La Mussara - Toronja
Posted by sibylle in Spain, La Mussara, Europe (Thursday January 29, 2009 at 8:49 pm)


Sector Toronja
We had planned to return to Spain this spring and to climb again at La Mussara.

Driving to La Mussara, less than two hours from Barcelona, brings you to another world. From Barcelona we headed south towards Tarragona, and then inland to Reus, birthplace of Antoni Gaudi, the architect who designed the Sagrada Familia.

We stopped in Reus to stock up on groceries and fuel for our camp stove before heading up countless narrow switchbacks to the 1,000 meter-high plateau from which our tent looked down upon the Mediterranean.

From our campsite at La Mussara, a Refugio in the National Park, we climbed wither at one of numerous cliffs near La Mussara or headed to Siurana, less than an hour away. Our tent nestled between several large pines, with a view straight towards the Mediterranean. IN the morning, we’d wake when the sun hit the tent. I’d open the tent door to gaze down upon the sea, 1,000 meters below us, and then we’d breakfast at picnic tables set amid the flowers growing in the Refugio’s garden.

Two wardens, both of whom climbed, lived in the Refugio and cooked meals for hikers, weekend climbers, and visiting German, Austrian, and Swiss climbers, who, with their guide, chose to stay in the Refugio’s beds.

Several cliffs of solid white, orange, and reddish limestone were 20 minutes’ to half an hour hike from our camp, containing numerous climbs ranging from easy beginner routes for kids to climbs that neither Tristan or I could begin to get up. Still, La Mussara much less well known than Siurana, which sports some of the world’s hardest route and serves as a regular wintering place for some of the world’s leading rock climbers, including Germany’s Huber brothers.

A month here wasn’t nearly enough to climb the routes we wanted to do, so we had planned on returning, again, until Australia beckoned.

Off to Oz
Posted by sibylle in Australia (Tuesday January 27, 2009 at 9:34 pm)


Mt. Arapiles,  Victoria, Australia

When a friend told me that airline tickets to Australia were now on sale for less than $900.00, I at first didn’t believe him. When I’d checked prices last summer, costs of a flight to Melbourne hovered around $1,400.00 and up.

I’d been thinking for a while of climbing at Arapiles, which my well-traveled climbing partner, David Goldstein (with whom I went to Portrero Chico, Mexico) refers to as the best climbing in the world. David visits Arapiles every year, and some years he goes twice – in spring and in fall (it helps that his brother, an airline pilot, gets him free flights).

Not only can we look forward to climbing on some of the world’s best rock, but where else do kangaroos run around near the base of the cliff?

We’ll fly to Melbourne, take a bus or train to Horsham (about 300 km), and then hitch a ride the remaining 8 km to Mt. Arapiles.

The local campground charges $2 per person, per night, which will cost us $120 for the month in lodging, making this a realistic trip this spring.

Usually I write about where I’ve been, but the cheap tickets to Oz thrilled me and I wanted to let everyone know, so that you too can fly to Australia and climb superb rock!


Alpinist resurrected?
Posted by sibylle in books, films, photography (Friday January 23, 2009 at 11:07 am)


Earlier this month, I wrote that Height of Land Publications, publisher of Backcountry Magazine, bought Alpinist.

This week, Dougald MacDonald announced that “Alpinist lives”.

The publisher of Backcountry and Telemark Skier plans to bring back Alpinist as it was, and to honor all subscriptions.

“Alpinist fits perfectly into our family,” says HOL president and publisher Jon Howard. “We feel climbers, mountaineers, and backcountry and freeheel skiers all share the same DNA. It’s, at times, about being bold; at times about being cautious.”

MacDonald  analyzed why Alpinist didn’t survive.

Though considered by many (including Reinhold Messner) to be  the world’s best climbing magazine, readers were unwilling to pay for quality.
“It never attracted nearly enough readers to turn a profit,” said Macdonald. “Climbing and Rock & Ice . . .  deliver . . . what readers and advertisers want to see.”

Backcountry editor Adam “Howie” Howard has asked Christian Beckwith to stay on as Editor.

No word yet as to what they’ll do with the Alpinist Film Festival.
Shortly before they folded, Alpinist asked me to write about a first ascent of the Rainbow Wall in Red Rocks by Alison Sheets, Layton Kor, and myself. I wonder if they’ll resurrect that article?

Shelf Road - in January, and over 70º!
Posted by sibylle in Colorado (Thursday January 22, 2009 at 7:48 pm)

TGH shlef.JPG

Tristan Hechtel at Cactus Cliff, Shelf Road

Tristan and I drove down to Shelf road for two days of climbing when I read reports of temperatures in the 70s. Those reports were correct! I climbed in rolled-up long pants and t-shirts while our dog panted in the shade.

“It’s a bit hot for long underwear,” Tristan commented laconically, and proceeded to strip. After teaching skiing in Summit County all winter, with daytime highs in the single digits and wind chill well below zero, we were both thrilled to feel heat for a change.

For our first day of climbing since last November, our goal was to climb as many pitches as possible, not to work some  11 or 12  to death (our death, not the climb’s). We achieved an acceptable 8 climbs on Wednesday, despite arriving at 11:30. Next time, we hope to break 10 routes for the day, with an ultimate goal of 20 routes per day.

I’ll keep you posted on how close we get to achieving that!

Fun Climbs Red Rocks
Posted by sibylle in books, films, photography (Saturday January 17, 2009 at 8:23 am)


Fun Climbs  Red Rocks

Sometimes I Google “Fun Climbs” to read reviews or comments about my book, Fun Climbs Colorado. When I recently checked, I found a new “Fun Climbs” – about Red Rocks, Nevada.

Red Rocks offers a wonderful assortment of climbing, from short sport climbs, to medium length moderate routes, to multi-day big wall climbs. Combined that with good weather, beautiful scenery, and pleasant camping, and you’ve got a great vacation and road-trip destination area.

Fun Climbs Red Rocks focuses on moderate routes for climbers who wish to toprope or climb easier routes. It describes thirty-one cragging and toproping locations and twelve multi-pitch routes, including photos for each area plus topos for the longer climbs.

I’m excited to see this book, and hope that more “Fun Climbs” appear. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all …..

Training - lateral box jumps
Posted by sibylle in skiing, Colorado (Friday January 16, 2009 at 7:23 pm)


Lateral Box Jumps

Tristan learned these  on the Team Summit Race Team.

1. Jump over the box  to the other side and back

2. Land and explode off  two feet

Keep your hands quiet while jumping, as in skiing.
Do about 30 jumps per set the first few days.

I jump over a smaller, flatter box - about 2″ tall and a foot wide because I worried that I might catch my feet and go flying when trying to jump the taller box!

Keystone ski lesson discounts
Posted by sibylle in skiing (Saturday January 10, 2009 at 11:02 am)

Powder Day
Keystone’s Ski & Ride School is offering the following incredible deals for Learn to Ski and Ride Month:

Private Lessons:

Full Day Private $495
Half Day Private $375

Adult Class Lessons:

3 Lessons for the price of 2

Children Class Lessons:

20% discount on class lessons

Discounts available for both ski and snowboard lessons; available from  1/12/09 through 2/8/09

Alpinist sold
Posted by sibylle in books, films, photography (Friday January 9, 2009 at 12:41 pm)


Height of Land Publications, the publisher of Backcountry Magazine, bought Alpinist magazine for $71,000 via phone auction.

Alpinist comprised the magazine, Web site (with about 50,000 unique visitors per month) and the Alpinist Film Festival. Despite a passionate fan following, a popular website, and a widely attended and I thought successful film festival, Alpinist remained unprofitable, even after investor Marc Ewing pumped at least $2 million into the magazine.

A former employee took over organizing the remaining tangible assets.

With 50,000 visitors on its web site, I wonder why circulation remained so low? Is it because few wanted to pay the high price of a superb magazine printed on archival quality paper? I know of many readers who borrowed it from a friend or read it at the library. Or is the market so small for alpinism?

Some people have said, “Print media is all but dead.”  If that’s the case, how long will Climbing or Rock and Ice remain viable? Or do Urban Climber and bouldering augur  the future of climbing?

Vail today
Posted by sibylle in skiing, Colorado (Thursday January 8, 2009 at 8:24 pm)


Gore Range from China Bowl

Vail today

Today we enjoyed one of the perfect, bluebird powder days that grace Colorado winters.
Winds and storms pounded Vail the past few days to where I 70 closed yesterday morning. Today dawned clear and sunny – and I70 had reopened. We tossed our gear in the truck and headed to Vail.

Apparently everyone else had the same idea, as traffic crept over Vail pass. We headed straight up the Vista Bahn toward the Sunup Bowl and then China Bowl. With awesome skiing here, we decided to stay in China Bowl and forego the lines at Blue Sky Basin.

It seems that despite temporarily leaving a skier hanging upside down with his pants removed from the Skyline lift that accesses Blue Sky Basin, everyone still wanted to ski that lift and that area anyway.

When I repeatedly encountered a PSIA examiner taking his ski instructors’ clinic on the same lifts we were riding, I concluded we’d chosen the right place to ski – lots of deep snow and few people in line.


Me, skiing one of the back bowls

Ski training - jumping
Posted by sibylle in skiing, Colorado (Wednesday January 7, 2009 at 2:41 pm)

jump1JPG1.JPG     jump2.JPG

Lateral side jumps
* Hop onto a box with left foot

* Hop onto right foot on box, left floor on floor left of box

* Repeat, hopping back and forth over the box

* Focus on quick feet lateral  rather than vertical

The lateral hops provide an aerobic workout in addition to improving explosive leg strength. Take a good look at Tristan—he’s breathing hard in that photo.

Tristan hops back and forth thirty times. I did 15 hops, stopped briefly, and hopped another 15 times.

Here’s my workout yesterday:

1. Stretch

2. Bicycles – 40 times

3. Squats

4. Lateral box hops – 30

5. Bicycles – 30

6. Lateral side jumps

7. Half plank

Tristan does the following set three times:

1. Pushups with handles

2. Abs —choose one from:
plank, bicycles, leg lifts, marching (Pilates)
3. Legs — choose one from:
squats, wall sit, lunges, jumps, Windmill hops,

Repeat this sequence for one set.

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