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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Monday, March 22, 2010

Colin Haley, Alpinist

While working on the Norrøna jacket review I really wanted to use two of Colin Haley's photos from his and Bjørn-Eivind Årtun climbs on Hunter. We had never met in person but our face book connection in the climbing community made access easy. So I sent Colin an email asking permission to use his pictures for that blog piece.

Take a look there for links to Colin's blog.

Turns out Colin was in town and doing a presentation for the Mountaineers last night. Colin and the Mountaineers were gracious enough to allow me to invite myself.

Colin did a great presentation on winter climbing. Equally as good was he answered questions through out his presentation and stayed long afterwards taking questions from the audience.

I took written notes, learned a few things (no surprise) and hope that I am relaying what Colin said and not just what I heard...but as always, "caveat emptor!"

Take a look at Colin's climbing resume' if you want more details on how he came up with his opinions.

In no particular order. What is listed below is just how it came out of the conversation last night.
I intentionally duplicated my "short hand" notes here. Adding anything now is just going to be me adding my own commentary which I did not want to do. Call it, an hour of "Colin distilled" :)
Here it is, hope you find something useful!

"The Cascades Can have some of the best "winter" climbing in the world...certainly better than Colorado :)

Always take a good foam pad...
Always take a tent even solo (Bibler, ID or First Light from comments and his pictures)
Always cook inside your tent
Always use a cartridge stove
Warm weather use a Jet Boil
Cold weather use a MSR

No need for a heat exchanger because he cooks inside his tent on a foam pad.

Don't be afraid of taking jumars on winter routes, it might be faster overall.

Lots of rope options to choose from in winter. Use what is best for your project :

single and a tat
a dbl and a tat

Skinny rap rings can be a good thing to carry and use on occasion.

April and May are the best alpine "ice" months in the Cascades.

Alaska climbing in winter is really cold
Climbing in the "real" winter season is tough
Climb at night, it is character building
Learn how to dig through is character building
Carry 2 ice screws for winter routes in the Cascades...might as well take titanium, they are lighter and you'll never use them anyway

Cascade approaches that are complicated (aren't they all) might get snowshoes, a mtn bike and feet
Simple approaches get skis
Alpinists need to know how to downhill ski...well.
Big advocate of approach skis...100cm to 160cm
Water is carried in MSR bladders, up to 3 liters
He doesn't mind intentionally getting dehydrated if it will get him to a brew stop earlier

His hardest mixed line in the Cascades is "Intravenous" (unrepeated to date btw... see the red line drawing in the John Scurlock's photo of the face above and Colin's suggested direct finish in green ;)

If you are plunging curved tools in snow for support always face the tool picks up hill

Climbing clothing on two, back to back, ascents of the north face of Hunter.
long john bottoms
pile lined soft shell zips
wool first layer on top
R1 layer
hard shell
belay jacket...a synthetic
Puff pants with zippers

Boots on Hunter were Spantik, which Colin REALLY likes for various reasons. Laces and how they climb technical ground being the two he mentioned specifically.

(I tried to turn him on the the Baruntse but he wasn't having any of it ;)

He is sponsored by Patagonia, Black Diamond and Sportiva among others so easy enough to figure out what he is wearing.

Crampons...always dual points..the advantage of support and not working all the time to be stable as you would on a mono point.

Vertical front points for "hard" as in physically hard ice, like concrete hard, not technically hard like WI7.

Horizontal front points most every where else.

He likes the Euro death knot, raps a lot on mixed sized ropes and has seen the tests on them all.

Favorite glove at the moment is the BD Punisher, doesn't generally remove his gloves for climbing, doesn't like to carry a spare set of gloves, but will carry one extra pair on occasion, doesn't use hard warmers

Down bags are good for a two bivy climb... past that go synthetic
Belay jackets he suggests being "conservative", his word not mine, and uses synthetic... the DAS of course.

Meals are freeze dried on long climbs for weight and nutrition. Mtn House got the endorsement for easiest on your digestive system. Gu and energy bars on the other climbs up to a 48 hrs push.

Sit up in the tent while cooking with a stove inside...limits the chance of carbon dioxide poisoning by being lower in the tent, like laying down would.

Snow pickets have a limited use in steep snow...and he has climbed a LOT of steep snow.
Pickets probably are best used buried as a deadman. Best belay on steep snow is a deep seated belay, set up directionally"

Well worth the effort if you get a chance to see one of Colin's presentations.


Josh Allred's Blog said...

Any idea if he wore long sleeve base layer or short sleeve?

Also do you know what kind of Adidas glasses he is wearing. They are snazzy.


Dane said...

Baselayer? I've seen him in both. More often in a R1 hoody though.

Adidas? Nice but VERY expensive. For my own $ I like the comparable Julbo frames and the lens a LOT better.