Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The season is underway... sort of

Hello again winter fanatics.  Hope everyone had a great spring, summer and fall.  My faithful climbing partner/girlfriend Larua and I have been out dry tool training and scoping things out for the upcoming winter season.  Great News... We think we've found the largest concentration of moderate ice climbs in Western PA.  As the weather gets better (worsens) we'll be able to tell you more.  It could be home to over 20+ WI3 to WI4 routes.  We've also been eyeing up some new mixed lines that are begging to be climbed.  It should be a good year full of new routes.  We've been getting our workout on as much as possible.  Laura has come out swinging! getting early season clean ascents of routes most local "dudes" won't even try.  The start of things freezing is (hopefully) a few short weeks away.  The woods and cliffs are dripping plenty and all the water looks promising for an incredible year.  We didn't rock climb a whole lot this summer, but we did keep our tools very active during the winter "off" season April-November dry tooling as much as possible.

I figure there is no reason to bore everyone with long tales of my off season activities, so I'll sum it up in a few sentences.  I spent the spring and summer running... Mostly trails, but also some pavement running with a few races thrown in for good measure.  I managed to do quite well across the disciplines.  My true love of running is long distance in the woods for many hours at a time.  Below is a photo that Laura took during a HOT summer run.  She had it set on our computers wallpaper for most of the season.  It shows me in all my glory during a run on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.  I usually spend 5 days a week training on this 70 mile point to point trail.  Its a short distance from our house to the trail which makes training convenient.  On the trail I've adopted the name "woodz ninja" although below I look more like "Salt Pig Sweat Hog"  It definately keeps me in shape for winter climbing.  Laura spent the majority of the off season hiking a lot and volunteering at Powdermill Nature Reserve in Rector, PA.  She helped in the bird banding lab.

Around mile 50 or 60 in 90° humid summer 
weather at one of our "Mobile Aid Stations"
The other hobby I enjoy is hawk watching.  Unfamiliar with it?  It's more like the counting, study and observing of migrating raptors for scientific purpose.  In particular I've been interested in the migration habits and paths of the Golden Eagle through the central Appalachian chain.  Every year in mid September I slow climbing "training" and start hawk watching for a few months.  This upcoming spring season I am starting the first official hawk watch in Western MD.  If you have any interest or would like to learn more check out my blog for the Cumberland Gap Hawk Watch.  It'll explain a great deal.  If you have any questions please get in touch.  As climbers we spend a great deal of time in raptor territory and being able to identify and understand these amazing birds soaring around the crags is well... pretty awesome!

Another recent project I helped with involved former PA ice climber Rob "Griz" Ginieczki author of the 2006 climbing guide titled Ice Climbing Pennsylvania.  Much has changed in PA climbing since 2006 and it was time for an update.  Griz approached me to help with the Southwestern PA section.  Personally I can say quite a bit has been added to the SWPA section and should help everyone climb even more ice in our region.  The book is in print right now and should be out in time for this season.  I'll keep you posted as to when they are available.  Great job Griz!  Keep the PA ice community stoked and getting after it!

Stay tuned as the winter progresses and the climbing starts to happen.  I'll be posting regularly again keeping ya'll updated on the happenings around here.  Train on!   -Tim


  1. Glad to see the motivation is high Tim. I look forward to joining you for a couple trips this winter. I love that you are doing the raptor research, you know birds have always been one of my favorite things. Wish I was closer so I could join you in that. Take care and I will hopefully see you soon. Matt

  2. FYI - been trainin' for a trip out west to Lone Pine/Bishop CA next spring and have been regularly hiking 'River Hill' - was frequently flushing/spotting a single bald eagle along the Yough, from just up north of the "Three Sisters" and "Pete's Hole", 'till about 4 weeks ago - haven't seen it since.