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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Thursday, March 31, 2011

World Cup Wall - Ice Climbing Video

Here is the ice climbing video I promised from my trip to the World Cup Wall in Rocky Mountian National Park.  I am in the green jacket and my buddy Ryan is the other climber.

I hope you like it.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

World Cup Wall in RMNP - 3.6.11

Ryan and I skinning the rescue trail
Ski and Ice Climbing day in the Park

The 2010/11 ice season has been pretty good to me.  I have climbed in Ouray, RMNP, I70 areas and many other locations in Colorado.  I've been able to get out to multiple new areas as well.  Recently I was able to check out a new area with my friend Ryan Bogus.  We were prepared to skin into Black Lake and climb two hard routes, Stoneman and Yellow Curtain, but instead a closer wall of ice caught our eye and we decided to cut the trek short.  2.5 miles instead of 6 miles sounded very enticing to us and the proximity was also good in regard to weather and wind conditions.  Glacier Gorge was holding snow and it was deep so flotation was required, so we stepped into our skis, threw some pretty heavy packs onto our backs, and skinned in to the World Cup wall in RMNP.
This is the hiking and skinning trail we
took to get to the ice

Check out the map to the left that I made using the My Tracks Android app on my phone.  The world Cup wall in Rocky is rarely climbed because of the difficult approach and we had a heck of a time getting to the wall.  We skinned the rescue trail and made good time to the Chaos Canyon junction.  We noticed the ice up to the right and back toward Lake Haiyaha in a band of ridges so we broke our own skin trail and headed back to the north east.  There were a couple ribs of rock and deep snow with steep slopes so we knew it was going to be a while before we would gain the top of the ridge and be able to skin back to the wall.  We tried to cut a Z skin trail up over one of the ribs, but to no avail.  The slope had slide potential and the snow was incredibly deep.
Check out more after the break!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ice Climbing - Nymph Lake

A view of Hallett Peak standing on Nymph Lake
Ice climbing is something special.  Basically ice climbing comes down to 75% temperature regulation and 25% skill.  You get to spend time in an environment most people spend their lives trying to avoid.  As a climber you look forward to challenging yourself with the hiking, climbing and the weather.  If the weather is good, you get a day much like summer sport or traditional climbing, a comfortable, but long day of climbing in the cold.  If the weather turns nasty, it can be one of the most miserable experiences, but ultimately rewarding, in the world.  I headed up to Nymph Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) the weekend of February 6th with my friends Mike and Crystal Gasell as well as my buddy Mike Quinones.  We had a day that defined the former...clear skies, wind swept snowy peaks, sunshine and ice!!!

Mike Q and I left from Fort Collins late in the morning to meet Mike and Crystal up in Estes Park.  Mike G had to drop his skis off in Boulder to get worked on, so we all got together about eleven in the morning.  We all piled in Mike and Crystal's Jeep and headed up to the Bear Lake parking area.  Nymph Lake is just a 15-20 minute hike up above Bear Lake and has some great views of Hallett Peak.  With just a short jaunt we were at the base of the cliff.  The snow was deep up to the climbs and we weren't sure whether or not the ice would be any good, snow was covering everything, so I slogged up the last little hill to check it out.  There was ice under the snow and with a little maintenance we would have a couple clean lines to workout on.  I slid back down the trail I had just blazed as if I were in an ice luge from the Winter Olympics.  Check out the video of Mike Q in the ice Luge.  We all had fun with that!

More about the trip after the break including photos!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gear Review - Black Diamond Cyborg Pro Crampons

The Black Diamond Cyborg Pro crampon is probably one of the best all around crampons on the market.  The crampon is extremely adjustable and adjustability is its best feature.  It is comfortable, versatile, lightweight and this new version is stainless steel!

Black Diamond made a lot of improvements over the previous year's version.  They increased weight savings, sensitivity and strength.  They did all this by switching from aluminum to stainless steel.  The list below is substantial when it comes to ease of adjustment and usability in the elements.

  1. Micro adjuster is much easier to use
  2. Stainless Steel crampon points
    1. Resist rusting and snow balling
    2. Stronger than aluminum
    3. Lighter weight
  3. ABS plates are more flexible and break up balled snow more easily than before

One of my favorite features of this crampon is the front point adjustment.  You can have two frontpoints, a single in the middle or a single offset to your big toe.  This is super important when it comes to mixed climbing, because it allows the climber to place one point exactly where he wants it.  Having the frontpoint directly over the big toe essentially makes the crampon/boot combination a rock shoe.  The precision is amazing!  Even though this crampon has an amazing feature for mixed climbing, it is also missing one of the best features for mixed climbing.  The secondary points don't have any backward angled points!  This makes it really hard to climb super overhanging rock sections.  The Grivel G20, G22 and Rambo 4 do this incredibly well.
Me using my Cyborgs at Ouray
The only other draw back is the leash that connects the heal clamp to the toe piece.  The leash is incredibly inconvenient and always gets in the way.  It is long and hard to stow out of the way.  There are a couple good ways to tie it off, but it can unravel and then hang loose.  I have tried a lot of different options and a couple have worked well, but this is one feature that could be fixed fairly easily.

Final Say:
Overall this is my favorite crampon.  It has never disappointed me in performance and the fact that Black Diamond is the manufacturer gives me even more confidence when kicking steps or standing on a crimp edge.