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Avaluator – is it any good for predicting avalanches?

About 10 years ago, the Avaluator was the thing – you might have come across one, or perhaps even used one. It’s a simple card that helps you evaluate avalanche risk and make the often painful go/no-go decision based on some obvious clues. Here’s what one of these cards look like:

avaluator 2.0 avalanche risk assessment method

Red-yellow-green. But what happens in “grey” areas?

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Video: What happens to an 80 kg person who falls on a via ferrata?

May 30th, 2014 | 1 Comment | Posted in Via Ferrata

Video Lesson: Testing Via Ferrata Mechanisms 

The last post on the via ferrata accident stirred some emotion from quite a few of you. We owe you the learnings of the story and will show you a video of what happens when someone takes a fall on a via ferrata. Here’s the cold hard truth on what happens if they use static lanyards without an energy absorbing mechanism… and what’s the difference if they use a properly set up via ferrata kit?

via ferrata gear test

Via ferrata – one of the best ways to explore mountains IF you have the right equipment and skill

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Via Ferrata Accident – Here’s What a Torn Mammut EAS Looks Like After a Fall

May 26th, 2014 | 4 Comments | Posted in mountaineeing equipment, Via Ferrata

A couple weeks ago, our office had rented out some via ferrata equipment for a group of local folks looking to do a nearby via ferrata. One of the guys took a moderately nasty fall and tore the energy absorbing systmem (EAS) of his Mammut via ferrata set. Thank Goodness, he was unharmed. But his gear was not; here’s what it looked like:

The broken via ferrata set

See how the thing came out?

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Crawling out from the depth!

April 4th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Rants&Raves

The latest climbing video project of Stefan Glowacz and Chris Sharma has a really snappy title: Into the Light. In this film they are taking on the second largest known cave, on Earth, descending into the cave and trying to climb out. And, of course, they kick butt..

It’s a huge, 120m (394 ft) high dome, that – being a cave – would scare the heck out of most climbers – and probably Stefan and Sharma too. But it’s definitely doable! At least for these two guys..
The older and the more experienced member of the duett is Glowacz. He turns 50 next year, but still he moves like a spider, when he feels the rocks under his hands.
The younger one also moves like an eight-legged creature on rock. Even though he has less experience, Sharma is still considered one of the best sportclimbers in the world. He has collected a long list of awards, but you may know him also for his rather animal-like roars at the crux of his pitches.

One thing is for sure, they are a great team. And to make you believe me, watch this short video – This is the birth of a new climbing record!

Via Ferrata Awesomeness in Italy

February 14th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Via Ferrata

Italy is pure via ferrata awesomeness. We’ve been guiding you guys through the Dolomites several times every year. Some of you have had the experience of the weather going crap around Cortina. In these cases, we jump in the car, drive a little to the West and end up in a mediterranean place, which is completely different from the Dolomites, but maybe just as fun and jaw-dropping. Some even prefer it to the Dolomites. This place is…

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Big Mountain Ski Mountaineering in an Unusual Place

February 11th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Ski Touring

Today’s dose of visual beauty comes to us from a place where not a lot of (not enough of!) climbing/skiing movies are born… the Tien Shan mountians of Kyrgyzstan. I stumbled upon this piece of ski mountaineering beauty in Powder mag.

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Customer service awesomeness – the way every outdoor and skitour shop should be doing it

January 15th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in mountaineeing equipment, Ski Touring
I had a very very positive experience the other day with an online store that primarily sell skitouring and freeride gear. They don’t sponsor us, nor did they ask me to promote them… it’s the pure satisfaction and happyness beating in my heart that promted me to sit down and write my story.

Climbing Mont Blanc – an Honest-to-God Story

January 17th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Mountain Guides, Mountaineering - Alps

Tis’ a guest contribution from a wonderful client, Jordie Landes of Brighton, who was kind enough to send us his experience on CBM’s Mont Blanc Climb. When he got home from the summit, he probably felt he needed therapy, so he started writing. This post is the fruit of that therapy. May it be to your greatest benefit!

Nearing Mont Blanc's Summit Ridge

Nearing Mont Blanc’s Summit Ridge

Derek, a very wise man, an old mountaineer and a friend (or so I thought) answered the question in a brief and cynical way: “you just do it”. Come on, I insisted, you are a mountain guide and you’re supposed to be more helpful than that…! So I bought him a pint on his visit down in Brighton and we finally agreed on him guiding me to the summit. But, the old bastard decided to ditch our plans for an expedition to the Pamirs at the last moment, so I was stuck without a guide. Problem! More »

Traffic jam in the Alps – what is the solution?

March 27th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in Rants&Raves

Have you been on Mont Blanc? Have you had a good and calm night, or you were „suffering” under the bench? If you go to a mountain, you have to forget about your comfy bed. Is it really obligate? If you have been up there or you just planning, probably you know the actualities. No room, uncomfortable night, in turn you should get some rest, before your summit day. Certainly, there are other ways to solve this problem. Really? Any idea?


I have a few. You can climb outside of the season. In late September, but rather in October. If you are a bit lucky, the nice weather holds on, and you pay less too. The trip could be even better, when you climb with your three friend, not with 124 „aliens”. Sounds good. What do you think?

 An other option if you wait until the new hut opens. Actually, it’s rather a mountain hotel. The guys are working hard, maybe you can sleep there in this year. Officialy it has room for 120 climbers, but as far as I know the conditions, 200 will sleep there.:) It’s as eco-friendly, as possible, everything will be recycled. Water used for cooking and washing will be redirected into the toilets and „vica versa.” No, I’m just kidding. So honestly, it’s really a good thing, it’s a „self-supporing buliding.” Solar panels, wind turbines, biomass energy – as you can see 6 million (euros) is a nice lump sum. Don’t have to worry, it has a great panoramic view, and hopefully a few people can sleep more than 10 minutes, before the summit-day.

Are you plannig to sleep up here?

Not a space station, it’s the new hut

Rebirth or just a subsequent birth on the mountain

March 20th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted in Rants&Raves

Our forthcoming post is about two young adventurers and their odyssey in Bosnia. It may sounds like a cock and bull story, but it’s telling the truth and that makes it gripping. The curtain rises on a flat afternoon, when the two decided to go and „disover” the Balkans. Both were mountain maniacs, and hunger for the real tough adventures. But not everything turned out as they had planned.


…we have started off the Balkan. Our aim was Bosnia’s highest peak Mount Maglic and the sorrounding wild nature. We knew almost nothing about these mountains, but that’s why it was so exciting. We had real and serious experience in mountaineering, from previous and similar peaks, so I can tell – without being pompous – that we were prepared for this mountain.
We have spent the nights on the mountain, next to a deserted hut, in a tent. The first morning we have decided to climb up to the top, and we planned and packed for one day. Therfore we had all the equipments for a wintery day, but not for a night or an other day. The terrain wasn’t easy, we got deep mud and soft wet snow  intermittently. Thanks to that we have reached the foggy summit relatively late, but at the highest point of BOSNIA, we „had to” shoot some pictures with the huge flag of SERBIA(!). For the descent we chose a shorter track, which leads to a wide woodsman path.
Here and there we could follow the red star signs painted on the rocks, but the fog and the deep slippery snow was a real pain in the ass. After a few minutes of descent, suddenly I’ve slipped off and in the next moment I was slediging as quick as lightning towards a big and sharp rock.
It was only about 2-3 seconds, but I had the feeling, that I have got time to consider my next „steps”. I pushed my ice axe with all my bodyweight downwards to the deep and loose snow, but it couldn’t stop me. On a sudden, I have felt a blunt hit on my boots, so I know the rock held me. I was lucky.
It was growing dark, but we could followed the track in the light of our headlamps. After a few minutes the track ended in a serried mountain pine forest. We have tried to get around, but it was dense. We considered our chances, and finally we decided to stay for the night, we thought it’s the best, because we could lost each other, or someone could get hurt. So we have stucked in the mountain, about 2000m high, and the temperature was somewher at the freezing-point. For the next 12 hours our only hope was an isolation-emergency blanket, in the icecold rain. Every two hours was a piece of heaven, when we could afford a cup of hot tea..(ok, it was only hot water). Nothing but the wind was missing from the story.
The high quility gore-tex jackets and pants also gave up in the heavy rain, so bit by bit our bodies started to cool down. In the dark night we were thinking, how could we survive in this situtation.. My friend was telling a story, about a mountaineer who has stucked in the Andes, without any food, but he survived, he got out with his broken leg. That story gave me strength, but we daren’t sleep, beacuse we thought, we wouldn’t wake up again. Shakily we were waiting in the rain, under a mountain pine. We knew that, it’s unnecessary to call anybody, beacuse there is no mountain rescue team in the country.
At the same time I have realized that, we are only three of us. My freind and me, against the wild cruel mountain. The night was long and cold, we were swapping the stories, and thinking about our loved ones. If you spend a night on a mountain and you don’t sleep a minute, you will know how fantastic is to hear the first bird’s voice at dawn. That feeling filled us up, to countinue our way back to the camp. Since then I remember to almost every second, every move from that night. I will never forget the miserable moments with the wet stove, which didn’t want to flame up, the  „timetable” for the food and the drink, the last match-stick and the nylon shopping bag – which was our bed for that night.
Thinking back I also remember – very slowly but – the night was gone, and we knew that we survied, and it’s all right now. We have packed all the stuff and we walked back to our camp in a few hours. We were hardly distressed, so we slept a few hours. It was unexpressed, but we knew that 25th of October is our second birthday. Since then we celberate it every year, and we are still climbing mountains.
I can tell you, my first meeting with Mount Maglic was a bit acerbic, but also unforgettable, and on the way back home, I have confessed to myself, I have fallen in love with this place, and I’ll be back in one day.

What do you say, where did they make a bungle? What would you do in a situation like this? Were they well preapred for everything? Is it even possible to be prepared for everything in high mountains? Can you draw the lesson from the story?



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