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Backcountry Skiing Intro

Sunrise on the prime ski terrain of Mt Baker’s east side Backcountry skiing is a broad sport. Even seasoned veterans obsess over what might be the best gear for a particular endeavor. When selecting equipment, it’s important to ask: Where and when will I be using this? The answer could be: mostly at the resort with a little sidecountry; riding lifts through the winter, then big spring volcano-corn; skiing powder yoyo style through the winter, then spring corn; long, rolling [...]

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Ice Climbing Gear Intro

This article is intended to inform you of the features and uses of modern ice climbing gear. The focus is on technical waterfall ice and mixed climbing, as well as alpine routes in the mountains. For specifics on how to ice climb and the details of how to safely and correctly use the gear that I will discuss, please be sure to consult a qualified teaching source and use this article only as a reference of my personal experience and [...]

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Colin Haley Alpinism – Equipment for Alpinism in the ‘Greater Ranges’

Editors note:  This article is a little dated (it was written in 2007), so you can trust that Colin’s equipment has evolved a bit from when this was written.  The article may no longer reflect Colin’s recommendations, so keep that in mind.  We still think there are things to learn from it, so we’ll keep the around as long as that is true.  Introduction For better or worse, climbing is an extremely gear-intensive activity, and alpinism is the most gear-intensive [...]

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Cold Weather Crags in Washington, Oregon, and BC

There’s more to winter rock climbing in the northwest than pulling on greasy plastic and sneaky a morning at the front side crags of Smith Rock. Washington and Oregon aren’t cragging destinations this time of year, but they do contain enough winter crags to make a few December and January days possible and downright enjoyable on the rock. The trick is finding an area with the holy trinity of necessary traits: sunny, sheltered, and low-elevation. In Squamish, the smoke bluffs [...]

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How Long is Your 60m Rope?

Have you ever come up short on a rappel when you remember that you’d managed to make it before? How about tried to toprope a pitch only to find yourself unable to lower a climber to the ground when others, with the same length ropes, had no problem? This might not simply be your memory going bad on you. There are significant differences in the lengths of ropes all labelled and sold as being identical. And these difference don’t just [...]

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Faster is Lighter – Tips for Increasing Your Speed in the Alpine

I’d like to start this article by just mentioning a thing or two about my intention in writing it. I am stoked to share some of my personal thoughts and strategies in regards to going as fast and light as possible in the mountains. Climbing however, is different for everyone, and each individual is responsible for making their own decisions regarding what they are comfortable with and how far they want to push their limits. As a climber I am [...]

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Elbow-Saving Belay Setup – Streamline Your Multipitch Performance

As climbers and climbing-gear buyers, we are accustomed to wading through marketing claims, weeding out hearsay, and determining  the facts on our own before we act.  Is that carabiner really just 29g? We’ll simply put it on the scale and know the answer. Do these ski bindings collect ice and snow like I’ve heard? I’ll demo a pair and find out before I buy them. This tendency toward skepticism is healthy, and helps keeps us safe while climbing and skiing. [...]

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Lower Body Maintenance for Active Climbers by Marc-Andre Leclerc

Extended periods of climbing or long alpine adventures have a way of simultaneously being both beneficial for the body and hard on it. Consecutive days of cramming feet into rock shoes, cramming the already crammed feet into cracks and standing on the toes for long periods of time can turn ones feet into an unsightly mess. This damage adds up over years of climbing and can lead to huge callouses, bunions and disfigured toenails. Long periods of hiking in mountain [...]

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Mt. Slesse Descent Update by Marc-Andre Leclerc

Last summer my good friend Kieran embarked on his first ever alpine climbing adventure. His objective? The classic Northeast Buttress of Slesse Mountain. Upon his return I excitedly asked him about his adventure and his first remarks made me laugh. ‘Man we made it to the summit and I was so stoked, but then I looked down the other side and realized, oh shit, now we have to get down’! These are thoughts that have been thunk by many an [...]

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