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Minnesota’s World Cup Training Structure

This past weekend my sister Kendra and I createdFile_000(2) a UIAA regulation height speed ice climbing structure.  The structure is 32 feet high, 3 feet wide, and around 600 lbs.

We constructed the wood structure on the ground and hauled it into place using a 7:1 pulley system.  Hauling the structure into the tree was definitely the most challenging part of the project.  We are already training on the structure for the 2016 Ice Climbing World Cup and can’t wait for the first competition this December in Bozeman Montana and then in South Korea, France, Italy, Romania and Russia!

Carter screwing on the horizontal slats
Kendra testing out the structure with a speed lap

Climb UP!

Kendra climbing a 5.8 trad route at Silver Mountain.

This past weekend Kendra and I traveled to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for the Climb UP! Event hosted by Down Wind Sports. Friday afternoon we joined several locals from Marquette at the AAA Walls for a cleanup and some climbing.  The AAA walls is a collection of a couple 30-40 foot walls that offer sport and trad climbing.  The cleanup went really fast, so we got in lots of climbing!

On Saturday we met about 40 other people for a day of climbing at Silver Mountain which is located at the western base of the Keweenaw peninsula. Silver Mountain is a gem among midwest climbing.  The rock quality is fantastic, the routes are varied and interesting, and there are multipitch routes!

On Sunday, Kendra and I along with our friends Jon Jugenheimer and Erol went to Norwich Ledge.  It is an obscure cliff that is 200 feet tall and maybe a mile long with only 4 documented routes!  Kendra and i had never been there, but Arrow had hiked into the top before, and Jon had scoped the cliff from the road.  It was going to be a day of adventure!
After a little bit of scrambling around at the top of the cliff, we found the rap anchors and rappelled to the bottom with a single 60m rope and had several feet of rope to spare.  We scoured the cliff for the best lines to climb.  Jon and Erol decided on the route Book of Saturdays.  Kendra and I decided to try to put up a new route  a little left of the center of the cliff.  Our prospective route didn’t turn out too well.  There wasnt very much gear to be had, and I wasn’t willing to run it out as far as was needed, so I backed of and we searched around for another climb.  Eventually we decided on an easy looking route near the southern end of the cliff.  It ended up being a two pitch  5.7 R with some fun moves and refreshing but moderate runoutes. When we were near the top of the cliff, Jon and Erol came over to find us having successfully climbed their route.  What an amazing cliff!  It has some height to it which can be difficult to find in the midwest, has beautiful scenery, and a remote feeling due to the lack of climbing traffic.

We named the route the Stritch Route in honor of the easy adventure climbs from the early 20th century.

Carter Creating the First Pitch of The Stritch Route
Carter Creating the First Pitch of The Stritch Route

On the way home Kendra and I stopped at some lakes and collected water samples for the ASC Microplastics project.

Camp Photon Carabiner Review

The Camp Photon  Wire Straight Gate is a great all around lightweight biner.  Almost all manufacturers offer a lightweight wiregate carabiner that hovers somewhere around the 1 oz (28.34g) mark.  Where the Photon stands apart from the other 1 oz carabiners is with gate clearance.  The Photon Wire Straight Gate has a massive 27mm gate clearance.  This makes clipping the rope a breeze!

The Photon Wire Straight Gate is a great biner for multiple purposes.  It is a fantastic biner for use on alpine draws, and for racking cams.  It would also be great on the rope side of a quickdraw, but the bent gate version of the Photon Wire might be a slightly better choice.

The Photon Wire Straight Gate is offered in 8 different colors in case you are looking for a carabiner to rack your cams on.  The Photon Wire is also offered as a bent gate which has a gate clearance of 29mm and only comes in one color which is silver.

The Bottom Line:

The Photon wire Straight Gate is a great biner for any application that you might use a wire gate carabiner for.  It especially stands out when a large gate clearance is is needed, such as ice climbing.  At $7.95 a piece, it is a great wire gate biner that won’t break the bank.

For more information and to purchase the Camp Photon, please visit the Camp USA web page.
Cost: $7.95

Weight: 29g (1.022 oz)

Major Axis: 21 kN

Minor Axis: 7 kN

Open Gate: 9 kN

Gate Opening: 28mm


Pros: Large gate clearance, Light weight, Offered in multiple colors

Cons: N/A

Competitors: Wild Country Helium, DMM Alpha Trad, Grivel Plume K3W, Black Diamond Oz, Petzl Ange L

Minnesota Training

I went home to visit my family in Minnesota and while there I had two venues in which to climb; the underside of my parents’ deck, and the Minnesota Climbing Coop.

A month ago my brother was at my parents’ house and, inspired by my basement set-up, he created a small training circuit on the underside of their deck.  He hung chains and drilled 4x4s in a line under the deck.  When I was there I pulled out his small crash pad and a sleeping pad and got in some training.  It took a lot of laps back and forth under the deck but I was consistently getting 22 moves of figure 4s and figures 9s before my hands gave out.

The Minnesota Climbing Coop was started this year and they have a great bouldering facility with top outs, a horizontal roof, and awesome features and setting.. Thanks to Dave Pierce they also have drytooling!!  Dave and his wife Leah met me at the Coop one night for a drytooling session that was awesome.  You have to be delicate on some of the holds that are up so it was a good training session for staying quiet on my tools and really focusing on body tension and placement.

If you live in MN or happen to be there, check out the Minnesota Climbing Coop.  Great people, great climbing, and they have skateboards to ride down the hall to the bathroom!!


The Playground – Canmore Drytooling

All summer I’ve been sneaking out on rain days (and nice days!) to drytool at The Playground.  😀  When most people we’re still in bed or sitting at The Summit Cafe because it was raining, I was headed out climbing with my tools and fruit boots.

The Playground is a bolted drytooling area on Grotto Mtn.  It’s less than a 10 minute drive from Canmore and about a 45 minute hike up to the cave.  There’s certainly more development to be done too!

At first I was warming-up on the M5(Rat’s Nest Route) & M6s (Baptism & Prowler) and then getting on the M7+ (Mutt) and M8 (Jeff).  Then it became warming-up on the M7+ and working the M8 and M9- (Single Malt) and staring wistfully at the M10, Swiss Cheese.  Then I was warming-up by up and down climbing the M7+ (endurance increasing!) and then working Swiss Cheese.  I’m still working Swiss Cheese. I have it down to 1 hang in the upper roof, and it’s going to be sent soon!

This fall the traffic at the playground picked up, and I was stoked!  I love to see other people being introduced to drytooling and loving it.  The last day I was up there we had 16 people throughout the day.  If you want info about The Playground or a partner to climb let me know!

James climbing an M8
James climbing an M8
Guys climbing Single Malt M9-
Guys climbing Single Malt M9-










Heather on Mutt M7+
Heather on Mutt M7+
Swiss Cheese M10
Swiss Cheese M10

[Figure 4, Figure 9, Figure 4, Figure 9]n

Gord McArthur has been competing in Ice Climbing World Cup competitions for a couple years and I am lucky to have him near by in Cranbrook BC so that I can train and climb with him.  I am also lucky that he has been psyched to have a training partner and that he has been very open and helpful.  Gord is also the creator of new bolted drytooling and mixed routes at The Bull River near Cranbrook.  He has and is putting up some awesome hard, steep, and long routes.  Check out Gord’s blog MacHavok On The Fly

Gord Bolting New Routes in The Bull River this Fall
Gord Bolting New Routes in The Bull River this Fall

I went to Cranbrook to train and climb with Gord.  The first day Gord and Ryan took me out sport climbing at one of their local crags and then Gord and I hit his backyard training.  He has built, as you can see below, a whole system of hanging logs that are roped together and he has logs leading into his climbing gym shed and to his Splice.  It’s an awesome endurance workout to figure 4 and figure 9 all around the logs and into the gym and up and down the splice.

Gord's Backyard Training Logs, Climbing Gym, and Splice
Gord’s Backyard Training Logs, Climbing Gym, and Splice

Gord had also just received and hung the large log that is hanging vertically at the back right of the photo.  It only had 2 hols drilled into it and the below video is of the first time we’re getting onto it.  Subsequent trips on and off the log went much smoother and didn’t need assistance.  🙂


Gord also showed me some of the other exercises he does such as one arm rows on a tool, wide pull-ups on tools, hanging grip strength endurance, one-arm lock-offs on tools, leg lifts on tools, and more.


Here are a few pictures from a trip last spring that Jen Olson and I took to The Bull River.  It was a really fun two days of drytooling and mixed climbing.  I’m really looking forward to going back to The Bull this winter and getting on the longer, harder routes!

Me on Kneed Your Knees to Ride the Bull (M8)
Me on Kneed Your Knees to Ride the Bull (M8)


Jen on the First Ascent of Rodeo Princess (M7)
Jen on the First Ascent of Rodeo Princess (M7)


Jen on the First Ascent of Rodeo Princess (M7)

Jen on the First Ascent of Rodeo Princess (M7)


Basement Training Circuit!

After watching all the World Cup videos and talking to Gord McArthur and other mixed climbing friends I built a training circuit in my basement.


The idea is to train mainly feet free so that when we do have feet it’s a bonus.


I’ve placed 2x4s is the rafters, hung an 8×8 & other boards with drilled holes, quicklinks on rope, Ice Holdz, and we put up one overhanging piece of plywood.


Check out a video of our first circuit in the basement.



I get my tool stuck in a quick link hanging on rope.  If you put your tool in more than one tooth it’s hard to get out!




Do you have your tickets?

To what?

The gun show! a.k.a. the Ice Climbing World Cup
I do!
I’m very excited to be representing the United States in the 2012 Ice Climbing World Cup competitions in South Korea, Switzerland, France, Romania, and Russia!
I’ll be spending the rest of 2011 training, climbing, and prepping for the competitions in January through March of 2012.
Stay tuned for training fun, climbing adventures, gear info, and lots of pictures and video!