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, July 28, 2011

Lincoln Lake Bouldering - 7.10.11

Me on an easy, but stellar V3
Mount Evans has always been an alpine bouldering location in Colorado.  It was developed well before RMNP and Chaos Canyon and has some of the hardest boulder problems in the United States.  Area A with The Dali Boulder, No More Greener Grasses and Ode to the Modern Man all represent what used to be the pinnacle of difficult bouldering in Colorado and most of America.  However, Lincoln Lake (aka Wolverine Land) has only recently gotten the attention that other alpine bouldering destinations have received.  In the last couple years problems from V2-V14 have been discovered and at an alarming rate.  Just last year Dave Graham and Daniel Woods put up an astonishing 14 V13's or harder at Lincoln Lake.  With a finite amount of development and a veritable "gold rush" in the last couple years, Lincoln Lake has become the new hotspot for bouldering in Colorado.  Everyone from Jon Glassberg and Carlo Traversi to Daniel Woods and Ben Scott (local Fort Collins FA'er) have come to cultivate this new alpine bouldering gem.  The granite is fine and featured and the access has been preserved by a few local climbers including Jamie Emerson working closely with Park Rangers to establish trails and regulations.  Emerson recently came out with a guidebook for Areas A and B of Mount Evans and Chaos Canyon in RMNP, but decided to leave out Lincoln Lake after talking to rangers and discussing it with them.  Plus the guidebook was years in the works and with all the new problems going up at Wolvo he would have had to delay the publishing even more.  The setting is beautiful and as far as alpine bouldering goes could not be prettier.  Much greener than Chaos and better vistas than the other areas of Mount Evans, Lincoln Lake offers some amazing bouldering for the few who dare the brutal hike, changing weather conditions and maze of talus.  More on that later.
Lincoln Lake from the Chalk on Rock area
Overall this place is great.  The lack of a topo or guidebook makes for some interesting searches, but it is well worth it when you stumble upon problems like Chalk on Rock and Unshackled.  A few times down to this talus maze and you could have a pretty good mental image of the layout.  Speaking of the talus the hike is pretty stout.  You park just off summit road and hike downhill about 800 vertical feet (maybe 1/2 mile) to Lincoln Lake.  This is nice for the hike in, but the grueling uphill hike out looms over you like a black cloud the whole time you climb.  You definitely have to be in shape for this place.  Once down the hill the talus reveals itself as an incredible mess of car and house size boulders.  Turning every corner gives you hope that problems are everywhere.  Unfortunately, like with most alpine bouldering areas, there are not problems at every turn.  Good concentrations exist, but overall it is a hunt with thousands of boulders and great possibilities.  There are even plenty of easier problems no one has bothered to climb yet.  Some of these are right next to established areas because typically hard climbers putting up V10+ problems don't bother with anything under, say, V5 unless the line is visually stunning or a no-brainer.  Luckily this leaves some fantastic FA's for mere mortals like myself and most of my friends.  Sure we shoot for V8+, but when it comes to FA's we have to dial it back a little (all the pros get the good FA's).  Right next to Chalk on Rock, a pretty well know V8, were a couple boulders that held some potential for easy warm ups.
An overall view with Phobos called out
Me on a V2 on the Chalk on Rock and
Oil Spill boulder
Mike finishing up the V1 warm up
Mike styling the V3
Austin staring down the V3 warm up
Shooting for the top
We basically stayed in this area, right around Chalk on Rock.  It's right off the trail and because of the number of people we were with we just set up camp and climbed what was right around us.  There were a couple other problems that everyone tried out and of course we worked on Chalk on Rock as well.  We did not know the beta and so the way we climbed it made it significantly harder.  I'll have to go back to get this classic.
Austin on what we thought was Chalk on Rock
Jon, Austin and Me hanging out under a roof during the hail/thunder
 storm.  My girlfriend Ryann is on the camera.
I mentioned the changing weather earlier and for good reason.  The weather can change in a heartbeat when you are up around 10,000 feet.  Clouds roll over cliffs and crest mountains without any warning.  This happened toward the end of our day and within seconds we were in a hail and thunder storm.  We hunkered down underneath a small roof and waited it out.  These types of storms typically last between 5 and 30 minutes.  Luckily this one was done in minutes and after the storm passed we headed out.  The hike out was demanding and we took our time, but the day was a success for a new area with limited understanding of what's there.  There are quite a few problems I know of that I am super excited to get on, Kryptonite, Bull Run, Rebel Yell, Cutlass, Northern Aggression and Powder Keg are just a few.  So many problems...I can't wait to get back.

Check out Glassberg's Chapter 1 of "Lincoln Lake Giants" below.  This film series has pretty good production and gives you an idea of the Lincoln Lake area.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Arthur's Rock Bouldering - 6.12.11

Me on Syringe
So back in June a bunch of Frontrange climbers got together for a day of bouldering.  My buddy Mike (check out his blog) decided to coordinate and plan out bouldering days for all our friends to get together and climb.  He called it the Second Sunday Climbing Days.  The Second Sunday of every month, May thru October, one of the climbers would "host" the event. Basically the plan was that the host climber would pick the climbing area, let people sleep at their place if other climbers needed it and plan a night of drinking and hanging out the Saturday before.  It is a great idea to get everyone together.  You could work hard problems with other climbers and with the number of climbers interested we would have plenty of crashpads and spotters for highball boulder problems.

Back in May everyone headed down to Denver and met up for bouldering at Morrison.  I couldn't make it to that Second Sunday, but I was planning on hosting at least two of the outings, one at Carter Lake and one at Arthur's Rock (Lory State Park).  June rolled around and no one had offered to host, so I jumped on it and invited everyone up to Fort Collins for Saturday night drinks and Sunday climbing.  Only one climber made it up from out of town, Austin from Denver, but we had a crew of 9 including myself!  There was a good mix of climbers including my girlfriend Ryann, an old roommate and his girlfriend, my new roommate, friends from the gym, etc.  It was a good, albeit hot day.  We climbed a variety of problems from V2-V6 and tried just about everything we came across.  Check out the pictures...

Here's a sequence of my friend Steve on Syringe.  There were a couple large moves and sharp holds on this problem.  I want to go back and get on it again.
Steve at the start

First big throw
Ryann on Syringe
Austin on a pretty cool V3/4 sloper problem
Toppin' it out
Chase staring down the same problem

Mike Q. and crew on a V7 at the top
of the bouldering area

So that's Arthur's Rock.  I am looking forward to getting out with the Second Sunday crew again in August.  I think we'll probably end up going to the Satellite Boulders, Carter Lake or Chaos Canyon.  In July we went to Lincoln Lake outside of Idaho Springs on the way up Mount Evans.  That was a great day as well.  Post and pictures coming soon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Black Diamond Magnetron Technology

Wha, wha, what???
So Black Diamond is always a leader when it comes to innovation, but this is pretty wicked.  I have always been a proponent of the Petzl William Spin Ball carabiners for belay purposes and the reason is because they are easy to use, solid, took only one hand to operate and didn't have the over tensioned auto-locking effect of other carabiners.  With all that being said I think this new Magnetron carabiner from Black Diamond will be a very welcomed update to my rack.  I will be taking a closer look at these when I attend Summer Outdoor Retailer 2011 in August and hopefully I can get my hands on a couple ahead of the July 2012 release. We'll see what happens.

WILLIAM ball lock (open)

Check out the video and see for yourself.  This technology should be pretty amazing.  I just hope that use over time does not affect the magnets and cause issues.  I can imagine dirt and maybe ice/water exposure could affect the magnetic attraction in some way, shape or form.  However, BD's research and development is always top notch so we'll just have to see.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Winter Park Trip - Video

So it's only 4 months late!!!  This is a ski/snowboard video from a powder day at Winter Park, CO while my sister and some other family friends were out visiting.  They make the trip every year, 4 years now, and this year I had my Contour helmet camera.  I mounted it on my goggle strap and this is the footage I came up with.  I may have some footage from other days, but this one had the best snow.  Hopefully you like it.  Take a look and let me know what you think.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Gear Review - Brunton Profile Two-Burner Stove

First of all, Brunton is now Brunton Outdoor Group.  This group is made up of Brunton, Primus and Brunton Hunting.  Brunton is portable power, navigation and illumination while Primus is now the stove and cooking arm of Brunton.  Brunton/Primus make some of the best stoves around.  Their Eta Power and Express lines are phenomenal.  They pump out BTU's for high power and quick boil times and the construction is second to none allowing for durability and complete field maintenance.  Overall their stoves match or exceed any other brand in the market.  The other product categories are top notch as well.  Everything from their solar charging products to headlamps and lanterns works extremely well.  The product I am reviewing is a stove that I purchased from Sierra Trading Post.  Now I work for STP, but this stove was just too good of a deal to pass up.  It is perfect for car camping and I knew I could use it on my trips to Ouray when we stay in primitive cabins on the outside of town. I have had it for a couple years, so I know the ins and outs of this product very well.  Onto the review...
The Brunton Profile Two-Burner Stove
The Brunton Profile Two-Burner Stove is easy to use, powerful and extremely portable.  This stove cranks out the heat (12,000 BTU per burner) using a simple 1 pound propane bottle that connects to the stove using a Quick Connect flexible hose.  The typical burn time for a full bottle is about 90 minutes.  This particular model has a Piezo ignition which makes it easy to start.  You simply connect the fuel, turn on a burner, listen for the fuel flowing and hit the ignition button.  Two dials on the front allow you to boil water in just a couple minutes for freeze dried meals and noodles or set the stove to simmer for those quesadillas, eggs or pancakes.  The dual burners are a huge benefit because they allow you to actually cook!  You can have eggs going in a fry pan on one burner and pancakes in the other or rice in a pot on one side and chicken in a fry pan on the other.  The possibilities are endless and the ease of use makes it all efficient.  The fairly small size and light weight design compliments the entire setup because you aren't carrying around some monstrosity.  I wouldn't recommend backpacking with it, unless you have more than 3 people, but you could.  It would do well as a base camp workhorse.

Check out more after the break.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Endo Valley Bouldering - RMNP

I checked out this "new" bouldering area in the park back in June with Ryann, Jon and Andy.  We were interested in climbing at Endo to check out the new problems and to see if there were any problems that we could get some FA's on.  We were excited to see the area and check out climbs like Cambrian Explosion, Chewbacca and Flux for Life.  We obviously weren't going to climb any of these, they are all extremely hard, but we can always find our fair share of V5's-V9's, and find them we did.  Overall Endo is much like Chaos with a good chunk of problems up around V8-V12, but there are always more boulders to climb.  The day started off with a good find toward the far east side of the bouldering area.  A good short, but stout, V4.  It looked to be untouched, lichen and no chalk were the visual keys, so we sat down and gave it a go.  Andy got the first send and then Jon and I followed.  It was a good start to the day and a good introduction to Endo.  The rock was good and the climb itself was pretty fun.  After the warmup V4, we made our way to the main area to check out some of the established lines.
Hit the jump to see more!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Gear Review - Gregory Z35-R Backpack

Gregory Z35-R
The Gregory Z35-R daypack is a great all around pack.  I have the 2010 version and I specifically got it to replace my long time, best pack ever, Black Diamond Sidewinder.  That pack was sweet, but it is time to relegate that pack to backup duty...I've had it for about a decade!!!  The Z35-R is special because it is one of only two Gregory packs to incorporate the use of a roll top closure.  This was an important feature to me as I despise top loaders that have a floating lid.  They always get in the way, rarely sit correctly and really only offer a place to put food or quick access items (camera, knife, first aide, etc.).  I will explain why it is not needed on this pack soon.  Gregory is one of the best pack manufacturers around, probably one of the top 3-5 including Granite Gear, Black Diamond and Cilo Gear.  The fit and function of Gregory packs is probably the best.  Feature sets on their packs really outdo most competitors and the weight is in line with most other pack companies as well.  Finding this balance is always the biggest issue with packs.  This is probably why Black Diamond bought Gregory or more accurately the parent company merged the two.  They can share technologies and experience and start combining features for super packs!!!  Okay, onto the pack review.

Z35-R with all my sport climbing gear.  Harness, shoes, chalk bag, draws, rope (in rope bag), food, and water.
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