Gear Review - Mammut Parinaco Jacket

I love jackets. I am a jacket connoiseur and whether it is a light wind shirt or a heavy duty down parka I love trying on jackets, feeling the fabrics fit and cut and seeing all the features. I really can't get enough of them and now that every outdoor company is throwing in outrageous colors it is even better!

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Gear Review - Black Diamond Mission 50 Backpack

This is the mother of all technical backpacks. I would describe this pack as comfortable, versatile and feature rich. Heavy loads are no problem, stripping weight is no problem, carrying a rope, ice tools, crampons and all the usual alpine/ice gear is no problem and even skis can be carried by the Black Diamond Mission 50.

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Tallahassee Rock Gym Expansion

Every climber has a similar story of their early days...driving home late after climbing with forearms burning thinking of the problem or route that shut you down go after go. I remember it like yesterday. Working at the Tallahassee Rock Gym was a privilege and climbing there was a blast.

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Gear Review - Outdoor Research Stormsensor Glove

Gloves. I don't think there is a more important piece of gear for winter activities than gloves. Your gloves need to be warm and dexterous but they also need to be comfortable and dry. The perfect glove, I have found, does not exist, but there are many good options for all around use and only a few suitable for specific activities like ice climbing or skiing.

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Longs Peak Cirque Ice Climbing - 11.5.12

Alpine climbing at its finest. High elevation, wind, little sun, cold temperatures, it all combines to make an epic day on the mountain. My first day out this season was up to the high alpine of Rocky Mountain National Park in the Longs Peak Cirque. We started at the Longs Peak Trailhead parking lot at 6:20 am and didn't return until about 4:30 that afternoon.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ouray Ice Festival 2011 - Part 2

The next two days at the Ouray Ice Festival were jam packed!  Ryann and i still had half of the day to ourselves before Mike, Crystal and Jason would get in.  I sent Mike a text message with where we would be for the day and hoped they would be able to find us.

Thursday 1.6.11 - Southpark
As Ryann and i hiked into the park, we realized how crowded it was going to get for the weekend.  We put on our crampons and helmets at the entry to the park and hiked past The Schoolroom, Grad School, New Funtier and finally got to Southpark.  We got a quick WI 2 warm up in and moved around the corner to the end of the ice park.  We were lucky to find the last 5 routes in Southpark empty except for one group of guys that had hung a top rope on a vertical WI 4 with a pillar about halfway up that extended to the top out.  We chatted with the guys and agreed to share the two routes.

We setup on a vertical WI 4 right next to their route and began to climb.  After Ryann and I had both run a lap on it our friends arrived.  They were excited to see we had a route setup already and we were getting ready to hang another one.  They were able to jump right in and get some good climbing in on their first day.  Mike and Crystal both ice climb, but it was Jason's first time.  Being a great rock climber must have helped, because Jason had a perfect day and climbed really well.  We all climbed 3 hard routes that day with the final one having some technical thin ice with multiple roofs.
Ryann on the first WI 4
Mike climbing the first WI 4 with Ryann, Jason and Crystal below
Ryann on the second WI 4 with the pillar
More after the break

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ouray Ice Festival 2011 - Part 1

This post is gonna be long...

So the Ouray Ice Climbing Festival is one of the largest climbing festivals in the world.  The festival takes place in Ouray, CO in a Box Canyon right outside of town.  There is a small vendor village that supplies climbers with free demo equipment, clinics run by professional climbers, slideshows presented by prominent climbers and a competition to end the festival.  The vendor village has booths from Black Diamond, Scarpa,Petzl, Grivel and many other vendors.  They come equipped with crampons, tools and boots for climbers to use each day.  The clinics offer technical advice and training for all types of climbers.  Some are even run by well known climbers like Will Gadd or Heidi Wertz.  The ice festival brings climbers from all over the world to Ouray, CO.  The competition is always a mix of amazing climbers from the USA and all over Europe.

The Ice Park overall offers more than 150 ice routes, in the Uncompahgre Gorge, that are man made by using water diverted from a reservoir outside Ouray.  There are sprinkler heads above every route (which mark each route) and every night water is sprayed out over the canyon walls to create the ice routes.  The routes span over 1/2 mile from the Gazebo Wall at the North, all the way down the canyon to Southpark area.  The is a variety of climbing from slabs to increasingly steep ice and mixed routes.  Overall Ouray offers a fairly controlled environment where one can get a lot of climbing in, in a little amount of time.

Wednesday 1.5.11 - The Schoolroom
Ryann and I left Tuesday night after work so we could get two days of climbing before the ice festival started on Friday.  Typically during the ice festival climbers don't get to climb much unless they are in clinics, because of the large influx.  We got on plenty of routes for the three days we were there.  The first day we climbed in the Schoolroom on a couple WI3+ routes.  It was a sunny day with some really good climbing.  Ryann did a great job for it only being her third day on ice!  She climbed really well and took a lot of pointers from myself and just from watching other climbers.  The Schoolroom was pretty crowded because it was one of the only areas open the days before the ice fest.  A catwalk runs across the top of the Schoolroom and bolted anchors are abundant.  You basically setup a sport anchor and throw your rope over the edge.  After the anchor was setup we rappelled into the gorge and setup at the base.  We ran a few laps on two separate lines and called it a day.
The Schoolroom crowd
Ryann on a cool WI 4
Plenty more after the jump...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hidden Falls - 1.2.11

A New Year's Eve in Estes Park turned into a pretty cold vacation.

Ryann and I decided to take a mini vacation and stay over night in Estes Park, just west of Loveland.  We thought we would go up early Friday morning, stay over night and ice climb both days.  Little did we know it was going to be hovering around zero the entire time.  The cold, coupled with ridiculous wind, kept us from climbing either day.  However, Sunday after our stay in Estes we got out and climbed at Hidden Falls.  We were determined to get at least one day on the ice and the temperature let up a little bit.  A few friends were going to meet us there, and a couple we didn't expect to see, for a day on some pretty bullet proof ice.

The hike in went well and Ryann and I got there before our friend Ryan who was supposed to meet us.  As we walked up a couple came off the top after setting up their anchor and said, "Ryann and Bryan?"  We were stunned and had no idea who these people were.  They continued to explain that they were friends of Ryan and knew that we would be there.  Ryann and I setup a top-rope and had a great time running laps on the flow.  Ryann did really well with her swings and really started to get comfortable with ice climbing.  She was super excited about our upcoming trip to Ouray for the ice festival.  About an hour later another group of friends showed up that we didn't expect to see.  My friends Austin and Dan walked up after missing the cutoff trail to the falls.  Apparently they hiked about 5 miles, the hike is only 2!  We had a laugh and we all climbed a few times.  It was still bitterly cold as Ryan and his girlfriend finally showed up.  They got a late start and didn't even climb.  Ryan convinced everyone to get in one or two more laps and then we headed back to Estes for drinks and food.

We all left together and got drinks at Ed's Catina to round out the day.  We swapped stories and had good laughs, beer and food.  All in all it was a good day after such a cold and windy weekend.

Hidden Falls hike.
Here is a map of the hike to Hidden Falls.  I recorded it using the "My Tracks" app on my Android phone.  Check out all of "My Tracks" here.

My Ouray Ice Festival trip report will be coming soon.  Stay tuned...