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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Monday, October 31, 2011

Gear Review - La Sportiva Speedster Climbing Shoes

My favorite climbing shoes of all time were the La Sportiva Venoms.  They fit perfectly, felt amazing and performed extremely well.  The down turned toe was phenomenal, the elastic form of the shoe made the fit great and the sensitivity was the best, bar none!  This shoe, the La Sportiva Speedster, delivers on almost every facet that the Venom had to offer.  I was talking to the Sales Director of La Sportiva at Outdoor Retailer about the Venom and he let me know that La Sportiva actually abandoned the model because the Vibram webbing, that covered the top of the shoe, was too expensive to make and unreliable coming out of the mold.  I decided to give the Speedsters a try and left OR with a pair.  By comparison the Speedster has a great fit and feel as well and the performance compared brilliantly to the Venom.  I have really liked climbing in this shoe so far.

The Speedster is like a sour beer and requires some time with it before you can make a fair evaluation of the shoe.  There are multiple innovations that seem negative, but in fact, overtime, prove to be great improvements for a high performance slipper.  The first design difference that most climbers see will be the wrap over the front of the toe that doubles the toe rand.  This seems like it would hurt sensitivity, but it actually creates a good buffer that allows your toe to really feel any foot hold.  It also adds durability and creates a good rubber strip that goes over your forefoot for toe hooking.  Pretty good design overall.  The shoe is also extremely low cut.  The cut in the back comes down very low below the ball of your ankle.  This feels strange at first, but it allows for a lot of movement and the heel fit isn't hurt by this design.  I actually like the low profile feel and the fit.  This also allows for super sensitive climbing.  Every foot hold can be felt and really rocking into perches, heel hooks and precise foot points is easy and gives instant response to the climber.  Adam Ondra even uses the Speedster, so I figure they are a pretty good shoe.  I also like the P3 platform that La Sportiva is using to ensure that any downturned shoe will not lose its aggressiveness.  Over a full season we'll see how they do, but so far the shoe has been the same every time I put them on.  Overall I am really liking this slipper as a replacement to the Venom.
Just a little note on fit.  I wear a size 13 street shoe.  Specifically for La Sportiva I wear size 47 trail runners.  In the Speedster I got size 43.5.  These are very tight and I use them for difficult bouldering and overhung sport.  Be careful when sizing climbing shoes, especially if you order them online.

Final Say:
The Speedster is a super sensitive slipper that fits like a glove and performs extremely well on difficult boulder problems and overhung sport.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sierra Trading Post - 40% Off Your Order!!!

Click through this Sierra Trading Post link to get 40% off your entire order!!!  This is good till 2pm MDT.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fred Nicole on The Game

Just climbed The Young and the Rackless in Boulder Canyon with Ryann. Saw Fred Nicole getting on The Game as we passed Cobb Rock. Downgrade to V12? V13? What do you think?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gear Review - Evolv Shaman Climbing Shoes

New climbing shoes are always a blast.  Fresh sticky rubber, suction cup heel, new all comes together as a means to psych you up to climb.  Getting a new pair of climbing shoes sends me back to the time when my new pair was my first pair.  Enthusiasm takes hold and you want to climb hard for hours.  My new Evolv Shamans have been psyching me up for the past month and I must say, they are quite nice.  The new triple Velcro closure allows you to customize the fit from toe box to heel and the fit is extremely nice (for my foot).  One of my favorite pairs of climbing shoes were the original Evolv Predators and the Shamans come close to replicating that shoe.  Chris Sharma designed this specifically for extremely overhanging rock and difficult lines.  The shoe itself went through multiple redesigns and over time it evolved into what you see now.  I've put it through the paces over the last month and wanted to share my findings.  Overall the shoe is pretty comfortable and performs extremely well.  There is a good heel cup that varies in design from other Evolv climbing shoes and the toe box is a good bit different as well.  More on that later.
Bouldering with the Shamans in Chaos Canyon
Evolv's rubber has always been great.  As far as climbing shoe rubber goes they are all a derivative of each other.  They are composed differently and vary on durability and stickiness, but they all started at the beginning and morphed from Five Ten to Scarpa to La Sportiva to Mad Rock to goes on.  Specifically though I think Evolv's rubber is some of the stickiest out there.  Not to mention if it is good enough for Chris Sharma and Lisa Rands, I think it is good enough for me.  Based on materials and construction it is a great shoe.  The build is very nice and the fit is improved with a larger toe box that has a "condo" for the big toe.  What I mean by this is that the shoe dips and the sole has a voided space for your big toe.  This makes the initial fit more comfortable and the overall feel of the shoe a little more friendly.  However this does offer the opportunity for climbers to size down maybe another 1/2 size more than they would usually.  I did not so this shoe is my "comfort performance" shoe.  That extra room for your big toe in the toe box really helps move power to the toe for when you are balancing on small edges and toeing in on overhung roofs.  Bouldering on moderate terrain, sport climbing, they all lend to a more comfortable shoe that doesn't sacrifice performance.  I highly recommend the Evolv Shaman for anyone who doesn't want a super tight and aggressive shoe from some other brands that makes you size down dramatically.  You can come into the Shamans in pretty much your street shoe size and be pretty happy with the fit.
I have been in these for a little over a month and I have bouldered up in Chaos and the 420's, sport climbed in Boulder and Clear Creek canyons and did some moderate routes up at North Table.  The Shaman performed extremely well in every condition.  Small crystals in Boulder Canyon were no match for the sticky Evolv rubber and the slippery Granite/Gneiss of Clear Creek was a joke.  Up at 11,000 feet in Chaos Canyon the shoes performed brilliantly on problems like Revenge, Potato Chip and Autobot.  It heel hooks well and the toe rand has extra rubber to aid with toe hooks.  The only draw back of this shoe, for me, is the breathability.  My feet sweat and for days where it was over 85 degrees the shoe trapped that heat and my feet cooked.  Of course the shoes come off easily, but if there is one flaw it would be the breathability for someone with sweaty feet.  This shoe has also done a great job inside on plastic that was overhanging and edgy.  I am looking forward to some indoor competitions this winter to see how they perform.

Final Say: The Evolv Shaman really has it all.  Three Velcro straps for a custom fit, aggressive but comfortable profile for pushing double digits, suction cup heel for heel hookin' madness and some of the stickiest rubber out there!