There’s an app for that…

I’ve spent enough time sifting through climbing and rigging related apps to recognize that most are poor shortcuts to obstacles and not all that useful. Good apps support learning, instruction and/or the actualization of work while being easy to use. They supplement practical knowledge and experience rather than try to replace it. Here’s a short list of good apps suggested for radicals in the vertical world. Get creative and remember to lanyard your phone when working at height.

KNOTS 3D provides a multi-dimensional approach to knot tying with a catalog of over 120 knots.  Available on a free website catalog or for $2 on iOS and Android.

RIGRITE is an app that calculates vector forces common in rigging. Any unit can be selected and applied to multi-point anchors, redirects/directionals, tripods, highlines , slope lower/raise, tension and compression. Available for $3 on iOS and Android.

EASY ANGLE is a simple tool for measuring angles using photographs. Available on iOS for $1.

CMC RESCUE FIELD GUIDE compiles CMC’s Rope Rescue Field Guide and Confined Space Entry and Rescue Guide into a full-featured app that includes reference charts, diagrams, and how-to information. You can even customize it with your own notes, photos, and documents for reference in the field. Available for free on iOS and Android.

THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S EPHEMERIS (TPE) is a tool to help you plan outdoor photography in natural light. It’s a map-centric sun and moon calculator that lets you see how the light will fall on land or buildings (day or night) for any location on earth.  This makes it extremely useful for planning with consideration to photo ops, field work, and deployment. Available on a free desktop web app (browser-based) or on iOS and Android for $8.99.

5-0 RADIO POLICE SCANNER is a mobile scanner that allows you to tap into a large collection of live police, firefighter, aircraft, railroad, marine, emergency, and ham radio frequencies. Stay ahead of important news, events, emergency responders and happenings in your town/area.  Available for free on iOS.

The Magnet Anchor

I’m an advocate of creative approaches to ropes and rigging — both in training and in the field. These are the spaces that turn gears and illuminate light bulbs. These are the spaces where we evolve as vertical practitioners.

This little experimagnetment all started with the simple pull of a magnet fixed to a refrigerator. The magnet popped off in my hand. “That must be around 5lbs of force,” I thought.  I just wrapped up a section on load sharing anchors while leading a climb training for Greenpeace USA in the Summer of 2014 and curiosity got the best of me.  Could I build an anchor out of these simple magnets?  How many would it take?  And so it began.

I weigh around 160lbs. Divide that by 5lbs (my estimate of how much force it took to pull the magnet off the fridge) and I was left with 32 — the minimum number of magnets needed to hold my weight.  This is assuming that my estimate was accurate, that I would be able to equalize all the magnets ‘perfectly’ and that additional forces don’t exist when getting onto or suspended from an anchor.  Knowing better I decided to double the amount but after searching the warehouse for every magnet available I was left with 51 magnets so 51 magnets it was.

My friend and fellow rope nerd, Van and I quickly got to work tying loops made from random bits of 2-4mm accessory cord to the plastic knobs on each magnet. These would become the individual anchor points for each of the 51 magnets.


photo by Basil Tsimoyianis

We divided these into clusters that we painstakingly equalized into seven load sharing anchors.  These seven anchors were then brought together and equalized to create a single master point.

photo by Basil Tsimoyianis

photo by Basil Tsimoyianis

The end result was one master point made from eight equalized anchors whose loads were shared across 51 individual anchor points – in this case magnets.

photo by Basil Tsimoyianis

Untethered magnets will fall if they fail so if using this for training purposes don’t make the same mistakes pictured here – wear a helmet, have a separate belay line, and place a crash pad underneath you. Photo by Basil Tsimoyianis

The anchor was weight tested by people of varying sizes/weights and some even chose to bounce test it. Minimum breaking strength was never determined but I think it’s wise to call this one body weight only.

I’ll be the first to admit that this magnet anchor is not the most practical when it comes to field use but it’s an excellent training tool that highlights the concept of load sharing anchors and importance of equalization.

WARNING:  Magnets are not reliable anchors. Using a magnet or magnets as life support can and will likely kill you.  Untethered magnets will fall if they fail so if using this for training purposes don’t make the same mistakes pictured here – wear a helmet, have a separate belay line, and place a crash pad underneath you. Heck, grab yourself an umbrella while you’re at it.  Have fun but be careful.

Radical Soles


Stone mountain tops

Used, worn, passed on

Spattered paint



Artifacts of actions past

Traversing society


Actions where boots (pictured above) have been worn:  Mount Rushmore. Keystone, S.D. July 8, 2009.  Fisk coal-fired power station. Chicago, IL. May 24, 2011.  Agios Dimitrios lignite power station. Kozáni, Greece. December 9, 2015.