Category Archives: Guest Blogger

Why I Buy? The Shiny and The Solid.

Photo: Paul-Baptiste Baca

I am a confessed gear whore.

gear whore n. someone who has to have the best, most expensive, coolest gear, useful or not.

Yes, I like the shiny and the new. And there are times when I look over my rack and I realise I am just one or two colour-coordinated draws away from being one of those sport climbers.

But really, why do I buy what I buy? Such a simple question does not have a simple answer.

I have worked in marketing and advertising for the past 20 years and have a pretty good grasp on how the artifice and casuistry of product pimping works. But that doesn’t mean I am immune. In fact, I have a high appreciation for a well-crafted advertisement and am more likely to invest at least my time into researching a product that is packaged well and peddled in just the right way to highlight its particular je ne sais quoi. Black and white sketches or flat product photos might be enough to pique some consumers’ interest, but many people really do prefer the glossy, full-colour splash of gear-in-action (me included). It’s a world of embodying the brand.

Companies like Black Diamond Equipment and Petzl know this. They don’t casually spend their advertising dollars. And retailers know what they are doing when they put those pretty products in the hands and on the backs of pretty people.

But as much as the beautiful people and shiny colours get my attention, it is not the reason I buy. Getting the customer into the store or to your website might be half the battle, but half does not make a sale.

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211 Reasons to Wear a Climbing Helmet

This past month we invited a few rock climbing friends of ours to help spread the word about wearing helmets while climbing. Each of these climbers has a unique story about how they came to realize that wearing a helmet was important to them, their friends and their families. Reading the over 200 comments on these posts we hope that their followers; and you, decide to wear a helmet too.

Venturesome Krysia

I never used to wear a helmet rock climbing. I usually climb at the Red River Gorge, and many people that climb there don’t. My thought was if there was if there was a lot of overhang on the route, or when I start leading trad, then I would. But then something happened that changed my mind. // Continue Reading…



Ever since Cragbaby came along however, I’ve discovered a new reason to show my hard hat some love – and that is setting a good example for my son. When he’s ready to start climbing, I’m going to require him to wear a helmet. I can’t very well expect him to be happy about wearing one if he’s never seen me or my husband wear one. The funny thing is that at this point C thinks helmets are uber cool – at least once per climbing trip I turn around to find him wearing my helmet – usually accompanied by hysterical toddler giggles. // Continue Reading…


Splitter Choss

As Tracy and I spent more time climbing together, I started using my helmet more often, and now it’s a rare day you’ll see me without it. Often it feels like we are the only two people in Rifle wearing them, but a friend almost got killed there when a loose rock fell on his head as he walked under a popular cliff, so we don’t let the odd stares bother us. // Continue Reading…

So what about you?
Why do you, or don’t you, wear a helmet?


Need a helmet? Buy a PETZL Helmet online now
or visit your local PETZL retailer to check them out.

Mount Rainer Climb – BCM Summit For Someone

Photo - Patrick Gensel

I stepped off the paved trail, my boot plunged into the sun ripened snow of the Muir Snowfield. Standing majestically, miles above me the glaciated slopes of Mount Rainier called to me. After months of training, fundraising, and traveling to smaller mountains to test my mettle, I had arrived, It all came down to this climb.

If I said I wasn’t a bit nervous, maybe even reluctant, I’d be lying, but climbing a mountain of this magnitude is not anything to be taken lightly. After all, many use Rainier as their training grounds for far off peaks in the Himalaya and Alaska Range. “Was I ready?”, “Did I train hard enough”, “Would we be caught in a bad rock or icefall?”  These were the thoughts that filled my head in the weeks leading up to my Arrival in Ashford, Washington.

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Team Scheels PETZL RAGNAR Relay Race Report

The Ragnar Relay is a 196 mile relay race from Winona, MN to Minneapolis, MN.  Much of the course is run through the SW part of Wisconsin which is brutal for a born and raised flatlander like me.  294 teams registered and of those 294 teams there were about 20 ultra teams.  An ultra team consists of only 6 runners instead of 12 runners.  My thought is if you’re going to do it you might as well make it hurt!  The team consisted of Josh Duerr, his cousin Tony Duerr, Tony’s friends Matt Hanson, and Mike Waldera (note: all 3 of those guys work for Scheels and Scheels was nice enough to sponsor us for the race), and Justin Schweitzer, an old high school “rival” of mine that was easy to convince to be on our team.  We also recruited my brother, Jason Miller, Tony’s brother, Brad Duerr, and Tony’s brother-in-law Ryan Sunram to drive and help out in any way they could.  These 3 guys played a huge part in our victory due to the fact that we just had to focus on running and you wouldn’t believe how much there is to do out there other than just run!!!

Our race start time was at 4:00pm but I think Justin said it best when he said, “That race started at 3:00pm as soon as we talked with the MN Running Wild team (our competition throughout the race that I will refer to regularly).  We knew these guys were going to be good considering they won it last year and they had a lot of questions about our team prior to the start too.  You could say we were sizing each other up.

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Splitter Choss: PETZL ANGE S Finesse Quickdraw Review

PETZL ANGE S Quickdraws

I’ve been getting a lot of odd looks recently. It could be due to dressing in drag, or climbing on a fatter rope than normal, but I think these glances are directed at the fancy (and funky?) looking new quickdraws on my harness. “What are those?” seems to be a common question when people first spy the Petzl Ange Finesse draws. It’s not that I blame them, I’m just starting to get self conscious with all the attention.

When wiregate biners came out, they were a game changer. It opened the door to the incredibly light clips we have today, but there was always a piece of the puzzle that was missing. How to give them the no snag functionality of a key lock. A few other companies have put forth some idea, but arguably none are as cutting edge as what Petzl has achieved with the Ange.

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My PETZL GRIGRI 2 Recall Experience

Recalled Devices: serial number between 10326 and 11136

Recently Petzl had to recall the GriGri2 not long after it hit the market.  The new Petzl GriGri2, which was released earlier this year, is a new and improved version of the GriGri.  The new belay device is more compact and lighter than its predecessor, easily fitting into the palm of a hand.  Petzl also changed the design a little to allow for greater controlled descent, especially when a smaller person lowers someone who weighs much more than they do.  Petzl, women everywhere thank you.

A long-time fan of the original GriGri, I was excited when Petzl released this new device, and of course, had grand plans of putting it to the test over the summer.  I had already taken it out once to a local crag and was impressed with how well it handled slim ropes, big weight differentials between climber and belayer and how light and compact it was.  When I received the news of this recall, I went and checked my GriGri2.  My heart sunk.  It held the digits listed in the recall.  That meant the days of playing with my fabulous new belay device were numbered until the replacement arrived.  It was the start of summer and I had many great climbs on the books and fun cragging days coming up in which I had been looking forward to using the new slimmer, lighter GriGri2.  But, it would not be, at least not until the new GriGri2 arrived and I wasn’t sure how long that would take.

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Splitter Choss: PETZL XION Rope Review

PETZL XION testing at City of Rocks

“Hey, how skinny is this rope?”
“How skinny is this rope, it’s flying through this GRIGRI.”
“Ha, that’s a 10.1! It’s the fattest rope I own!”

You can imagine my friend’s surprise, as he thought I had sandbagged him with a tiny 9.2 or something similar. In reality, we were out using the new Petzl Xion, which clocks in at a beefy-by-today’s-standards 10.1. I usually shy away from anything bigger than 9.8, but Petzl was touting this as being a beefier cord that offered “excellent hand and suppleness similar to that of thinner ropes,” so I decided to check it out.

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Majka Burhardt: Going Big



Majka Burhardt moving toward the moment of the click in Ethiopia. Photo By Gabe Rogel

Five days ago I drove out of Eldorado Canyon after seven pitches of climbing with two professional women who live in Boulder. We’d spent the day climbing sandstone cracks freshly crisped by the proceeding evening storms. The river roared beneath us for the full day making communication difficult and creating isolation of judgment and choices for each of us while climbing. It was a day where climbing was climbing – the complete pairing of mental and physical connection dialed together by focus. As we drove away from the perfect day Tracy and Amy planned future objectives and talk circled to fall climbing plans. Tracy and Amy talked about Colorado; I brought up Ethiopia.

This fall I’m co-leading the second annual Imagine Ethiopia expedition. During the trip we will rock climb, mountain bike, do yoga, and further the path and possibility of Ethiopia’s education. And is if that was not enough we will also explore Ethiopia’s coffee heritage and help celebrate one of its greatest economic drivers. I’d like to say it will just be a standard 14 days in Ethiopia, but I’d be lying.

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Classic Pemba Serves

It’s summer time! If you’re not outside on adventures or maxxed out doing Spring 2012 previews maybe you’re inside watching reruns. Am I right?

Here are some of Pemba Serves’ classic posts from Brad, Bryan, Janice, Pete and Steve to keep you occupied and to get us back to work!

Lessons of Xegar
Brad Werntz

“We spent ten days in Xegar. Every day, we watched it rain, waiting. Prior to our sojourn in Xegar, we spent ten days crossing Tibet on muddy roads, over landslides, through floods. We expected our gear to be waiting for us in Xegar, as it was sent from Beijing before us. Instead, we waited in Xegar for our gear, for ten days.”


Rock Climbing Risk
Bryan Kuhn

“There are old climbers, and there are bold climbers, but few old, bold climbers. I don’t know who said this, I’ve heard it attributed to dozens of climbers, and I tend to think of it a general understanding of the sport and what to expect as you age into it.”


Our Chicks ROCK!
Janice Ellefson

“Rock Climbing? Yeah I’d thought about it – A LOT. Brad and Vera and Boulders are just a stone’s throw away. Steve, my coworker here at PEMBA, is OBSESSED. Between these three, I have climbing power-houses all around me and yet I had not taken the plunge. I had never climbed before, except for a few stints at Boulders. Well, suddenly an opportunity came my way that I couldn’t pass up!”


So…sea kayaking doesn’t suck
Pete Witucki

“Without debating if a six-hour drive to Lake Superior is a ‘local recreation area,’ I have discovered that not only does sea kayaking not suck – I could actually see myself getting into this.”


Son of the Irish
Steve Schultz

“I learned more about climbing, trying hard and so much else that afternoon climbing with this mystery man. He took me around the Buttermilks showing me classics, must do’s, what not to do’s and future projects for me. He insisted that I needed a tour and that he was the man to do it. Off we went.”

Kids and the Outdoors: Make it a Family Affair

Cragmama training the next Chris Sharma

Most of my fondest childhood memories involve the outdoors in some way or another.  Whether it was running through a neighborhood meadow armed with a butterfly net and field guides, collecting worms along the lake bank with my dad before casting our fishing lines, or practicing cannonballs with my mom at the local pool, I grew up spending more hours outside than in.  Now that I have a 16 month old son of my own, my hope is to instill a love and respect for the outdoors in him the way my parents did for me.

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