On the Road to Sochi with Gord McArthur and his TRUBLUE

156923_4875306638648_1375624326_nGordon McArthur is a professional ice climber headed to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi for the showcasing of competitive ice climbing. Gordon as an individual is highly motivated, extremely talented, and one heck of a nice guy. His accomplishments are numerous, and his name is well known in the ice climbing community from competing in international competitions, including the World Cup competition tour.

Gordon McArthur is also a fan of the TRUBLUE Auto Belay, and has been training on it for the last year to prepare for Sochi. Also, did we mention he’s a heck of a nice guy? Despite gearing up for the Olympics – only two weeks away – Gordon gave us a few minutes of his valuable time to pick his brain about the future of ice climbing, his goals for Sochi, and his training routine.

Gordon – Thank you so much for agreeing to give us an interview! If I may start, what has the effort been to get ice climbing into the Olympics, and what role have you played in this effort?

It’s been a huge and ongoing effort for the past 4 years, namely from the UIAA organization. Without the push they’ve put forth, this definitely wouldn’t be happening. I think personally, I’ve just tried to be supportive to the UIAA in any way that I can, promoting the idea of this opportunity and raising awareness of the sport itself.

What does it mean that competitive ice climbing is a “showcase” event at the Olympics?

Basically, it was the only way to get the sport in front of the public. We’re “showcasing” the event, not competing, no medals.

What are you hoping to achieve at Sochi, both personally and for the sport of ice climbing?

My personal goal, along with everyone else, is to raise awareness of how awesome this competition sport is. We want to give the best impression so that it will be considered for future games as a medal sport

How have you been training to prepare for this and the ice climbing world tour, and what tools have you been using to help you train/prepare?

My training regime has been based around the world cup competition circuit. I’ve been training for 6 months, generally 5 days a week. It’s been an intense program. One of the biggest advantages to my training this year was the “arch” that I built in my back yard. However, because of the height….you need a belayer…which isn’t always easy to come by. So, I added a “secret weapon”, the TRUBLUE Auto Belay. This device was the game changer. I could go out, climb as much as I wanted, and didn’t have to worry about wrangling a belayer. Seriously…game changing.

When did you first hear about the TRUBLUE Auto Belay, and when did you first start using one?

I first heard about/saw the TRUBLUE Auto Belay about 4 years ago, at its launch party at the Boulder Rock Club in Boulder, CO. I was like, “wow, I gotta get one…it would be so perfect for training.”

How has it been using the TRUBLUE? What benefits have you seen since installing one at your home training structure?

The TRUBLUE has been amazing. Having the freedom to just go climb has changed everything. It’s given me the opportunity to just “go” without thinking. That sort of freedom allows training to go to the next level.

How do you think the TRUBLUE is beneficial to ice climbers competing at your level? Do you think they’d be great as a tool for beginners to learn to ice climb?

I think the TRUBLUE is beneficial to anyone…there’s no level limit. As long as it’s set up properly and safely, I think it can be applied to any style of climbing training. Especially ice climbing!

What advice do you give to aspiring climbers?

Drive fast and take chances. Lol, just kidding. I think if I were to offer any advice…it would be to not stop. Keep going. Keep trying, as you never know what you can actually accomplish until you actually “give’r”


You can follow Gordon on the road to Sochi on his blog, Machovok Adventure, and on his Twitter and Facebook fan pages, and like Gordon, you too can use the TRUBLUE Auto Belay to train and improve your fitness and climbing skills. The Reach Your Peak Program is a training tool appropriate for people of any age or climbing skill level, and you can download it for free at reachyourpeak.autobelay.com/download.

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TRUBLUE Auto Belays Attends Access Fund Educate For Access Summit

Mohonk Preserve, NY November 1st-2nd, 2013

This is a guest post by Micah Salazar, Territory Sales Manager for Head Rush Technologies, maker of the TRUBLUE Auto Belay

TRUBLUE and Access FundThe climbing community has seen a shift in how new climbers are introduced to outdoor climbing. In the past, if you wanted to climb outdoors, you would need to find a mentor and slowly hone your skills under careful tutelage. It is theorized that the proliferation of climbing gyms have garnered a new breed of outdoor climbers. These climbers are coming out of the gyms and climbing at a high level, yet they do not have the safety skills to mitigate all the risks of climbing outside.

I was delighted to represent Trublue Auto Belays at the Access Fund’s Educate For Access Summit at the Mohonk Preserve in New York. Auto belays have become a useful tool for climbing walls and as climbers and the manufacturers of these devices, we support safe climbing practices. Others represented at the summit were land managers, environmental educators, climbing wall operators, and local climbers organizations. We had two full days of discussions about gym to crag safety and minimizing impact.

We learned about threats to climbing access including: soil/vegetation/wildlife/water impact, social impacts such as crowding/noise/pets/litter/illegal activity, threats to cultural sites, and fixed gear. We got to hear from land managers themselves that one of the biggest concerns to them is the creation of “social trails“.

We also learned some climbing statistics and determined who the audience is that we need to reach. Discussions were had about how best to reach them, and great ideas were shared. We determined who in our industry has the biggest reach and how we would like them to help our efforts. It seems as though youth organizations, clubs, climbing teams, and colleges would take priority in education efforts. We also learned about different educational styles in order to carry out our efforts. The Access Fund will use these shared ideas to implement programs and education to overcome access challenges.

Some specific ideas I had:

  1. I would like to see the dominant climbing websites offer gym to crag sections on their websites that are on the front page and easy to navigate. They have a huge audience and would be a great central place to post “Climb Smart” videos and other educational resources.
  2. I would like to see retailers involved. Besides climbing gyms, every outdoor climber needs to make their way to the gear store. The retailers could point out existing resources as well as bolster their own.
  3. I would like to see climbing video producers run PSAs in front of their videos. Climbing videos get lots of play online. There are already great short PSA videos produced and being produced by the CWA, Access Fund, AAC, AMGA, PCGI and others. It would be minimal cost to the film maker and it would reach a wide audience.
  4. I would like to see the Climbing Wall Association develop a value proposition to gym owners about why encouraging safe outdoor climbing is in their best interest.
  5. Climbing organizations and companies should use data in the future to specifically determine the number and nature of accidents that are now only attributed to new outside climbers. Accidents in North American Mountaineering, web forums, and near miss reports would be good resources.
  6. I would like to see more climbers empowered to take part in this conversation. I don’t want our efforts perceived as elitist. All of these organizations are made up of climbers.
  7. Based on responses from this particular group, it seems appropriate that The Access Fund be a central communication point to disseminate information to climbers about outdoor safety and preserving access.

It was brought up that climbers can use gear in an inappropriate manner and that the gear manufacturers do not do enough to educate users. I am proud to say that TRUBLUE Auto Belays offers a plethora of educational videos for both climbing wall operators and climbing wall users. This information is provided clearly on our website, social media, and YouTube channel. Further, we have signs, posters, and trainings available to climbing gyms. I am open to ideas on how to better share this info and get the word out. We are climbers and are committed to safety and preserving climbing access. Please feel free to reply with your ideas on how climbing organizations, land managers and industry can accomplish our shared goals. I look forward to seeing you at a gym or crag in the future!

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TRUBLUE Sponsors Climbing Wall Association’s ClimbSmart® Public Awareness Campaign


Earlier this week, the Climbing Wall Association announced the release of their ClimbSmart® Resources, an expansion on their existing ClimbSmart® Public Awareness Campaign. The addition of new resources to the existing ClimbSmart® program is a response to the growth of the climbing industry, the introduction of new technologies, and the different types of climbing wall designs that are now offered in climbing gyms.

Head Rush Technologies, maker of the TRUBLUE Auto Belay, is proud to be a sponsor of the ClimbSmart® campaign. The TRUBLUE Auto Belay, the market leader among auto belays, appears as the key image on the Auto Belay Awareness poster.

As a leader in the industry, Eldorado Climbing Walls, sister company to Head Rush Technologies, is also a key sponsor of the ClimbSmart® program, and two of their climbing wall designs can be seen on ClimbSmart® posters. The Belay Technique poster features the School of Mines climbing wall, and the Auto Belay Safety poster features the Santa Barbara Rock Club.

Originally just a single resource, the new ClimbSmart® program now includes posters and awareness videos. The posters address auto belay awareness, boulder safety, belay technique, and a general warning poster about the risks associated with climbing.

The end goal of this program is to provide education and bring attention to the risk involved in climbing sports, proper equipment use, and personal responsibility. The four points that the CWA wishes to drive home, what they are calling their “Four Point Universal Warning”, include:

  1. Climbing is Inherently Dangerous
  2. Qualified Instruction is required
  3. Use Equipment According to the Manufacturer’s Instructions
  4. Your Safety is Your Responsibility

The CWA plans to continue growing this program by providing more resources for gyms, such as stickers, brochures, and other collateral, as well as by keeping their website up to date with new and relevant information. They also will be hosting ClimbSmart® events and forums, such as product demonstrations, gear clinics, slideshows, and educational seminars.

To learn more about the posters for your climbing gym, visit the Climbing Wall Association website.

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World’s Largest Rock Climbing Structure Includes Seventy TRUBLUE Auto Belays

Eldorado Climbing Walls, the expert in climbing wall construction, announces the completion of the world’s largest man-made rock climbing structure. Part of the Boy Scouts of America’s extreme sports village at the Bechtel Summit Reserve in West Virginia, this climbing facility will be unveiled at the 2013 National Jamboree.

A total of 60,000 square feet of rock climbing terrain, the climbing facility is divided into two areas: The Rocks and Boulder Cove. All climbing terrain is constructed from Eldorado’s SHOTRock product and entirely hand-sculpted to mimic the local rock styles and climbing features of the New River Gorge.

“We are honored to have been selected by the Boy Scouts of America to complete a project of this massive scope and size,” said Jerad Wells, CEO of Eldorado Climbing Walls. He continues, “The climbing facility at The Rocks and Boulder Cove truly showcase the amazing climbing wall design and climbing wall construction capabilities of our team. We look forward to seeing this facility inspire a love of rock climbing in current and future generations of Scouts.”

“Eldorado Climbing Walls has been a fantastic partner,” said Tom Wagner, High Adventure Project Manager for Trinityworks. He continues, “From conception of the project, operational plans, construction with weather delays, to climbing hold solutions, each phase has presented unique challenges. At every turn Eldorado’s crew has come to the table with solutions that have kept the project on schedule. They are a committed group of professionals that I would highly recommend, and I hope we get to work together again!”

The Rocks climbing area is dedicated specifically to the Scouts during the Jamboree. The most unique element of this massive climbing area is the “Leap of Faith,” where participants leap into the air from a height of 32 feet and are safely lowered to the ground by the
TRUBLUE Auto Belay. Other features include:

  • Two rappelling towers with a total of 36 rappelling stations at a height of 32 feet (6 stations are dedicated “leap of faith” stations).
  • Three climbing fins with 68 manual belay stations at heights from 21-30 feet.
  • Two climbing fins with 33 TRUBLUE Auto Belay stations at heights from 25-35 feet.
  • One 25-foot high climbing fin with 8 climbing stations (6 manual, 2 auto-belay).
  • Six freestanding boulders with over 50 stations and an average height of ten feet.

Boulder Cove incorporates over 280 linear feet of rock climbing walls ranging for 19’ to 36’ in height. In this area, the Scouts and their families can enjoy the following features together:

  • 12 TRUBLUE Auto Belay backed up rappel stations.
  • 72’ linear foot rappel deck
  • 25 TRUBLUE Auto Belay backed up climbing stations.
  • Three distinct boulders averaging 13’ in height.

The Jamboree runs from July 15th to the 24th, 2013. Following the Jamboree, the Bechtel Summit Reserve and the climbing facility will be open to scouting trips and retreats. The Bechtel Summit will continue to host the US Jamboree every year, and plans are in the making to host the World Jamboree in 2019. For more information, click here.

bechtel panoramic

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Belay to Save the Day

The Boston Rock Gym and TRUBLUE Auto Belay Team Up to Support Wounded Warriors.

WHAT:             In support of the Wounded Warriors Project, the Boston Rock Gym, located in Woburn, MA, invites climbing enthusiasts and novices alike for five climbs with TRUBLUE’s auto belays for just $5. From 6:00PM to 10:00PM on Friday, November 30th, 2012, climbers will enjoy the use of TRUBLUE’s state-of-the-art equipment and 100% of the proceeds will benefit the Wounded Warriors, a not-for-profit that aids and supports wounded service members.  As an added bonus, TRUBLUE will match the night’s donation total up to $500.

The Boston Rock Gym is the second oldest gym in the United States and is an avid supporter of the military community, offering all Veteran’s 10% day passes, all year long.

Climbers will not want to miss this chance to use the latest in rock-climbing technology and support service members in honor of their service and dedications at the same time.

WHERE:           The Boston Rock Gym

WHEN:             Friday, November 30th, 2012 from 6:00PM to 10:00PM.

COST:              $5 donation to Wounded Warrior Project. **Please note: climbing gear is not included, and this does not include a day pass.

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Training with the TRUBLUE Auto Belay

As seen in Climbing Magazine, TRUBLUE Auto Belays are a great educational and training tool.

In this video series, trainer Chris Wall of the Boulder Rock Club in Colorado demonstrates how to lead climb in the gym, how to best utilize your climbing gym when working on your endurance, and how to train without a partner… all on the TRUBLUE Auto Belay.

Want to try it out for yourself? Click here to find a TRUBLUE near you!

Training Endurance without a Partner

Training in a Gym without a Partner

Learning to Lead

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USFS Data: Rock climbing is a growing sport

The USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) recently published a national study, Outdoor Recreation Trends and Futures.

In this study of outdoor recreation participation, rock climbing is included in the top five activites for growth in number of participants through 2060. “Challenge activities,” including mountain climbing, rock climbing and caving, are projected to grow 50-86% in this period. According to the report, access to public lands for activites such as rock climbing may rise in importance relative to other activites.

The report shows a 9.5% increase in rock climbing participants in the ten year period from 1999-2009. In there period of 2005-2009 almost 10 million people participated in rock climbing annually.

Click here to view the full report.

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Survey Says: TRUBLUE Auto Belay Increases Participation

Auto belays are proving to be good partners.  Not just for climbers, but for climbing gyms, fitness clubs, recreation centers, camps, and colleges.  A recent survey by TRUBLUE LLC, makers of the award-winning TRUBLUE auto belay, shows that auto belays are having a positive impact on both user participation and increased membership at a variety of climbing wall facilities.  Both climbing and non-climbing focused facilities reported success with auto belays, with 44% of all respondents indicating an increase in participation and/or membership due to offering a TRUBLUE auto belay.

Among other remarkable survey findings: a 61% majority of respondents indicated that 50% or more of all climbing in their facilities is done on an auto belay, and a 62% majority of camps reported a decrease in climbing facility operating costs.


Auto Belay Impact on Participation, Expansion

No longer limited to climbing gyms, auto belays are seeing both increased use and unit expansion in non-climbing focused facilities, including family entertainment centers, fitness centers, recreation centers, and community centers such as YMCAs.  In fact, participation and membership increases were greater in facilities that were not climbing focused – with 100% of Family Entertainment Centers, 75% of fitness centers, 71% of recreation centers, and 67% of YMCA facilities seeing an increase.
The increase in participation and membership is directly correlated to the number of units per facility, with 58% of facilities that saw an increase offering five or more auto belay stations.  However, it only takes one auto belay to make the difference; 56% of facilities with just one unit also reported an increase.

“We had hoped and expected to see an increase in participation and membership with the use of auto belays,” said Candie Fisher, Marketing Director for TRUBLUE Auto Belays.
“What was most impressive from our survey response was seeing that auto belays are not only a good partner for climbers, but are proving to be a great business partner for all kinds of facilities that offer TRUBLUE – not just rock climbing focused gyms.  Climbing gyms and a wide array of adventure and fitness facilities are seeing an opportunity to increase participation while reducing risk and decreasing operating costs.”



Survey respondents indicated that managing risk was the primary reason for purchasing a TRUBLUE auto belay, with ease of installation and low maintenance being the other most important factors. While auto belays can raise questions about risk among users, auto belays are not governed by the same standards as other climbing equipment or fall arrest devices used in other industries.  To alleviate and overcome these concerns, TRUBLUE auto belays are designed, built, and tested to meet the same stringent standards required for fall arrest devices in other industries, while also meeting the following international criteria:


• American National Standard ANSI/ASSE Z359.4-2007 “Safety Requirements for Assisted-Rescue and Self-Rescue Systems, Subsystems and Components”

• Canadian Standard, CSA Z259.2.3-99 “Descent Control Devices”

• Australian and New Zealand Standard, AS/NZS 1891.3 1997 “Industrial fall-arrest systems and devices – part 3: Fall arrest devices”

• European Union Directive BS EN 341 “Personal protection equipment against falls from a height – Descender devices”

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zipSTOP a hit at IAAPA Attractions Expo

The debut of the zipSTOP zip line brake has been a huge hit at the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, FL. The product was selected from hundred of products on the show floor for a feature article in the IAAPA Show Daily.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE (scroll down to the 7th product)

Ziplines are making a big buzz at the show, and people are extremely interested in the innovative zipSTOP Zipline Braking System.

As quoted in the article:

“The company’s president, John McGowan, says zipSTOP is a revolutionary improvement over the current “analog” systems using compression springs, brake trolleys on a bungee cord, or even manual human braking to decelerate the zipline riders. ‘This is the first legitimate zipline braking system,” he said. “It uses eddy-current braking to gradually and smoothly brake the zipline. Also, tests have shown that zipSTOP can experience tens of thousands of zipline [runs] without wear to components.’ He says the system is also not affected by wind conditions, which can greatly increase the operating time of ziplines.

McGowan notes that the industry is moving toward high-speed ziplines—up to 60 miles per hour or even faster. For the sake of rider experience and comfort, operators should seriously consider the zipSTOP.

Learn more about the zipSTOP Zipline Braking system.


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TRUBLUE Wins New Zealand “Best Design” Award

Adding to the list of international awards for TRUBLUE, the device received a silver award at New Zealand’s “Best Design” awards. TRUBLUE was entered in the “Product – Non Consumer” category. Click here to learn more.

As a result of the award, TRUBLUE was also featured on the TV NZ, the national station of New Zealand.  Click here to view the segment.

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