Heading out into the backcountry with friends? Remember to do your beacon check at the trailhead. There are three things you want to check: Battery life, as well as Transmit and Receive functions of the device.
First, pick a leader to run the beacon check. Have everyone else make a circle around that person. As each person takes their beacon out of their holster and turns it on, they call out the battery percentage, including the leader. First check done!
Next, everyone in the circle turns their beacon into search mode and holds it in front of them. Only the leader keeps her beacon transmitting. You’ll hear a lot of beeping as all the searching beacons should pick up a signal. Now the leader in the center of the circle, approaches one person at a time, bringing her beacon close to the searching beacon. If everything is working in order, the number displayed on the searching beacon should get really small, and the sound level/frequency should increase. It’s important to keep a bit of distance between each person as the leader moves around the circle, as well as giving the searching beacon a moment of time to process the signal.
Once this is completed around the circle, everyone except the leader turns their beacon back to send and stows it in their holster or pocket. The leader now switches her beacon to search, and goes around the circle, pointing her beacon close to where the beacon is stowed, and looking for a signal with a correspondingly small number at each person. Lastly, the leader turns her beacon back to send, and the group is ready to head out.
-If a beacon has low battery life or isn’t turning on, install new batteries before heading out.
-If transmit or receiving isn’t working properly, first re-test to eliminate operator error, but a beacon isn’t working, don’t use it. Check in with a dealer at your local backcountry gear store.
Does this tech tip get you thinking about your beacon skills?
Join us for a Rescue Fundamentals Course to learn about or refresh your companion rescue skills.
This public service announcement is brought to you by Chicks Co-Owner Dawn Glanc. She’s not afraid to demo this very important skill. Don’t worry, she will give you all the beta you need to execute this delicate maneuver, without revealing anything more than her granny panties.
First, to be clear, a rack is whatever you need to climb the objective that day. If you are ice climbing, ice screws are the rack. If you’re going sport climbing, quickdraws would be the rack and for crack climbing you will need a trad rack. The rack will vary from one person to the next depending on your skill and comfort on the terrain.
That again depends on what medium you are climbing. Typically the guide book will describe the standard rack in the early pages of the book. Even sport climbs will typically list how many bolts to expect so you know how many quickdraw to carry. For most trad areas, the standard rack may be a single set of cams to a certain size, and a set of nuts. This standard rack is just a starting point. You may find due to your ability level, the difficulty and the size of crack may warrant that you want more or less of a certain size of gear. Be sure to ask friends, and search for beta on sites like mountain project to find out what you will need on route.
This is such a personal preference, there is no right or wrong answer. When you are starting out, try racking both ways to see what you prefer. Each method has its benefits and drawbacks. If you rack on the gear loops of your harness, the weight is carried closer to your center of gravity. If you rack on a gear sling, the weight is higher up on your torso and you can more easily see which pieces you have available. No matter how you choose to carry the gear, have a clean, organized, methodical system that you can replicate. This way you can find the gear you need when you are in the crux.
No matter what rack you carry, or how you carry it, get familiar with it. Squeeze cam triggers within the optimal range and compare the size to your hands or fingers. This way when you are in the business you will have some idea what piece goes into the tight hand crack. The more familiar you are with the gear, the easier it will be to place when you are stressed.
Finally, don’t over rack. There is no need to bring items you simply do not need. Every extra “just in case” piece adds up quickly. A reasonable rack can quickly grow into something too big to climb with that will weigh you down and make climbing more difficult. At some point you just have to trust that what you have is enough. Again, experience and a little beta can go a long way.
At Chicks Climbing our clinics focus on skills to make you an independent climber. Learn how to rack up, place gear and build solid anchors, multi-pitch transition strategies and loads more. Let us help you understand how the gear works and when to use the right tool at the right time. Our upcoming Red Rocks, NV and our newest program in Joshua Tree, CA are both the perfect places to work on all of these skills and more. We hope you will join us!
When tying two ropes together, or two ends of a cordelette, I look for a knot that is low volume and easy to tie. I find a double fisherman’s knot welds the rope together, is time consuming to tie, and is very likely to get jammed. So for years I used a Flat overhand to join two ropes, even if the diameter differed. The Flat overhand is easy to tie and untie, and I could use the flat overhand with ropes of varying diameters. Then my friend Mike Gibbs talked to me about knots “rolling.” After the conversation, I switched to the Gibbs Bend, also known as a Barrel Knot.
Need to see it to get the idea? Check out Chicks Guide Dawn Glanc on the very subject
The Gibbs Bend, is another way to tie two ropes together for rappelling, and the benefit is that it won’t roll. What do we mean by this? When a knot “rolls” it literally flips over on itself when under weight and it can keep rolling until the tail of the knot becomes shorter and shorter. If the tail of the knot becomes too short, the knot literally can “roll” off of the tail ends of the rope. Yikes!
Enter the Gibbs Bend. We were introduced to it by the folks at Rigging for Rescue, a training company that specializes in safety systems and testing. They work with rope rescue teams from across the country like the National Park Service’s Search and Rescue Teams and the Special Forces of the US Military.
Rigging For Rescue’s Mike Gibbs explained the Gibbs Bend to me as follows:
“From a kN standpoint if you compare the Gibbs Bend vs Flat Overhand, the kN ratings are similar. Most ties break at around 2/3 of manufacturer’s rated breaking strength (MRBS). Climbing ropes do not come with published MRBS as they are not tested for that value based on the applicable standards. Regardless of the kN, the same knotted tie principle is in play. The derate of the tie is caused by radius bend of the rope. Since both ties have the same radius bend, their respective strengths will be similar. In both cases, plenty strong.
Personally, I would de-emphasize kN of breaking strength when comparing the two ties. Breaking strength is not the issue. The issue is security and the propensity for one tie to capsize/roll under certain conditions and the other tie to remain secure. The Flat Overhand Bend gets its infamous moniker, The Euro Death Knot, from the fact that it can capsize and have the tails sleeve through the tie. When the tie is suspended in free-space with adequate tails, it appears to be a non-issue. Or I am not aware of it being a risk and I think there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of successful rappels with the Flat Overhand Bend supporting that supposition.
If, however, the tie can bump up against an object – like a rock edge, for example- in just the right place (due to tie positioning and/or rope stretch, etc) then it may capsize and roll. By passing the tails of the flat overhand bend once more around, the capsizing issue is negated. That is a very secure tie, albeit bulkier than a Flat Overhand Bend.
I have been rappelling with the Gibbs Bend for 15+ years and never once jammed the tie while pulling the lines on a retrievable rappel. I highly recommend the tie and personally refuse to rap off of an Flat Overhand Bend, which all my climbing partners know and accept. “
— Mike Gibbs, Owner of Rigging For Rescue.
Efficiency is something I strive for in my climbing systems. I like to keep things simple and elegant so that I avoid chaos in stressful situations. Clean systems produce easy to use anchors and thoughtful solutions to complex problems. Along with efficiency, I like to use the best tool for the job. The Gibbs Bend fits the bill when it comes to tying two ropes together for rappelling.
To Summarize why the Gibbs Bend is a good choice for tying two ropes together for rappelling because:
To learn how to tie the Gibbs Bend, watch this video by Chicks Guide and Co-owner Dawn Glanc. I think you will see that passing the tails through a second time takes no effort and is well worth the extra security.
Are you asking yourself, what in the world is multi-pitch climbing? The answer is pretty simple but the process of multi-pitch climbing can seem daunting at first. Let’s start our with the basics. First of all, a single pitch climb is a route that you can climb without any intermediate belays. That is to say that you climb up to an anchor and you descend by either lowering or rappelling back down to the ground where you started. Therefore, multi-pitch climbing is very simply a bunch of single pitch climbs stacked on top of each other.
To have a fun and rewarding multi-pitch experience, you’ll need to prepare and put together a slightly modified gear list from what you would typically use for a day of single pitch climbing. Our friends at Petzl have but together a great article on How to Build Your Multi-Pitch Kit. Petzl breaks it down into a gear list and some things to consider when putting it all together from choosing personal equipment, rope selection, what the second should bring, and the best rack for the job.
Still a little apprehensive about the whole idea of climbing hundreds of feet off the ground? Not to worry! Chicks is road tripping to Red Rock, NV just outside of Las Vegas on October 5-9, 2017. Red Rocks is one of the best places to be introduced to multi-pitch climbing because there are literally over a thousand options for multi-pitch climbing, for all grades and abilities. It’s the perfect place to gain experience with multi-pitch climbing and see what it feels like to climb hundreds of feet off of the ground and take in the beautiful desert wilderness of Red Rock National Conservation Area.
Your Chicks Guide will literally show you the ropes and teach you what you need to know to get off the deck on a multi-pitch climb. Skills you’ll learn along the way are: lead belaying, how to follow and “second” a multi-pitch climb, rappelling, anchor building and lots of rope management strategies.
We hope you will join us at one of our favorite climbing destinations in the United States, and experience multi-pitch climbing with Chicks in sunny and beautiful Red Rock, NV.
The Department of Interior has been ordered to examine the Antiquities Act and national monuments designated over the last 21 years. This includes a review of the recent designation of Bears Ears National Monument (Indian Creek and much of Southeast Utah) as the first priority, within the first 45 days of this 120-day order. There are 27 National Monuments that are being threatened. The official public comment period ends on July 10. We ask for your help and it will take only a few minutes of your time.
If you enjoy spending time and climbing in these beautiful like Bears Ears National Monument and other places like we do; please take a few moments to submit your comments on the subject so they become a part of the public record. Some talking points are:
Part of Chicks mission is to advocate the protection of our climbing areas which is why we support organization like the Access Fund and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. We strongly believe that beautiful places are given protection they deserve and keep access open to all for generations to come.
There are a couple of key points to keep in mind:
1. The GriGri must be loaded properly in order to function correctly. Thankfully there are diagrams on the unit for you to refer to when you load up the climbers rope. Read the literature that comes with the device.
Petzl’s website is a great resource for instructional videos and downloads of the owners manual.
Petzl’s Gri Gri Short Video
Overhanging climbs and climbing steep can be intimidating at first, but what I love about them is how I have to adapt my body to move efficiently through steep terrain and get creative with my climbing movement. What I also love about steep sport climbing is that all of the lead falls are clean (well mostly anyway). If you pop off you’ll find yourself cushioned by the air below you if your belayer is giving you a nice soft catch.
You may be asking yourself, what is an overhanging climb? It’s any climb that the angle is greater than 90 degrees vertical and it takes a specific skill set to be able to navigate your way through steeper terrain. Classic climbing areas like the Red River Gorge, Rifle and Maple Canyon are well known for this style of climbing. Follow a few of these pointers below and you will be able to save a little energy and move more quickly through steeper climbs.
1. Climb Fast(er)
The pump clock is ticking when you’re on an overhanging route so you want to move as quickly as possible. There’s no time to dilly dally because you only have so much fuel in the tank to burn. You’ll want to move quickly and efficiently so you can economize your energy. This is going to require some work on your part to get that route dialed so you aren’t doing any unnecessary or extra moves.
2. Conserve Energy
-Relax your grip. Don’t hold on or squeeze the holds any harder than necessary. Over gripping is a waste of energy.
3. High Feet and Turn Hips In
-Now turn your right hip into the wall and note how much further you can extend that reach. This is a huge advantage on steep climbs.
4. Maximize Rests
-Breathe deep. Inhale through your nose and push the air out through pursed lips. Your belayer should hear you exhale. This will help lower your heart rate so you can stay relaxed in the mind and the body.
5. Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
-Climb the route at least 3 times per session and refine your beta with each attempt. Be sure your rest 20-30 minutes between attempts to stay productive.
6. Proper Footwear