Latest from The Spokesman-Review
CLIMBING — A new website seeks to give Internet viewers a taste of the mountaineering journey up Grand Teton’s 13,770-foot summit.
Grand Teton National Park’s new web-based interactive climb takes viewers from the trailhead to the summit with maps, video, audio clips and photos.
It’s aimed at students as well prospective climbers and arm-chair adventures with an interest in scaliong the highest peak in the Teton Range.
Viewers also can watch a video of a helicopter rescue on the peak or listen to the call of the area's wild animals such as the yellow-bellied marmot.
The virtual tour tops out on the summit.
OUTDOOR PURSUITS — “We concluded that these forms of the sport are pushing boundaries and taking the element of risk to a place where we as a company are no longer willing to go,” Clif Bar wrote last month in an open letter to the climbing community to explain why the company is dropping sponsorships of the top athletes in free-solo climbing, high-lining and BASE jumping.
I explored the issue in my Thursday Outdoors column: Clif Bar Decision shows personal nature of assessing risk
The column is worth checking out for more details and the comments by Spokane climber Chris Kopczynski and the honest and moving reflections of a Spokane mom who's raised four adventurous boys.
I admire Clif Bar for trying to draw attention to the risks outdoor adventurers are taking, especially nowadays as skilled athletes and wannabes are spurred by the drive to make great footage in the cameras that are attached every sort of outdoor equipment.
People are risking their ability to walk if not their lives for a shot at going viral on YouTube.
But every line in the sand that's been drawn since the beginning of time has been challenged, if not crossed.
It will always be that way until we lose our drive to be better.
When we get to that point, what the hell.
OUTDOOR PURSUITS — The weekend rescue of a climber trapped by a shifting boulder below Chimney Rock gives us cause to pause, take a deep breath, evaluate and be thankful for a the services we enjoy every time we venture into the outdoors, even if we don't need them.
The mountains can be dangerous. Always be prepared for a night out in the elements, even if you're just day hiking. At the minimum, carry a pack with the 13 Essentials (listed at the end of this post). The two climbers involved in weekend search and rescue operation in the Idaho Selkirk Mountains were well equipped with trek-in backpacks of gear, food, water and warm clothing in addition to the small summit packs they used during the climb of Chimney Rock.
Reliable companions can be your best insurance while traveling in the backcountry. Ammi Midstokke, who was trapped by a boulder that crushed her foot as she hiked away from Chimney Rock east of Priest Lake last weekend, had the luxury — a relative term — to be accompanied by Jason Luthy, a wilderness medicine instructor and member of volunteer search and rescue teams.
Acquire some training in wilderness survival and medicine. The Spokane Mountaineers offer courses in mountaineering and backpacking. And Luthy offers instruction through his company, Longleaf Wilderness Medicine based in Sandpoint. When self-rescue was clearly out of the picture, he called for help and tended to Midstokke for more than 8 hours through the night.
Support Search and Rescue teams. The Priest Lake Search and Rescue group that took the risk through the night to save Midstokke are trained VOLUNTEERS who raise money for equipment at the annual Priest Lake Huckleberry Festival. All of the region's Search and Rescue efforts are largely underfunded. "These guys were awesome," Midstokke praised after the rescue. They even did breathing exercises with her to help her through the pain through the long night.
Thank God for helicopters. Midstokke lifted to safety after her all-night ordeal on a stretcher dangling from a cable hoist below a specially equipped helicopter staffed by trained airmen from the 36th Rescue Flight stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base. While you're at it, thank Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell for working to keep rescue flight helicopters available for service.
This 36th RQF has been in the news several times this year, including two flights this summer to save the butts of a rafter and a Pacific Crest Trail hiker.
The Spokane area has access to other helicopter medical services, such as Northwest MedStar, which offers a low-cost insurance plan. But Fairchild's powerful helicopters with cable lifts are needed for rescues in rugged locations.
Fairchild wasn't always a reliable partner for civilian rescues. In the late 1970s, I covered the story of rock climber David Sather (co-owner of the former Western Outdoor Sports shop in Spokane Valley), who suffered a compound fracture of his femur in a rock fall while climbing Chimney Rock. Fairchild crews were training nearby in Tacoma Creek but the base refused to call them in to the rescue. Search and Rescue teams had to carry him out in a brutal ordeal for all involved that put Sather's leg and life at great risk.
Since then the command at Fairchild has changed it's policies. This flight to rescue Midstokke was the 36th RQF's 688th rescue,
THE 10 ESSENTIALS
Outdoors groups and mountaineering clubs have devised a list of essential gear that should go along with every hiker, hunter, climber or other outdoors adventurer heading away from town. With these “10 essentials’” and the knowledge to use them, life-threatening situations can be prevented.
1. Map of the area
3. Extra food and water
4. Extra clothing
5. Flashlight with extra cells
6. First-aid kit
7. Matches in a waterproof case
8. Fire starter
9. Sturdy knife
10. Sunglasses and sunscreen
The Spokane Mountaineers recommend “13 essentials,” which supplement the above list with:
11. Emergency shelter such as a space blanket.
12. Signaling device.
13. Toilet paper.
PUBLIC LANDS — A picture is worth a thousand words, and also $4,000 dollars to law-breaking climbers in Utah.
Their moment of glory doing illegal route modifications in a national park was expensive in the long run.
Photo used in Patagonia catalog leads to fines for rock climbers in Utah
A photo used in a 2011 Patagonia catalog of rock climbers in the Grand Wash area of Capitol Reef National Park in Utah led to a Park Service investigation, and the charging of the two rock climbers and a third person who helped modify the route used for violations under the Park System Resource Protection Act.
Salt Lake Tribune
MOUNTAIN RESCUES — Sandpoint rock climber Ammi Midstokke, 36, battered from head to toe from a bout with a 1.5-ton granite boulder, wasted no time being thankful to her friend and two teams of rescuers.
"Bottom line- everyone is safe, I'm pretty banged up, and spending the night under a rock sucks. I'll update more as the morphine wears off!"
As soon as she came clear from the medications, she posted on Facebook this summary of her Sept. 19-20 ordeal in the Idaho Selkirk Mountains.
A brief explanation: after a successful summit of (the west side of) Chimney Rock, a boulder came down on me while crossing the talus fields, pinning me in its path. Jason Luthy attempted self-rescue but it was both too heavy and too dangerous.
We called Search and Rescue and they tried to stabilize me with heat and good stories. Eight hours later, well past midnight, they were able to hoist the boulder and extract a very deformed, very dead looking foot. There was much drama on my end as blood began to flow into the foot and the team transported me to safe ground. It was apparent that hiking out wasn't an option, so we hunkered down until the Air Force could lift me out after daylight.
Initial X rays show tarsal breakage but a remarkably whole foot. We'll know more later this week. I couldn't have hoped for a more competent adventuring partner or a better group of rescuers. You guys are all my heroes!!!
Midstokke suffered injuries to her face, lower leg and foot.
According to a report from Fairchild Air Force Base, Luthy was able to call 911 at 5:30 p.m. prompting rescue efforts. An eight-person Priest Lake Search and Rescue ground party began a hike at 8:20 p.m. negotiating steep, narrow and rocky terrain finally reaching Midstokke at 12:49 a.m.
The PLSAR ground party used a web and pulley system to free her from the boulder in less than one hour. Her injuries were stabilized and she was kept comfortable as the situation was assessed.
It was determined that hiking her out would be too dangerous in the night time hours considering the remote location and the unforgiving nature of the terrain. Efforts went underway to contact the 36th Rescue Flight at Fairchild.
At 7:10 a.m., a four-member crew from the 36th RQF and the 336th Training Support Squadron 'Rescue 13' was dispatched to the area in a UH-1N Iroquois helicopter.
They arrived on-scene at 7:45 a.m.
"A hover was the only possible way of extraction as the terrain was far too treacherous to land," said Capt. Josiah Hart, 36th RQF co-pilot. "We made our initial approach, but the aircraft started to sink due to excess fuel. To get more power, we burned off some fuel for 25 minutes and reengaged to a 30-foot hover over the scene.
The crew then lowered Maj. David Oldham, 336th TRSS flight surgeon, down to Midstokke and the ground party delivering water and preparing her for extraction on a Stokes Litter. At 8:35 a.m., Oldham signaled to 'Rescue 13' in the skies above that she was ready for extraction. Due to favorable winds, the approach was made to an 80-foot hover over the scene. Midstokke was hoisted out followed by Oldham. Rescue 13 then transported her to Sandpoint, Idaho where she was transferred via-ambulance to Bonner General Hospital.
"Having this training and capability to perform rescue missions provides a valuable service to Inland Northwest residents," Oldham said. "All the pieces fit together for this rescue. The ground team worked very hard through the night and when we arrived it was a seamless transfer from ground to air - the whole experience was very humbling."
"Overall, our crew for this mission was well practiced in this kind of scenario and they all performed extremely well during the extraction," said Capt. Erik Greendyke, 36th RQF aircraft commander.
"There are always people who will need help, and if we have the ability to help, we should," Hart said. "Without our capabilities, Ms. Midstokke may have had a difficult time being rescued. It was truly a team effort to rescue her on Saturday.
Recovering from her injuries at home today, Midstokke is extremely thankful for the Fairchild crew.
"I feel extremely grateful for the Air Force crew rescuing me," she told Scott King of Fairchild public affairs. "They were all very competent and compassionate in a traumatic situation. The rescue itself was technically very challenging and the fact that the Air Force was able and willing to do this is testament to the professionalism of our U.S. military — thank you for your commitment to service and everything you did to keep me safe and well!"
This was the 36th RQF's 688th rescue.
CLIMBING — A 28-year-old Everett man was killed Saturday after falling while rappelling off Liberty Bell Mountain west of Mazama.
Eric P. Anderson was climbing with his wife when one of his ropes came free and he fell between 50 and 60 feet, said Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers.
Authorities were called just before 8 p.m. Aero Methow Rescue and a sheriff’s deputy located Anderson, and he was pronounced dead at the scene, Rogers said in an Associated Press report. He said because it was dark, they waited until morning to get help from a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office helicopter to recover the body.
Rogers said authorities checked his equipment and nothing had failed. "He had done something wrong rappelling," he said. "He got to the end of the rope and he hadn’t tied it correctly, and he just dropped," the sheriff said.
CLIMBING – Spokane is one of the first stops for the 2013 Reel Rock 8 Film Tour, a gripping collection of climbing films that will show Friday (Sept. 27) starting at 7 p.m. at Mountain Gear’s retail store, 2002 N. Division St.
The films, which debuted in a Boulder, Colo., festival on Sept. 19, include “High Tension: Ueli Steck and the Clash on Everest.”
All proceeds go to the Access Fund, a national advocacy organization founded in 1991 to conserve and keep U.S. climbing areas open.
By the way, after I posted the AP story a few posts down about the BLM’s decision to close off climbing access at the popular Castle Rocks in eastern Idaho, a reader asked for a link to where people could offer public comments. That turned out to be a good question, and opened up kind of a can of worms. I couldn’t find anything on the BLM’s website, so I contacted them. It turns out they’re not in a public comment period on the Castle Rocks climbing access issue, they’re in a 30-day “protest period.” That means the decision’s already been made, but they won’t carry it out until after they review and consider any protests filed during that period, which started April 17 and runs for 30 days.
However, and this is a big however, the only people who can protest during this protest period are those who submitted public comments during the public comment period, which ran from August to December of 2011. Mike Courtney, Burley field manager for the BLM, said anyone who participated in that public comment period got a green card by certified mail instructing them of their opportunity to protest the decision. The date in their card is the date on which their 30-day clock starts ticking. Plus, the only protests that can be raised are issues that were submitted for consideration in the planning process that ended in December of 2011.
The public is clearly concerned about this issue, and also equally confused about the process. “We’re getting hundreds of emails,” Courtney said. “We’ll go through ‘em.” But according to the formal process the BLM must follow, those emails can’t be considered. “Using this process, they’re not going to get weighed in the decision,” he said. Many of those sending the emails, however, commented in the earlier process, he said, and are eligible to participate in the protest period.
Here's how to find out about the protest process: Go to this link, and then click on “Castle Rocks Proposed Decision Record and FONSI.” (FONSI, it turns out, has nothing to do with Henry Winkler, and instead is a federal-ese acronym that stands for “Finding Of No Significant Impact.”) That will take you to a 12-page PDF document; the instructions for filing protests are on Page 6. Courtney said, “You’ve got to read that document. It’s very specific.” For example, protests may not be filed by email; only by hard copy, and they go to D.C.
Courtney said, “People who have not been engaged but want to engage now should work through the Access Fund.” That’s a non-profit rock climbing advocacy group based in Boulder, Colo., that’s been engaged throughout the project; see its website here. Policy analyst R.D. Pascoe is the contact person there on this issue. "I submitted the protest today," he told Eye on Boise. The group's "Action Center" page on the issue can be seen here.
Pascoe said, “We’ve worked closely with the state park and the BLM and the Forest Service since 2003 at least to try to work out a climbing management plan.” That plan was adopted to govern climbing at the Castle Rocks State Park portion of the area in 2003, he said, and “it has been used successfully there this whole time.” Pascoe said if the protests aren’t successful, his group will consider a lawsuit.
CLIMBING — When I watched Robyn Erbesfield's chiseled body defy gravity at Wild Walls for a profile story I wrote in 1996, I should have assumed that any children she might eventually produce would have the genetics to become a good climber.
I underestimated her.
Brooke Raboutou, 11, born to climbing world champions Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou and Didier Raboutou, is setting records adults couldn't reach in their dreams.
Her mom says rock climbing walls have been part of their homes just like the oven and dish washer.
Brooke began her training around the time she could walk, according to her profile at Team ABC Boulder.
The video above show this little person is nothing short of amazing.
CLIMBING — See mind-boggling vertical rock climbing feats in a FREE presenation of the Reel Rock 7 film tour starting 7 p.m., Nov. 1, at Mountain Gear, 2002 N. Division St.
FILMS– Radical Reels, the high-action, adrenaline-packed off-shoot flicks from the Banff Mountain Film Festival are coming to North Idaho this week, including a debut appearance in Coeur d’Alene.
The shows are scheduled:
Wednesday (Oct. 17) at the Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene. Doors open 5 p.m.; films start at 6.
Thursday (Oct. 18) at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint. Doors open 6 p.m.; films start at 7.
The 11 films on this year’s tour include skateboarding on bobsled courses, kayakers on an adventure from Mexico to Iceland, speed climbing on outrageous rock routes, BASE skiing and a humorous candid look at people using headcams.
Tickets are $13 in advances at shops in the Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene areas. Leftovers will be sold for $15 at the door.
- Info on where to get advance tickets, etc: mountain-fever.com.
Refreshments start at 6 p.m.; show at 7 p.m. Gifts will be offered to the first 100 women attending.
Glanc joined Patrick Ormond and Jeremiah Watt on the first American team to climb in the Balkans country bordered by Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania and the Adratic Sea.
COUNTY PARKS — The long-awaited trailhead parking area on the south side of the Big Rock-Rocks of Sharon area in Spokane Valley will be open to public access Friday at 3 p.m., said Paul Knowles, Spokane County Parks planner.
Heavy equipment is still working at the site accessible from the Palouse Highway near the end of Stevens Creek Road. County Parks will be hydro-seeding, putting up signs and doing other touch-up worth at the parking area through fall, Knowles said.
The Big Rock area, adjacent to the Iller Creek Conservation Area, is prized by rock climbers and hikers. It's been secured by the county through a series of deals and purchases with help from the Dishman Hills Conservancy.
The new parking area is designed to handle school buses. It will accommodate about 30 passenger vehicles if parked in an organized fashion.
Notable restrictions include:
- No motorized vehicles allowed on trails beyond the parking area.
- Dogs must be on leash.
- Equestrian use of the Rocks of Sharon-Iller Creek Conservation Area is discouraged because newer trails built by volunteers have not had time to compat and poor visibility along trail corridors makesconflicts between different users more likely, Knowles said.
See a map of hiking trails accessible from Stevens Creek or from the north side Holman Road access to Iller Creek.
ROCK CLIMBING — Climbers were humbled earlier this month to find a massive rock fall had wiped out a generation of climbing routes on the east face of Chimney Rock, a landmark on the skyline east of Priest Lake.
And the danger lingers.
The collapse of rock from the near-vertical face erased rock flakes used in many pioneering climbs on the iconic granite pillar in the Selkirk Mountains.
Classic lines now gone include Magnum Force, a route first free-climbed in 1967 by Spokane Mountaineers John Roskelley and Chris Kopczynski.
“Many tons of Inland Northwest climbing history are now part of the boulder field at the base,” said Dane Burns, one of the rock’s pioneering climbers.
"From the splitter crack line of Yahoody left all the routes are now gone. That includes but not limited to the Beckey/Cooper South Nose route, later freed by Roskelley and Kopczynski and renamed Magnum Force, Kimmie, named after our friend Kim Momb and UNI the first trad 5.12 crack done in the inland NW.”
Zach Turner, who reported the rockfall on July 5, noted the east face has a swath of new routes to be pioneered, but warned climbers more unstable rock appears to be hanging on the wall.
See Turner's post with before and after photos of the Chimney Rock east face and a list of the climbing routes affected.
CLIMBING — The extraordinary skill of big-wall rock climber Alex Honnold, 26, was put to the mainstream in 2011 by a CBS filming crew willing to go out of their comfort zone.
Honnold, 26, said he is at peace thousands of feet off the ground, but how do you find cameramen who feel the same way for a a "60 Minutes" assignment to film Alex's ascent of Sentinel in Yosemite National Park?
CBS assembled a dream team of photographers and riggers, who spent two days assembling an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys so they could film the climb with 12 cameras from the valley floor to the summit.
The video above talks about the filming of the feature on this young climbing phenom.
ROCK CLIMBING — Pro climber and soloist Alex Honnold appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes last Sunday — and he scared the crap out of just about everyone who hasn't already voided after seeing his free-climbing exploits in the Banff Mountain Film Festival.
Is he the next big thing in modern climbing or a suicide mission in sticky shoes?
Climbing writer David Roberts addresses that question in this Outside magazine report.
CLIMBING — Some of the year's top climbing short-films are coming to Spokane in a film tour — REEL ROCK VI.
The show is a screaming deal — it's free! But you must think ahead or get left out.
The films will be shown starting at 7 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the Mountain Gear retail store, 2002 N. Division.
"The show is free but space is limited to about 150, so attendees need to stop into the store and pick up their FREE ticket in advance," said Phil Bridgers, Mountain Gear events coordinator.
Among the films are epic cold shots of mountaineering Gasherbrum II, big-wall ascents at Yosemite, ice climbs and the skill of an inspiring elementary school-age rock prodigy.
Read on for the film list and details.
ROCK CLIMBING — The Bureau of Land Management is proposing a ban on rock-climbing at Cedar Fields near Burley, Idaho, to protect cultural resources in that area and would also ban climbing on BLM lands in the Castle Rocks Inter-Agency Recreation Area.
The federal agency is taking public comment on the plan until Oct. 28.
Who: For local climbers and outdoors enthusiasts, organized by North Idaho College Outdoor Pursuits
What: Adopt a Crag climbing area cleanup
When: 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10
Where: Q’emiln Riverside Park in Post Falls.
How: Free and open to the public. Call to sign up. (208) 769-7809.
CLIMBING — Take time out to enjoy this 1987 film that set a standard for climbing pictures. Not only is the climber a beauty with bulletproof shoulders, the film is as masterpiece of staging and arrangement. Very cool.
French climber Catherine Destivelle was 28 at the time she was featured here in Africa soloing a sandstone cliff in the Mali desert.
One of the top climbers in the world at the time, she performed for the camera as well as for the local people, the Dogons of Sanga, scaling unroped to their ancient cliff dwellings and the skulls and skeletons in their ancient graveyard caves.
ROCK CLIMBING – A fun-oriented, low-key weekend event to introduce people to the sport of rock climbing is set for July 23-24 at Q’emiln Park in Post Falls.
The group will camp out at the park picnic shelter, where Saturday’s barbecue dinner will be served followed by Sunday’s pancake breakfast.
“It’s a friendly setting where people can learn a lot and become comfortable with the sport,” said Phil Bridgers, Mountain Gear spokesman, noting that UClimb events also are scheduled in Western Washington, Nevada and Kentucky.
Cost for the full weekend:
- $199 if you have your climbing gear.
- $329 for the weekend package ($179 for youths) that lets you keep nearly $300 worth of gear, including shoes, harness, belay device, helmet, locking carabiner & chalk bag.
Local info: (509) 340-1165. Preregister online.
INDOOR CLIMBING – REI is offering three free ways for co-op members to get a feel for rock climbing this month at the Spokane store’s indoor climbing wall:
- Saturday climbing – Each Saturday in March, an REI staffer will be at the wall from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. to help individuals and families don harnesses and shoes and rope up to try the easy to moderate routes on the climbing wall.
- Women’s climbing – On Monday, March 7, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., gear will be provided and the wall will be open to women-only to explore climbing in an encouraging environment.
- Rock Climbing intro class – On Thursday, March 10, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. staffers will offer for an in-store class in rock climbing basics. Pre-register for this free event.
The free program will beging at 7 p.m. at Mountain Gear, 2002 N. Division.
Ilgner speializes in teaching climbers how to take appropriate risks, prepare their minds and overcome limitations.
Read on for more details on the program and Ilgner's books.
CLIMBING — Rock climbers are feeling the pinch and the need to get involved in agency decisions.
- Smith Rocks State Park, a prized rock climbing area near Portland, Ore., is closing camping at the area during winter. Climbers are trying to work with officials for a solution.
- At Castle Rocks Recreation Area in southern Idaho, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has closed 400-acres including a popular rock climbing area, making it off-limits to climbers and campers. The closure is set to last two years as the agency plans how to cope with the impacts climbers have on the land.
CLIMBING — Northwest climbing legend Fred Beckey might be close to 80 — no one seems to know, including Fred — but he’s still globetrotting to climbing venues.
Is the pioneer of first ascents in the Cascades and Canada keeping up with the trend toward free climbing? Maybe, maybe not.
Look closely at the publicity photo from Yosemite he released in advance of his presentations next week in Western Washington. Look’s like an poor amateur job of Photoshopping out the security running up along his left forearm.
Hey, you’re Fred Beckey! You don’t have to be somebody you’re not.