Sunday, July 31, 2011

American Mountain Guides Association Presents 2011 Industry Award to Five Ten


July, 25 2010

Betsy Winter, Executive Directorfiveten
American Mountain Guides Association

Laura Sanders, VP - Global Sales Director

Five Ten

American Mountain Guides Association Presents 2011 Industry Award to Five Ten

Salt Lake City, Utah - Five Ten, Brand of the Brave and makers of some of the finest outdoor sports footwear available, is the 2011 recipient of the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Industry Award. AMGA Executive Director Betsy Winter will present the award to Charles Cole, Five Ten Founder/President and Laura Sanders, Five Ten VP - Global Sales Director, at this year's Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.

The AMGA Industry Award was created to recognize and honor those companies who have helped further the mission of the AMGA and grow the mountain guiding and climbing instructors professions by providing outstanding support, through scholarships, sponsorship, product and donations. An AMGA Partner for the past 17 years, Five Ten is one of the longest-continuing supporters of the AMGA. Additionally, Five Ten has outfitted an untold number of guides and climbing instructors with approach and climbing shoes, ensuring a quality experience in the mountains and in the gym.

"I'm excited to present Five Ten this award," says AMGA Executive Director, Betsy Winter. "Their significant and continued support of the AMGA highlights their commitment to professional mountain guides and climbing instructors in the United States."

The award presentation will take place Saturday, August 6 at 11:30am at the Five Ten booth.

About the American Mountain Guides Association
For over 30 years, the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) has inspired an exceptional client experience as the premier source for training, credentials, resource stewardship and services for professional mountain guides and climbing instructors in the United States. A national non-profit, the AMGA is committed to enhancing the quality of outdoor services provided to the public, while serving as a resource for accessing and protecting the natural environment. The AMGA is our nation's exclusive representative to the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA), the international governing body responsible for guiding standards and education around the world. For more information please visit .

About Five Ten
Five Ten is a privately owned manufacturer of equipment for biking, rock climbing, water sports, trail running, and any activity where high-friction footwear is a necessity. The Redlands, California-based company has been making high-quality, performance climbing shoes for 25 years. By focusing on innovative products, Five Ten prides itself on helping to make outdoor activities more fun, safer, and more accessible to new and core enthusiasts alike. As the Brand of the Brave™, Five Ten also prides itself with making cutting-edge footwear used by athletes in the World's Most Exciting Sports™. With the help of top national and international athletes and guides, combined with a world-class rubber-testing and R&D facility, Five Ten provides footwear for some of the world's top athletes, such as JT Holmes, Dean Potter, Sonnie Trotter, Greg Minnaar, Danny MacAskill, and Mayan Gobat-Smith. Check out the 2011 blockbusters, Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol, Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, and Twilight Breaking Dawn for shots of Five Ten in some of the world's most exciting stunts.

For more information about Five Ten or Stealth Rubber, go to, or contact Five Ten's director of communication, Nancy Prichard Bouchard @ For sales information, contact Laura Sanders, Five Ten's Global Sales Director.


I wanted to publish this letter sent to members of the AMGA in a public place so I could directly reference it in my commendations of Five Ten. Five Ten has and continues to provide monetary support to the AMGA as a Patron level Partner and continues to support individual guides with the footwear needed to work in the mountains.

On a personal level, the Five Ten Daescent approach shoe dramatically changed my climbing and guiding in multi-pitch terrain. Really more like an amazingly comfortable climbing shoe, I've been able to lead 5.8, second 5.10a, and scramble with ease over any terrain in these shoes. I'm grateful simply for Five Ten making such a product. Keep up the excellent work!


Monday, March 7, 2011

Blew through like a Nor'easter!

Leading Trestle Left WI3+. Placing a lot of screws for Ice Climbing 201 students to practice removing and placing while on top-rope.

I had the new and unique experience this year of visiting the northeast in the winter for only a brief month. Normally I live in the Northeast and have been able to take in the glory that is winter (snowboarding, ice climbing, snowshoeing, etc.), but this is my first year living in the Southeast. It does mean good things for my rock season, but my ice season would have to be concentrated into one trip. This trip focused around Fox Mountain Guides' annual NH Ice Climbing Courses. I had the opportunity to assist Senior Guide Ron Funderburke on our Ice Climbing 201 course, privately guide a few days, and climb everything I could on my free days!

Bundled up trying to stay warm while belaying in Smuggler's Notch, VT.

All said and done, here's what my tick list included:

Smuggler's Notch, VT - Jefferson's Slide WI3, Playground Left WI3, Various Workout Wall Routes WI2, WI3, WI4, Grand Illusion WI4, Grand Confusion WI3
Lake Whilloughby, VT - Renormalization WI4
Frankenstein Cliff, NH - Standard Route WI4, Trestle Left WI3+, Cave Route WI4, Pegasus WI4, Chia Direct WI4+, Dropline WI5, Up In The Woods WI3
Texico Slabs, NH - Unknown WI4
Duck's Head - Unknown Right WI5-, Dreadlocks M7

That's 18 routes (7 multi-pitch) in 17 days (6 "rest" days). And it's all the winter I get. Besides three days previous to these out on North Carolina ice (see older post), that was my winter climbing year. Not a bad selection of climbs, and just after this trip I swung through the New River, West Virginia for a couple days of sport climbing. Didn't feel like a rock climber there (still had the mentality of DON'T FALL from ice climbing), but still tons of fun.

On lead of Chia Direct WI4+. Normally done in two pitches, I streched the rope and finished directly above.

I had the pleasure of climbing with my friend Michael Morley for most of my free days, and he compiled some video footage of the trip. The following couple silly videos are all his doing. Some good climbing mixed in with goofy footage of myself jamming out in the car yields a cinematic masterpiece.

Untitled from Michael Morley on Vimeo.

I climb first in the next video of the two pitch Pegasus WI4. Michael takes the sustained finishing pillar. Notice how he kinda climbs ice like a rock climber. That's because this is his 8th or so day of ice climbing ever! And he's leading WI4 like a champ, at least a champ rock climber! Did I also mention he lead a M7 on this trip? More video of that to come!

Untitled from Michael Morley on Vimeo.

The highlights of this season for me were getting on my first WI5 leads, and feeling comfortable and confident guiding multi-pitch ice up through WI4+. A great winter for myself and I'm really looking forward to next year!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Accident Analysis: 15 Foot Ledge Fall

On Saturday February 26th at Whiteside Mountain in North Carolina I fell on pitch 3 of the Original Route. The fall was due to a loose rock that I pulled off while down-climbing through a roof. I was down-climbing in order to extend the sling on my previous piece of gear because it was causing some awful rope drag. Because of the move I was putting an outward pull on the mail-box sized rock with most of my body weight. The block came loose and I immediately fell backwards. There was a sloping ledge below me that I had just traversed from the right. The rock and I hit the ledge at the same time, luckily in different places. The rock continued to rocket down the 200 feet of slab below and crash on the ground. I landed directly on my gluteus maximus and slid a couple more feet before my slide was arrested by a #8 Black Diamond Stopper. After a string of expletives I assessed myself for injuries. My rump was the only thing that hurt, but I waited for the pain to subside to see if it was masking any other painful injury. After a minute I realized nothing else hurt. I was fine. And really surprised that I was fine.

Whiteside Mountain, North Carolina. The Original Route (5.11a) ascends 9 pitches in the center of the upper wall.

Now for the analysis. The accident occured due to loose rock. How can we avoid loose rock? Testing blocks like this before trusting them helps. Tapping it to hear if its hollow or pulling with partial body weight before using full body weight are a couple ways to test. I did tap the rock and notice it sounded a little hollow, but I used it to ascend this section and it had already held. But when down-climbing I pulled harder because I couldn't see my feet and ripped the block out. It was a fluke type of accident that I was really lucky to get out of scot-free. As a side-note one might ask why I didn't have more gear above me? Good question. I tried to get a piece in to lower off of, but there was nothing to find. Climbing at Whiteside is in general run-out, and for most climbers probably shit-yourself-scary. So that probably didn't help the big fall.

If you have a similar story about a near-miss feel free to share it in the comments section. I'd love to hear and learn from others.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Return to my old stomping grounds: Smuggler's Notch, VT

It was so great to be back in Vermont today experiencing the ice I learned to climb on! Smuggler's Notch in Northern Vermont is among my favorite places to climb, and has the greatest concentration of alpine-like ice on the East coast. I was lucky to meet up with my long-time climbing partner Frank, and fellow FMG guides Karsten and Lindsay made it up from the Catskills in NY. We were a little worried about the Smugg's Ice Bash festival taking place, so we got up and left the house by 7:15AM. Parking was easy to come by and it only appeared that a couple other parties were heading out. We worked our way to Jeff's Slide, Lindsay taking first lead with Karsten in tow, and myself starting up to their left with Frank belaying.

On Jeffersonville Slide (WI3+) with Frank belaying. Happy to be done freaking out!

Further up Jeff's Slide loving the blue ice hidden under the snow.

I started the day with a little bit of a sketch fest. I chose one of the harder starts available with about fifteen feet of vertical before a bulge. I got up a little over half of that, put in a screw, and started further up. Nearing the bulge I started pumping out big time! I don't know if it was the Fusion tools I was trying out, or the backpack I was climbing with, or just bad technique, but I decided to furiously down-climb to hang on the screw. It was probably a combination of all those things, but poor technique contributed the most. I started up again slightly to the left and finished the rest of the route, taking my time and focusing on my movement. The second pitch was short but fun, and we hiked down to meet back up with Karsten and Lindsay whom finished before us.

Lindsay likes coiling rope!

So do I! I look silly while dancing to keep warm.

We hiked up to ENT gully, looked at the rad mixed line out the overhanging wall to the left, and decided we didn't have the stones to take it on. The gully had a group on it so we went back to the road and continued further into the notch. We were scoping out both walls and spied a couple vertical pillars on the east side of the notch. I think this is called the Playground or something like that. We hiked up an already broken trail and split up between the vertical pillars and a longer flow of WI3 of the left side of the gully. This was a really fun lead for me and I felt really fluid on it. Karsten lead one of the vertical pillars only to find that it was nearly completely detached at the top. Yikes!

Leading the WI3 in the Playground with Frank belaying me below. The background is the other side of the notch some distance away. I love Smuggs!

Karsten, Lindsay, and I left Frank's place early the following morning to drive across the state two hours to Lake Whilloughby. Mt. Pisgah on the east side of the Lake has the hardest ice climbs on the east coast! Super sustained WI5+ routes of 3 pitches and more. We were aiming for a 'rest' day and got on an easier WI4. A great route none-the-less. Sorry no photos, we forgot the camera. I'm inside working all week but can't wait for next weekend when our Fox Mountain Guides NH trip starts. NH ice here we come!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Choss Mountain: The Future of Winter Climbing in North Carolina

When I first moved to North Carolina I figured the only way I would end up ice climbing was during Christmas vacation back home in New Hampshire. In the past six weeks I've been proved dramatically wrong! I've climbed some of the raddest, improbable ice here I've ever seen and I've lead my hardest lines to date. And this is all thanks to a wonderful little crag called Choss Mountain on the west rim of Linville Gorge.

Ron Funderburke on the left, describing some interesting moves to me before the first WI2+ pitch of a possibly new M5 WI4. Photo by Ryan Sigsbey.

Aptly named, Choss Mountain is the home to some significant drips of water running down broken metamorphic rock, and often free falling when the wall overhangs. On the couple occasions I've climbed here routes were formed, but much of the water was still dripping. The waterfall you reach upon finishing the approach hike up a creek bed is impressive by any account. It spans a width of at least 70 feet with the potential for 50 foot free hanging columns on the right side. Above the vertical section is another 100+ feet of WI 2-3 terrain. Unfortunately this flow is heavy, and temperatures haven't been cold enough long enough to freeze this properly in place. According to Ron Funderburke, this could be the most impressive formation in all of North Carolina, given it comes in.

The right side of the heavy waterfall. Photo by Karsten Delap.

A handful of other impressive lines are present, often with a dry tooling move or two thrown in for good measure. One of these is a M5 WI4 that Ron and I may have made the first ascent of January 15th. I started with the lead, trying to unlock the crux start taking a fall or two onto a brown tri-cam and backing off a hand full of other times too. I got a bit pumped and handed over the reins to Ron, who quickly fired the route with grace. A mix of rock pro and solid screws yielded a really enjoyable line. There's another few routes of similar style to the left and right of this line. Ron and Daniel Councell did one of them back in December.

Ron topping out his probably new M5 WI4, helmet cam in tow. Photo by Ryan Sigsbey.

A couple hundred yards to the right of the entry water fall holds a few more short lines. I've lead two of them, one with some cool mixed scramble moves into and out of a cave. The pure ice line goes at WI4 and the mixed line might have M2 or M3 moves on it (I really don't understand mixed ratings). At any rate, they're really fun lines.

Pulling the first few moves of the mixed line. Photo by Ryan Sigsbey.

Getting up high in the cave to place a couple cams. Photo by Ryan Sigsbey.

Moving onto the ice above the cave. A couple more moves and I got a solid 13cm screw. Photo by Ryan Sigsbey.

Cruising to the top of the mixed line. Photo by Ryan Sigsbey.

A top-down angle of the pure water ice line just to the right of the mixed line. Photo by Karsten Delap.

Cool vantage with a fish-eye lens distorting the edges. Photo by Karsten Delap.

Ron and I were graced with a couple paparazzi whom captured great stills and video of the day. Eric Crews is responsible for the great video below, and many of the still photos are Ryan Sigsbey's work. Also a few shots from Karsten Delap.

There are a few hanging daggers along the wall, one of which Ron gave a shot on top-rope, pulling what looked like 5.10+ moves with gloved hands, crampons, and ice axes in order to reach the ice. More heavy flows abound that could yield serious WI5 columns. And that's just the few hundred yards of cliff we've seen. There could be a bit more just around the bend to the right or left. Anyone with strong mental fortitude and a solid lock-off should be flocking to this crag! I'd love to see what could be made of all this potential!