What is exploration? For some, it may mean being the first human to tread across a particular stretch of virgin territory—like Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott in their race for the South Pole. Or, it could be the first of a particular ethnicity to visit an area—like Livingstone and his Victorian peers in Africa., Read More
This is not my usual gear review. Normally, I write the review after at least a few months of heavy use. This time, however, I returned the gear before I was able to use it because I quickly realized that the Koflach Degree just does not fit my foot type. I had heard a lot about the Koflachs of old, still performing well after decades of use, so I was bit a disappointed.
I just went through a long process of ordering and returning various sizes of the Koflach Degre, talking to dealers, talking with a Koflach rep, and reading all the internet reviews for the Koflach Degre that I could find. I learned a lot of information that is not publicly available and I consolidated the sparse and diffuse information available on the internet.
So even though I decided not to use the Koflach Degre, I believe that other people will benefit from the information I have to share. And hopefully this will help you to make a quicker and easier decision if you are thinking about buying the Degre. Continue Reading. There’s More!
On July 3rd Jim and I completed a new route at Fountain Bluff, and we believe it is the longest climbing route in the Midwest. The route is a 1,400 foot traverse of Fountain Bluff in Southern Illinois. We climbed it in 12 pitches. Neither of us are good at rating things, but we gave it a 5.8 R, which is basically the rating for any ground-up trad route we have climbed at Fountain Bluff.
The idea for this route evolved slowly over the last several years.
Fountain Bluff has a unique style of rock climbing. To be honest, it is not for everyone. The rock quality is highly variable. There are long stretches of “vertical vegetation” – that is, climbing up vines and what-not. A couple of years ago, when my friend Chris still lived in the area, we invented a term for it – Mississippi River Valley Alpine Climbing. Continue Reading. There’s More!
There is a great book, known throughout the climbing community, that goes by the title “Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills.” It is the classic how-to book for climbers and continues to make its presence known in ever-increasing edition numbers. The 7th edition occupies a prominent place on my self.
The subtitle, The Freedom of the Hills, is an amazing statement, for in five simple words it embodies what climbing and merely being in the hills are for me—freedom.
Freedom is a powerful and loaded word; perhaps most infamous for the carefree way in which contemporary marketers, politicians, and revolutionaries kick it around like a well-worn hacky sack. Continue Reading. There’s More!