Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Sandstone Ice Fest-2012

The Sandstone Ice Fest....I mean The Sandstone Slush Fest as it was coined this year on Saturday.  We woke up from the tents to 34 degrees and rain.  We went to Amy's in town for breakfast to 34 degrees and pouring rain! We came back to the quarry after breakfast  to a soaking wet mess, but this time armed with an umbrella from the dollar store!
But, the stoke was high and the 150 people plus in the quarry that morning all still had a great time. Maybe it's our Midwestern character, maybe it was our desire to climb ice for the first time of the season, or maybe we are all just a little bit off our rocker.  But everyone had a smile, and I think the only person that complained just a bit was me (sorry!).

I opened up the morning by teaching the Intro to Ice clinic with Dave.  We had a great group of 15 people, some of them never had ice climbed before.  Everyone at the fest was able to demo some of the latest gear from Scarpa, and Grivel throughout the course of the day, which everyone took advantage of.
That evening we had a door prize raffle and and an MCA raffle for an entire Black Diamond ice set up of new tools, crampons and a harness.  In the door prize raffle, one winner won a sweet new Osprey Mutant pack! We also had a special guest speaker giving a slideshow on climbing the Grand Teton. It was a great show ;)
Sunday was a bit colder, with new snow overnight (finally) and a return to below frezing temps.  The day started with a Mixed clinic and another Intro clinic with climbers climbing every inch of free ice along the quarry wall. 

A great time was had by all, and we thank the MCA, Tony (the fest organizer) and Jeff Engel for being the lead Ice farmer of the 2012/13 season!  Without these folk, the fest would not be possible.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The last step...

The printing proof was delivered today to Bill.  A few last minute edits/changes and off to the printer!  We are using a local printer located in Marquette and should have the copies in hand to sell by mid-January. 

  • 150 pages, full color
  • Detailed route descriptions to 198 names routes
  • Quality maps of the region and specific areas
  • Most of the routes are GPS tagged for easier targeting
  • Quality route photos
  • Places to go to eat, drink and sleep in town if not staying in a snow bank
  • Ice fest information and regional info to boot!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

An excerpt from the new Munising Ice Guide

At the most basic level, three primary components are required to climb frozen waterfalls: vertical relief, water, and cold.  In the upper Midwest, we are blessed with an abundance of water and some vertical relief, both of which brings us ice climbers great joy.  However, cold is the unknown variable in this equation, which has become increasingly more important to us each coming season.  In some years, the north wind blows early, causing the water to get hard so we can make our annual pilgrimage north by late December.  In other years, it seems like the cold will never arrive, so the ice doesn't form much at all.

Climate change is real. There is no question that it is happening and we need to make conscious effort as individuals to educate ourselves about this issue.  Global warming is an issue affecting us as ice climbers and I urge you to consider your daily actions to think not of just today, but for winters to come and many more pitches of ice to climb.  This is a global issue affecting us on a regional level.  Your actions in this region today are amplified on the global scale.

Live for Winter! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Alexander's Chimney.

Two short videos of the second pitch of AC.  Climbed 10/2/12.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Editing is Fun....

In the last four days, over 150 edits have been made to the guide, not including the early edits made by Mary and Eric last month.  Headed to the Printer this week!

Need to thank from Madison;
Dave Nelson
Gary Jugenheimer
Mary Swenson
Eric Pueschel

And now just need to figure out how to edit this post by rotating the photo...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Marmot Nabu Jacket-NeoShell

The Nabu Jacket. Used twice for reals and once out to a bar. The below links are to industry PR/Kool-aid ;) type releases and the below is from me. Starting with each climb and then a recap. As of note, if I did the climbs below in my GORE paclite jacket, I would have overheated for sure and been very uncomfortable.     

Stoked at the base of The Beehive, Montana.  Nov 23.  Warm in the sun, below freezing temps in the shade/cloud cover.  Variable wind on route, strong on the summit.  Just racked up to lead the first pitch of this;
Wore a I/O BIO (at the time) Merino wool Pilot suit for my only layer below the jacket and a belay parka above for the belays. 

Leading the third pitch.  In the sun, but windy.

 Leading a wet WI 4 in Hyalite called Champagne Sherbert. Nov 24th.  Warm! Above freezing temps and wet. The route was spitting water down the middle and made my pants damp, but not my jacket.  My pants were made of Polartec Powershield O2 fabric. I wore just the Pilot suit below the jacket.

Approaching Alexander's Chimney, RMNP via Lamb's Slide.  Dec 2ed. 38 in the parking lot and breezy at 7am.  Colder up high and breezy with occasional strong gusts.  I wore the same Pilot suit as in Montana, but this time I layered a thin Marmot fleece that is hooded and very comparable to a slightly thinner Patagonia R1.

 Leading pitch 2 of AC.  Belay parka in the "JacPack"

Following above the chockstone on AC. Without a puffy at the belay, It would have been quite cold!  As the day wore on, the winds picked up, as my shoes were blown 10 meters across the parking lot in one gust when we got back to the car.  This was part the same wind event responsible for the Fern lake fire growing 3 miles in three hours during the overnight on Nov 30th. Not cool and threatens Estes Park...Also, climbed in just a thin pair of windstopper gloves with leather palms for reinforcement the whole day, including the approach and descent.  Brought belay gloves, but didn't use them... weird as my feet and legs were a bit cold, but my hands were fine most of the day.  I went through that initial "wood hands" feeling in the beginning of the day then they were good to go.

The Nabu Jacket, available Spring 2013 from Marmot is the newest NeoShell Jacket from them.  I am wearing the Fall 2013 sample. (Full disclosure, I am a Marmot rep from Wisconsin and I have never worn the Zion jacket outside.  I think the hood sucks and I have always thought the fabric to be to thick for me).  So, in the temps and conditions used above, I am falling in love with this jacket.  They made improvements in my mind over the Zion for an excellent alpine/water ice climbing jacket.  First off the fabric is much thinner and I believe more breathable then the Zion.  Second, the Nabu also has stretch which is noticeable when you put it on, but not noticeable while climbing in it which is the way you want it to be.  Marmot also corrected the small hood on the Zion as the hood on the Nabu fits comfortably over my helmet (even though it still could have just a slightly larger brim).

The arms are a perfect length for me, even using an under-cuff thin glove like I used to climb with on AC. For reference, I am a bit over 5' 10'' and 182lbs and no idea of my wingspan/ape index. The cuffs have a simple Velcro strap closure that works well for me. The center back length was also good, as the jacket stayed below my harness at all times with only having to pull it down once on the two routes above, for a total of 6 pitches climbed.  

Overall there are four bungee cord closures for the jacket.  One on the hem that has both a right and left pull tab for tightening.  The other three are on the hood to make an optimal fit.  One for center height for front to back adjustment, and the two others are on the each side for up and down adjustment. Each of the side  bungees are on the front of the hood from the center height bungee down to where the main zippers meet.  The jacket also has four pockets.  Two hand warmers and  two chest pockets. One chest pocket is on the outside and one is on the inside of the jacket, but opposite of the outside side.  The outside pocket also has a headphone port to boot. Just hope the batteries don't run out on the Walkman Marc Twight style, cuz that would be poor style. 

My first negative comment is the zipper.  I think that the front zipper is a bit tough to close and it really bogs down when the angle of the zipper changes from flat to curved at the neck.  I have to use two hands to pull it up which is kinda annoying while climbing,  But, it is a waterproof zip and they are always just a bit "thicker".  The other thing that I never truly love with Marmot is the size of the seam taping.  The tape on this jacket is 3/4 of an inch.  I know that there is smaller tape available used by other brands, and without knowing much about tape and fabric/tape/glue combinations, I will leave this one alone until I ask a professional. 

Overall very stoked about this jacket.  Waterproof. Breathable. Relatively light weight. (love the green color with white zips!).  So far very good, and only the rest of the winter will tell me more.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Beehive.

The Route.

 The early morning light during the 5 mile ski approach.

Happy!  Climbing Ice and rock in the winter again.

 First step of the first pitch.

 Crux of the route.

 Eric Approaching the top of the first pitch.

 Eric leading the second pitch.

Eric's foot at the second belay.

 Me approaching the second belay.

 Eric summit shot. Lone Peak is in the background.

 Descending back to the skis.

 Skiing out.
Photos by Eric Dacus and myself.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A typical winter weekend in College.

It’s 2005 at 8pm on a Friday night in February.  I was 23 years old and waiting for Joe Mucci to pick me up while hanging at my then girlfriend’s house ready to go.  Class was out hours ago at UW-Oshkosh, with no desire to even think about the homework to be done for the following week.  Joe left a few hours before from Delavan WI working as an engineer at a pump factory.  I was in my third year studding Geology and this is how we would spend three weekends a month every winter season.  We would drive to Munising Michigan to climb the ice that forms along the 20+ miles of cliff line in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Driving north for the next four and a half hours we always stopped at the same place for dinner, Mickey Lu’s in Marinette. We would both order a couple doubles then hit the road stuffed for the final push of the drive north into the snow belt of Gitchigumi. We would shoot through the town of Munising late, passing a few bar jumping snowmobilers filling up for the last tank of gas of their night and continue east through a tiny town called Melstrand to get to the trailhead. Arriving after midnight we would get out the car into the crisp cold air and into the silence, something I always looked forward to each Friday night of the week.

We would change into our baselayers and cutting edge softshell clothing of the day, shoulder our 50 pound packs and click into our skis.  Joe learned to XC ski this way, under the moonlight with a heavy pack breaking trail in the deep snow.  After a few miles of gently rolling trail, which of course is a road in the summer we would reach the real trailhead of Pictured Rocks.  The plow stops a few miles out from the actual trail head, which was always a blessing on the way in, and a curse on the way out.  From that point it was just 4 more miles to Chapel Beach where we would make camp for the weekend.  Arriving around 3am tired from the long day, we would set up our tent, put on a few dry layers and crawl into our winter bags for some quality rest.

I have always believed Saturday mornings were a day to sleep in, which we sure did.  Getting up no earlier than 9am we would start melting snow for water and cooking breakfast.  We always had precooked sausage patties or bacon, to make a “McMucci” sandwich of meat and melted pepper jack cheese on an everything bagel…ummmm!  Chucking the pots back into the snow, stashing the stove and zipping up the tent, we would be off to go climbing for the day soon after.  We would set off east along the lakeshore trail and would make the only tracks in the snow since the previous weekend, which were ours as well if not yet buried by the ever accumulating snow.

About a mile down the trail we would rappel onto the frozen lake below and into a whole new world.  Leaving the perceived safety of the land, trees, and trails above, the lake ice is a magical place that always gave me goosebumps the first time each season walking on it.  The lake ice would extend out into the lake by about a ½ mile in some places, and some places we would be walking right next to open water on our left, and a 100 foot sandstone cliff on our right, not a place to go for a swim. After walking the lake ice for another 15 minutes we would arrive at our first destination for the day, Spray Falls. 

Spray falls is a high volume creek making a 40 foot vertical drop directly into Lake Superior.  Massive curtains of ice would form with rushing water behind it, sometimes over it and through the cracks in the lake ice into the frigid lake below.  We would find the driest piece of ice, as getting wet from the rushing water above was not an option that far out, and set to climb it.  Strapping on our crampons, tying in to the rope, picking up our ice tools and gazing up; just like every other climb I have done, but still magical every time for the addicted ice climber.  A few swings, a few kicks and a few ice screws later, we were both atop the first climb of the weekend looking out at the miles of open water below ready for another. 

We would climb till about dark then head back to camp.  One would make a fire, the other dinner.  This night it was stir fry in a bag from your local grocer’s freezer isle with precooked chicken in a bag.  One pot was for dinner, one pot was for making water, and one spork was to share between the both of us.  Scoop-Scoop pass was the mantra that we abided by till the dinner was gone and our bellies were as full as they were going to be.  Watching the fire wind down and the small flask of some cheep swill disappear; we would catch up with one another on the week and shoot the shit till we were too tired to keep an eye open.

Sunday was always an early rise to get a few more climbs in before the ski home.  We would climb till our proposed cut off time of 2pm, then head back to camp to pack up and start the long ski out.  Those seven miles were always long and uphill.  One more shot of Hammer gel to get myself back to the car was all I ever had left for calories, arriving after dark, tired.  We would throw our gear into the back, shove the skis on top and drive into town for a red bull and a snack for the next few hours driving south.  Just like the drive north, we had our tradition for the drive home. We would stop at the all you can eat Chinese Buffet in Oconto filling our plates until we could no longer walk trying to replace the thousands of calories we burned over the last 40 hours on the go of 16 or so miles traveled and 10 pitches of ice climbed.  Always amazing that a work week is 40 hours long, and the weekend 48!

Hitting home was always first for me, arriving a bit before midnight ready to sleep for my 9am Monday morning lecture at Harrington Hall.  Joe would have another few hours to go arriving by 3am, just enough time for a pot of coffee, a shower and a quick nap before he went to work at 7am.  Monday I would dry out the tent, hang up my climbing gear and wash out the pots for the first time and not wanting to even think about ice climbing.  Tuesday would roll along, and I would almost be out of recovery mode.  By Wednesday night, the phone would ring.  It would be Joe, “What are you doing this weekend?” My response after forgetting about the amount of work the previous weekend and only the fun, “Ice climbing with you, buddy” 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nina's Denali movie

This is a 25 minute movie that Nina made from Denali last May. This is her first movie.  Enjoy.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Birthday challenge

I first heard about a Birthday Challenge a few years ago and always wanted to do one, but never have until this year.  So, I decided to attempt to run 30 miles of trail and lead Upper D at Devils Lake for my 30th Bday as my challenge a few weekends ago.

On Saturday the 20th of October I drove up to the lake with my running shoes and a rack.  Paul met me in the parking lot at 9am and we ran together for the the front half.  I averaged 13min miles for the first 15 miles, which looking back I think was a bit too fast. The route started in Rozno's meadows and the 1/2 way point was Parfrey's Glen, with a return the way I started.  See the yellow line on the map from the link below.

Paul and myself around mile 11. 

Liz meet me at Parfrey's glen to run the back half together.  We started back out from the Glen running up hill for the next 3 miles and that's when it all went south.  With my longest run to date being 15 miles, the hill kinda crushed me on the return to run double that.  We made it back to hwy 113 and I needed to make a decision, turn right to continue on the trail away form the car, or left for a few more miles back to the car and just finish.  My legs chose left, and we headed back.  I ended the run* with out being able to actually run anymore and finishing at about 21.5 miles.  My phone died on me, so I didn't get my actual total at the finish. 

After that I took a rest and then hiked up the CCC trail to meet some friends up in the east bluff.  I found Louise up there and she gave me a belay on Upper D to finish off my day.  I actually got the "Elvis leg" going on the rest just before the crux which was kinda funny.  Two weeks ago I was able to recover fully on an 11B route in the red to finish the climb, and this day I wasn't getting anything back on a jug with decent feet! So, fired off the crux, one more cam set and then set the belay for Louise to clean the route. 

Overall it was a good day and I was quite happy with what I was able to do.  Also looking back, WTF was I thinking in trying to run 30 miles....that is really freking far! Maybe next year...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

two funny britts.

BD athlete Andy Houseman and Nick Bullock climb Denali's Slovak Direct from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

Awesome movie to fuel the inspiration stoke for another am workout tomorrow.  And Back to Alsaka I go in  May.

Monday, October 15, 2012

1000 Fill power???

Holy shit this sounds cool.  A non oil based treatment for down that also increases its loft, by up to 1/3.  This thing is going to retail for a Thousand Bucks!  I can't wait till this hits the internets and all the BS that will be spewing about the price. Kinda cool Patagonia, Kinda Cool!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The DL3

Eric did a great write up on the DL3 on the CC page.  Check it out.  Can't wait till the winter, snowshoe, climb, pull a sled...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Black hills Video.

"Some big slob from Minnesota or someplace"

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mini Pizzas!

Hand made dough.  
Bacon from the stove top
Pepperoni from Hormel
Bell pepper from the garden
BBQ sauce from Famous Dave's
Cheese blend 
and this;


Monday, August 27, 2012


OMG! My goals have been realized in life by making it into a Bouldering vid and I am the fat kid!

Devil's Lake Bouldering - Summerness from Steve Schultz on Vimeo.

But seriously, it was actually fun and I want to go again!  Great Video Steve!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

4 Sale

Want to buy new winter gear.  Must sell old!!! Make me an offer if my price is too high.

Marmot Tempo Jacket.  Used, but in great condition.  Size Medium $50
 Marmot Kingpin Jacket.  Medium. Used but in excellent condition! $150
 Marmot Stretch Man Jacket.  Used. Medium.  150.

Alpinist Magazine.  #0 through #12.  In very good condition.  $200 plus shipping.

Black Diamond Skylight Tent.  First Generation
Used for 6 years or so.  one patch repaired by BD warranty.  $200
What it stuffs down to in size.  Foot for reference is a M's size 9.

Marmot Widi 2P tent. Used once. $275

Scarpa Triolet.  Size 41.  Heavily used and loved.  $100

Mad Rock belay device.  $5

Charlet Moser/Petzl leashes.  $10

Petzl Reverso.  $5 Used

Black Diamond Blizzard Harness. Size M.  USED! $40

Patagonia Softshell. Medium.  Circa 2005.  Used $100

Marmot Vars Hoody.  Medium  $60
The North Face Elephants foot 1/2 bad.  30deg.  Used a few times. $75
Black Diamond Crossbow ski with BD O3 tele bindings.  173cm.  $150.

 Fischer RC7 NNN classic XC ski boots.  Size 41.  NEW $90