18. October 2012 21:44
I had the opportunity to go to Leavenworth this past weekend with some of my more experienced climbing friends for a personal climbing trip. Although it felt a little intimidating to go with people who are way better than I am, I had been asking for months to go on a climbing trip with them, and was not going to pass up the opportunity. [More]
21. May 2012 23:27
After returning from 11 days of climbing, backpacking and kayaking, I needed a couple of down days to recharge the batteries. Now that I am fully recharged, and have a little down time, I can tell you all about this amazing Outdoor Recreation Center led adventure.
The first few days of the trip we did some water preparation and climbing. Since we were all starting from ground zero and building skills within a curriculum, the ORC staff had us learn some basic safety procedures and water rescue scenarios in the Gibb Pool on campus. Conducting this training in a pool setting allowed for us students to get comfortable with the skills in a safe environment. After we completed a number of ways to right and enter a kayak or canoe in open water, we made our way to the climbing wall to learn some basic climbing skills and how to set-up a climbing area properly when leading a trip. The instructors were great at explaining not only how to get an area ready for climbing and the proper way to wear equipment, but they gave us reasons why this way is important for safety and uniformity within ORC trips. Each of our trainers taught these tasks a little differently and in their own unique way, while maintaining the basic principles. This type of continuity and cohesion from the staff gave us students a vision of how we should be working in the future.
The following morning we gathered at the ORC, packed our gear and headed out to Granite Point for some outdoor rock climbing. While on the way, roughly a 40-min drive, the instructors didn’t waste time, they gave us information regarding what to do during emergencies at Granite Point and showed us a couple of different launch points for kayaking trips the ORC leads throughout the year. Once we arrived at Granite Point, we gathered the gear and made our way up to the climbing location. A helmet area was designated first to ensure safety while the top ropes wer... [More]
30. April 2012 16:16
Being an outdoor enthusiast, when I heard about the opportunity to get trained in outdoor leadership, I couldn’t resist the opportunity. Aside from my personal desires to gain more experience in the outdoors, I currently work for University Recreation (UREC) Marketing as an intern assigned to the Outdoor Recreation Center (ORC) team and figured gaining additional outdoor leadership experience will only help me become a better UREC employee. Outdoor Leadership Training is an 11-day course provided by the Outdoor Recreation Center to instruct participants how to lead a group into the wilderness through training in backpacking, kayaking and rock climbing.
This past Tuesday was the pre-trip orientation where trainers from the ORC provided all of the students with an overview of what will be taking place during the training. Not knowing any of the other students participating in the course, I was glad when the staff trainers started the meeting with an ice breaker for everyone to get to know each other. They gave us outdoor activity scenarios and asked us to express our “comfort level” with the scenario provided. This was a great way for each of us to see where we are comfortable and where we still need some development. It was reassuring to see other people have some of the same situational comforts as I did. Next, the staff provided guidance on some aspects of the training like Leave No Trace, how to properly pack a backpack for hiking and what to bring and not to bring on outdoor adventures. We finished things up on Tuesday with a tentative schedule of events for the duration of the course (subject to change depending on weather).
Being a leadership course, each of the students teaches several aspects of the course. I chose to provide a brief history of Granite Point, where we will be conducting the rock climbing portion of training; how to read a topographical map, since maps ar... [More]
24. February 2012 17:16
The Palouse offers an abundance of outdoor recreation areas and beautiful scenery. In the past few weeks we have posted blogs about Kamiak Butte and Palouse Falls, this week we will look at one of the best spots close to Pullman, Granite Point, also known as “The Cliffs.”
Located roughly 40 minutes Southwest of Pullman, Granite Point offers different types of outdoor activities that are geared toward summer fun. The area is well known for kayaking, boating, overnight camping on the cliffs and if you dare, jumping off the cliff into the Snake River.
Granite Point’s rock is also very well known to climbers as a great boulder to tackle. It offers a handful of sport climbing routes with a wide range of difficulty allowing climbers of all levels to enjoy. The rock type, in line with the name of the location, is granite, which is the norm for Eastern Washington.
Arguably the most appealing feature of Granite Point is the ability to dip into the Snake River to cool of when climbing in the summer sun. With spring approaching quickly, Granite Point Park and Granite Point’s rock climbing area are two great spots to visit.
22. February 2012 20:01
Get to Know Your Gear this week will focus on Ice Climbing Tools.
What is Ice Climbing – Ice climbing is an adventurous sport that integrates rock climbing with winter weather covered terrain. The tools involved in ice climbing are similar to the ones used in rock climbing, but with the addition of an ice tool (ice axe) and crampons, and of course, cold weather gear.
How do you use an ice tool and crampons – An ice tool looks similar to a hammer, having a long “pick” on one side of the ice tool’s head and a shorter “adze” on the other side. The pick is used to impale the snow or ice during the ascent. When climbing, the pick should always face the snow or ice so it can be effectively used if the climber slips or begins to fall. The adze, the smaller shovel looking side, is used more for chopping small steps and can be used when self-belaying. Beginners are advised to use the leashed type, which has a wrist wrap to ensure the axe doesn’t fall to the ground if dropped. Crampons are attached to the climber’s boots and consist of multiple thick metal points protruding from the outward from the bottom of the boot. They greatly improve traction on ice and can be used to kick foot holds during climbing.
When should you Ice Climb – Ice climbing is a winter sport focusing on climbing icefalls, frozen waterfalls and cliffs or rock slabs covered with ice and packed snow. Once the free flowing water becomes completely frozen, the ice climbing season begins. Knowing when it is safe to climb comes with experience, but consistent below-freezing weather is usually a good sign ice climbing will start soon.
Keep in mind, crampons and ice tools are available for rent from the Outdoor Recreation Center throughout the winter season. Ice climbing is a great form of exercise and allows you to enjoy the outdoors during the winter months.
1. February 2012 23:22
Don’t let the snow covered ground (which is quickly melting) keep you from enjoying all of the hiking trails scattered around the area. This week’s Getting to Know Your Gear blog will show you how to enjoy hiking regardless how much snow we get this winter by using snowshoes and trekking poles.
Snowshoeing has been thought to be around for roughly 10,000 years. The basic principle of snowshoes is the ability to distribute body weight over a larger surface area allowing people two walk across snow covered ground with greater ease. In the past, snowshoes were used in snowy areas so hunters/trappers could continue to provide for their family during the winter months (and to escape the ever lurking Yeti). Now, snowshoes are more of recreation accessories so outdoor enthusiasts can hike in deep snow.
While there are a few different types of snowshoes available, the most common is the recreational/trekking type. Other styles include backcountry/mountaineering and aerobic/running snowshoes. Running snowshoes are usually shorter and less wide than both recreation and backcountry. Additionally, for the same size person, mountaineering are going to be a little longer and wider for more difficult terrain. Each of these types of snowshoe have either fixed/limited-rotation or full/pivot-rotation bindings. Racing snowshoes usually have fixed-rotation bindings which do not allow the toe to pivot below the bottom plane of the shoe. Unfortunately, fixed bindings have a tendency to kick snow up the back of the user’s legs. Full-rotation bindings are normally preferred for traditional and mountaineering snowshoes because they allow for greater traction and mobility.
One of the best accessories for recreational or mountaineering snowshoeing are trekking poles. Poles help hikers maintain balance on most types of terrain, can help with knee pain and often increase the speed of the hike.&... [More]
27. January 2012 21:41
Having lived in Pullman since 2000, I have familiarized myself with many outdoor recreation spots around the Palouse and I'd like to share some of my favorites with all of you! One of my favorite places is Palouse Falls, located just 23 miles southeast of Washtucna, Wash. Some people who are from the west side of the state say "there's nothing to do in eastern Washington!" Well I say, "boy are they wrong." There are plenty of great places to visit in the Palouse and throughout the east side of Washington, especially if you love the outdoors as much as I do!
Palouse Falls State Park is located in Lacrosse, WA. This deep canyon, as well as other canyons and coulees in the Columbia River Basalt, was created during the Ice Age Floods 10,000 years ago. Geologists believe that most of the water during these floods came from Glacial Lake Missoula. However, there is also a mythical story that was told hundreds of years ago by the indigenous people of the area:
The park was dedicated June 3, 1951. For many years the falls were called "Aput Aput," meaning "falling water." Later, the name was changed to commemorate the Palouse [indigenous] culture. According to a story of the Palouse tribe, the Palouse River once flowed smoothly into the Snake. But four giant brothers, in pursuit of a mythic creature called "Big Beaver," speared the great creature five times. Each time Big Beaver was wounded, he gouged the canyon walls, causing the river to bend and change. The fifth time he was speared, he fought the brothers valiantly and tore out a huge canyon. The river tumbled over a cliff at this point to become Palouse Falls. The jagged canyon walls show the deep marks of Big Beaver's claws.
--From Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission site
Being a mythical creature myself, I have to say that I believe the second story! Today, the waterfall stands at 198ft tall. And I can say from personal experience, the view is absolutely breathtaking! Man... [More]
20. January 2012 21:08
Some know him as a world renowned rock climber, others as an environmentalist. Those who have read either of his either books will tell you he is also a writer, a surfer, a thrill seeker. Millions know him as the founder of the outdoor clothing and gear company, Patagonia—a company dedicated to protecting the environment. I know him as one of my idols!
Yvon Chouinard began climbing at 14, and quickly fell in love with the sport. Soon after, he and his friends spent time climbing every weekend. In 1957, after only 4 years of climbing, he bought a coal fired forge, an anvil, tongs, and hammers, and taught himself how to blacksmith and make his own reusable climbing hardware (I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty cool!). This reusable climbing hardware he was making did not create so much wear and tear on the rock, thus sustaining the area for future climbers. In these young years, he would spend many summers in Wyoming, Canada, or the Alps and would climb at Yosemite in the fall. During a time called the “Golden Age of Yosemite Climbing,” Chouinard was considered a leader. He sustained himself by selling his climbing equipment from the back of his car, eating canned food, and hunting ground squirrels with his friends.
By 1968, Chouinard had many noteworthy ascents. A few included climbs at the Canadian Rockies, Teton Range, and Yosemite Valley. Perhaps his most famous ascent was in South America at Mt. Fitzroy, Patagonia in 1968. Some of you may have heard of the epic 6 month journey that Chouinard and his friend Doug Tompkins (Tompkins later became the founder of The North Face) embarked on in 1968. With only a few days to prepare, they loaded a van full of climbing and surfing gear and left Ventura, California, headed south down the Pan American Highway to Patagonia. Now that’s what I call an adventure! You can see the journey for yourself here: http://www.180south.com/journey.html
For those of you who haven&rsqu... [More]
31. October 2011 19:23
I can’t wait for Veteran’s Day weekend! Not only do we all get a day off because of the men and women who have served our country and provided us with the freedoms we have today, but I am going rock climbing at one of the best climbing spots in the Pacific Northwest with the ORC. Frenchman Coulee, just outside of Vantage, WA has some of the most diverse and challenging routes around. Having climbed there a few times in the past, I have been able to really experience a lot of what Frenchman Coulee has to offer.
During my first trip, I didn’t want to try anything too challenging, so I decided to start on a couple of less-challenging routes to get a feel for the rock and make sure I felt comfortable at a new site. After spending the morning getting comfortable on some of the easier routes, I decided to take on some more difficult climbs. Since I went on a guided trip, it was great to watch an experienced climber scale the wall and set the top rope. While I was now more in the afternoon than in the morning, I was still not ready to lead climb. Also, the guides helped by telling the climbers where solid hand and foot holds can be found. This may seem strange at first, but when my arms and legs were shaking from fatigue, it was nice to have an expert give me some pointers on where to grab and step so I could rest without having to solely rely on the rope to hold me up. While I know the rope can easily hold me, it gives me a great sense of accomplishment when I don’t use the rope as a crutch. After the fun and excitement of my first climbing experience in Vantage, I knew it would not be long before I had to go back again.
Since my first trip, I have spent a few weekends at Frenchman Coulee over the past two summers and have really fallen in love with the vast diversity of the climbing available. While I enjoy the familiar local granite climbing and the routes in Post Falls, the basalt colum... [More]
11. October 2011 17:20
Be inspired by others climbers, mountaineers, naturalist, and outdoor enthusiasts.
“It was our preparation, knowledge and experience that kept us alive.” -- Rachel Kelsey
Rachel Kelsey is one of my heroes! She is an outdoor enthusiast and motivational speaker. In 1993 she was named the South African National Climbing Champion. Ten years later in 2003, she was stranded in the Swiss Alps during a blizzard with her climbing partner for multiple days. She went on to write a book about her experience titled "In a High Desperate Place" which gives advice as to how to overcome extreme adversity. Today, she travels and speaks to groups of people, taking the things she has learned from challenging times she has lived through and applying it to everyday business and personal life. I am sure to follow her advice every time I go on an outdoor adventure be being prepared and knowledgeable about the activity I am partaking in!