Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pittsburgh Marathon

Finally, I have decided I am going to run another road race... the Pittsburgh Marathon.  Help me make it happen here with the Animal Rescue League.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

AMGA Certification

I would like to proudly announce that I am now an American Mountain Guides Association certified Single Pitch Instructor!  What this means is that I am trained to teach beginners to climb and rappel.  I can handle one on one clients or groups of people.  This can be sport, trad, or top-roping in a single pitch environment.  I can manage top-access areas or bottom-access areas.

There is a big difference between what I am trained to do and how recreational climbers take out their friends and teach them to climb.  For me I not only need to keep everyone comfortable and safe, I have to make sure they are challenged at the right level, and they are having fun.  Additionally, when someone hires a guide, the day is dedicated to maximizing the experiences of the client. 

I was amazed at how much I learned.  Certainly I already knew how to climb and rappel, set up top-ropes, and lead climbs.  I have always considered myself a relatively well versed climber.  However, I soon discovered there was a lot I didn’t know I didn’t know.  Contrary to popular belief there is no prescribed AMGA method.  The AMGA way is whatever is quick, efficient, and makes no sacrifices in safety.  I won’t go into the technical specifics here, but suffice to say it has changed the way I do many things – even in my own personal climbing.

I took the course in September.  It was 3 days long, and each day was packed with learning.  There was a good mix of doing stuff hands on and talking.  It was handy to keep a notebook to write much of it down.  My head was swimming with information by the end of each day.

I decided that I wanted to go ahead with the certification and scheduled the assessment for the weekend after Thanksgiving at Seneca Rocks.  I spent most of October studying, training, and utilizing the new techniques with clients.  The weekend after Thanksgiving arrived soon and it ended up being cold and snowy.  The two other candidates were Corey and Cody who are both Outward Bound instructors/climbing specialists from North Carolina.

The assessment was not as bad as I thought it would be.  The instructor Massey Teel kept everything fairly casual.  The other 2 candidates both seemed solid in their skills and knowledge.  On day one we had to demonstrate our technical knowledge, efficiency, and proper use of techniques and equipment.  It was a bit crazy because we had to do 100 different things, and just messing up 1 or 2 of them could be cause for a fail.  The second day we were working with some inexperienced climbers.  We planned and executed a day of guided climbing with them.

All 3 of us ended up passing which is pretty rad.  Previous to having the certification I had guided through Exkursion, but I believe this certification definitely gives me more confidence to take out clients (especially 1 on 1) and give them a good climbing experience.

Ice Screw Sharpening

We've all done it.  Leading an ice climb, forearms pumped, calves burning, and it's a long way down.  Time for an ice screw.  The ice looks thin here.  Well, it's at least better than nothing.  So you grab your shortest screw and start cranking.  Cool!  Look's like it will go the whole way....crap! 

So now you have an ice screw that needs sharpening.  It's easy enough to touch up a tooth with a file, just try to make it look like the other non-damaged teeth.  But what happens is the tooth you just sharpened is a tad shorter than the others.  The screw works fine but you notice maybe that it takes an extra turn to get started.  This is where you are probably better off putting your file away and finding someone who really knows what they are doing.

I looked through my ice rack and picked out three screws that needed sharpening and one that needed the teeth completely re-done.  A quick internet search and I found this article.  I ended up sending them to Jason Hurwitz at a nice screw.  He charges 8.50 per screw and 24.00 if it's really bad.  In addition he has other services like ice screw personalization and ice pick sharpening.

I sent the screws on October 25th and received them back November 29th.  It took awhile but I imagine this is a busy time for him.  The resulting screws are pretty ridiculously sharp.  In my opinion even sharper than new.