ASI Newsletter Archive

Mimi Vadasz
Adminstrative Director
AMGA Certified
Ski Mountaineering Guide

Bela G. Vadasz
Technical Director
IFMGA Certified Guide

Member School

  Aug 14, 2008

Friends of ASI
Hot August nights are upon us. We invite you to head to the mountains for cool nights and clear skis full of shooting stars. Every August the earth is closer to the asteroid belt than any other time of year, so shooting stars are a reliable phenomenon. No better place to enjoy the annual shooting star show than in the mountains around Lake Tahoe.

While you're in the Tahoe area we invite you to hone your rock climbing skills by day around Truckee's Donner Pass. There are tons of clean lines with easy access while looking over Donner Lake and beyond to the Carson Range. Take a look at our 9-Step Climbing Progression and you'll see all the skills you might want to have in your arsenal of tricks are covered there. One of those courses is bound to help you move one notch closer to your climbing aspirations.

Tech Tip: Placing Pro
By Bela G. Vadasz, ASI

Good Pro
Natural anchors are features of rock or trees that can usually be slung with nylon webbing or cord. The climbing rope can then be attached to the sling with a carabiner.

Artificial anchors are usually wedge-shaped "nuts" with a swaged cable or spring-loaded mechanical camming devices that can be inserted into cracks in the rock. These can be easily placed and removed to create solid, strong anchors with very little to no damage to the rock, a.k.a. "clean climbing." Some routes may have permanently placed pitons driven into a crack with a hammer or blank areas with no cracks may have expansion bolts that have been placed into holes drilled in the rock. Many "sport routes" rely predominantly on expansion bolts and placement of additional pro is unnecessary.

Placing Good Stoppers
Look around for the best placement. Check and test the rock to make sure it's solid. Anticipate the potential direction of pull, hopefully downward not outward. Look for the wider portion of the crack and find the ideal spot where it tapers narrower. Inspect to make sure it doesn't flare out. Anticipate the size of the ideal spot of the taper. Reach for the carabiner off your rack with the three stoppers closest to the estimated size. Try placing one while still on the carabiner with the other two. If it's not the right size try the next one smaller or larger. Look to see that there is good surface contact on both sides of the nut. Place the stopperŪ with the greatest surface area in contact with the maximum amount of contact with the rock as possible.

Ideally the nut is placed such that the greater the pull in the anticipated direction, the stronger the nut holds. If it's a wired stopperŪ placed to protect a lead, use two carabiners with a sling in between or a quick draw to reduce the chance of the rope traveling through the carabiners and creating an upward pull and dislodging the nut. Avoid using two carabiners on each other. That's a No-No because, with a twist, one could dislodge from pressure on the other.

Solid Camming Devices
Camming units (aka CamalotsŪ, FriendsŪ, etc) are spring loaded "active protection". They usually have 3 or 4 lobes. By retracting the lever, the width of the lobes on the unit become smaller. It can be inserted into a good crack and when you let go of the trigger, the unit expands to match the width of the crack. Check all the lobes. Ideally, contact should be in the center third of each and every lobe. They're designed such that if placed correctly, in a good crack in solid rock, the harder you pull, the better they hold (up to their limit, which is very high).

Practice in a controlled, safe environment. Build your skills and confidence, then enjoy the rewards of traditional adventure, all as part of being a well rounded rock climber.

Bela G. Vadasz started rock climbing in the late 60's when driving pitons and tiny bolts were the only form of artificial anchors. Since then, he has taught hundreds of students "state-of-the-art" techniques that follow the evolution of climbing gear.

Route Maps on our Website!
There are lots of extra tidbits of information sprinkled throughout our website like topo maps of the routes we take on many of the trips we guide. Naturally we want you to join us on those trips. However, we also recognize that sometimes it simply doesn't work out logistically for you to join us. Nonetheless, we share it with you because as a fellow mountaineer we know you would benefit from the info.

One of our more popular summer trips is to the summit of Mt. Whitney. We take the mountaineers route. Unlike the standard route, it requires some first hand knowledge of the terrain and the term "trail" is loosely defined. For instance, in a couple of sections, like the Ebersbacher Ledges, no trail is actually visible since we are following a set of cracks on bare rock. Nonetheless there is an optimal path to take which is detailed in the topo map for the Whitney climbing trip. Besides a route map, we also provide things like a trip specific equipment list, general logistics, and suggested reading material.

More Climbing Dates Added
Do you feel like you're just getting warmed up for doing the routes you really want to do this season? Ditto. So we're adding a bunch of extra climbs to our schedule in the last half of September (look below for courses and specific dates). If the weather holds, the same may apply for early October. Give us a call to confirm dates, or to set up a privately guided climb for yourself or a small group of friends. September is a great time to push it a bit at classic sites like Lovers Leap, Castle Crags, Donner Pass or the Eastern Sierra.

We look forward to climbing with you and helping you achieve your goals. If you can't find the answer to a question on our website, give us a call.

Bela & Mimi Vadasz
Directors - Alpine Skills International

Beginning Rock Courses:

Intro To Rock Climbing   Step 1
Every Wed & Sat

The Next Move   Step 2
Every Sun

Learn To Follow Multi-Pitch   Step 3
Aug 16, 2008  (Sat)
Sept 13, 2008  (Sat)
Sept 27, 2008  (Sat)

Intermediate Rock Clinics:

Rock Anchoring Clinic   Step 4
Aug 23, 2008  (Sat)   Full
Sept 13, 2008  (Sat)
Sept 20, 2008  (Sat)

Learn To Lead   Step 5
Aug 17, 2008  (Sun)
Aug 31, 2008  (Sun)
Sept 14, 2008  (Sun)
Sept 21, 2008  (Sun)

Climber's Self Rescue   Step 6
Aug 24, 2008  (Sun)
Sept 14, 2008  (Sun)

Advanced Rock Workshops:

Sport/Face Climbing   Step 7
Sept 21, 2008  (Sun)

Crack Climbing Improvement   Step 8
Sept 28, 2008  (Sun)

Direct Aid & Big Wall Technique   Step 9
Aug 30, 2008  (Sat)
Sept 13, 2008  (Sat)

 Paul Adams, Davide Sartoni
     Logan Talbott, Mimi Vadasz
©2012 Alpine Skills International  
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