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2013 Reel Rock films at Mountain Gear Sept. 27

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.

 Buy tickets online.

Not just anyone can comment on Castle Rocks climbing closure; here’s what’s up…

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.


Erbesfield offspring is another climbing legend — at age 11

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.

Reel Rock 7 films free at Mountain Gear

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.

Radical Reels adrenaline flicks coming to North Idaho

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.

See the high pucker-factor video trailer here.

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.

Proceeds from the North Idaho Films, sponsored by Mountain Fever, will be donated to the Kroc Center and the Independence Ski Race Team.

Tickets are $13 in advances at shops in the Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene areas. Leftovers will be sold for $15 at the door.

Dawn Glanc’s Montenegro climb presented tonight at Mountain Gear

CLIMBING – Rock and ice climber Dawn Glanc will discuss her 2010 tour in Montenegro in a free multi-media program TONIGHT (Sept 19) at Mountain Gear, 2002 N. Division.

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.

New access to Big Rock-Rocks of Sharon opens Friday

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.

Rockfall leaves Chimney Rock unstable, dangerous

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.

2011 visuals: How 60 Minutes filmed Honnold’s free-solo in Yosemite

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.

Watch Lara Logan's full “60 Minutes” report on Alex Honnold here.

Climber goes big, no strings attached, on 60 Minutes

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.

Act now for FREE tickets to Reel Rock Film Tour

CLIMBING — Some of the year's top climbing short-films are coming to Spokane in a film tour — REEL ROCK VI.

Watch the trailer..

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. 

BLM seeks public comment on climbing ban in two Idaho counties

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.

See story.

NIC seeking climbers to spruce up Q’emiln Park

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.

Classic climb: Catherine Destivelle solos sandstone in Mali

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.

UClimb: learn to have a life on the rocks

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 annual UClimb  (www.uclimb.org) sponsored by Mountain Gear recruits professional climbers who teach and encourage beginners to scale vertical rock cliffs in safe rope-supported stations.

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.

Learn the ropes at free climbing sessions

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.

Program to steady minds of rock climbers

CLIMBING —  Arno Ilgner author of The Rock Warrior's Way will be in Spokane Tueday to present a free slide snow on mental fitness for athletes heading out to hang on the edge.

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.

Climbers feeling the squeeze

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.

Fred Beckey still on the rocks

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.