The Wind Tower in Eldo–a blast to climb, but the scene of many an epic, too. Be prepared!

Alan Jolley has been a rock-climbing guide for 30 years. Into his 50s now, he’s smooth, efficient, and  you better believe he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve. I’d been hearing Alan’s name for years for a number of reasons; first, because he was instrumental in the early years of the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) rock program; second, because he’s lives in Ned; and lastly because he produced a couple great DVD’s on guiding tricks (which I purchased a few years back; $34.95 each). I finally got to meet Alan this past winter when I recertified my WFR. We hit it off and pledged to get out on the rock sometime.

I hired Alan for a day for a guide training–I’m doing my AMGA aspirant exam in rock this fall and needed some help getting tuned up. Alan put together a great session (along with my buddy, Billy the Outlaw Wilkin) in Eldo, throwing a few challenges at me and helping me review stuff I need to work on, as well as incorporate a few new tricks into my game. During the day Alan told me he’d adapted much of the material from his DVD’s to a new smartphone app, “Moving Faster” ($19.95, available on the iTunes app store). The app has all the content on the videos, as well as some new stuff. I learned a ton from the vids, so I’ll be psyched to check out “Moving Faster” in the coming days.

Before you shell the 20 on the app, you will soon be able to download a free/lite version, with several of the segments from the longer version. It’s a great way to sample the content and see if it’s something helpful for you and your climbing. I think almost anyone, guides included, can benefit from Alan’s material–it certainly improved my efficiency and competence with self-rescue. I’m constantly amazed at how many climbers are out getting the goods in Eldo or any of our sport-climbing areas–but I’m equally surprised at how little they invest in knowing how to get out of sticky situations. Short of hiring a guide for a couple days, “Moving Faster” will be indispensable for anybody getting more than a pitch off the ground.

Drop by the iPhone app store and check it out–there are screen shots of the layout and the information lives on your phone, so you don’t need a data connection to review it (think stuck at the airport or worse yet, stuck on a climb!). For even occasional climbers, I think knowing the basics of self-rescue and safe rappeling/belay techniques is absolutely essential. Best case, give Alan a shout and do a couple days of hands-on training–there’s really no substitute. Short of that, consider picking up “Moving Faster” and practicing a few of the techniques with your climbing partners. It’ll pay off at some point!