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What’s in Your Pack? Timmy O’Neill’s Mutant 38

October 15th, 2013

So, you’ve got the perfect pack for your next adventure in hand. But this very fact has you wondering what the crucial items you need to carry might be. Fret no more! Our Osprey athlete  ”What’s in Your Pack?“ video series will give you the expert advice you need to be sure you’re dialed for that next adventure. In this month’s video, pro climber and executive director of Paradox Sports, Timmy O’Neill, shows off what’s in his Mutant 38.

Check out the first installment of this exciting series – and never be afraid to ask What’s in Your Pack?! We’ll have a new video each month to help you see what our Osprey athletes are packing.

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Active Lifestyle, adventure, Advocacy, causes, Events, Non-profits, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Culture, Osprey Life, Product, video, What's in Your Pack? , , , , ,

Off To France & Italy

February 11th, 2010

Joe Stock is an Alaskan adventurer, AAI guide, photographer, writer and has worked as an Osprey pack tester for many years (ala Osprey Athlete). We love Joe.

I’m nervous. Normally, mountains are just mountains. Some are huge and glaciated while others are just rocky. Add a frenzy of foreigners, a network of telepheriques, a 300-year old guiding history and the mountains suddenly become daunting to me. These are the French Alps around Chamonix. Tomorrow we’re going there.

Guiding in France is a rite of passage for IFMGA guides. Chamonix is the birthplace of mountain guiding and still sets the international standard for guides. My wife Cathy and I will base in Chamonix for the next month, taking the lifts to mountain summits for day touring, then spending two weeks hut-based in the area. I’ll take any odd work from guide friends in the area, but focus on learning the system, writing, and shooting.

The world’s finest ski tour is the second portion of our trip—the Ortler traverse in the Italian Alps. This will be a recon before I guide five customers across the Ortler for Sierra Mountain Guides.

Cathy and I are taking Mutant 38s as our main ski packs since ice axes go inside the pack while riding the telepherique. On lighter days, we’ll use the Kode 30. We have the Flap Jack and Flap Jill Mini as our townie bags.

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The Osprey quiver!

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Mowzers perusing the trip literature. Her favorite book is Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles Rouges – a guide for skiers by Anselme Baud. The steep skiing history has her wiskers twitching.

IMG_0503

Cathy running at Bethany Beach, Delaware where her parents live. The east coast called this the Blizzard of 2010.  Reagan International was shut down for four days from 30 inches of snow, but it looks like we’re flying out tomorrow.

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Favorite Images from the 15th annual Ouray Ice Festival

January 10th, 2010

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Events, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Culture, Outdoor Activities, Product, Southwest Colorado, Uncategorized , , , , ,

Chamonix Exploits and the Osprey AMGA Scholarship in Action

October 7th, 2009

I struggled to keep up as my “client” raced down the icy arete.  Falling to our left would have sent us careening down thousands of meters of icy granite, falling right would have deposited us into a bus-sized crevasse. We continued sprinting across the glacier to the base of the 9-pitch Rebuffat route on the still snow and ice chocked, south face of the Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix, France. I frantically racked up as my “client” calmly removed a yellow notebook from his coat pocket and began to write.

The Aiguille du Midi

The Aiguille du Midi

This was day one of the American Mountain Guides Association’s Advanced Alpine Guide Course/Aspirant Exam and my “client” (complete with yellow exam notebook) was an experienced and uber-fit IFMGA mountain guide and examiner. At this point I had seriously begun to question whether traveling this far from home in Crested Butte, CO to spend the summer guiding season in the French Alps, was really the right decision. As the route unfolded with pitch after pitch of golden granite I soon found my groove and all my apprehension melted away.

Mike Bromberg climbing Chamonix Granite

Mike Bromberg climbing Chamonix Granite

Chamonix needs little introduction with regards to it’s terrain and ease of access. What you may not know is that Cham is really the birthplace of mountain guiding and is host to the largest number of active mountain guides worldwide. With several courses and exams still left in my progression before becoming a fully certified AMGA/IFMGA mountain guide, Chamonix was the natural choice to help me develop my high alpine guiding skills. After countless hours of emailing and phone conversations, I had somehow convinced two of my American peers to make the pilgrimage with me to the Alps and take our course and exam in this intimidating venue.

THE Venue

THE Venue

Throughout the twelve day course we were thoroughly challenged by the varied terrain, complex glaciers and spectacular routes, all the while musing about how much more approaching we would have had to endure, had the course been held in the states.

Regardless of the intimidation factor and the intricacies of Euro-style guiding, I completed the course and passed the thorough examination. Upon completion, I was granted IFMGA Aspirant status and was therefore able to continue my learning through summer work under the supervision of a full IFMGA mountain guide.

Classic Alpine Terrain

Classic Alpine Terrain

The process of becoming a fully certified mountain guide through the American Mountain Guides Association is a rewarding though sometimes stressful process, and requires substantial financial investment.

I was able to participate in this program through the 2009 full tuition scholarship from Osprey. I am proud to have had the support of Osprey and want to sincerely express my appreciation for this scholarship. Osprey’s support of the guiding profession in the United States and most specifically their help in assisting aspiring guides achieve their goals, is what sets them apart from other manufacturers. This opportunity certainly improved my guiding skills in Alpine terrain and as I look forward to future exams, I am endlessly grateful for having been granted this opportunity.

Thanks Osprey!

Thanks Osprey!

Mike Bromberg

AMGA Certified Ski Mountaineering Guide/ IFMGA Aspirant Guide

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Training for the Rock Guide Exam—Red Rocks, Nevada

September 28th, 2009

South Las Vegas. One house. Fourteen guides. Heaps of cams and packs in the garage. Stacks of guidebooks on the kitchen table. The air is thick with beta. “Don’t do anything on the Black Velvet wall. Too straightforward. Too many bolts to be on the exam.”

“How’d you avoid that jammed block rap on the Frigid Air?”

We’ve been training for two weeks and have another week before the exam starts. Each day we venture out to climb exam routes—those with complicated guiding problems—where safely protecting two clients involves an extra four steps compared to climbing with your buddies. Take the notorious Community Pillar descent, where just getting to the main raps involves short roping, short-pitching, intermediate anchors, a pre-rig rappel and avoiding a tempting anchor known as No Pass Tree. No Pass Tree is a big tree, wrapped with trucker slings, but surrounded by loose blocks. If you rap off No Pass Tree then you No Pass Exam.

The focus of  our training for the American Mountain Guide Association exam–and guiding in general–is safety. Climbing the 5.10+ standard while wearing a pack and pulling two ropes seems insignificant compared to learning hundreds of safety tricks. For example, yesterday we realized that if you clove-off your client to the master point between the autolocker and their knot, then they are basically off belay for a split second—the autolocker won’t catch as you are tying the client’s clove-hitch. Instead, tie-off the brake strand before clove-hitching the client into the anchor master point. Anal, but if guiding is your career, then you’ll learn to stack the odds in your favor, or you’ll get weeded out.

Osprey has been training with me the whole time. I haul the rack and ropes into the routes with my beloved Mutant 38. Then I climb with a Solo, the ultimate summer climbing pack. The hard plastic ribs on the outside of the Solo take the abuse while grinding up chimneys and the sleek, low volume make the pack almost imperceptible when climbing.

RRNV-38

Mark Allen belaying Mike Bromberg on pitch 5 of 12 on Initiwantan (IV 5.10c), Mount Wilson, Red Rocks, Nevada.

 

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Mark Smiley leading  the old-school 5.9 chimneys on pitch 5 of 18. Epinephrine, Black Velvet Canyon, Red Rocks, Nevada.

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Keep Quiet Everyone

September 9th, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, introduces new team member Joseph Bradbury. Joseph is a Salt Lake City resident, bike commuter, and frequent traveler. Joseph will be testing the Waypoint 85 pack from the new Osprey travel collection as well the bike commuting beauty, the “Flapjack.” Joseph will soon embark for Ecuador but for now, he’s been taking his Mutant 38 to big walls while racking up vert…

I recently had a friend, Maegan, come in town from New York. She is starting her graduate program at NYU in a couple weeks so she was eager to get into the mountains while she was in town; I, as always, was more than happy to oblige. I haven’t climbed many sport routes in Little Cottonwood so I asked a friend of mine named Jim to accompany us.

We set out for Little Cottonwood Canyon, just outside of Salt Lake City, at eight in the morning. The air was still cool enough to chill us as Maegan and I sat quiet on my front porch drinking coffee. Jim pulled up and after brief introductions we headed for the crag. On the way, Jim was pointing at random peaks and slabs of rock just off the I-215 belt route; his excitement grew the closer we got to the mouth of the canyon. In the back seat Maegan peered up at the granite cliffs.

As we approached a narrow switchback on the canyon road, one I was previously familiar with, Jim asked us not to speak around “Silent Rock”. Not being a very superstitious person I thought it was somewhat hokey but never the less I complied. Jim insisted that he heard it was bad luck to talk around the turn and when we were to be participating in an activity that consisted of us dangling a few dozen meters above the rocky ground, he’d take every advantage for safety he could. This both pleased and comforted Maegan who was getting nervous for her first climb in the back seat.

Soon after Silent Rock we pulled into a dirt packing lot, and gathered the gear. Jim put on his harness at the car, clicked a string of draws onto his belt and slung a rope over his shoulder. “Hey, that’s pretty slick,” he said. I liked that word, slick. “This?” I motioned to my pack, the Mutant 38, “It keeps all your stuff in one place.”

We made our way to the base of the climb where Maegan and I scrambled up a couple 5.8’s and a 5.10. On a high 5.8 Maegan stayed at the bolts for a while before coming down. I was half way up the wall when I noticed her stalling. I thought for a moment she panicked and wouldn’t come down. I made my way up to the chains on my route, about fifteen feet to the side of hers. I saw Maegan standing on a large ledge, her back to the wall. “Everything okay?” I asked her. “Yeah, I’m great. I just wanted to stay up here for a bit. Everything looks different from up here.” I turned and looked out with her for a minute before repelling down.

As we left the canyon our hands all matched, white cuticles and shredded fingertips from the unforgiving granite. We passed Silent Rock, Jim didn’t ask but no one spoke. When we emerged from Little Cottonwood Canyon into the city, everything looked a little different.

mutant38About the Mutant 38: For Alpine endeavors. The results of extensive testing and feedback from the vertical world, the Mutant 38 provides a simple, strong, lightweight solution for short alpine adventures or multi-day mountain trips. Key Fabrics: Armourlite 420D and Armourguard 900D. Stripped Weights:

  • Small: 0.94 kg
  • Medium: 0.95 kg
  • Large: 0.96 kg

More information on the Mutant 38 can be found here.

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It was time to escape the desert…

July 31st, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, checks in with Philip Swiny from Las Vegas. As you can imagine LV has been HOT and Philip had to flee to cooler climes in the northwest…

Las Vegas is a great winter climbing venue but as the summer rolls around, the temperatures rise and it is time to escape to cooler locals. This year my summer exploration is going to take me to a new part of the country, some where I have never explored before, and I have heard has only a short window of dry weather… the pacific northwest.

The trek from Vegas to Seattle is not an overly long one, but it is easy to take it nice and slow because there is so much to see and do along the way. I planned on taking about a week to make the drive. Bob a fellow guide in Vegas was also heading up to the Northwest for a while so we figured why not convoy. This would enable us to climb and explore on the way north. At the last minute, he had to stay in town a couple extra days so I started off alone.

My first stop was the East side of the Sierras. Just a beautiful 5 hour drive northwest of Vegas one arrives at the outdoor play ground of Bishop, CA. Bishop has is all, world class bouldering, overlooked sport climbing, and numerous life times of alpine granite all within minutes of town.

I met up with my friends Dave, Trish and discussed our options for the next day. It was decided that the priorities were a leisurely breakfast, home in time for a dinner, a short approach, a beautiful setting and a classic climb.  The choice was easy, the West Face of Cardinal Pinnacle. Only 20 miles out of town, but numerous degrees cooler due to elevation gain, it is one of the area classics. This 4 pitch crack climb ranges from fingers to off width, with a few exposed face moves thrown in for good measure.

We could not have asked for a more perfect day. Clear skies, good eats, and the only other party on the route were friends of ours from Vegas. We all swapped leads, took our time and just enjoying the day. In no time at all we were sitting at the last belay, enjoying the view of the endless sea of granite spires and towers stretching off to the north.

After what was truly a dinner feast Dave and Trish had to head back to the upcoming work week, I instead set up for a day of bouldering, with plans to meet Bob in new terrain for us both… Donner Summit, CA.

Philip is currently testing the Osprey “Mutant 38″ – read more about the pack here.

For more information check out Philip’s bio page here.

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Bill tackles Salida’s famous waters and the FIBark Fest

June 26th, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, checks in with Durango, Colorado resident Bill Grasse. Bill wrapped up a crazy week of travel, music, and rocking river action at Salida’s FIBark whitewater festival. Here’s the story…

It’s been a crazy week. First, in a rush on Wednesday night I was off to Telluride for a day of lounging out and listening to bluegrass (T-ride Bluegrass Festival) only to end that day with David Byrne dancing in a white tu-tu. Killer show! The next day: Wake up, drive home, work for six hours, and then drive to Salida for FIBark. Oh yeah, that’s right… FIBark!

FIBark is one of the oldest whitewater festivals in America. Starting as just a race in 1949 it has grown to encompass a multitude of events from music and a fair, to a whitewater rodeo, to the famous Hooligans race where costume clad people try to paddle home made crafts through the Ark’s play holes right in downtown Salida. An orgy of whitewater fun for the enthusiast or spectator, FIBark is always high on my list in the summer.

Osprey loaded me up with coupons, “soda” cozies, hats, stickers, and sweet osprey tattoos to be handed out around the festival. I also received a GoPro camera, so some yaking was most definitely on the menu for the weekend. After all, I had to get some action shots for this blog!

So Saturday morning started with meeting some friends for a quick run down Browns Canyon and then off to the events. Well, after many phone calls and an hour long nap at the take out, my friend’s group finally woke me and we drove to the put in.

Everyone decked out and loaded up with Osprey goodies I found myself answering questions about Osprey Packs and helping one guy decide between a pack from the Osprey Atmos or Exos series’. He’s going for the Exos which may be because I happened to have one at my truck for him to look at. At the put in: rain, but we didn’t care. Browns Canyon was just down stream. Brown’s is a classic class 3+ that was bumped up a bit more by high water.

Mutant 38

Mutant 38

Next it was off to the festivities. I loaded my Mutant 38 with Osprey swag and headed into an afternoon of hooligan racing, handing out swag, and talking Osprey with anyone sporting a pack or that would listen. The night ended with music and friends and the twenty minute drive back to camp.

Sunday we were running the big one; a run that had me nervous… very nervous. It wast he quiet-staring-into-space-glazed-over kind of nervousness that left a bad look plastered to my face. This nervousness wasn’t there all morning, it started after I realized that everybody was still psyched to run the Numbers even though the water was at 2200 cfs making this class IV into an IV+. So after breakfast in Buena Vista and handing out more swag, we were off to the put in, scouting the river as we made our way.

So how was the run? It went smoother then I thought but some beatings did occur. What did it look like? I wish I could show you but I was so nervous that I forgot the camera. Let’s just say this: big holes and BIGGER waves.

If you find yourself in Salida this year – whether on the Arkansas River, atop one of the area’s multiple 14′ers , or ripping lines at Monarch and want to check out a full range of Osprey Packs, check out Salida Mountain Sports. SMS is located right in historic downtown Salida on 1st and F Street.

For more information, please see Bill’s bio page here.

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Brand Team posts, Events, Product , ,

Ascent of a Mud Giant, part II

May 28th, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, brings you part two of Bill Grasse‘s ascent of a “mud giant” just north of Moab…

Day two started relatively early.  Up at 6:30 and hiking by 7:15 we arrived at the base a half an hour later.  Once again, my new Mutant 38 makes for yet another comfy hike.  No time to spare, we geared up and were on our way and climbing up our fixed ropes to the previous days high point.  Ben went first, then me, and then Brad.  This way I could arrive at the top and could start climbing the next pitch while Brad cleaned the gear from the last pitch the day before.

Shortly after arriving at the top belay, I was off.  Twenty minutes later after screaming though an overhanging offwidth and obtaining a new set of cuts and scrapes, I arrived exhausted and beat up at the shoulder of the tower and built the belay.  Next, Ben, helping the haul bag on his way up, arrived at the belay.  Within seconds he freed up some rope for him to lead on and headed off on the shoulder traverse to go inspect the coming gap we had to jump over.  After Brad was at the belay, Ben jumped, then Brad, and I stayed back to take pics of Brad leading the next pitch.

Brad’s pitch went like this: nervous joking, then cursing, then quiet, more cursing, then more quietness, then more nervous joking, then the clinking of a hammer, then more quietness, then more cursing, then panting and groaning, and then a holler of success.

A strong lead, Brad was psyched and Ben and I were feeling the energy.  We all were pleased that most of the hard climbing was done and the top was only two pitches away.  Ben was off leading and meanwhile I placed a bolt to back up the anchor.  But, when Ben yelled “off belay” on what should have been the last major pitch of the climb Brad and I knew that something was up.  He was too close and the top seemed a lot farther.  When Brad and I arrived at the belay we all figured out that we were at the real top of Brad’s pitch and now looming ahead was the real last tricky pitch of the climb.

Time was of the essence considering that it was about 6:00 PM and we still had to get off.  Ben quickly got started on the lead.  After a hand crack, a tension traverse and some magic arming to a bolt ladder, Ben was at the top of the pitch and Brad was jugging up while I yet again, got to jug the other rope hanging in free space.

On top of the shoulder Ben wanted to lead the last pitch up the summit boulder because he had climbed another route on the tower and went the wrong way up the pitch. So it seemed that he wanted to find the real way up this time.

The pitch was relatively easy, starting with a worm move through a hole and then up a wide crack to a bolted slab move.  Ben pulled the slab move and seconds later was on the summit.  Brad and I joined minutes later but the fun wasn’t over yet.  It was 6:45 and we had some tricky rappelling in front of us.

The first couple of rappels involved some traversing back the way we came.  While this was a relatively smooth process getting off of the summit boulder, the next rappel was not so easy.  This rappel involved rappelling off of funky threads around a horn and through a hole, and then jugging back to the anchor – a tricky and time consuming process.  After the first two rappels there were six more not as tricky but close rappels to get us on the ground by 8:00 PM.

All in all, it was a great adventure with good friends and a beautiful setting.  This climb and others like it tell a story of triumph and tragedy, determination and defeat, and a bond shared between friends.  For me, this is one of the main reasons I climb; to have another adventure in a in a lifetime of adventures, for a guy refusing to let his life just float on by.

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Ascent of a Mud Giant, part I

May 26th, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, brings you a post from Durango, CO.’s Bill Grasse. We welcome Bill to the blog with a two-part post about his ascent of a “mud giant” just north of Moab…

I was free; leaping from rock to rock.  I was a pool of energy, I never seemed to tire.  The feeling of wind in my hair and with weightless youth, I just leaped.  Hopping from rock to rock, and then mountain to mountain, each jump had grown to be a short flight through the clouds.  It seemed for hours when, upon landing on one mountain top, I came to a sudden and peaceful halt… silence.

Looking around me, I became filled with emotion.  Peacefulness, solitude, and joy surrounded me like a warm blanket as I began to look at the beauty all around me.  Gray-green peaks jutting through misty clouds and gleaming in the midday sun.  Valleys with green trees and rushing silver creeks lay thousands of feet below and all with the sound of a slight breeze whispering past.  In this state of relaxation and peace I just sat and looked. And thought.

I was pondering the beauty of life, of trees, and of this pastoral scene when it all started…”Squill!

A noise came from a close rock.  “Pill!”  It came again.  ”Pill?  What?”  “Fill!” once more.  “Who is Phil?” I thought.  “Bill” it said clearer.  Then I heard it again: “Hey Bill, are you up?”  “Are you up?” Suddenly realizing I was in some sort of bag, I was now awake.  “Bill!” it said again.  It was dark and I as I was squirming around I found a hole.  Straining, I pushed for the hole and reaching it I looked through… stars.  Then it hit me.  I was sleeping.  It was all a dream. “Bill!” said my friend Ben as I awoke from my daze.  “Get up!  Aren’t you psyched, were going to climb Brer Rabbit! Brad’s up. Let’s freaking go!”…And so it began.

Brer Rabbit lies in a group of sandstone towers known as the Fisher Towers located 30 minutes north of Moab, Utah.  Climbing one of the formations known as Cottontail Tower, Brer Rabbit ascends the south ridge via an adventurous climb on Fisher Towers’ loose and muddy Cutler sandstone.

Though they may not look it, the Fisher Towers are responsible for some of the most adventurous, dangerous, and spectacular climbing routes in Utah.  Some friends and I have been slowly ticking off the major formations for years and Cottontail was one of the last.  So, when one of my buddies called all fired up about Cottontail, I had to go.

Here is the story:

Day one consisted of five pitches, curse words, wide cracks and an array of gear placements that left me surprised at how many times we had to climb out of our aiders and into wide and unprotected terrain.

We left the car at 7:45 with my Mutant 38 loaded to the brim with ropes, food, cams, stoppers, harnesses, clothes, runners, carabiners, climbing shoes, helmets, water, headlamps, tape, med kit, and gloves. Let’s just say that the load was heavy and the new pack had me cruising down the trial.  After a not-as-long-as-remembered hike we found ourselves nervously racking up at the base.

My buddy Brad took the first pitch and judging from the words coming out of his mouth, it seemed like not the easiest pitch in the world.  After jugging up to him, it was my turn.  The pitch started off with some relatively straight-forward aid climbing that lead through a roof to an unprotected mantle. The rest of the pitch consisted of more wide slots intermixed with easy aid to a couple of ancient bolts that were easily backed up with a cam.

Pitch three started out with the plan to link it with the last but upon rounding the corner, I found myself hanging on crap gear, looking at even worse placements ahead and with enough rope drag to stop an elephant.  So it was back to the belay to ask Brad and Ben to come on up to join me.

After their arrival, I quickly found myself above the bolt ladder that I was initially trying to reach and at yet another impasse looking for the right way to go.  “Why do I always get the pitches with the free climbing over bad gear?” I thought as I was mantling over a lip with only some funky slung horns for pro.  Well let’s just say that after some sphincter exercise, I found the bolt I was looking for and reached the belay.

The next pitch was Ben’s lead and he easily negotiated the run-out traverse.  Then, Brad went and sarcastically said, “why am I always the one to be the last on run-out traverses??”  To which I replied, “Well played Brad, well played.”

So now, late in the day, Ben readies himself for the crux.  He makes his way out to an old bolt and before long he is off in a world of unprotected trickery, peckers, and free moves only to arrive at the belay an hour and a half later.  “Nice lead Ben!”

Now, to get down which, from the base of the crux, was easy due to Brad rapping down and placing a new bolt at the otherwise old anchor below us.

That night consisted of celebrating a friend’s birthday and learning of Brad’s fear of spiders.  And in the words of Forrest Gump, “that’s all I have to say about that.”

Check back on Thursday for the conclusion of “Ascent of  a Mud Giant” and take a look at Bill’s profile for more info.

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