Mike Farris





Archive for April, 2011

Hundreds of photos

April 26th, 2011

About 200 photos at Red Wing on Thursday, then 250+ at Devils Lake on Saturday and Sunday. The weather gods were kind, giving me clouds when needed and sun when needed. There were still some piles of fresh snow from the storm last week, and some trees and branches down as well.
While shooting telephotos from the top of the East Bluff Sunday I was surrounded by turkey vultures and this hawk as they were riding the thermals. The vultures were pestering the hawk by diving at it; unfortunately I couldn’t catch it with the camera.

Next weekend is Taylors Falls and maybe Red Wing again.

Hawk over Devils Lake

Hawk over Devils Lake

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Why I won’t take guide information from another web site

April 22nd, 2011

Writing a climbing guidebook is serious business. Deadly serious. While there are opportunities for humor, I constantly remind myself that the lives of the users could be endangered if I make a mistake.

The rise of electronic social media has changed the way many people interact and how they think that others should interact with them. I was in on the social media thing from the beginning. For example, I followed rec.climbing early on, then quit reading it when the info-to-noise ratio got too low.
I’ve had many very good climbers who post online send me their suggestions. It isn’t possible for me to contact each of you directly, so I have to make impersonal pleas for info on these online forums.


Mike bouldering at Bhulebhule, Nepal

Mike bouldering at Bhulebhule, Nepal

Why don’t I just harvest info from the climbing web sites? Here are some reasons:
*I can’t depend on the comments of anonymous people. Screen names like ‘rokluver69’ don’t instill any confidence in your comments. I have no idea how long you have climbed or where you have climbed.

*I don’t have time to wade through all of the junk that’s online. Those who talk the most generally have the least to offer. Or there are trolls/ flame wars/ etc. that waste everyone’s time.

*Online reports are often filed in the flush of victory (or in the throes of defeat). You finally completed a project; what are the chances you’ll downgrade it or call it a crappy route? A more sober, balanced assessment is usually only possible upon reflection.

*There are legal issues as well. If I found parts of my guide posted on a web site, the publisher would take legal action against the owner of the web site. If I take from a web site, the same could be done against me.

Also, if I was sued over the guidebook I need to show that I practiced due diligence in assembling the information that was published. Harvesting info of unknown quality from anonymous sources online clearly isn’t the best approach for accuracy.

So send me info if you have it, but if you don’t send it to me I can’t use it.


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Devil’s Lake 4/16-17

April 18th, 2011

Sometimes Crack, Devil's Lake. Note the tree shadows.

A crazy weather weekend at the Lake. I drove down Saturday and arrived in Baraboo and was greeted by blowing snow. After lunch and a bit of driving around I put on the running gear and ran/hiked around to check photo angles. I was the only car in the parking lot.

Sunday dawned clear with a biting, cold wind. I walked around (in several layers of clothes) and took photos in the sunshine. After a midday break it warmed up. I ran into Eric Landmann (climbingcentral.com) who was training for Denali by doing laps up the bluff.

Got some more shots but messed up by using my neutral density gradient filter inappropriately a few times. The Phottix Plato wireless remote I bought from Ebay ($40) works great and is tons cheaper than the Nikon remote.

I need to go back when it’s cloudy. The tree shadows are my nemesis! Maybe next weekend if it doesn’t snow :(


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Blue Mounds April 4

April 4th, 2011

Jon Cupka and I took photos and located routes at Blue Mounds on Saturday. After a cool start it was a great day–sunny in the morning, then clouds later. The clouds were important because the tree shadows make some sunny shots useless. While the sunny photos are prettier, the cloudy shots often have better contrast and reveal more detail on the cliffs.

It was very easy to get around, though there were still some snowdrifts in the gullies. We ran into Jasper and Pete Hunt (Mankato State) and climbers from South Dakota and Wyoming.

Blue Mounds, Everyday Buttress

Blue Mounds, Everyday Buttress



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