhalb unserer Öffnungszeiten der Kletterhalle Salzburg anrufen, 10.00 - 22.00 Uhr)

Sa, 16. Juni 2012, 9.00 - 17.00 Uhr, Treffpunkt Gaisberg- Parkplatz Zistelalm um 8.45 Uhr
So, 17. Juni 2012, 9.00 - 17.00 Uhr, Treffpunkt Gaisberg- Parkplatz Zistelalm um 8.45 Uhr
So, 22. Juli 2012, 9.00 - 17.00 Uhr, Treffpunkt Gaisberg- Parkplatz Zistelalm um 8.45 Uhr

Anforderungen: perfektes Vorstiegssichern und Klettern in der Halle (4c)
Kursinformation und Anmeldung:; 0043 (0) 699 11 21 2001 (bitte innerhalb unserer Öffnungszeiten der Kletterhalle Salzburg anrufen, 10.00 - 22.00 Uhr)

Nach Absprache
Anforderungen: perfektes Vorstiegssichern und Klettern in der Halle (4c)

Kursinformation und Anmeldung:; 0043 (0) 699 11 21 2001 (bitte innerhalb unserer Öffnungszeiten der Kletterhalle Salzburg anrufen, 10.00 - 22.00 Uhr)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

March Training Record

I have kept records of my training activities for a number of years.  I have a day-to-day plan and logs to record what I do, time, elevation gain, intensity, volume, etc.  I also record my resting pulse rate, sleep quality & amount, weight & body fat and mood..

March Totals
74.5 hours of training time (actual)
24 training sessions
3 full rest days / 5 long work days without training (<10 hours)
14,878 meters of elevation gain
weight = 71kg., body fat = 11%, body mass index = 21.91, resting heart rate = 44

My training generally falls into two areas: endurance training and sport specific skill training.  Endurance activities in March were hiking carrying weight, mountain trail running, alpine routes and ski touring.  For sport specific skill training was made up of alpine skiing, indoor climbing, bouldering, outdoor sport climbing, fingerboard sessions and supplemental exercise (movement, mobility & flexibility, strength/power).

Friday, April 6, 2012

Apelscharte Couloir

On a very cold Monday in February I went into the Wimbachgries (Wimbach drainage) and climbed an alpine ice route on the right side of the valley under the Apelscharte.  Other than the cold, the ice and snow conditions were excellent.  The Apelscharte Couloir has ice sections to WI4, steep snow & easy mixed terrain at about 350 meters in elevation difference.
The most attractive feature of the climb was the 50 meter compact ice fall in the middle of the couloir.  Before getting to this spot, there was about 150 meters of snow and easy ice.  Despite the very low temperatures, the ice was in great condition for climbing and felt very secure.

 Looking up from about 15 meters into the pitch.  Cold, steep, compact ice.  I climbed the route in my Dynafit TLT 5 Performance boots and Black Diamond Cyborgs set up as Mono-points.  The climb was a test to see how well the boots would work in moderate alpine terrain   I used my trusted, and well loved, Black Diamond Cobras.

The TLT's are incredibly light - they weigh less than most standard winter alpine boots.  A number of climbers in Chamonix have used them to do some very impressive climbs and link-ups.

Balanced on my front points and looking down from the top of the central ice pitch. I took two 30-meter twin ropes with me.  I normally trail the ropes behind me on steep and more technical terrain.  In this way I can set up a self-belay or retreat quickly without complications.

This is in the easier ice runnel looking up towards the exit of the couloir.  I have set an ice screw to self-belay while I rest and take a photo.  My ice tools are attached to my harness with a Black Diamond Spinner leash.

I had four ice screws, a couple of pitons (baby angle & knife blade), two 120cm slings, one 60cm sling, three quick draws (2 normal & one 60cm sling rigged as a quick draw), 3 locking carabineers and pieces of accessory cord.

The exit to the Apelscharte was snow with some easy mixed terrain.  I down climbed and rappelled the descent back to my skis.  On the descent, I was surprised by how steep the couloir was, because while climbing I didn't have the same feeling of exposure.

The ski out was some nice powder turns, and then the long cruise out of the low angled part of the drainage and onto the forest road.  It was cold!  I couldn't ski too fast, and had to make some stops, to warm up and keep from getting a cold induced headache.  My feet felt like two wooden blocks by the time I got back to the parking lot.

The approach to the couloir is 950 or so meters of elevation gain and is long (maybe 6-7 km).  You take the right hand side of the drainage, heading towards the Loferer Seilergraben.  It's a good 2.5-3 hours before you can turn into the couloir entrance at about 1450 meters.  There were some amazingly impressive avalanche run outs from the flanks and cliffs of the right hand slopes when heading into the valley.  Take care when skinning in that you stay well left of the right hand flanks.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Training Thoughts

Do you know why you train? Have you ever defined your goals, precisely? True fitness, which is different from the appearance of fitness, generally comes down to the power plant. Do you need a big and pretty engine, a powerful engine, or perhaps a big gas tank? The answer depends entirely on the objective.
... ...

If success depends on measured distribution of effort, efficient fuel assimilation and expenditure, and on the certainty that pressing the pedal five hours into it will cause the engine to respond with something better than a cough, then it's the capacity of the tank rather than the size or appearance of the engine that matters. Long endurance efforts universally require one to carry his/her engine so power-to-weight ratio is equally important: increase power and endurance without gaining size or compromising oxygen efficiency." 

The above excerpt is from the Gym Jones site.  It was written in regards to cycling, but could just as easily be applied to alpine climbing.

An alpine objective usually involves an approach of low-level endurance, start and stop efforts when climbing a route - at times with brief maximum efforts - and again low-level endurance energy expenditure during the descent.  This is usually done carrying weight.  In some situations, you have to additionally deal with less than normal sleep and eating habits and amounts.

If this is what you are training for, how do you do it?

you need to 1) create a large gas tank, 2) use body fat stores as fuel, 3) maximize strength-to-weight ratio in body composition (in other words be as strong and powerful as possible at the lowest weight).

Sport -specific skill training should be separated from physical training such as endurance, strength, power, etc.

If we look at rock climbing as an element of the alpine mix we can divide training for this into skill focused or physical focused.  (There is of course some overlap, but the point is the intent or priority of the training)

Rock climbing skill list (partial):
reading rock
placing protection
finding & utilizing rests
precise use of feet
using momentum generated from legs
high stepping
turning & flagging
down climbing
climbing on-sight

Rock climbing physical list (partial):
continuous up/down climbing for <30 minutes
interval training, 1:1 ratio of lap climbing with rest period
maximum effort on route with full recovery between repetitions
fingerboard training
4X4 bouldering
linking 4-6 moves at maximum effort
speed climbing intervals

An alpinist should be focused on skills that will make him/her more efficient and faster.  Physical training should be made up mostly of endurance-level efforts.

Again, looking just at rock climbing, an alpinist should improve their ability in rope handling, placing protection and on-sight climbing to cite just three skill elements.  Physically focused training for rock should rely heavily on continuous up/down climbing of up to 60 minutes, interval training at around 80% maximum effort (12-15 laps) and speed climbing intervals.

The above is only really scratching the surface of one facet that makes up an alpinist.  There are also the abilities in ice, snow, mixed terrain, skiing, etc.  Additionally, just off the top of my head, the areas nutrition, mental strength and equipment are critically important.

This is what makes alpinism a totally engaging life-long pursuit.  And perhaps why some of us have a chip on our shoulders about specialists active in only one of the various disciplines that make up the complete alpine picture.