Thursday, January 30, 2014

More Ice

White Oak Canyon, this time. Chris and Drew.

The original destination for the day's expedition was Overall Run, but we elected to approach from
Skyline drive and the Park Service elected to close a drive due to icy conditions (1-inch of snowfall). Faced with a barricade, we retreated and drove to White Oak, where predictably good conditions resulted in 3 leads, numerous top ropes, and tired bodies.

Chris honed gear management leading WI 2 on the lower falls. We both bouldered on the cauliflowered base, marveling at the flow, the lace-like structure others travel to view and photograph, but for some reason we are drawn to scale.

Further up the canyon we found the south side to be unstable and thinner than expected. We talked about possibility, then something substantial fell and better judgment prevailed.

The grotto was nice and cold, though and the steep walls nearer the falls provides some short but stiff leads and top roping. And quiet. No company other than the thunk of ax and the crunch of front points.


Monday, January 27, 2014


Although this latest arctic blast has my boat securely frozen in her slip...

Virginia takes on a different aspect, mid-winter.

(50 yards north of the Microdome, Great Falls, Virginia)

Drippy places, unappealing to summer rock climbers, become a playground...

... and thin ice holds a special challenge. (Left of Gorky Park, Great Falls, Virgina)


Classic 60s crampons, making the grade; My fancy high tech boots exploded the week before, but old school hangs in there.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Twine Numbering--They are not Uniform!

As I begin collecting more rigorous data for an up-coming article, I begin testing samples from different manufacturers. I begin searching the net for published data, and I learn a few things that you might already know, and that I knew but just can't get used to:
  • Different company's use different numbering conventions. Robline uses the diameter in millimeters times 10. The others pull numbers out of the air.
  • Strength data is seldom published. The few data points I've found seem accurate, but mostly thread manufactures expect you to guess. Just pitiful.
For polyester twine, some average values:

Robline #4     0.4mm        10 pounds
Robline #6     0.6mm         21 pounds
Robline #8      0.8mm         50 mounds
Robline #10    1.0 mm         90 pounds
Robline #15   1.5 mm        180 pounds

If it is important to you...
  • Make a loop with a fishermans bend or other strong knot.
  • Wrap the line around a broom stick such that the knot is 1 1/4 wraps around from the start. Add another 1 1/4 wraps. In this way, the knot will not break.
  • Hang 2-4 passes over a pull up bar and stand on a bathroom scale. Read how light you are when it snaps, subtract, and divide by the passes.
Then you'll know.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


Mention tape to a sailor and they think of rigging tape, sail repair tape, and tell tail tape. If they're working on a project, perhaps luff tape or fiberglass tape. Maybe even duct tape.  But those aren't what we use the most of.

Athletic tape. Not very durable, in fact, down right temporary. It's purpose is one-day application for the treatment of prevention of sprains and strains.

I suppose I got the habit back in my climbing days, when taping for abrasion protection was standard for the rough crack climbing we were exploring at the time. Taped up like a boxer (not as thick), we would plunge our hands into 1- to 2-inch cracks lined with razor sharp crystals, twist and cam, and pull ourselves up to crazy heights. I could go through 2 roles in a day if the climbing was tough. Today we went ice climbing; the sole of my boot decided to peal wide as a whale, leaving me flapping and clownish. Tape to the rescue.

Uses on a boat?
  • Tiller grip. Doesn't last too long, but renews in seconds.
  • Securing rope ends while coach whipping.
  • Protecting stitched eyes from UV. Conforms nicely and holds-up if painted.
  • Rigging tape. Doesn't last, but is also porous and does not deprive stainless of oxygen.
  • Pre-wrap in stainless tubing, so that clamps hold better.
  • Protecting stainless from scratching under clamps
  • Non-scratch bottom on anything you don't want scratching the varnish or gelcoat.
  • Tape your knuckles before sanding; can save a lot of lost skin (as strip over the areas to be protected, then a thing ring between the fingers to keep it in place).

Like duct tape, but cloth, there are many uses. Keep a could of rolls handy.

And the "athletic" uses are endless, treating the bumps and bruises that come with cruising. Almost as vital as ibuprofen.
... and many more.