Tag Archives: climbing helmets

Head vs. Rock

CGNP Education-smallOkay, once again, this is your head and this is a rock.

It is usually bad news when they meet.

Consider these stats:

  • In the United States, every 21 seconds someone sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and over 50,000 people die from these injuries every year while 235,000 are hospitalized.
  • The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports that 21% of traumatic head injuries occur in sports and recreation.
  • Males are twice as likely as females to be injured.
  • In one study, wearing a helmet while climbing may have made a difference in 25% of the critical trauma fatalities.
  • Helmets also protect against fractures, concussions, and lacerations.

In the month of July my friend, Chris Rost, climbed to the true summit of Heavy Runner and to the summit of Pollock Mountain.

While neither of these climbs, in and of themselves, was particularly notable Chris was involved in two incidents that further stress the importance of wearing a climbing helmet. Chris is a medical provider and knows a thing or two about keeping his head protected.

Wearing a climbing helmet is a great idea anytime you are around places where there is potential for rock fall or there is a risk of falling.

Helmets are also quite handy for protecting your head if you stand up too tall while ascending a cliff or cleft.

Example #1: Wear a helmet whenever there is potential for loose rock. 

While rappelling from the true summit of Heavy Runner Mountain Chris’s helmet prevented him from getting injured. The video is courtesy of Chris Rost.

 

Chris told me that the rock was about the size of his hand and is he convinced that he would have got at a minimum a nice cut on his head if not some more serious injury.

Example #2: Wearing a helmet prevents injury to your head.

Hair on the rock

Hair on the rock

In this example a climber was ascending the Great Cleft route to reach the summit of Pollock Mountain. Chris Rost was in the area when this climber was injured and got permission to take the photos. We have intentionally not revealed the climber’s name.

Helmets protect your head if you stand up too tall.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been surprised that when I stand up I hit my head on a rock. Most of the time I have a helmet on and it is just a surprise.

Here are a few recommendations:

  • The best helmet fits well, is comfortable, and is in your price range.  Purchase one that meets these criteria.  Climbing stores, like Rocky Mountain Outfitter, can help you with this.
  • Ouch?!

    Hair donation site, ouch?!

    Make sure you watch the video.  Jandy Cox from Rocky Mountain Outfitter shares his knowledge about different types of climbing helmets as well as how to get the proper fit for your climbing helmet.

  • Carry it until you need it.  There is no need to wear a helmet until starting the challenging portion of the route.  Wear it when you need it, take it off when you don’t.
  • Hang on to it.  There is an orange  Black Diamond helmet on the slopes of Mount Cannon after it slipped out of my sweaty hands while adjusting the fit.
  • Carefully inspect your helmet if you drop it.  Be careful when you lay down your pack.
  • Falling = replacement.  If you need to replace your helmet that means your old one worked.
  • It only works if you wear it!

Thanks Chris Rost for this reminder.

No rocks were injured in the production of this video and photos.

You obviously can see the benefits of purchasing and wearing a climbing helmet.

Be safe out there and climb smart.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

Climb Glacier Education Series: Quad Maps On Line

EducationCan You Ever Have Too Many Maps?

Maps are an essential part of exploring Glacier National Park.

We use them for route planning before every climb. With just some simple education on how to read a map the outdoor enthusiast can gain some fantastic information.  In addition to the obvious location of peaks, streams and other geographic features it is also possible to determine the elevation as well as slope of a particular route.

I have included some practical map reading skills in Map Reading 101 Part 1 and Map Reading 101 Part 2.

There is a pretty cool on-line site called the Libre Map Project that features 7.5 Minute Series Topographic Maps.

Here is how to use Libre Maps find a geographic feature, such as Seward Mountain in Glacier National Park (or anywhere in the USA).

1) To locate the proper Quad map for Seward Mountain type Seward” into the Libre Map search engine.

Make sure you select the correct state if you are searching for data in another state.  This link is set for Montana.

2) Press “SEARCH” and a new window will open with Montana Place Names Search Results.

3) To save the map on your computer right click on the “TIFF” link.

4) Select “Save Target As” and store the file on the desktop or a selected folder.

5) Once the image is downloaded open it with a photo viewing program such as Windows Photo Gallery.

The results will come up and identify “Many Glacier” as the quad that Seward Mountain is found on. Download it and view it.

This is another fun way to explore Glacier National Park.

Please enjoy.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

The Incredible Two Medicine Valley

Headers On RouteThe Two Medicine Valley is one of the most spectacular areas of Glacier National Park. You might disagree, but before you do please read on.

Here are some things I like about it.  In no particular order.

  • No shuttles
  • Great peaks
  • Bighorn sheep near Appistoki Creek
  • Incredible trails for hiking
  • More isolation
  • Ridge walks
  • Sinopah Mountain
  • Traverses
  • Rising Wolf Mountain
  • Pika
  • No road construction (usually)
  • Upper Two Medicine Lake
  • The Scenic Point Trail
  • Camping
  • An Abandoned trail
  • Five passes (Dawson, DeSanto, Two Medicine, Pitamakan and Cut Bank)
  • Boat rides with Clint and the crew
  • No crowds
  • Moose along the South Shore Trail
  • Fishing
  • Rockwell Falls
  • No long lines.
  • The Dawson – Pitamakan Traverse
  • Two Medicine Pass

I spent the entire summer of 2011 climbing and hiking in the Two Medicine Valley.  I had spent quite a bit of time there in previous years but still had not climbed all of the peaks.

Aurice Lake from the route to Mount Rockwell. It rocks well!

What I found was that the more I spent time there the more it started to feel like home.

I for one enjoy ridge walks a lot more than scramblewhacks.

I prefer flower-filled meadows to old growth forests.

I prefer open views of the plains to walking through valleys and creek drainages.

It seems that ever since the Great Northern Railway stopped running horse tours in the 1930 the Two Medicine Valley has become a blip on many people’s plans for a Glacier visit.  It used to be a main event and the 23 items listed above plus a bunch more were the reasons why it was such a popular place.

Rising Wolf Mountain from Aster Park

Rising Wolf Mountain from Aster Park

My Recommendations:

  1. Plan to spend part of your time in the Two Medicine Valley.
  2. Take a day hike.  Consider hiking to Upper Two Medicine Lake.  This is an easy hike along the North Shore Trail with a change of trails at the head of Two Medicine Lake.  Or to make it super easy ride the Sinopah and hike from there.
  3. Summit a mountain.  Appistoki Peak is a great first climb for this area.
  4. Take your bear spray.  We have seen bears, both black bears and grizzlies, here.
  5. Sinopah Mountain reflects in Two Medicine Lake

    Sinopah Mountain reflects in Two Medicine Lake

    See the waterfalls.  There are five worth checking out.  Running Eagle Falls is a great and easy walk BEFORE reaching the Two Medicine area, take the time to hike this flat and short trail.  If you want to hike make sure you Appistoki Falls on the Scenic Point Trail, Aster Falls on the Aster Park Trail which is a spur from the North Shore Trail, Rockwell Falls on the Two Medicine Pass Trail, and Twin Falls on the Upper Two Medicine Lake Trail.  My  personal favorite is Rockwell Falls.  The Insider Tip is that you need to climb up the Sinopah Mountain Climbers Trail to see the best parts.

  6. There is a lot of water so decide if you want to filter or carry your own.
  7. Take your fishing equipment.  This is a great place to wet a fly or cast a lure.

Stay tuned for posts on specific peaks in the Two Medicine Valley.

The best climbs in this area at least in my opinion are Lone Walker Mountain, Rising Wolf Mountain, and Mount Rockwell.  Of course there is Sinopah Mountain as well but everyone does that one and you should too.

Check out all of the peaks in Volume 2 of the Climb Glacier National Park series.

See you on the routes, Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2013

Logan Pass Series – Heavy Runner Mountain

Headers On RouteIn The Logan Pass Peaks Series we will take a closer look at these amazing peaks.  Logan Pass is a climbing wonderland in Glacier.

Heavy Runner Mountain is easy to find IF you know where Mount Oberlin is located.

Heavy Runner Mountain

Heavy Runner Mountain

Ready … look at Mount Oberlin and turn around.  That’s it go ahead, look behind you. The one with all the bumps along the ridge line is Heavy Runner Mountain.

This one takes a bit more work to reach but it is doable. Much approach is either trail or a goat trail.

The key to reaching this mountain is to find the Reynolds Mountain Climbers Trail.  After that it is a fun off-trail adventure to the slopes of Heavy Runner above what the Over The Hill Gang called Eden East.

Heavy Runner Mountain is named for Chief Heavy Runner who was massacred along with most of his encampment by the U.S. Army.  Apparently, he was a good guy and was a friend of the U.S. government.  In fact, he was given a flag and papers to ensure his protection and tradition states that he was shot wrapped in his flag and was carrying his papers.

Bighorn Sheep in Eden East

At one time Heavy Runner Mountain was unnamed, just like every other peak in the park.  One of the names proposed for this peak was Heavy Shield Mountain.  If you want to learn more about Glacier’s history please visit the Glacier History blog.

Heavy Runner Mountain is unique due to having two attainable summits.  

Most climbers use rope and protection to reach the True Summit.  They also rappel from the summit using the anchors that have been placed there.  If this is your plan take a rope, climbing harnesses, a helmet, and gear.  Also plan on replacing the webbing tied into the anchors.

The true summit is reached by a class V climb.  Class V means you could die if you fall (See Rating Your Adventure).  This climb is approximately 65 – 70 feet in height.  There are a number of options so choose your route carefully.  There is a rappel anchor at the top to assist climbers to safely rappel down the chimney during their descent.

View of Heavy Runner ridge line.  A walk in the park!
Most readers will not WANT to reach the true summit so there is a beautiful consolation prize that requires just a bit of Class III scrambling.  This scramble leads to the False Summit that is just a few feet lower than the real one and is MUCH safer.

The False Summit is reached by climbing on class III rock. This is where the summit cairn and register are located. There are a number of route options to the false summit.

Climb Glacier National Park Volume 1 has details for reaching the False Summit on pages 90-99.

Total distance around Reynolds and up to the Heavy Runner Summit is approximately 9 miles and total elevation gained on this route is 2,600 feet.

Recommendations For Climbing Heavy Runner Mountain:

  1. Get to Logan Pass EARLY.  This peak could be an all day adventure if you enjoy the trip and see the sights.  I like to be parked before 9 a.m. as the parking lot is usually full by noon.  You might not need all day for your chosen off-trail adventure but if you get there too late you might not be parking at Logan Pass.
  2. Stay on the trails and established routes.  This is a fragile environment and we want to save it for the next generation.
    A direct approach is generally the way Montanans deal with most obstacles in their path, however in this case the direct approach from Logan Pass Visitors Center is discouraged for a number of reasons.  The area around Logan Pass is fragile and can be highly impacted by off trail usage.  This route would also require increased changes of altitude. There is also a strong possibility of crossing paths with the numerous grizzly bears which are frequently seen from the Visitor’s Center and call this area their home.
  3. Stay away from those goats.  They look cuddly and tame, but they really are wild animals.  Give them space.  Remember you are in their home.
  4. Carry bear deterrent spray.  Grizzlies are seen every summer from Logan Pass.
  5. Do not cross the Hanging Gardens from the Hidden Lake Trail. Follow the Reynolds Climbers Trail from near “Hidden Pass.”  This climber’s trail leads all the way to the saddle between Reynolds Mountain and the Dragons Tail.  See #3.
  6. Summit Oberlin as a second peak.  If you have time you can always come back to Logan Pass and summit Mount Oberlin.  I have done it in under and hour and that included taking pictures and notes for the climbing guidebook.
  7. Carry water.  Logan Pass usually has potable water, but bring your own along just in case.

See you on the routes,

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

 

 

 

Climb Glacier education series: Climbing Helmets

098

The “goob” summit pose on Bishops Cap. Next time I took the Black Diamond Half Dome helmet off before the summit shots.

Got Helmet Hair?

Okay helmets are a pain to carry and they don’t look very cool in photos. But in the end it boils down to protecting your brain from stuff that can hurt or kill you.

If you have ever climbed in Glacier you have probably come close to being hit by rock screaming down a couloir.  This is especially true if you are climbing below others in your party or if there are mountain goats above your route.

IMG_0994

Scrambling on the Mount Siyeh route.

A FACT of science: Rock is hard and your head is not.

Wear a helmet whenever there is potential for rock fall or falling.

Consider these stats:

  • In the United States, every 21 seconds someone sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and over 50,000 people die from these injuries every year while 235,000 are hospitalized.
  • The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports that 21% of traumatic head injuries occur in sports and recreation.
  • Males are twice as likely as females to be injured.
  • In one study, wearing a helmet while climbing may have made a difference in 25% of the critical trauma fatalities.
  • Helmets also protect against fractures, concussions, and lacerations.
IMG_7767

A cooler “goob” shot. Above Preston Park on Mount Siyeh Route.  Wearing the Madillo helmet from Edelrid.

So please get Helmet Hair and risk looking like a goob in photos. Looking like a goob is better than having a traumatic brain injury.

Here are just three examples from my experience about wearing helmets.

  • In 2010, one of my climbing partners fell about 10 feet on a challenging section of Sinopah Mountain after the rock he trusted pulled out.  He landed directly on his helmet which saved his brain.  To this day he is convinced that the helmet saved his life.
  • Many times I have stood up into rock on overhangs while climbing through cliffs, each time I do this I am thankful that I have my helmet on.
  • While ascending Chief Mountain in October 2012 many of the team members were hit by rock that was falling off the snow-covered slopes.  None of it was huge but it could have been disastrous.  I was less worried about it than others because I had a helmet.

CGNP Education-smallThat being said here are a few recommendations:

  • The best helmet fits well, is comfortable, and is in your price range.  Purchase one that meets these criteria.  Climbing stores, like Rocky Mountain Outfitter, can help you with this.
  • Make sure you watch the video.  Jandy Cox from Rocky Mountain Outfitter shares his knowledge about different types of climbing helmets as well as how to get the proper fit for your climbing helmet.
  • Carry it until you need it.  There is no need to wear a helmet until starting the challenging portion of the route.  Wear it when you need it, take it off when you don’t.
  • Hang on to it.  There is a Black Diamond helmet on the slopes of Mount Cannon after it slipped out of my sweaty hands while adjusting the fit.
  • Carefully inspect your helmet if you drop it.  Be careful when you lay down your pack.
  • Falling = replacement.  If you need to replace your helmet that means your old one worked.
  • It only works if you wear it!
Summit shot from Mount Siyeh.  Good to be helmet free on the summit.

Summit shot from Mount Siyeh. Good to be helmet free on the summit.

I own two helmets.  The orange Black Diamond Half Dome is used by friends who don’t own a helmet and I use a Edelrid Madillo.

The Madillo collapses down into a smaller package which takes up much less room in my pack.  It is just a bit more expensive but due to the convenience of the smaller size I tend to carry it along on climbs.

Jandy also spoke about the Black Diamond Vapor Helmet.

One final hint, take you helmet off for summit shots to look like less of a goob.

Better yet take some of both.  Send the one with your helmet on to your mom, because she always wants you to be safe.  Send the one with your helmet off to that friend who will be jealous of the view from the top.

See you on the routes.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

Disclosure of Material Connection:I have not received any compensation for writing this post.  I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”