Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why use Trekking poles?

Trekking poles have become very popular with hikers, hill-walkers and technical mountaineers. When used properly, they can aid in balance and overall walking efficiency.

How to use them:

Firstly it is recommended that you use two poles and not just one to walk with. The reason for this is that if used singularly and especially while wearing a backpack, an imbalance in the shoulder muscles occur which can cause pain and cramping.
They therefore should be used as pairs and adjusted to the same height. When hiking on level ground, adjust the length of the poles so that when your upper arm is hanging straight down and your hand is on the handle, your forearm should be parallel with the ground.

When climbing up a steep slope, shorten the length so that the same rule applies, and lengthen them when descending a steep slope. When descending one can lengthen the pole, but do not exceed the max limit shown on the inside slider, or the strength of the pole will be compromised. For best use, at any angle, place your hands through the wrist straps and allow your arm to rest in them, while only lightly holding the handle-grip.

Some manufacturers supply rubber caps that fit over the bottom spike. These protect the spike when walking over rock and reduce erosion on paths.

There are basically two Locking mechanism systems:

Expanding Cone Type

The more common type has an expanding cone, where when twisted the cone expands into the tube of the larger outer shaft. These work well, but are prone to corrosion and breakages. If you are in the field and a shaft section in broken, bent or the mechanism fails, the entire pole is useless.

“Flick-Lock" system

A better system is that used by Black Diamond called the “Flick-lock” system. On this system, a simple clamp is used on the outer, larger shaft of each section. It is not prone to malfunction and it means that if a shaft is bent or broken in-field, the damaged section can be broken off and then re-inserted into the larger shaft and locked again - a huge advantage on longer trips in remote locations. Black Diamond can also supply any spare parts including new Flick-locks and bottom spikes and snow baskets.


After use pull the shafts out and clean the locking mechanism with soap and water. Then dry properly and oil any moving parts and replace the pieces together again.
In the case of twist lock systems: when in the completely closed position, do not twist and tighten the mechanisms, as it makes it difficult to release.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Key points to look at when buying a sleeping-bag:

Things to be Considered in choosing sleeping bag

1. Mummy shape.
2. Down filled.
3. Baffle inner construction.
4. More loft equals more warmth.
5. Large cowl and draw string around the head.
6. Thick baffle along the zip or no zip at all.

Sleeping-bags are a very important part of a mountain-walker’s equipment as they will be the main source of warmth during the coldest times of the night. They differ in two main areas – firstly in shape and secondly in what they are filled with.


They are basically either a rectangular or a “mummy” type shape. The rectangular type has a larger area around the legs, making for a more comfortable and looser feel. It is also easier to manufacture and thus cheaper in price. However this shape also means that there is more area your body has to heat up (so you will be colder) and more fabric used which makes it heavier than necessary. Mummy type bags on the other hand are tapered towards the feet and are warmer, lighter and are the preferred shape for most hikers and mountaineers.


The filling inside a sleeping-bag gives the bag loft, which is the amount of thickness or fluffiness of the layers when un-rolled. This gives a good indication of how much warmth the bag potentially can retain. The more loft, the warmer the bag. The warm air is trapped by the filling – fine pieces of down-feather or holofibre.
The filling inside a sleeping bag can be divided into 3 main types: cheap synthetic, holofibre and down (fine feathers). Synthetic filling is usually cheap in price, not very warm and quite heavy. It is therefore not really an option for hikers. Holofibre is a better type of synthetic filling made of very fine hollow filaments that trap air inside them and between them. It is a fairly warm filling and retains its warmth when wet. They have a life span of about 10 years if they are looked after. It has the advantage of being cheaper than down, however, it will not compress as well as down and is also heavier. Down, on the other hand is the first choice for high quality sleeping bags. Down consists of the very fine feathers found on the breast area of geese. Some sleeping bags use a lower quality of down consisting of larger feathers. These feathers can be felt when handling the bag and indicates a lower quality and less warmth of the product.

Good quality down bags are light, have more warmth per weight of filling, compress more easily and lasts a lifetime if looked after properly. The disadvantages are that they loose most of their warmth when wet, are hard to get dry and more expensive. The advantages of down far out weigh the disadvantages, making down the preferred choice in most instances.

Internal construction

The internal construction of sleeping-bags is very important. In both holofibre and down bags there are two major design types. These are sewn-through type construction and a baffle type construction. Both these construction types are to create separate compartments so that the filling does not shift around and remains fairly evenly spread throughout the bag. The sewn-though type allows for warmth to escape through the constricted areas where the inner and outer pieces of fabric are brought together. This is a major disadvantage and is not used on well-constructed sleeping bags. Baffle type bags have compartments where the two layers of fabric are kept apart by a separate inner wall. These compartments have different designs, which could be a zigzag pattern or a rectangular shape, depending on the manufacture.

Sewn through construction Zigzag baffle type

Sewn through construction Zigzag baffle type

Cowls and hoods

Good quality sleeping-bags also have additional features such as cowls or hoods, which can be pulled over the head and shoulder area and semi-waterproof outer material. If they have a zip, the zip area will have thick baffle to prevent warmth escaping.

First Ascent make a good range of sleeping bags. These include:

Fusion 900 – very cold conditions -15C (High altitude -Andes, Kilimanjaro)
Fusion 600 – for fairly cold conditions -5C (Top of the Drakensberg in winter)
Adventure Light – summer hiking at low altitude in southern Africa +5C.
Ice breaker – summer hiking +8C.

Washing a down sleeping-bag:

1. Down filled sleeping-bags need to be washed once in a while. Washing them cleans the bag and also revives the “loft”, bringing back the product's ability to keep you warm. It is a long process, but is worth the effort for getting a “new” and warm sleeping bag.

2. Place the bag in a bath of lukewarm water. Add down-soap manufactured by Nikwax or First Ascent. Follow the instructions and measures required. Move the bag around gently and rub where needed. Rinse the bag out 3 times in cold water or until the water runs clear. Gently press the water out with your hands. Do not “wring” the water out, as this could tear the inner baffles.

3. Then hang the bag in a warm, dry and preferably windy area (but not in the sun). Leave it there until most of the water has drained. Then place in a tumble dryer on low heat. It is good to put some tennis balls into the dryer also. These help to get the down to loosen up and dry properly. Every 30 minutes or so, take the bag out and shake it out well. Keep drying until the loft has been obtained. Note: The bag will remain very soggy and flat for a long time. It will seem to suddenly dry and return to its proper shape. Follow the same procedures if washing a down-jacket.

Key points to look at when you are buying boots

1. Make sure the leather uppers made in only one piece of leather.
Check that there is a high rubber-rand between the sole and the uppers.
The tongue has to be sewn all the way to the top of the ankle.
Soft, but supportive ankle guard.

2. Minimal amount of sewn seams.

3. The innerlayer should be de of Gortex to make the boots breathable.

­4. The soles should have good grip on rock and grass.

Boots and other footwear

Boots are perhaps the most vital piece of equipment for spending time in the mountains. They should be comfortable, durable and waterproof if you are going on extended multi-day hikes. If you are doing a shorter trip or day hike it may be more comfortable to use a lighter nylon boot or even a hiking/approach shoe.

Hiking footwear can basically be divided up into 3 types:

1. Leather boots – for serious hiking, long distances and heavy backpacks.
2. Nylon boots – less serious, shorter hikes and light backpacks.
3. Approach / hiking shoes - day hikes, light loads and approaches to rock climbs.

Hiking boots today are either made of leather or nylon or a combination of both types of material. Some more expensive models have Gortex incorporated into the uppers, making them almost fully waterproof.

Leather boots

Leather boots must be made of thick cowhide leather with double stitched seams on good rubber soles such as those made by Vibram. How the upper is joined to the sole (called welting) comes in two distinct forms. The traditional way is by the upper being double stitched, flat onto the last and the sole is then glued on underneath. In addition, it may also be nailed or screwed on to add strength. This traditional method works well, but does suffer from water working it’s way through the stitching when wet conditions are experienced for a long time.
The newer way of upper to sole attachment, is by using a rubber rand around the edge of the boot, which then holds all the components together as one. This is both highly durable and more water resistant than traditional welting, but does not allow the foot to breath so easily.

The upper and randing should be the same width or slightly wider that the sole. This enables the wearer to get a grip on smaller edges when walking on steep gradients, a term known as “edging”.

Leather boots are also more water resistant and stronger when the upper is made from a single piece of leather. This design has fewer or no seams exposed on the upper, making it a better design and far more durable than boots made up of many pieces of leather. The tongue of a leather boot should also be sewn all the way to the top of the ankle guard area.

Leather boots are usually quite stiff and hard when new. It is therefore best to walk them in over several kilometers prior to using them in the mountains.
If snow or prolonged rain could be encountered on the walk or if heavy backpacks are to be carried over rough ground, then full leather boots should be worn. Ankle or full snow gaiters can also improve water resistance of boots.

Nylon boots

Nylon hiking boots are often more comfortable than leather and they seldom need to be walked in prior to proper use. Due to all the stitching used in these boots they are never fully waterproof even, when Gortex has been used in the construction. Nylon boots tend to be “lighter” and are best used for less serious hiking. They are very good when doing easy low level hikes and where most of the walking will be on good paths.

Approach shoes

These come in both nylon and leather design. They are lightweight and comfortable and used for easy hiking and scrambling. Due to their design they can give remarkable support and stability. Most often they aren’t water resistant and should not be used for carrying heavy loaded backpacks.

Proper Care

All types of footwear should be washed after each trip. In the case of all-nylon boots, ordinary soap can be used in combination with warm water and a scrubbing brush. If there is Gortex in the upper of either nylon or leather boots then follow the manufactures care instructions and use Nikwax Footwear cleaning gel.

In the case of full leather boots, wash off any excess mud and grit. Then wash the leather with Nikwax Aqueous Wax or Nikwax Nubuck & Suede. Rinse and then dry in a warm, dry area. When the leather is dry, treat it with a modern type leather care product such as one of the leather care Nikwax products. Again, if there is Gortex in the upper, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and only use Nikwax. Ordinary soaps will degrade the Gortex.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Hiking Tips: Recommended Trekking Equipment for ascending mountains

What equipment do you need for Multi-day hikes, at high altitude ?

General equipment
Strong mountaineering tent
Down sleeping bag: 5C for summer and -10C for winter
Sleeping mat
Gas or liquid-fuel stove
Spare gas/fuel
Pots and cutlery
Matches and lighter
2-litre water-container
75 to 90-litre rucksack
2 trekking poles
Compass (23 degrees West)
Head-lamp (batteries)

Breathable/waterproof jacket
Breathable/waterproof trousers
Long trousers
Thermal underwear
Technical fleece (grade 200 summer or 300 winter)
Technical shirts
Down jacket (winter)
Fleece gloves
2 pairs thick socks
Strong leather hiking boots
Snow-gaiters (winter)
Ankle-gaiters (summer)
Thermal fleece hat



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Outdoor Action Guide to High Altitude: Acclimatization and Illnesses

Traveling at high altitude can be hazardous. The information provided here is designed for educational use only and is not a substitute for specific training or experience. Princeton University and the author assume no liability for any individual's use of or reliance upon any material contained or referenced herein. This paper is prepared to provide basic information about altitude illnesses for the lay person. Medical research on high altitude illnesses is always expanding our knowledge of the causes and treatment. When going to altitude it is your responsibility to learn the latest information. The material contained in this article may not be the most current.

High altitude-we all enjoy that tremendous view from a high summit, but there are risks in going to high altitude, and it's important to understand these risks. Here is a classic scenario for developing a high altitude illness. You fly from New York City to a Denver at 5,000 feet (1,525 meters). That afternoon you rent a car and drive up to the trailhead at 8,000 feet (2,438 meters). You hike up to your first camp at 9,000 feet (2,745 meters). The next day you hike up to 10,500 feet (3,048 meters). You begin to have a severe headache and feel nauseous and weak. If your condition worsens, you may begin to have difficulty hiking. Scenarios like this are not uncommon, so it's essential that you understand the physiological effects of high altitude.

What is High Altitude?

Altitude is defined on the following scale High (8,000 - 12,000 feet [2,438 - 3,658 meters]), Very High (12,000 - 18,000 feet [3,658 - 5,487 meters]), and Extremely High (18,000+ feet [5,500+ meters]). Since few people have been to such altitudes, it is hard to know who may be affected. There are no specific factors such as age, sex, or physical condition that correlate with susceptibility to altitude sickness. Some people get it and some people don't, and some people are more susceptible than others. Most people can go up to 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) with minimal effect. If you haven't been to high altitude before, it's important to be cautious. If you have been at that altitude before with no problem, you can probably return to that altitude without problems as long as you are properly acclimatized.

What Causes Altitude Illnesses

The concentration of oxygen at sea level is about 21% and the barometric pressure averages 760 mmHg. As altitude increases, the concentration remains the same but the number of oxygen molecules per breath is reduced. At 12,000 feet (3,658 meters) the barometric pressure is only 483 mmHg, so there are roughly 40% fewer oxygen molecules per breath. In order to properly oxygenate the body, your breathing rate (even while at rest) has to increase. This extra ventilation increases the oxygen content in the blood, but not to sea level concentrations. Since the amount of oxygen required for activity is the same, the body must adjust to having less oxygen. In addition, for reasons not entirely understood, high altitude and lower air pressure causes fluid to leak from the capillaries which can cause fluid build-up in both the lungs and the brain. Continuing to higher altitudes without proper acclimatization can lead to potentially serious, even life-threatening illnesses.


The major cause of altitude illnesses is going too high too fast. Given time, your body can adapt to the decrease in oxygen molecules at a specific altitude. This process is known as acclimatization and generally takes 1-3 days at that altitude. For example, if you hike to 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), and spend several days at that altitude, your body acclimatizes to 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). If you climb to 12,000 feet (3,658 meters), your body has to acclimatize once again. A number of changes take place in the body to allow it to operate with decreased oxygen.

* The depth of respiration increases.
* Pressure in pulmonary arteries is increased, "forcing" blood into portions of the lung which are normally not used during sea level breathing.
* The body produces more red blood cells to carry oxygen,
* The body produces more of a particular enzyme that facilitates
* the release of oxygen from hemoglobin to the body tissues.

Prevention of Altitude Illnesses

Prevention of altitude illnesses falls into two categories, proper acclimatization and preventive medications. Below are a few basic guidelines for proper acclimatization.

* If possible, don't fly or drive to high altitude. Start below 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) and walk up.
* If you do fly or drive, do not over-exert yourself or move higher for the first 24 hours.
* If you go above 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), only increase your altitude by 1,000 feet (305 meters) per day and for every 3,000 feet (915 meters) of elevation gained, take a rest day.
* "Climb High and sleep low." This is the maxim used by climbers. You can climb more than 1,000 feet (305 meters) in a day as long as you come back down and sleep at a lower altitude.
* If you begin to show symptoms of moderate altitude illness, don't go higher until symptoms decrease ("Don't go up until symptoms go down").
* If symptoms increase, go down, down, down!
* Keep in mind that different people will acclimatize at different rates. Make sure all of your party is properly acclimatized before going higher.
* Stay properly hydrated. Acclimatization is often accompanied by fluid loss, so you need to drink lots of fluids to remain properly hydrated (at least 3-4 quarts per day). Urine output should be copious and clear.
* Take it easy; don't over-exert yourself when you first get up to altitude. Light activity during the day is better than sleeping because respiration decreases during sleep, exacerbating the symptoms.
* Avoid tobacco and alcohol and other depressant drugs including, barbiturates, tranquilizers, and sleeping pills. These depressants further decrease the respiratory drive during sleep resulting in a worsening of the symptoms.
* Eat a high carbohydrate diet (more than 70% of your calories from carbohydrates) while at altitude.
* The acclimatization process is inhibited by dehydration, over-exertion, and alcohol and other depressant drugs.

Preventive Medications

* Diamox (Acetazolamide) allows you to breathe faster so that you metabolize more oxygen, thereby minimizing the symptoms caused by poor oxygenation. This is especially helpful at night when respiratory drive is decreased. Since it takes a while for Diamox to have an effect, it is advisable to start taking it 24 hours before you go to altitude and continue for at least five days at higher altitude. The recommendation of the Himalayan Rescue Association Medical Clinic is 125 mg. twice a day (morning and night). (The standard dose was 250 mg., but their research showed no difference for most people with the lower dose, although some individuals may need 250 mg.) Possible side effects include tingling of the lips and finger tips, blurring of vision, and alteration of taste. These side effects may be reduced with the 125 mg. dose. Side effects subside when the drug is stopped. Contact your physician for a prescription. Since Diamox is a sulfonamide drug, people who are allergic to sulfa drugs should not take Diamox. Diamox has also been known to cause severe allergic reactions to people with no previous history of Diamox or sulfa allergies. Frank Hubbell of SOLO recommends a trial course of the drug before going to a remote location where a severe allergic reaction could prove difficult to treat.

* Dexamethasone (a steroid) is a prescription drug that decreases brain and other swelling reversing the effects of AMS. Dosage is typically 4 mg twice a day for a few days starting with the ascent. This prevents most symptoms of altitude illness. It should be used with caution and only on the advice of a physician because of possible serious side effects. It may be combined with Diamox. No other medications have been proven valuable for preventing AMS.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

AMS is common at high altitudes. At elevations over 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), 75% of people will have mild symptoms. The occurrence of AMS is dependent upon the elevation, the rate of ascent, and individual susceptibility. Many people will experience mild AMS during the acclimatization process. Symptoms usually start 12-24 hours after arrival at altitude and begin to decrease in severity about the third day. The symptoms of Mild AMS are headache, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, nausea, disturbed sleep, and a general feeling of malaise. Symptoms tend to be worse at night and when respiratory drive is decreased. Mild AMS does not interfere with normal activity and symptoms generally subside within 2-4 days as the body acclimatizes. As long as symptoms are mild, and only a nuisance, ascent can continue at a moderate rate. When hiking, it is essential that you communicate any symptoms of illness immediately to others on your trip. AMS is considered to be a neurological problem caused by changes in the central nervous system. It is basically a mild form of High Altitude Cerebral Edema (see below).
Basic Treatment of AMS

The only cure is either acclimatization or descent. Symptoms of Mild AMS can be treated with pain medications for headache and Diamox. Both help to reduce the severity of the symptoms, but remember, reducing the symptoms is not curing the problem. Diamox allows you to breathe faster so that you metabolize more oxygen, thereby minimizing the symptoms caused by poor oxygenation. This is especially helpful at night when respiratory drive is decreased. Since it takes a while for Diamox to have an effect, it is advisable to start taking it 24 hours before you go to altitude and continue for at least five days at higher altitude. The recommendation of the Himalayan Rescue Association Medical Clinic is 125 mg. twice a day (morning and night). (The standard dose was 250 mg., but their research showed no difference for most people with the lower dose, although some individuals may need 250 mg.) Possible side effects include tingling of the lips and finger tips, blurring of vision, and alteration of taste. These side effects may be reduced with the 125 mg. dose. Side effects subside when the drug is stopped. Contact your physician for a prescription. Since Diamox is a sulfonamide drug, people who are allergic to sulfa drugs should not take Diamox. Diamox has also been known to cause severe allergic reactions to people with no previous history of Diamox or sulfa allergies. Frank Hubbell of SOLO in New Hampshire recommends a trial course of the drug before going to a remote location where a severe allergic reaction could prove difficult to treat.

Moderate AMS

Moderate AMS includes severe headache that is not relieved by medication, nausea and vomiting, increasing weakness and fatigue, shortness of breath, and decreased coordination (ataxia). Normal activity is difficult, although the person may still be able to walk on their own. At this stage, only advanced medications or descent can reverse the problem. Descending even a few hundred feet (70-100 meters) may help and definite improvement will be seen in descents of 1,000-2,000 feet (305-610 meters). Twenty-four hours at the lower altitude will result in significant improvements. The person should remain at lower altitude until symptoms have subsided (up to 3 days). At this point, the person has become acclimatized to that altitude and can begin ascending again. The best test for moderate AMS is to have the person "walk a straight line" heel to toe. Just like a sobriety test, a person with ataxia will be unable to walk a straight line. This is a clear indication that immediate descent is required. It is important to get the person to descend before the ataxia reaches the point where they cannot walk on their own (which would necessitate a litter evacuation).

Severe AMS

Severe AMS presents as an increase in the severity of the aforementioned symptoms, including shortness of breath at rest, inability to walk, decreasing mental status, and fluid buildup in the lungs. Severe AMS requires immediate descent to lower altitudes (2,000 - 4,000 feet [610-1,220 meters]).

There are two other severe forms of altitude illness, High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). Both of these happen less frequently, especially to those who are properly acclimatized. When they do occur, it is usually with people going too high too fast or going very high and staying there. The lack of oxygen results in leakage of fluid through the capillary walls into either the lungs or the brain.

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)

HAPE results from fluid buildup in the lungs. The fluid in the lungs prevents effective oxygen exchange. As the condition becomes more severe, the level of oxygen in the bloodstream decreases, and this can lead to cyanosis, impaired cerebral function, and death. Symptoms include shortness of breath even at rest, "tightness in the chest," marked fatigue, a feeling of impending suffocation at night, weakness, and a persistent productive cough bringing up white, watery, or frothy fluid. Confusion, and irrational behavior are signs that insufficient oxygen is reaching the brain. One of the methods for testing yourself for HAPE is to check your recovery time after exertion. If your heart and breathing rates normally slow down in X seconds after exercise, but at altitude your recovery time is much greater, it may mean fluid is building up in the lungs. In cases of HAPE, immediate descent is a necessary life-saving measure (2,000 - 4,000 feet [610-1,220 meters]). Anyone suffering from HAPE must be evacuated to a medical facility for proper follow-up treatment.

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

HACE is the result of swelling of brain tissue from fluid leakage. Symptoms can include headache, loss of coordination (ataxia), weakness, and decreasing levels of consciousness including, disorientation, loss of memory, hallucinations, psychotic behavior, and coma. It generally occurs after a week or more at high altitude. Severe instances can lead to death if not treated quickly. Immediate descent is a necessary life-saving measure (2,000 - 4,000 feet [610-1,220 meters]). There are some medications that may be prescribed for treatment in the field, but these require that you have proper training in their use. Anyone suffering from HACE must be evacuated to a medical facility for proper follow-up treatment.

Other Medications for Altitude Illnesses

* Ibuprofen is effective at relieving altitude headache.
* Nifedipine rapidly decreases pulmonary artery pressure and relieves HAPE.
* Breathing oxygen reduces the effects of altitude illnesses.

Gamow Bag (pronounced ga´ mäf)

This clever invention has revolutionized field treatment of high altitude illnesses. The bag is basically a sealed chamber with a pump. The person is placed inside the bag and it is inflated. Pumping the bag full of air effectively increases the concentration of oxygen molecules and therefore simulates a descent to lower altitude. In as little as 10 minutes the bag can create an "atmosphere" that corresponds to that at 3,000 - 5,000 feet (915 - 1,525 meters) lower. After a 1-2 hours in the bag, the person's body chemistry will have "reset" to the lower altitude. This lasts for up to 12 hours outside of the bag which should be enough time to walk them down to a lower altitude and allow for further acclimatization. The bag and pump weigh about 14 pounds (6.3 kilos) and are now carried on most major high altitude expeditions. Bags can be rented for short term trips such as treks or expeditions.

Cheyne-Stokes Respirations

Above 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) most people experience a periodic breathing during sleep known as Cheyne-Stokes Respirations. The pattern begins with a few shallow breaths and increases to deep sighing respirations then falls off rapidly. Respirations may cease entirely for a few seconds and then the shallow breaths begin again. During the period when breathing stops the person often becomes restless and may wake with a sudden feeling of suffocation. This can disturb sleeping patterns, exhausting the climber. Acetazolamide is helpful in relieving the periodic breathing. This type of breathing is not considered abnormal at high altitudes. However, if it occurs first during an illness (other than altitude illnesses) or after an injury (particularly a head injury) it may be a sign of a serious disorder.

* Mountain Sickness, Peter Hackett, The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1980.
* High Altitude Illness, Frank Hubble, Wilderness Medicine Newsletter, March/April 1995.
* The Use of Diamox in the Prevention of Acute Mountain Sickness, Frank Hubble, Wilderness Medicine Newsletter, March/April 1995.
* The Outward Bound Wilderness First Aid Handbook, J. Isaac and P. Goth, Lyons & Burford, New York, 1991.
* Medicine for Mountaineering, Fourth Edition, James Wilkerson, Editor, The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1992.
* Gamow Bags - can be rented from Chinook Medical Gear, 34500 Hwy 6, Edwards, Colorado 81632, 970-926-9277. www.chinookmed.com

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mountain Climbing Makes History Everyday

sport of climbing mountains, originally combining purposes of exploration and research but increasingly pursued purely for recreation. Mountain climbing can be divided into three types: scrambles, or walkups, requiring no special equipment; rock climbing; and ice climbing.


Climbing as a sport began in 18th-century Europe, with attention focused primarily on Mont Blanc, which was first successfully scaled in 1786. For about a century thereafter (often referred to as the golden age of climbing) climbers—predominantly English—attempted other Alpine summits, guided by local farmers and hunters. By the end of the 19th century mountain-climbing clubs had been organized throughout Europe and North America, and most climbing was being done without guides.

In the 20th century climbers turned their attention to the world’s highest ranges, the HIMALAYAS and the KARAKORAM, (qq.v.). Mount Everest was finally conquered on May 29, 1953, by Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norkay, a Sherpa native of Nepal. The second highest peak in the world, K2 (formerly known as Mount Godwin-Austen), was climbed in 1954. Such once remote and unknown ranges now attract numerous expeditions every year, with climbers coming from all over the world as the sport grows in popularity. The highest mountains outside Asia lie in South America; many have yet to be climbed.

Rock Climbing.

Rock climbing involves knowledge of rope handling. Climbers use a rope to belay, or secure, one another; one climbs while another holds the rope to protect against any fall or slip. A technique called rappelling is used in descending very steep terrain. The rope is attached in such a way that it can be pulled down after the last climber has used it; descending along the rope, the climbers use the friction thus generated (often absorbed by a mechanical device attached to their bodies) to control their rate of descent. Techniques now used for the steepest rock climbs include the use of chocks, devices that are wedged into crevices in the rock. The rope is attached to these by means of snap rings called carabiners. Vertical and overhanging rock faces may also require use of short ladderlike loops of nylon webbing, attached to the rock by the lead climbers. Following climbers can then use two mechanical ascenders that alternately grip and release the rope as the climber goes up, while standing in attached stirrups.

Rock climbing originated as a means of practicing techniques for ascending high mountains; it has evolved into a highly developed sport in itself. Major centers of activity include Yosemite Valley, Calif., the limestone cliffs of the Shawangunks in New York State; the hillsides, quarries, and sea cliffs of the British Isles; and the Dolomites in northern Italy.

Ice Climbing.

Routes moderately covered with snow can be safely climbed using an ice axe to cut steps, probe crevasses, give balance, and belay the rope. Steeper snow- and ice-covered routes require crampons, devices with 12 or more sharp steel points that are strapped onto each boot. Glacier routes require the use of slings and additional equipment so that a climber who falls into a crevasse may quickly climb or be hauled out.

Modern Climbing.

Although the sport does have risks, and accidents may be of catastrophic proportions, proper training and advanced techniques now ensure relative safety. Climbers often begin by taking lessons through a college group, or from one of the many local clubs in all parts of the world. Others learn from experienced friends or professional guides. Because so many of the early climbing enthusiasts were scientists or writers, or both, the field is unusually rich in descriptive literature. Current trends in climbing favor ascents made by small parties, or even solo climbers, moving very quickly with a minimum of lightweight equipment over direct routes. Summits such as Everest, previously reached only under ideal conditions, are now being successfully gained during autumn and winter months, and without the use of oxygen. Women are playing an increasingly important part in mountaineering, participating in national expeditions and organizing some of their own. J.Po., JOHN POLLOCK

For further information on this topic, see the Bibliography, section 795. Climbing.
An article from Funk & Wagnalls® New Encyclopedia. © 2006 World Almanac Education Group. A WRC Media Company. All rights reserved. Except as otherwise permitted by written agreement, uses of the work inconsistent with U.S. and applicable foreign copyright and related laws are prohibited.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Newly Discovered Specie

World's Smallest Snake - Barbados Threadsnake

It is easy to understand where the Barbados Threadsnake got its name. This tiny snake is just four inches long and is believed to be the world's smallest snake. Its biological name is Leptotyphlops carlae.

In the photograph you can see its small size in comparison to a quarter dollar coin. The snake was discovered under a rock in St. Joseph Parish on the island of Barbados by S. Blair Hedges and Carla Ann Hass. The species name "carlae" is dedicated to Carla Ann Hass.

Newly Discovered Specie

World's Longest Insect: A Walking Stick From Borneo

The world's longest insect has been discovered in the jungles of Borneo, Malaysia. The walking stick-like insect has a body length of 14 inches and a total length of over 22 inches.

The insect is a Phasmatid and has been given a biological name of Phobaeticus chani in honor of C. L. Chan. It is amazing that an insect this large could avoid discovery, however, it looks just like a stick and would be difficult to spot on vegetation - even if you look right at it!

Smallest Known Seahorse - Satomi's Pygmy Seahorse

One of the most interesting new species from the State of Observed Species Report is this miniature seahorse - Satomi's Pygmy Seahorse - with a biological name of Hippocampus satomiae. It is only about 0.54 inch in total length. When swimming and with its tail curved it is only about 0.45 inch high!

This tiny animal was discovered near Derawan Island off Kalimantan, Indonesia and first described scientifically in 2008. The name "satomiae" was given to recognize Miss Satomi Onishi, the diving guide who collected the type specimens.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Buntot Palos Training Climb

The Majestic Falls of Buntot Palos
Many people and hikers always visited this majestic place but due to some unexpected instances causes by mother nature disaster occur and destruction of some trails of the mountain.

The Terrible Trail of Buntot Palos

The Typhoon Ondoy causes a big impact on mountains in south and northern Luzon. As the PNU-Mountaineering Club ascent the Buntot Palos they have witness the effect of the said disaster.

Getting Ready for more vigorous Physical Activity

The Emotion of a Climber due to the disaster caused by Typhoon Ondoy

Traversing the Landslide part of the trail

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The purpose of this information is to help you set and reach fitness goals. Our training goal is to help you get physically and mentally prepared to fully engage in the sport of mountaineering. Your climbing goal will be to perform strong and steady throughout your adventure.

Fitness Program Basics

Start on a good foot and seek your physician's approval and the advice of a physical trainer/fitness expert before taking on a serious training program. A sound fitness program addresses cardiovascular fitness (fitness of the heart) and motor fitness (particularly strength, endurance and balance).

* Cardiovascular fitness is measured through your aerobic capacity, your body's ability to take in and use oxygen. At sea level, the restrictive factor in delivering oxygen to the muscles is the heart's ability to pump blood, not the capability of the lungs to take in oxygen. It is at altitude, where oxygen is effectively less available, that lung capabilities come into question. Aerobics should be directed at conditioning your heart muscle even though it can also improve somatic muscle fitness.
* Motor fitness is needed to complement cardiovascular fitness. Motor fitness refers to strength (the ability to exert force), power (the ability to exert force rapidly), endurance (the ability to withstand exertion), balance (the ability to maintain stability), agility (the ability to perform actions quickly and smoothly), and flexibility (the ability to bend without breaking).
* Fitness and Acclimatization: The fitter you are, the more effectively you can acclimate (i.e., adjust) to altitude. That is simply because fit climbers expend less energy for a certain task (i.e., a day of hard climbing), leaving their bodies ready for the task of acclimatization.

It is important to understand what your goals are so that you may maximize your training. This is especially important given the time constraints placed on a mountaineer by weather, route conditions, objective hazards, and the effects of altitude. Proper physical conditioning will allow you to perform better by climbing longer, stronger and faster, be more comfortable on steeper and awkward terrain, carry heavier loads, recover quicker at rest, and enjoy the entire adventure more completely. Training goals will vary from mountain to mountain. For example:

During a Mount McKinley 22-day Expedition, you must:

* Be able to carry a 60-pound pack for five to eight hours a day for several successive days.
* Be able to recover from a difficult day of climbing within an eight- to twelve-hour period.
* Be able to perform as an asset on a summit day of fourteen hours (on slopes up to 40 degrees).

It is wise to take a look at your current fitness level before getting started on a new fitness program. A comprehensive assessment (done under advice of a trainer at your local gym) can certainly be an important tool toward your fitness goals.

The Fitness Program

Start your entire fitness training program well in advance of your climb, and increase the intensity and duration of your exercising as you gain fitness. Very generally, a six-month minimum is needed to implement an effective program. Your first weeks in this new fitness program will most likely be focused on getting into a routine. Discipline yourself to begin both the cardiovascular and motor fitness training from the outset, but start carefully to avoid overuse or over-enthusiasm injuries. Use a variety of exercises, activities, locations, etc. to keep physically challenged and mentally engaged. Be cautious of month-by-month formulaic programs which tend to over-simplify expectations and promises. You should have a plan that is both regimented specifically for you and be flexible enough to meet your personal needs.

The more your training can simulate real climbing, the more you will benefit. The following exercises can be used in your fitness program.
Use aerobic exercises to develop cardiovascular fitness.

There are a variety of aerobic exercises which are fantastic for training. They include: climbing and descending hills, stairs or stadium bleachers, any kind of skiing, snowboarding, running and cycling.

Other excellent aerobic activities which can benefit you but tend to be less focused for our needs include: aerobics classes, stationary cycling, circuit weight training, boxing and martial arts. Swimming can also be valuable. For the purposes of this expedition it would serve you better to use aerobic activities more suited to our goal of maximizing cardiovascular fitness and maximizing the strength and endurance needed for climbing.

In addition to the benefit of cardiovascular fitness, there needs to be concentrated effort on developing your aerobic ability for the descent from the summit. We should prepare for the event of a big storm moving in at the end of the day and thus train so we have the ability to get down quickly. A good strengthening program for the legs, especially quadriceps and knees, can really pay off on the mountain. When training with a pack, use a bathroom scale to hold it accountable.

Some training recommendations for aerobic exercising include:

1. Keep your training range at 65 to 85% of your maximum heart rate. There is a well known formula for ascertaining your maximum heart rate that is based on your age, which you subtract from the number 220 (beats per minute). Arbitrary at best. We suggest that you begin with that formula, and then be aware of how you feel. Your perceived exertion can actually be a better indicator of how you ought to be performing on a given day. Individually, we differ enough, and certainly we have good days and bad days, such that "how we feel" should come into play. For example, a 39 year old has a maximum heart rate of 181; i.e., 220 - 39 = 181 beats per minute. The training range, then, is between 118 and 154 beats per minute.
2. We recommend that the time you spend working aerobically should be a solid 30 minutes a day, and shouldn't exceed 60 minutes. In order to train for the lengthy days in the mountains, you've got to get out and do lengthy training climbs; nothing else will prepare you as adequately.
3. The frequency of your aerobic workout can be rather unlimited. You can train every day if you like. Be careful that you don't overdo it and set yourself up with injuries. You should include some rest time each week.

Use interval training to advance your cardiovascular fitness.

The technique of interval training calls for including surges in the activity while maintaining an elevated heart rate. Here are some examples:

1. If you are a runner, begin by running at a moderate intensity for twenty minutes. Every ten minutes thereafter, increase your pace for three to eight minutes, then return to the moderately intense level.
2. If you are at the track, run around the track once at a moderate pace. Sprint 220 yards, then run one lap again. Repeat.
3. If you are using a step mill, step moderately (at the high end of your aerobic training range) for ten minutes. Every five minutes thereafter, increase your pace for 1 to 1½ minutes, then return to moderate intensity.

Remembering that the heart's ability to pump blood to the body is a major limiting factor in our athletic performance, then here is a training technique which can help us overcome that limitation. What we are doing here is going beyond standard cardiovascular fitness. Interval training, when used over a longer period of time, can aid in increasing the heart's capacity for pumping blood through the body.

This is a very strenuous manner of training, and it shouldn't be initiated at the last minute. We have had success with interval training when we have a minimum of three months of training time.
top of page
Use weights, calisthenics and stretching to develop motor fitness.

We suggest that when you work with weights, limit it to 2 sets of 20 repetitions with lighter weights (lighter than the heavy weights customarily used to intensify muscle growth). Your first 15 reps ought to go easy; your last five with each set should be tough. Rest for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.

Below are sample workouts which we have found successful. This program develops both cardiovascular and motor fitness. We have intentionally omitted describing the specific mechanics of the workouts as there exists a huge arsenal of exercises and machines to match an individual's personal situation (personal history and present fitness level).

It is important that in addition to a sound lower body, you develop a sound upper body as well. A sound torso (both back and stomach) is especially important for mountaineering where heavy pack weights add a new dimension to our physical activities. These training principles are essentially the same for our upper and lower bodies. Use a physical trainer to help you build a program specific to your lifestyle and needs.

Stretching, balance, aerobic and abdominal exercises can be done every day. You should work with lower body and upper body weights at least twice a week (once every 3 days). Don't fail to include a good warm up and warm down in your workout.
top of page
Warming up and warming down

Include 10 to 15 minute aerobic warm up and a 5 to 10 minute warm down in your program. This is an important component of any program. Keep your heart rate in an aerobic range; don't get anaerobic.

Examples include walking, jogging in place, step mills, treadmills, cycling, and jumping rope.

Include 15 minutes of quality stretching into your program.

Focus on slow, static stretching. Avoid bouncing, ballistic stretching.

With static stretching, hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, breathing through the stretch. Hold it only to the point of tension, not to the point of pain.

Don't stretch through pain; you are stretching and tearing muscle fibers with this activity.

Be patient. The reward of proper stretching is the joy of movement which results.

Remember that stretching is a warm up and warm down exercise as well as a "real" workout for your body. Your goal is the reduction of muscular tension, not an attainment of extreme flexibility. Improper stretching can lead to injury and disillusionment with this aspect of motor fitness training.

Stretch at the beginning of a workout, just after the warm up, and also, even more importantly, after the workout when the muscles are at their warmest and most supple state. Stretching after a workout will do a tremendous amount of good toward alleviating muscle soreness and decreasing the chance of injury.

Lower body weights:

1. 1 to 2 sets of calf raises. Use a platform which allows you to make the full range of motion as you stand up on your toes and then drop your heels. Use body weight only.
2. 2 sets of leg curls. Your hams should be 1/3 to 1/2 as strong as your quads.
3. 2 sets of individual leg extensions.
4. 2 sets of squats. Use a machine to isolate the gluteal muscles and prevent back injury.

Upper body weights:

1. Begin by exhausting the larger muscles first. This includes the chest and back, and shoulders.
2. Work both the biceps and the triceps.

Points to focus on:

1. All weight sets should be performed focusing on excellent form and technique. You should hire a physical trainer for at least a day to assist you with developing good technique. It may also be beneficial to meet again with this person periodically to ensure good form and to measure progress.
2. Perform repetitions with a two-count positive motion and a four-count negative motion.
3. Breathe out on exertion.
4. Use proper rest periods between sets.
5. With all these exercises, slowly increase the weights over time. Be patient.
6. Tendon strength increases at a rate roughly ten times less quickly than muscles. Don't supercharge your muscles on an aggressive weight program only to injure your tendons.

Abdominal exercises

Focus on the quality of the exercise, not the number.

Changing up the exercises (cross-training the abdomen) is key to increasing abdominal fitness.

The abdominal muscles adapt remarkably well to a punishing workout - continue to change up your workout, even if you don't switch exercises, switch the routine.

Balance Exercises

Balance exercises reward you with increased body awareness and can aid in your ability to negotiate tricky terrain under a heavy pack.

Distinguish between static and dynamic balance exercises. Static exercises will keep one or both feet on the ground. Dynamic exercises involve the body in motion. Both are important for the development of this motor fitness skill.

Balance is a motor skill like strength, and can be improved over time. Include some of these into your workout. Here are some possibilities:

Static balance exercises:

1. Walk heel-to-toe in a straight line. Then return by walking backward. Then try with your eyes shut.
2. Stand in balance on one leg. Fold the other leg beneath you and hold it by the knee or foot.
3. Stand in balance on one leg, then squat, and then return to the stand position.
4. Try the same exercise, but standing on a piece of foam.

Dynamic balance exercises:

1. Skiing, snowboarding, roller skating, ice skating are obvious and fun.
2. Tennis, racquetball, table tennis, basketball and volleyball are all also great for balance.
3. Clamber up and down hills, the hard way - over rough trails or "off piste" over boulders and logs, through the woods, etc. This is a particularly effective exercise.

Training Log

We have found that a training log helps to keep people on track. It keeps you honest for one; but more importantly, it is rewarding to see progress occurring over the longer term. A log book can help you recognize and then seize some motivation and satisfaction, especially if you have been training for months.

Good luck. Train hard. We look forward to seeing you on the mountain!

Monday, October 26, 2009

PNU-MC at Mt. Batulao

Training Climb at Mt. Batulao

To become a fully-pledge mountaineer, climbing is part of the training without it, a trainee is not considered as a mountaineer.

The first training climb of Batch 11 is held at Mt. Batulao.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Unsung Heroes


Bayanihan system is one of the good Filipino trait which foreigners were physically, emotionally and socially amazed. Noone can take it out from the filipinos because it is in the blood. Because if you were a Filipino, you were a Hero "Bayani".

Everyone needs help. Philosophers says that "No one is an island" meaning to say that he cannot stand alone or built a nation by itself.

The Philippine Normal University - Mountainering Club represented by Sky Lladones, Melija Cahilig, Christopher Tapales, Elvie Peji, Rhobie Magana, Eloisa Veloria and Christian Cantero.


Ready to be packed and deliver to the disaster area.

As the time continue ticking, the PHilippine Normal University - Mountaineering Club is ready for any disaster and always ready to lend his hands for a help.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Prapering and Handling Medicinal Plants / Herbs

Tips on Handling Medicinal Plants / Herbs:

• If possible, buy herbs that are grown organically - without pesticides.

• Medicinal parts of plants are best harvested on sunny mornings. Avoid picking leaves, fruits or nuts during and after heavy rainfall.

• Leaves, fruits, flowers or nuts must be mature before harvesting. Less medicinal substances are found on young parts.

• After harvesting, if drying is required, it is advisable to dry the plant parts either in the oven or air-dried on screens above ground and never on concrete floors.

• Store plant parts in sealed plastic bags or brown bottles in a cool dry place without sunlight preferably with a moisture absorbent material like charcoal. Leaves and other plant parts that are prepared properly, well-dried and stored can be used up to six months.

Tips on Preparation for Intake of Herbal Medicines:

• Use only half the dosage prescribed for fresh parts like leaves when using dried parts.

• Do not use stainless steel utensils when boiling decoctions. Only use earthen, enamelled, glass or alike utensils.

• As a rule of thumb, when boiling leaves and other plant parts, do not cover the pot, and boil in low flame.

• Decoctions loose potency after some time. Dispose of decoctions after one day. To keep fresh during the day, keep lukewarm in a flask or thermos.

• Always consult with a doctor if symptoms persist or if any sign of allergic reaction develops.

Top Listed Medicinal Plants Commonly Found in the Philippines

These is the list of the ten (10) medicinal plants that the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) through its "Traditional Health Program" have endorsed. All ten (10) herbs have been thoroughly tested and have been clinically proven to have medicinal value in the relief and treatment of various aliments:

1. Akapulko (Cassia alata) - also known as "bayabas-bayabasan" and "ringworm bush" in English, this herbal medicine is used to treat ringworms and skin fungal infections.

2. Ampalaya (Momordica charantia) - known as "bitter gourd" or "bitter melon" in English, it most known as a treatment of diabetes (diabetes mellitus), for the non-insulin dependent patients.

3. Bawang (Allium sativum) - popularly known as "garlic", it mainly reduces cholesterol in the blood and hence, helps control blood pressure.

4. Bayabas (Psidium guajava) - "guava" in English. It is primarily used as an antiseptic, to disinfect wounds. Also, it can be used as a mouth wash to treat tooth decay and gum infection.

5. Lagundi (Vitex negundo) - known in English as the "5-leaved chaste tree". It's main use is for the relief of coughs and asthma.

6. Niyog-niyogan (Quisqualis indica L.) - is a vine known as "Chinese honey suckle". It is effective in the elimination of intestinal worms, particularly the Ascaris and Trichina. Only the dried matured seeds are medicinal -crack and ingest the dried seeds two hours after eating (5 to 7 seeds for children & 8 to 10 seeds for adults). If one dose does not eliminate the worms, wait a week before repeating the dose.

7. Sambong (Blumea balsamifera)- English name: Blumea camphora. A diuretic that helps in the excretion of urinary stones. It can also be used as an edema.

8. Tsaang Gubat (Ehretia microphylla Lam.) - Prepared like tea, this herbal medicine is effective in treating intestinal motility and also used as a mouth wash since the leaves of this shrub has high fluoride content.

9. Ulasimang Bato | Pansit-Pansitan (Peperomia pellucida) - It is effective in fighting arthritis and gout. The leaves can be eaten fresh (about a cupful) as salad or like tea. For the decoction, boil a cup of clean chopped leaves in 2 cups of water. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain, let cool and drink a cup after meals (3 times day).

10. Yerba Buena (Clinopodium douglasii) - commonly known as Peppermint, this vine is used as an analgesic to relive body aches and pain. It can be taken internally as a decoction or externally by pounding the leaves and applied directly on the afflicted area.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Importance Of Physical Activity

Physical inactivity has been established as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and some people are not physically active enough to gain any health benefits. Women especially need to increase their physical activity because women become less active during their teenage years. Women also tend to stay less physically active than men for the rest of our lives.

According to the American Heart Association guidelines for physical activity, adult women should be betting at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity on most days of the week. However, physical activity recommendations for women who need to lose weight or sustain weight loss are different - minimum of 60--90 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (e.g., brisk walking) on most, and preferably all, days of the week. Not sure what is moderate exercise?? Learn more.

Heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 3 killers of American women. Regular physical activity provides many benefits such as:

* Helps reduce your risk of heart disease
* Aids in controlling blood cholesterol, diabetes and obesity
* Helps lower blood pressure
* Builds stronger bones
* Aids in reducing anxiety and depression
* Increases energy levels

Tips for Getting Started

By being physically active, you'll feel better and look better, too! You can start today by:

* Warming up. Walk for about 5 minutes, then gently stretch your legs, lower back, and torso before beginning your activity session.

* Making watching television a dynamic activity. Do abdominal exercises, stretching, or other physical activity during commercials. See how much movement you get in one evening!.

* Wearing shoes that fit well. Break them in by walking around in them for short periods of time. Make sure they fit well before you leave the store. Try to find a knowledgeable salesperson who can help you.

* Making sure the areas you use outside aren't isolated and are well lighted at night. It's safer if you go with a friend or a group.

* Planning errands that require walking during your lunch hour.

* Increasing your strength and muscle tone by engaging in everyday activities such as carrying groceries, lifting a baby in and out of a stroller, or climbing steep stairs.

* Exercising inside! Walk in place. Take breaks while you're at the computer and do sit-ups, push-ups and other exercises. Rent or buy an aerobics, yoga or a Pilates video.

* Be engage in an outdoor activities such as hiking, biking,canoeing, etc.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Special Skills in Descending

Australian Rappel

It is a rappelling technique wherein the face of a descending person from a high angle environment is facing ground.

Lizard Rappel

Lizard rappel is a descending technique basically used in military operations to spy or to take a little information regarding their subject.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Descending Technique


Rappelling is the easiest way to descend in a high angle environment. It is also a useful technique in rescuing a person from such heights. Though rappelling is (normally) one of the simplistic tasks in climbing, it is also one of the most dangerous. Many climbers have been lost by rappelling off the end of their rope. To avoid rappelling off the end of your rope tie a knot at both ends of the rope. A double fishermans knot works well for the backup knots.

Types of Rappel

1. Basic Rappel
2. Australian Rappel
3. Lizard Rappel

Friday, October 9, 2009

Devil's Tower

Devil’s tower - Meek and Pratt at base

The late Chuck Pratt, legendary rock climber who was on the first three-man team to climb the 3,000-foot Salathe Wall in Yosemite, and John at the base of the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming -- scene of the filming of Stephen Spielberg’s first major hit movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

The World’s Noted Mountain Climbers

Allison, Stacy, first American woman to summit Everest, led team up K2.

Alzner, Jeff, K2 in 2000

Anker, Conrad, world climber and person who found George Mallory’s body on Everest.

Bass, Dick, first climber to reach the summit of the highest points on the seven continents.

Bates, Robert, pioneer K2 climber, early advisor in formation of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division and long-time supporter of AAC.

Blum, Arlene, leader of the all-female climb of Annapurna, author.

Boyle, John, major contributor of climbing books to the AAC Library

Briggs, Bill, noted climber, leader in establishing the Grand Teton Climbers Ranch, former Exum Guide, first to ski from the summit of the Grand Teton.

Climbers Ranch work week and rebuilding.
Climbers Ranch Benefit Concert, Mangy Moose Bar, August 29, 1993

Climbers Ranch Benefit Concert, Sno-king Resort, Aug. 29, 1993.
Climbers Ranch Benefit Concert, Aug. 15, Dornan’s Bar, Grand Teton National Park

Climbers Ranch Work Week – June, 1995

Climbers Ranch Work Week, June, 1996

Durrance, Dr. John, early K2 climber and first ascent of the Durrance Route on Devil’s Towers

Everest Event – ABC.

Everest 1995 American Team with George Mallory II

Exum, Glenn, founder of Exum Guides, oldest mountain guiding service in the U.S.

Exum, Glenn, “One Last Song on His Mountain,” PBS documentary of his 50th anniversary climb establishing the Direct Exum Route on the Grand Teton.

Feagin, Nancy, Exum Guide, Yosemite fast climber and Everest summiter.

Frost, Tom, Yosemite legend and one of three persons to do the first climb of the Salathe Route on El Cap in Yosemite.

Glavine, Hans, Yosemite speed climber.

Grissom, Kitty Calhoun, noted climber and former AAC board member.

Grunsfeld, Dr. John M., climber and NASA astronaut who repairs the Hubble Telescope.

Henderson, Ken, pioneer 20th century climber who set the bar.

Hillary, Sir Edmund, first climber to summit Everest.

Hill, Lynn, the human spider on the rocks.

Horner, Skip, member of the famous 1996 Everest climb.

Houston, Dr. Charles, world famous authority on mountain medicine, early climber on K2, author and lecturer.

“Into Thin Air” Docudrama.” -- ABC

Jackson Hole Climb Wall Competition.

Kaufman, Dr. Andrew, early climber on K2 and author.

Kennedy, Michael, Climbing Magazine founder and notable climber.

Lev, Peter, co-owner of Exum Guides, avalanche expert.

Mace, Charlie, Everest climber, former AAC board member, AAC staff member.

Moro, Simone, Sowles Award recipient for saving a climber on Lhotse.

Porzak, Glenn, former AAC president.

Pratt, Chuck, another Yosemite legend and first to climb the Salathe Wall on El Cap in Yosemite with Yvon Chouinard and Tom Frost.

Putman Bill
, world climber and part of the 10th Mountain Division.

Read, Al, president of Exum Guides.

Rieke, Peter, paralyzed in a climbing fall and trying to climb Mt. Rainer with a mechanical “snow pod.”

, Rick, world climber and author.

, Royal, world climber, early Yosemite legend and international sportsman.

Roberts, David, author and climber.

Robinson, Roger, Denali National Park climbing ranger.

Rowell, Galen, world climber, photographer and author of several coffee table books published by the Sierra Club.

Schoening, Pete, saved lives of six members of his climbing team on K2.

“Stay Alive Guide to Mountain Survival.”

Steck, Allen, noted Yosemite climber, coauthor of “Fifty Classic Climbs of North

America,” and AAC Literary Award recipient with Steve Roper.

Utah Climbing Competition – CBS Sports

Tackle, Jack, Exum Guide and world-class climber.

, Brad and Barbara, world climbers and mappers. Barbara was the first woman to summit Denali.

, Eric, a blind climber who summited Everest with Charlie Mace, former AAC board member and current AAC staff member.

, Robert, chairman of the board of the Mountain Institute, Washington, DC

, Jim, first American to summit Everest and leader of 1990 Peace Climb of Everest.

Wickwire, Jim, climber of major peaks.

Wilson, Ted, Grand Teton climbing ranger, leader in establishing the Grand Teton Climbers Ranch, former mayor of Salt Lake City, and faculty member at the University of Utah.

American Alpine Club Library
Golden, CO

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mountaineer's Week Upcoming

Mountaineer Week History

Mountaineer Week marks the time when the leaves are turning and the chill has returned to the evening air, setting the stage for a celebration filled with art, unique crafts, and Appalachian culture, heritage, and cuisine. This celebration of the state of West Virginia, held on the campus of West Virginia University, was conceived in 1947 as an event to arouse more school spirit. The initial weekend started with a thuse on the old athletic field the night before the WVU versus Kentucky football game. Following the game, a dance requiring mountaineer garb was held with awards given for the costumes most representative of a true mountaineer.

In 1948, additional Mountaineer school spirit activities were added to this University wide and community event. The other events added to the celebration were floats, hay wagons, an “jalopies” parading down High Street and up University Avenue before the football game.

The first-ever beard growing competition was held in 1949. The idea for a Mountaineer Mascot Statue was initiated during the 1950 Mountaineer Weekend which ended with a carnival in the Field House with the proceeds from the various booths being placed in a fund to help pay for a bronze statue of a Mountaineer for the campus.

Between 1953 and 1958, a fashion show, folk singing events, and a Friday night concert were added to the weekend highlights.

No major innovations were introduced until 1962 when the Mr. and Ms. Mountaineer Contest joined in the festivities. In 1972, the 25th Anniversary of this West Virginia University and state of West Virginia celebration grew into a week-long event now referred to as Mountaineer Week. The theme of the 25th Anniversary was deemed as “The Home of Mountaineers.” In 1972, several diversified events were added to Mountaineer Week, including: the first Mountaineer Week Arts and Crafts Festival, a Mountaineer dinner, various games and concerts, and a Downtown Festival.

West Virginia heritage at its finest was displayed during the 1972 Mountaineer Week with the opening of the first Mountaineer Week Arts and Crafts Festival. In cooperation with the West Virginia State Department of Commerce and the Campus Club, the Arts and Crafts Festival was held in the Gold Ballroom of the Mountainlair. Some crafts that highlighted the event were spinning, wood carving, early American basketry, cornhusk dolls, pottery, leather crafts, blacksmithing, and dulcimer making. Today, the Craft Fair remains to be held in the Blue and Gold Ballrooms of the Mountainlair and features traditional and contemporary crafts of Appalachia with over 66 artisans from West Virginia and neighboring states.

In 1972, the Mountaineer Week celebration also initiated a tradition that lasted many years at West Virginia University Mountaineer Week Cabin Sales. Located in the right front yard of the Mountainlair was a rustic mountaineer cabin which was completely built by the Foresters and was made from native West Virginia materials. Cabin Sales, viewed to contribute to the heritage and culture of our great state, provided a central location in which mountaineer items could be purchased throughout the week.

One of the first Mountaineer Week Dinners was held in 1972 in Summit Hall and the Mountainlair. The Mountaineer Week Committee in cooperation with Ms. Jean Benson of Housing and Food Service planned a menu that all Mountaineers loved. Today, the annual Country Vittles Dinner Buffet is a down-home feast like Grandma used to make. Mountaineer Week also offers Appalachian treats such as funnel cakes, homemade lemonade, maple sugar syrup/candy, muffins, fudge, pepperoni rolls, candy apples, and much more!

Tradition was always the predominant element of Mountaineer Week. In 1977, the practice of adopting a quilt pattern was incorporated into Mountaineer Week to add a feeling of unity to the week’s festivities. In 1977, the “Double Wedding Ring” quilt logo was proposed and accepted as the official quilt logo of that year’s Mountaineer Week. The quilt was made by Ethelyn Butler and Mae Long, who won the Bicentennial Quilt Show for the Smithsonian. The “Double Wedding Ring” Quilt is still on display at WVU Jackson’s Mill Conference Center. Each year thereafter, a quilt logo was chosen and a quilt square was made and framed to showcase that particular year. Most of the framed quilt squares are on display in the Mountainlair today. In 1997, the current Mountaineer Week logo was chosen to provide long-term unity and consistency and remains as the official Mountaineer Week Logo today. This year’s Mountaineer Week Quilt Show is being presented by the Country Roads Quilt Guild. Adorning the Mountaineer Room and Ballroom Stage of the Mountainlair will be colorful handmade quilts loved by generations, along with quilters showcasing their talents.

Fiddling has an extensive history and has been studied and written about by many music scholars and history enthusiasts. Fiddlers have provided mountain music and foot stompin’ fun for many years as part of Mountaineer Week. Still today, the Fiddler’s Contest remains a favorite part of Mountaineer Week. Local, state, and neighboring state fiddlers compete in the Gluck Theatre of the Mountainlair for the top awards in the Youth, Junior, and Senior Divisions.

From years gone by to the present time, dancing has provided exercise and friendship to both the young and the old. This heritage form of Appalachian entertainment historically consisted of dancing with partners at an old-time square dance or adding a step to the square dance to enjoy what is known as clogging. These traditions have followed our Mountaineers down through the years at WVU. Mountaineer Week today still hosts an Old-Fashioned Square Dance and many exhibitions of Clogging in Appalachia.

Mountaineer Week has showcased numerous other heritage events in its 60 years of existence. One of the student highlights through the years has been the annual PRT Cram. Mountaineer Week is certainly important on the WVU campus due to the fact that we have our very own Mountaineer Week PRT Car, designed specifically for our historical PRT Cram. The record number of students crammed into the PRT Car is 97, accomplished in 2000.

The Mr. & Ms. Mountaineer Contest has been held in conjunction with Mountaineer Week since 1962. Each year, the long-awaited announcement of Mr. & Ms. Mountaineer is presented to the Mountaineer fans at the half-time festivities of the Mountaineer Week Football Game. Down through the years, the Mr. & Ms. Mountaineer have represented West Virginia University and our great mountain state. This prestigious award honors one male and one female student who have a record of academic achievement and extracurricular involvement. Along with the announcement of Mr. & Ms. Mountaineer, is the naming of the Most Loyal West Virginian, the Most Loyal Alumni Mountaineer, the Most Loyal Faculty Mountaineer, and the Most Loyal Staff Mountaineer for their accomplishments to the state and West Virginia University. Our Mountaineer Week Royalty will be named at half-time of the WVU versus Cincinnati Football Game to be held on Saturday, November 9th at Mylan Puskar Stadium.

The Mountaineer Mascot has represented West Virginia University ’s athletic teams, students, and alumni since 1927. In addition, each Mascot represented something even more—the Mountaineer spirit that is spread throughout the great state of West Virginia. In 1993, the first-ever Mountaineer Mascot Reunion was held during Mountaineer Week. At this humbling event, thousands of blue and gold fans welcomed back home our former Mountaineer Mascots who were chosen by Mountain Honorary for outstanding enthusiasm and character. At this first-ever gathering, it was decided that a Mascot Reunion would be held every five years during Mountaineer Week. In this regard, a reunion has been held in l997, 2002, and 2007. The current Mountaineer Mascot is Michael Squires, a Junior Speech Pathology and Audiology major from Clarksburg, West Virginia.

Mountaineer Idol will begin its fifth year on the campus of West Virginia University as part of Mountaineer Week. The WVU version of the hit TV show, “American Idol,” will showcase talented WVU students in this seven-week competition. The 2008 Mountaineer Idol will receive $1,000; first runner-up will receive $750, and second runner-up will receive $250—all donated by Coca Cola. In addition, the Mountaineer Idol will receive $500 in cash from Gibbie’s Pub and Eatery, a personal digital recorder from Fawley’s Music, and an ice cream party from Cold Stone Creamery. The competitions open to the public are: Sunday, September 14th at 3:00pm in the Mountainlair Ballrooms; Friday, September 26th at 8:30pm in the Mountainlair Ballrooms; Friday, October 10th at 9:00pm in the Mountainlair Ballrooms; Friday, October 17th at 8:30pm in the Mountainlair Ballrooms; Friday, October 31st at 8:30pm in the Mountainlair Ballrooms; and Sunday, November 9th at 3:00pm at the MET Theatre on High Street. Mountaineer Idol is sponsored by Coca-Cola, Gibbie’s Pub and Eatery, Fawley’s Music, Cold Stone Creamery, Coni & Franc, and organized by WVU Student Affairs in partnership with FOX 46, American Idol. For more information on our Mountaineer Idol Competition, please click on Mountaineer Idol.

Sixty-one years of culture and heritage is etched in the minds and hearts of Mountaineers as they remember Mountaineer Week on the campus of West Virginia University. Our WVU Students need to be reminded of the heritage that has made West Virginia what it is today. Therefore, we invite all members of our student body, faculty, staff, community, and state to join us on November 8-16, 2008, as we celebrate Mountaineer Week!

P.O. Box 6437
Morgantown, WV 26506
Phone: 304.293.2702
Email: mountainlair@mail.wvu.edu

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

All About Orienteering


Each orienteer is given a 1:50,000 topographic map with the various control points circled. Each point has a flag marker and a distinctive punch that is used to mark the scorecard. Competitive orienteering involves running from checkpoint to checkpoint. It is more demanding than road running, not only because of the terrain, but because the orienteer must constantly concentrate, make decisions, and keep track of the distance covered. Orienteering challenges both the mind and the body; however, the competitor's ability to think under pressure and make wise decisions is more important than speed or endurance.

The orienteering area should be on terrain that is heavily wooded, preferably uninhabited, and difficult enough to suit different levels of competition. The area must be accessible to competitors and its use must be coordinated with appropriate terrain and range control offices.

a. The ideal map for an orienteering course is a multi-colored, accurate, large-scale topographic map. A topographic map is a graphic representation of selected man made and natural features of a part of the earth's surface plotted to a definite scale. The distinguishing characteristic of a topographic map is the portrayal of the shape and elevation of the terrain by contour lines.

b. For orienteering within the United States, large-scale topographic (topo) maps are available from the Defense Mapping Agency Hydrographic Topographic Center. The scale suitable for orienteering is 1:50,000 (DMA).

What is Orienteering?

Orienteering is a competitive form of land navigation. It is for all ages and degrees of fitness and skill. It provides the suspense and excitement of a treasure hunt. The object of orienteering is to locate control points by using a map and compass to navigate through the woods. The courses may be as long as 10 km.

This site aims to inform you about the sport of Orienteering, you can find that information at the left under "The Sport." We also have information on learning how to read maps and peform land navigation using such tools as a compass. This information is based off U.S. Army training and is what you need to know to be an orienteer.

Orienteering History

Orienteering began in Scandinavia in the nineteenth century. It was primarily a military event and was part of military training. It was not until 1919 that the modern version of orienteering was born in Sweden as a competitive sport. Ernst Killander, its creator, can be rightfully called the father of orienteering. In the early thirties, the sport received a technical boost with the invention of a new compass, more precise and faster to use. The Kjellstrom brothers, Bjorn and Alvan, and their friend, Brunnar Tillander, were responsible for this new compass. They were among the best Swedish orienteers of the thirties, with several individual championships among them. Orienteering was brought into the US in 1946 by Bjorn Kjellstrom.

Course Setup

The challenge for the course setter is to keep the course interesting, but never beyond the individual's or group's ability. General guidance is to select locations that are easily identifiable on the map and terrain, and accessible from several routes.

a. Those who set up the initial event should study a map for likely locations of control points and verification of the locations. Better yet, they should coordinate with an experienced competitor in selecting the course.

b. There are several forms of orienteering events. Some of the most common are route, line, cross-country, and score orienteering.

(1) Route Orienteering. This form can be used during the training phase and in advanced orienteering. In this type of event, a master or advanced competitor leads the group as they walk a route. The beginners trace the actual route walked on the ground on their maps. They circle the location of the different control points found along the walked route. When they finish, the maps are analyzed and compared. During training, time is not a factor. Another variation is when a course is laid out on the ground with markers for the competitor to follow. There is no master map, as the course is traced for the competitor by flags or markers. The winner of the event is the competitor who has successfully traced the route and accurately plotted the most control points on his map.

(2) Line Orienteering. At least five control points are used during this form of orienteering training. The competitor traces on his map a preselected route from a master map. The object is to walk the route shown on the map, circling the control points on the map as they are located on the ground (Figure F-1).

Figure F-1. Line orienteering.

(3) Cross-Country Orienteering. This is the most common type of orienteering competitions. It is sometimes called free or point orienteering and is considered to be the most competitive and intriguing of all events (Figure F-2). In this event, all competitors must visit the same controls in the same order. With the normal one-minute starting interval, it becomes a contest of route choice and physical skill. The winner is the contestant with the fastest time around the course.

Figure F-2. A cross-country orienteering map.

(a) After selecting the control points for the course, determine the start and finish locations. The last control should be near the finish. In describing each control's location, an eight-digit grid coordinate and a combination of two letters identifying the point (control code) should be included in each descriptive clue list that is normally given to each competitor at least two minutes before his start time.

(b) There are usually 6 to 12 control markers on the course in varying degrees of difficulty and distances apart so that there are no easy, direct routes. Instead, each competitor is faced with many choices of direct but difficult routes, or of indirect but easier routes. Each control's location is circled, and the order in which each is to be visited is clearly marked on the master map. The course may be a closed transverse with start and finish collocated, or the start and finish may be at different locations. The length of the course and difficulty of control placement varies with the competitors' degree of expertise. Regardless of the class of event, all competitors must indicate on their event cards proof of visiting the control markers. Inked stamps, coded letters, or punches are usually used to do this procedure.
NOTE: The same orienteering range may serve in both cross-country and score events. However, a separate set of competitor maps, master maps, and event cards are necessary.

(4) Score orienteering. In this event, the area chosen for the competition is blanketed with many control points (Figure F-3). The controls near the start/finish point (usually identical in this event) have a low point value, while those more distant or more difficult to locate have a high point value. (See Figure F-6 for a sample card.) This event requires the competitor to locate as many control markers as he can within the specified time (usually 90 minutes). Points are awarded for each control visited and deducted for exceeding the specified time. The competitor with the highest point score is the winner.

Figure F-3. A score orienteering map.

(a) Conducting a score event at the start is basically the same as the cross-country event. The competitor is given a map and an event card. The event card lists all the controls with their different point values. When released to the master map, the competitor finds the circles and numbers indicating the location of all the controls listed on his event card. He copies all the red circles on his map. Then he chooses any route he wishes to take in amassing the highest possible point score in the time available. The course is designed to ensure that there are more control points than can possibly be visited in the allotted time. Again, each control marker visited must be indicated on the event card.

(b) It is important for the competitor to take time initially to plot the most productive route. A good competitor may spend up to 6 minutes in the master map area while plotting the ideal route.

(c) There is no reward for returning early with time still available to find more points, so the good competitor must be able to coordinate time and distance with his ability in land navigation in running the course.