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!

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Monday, January 14, 2013

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!  Softshells are definitely my favorite and a good shell is hard to come by, but for my money Mammut has some of the best outerwear you can find.  From Haglofs and Patagonia to Mountain Hardwear and Marmot no one has a better pant than Mammut's Castor Pant for ice and alpine adventures and now I have found a jacket that might be at the same level and is rivaled by only a select few.  I was skeptical about the Parinaco from Mammut at first because of the hybrid fabric mix, but the Mammut Parinaco jacket is extremely comfortable, protective and warm.

I have always loved softshell jackets.  They just seem to be fit for almost any activity from running to ice climbing to skiing.  The fabrics are incredibly breathable but can still be waterproof and windproof and they stretch to fit any activity and for ice climbing I believe softshells are the end all be all, save for maybe high alpine summits and Everest type conditions.  I was always against hardshells for just cragging because they are loud, don't breathe quite as well and typically don't stretch as well as a softshell.  The Parinaco from Mammut has taken almost every problem I have with a hardshell and used Schoeller C_Change fabric to better the jacket where typically only a softshell would do for the job.  First, Mammut's DryTech waterproof fabric is impressive.  The fabric is technically hardshell, but stretches slightly and is windproof and waterproof.  The fabric is a little heavier than most, but it is supple and moves with the body during active times like hiking or ice climbing.  The fabric also seems to be a bit more durable than the typical Gore-Tex Proshell or Activeshell outerwear.  I thought at first this might be an issue because I would still need to layer, but the bulk of the Parinaco was unnoticeable with just a couple base layers underneath and the jacket was especially warm.  The Schoeller C_Change fabric supplements the DryTech fabric by being more flexible and much more breathable for controlling body temperature more accurately.  The C_Change panels on the jacket are very stretchy and they are placed precisely where you need that stretch.  C_Change also does its job very well in regards to warmth.  I was dumb founded, as i have used a dozen different jackets to ice climb, both days I have been out ice climbing with this jacket the Parinaco has been the warmest one I have ever worn, hands down.  I didn't think it was really possible for a hybrid shell jacket to accomplish this without insulation, but it has.  I was very impressed with the warmth of the jacket.

image name

image name

image name

image name

The features on this jacket are impressive as well.  Two front pockets (chest high above harness) and a bicep pocket round out the outside storage of the jacket and a removable powder skirt is on the jacket as well.  The cuffs can be adjusted and the front main zipper is two way.  The hood is large enough to fit over a helmet and there are two pull tabs to adjust the hood.  There is also a pull tab at each outside hem that let you cinch down the bottom of the jacket.  The Parinaco also has two way zipper pit zips.  The only gripe I have would be that the Parinaco does not have any traditional side pockets.  The only pockets are the front chest high slash pockets.  These are plenty big and perfectly functional, but you don't have two pockets that you can just put your hands in.  Kind of strange.  Also, the jacket i have is a large and I am 6' 2" 185 lbs.  It fits great.  All in all the feature set for this jacket is very nice and the quality construction is impressive.  I would recommend this jacket to anyone looking for a very warm and durable ski or ice climbing jacket.

Final Say:
Whether you are climbing WI5 in the Canadian Rockies or running dawn patrol in Colorado this jacket has everything you could want or need.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

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.  This pack really does everything you need it to do and more.  I highly recommend it for everything from high alpine mountaineering to ice cragging in Ouray, CO.

I have always be a proponent of Black Diamond packs.  Whether it is the old school Bullet or the tried and true Sidewinder I have always found Black Diamond's packs to be comfortable and feature rich.  Black Diamond always seems to be able to put in the little extra features without over engineering the pack or making it a porker.  One of my favorite Black Diamond packs was the Predator (circa 2007 -2008 ish) and this pack had it all; ski carry, rope strap, external crampon pouch, helmet trapper on the lid and a back panel and internal stay that made the pack comfortable even with 40+ lbs. loads.  I really didn't think there would ever be a better pack for ice/alpine climbing.  Low and behold Black Diamond blew that notion out of the water this past year with the Mission 50.  It has everything the Predator had plus a better carrying system and side entry zipper (no more helmet trapper though...sad face).  I have to admit the first chance I got to use this pack was for ice climbing in the Long's Peak cirque and I was worried about the long hike and how the new pack would perform.  We carried in a good amount of gear and of course the hike was a slog.  The Mission 50 was incredibly comfortable and shouldered the load very well.  The main storage tunnel is cavernous and with the side entry zipper you can access pretty much anything with ease.  There are compression straps all over the pack for attaching more gear, lifting shoulder straps and cinching down certain parts of the pack.  All the zippers are water resistant and the top lid pocket is big enough to fit lunch a camera and an extra pair of gloves.

Black Diamond Mission 50 with side pocket in view
Black Diamond Mission 50 with back panel and carry system in view
As always Black Diamond has done an incredible job providing an external crampon pouch. I love this feature and it makes things so much easier at the end of the day to put my wet crampons on the outside of the pack to dry before I even get back to the trailhead.  The ice tool PickPocket slots are the same as well and hold tools perfectly.  The only complaint here is that the bungee near the top of the pack that wraps around the handle of the tool is not a bungee and therefore does not stretch much.  It is kind of difficult to get them wrapped around my Viper and Rage ice tools.  Lastly the pack is pretty lightweight for what it does.  The carry/fit system combined with this makes for a great hiking pack.  You can even pull off the top loader lid and the hip belt to slim down the pack to a summit bid rig.  Very cool.

Final Say:
If you want a mountaineering pack for high alpine summits and ice cragging look no further than the Black Diamond Mission 50.