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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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

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.  The Outdoor Research Stormsensor glove is definitely a glove that fits in the all around category.  This glove does pretty much everything very well.  I have used it hiking, ice climbing and snowboarding and the glove performed quite well in every application.  It breathed well during the hike, but was warm enough once in the alpine when I wasn't moving as much and so I wasn't having to change gloves just to regulate temperature   The leather palm and fingers are also very tacky and provided a good grip while ice climbing and fooling with climbing gear, ropes and cordage.  It did so well that it may be my new go to workhorse glove.  There is no Windstopper or Gore-Tex waterproof shell and not even Primaloft or Polartec fleece, but what it lacks in mainstream name brand technologies it makes up for in design, functionality and wearability.  Oh and it has some voodoo magic that lets you use touch screen devices like smartphones and tablets while still wearing it, more on that below.
Close up of the Stormsensor
The Outdoor Research Stormsensor glove doesn't have a lot of frills.  The glove is simple by design with a softshell outer and fixed fleece lined interior.  The softshell is highly water repellent, the fingers are anatomically pre-curved and the fleece lining is extremely nice next to skin and warm.  I used this glove mostly while ice climbing and the pre-curved fingers along with the tacky leather palm make for a great ice climbing glove.  It shed water quite well and the low bulk of the glove combined with the suppleness of the leather made it stand out as a dexterous glove for fooling with carabiners and cordage.  The softshell breathes incredibly well and during my hike into the high alpine of Rocky Mountain National Park I rarely noticed I even had the glove on.  For all the simplicity and functionality of this glove there is one main feature that is overlooked.  Outdoor Research uses a technology called TouchTec for the entire palm and finger portion of the glove.  Outdoor Research uses a nanotechnology on the leather to make the gloves completely compatible with touch screen electronics.  I used the gloves on my android phone in the parking lot to start a hiking tracker app for the hike into Longs Peak and stopped the same app once we had reached Chasm Lake at about 10,500 feet after 4.5 miles.  The Stormsensor gloves were extremely responsive and accurate on the touch screen display.  I used them on an iPad at home as well and the accuracy was just as good.  I don't know how much you would need the use of the TouchTec feature, but if you were to use this glove while skiing or snowboarding I could see this glove as a necessity on the chair lift.  The best part about the TouchTec is that it covers the entire palm and every inch of the fingers.  That means you aren't limited to just the tip of your index finger like some other gloves are.  You can pinch to zoom, use either hand or use whatever finger you want.  This glove truly has great alpine function with a new technology that makes the little things easier to do.

Final Say: 

Angry Birds on the lift or WI5 pillars in the Park, you're covered either way.

Friday, November 16, 2012

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.  The hike was a pretty grueling 4.5 miles up above treeline and into the cirque that is formed by Mount Meeker, Mount Lady Washington and Longs Peak.  I had never been up to Longs Peak and so I did not know what the area was like.  Much of the time I felt like I was heading into an area from Lord of the Rings because of the vast expanses of high alpine tundra and once we turned the corner to enter the cirque I was impressed by the sheer size of Longs Peak and the surrounding mountains.  I went up there to climb The Flying Dutchman with my friend Mike, but after seeing the lack of snow for the walk off we decided to climb some of the shorter and less committing routes in the area.  The hike was strenuous, but the views were amazing and the climbing was incredible.

I was excited to get out for my first day of the season for a couple reasons.  First is I love ice climbing.  I think it is so exciting to hike into the middle of nowhere, find a beautiful frozen strip of water and hack away at it for a few hours.  The serenity is renewing and being out in the alpine winter with a climbing buddy is exhilarating.  The second reason is that I LOVE outdoor gear.  I cannot get enough of it.  I work in the outdoor industry and I still fawn over gear guides for climbing, biking, snowboarding and hiking every year.  I was really excited to hike into the Longs Peak Cirque because I have recently gotten a couple new pieces of gear (backpack and gloves) and those gear reviews should be published soon.  We first hiked all the way up to Chasm Lake to get a good view of The Flying Dutchman.  After seeing the lack of snow for the approach and the walk off we decided to hit some of the shorter flows below Chasm Lake and bordering Peacock Pool.  The day definitely turned into a ice cragging day, but it was great to get to a part of the Park I had never been to before.  We climbed a pretty simple WI2 M3 (I think) with some meandering broken cracks, a little running water and good plastic ice up high.  We also climbed an amazing smear on the southwest shore of Peacock Pool.  Check out the photos below of the Cirque and the two climbs we did.

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I also have a My Tracks of the day for the hike into Longs Peak Cirque.  Check it out as it is pretty darn accurate and you can see exactly what the elevation change, terrain and time lapse for this type of hike is.  I think this is a very cool piece of technology to use when hiking into a new place or just wanting to document terrain and time while hiking.  It is really amazing because it just overlays onto Google Maps and is online in my Google Profile.  Very cool.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gear Review - Edelrid Eagle Climbing Rope

Edelrid has been around for about 150 years.  It was founded originally by Julius Edelman and Carl Ridder, a mountaineer and sales man and a technician that worked with braiding machines.  They started with braided fishing line in the late 1800's and by 1953 they created the very first kernmantel rope.  This, for obvious reasons, revolutionized the climbing industry from hemp ropes and progressed the climbing world because climbers now had the ability to climb much more difficult and committing climbs with better safety.  If you fast forward to today Edelrid is one of the leading climbing companies in the world.  They have mastered climbing ropes and also have divisions for adventure parks, industrial and safety.  They really do lead the industry when it comes to the sport (climbing) side of the business though.  Many Americans do not know much about them, but Edelrid would be comparable to a company like Black Diamond in America, but for Europeans.  Edelrid produces ropes, climbing shoes, harnesses, carabiners, draws, via ferrata, camping cookware and stoves, and crashpads.  Their quality is unsurpassed and the engineering in everyone of their products is outstanding.  For example; they have recently come out with an autolocking tube style belay device (autolocking ATC for ~$40), 6.9mm twin ropes and a 19g carabiner.  They are innovative and passionate about climbing.  With all that being said, they still have their steadfast products that have been in the line forever and change very little from year to year because they are already so good.  Their Eagle 9.8mm climbing rope is one of these great products.
Edelrid Eagle climbing rope on my rope bag
Beautiful looking rope
I have been climbing on Edelrid's Eagle for a couple months now and I must admit, it is a great rope.  It is the perfect diameter at 9.8mm and because of the, albeit minimal weight savings, I went for the 70 meter length and I also got it dry treated and bi-color.  The dry treatment and 70 meter length is so I can use it for ice climbing and the bi-color is just so nice I opted for it.  The Eagle is incredibly smooth because of Edelrid's braiding process and the suppleness is better than any rope I have ever used.  It fed so smoothly through my Reverso for ice climbing and through my Grigri 2 for sport climbing in Boulder Canyon that I think there is finally a winner against the BlueWater Eliminator (one of my personal favorites).  The overall durability of the rope seems to be great.  I have only used it a few times sport climbing and once ice climbing, but I haven't noticed any frays, dead spots or issues otherwise.  I have climbed on the sharp rock of the Poudre Canyon and the alpine ice terrain of Longs Peak and I am looking forward to many years of use for this rope.  I really can't say enough about the quality of this rope.  I am really encouraged about Edelrid coming to the USA and I hope they get bigger and bigger over here.

Final Say:
Edelrid makes a great rope and the Eagle 9.8mm is probably their best all around work horse.  If you need a new rope, get an Edelrid.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Joe's Valley Bouldering Trip - October 2012

This is a little late posting, but I went to Joe's Valley back in October.  I went with a group from Inner Strength Rock Gym here in Fort Collins for a 3 day weekend.  A friend doing a PT rotation in Moab met us for one of the days as well.  The trip was great and everyone climbed very well, I actually finally got Planet of the Apes and a couple V7's and a V8.  All in all a great trip.  Not much to report on the actual trip so take a look at the pictures below and leave any questions in the comment section.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

RMNP Conditions Report - 11.5.12

This past Monday I hiked into the Longs Peak Cirque with a friend of mine to climb some ice.  Our objective was The Flying Dutchman, but with a lack of snow in the Loft for the hike off we elected to climb some of the single pitch ice around Chasm Lake and Peacock Pool.

Here is a quick list of ice conditions for the cirque.

The Flying Dutchman - In, but not a lot of snow for the approach of the walk off (upper left corner).
Smear of Fear - Getting there, but has a little way to go before it touches down.
Crazy Train - Same

Ice below Chasm Lake - In, but thin and on a pretty serious melt freeze cycle.

Columbine Falls - In, but thin and on a pretty serious melt freeze cycle.
South Face of Mount Lady Washington - Out

Peacock Pool Ice - Very good smear in great condition on the southwest shore of the pool. Some other flows look thin, but are coming in.