Dick Dorworth, climber, Skiing Hall of Fame
Posted by sibylle in books, films, photography, skiing, Wyoming, California, Idaho (Monday November 14, 2011 at 7:07 pm)

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Dick Dorworth at City of Rocks, 2010

I met Dick Dorworth in the 1970s in the Cirque of the Towers, Wind River Range, Wyoming. I’d hiked in to the Cirque with big plans and two other girls - Anne Marie Rizzie and Linda Covert. I say “girls” intentionally, since we were teens, and college students.

Dick was guiding a client and had his wife and son with him. After the client, wife and son left, and my two friends departed early, Dick asked me to climb with him.

In my second summer of climbing and leading, I still felt new to the ropes. But, I figured, with a professional climbing guide, what can go wrong?

However, Dick wasn’t planning on climbing an easy trade route. No, he’d been eyeing an as yet unclimbed line on the North Face of Mitchell Peak (12,482′.)

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N. Face of Mitchell Peak

Photo by Jason Funk

We started up early in the morning. Dick led the first pitch, which he’d climbed before on his first attempt on the face (with his client, I believe). At the belay, he pointed up and said,

“Just follow that corner until you reach a good ledge and then belay.”

I was  a teenage girl. This was by far the biggest, and scariest,  wall I’d ever been on.  And the longest route I’d ever been on, by far. I also was used to climbing with my father, and doing what he told me. So I grabbed our nuts and hexes and climbed up the corner until I found a ledge to belay from.

We climbed about four pitches until the weather looked very threatening, and a Dick’s urging, we rappeled down.

A few days later, armed with a waterproof parka I’d borrowed form another climber,  we started up again. After the first four pitches, we entered terra incognito. Dick led the next pitch,  and at the belay, pointed up again.

“Just head up that flake,” he encouraged me.

I was even more nervous. Here I would lead an unknown pitch on an unclimbed route, with no idea of difficult it was. My habit of climbing up anything that someone told me I could do stood me in good stead, and I led the next pitch, which wasn’t too desperate.

We’d now climbed 6 pitches, with the angle and climbing difficulties easing off. However, the weather and nightfall more than threatened, as black clouds boiled up from behind the wall and thunder grumbled in the distance. Dick headed up quickly, and we reached the summit plateau it got dark and all hell cut loose.

Luckily I was wearing the borrowed parka. Dick found an overhanging ledge we crawled under, as hail pounded us and wild lightning strikes lit up the summit.

I’d never been in such a storm in such an exposed place.

“Are we going to make it?” I quavered, sure that we’d be forced to spend the night up here, and not at all sure that we’d survive it.

“I know the descent.” Dick reassured me. ” I f we can find the gully, I know were the rappel anchors are. We carried no headlamps - I didn’t own one, and headlamps in those days were big, clumsy things.

Once the brunt of the storm eased, we  crawled on hands and knees toward the edge, looking for rappel anchors during the brightest lightning strikes.

Somehow we found the anchors and commenced rappelling. After numerous raps on soaking ropes, from which  streams of water ran down our arms, we reached more crawlable terrain.

Eventually, close to midnight, we spied a roaring fire. Our friends,  knwoing we were out there, had built an enormous bonfire to help light our way back to camp.

We happily crawled in next to the fire to dry off, and eat some lunch and dinner.

Dick named our climb ‘the book of Ecclesiastes’, perhaps to commemorate out trial by water and fire.
This year, my friend and mentor, Dick Dorworth,   was nominated to  the Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame for his world speed record and his many books and articles.

City of rocks — Lost Arrow
Posted by sibylle in Idaho (Wednesday July 6, 2011 at 8:43 pm)

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Lost Arrow, pitch two

Just returned from a great climbing trips to the City of Rocks, Idaho.

The second pitch of the Lost Arrow, above,  provided great exposure, excellent views, and nice phots too.

I’ll write more about our climbs later.

Screw shoes for hiking and running on snow or ice
Posted by sibylle in ice, Germany, Switzerland, Europe, Colorado, Idaho, Canada and PNW (Thursday February 24, 2011 at 11:14 am)


My running shoes with screws added for traction

Two years ago, my son made me  “screw shoes” for Christmas (when he asked what I wanted, I said that I wanted  “screw shoes”). I hike in these even in snow, by using gaiters over the show and a vapor barrier inside the shoe. This can be a fancy vapor barrier liner sock, as made by several suppliers, or as simple as a plastic bag. I use grocery bags over my socks, which keeps my feet dry and warm down to zero degrees.

You can also turn hiking boots into screw shoes, and simply remove the screws in spring. I like running on snowy trails, so I use running shoes.

I’ve had the above pair of screw shoes for two years now, and they’ve held up well. Use a relatively new running shoe, with a thick sole, and make sure the screws are short (about 3/8 inch), so as to not feel them

Other outdoor hikers prefer the Yaktrax,  or the Kahtoola MICROspikes work with a heavier hiking boot, but I like traveling light and fast.

Matt Carpenter, 17-time winner of Pikes Peak ascents and marathons,  describes how to make a screw shoe on his website.

Happy 2011!
Posted by sibylle in utah, skiing, Colorado, Idaho, Canada and PNW (Saturday January 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm)

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I hope you all had a great 2010, and wish you an even better 2011  



In March, Tristan and I drove to Moab to climb. It rained when we arrived, but the next day dawned sunny, so we headed for the Fisher Tower area, where we climbed  small towers (it was still quite cold, with snow on the ground).


Next we headed to Indian Creek and climbed Sunflower Tower in the Bridger Jack Mesa – a gorgeous day and wonderful climb.


In April, I headed to Indian Creek and met Andrew from South Africa. Andrew and I headed off to climb more towers. First, we had a perfect day on Thumbelina. Sunny, blue sky, warm, great views, good climbing and loads of fun.  Next, we headed for North Sixshooter. It was colder, and very windy, but still a great climb.


In May, Andrew, Niko, and Olek and I hiked in to Dark Angel in Arches, where a huge lightning storm engulfed us as we were near the top. When Andrew started rappelling, a blast of lightning “splash” slammed me on the helmet. Olek and Niko wisely rappelled from the top of the first pitch, foregoing the summit! Olek and I next climbed the Nuns in Castle Valley, while Niko and Andrew climbed a route on the Priest.


We squeezed in a short trip to City of Rocks, Idaho with Andrew and Lauren.

In July, I hooked up in the Sawtooths with Ryan. We hiked in to the Elephant’s Perch and climbed two excellent routes.


From Idaho, I drove to Squamish Chief, one of my favorite places in the world. Jon and I climbed a few short routes; June and I climbed on the Apron; and Ian and I climbed Angel’s Crest.


Andy Cairns from N. Vancouver and I climbed a different short routes and hiked, with June, the most beautiful trail in to Elfin Lakes.


On the way return home I squeezed in a few days at City of Rocks; then flew to San Francisco to help my mother. In October I enjoyed a quick trip to Indian Creek.

 Meanwhile, Tristan decided to take a leave of absence from college in order to ski race with Team Summit.

In Moab, I got a message from Tristan’s ski race coach that he’d broken his leg and was in the hospital.

I drove really fast and arrived as he was waking after surgery to place a titanium rod in his tibia, from the knee to the ankle. Sadly, his ski-racing career is done for the season.


He’s now walking – slowly, and not far. The surgeon says he will recover completely. We’re waiting to hear whether or not he can race next year.


I’m planning to meet June in April and we’ll go on a climbing trip to Moab, Red Rocks, and more. I’m meeting Andy in late July, and we plan to climb on the Elephant’s Perch.


Enjoy your 2011 as much as I know we will!




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City of Rocks, Thin Slice
Posted by sibylle in Idaho (Saturday October 9, 2010 at 10:24 am)

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Thin Slice, 5.10a

One of my favorite climbs in the City, Thin Slice on Parking Lot Rock, looks like a crack climb, but climbs  like a face climb.

It’s the thin crack in the photo above,  between the two corners.
After an awkward start to mount a block, I climbed up a chimney-like feature below the thin crack - the most crack climbing on the route.  Upon reaching the thin crack, the large huecos to the side provide good face holds for both hands and feet. Looking to both sides makes the route much easier - if you think it’s a pure crack climb, and use only the crack, it’ll be much harder!

While climbing abundant face holds to the sides, the crack does provide good protection. At one point, the face holds become further apart, and I used a finger lock to bridge the gap from one set of holds to the next.

This climb gets morning sun and afternoon shade.  On the arete to the right you can see Cairo,  the sport climb  on the cover of the older City of Rocks guidebook.

Castle Rocks, Idaho
Posted by sibylle in women, Idaho (Monday October 4, 2010 at 12:55 pm)

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Marsha Trout leading “Big time”

On the drive south from Squamish, I stopped at City of Rocks, Idaho, and  climbed for a few days. My first day, wandering around, I encountered Marsha and Ken Trout, fellow Colorado climbers that I hadn’t seen in years.

Marsha prefers to lead easier climbs and follow the harder ones (like a lot of us!), and so she generously agreed to climb Big Time in Castle Rocks State Park .  I’d wanted to climb this delightful route for  a while, but could not find anyone else willing to climb it, either because if was too hot (it faces south), or because, at 5.7, it was too easy.

We climbed  four pitches on perfect rock with good dishes and face holds. The route
comprises four well-bolted 30-foot pitches, so we ran together several pitches. After three lower angle pitches of face climbing and friction, the last pitch provides enjoyable climbing on a steeper arete.

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Jeroune on pitch 4

Photo by Ken Trout
This route is a great place to take beginners and older climbers. I used to climb in City of rocks with my father, when he got older and wasn’t able to walk well, which required climbs with a short approach and an easy descent (such as rappeling).

We rappelled this route with one 60-meter rope; and then climbed another great route directly to the right.

Elephant’s Perch - sideline
Posted by sibylle in Uncategorized, Idaho (Thursday August 19, 2010 at 6:43 pm)


Elephant’s Perch with Saddleback Lakes in foreground

After we climbed the Mountaineer’s Route, and a rest day, we headed up to Sideline. This route is basically Astro Elephant, with an easier start that avoids the first two difficult pitches.

Though the description for  Astro Elephant  states that the climb is 5.10-, I’d been told by three climbers (who climb harder than me!) that it’s hard 5.11. To back up this claim, when ryan and I went to the store named Elephant’s Perch in Ketchum to get topos and recent informaiton,  one of the people who works there said,

“Oh, Astro Elephant is 5.11c”. Why, when the general consensus names is 11c, it remains in the books as 5.10 is beyond me, but that’s the prerogative of first ascents - call it what, and how hard, you like.

Sideline started with a pleasant, short 5.8 pitch to a comfy ledge, that I led.  Ryan led the next 5.9 pitch, with a face-climbing crux,  to another good ledge. We found amazing  face climbing on incut solution pockets and small, incut edges, unlike any I”ve seen on granite elsewhere.
After that , he ran together pitches 3 and 4, to the big ledge that traverses half the face. Two traversing pitches followed , to get us up to the crux pitch - seven. Ryan, who’d shown himself to be our face expert, started up this one. It’s inobvious, and we had one wrong start before traversing first slightly right, then up a thin layback flake, and then left. This traverse left provided some excitement - it’s hard for 5.9+ (never trust 5.9+; we both thought it had 5.10 moves) and would engender a pendulum  for the second. Luckily we both made it across, to another good ledge.

I led the supposed 5.8 off-width to chimney pitch and struggled at length. After placing every piece of large gear we had with us, I belayed partway up this pitch, letting Ryan lead the  next section of hard, semi-runout, face to yet another good ledge.

We reached the top in good time - about 6 hours, and descended the gully in good light.


Myopia with climbers in the shade on the left-facing corner
Next day, we watched two climbers start up Myopia, a 5.11  up prominent corners. It looks like a great climb, and one I’d like to come back to when I’m strong enough!

Weather for climbing
Posted by sibylle in Uncategorized, utah, Wyoming, Colorado, California, Idaho (Tuesday August 17, 2010 at 2:38 pm)

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“It’s way too hot to climb there now!” I heard this morning.

Weather, temperature, and the presence or absence of rain become frequent preoccupations among traveling (or even stay-at-home) climbers.

Here’s a great site for weather in the United States:


They don’t yet post weather outside the United State.

The weather site helps to avoid spring snow showers.

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That’s my tent, buried under the snow!

Elephant’s Perch, Mountaineer’s Route
Posted by sibylle in Idaho (Monday August 16, 2010 at 4:23 pm)

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Below the “diamond” on the Elephant’s Perch

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The Mountaineer’s Route followed the right-facing corner that runs left of the large “diamond”. It took us 4 pitches, over 600 feet, to reach the base of the diamond!

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The “Triple Roofs”

I’m not sure whether the “triple roofs” are the lower, more prominent, of the two roof features , or the one above. I’d been so worried about climbing the dreaded “triple roofs” -   I’m bad enough at climbing one roof, let alone three of them! And then we bypassed them on gentle face climbing to the side!

I passed the lower of the roofs on pitch four traversing left below the roofs and then turning the corner to ascend on or near the arete to the left.

Ryan passed the upper roofs on pitch five, traversing left on the face and then again following the arete up.

We got lost on pitch six - stayed too far left and added an exciting variation to both pitch six and then traversing back onto pitch seven - some of the hardest climbing we did.

We reached the top of our  in about five hours, hiked around the back, and scrambled back down the descent gully.

Elephant’s Perch, Sawtooths, campsite
Posted by sibylle in Idaho (Saturday August 14, 2010 at 3:05 pm)


Saddleback Lakes below Elephant’s Perch

Above you see the view we woke to!!

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Our tent perched on a granite outcrop directly above the lake.

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Looking down at Saddleback Lakes from the Mountaineer’s route

The three Saddleback Lakes rise  one above the other. We camped by the lowest, and smallest of the three, a very short hop below the middle of the lakes. From this climb, two of the lakes show up. All three become visible from the summit of the Perch.

We saw people trying to fish, and catching very small fish (6″ - 7″ at the largest), but saw no big fish at either of the lower two lakes.We hiked in on a Sunday, avoiding the crowds, and climbed Monday, rested on Tuesday, climbed a second  route on Wednesday, and then hiked back out on Thursday. By Thursday, we saw several groups of climbers hiking in for a long weekend.

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Ryan reading on our rest day
Our weather luck was perfect — not a drop the entire time we were at the Perch, but it began to rain 10 minutes after we reached the dock!

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