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Topics - johnmac

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Big Wall Forum / Risks v Reward
« on: October 09, 2014, 03:53:02 pm »
A couple of weeks ago while rappelling off the Tower of Babel in Arches National Park my climbing partner had a mishap. He was about 25 meters from the ground at the last set of anchors having just rappelled from the previous belay.

The next minute he wasnít there. He has no recollection of what happened. I was at the higher anchor and had no view of him but he yelled out that he was at the anchor. The only thing I can think of is that he hadnít clipped correctly into the anchor.  He has many years of experience.

Anyhow, he survived the fall, with 8 broken ribs, a couple broken fingers and a collapsed lung. Thankfully, his helmet did its job and he only received minor head injuries.

The level of care provided by the Park staff and EMT's at the base of the tower was fantastic. Prior to them arriving, a member of the public who was watching from the side of the road rushed over and attended to him until they arrived. He was unconscious. I never got to thank him as I was still on the way down. He was flown to Grand Junction's St Mary's hospital via helicopter, where he was released this week after spending 12 days in hospital. 

It will be another 14 days before he is cleared to jump in a plane and fly home. He will fully recover, but right now he is limited to a wheelchair and a walker to get around. Each day sees a little bit of an improvement. He is busy reading my Alpinist Collection.

I've been climbing since I was 14 and I'm now 51. For 20 years I was a full time IFMGA guide working around the world and although I've never lost a client or a friend while climbing or guiding I've seen plenty of friends and peers come and go over the years. Although upsetting at the time, this is really the first accident that has rocked me. Most of the time you can be quite analytical about these things, however, in this case, I've have found the whole experience to be really quite traumatic.

After he was evacuated, I had to go back to our campsite and pack up our gear and then hit the road to Grand Junction. During that period, although I was able to contact the hospital they wouldn't provide any details as to his status. I really thought I would be calling his wife to let her know that he had died. When I got to ER, he was alive but a mess and the extent of his injuries were still being accessed.

So, now I'm really wondering for the first time in my life the risks versus the rewards. Maybe I should have a huge gear sale. My wife, whom Iíve been married for 25 years and has always, been 100 percent supportive wants me to just to have a break and wait until next spring to decide what to do. Itís probably the wise thing to do, but the thought of not having a plan over the winter is not something Iíve ever done before. Typically, I work out my vacation periods, goals, etc., and get everything lined up. Itís almost as though not having something to look forward to (the research and planning, training, gear prep), etc., is what Iím scared of missing out on. Iím not used to this indecision.

I still have one major bucket list goal and that is solo El Cap. I love being up on walls and feel totally at ease soloing. Iíve done plenty over the years from alpine, rock and walls but yet to tick the Caption solo. Going back to school to finish off a degree and working full time has really cut down those road trips.

When I used to helicopter ski 7 months of the year (NZ and Canada), we used to always talk about the perceived margin of safety and just how objective and rational your decision making really was. Did you start every day with a clean slate or was the hazard increasing incrementally as you spent more time in the environment? I retired from guiding after my third helicopter crash. Flying around in bad weather, with limited visibility, from tree to tree, lost its appeal.

So have you ever thought of hanging up your boots? Talking up a new sport or hobby? I also race mountain bikes so itís not like Iím going to run out of things to do and Iíll probably get to improve my places by a couple of positions as Iíd likely have more time now...

Big Wall Forum / Gear Express Sale
« on: August 22, 2014, 01:52:52 pm »
Gear Express is having a good sale right now. Lots of gear with up to 25 percent off...

Big Wall Forum / Printing Topos from Yosemite Big Walls
« on: July 24, 2014, 09:38:27 am »
Does anyone have a trick when printing topos from the new guide book. The book is formatted with each page comprises of two guide book pages. I want each page to be a single page and fill the entire sheet of paper.

My work around is to take a screen grab of the page I want to print and then print that full size to letter or legal size paper.

But, I think I must be missing a setting in Adobe Acrobat that would allow me to view the book one page at a time, like supertopo allow.


Big Wall Forum / Andy Kirkpatrick's Kickstarter Project
« on: May 23, 2014, 06:35:01 am »
Should be a good read ....

I pledged 31 Pounds which works out to 52 US dollars. You get a copy of the book for that plus some stickers, etc...

Big Wall Forum / For sale: Big wall boots
« on: March 18, 2014, 08:14:45 pm »

Size 10.5. 30 obo plus postage.

They are one size too large and packing them out with an insole and extra socks just doesn't work.

Big Wall Forum / Backcountrygear 20 percent off one full item
« on: March 18, 2014, 08:30:20 am »
Backcountry gear has a 20 percent off coupon right now. The code is MARCH20.

They have a red totem cam available.

Big Wall Forum / New big wall shoe?
« on: January 28, 2014, 03:44:46 pm »
I saw this review over on and wonder if anyone had seen it ...

I really like the current five tennies but sometimes wish it was a little bit more supportive.

Big Wall Forum / Totem Cam Question
« on: October 09, 2013, 07:33:18 am »
If you could only afford to buy two totem cams, would you buy the blue and yellow first?

I'm thinking mainly for pin scars.


Big Wall Forum / Yates Slimline Elite BW rope (10.3mm)
« on: October 08, 2013, 02:59:33 pm »
Does anyone have any experience with the Yates Slimline Elite 10.3mm rope?

I've been using the Mammut supersafe (10.5mm) up until now. The Mammut is almost 300 dollars.

The 10.3mm x 70m std Slimline Elite is $206.95, and the dry version $220.95.



Big Wall Forum / FS: Evol Maximus Approach/Rock Shoes
« on: August 28, 2013, 06:51:07 pm »
Size 10.5. Too big for me. Worn half a dozen times. Great for aiding.  40 plus postage.

See pics here

Big Wall Forum / Stance of Wonder
« on: October 24, 2012, 11:36:31 am »
I just finished reading the novel Stance of Wonder. It's an interesting read. If anyone would like to read it let me know and I'll post it to you next week.



Big Wall Forum / Azazel Movie from Petzl's Website
« on: August 15, 2012, 08:45:57 pm »
Pretty good film about 4 climbers doing a new aid route in Pakistan. 22 minutes.

Big Wall Forum / Black Diamond Big Wall Gloves
« on: August 15, 2012, 12:32:21 pm »
I tend to go through my Metolius gloves very quickly. I probably only get at the most 20 pitches out of them. Metolius have been very kind to me in the past and have replaced them for me a couple of times. Generally the seems blown apart other than wearing out.

So, I'm thinking it is time for a change. Has anyone tried the Black Diamond big wall gloves?

I've tried home made ones, etc.

For full fingered gloves I love the mad rock big wall gloves, it's the half fingered ones I'm looking for right now.


Big Wall Forum / My New A5 Expedition Fly
« on: July 25, 2012, 01:06:01 pm »
After several years trying I finally got my expedition fly for a steal on Ebay...

Can't believe it went at 105.00. Since I was budgeting quite a bit more I also just ordered a new Pika Hook as well!

So what is the best strategy to waterproof this sucker? The seams are not sealed.


Big Wall Forum / Fish Hooks for sale
« on: April 18, 2012, 01:43:40 pm »
Set of fish hooks. Never used. 50.00 plus postage. Paypal only.

I ended up changing my mine and I donated the hooks to the Gordon Fest. They can be purchased via auction. Links are over at supertopo somewhere.

I've never met Todd and haven't climbed in JT in 20 years but I didn't want to miss out on an opportunity like this. Seems like a great guy and family.

Big Wall Forum / How's Mark doing on ZM
« on: June 18, 2011, 01:45:04 pm »
Since Tom Evans has stopped reporting I was wondering if someone could give an update on how's Mark doing on ZM. Is he off yet?

Those pics of the 9 o'clock roof looked fantastic.



Big Wall Forum / DNC Management housing in Yosemite
« on: March 22, 2011, 12:47:14 pm »
My wife and I are looking for a change and I'm shortlisted for a job in Yosemite with DNC. The position comes with "Director/Managment" housing so I was wondering what that actually entailed. I've got the official version from the HR Director but I was hoping someone would be able to let me know what it really is... Where exactly are they located. I was told in the Park not in El Porta.

I figured that if I posted this over on supertopo I would get a lot of comments about why not to work for them, but honestly I don't really care. All companies have their good and bad points...

However, if someone works for them...




Big Wall Forum / Ebay Alert - A5
« on: December 13, 2010, 11:39:18 am »
There is several items up on Ebay right now. A5 Ledge, replacement beds, fly's, etc.

Big Wall Forum / BW gear for sale over on
« on: October 26, 2010, 09:52:35 am »
Aider, haul bags, ledge, etc for sale over on

Cross post

The home made ledge looks great.

Big Wall Trip Reports / Mini Wall TR - Zenyatta Entrada and Artist Tears
« on: October 02, 2010, 10:59:34 pm »
I posted up a mini TR with nice pics over on mountain project.

Zenyatta Entrada (C2+) and Artist Tears (C3)

Big Wall Forum / Cross Post - BW Gear for sale, Yates aider, etc
« on: September 02, 2010, 05:33:08 pm »

Copy of post form

Clearing out some stuff to free up some space. Prices do not include shipping. PM me if u have any questions. Paypal works Best.

-Yates Speed Ladders (used) $40.00 for the Set
-Yates 6-step Wall Ladders $40.00 for the set
-1 set of Camalot C3s (grey-yellow) $200 for the set of 5 (will ship for free)
-2 BD Rope Buckets (great shape) $25.00 each
Yates belay seat $13.00
2 Wild Country #2 Tech Friends $30.00 each
Metolius gear sling (yellow) $13.00
Metolius Double D Gear sling (Black)$15.00
Red Metolius Rope Bag $22.00
13 Rivet Hangers (mostly yates) $18.00

I will add pictues and some more later on tonight.



Big Wall Forum / PsychoVertical Guides
« on: July 23, 2010, 01:22:13 pm »
Looks like Andy is doing some braindumps ....

Driven: A Piton Manual

Future titles include: Aiding, Winter, Knots, Down, Tips, Exped...

By the way if you haven't read PsychoVertical it is highly recommended....

Big Wall Forum / Hand Care
« on: July 23, 2010, 12:51:04 pm »
Watching Mark's video's the other night it reminded me our critical the health of our hands are when big walling. I carry a small "hand care kit" that is separate to my first aid kit in the top pocket of the haul bag so I can get to it during the day. The idea is to fix things before they worsen...

? Ibuprofen 600mg tablets (Prescription)
? Small nail clippers
? Nail Board File
? Nu Skin (like superglue but safer)
? Climb On bar
? Wet ones
? 1? tape

Does anyone else use New Skin. I find it works pretty well for covering up small cuts and cracks around finger nails, etc. Stops air getting at them and hurting... Wears off fast but it helps. Dermabond works better but is really expensive.

Big Wall Forum / Yosemite Sport Climbs and Top Ropes
« on: July 20, 2010, 07:37:11 pm »
I'm sure I'll be flamed about posting this up here, but I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Initially I thought, "Who would buy it?"

Anyhow, I did a review over on mountainproject and just incase you don't ever go over there, here is a link to the review.


John Mac

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