Beware! Timber Rattler Sighted at Devils Lake!

TIMBER RATTLER (Crotalus Horridus)

timber rattlerBright and early last Thursday morning, four seasoned Apex guides were hiking up the CCC trail to set up a climbing site for a group of enthusiastic seventh graders from Roscoe Middle School. Low and behold… a three and a half foot timber rattler on the trail! The first guide and I stepped right over the snake without noticing it. Our group was split – with the two of us on one side and the others on the other side.

What to do????

After investigating, photographs and a lengthy discussion, our group decided to mark the trail with a hand-written notes and green static rope.

Timber rattlers are one of North America’s most venomous snake – recognizable by their stocky appearance, yellow or black coloration and brown and black cross-bands. Their heads are triangular and their scales are ridged, making it appear that they have rough skin. Their distinctive rattle is created by loose horny segments in the tail. When you hear the rattle, the snake is agitated. Let me tell you, we certainly heard it load and clear!

Timber rattlers are, in fact, shy. In fact, none of us have ever seen one at the park – and we have been climbing at Devil’s Lake for years. The snakes are active mid-April to mid-October and prefer deciduous forests in rugged terrain. In winter, they hole up in dens with other snakes. They survive on small mammals, birds, toads and garter snakes. Their fangs are long and can pierce hiking boots. The venom is potent. If you are bitten by a timber rattler, seek medical treatment immediately.

For a list of snakes at Devil’s Lake, check this out!

Kilonewton, Forces, & Rock Climbing

1 Kilonewton = 224.8 Pounds

A kilonewton is a measurement of force. It is important to understand the kilonewtons in top rope climbing

Evaluating and managing risk. We always climb with the intention of protecting ourselves and eliminating as much risk as reasonably possible. To get a sense of how much force a person can generate, we use this example: A man weighing 225 pounds who steps off a cliff generates 2,200 pounds (roughly 10 kN) of force in his fall. The belayer’s upward movement and the slack in the rope adds another 1,450 pounds. This increases the total potential weight of the climber about 3,650 pounds! Neither you nor I can handle this weight alone–understanding that is key.  At most, our bodies can only withstand 12 kN. Therefore, we must remember to build our anchors, as a benchmark, double what our bodies can withstand, 25 kN.

Protecting ourselves:  In order to protect ourselves from all of the forces generated in rock climbing, we can first think about how friction is added to the system. As the climber climbs up on one side of the rope, friction is generated from the rope passing through the carabiners.  Additional friction is generated by the belay device and the belayer. When used properly, the belay device creates friction by looping the rope under the device.

rock protection

The second way we protect ourselves from the forces created in rock climbing is by using “protection” or  nuts, hexes, tri-cams, cams, and naturals (trees and boulders). Each of these has its own kN value and we want the value to add up to at least 25 kN.. To find the value, look on the piece of gear or make note when you purchase (cord and webbing). This is the amount of kilonewtons that the piece of gear will hold, if placed correctly. Remember though, the strength of your gear is only as good as the quality of your placement.

These are  just a few considerations you need to know before building anchors and climbing systems.  If this is confusing or you want to learn more, join us for a two-day anchors course. We discuss this topic and many other anchoring principles and considerations. After all, it’s your life at stake!

Visit Here for additional details.


Spring Cleaning: Climbing Rope Care

A strong climbing rope is essential to climbing! To keep you safe, here are a few tips for care and maintenance. Don’t let a dirty climbing rope get you down.

Did you know that besides the act of climbing and belaying, nothing wears out ropes faster than stepping on them?  Sand and other particles from the ground are particularly hard on ropes.  Rocks underfoot can cut the sheath (colorful outside) and compromise the core (white inside).  And dirt and dust can also work their way into the core, making the length of life of the rock climbing rope much shorter.


A simple fix is to remind your rock climber friends to stay off the climbing rope and to use a rope bag. (We like the Black Diamond Super Chute Rope Bag).

Another factor that affects rope wear is placement. Make sure the climbing rope runs freely whenever possible.  If you’re leading a pitch, use slings that are appropriate length to decrease rope drag and keep the rope away from the cliff face. If you’re top-rope climbing, make sure your master point is extended over the edge of the cliff. Also remember that a fall onto a sharp edge can seriously damage or slice through a climbing rope.  Finally, at the end of the day, while enjoying time socializing in the parking lot, keep the rope off the pavement. Oil, battery acid, and Freon that has leaked onto the asphalt can destroy climbing ropes.

At Apex Adventure Alliance, we wash our ropes frequently.  Washing ropes increases their life by getting the dirt and grime and aluminum oxide (from the carabiners) off.  If you want to wash your ropes, it is best done on a cloudy, windy day to protect the rope from harmful UV rays. First daisy chain (See Here) the ropes and stick it in the washer with cold water.  We use Woolite, but you can use a special rope detergent.  Hang to dry and your ropes will be like new!

Now get out and climb!


Fitness for Climbing

As we know, climbing can be done as a casual and exciting recreational sport.  After we get the itch to climb on a regular basis, we end up wanting to jump in full force and start to train.

Did you know your core and balance are key to making those incredible climbing and bouldering moves?  A great way to make the transition toward training more specifically for climbing is to join a climbing specific fitness class.

Our partner Adventure Rock just began offering classes that are designed to raise your fitness level­ to supplement to your climbing.  Hosted by trainer Garrett Stangel, the class combines sports conditioning, crossfit, and climbing. A typical hour-long workout includes dynamic warm­ -ups, strength training with weights, kettlebells, slosh pipes, and body weight, as well as drills and games for agility.

Garrett  is wonderful at individualizing the work­out to your body and has alternative movements if your are recovering from an injury. I just attended my third session and can already feel the benefits! As an added bonus, Garrett adds nutrition tips for a better recovery and strength building.

For more information on fitness for climbing visit Adventure Rock’s website.  Also, don’t forget to train for a purpose!  Use your fitness training outside on our new Bouldering Trips

Hope to see you on the rock or at the gym soon!

Lynn Mallach

Oranges, Reds, and Yellows

It’s we travel deeper into the month of September, those beautiful trees will shed their leaves, and we are going to begin to stock food for the winter hibernation.

But wait! Maybe this year can be different.  Instead of escaping the weather by staying indoors, make some goals and get out there. Adventure On!

So, what are your Fall goals?  Don’t let the beautiful weather escape you and be stolen by time !  Do you want to leave the crowds behind and enjoy a crisp day of quite, crowd-less climbing? We’ll help you with that!  , we should become one with it.  We need to plan ahead and create goals!

Climbing during the fall is beautiful. You can climb the Quartzite cliffs of Devil’s Lake State Park and enjoy the oranges, reds, and yellows. Make sure to pick up some apple turnovers at Ski-Hi Orchard located between the north and south entrance of Devil’s Lake on Ski-Hi Road.  If you get there in the morning, they will still be warm and extra gooey.  We may have even picked up a pie or two to enjoy up at the cliff.  (Just don’t forget a fork like we did or if can get messy.)

Follow the “Peak Color Report” at and you’ll be able to time your Fall climbing trip just right.

Don’t regret your Fall like this little guy! Climb On!