Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Preparation for Norway

A few climbs in preparation for my dream ice climbing destination: Norway, for First Ascent. Follow us on the First Ascent blog!

Mighty Aphrodite, James Q Martin

Ames Ice Hose in Telluride (Andrew Burr Photo)

With Chad in Ouray: Chad Peele and I had never climbed together, so we figured we would go climb around Ouray on my 1/2 day off between Chicks with Picks' Complete and the Betty Ice Ball. We made it up one climb - "Rocket something"just outside of Ouray - and then tried to go this amazing pillar I had seen a few days prior with Andrew Burr and Jason Nelson (check out the pictures on the blog). Yet, with the spell of warm temps, the creek had unfrozen and when I broke through the verglas and fell up to mid-calves in the cold-issima water, we decided to call it and go grab some lunch instead. Just a half day of climbing was enough to get feel for how we would climb together. Norway is going to be fun!

Automatic Control Theory, Santaquin Canyon, UT, Photo from hubby Adam George

The following pictures are of Frankenchrist, Maple Canyon UT, one of my favorite places to climb in because of the red cobble stones and the color of the ice. Funky ice but fun. Went down there with Peter Vintoniv and Tommy Chandler. Enjoy!

Frankenchrist, Maple Canyon UT

Thursday, February 4, 2010

OR Show 2010

The Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City takes place each year in January, between the Ouray Ice Festival and Chicks with Picks. This is a great time for me to touch base with my sponsors (First Ascent, Petzl, Scarpa, Julbo) but also to see just about everyone I know in the Outdoor Industry. This year, Adam and I worked for Brooks Range Mountaineering. Brooks Range Mountaineering makes tarps, tents, rescue sleds, map reading tools, snow science kits, down jackets and elephant foot type of sleeping bag, ski straps, snow shovels, snow saws, etc. It's a one of a kind company, owned and created by AMGA Alpine Guide Matt Brooks. The new Rocket Tent, designed by IFMGA guide Dick Jackson, drew a lot of attention, because of the cutting edge untearable material it's made out of. The tent is ultralite (1.5lbs) and can be built with trekking poles and a probe.

It was a lot of fun to work a crew of guides at the booth.

I got a chance to walk around the show and discover all the new exciting products. Here are a few!

Scarpa has a whole new line of sport climbing shoes! hard to pick one from the lot. They all are so attractive and cutting edge looking!

Beautiful new lifestyle shoes... can't wait to show them off when they come out!

New alpine boots! The Phantom Lite will now be the Phantom Guide, the Summit has been transformed into the fancy Mont Blanc. I will be trying this new boot on long Norwegian ice climbs! And the Triolet - perfect durable light summer alpine boot - has been revamped! Check it all out on the Scarpa Website!

Petzl is coming out with an awesome new line of products!

The Spirit carabiners have been one of Petzl's most beloved products. No teeth, perfect shape, they are/were the must of biner. But with the new area of lightweight carabiners, Petzl took the time to perfect a new set of carabiners. The Angel (the draws to the left of the Spirits). The draws come in different lengths and the biners are color-coded: blue and orange for the bottom biner, grey for the biner you clip into the bolt. The Angel are no less than revolutionary.

Petzl also came out with a lighter Elios for women and for kids (bottom helmets on the picture).

And Petzl also came out with a much awaited new version of the Quark and of the Nomic, and added to the line the amazing Ergo (top ice axe, orange). The Ergo is radically curved with two pommels to make switching hands easier. I haven't tried it yet, but rumor has it that it swings really well and is perfect for mixed climbing. More on that when I get to climb on it. What was missing on the Nomic - a hammer and a spike - no longer is! Petzl came up with an amazing idea: a removable hammer or adze. How genius is that? For my next alpine adventure, I can choose to carry a hammer - or not - along, depending on what my objective is! The handle is smaller and is more attractive with the added orange. And the added spike makes this tool a lot more versatile!

The new Quark should have been called Transformer. It can do so many things at once, it's awesome! It adapts to whatever you want to do: pure ice, alpine route, mountaineering, etc. It's small and light enough that you will always want it along! The hand grip can be removed so that the spike works better. The pommel can moved up and out of the way on alpine climbs, or put above the handle so that you can switch hands on it, the hammer is removable, etc.!

Petzl also came out with more powerful and more stylish (!) headlamps. They come in all sorts of colors. My favorite, of course, is the pink one! But moreover, Petzl came out with a rechargeable battery. Now you can recharge your headlamp with your USB port or any other charger! Sustainable and ingenious, wouldn't you say?

Julbo needs no introduction in the Outdoor community. Just about every mountain guide I know - in Europe or in North America - wears Julbo sunglasses. And the reason for that is...? well, just coz they are the best on the market.

This year, Julbo came out with the Monte Rosa, a stylish and feminine alpine pair of sunglasses. Specs: For those ladies who explore the summits yet also enjoy the hustle and bustle of urban life, Julbo presents the Monta Rosa. With removable shields, high protection lenses and a curved ergonomic shape, the MonteRosa offers adaptability, versatility and complete protection.

Julbo owner Christophe Beaud obviously doesn't think that the Monte Rosa should be limited to women!

The Whoops is are made for smaller faces and offer a perfect fit both in the mountains and in the city! The white ones, as always, are my absolute favorites!

And last but not least, the very trendy Fly. These are for sure going to be my goto sunnies for 2010!

This year's show was my favorite, hands down. Lots of people, lots of fun. The atmosphere was way more relaxed then last year's, after the economic crash!

What caught your eye during the show this year? What was your favorite product? Please share with me!

Andrew Burr Eye Candy

Two days out with great friends and an amazing photographer: Andrew Burr. Check his website out: and

Thanks, Andy!

Ines Papert on the first pitch of Ames Ice Hose

Starting up the second pitch on Ames: we both got to the pitch a few times. This pitch holds a lot of history for me: my husband to be, Adam was on this pitch when my tools came flying down from the top of the route and almost hit him. This is how we met, we were married shortly thereafter.

Ines pitch two

Last pitch of Ames Ice Hose. Awesome exposure

Piton anchor love

Really? the first generating station??!!


Coffee time at the greatest bookstore on earth: "Between the Covers", in Telluride, CO

Drytooling on CampBird Road above Ouray, CO

Nice bolt!

Jason Nelson on a wet Skylight. More about Jason @ Visual

Testing out the hood as it's pouring down on me

More wetness...

Andy LOVES old anchors and gear...

Behind Jason's house... gorgeous... yet chossy!

Really... do I really have to climb all that bad rock?!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ouray Ice Festival 2010

Five years ago, I got on a plane from Switzerland to come and compete in the world class Ouray Ice Festival ( Little did I know how much this event would change my life. Upon arriving here, I drove to Telluride to climb the classic Ames Ice Hose, a striking WI5 three pitch line. While rappelling the route, I mistakingly dropped my ice axes, which almost took out the leader of the party below. I apologized, he forgave me and six months later, we were married. During the event, I also met photographer/climber Jon Walsh (, whom I met that following march in Canada with the perspective of climbing many routes in a day. We would climb anywhere from 2 to 7 pitches in a day, linking up stunning lines such as Nemesis and Suffer Machine, Nightmare on Wolfestreet and French Reality, the Weeping Wall/Weeping Pillar and Curtain Call, etc. Later in the trip, we focused on putting up new lines. They were hard and full value and when all was done, I wanted more. This was the beginning of my passion for first ascents.

Audrey, Matt and Pat with their fancy rental car in Ouray

Two years ago, I was back for the third time at the Ouray Ice Festival. Sitting across from me at breakfast one morning was fellow Petzl athlete Audrey Gariepy - an amazingly talented Quebecer climber. I was reading an email from Jon Walsh suggesting we meet up in March again to do first ascents in the remote Canadian Icefall Brooke cirque ( I looked up and asked Audrey if she might be interested. She immediately said yes. We invited two other women to join us - Ines Papert and Jen Olsen. Two months later, we flew into the cirque and put up no less than 10 new routes in 10 days.

Since it had all started at the Ouray Ice Festival, it only made sense for me this year to present a slideshow of this amazing journey into the Canadian wilderness. Thursday night, the Main Street Theater in Ouray was more than packed to view Andres Marin and I's slideshows. It was a blast. The crowd was excited and that made me all the more at ease to share this amazing journey into the wild. Since Ines Papert was in the audience, she agreed to talk about putting up what might be the hardest multipitch route in the world during that trip - an amazing feat that await a repetition to confirm the M12 rating. And thus started the 15th Annual Ouray Ice Festival - my 5th edition since I moved to the USA in 2006.

Every year, I debate whether or not to compete in the event. Competing requires a lot of training and being a last minute kinda girl, I always end up feeling pretty stressed out about the upcoming competition. Sometime in november, I started hanging from my ice axes in the kids playground I have in my backyard in Salt Lake City. I would hang for 15 minutes at a time, doing pull ups with one foot resting on a bar, then shaking out before doing knee raises and kicking my foot as high as possible in the air to work the core. This year, I also went to France and climbed on huge overhanging routes that have been set up especially for dry-tooling. Route setters drilled and painted holes in the rock to place ice axes in and hung logs on the route as well. This was amazing training. Yet, as I flew home from spending Christmas in Europe, I started getting sick. I had intended to drive down early to Ouray for some last minute training and getting used to the style of climbing down in Ouray again. Instead, I was bed ridden for three and half days with strepthroat. When antibiotics finally started working their magic, I got out of bed to drive down to Ouray and pick up my friend Jasmin Caton on the way. Ironically, once I got on the rock, I felt the strongest I had ever felt and I got excited about competing again. Saturday morning, I got up early to warm up with Majka Burhardt. I was scheduled to climb at 10.40am on Saturday. I rapped down into the canyon a little before that and checked out the route once the previous competitor had fallen off. The route was long - 140ft - and overhanging, but it looked fun. Vince Anderson, the route setter, had decided on a sit start. I put my Nomics in the starting hole in the ice and started after the 3-2-1 count down. The little ice problem at the start felt easy. I was calm and really motivated. I clipped the second draw, put my tool on a piece of ice and as I lifted my other tool to make my next move, the ice hold my weight was now fully on broke, and I fell. And just like that, it was over. I didn't even have time to realize what was happening. I lowered down and climbed the ice to get out of the canyon. Instantly, I looked for a partner to go climb with in the park. I was motivated and frustrated, and it proved to the perfect attitude I needed to redeem myself and send my little project: Mighty Aphrodite (M9).

Photos courtesy of James Q Martin

Josh Wharton won the competition for the man and Ines Papert won for the women. While the competition was happening, multiple ice climbing and paragliding world champion Will Gadd was climbing as many pitches as he could during a 24hours period to raise money for the Dzi Foundation. Check out to learn more about Will's incredible feat!

The rest of the event was spent teaching clinics and meeting people from All over who share the same passion for ice climbing. Audrey and I taught Advanced Ice and Advanced Mixed climbing together one day and then I taught a beginner's class solo. The Ouray Ice Festival is an amazing time to learn from professionals. Clinics always fill out so it's important to sign up early. The Ouray Ice Festival also hosts the best party. This year, Petzl hosted the outrageous Super Hero- Guy Lacelle party, which raised 4000$ for the Ice Park. People were dressed in Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, Men in Black, Batman and Robin, Superman and many others!

The 15th Annual Ouray Ice Festival was a great success. Beyond the competition, the outrageous party, the avalanche of great slideshows and the clinics, this edition was also a great occasion for the climbing tribe to reunite and celebrate those who have left us too soon. I already look forward to taking part in the 16th Annucal Ouray Ice Festival!

First Ascent Tent at the Ouray Ice Festival

Post Ice Festival Ames Ice Hose Climbing with Andrew Burr and Ines Papert