Mountain Standards

Posted September 17, 2012

Petzl Quark: Alpine Transformer

It's the modular components that really make the new Quarks stand out: I'll start at the spike. If climbing more snow than ice, simply use a hex wrench (provided) to remove the bottom grip rest. This allows for a great plunging experience from a technical tool.



Posted September 4, 2012

The GriGri2: Another Step In The Right Direction

It was 1994 and I was headed to the Valley. I'd saved up for an extended climbing trip and I would return to Salt Lake City with a donut for an account balance. A couple big-ticket items would put a dent in that savings right from the start. One was a portaledge. The other was a GriGri.



Posted July 24, 2012

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir: Compact, But Fragile

In all, the NeoAir's most impressive feature is its (remarkable) compressibility. On top of that, the outer nylon has a pleasant, grippy-but-not-sticky feel that keeps the pad from sliding around the tent; the entire package rolls nicely when you are deflating it; and it's more durable than I would have imagined. But there are a few things that keep this from being perfect in my mind.





Posted May 10, 2012

Marmot Variant Jacket: Conceptually Alluring, Functionally Impractical

I group the Variant with obsolete layers such as the heavy-duty Synchilla jacket. Wind rips right through the fabric, necessitating a windproof layer that makes me overheat. Sure, fancy new designs look good at the coffee shop but this jacket, at least, is not mountain functional.



Posted April 23, 2012

Terra Nova Quasar 30 Pack: Holds Up Despite Holes

Climbing in the Alps all winter, I put the Terra Nova Quasar pack and its "Ultra" fabric through an ice-and-granite gauntlet. While the pack is a little worse for the wear, it's come out on the other side still capable of holding my gear.



Posted April 10, 2012

Petzl Elia Helmet: Hair Hole For She-Climbers

With slim webbing straps, light weight and, of course, the ponytail hole, the Elia offers women-specific features that suggest it may have even been designed by a real she-climber (or at least a man on good terms with his feminine side).



Posted March 9, 2012

Mammut Trion Guide 45L: Not Like Climbing With A Backboard

I have often struggled to find an alpine pack for one- or two-night trips. A pack of this size needs to be comfortable enough to carry up to about forty pounds of gear while hiking into a high camp, yet trim and lithe enough to use for technical climbing on summit bids. Mammut has found a happy medium with the 45L Trion Guide.



Posted February 27, 2012

C.A.M.P. Cassin X-All Mountain: Light, Aggressive and Home-Depot Orange

There are only so many ways of describing an ice tool. Attributes worth discussing are shaft clearance, pick angle and spike pointy-ness—the X-All Mountain excels at all of them. But in reality, biomechanics have a lot to do with matching a user to their perfect tool. And the X-All Mountain feels like a custom tool made just for me.



Posted February 16, 2012

Grivel Monte Bianco: The Pleasure of Wood

With it's classic design, neutral angle blade and abnormally large spike, it seems as though this axe was well designed for meandering through low-angle snowfields thinking about the late greats and golden ages - but nothing more.



Posted February 6, 2012

Ibex Shak Lite FZ Sport: Frontcountry Function

What started as a gift from a client that I planned only to wear out of courtesy, inadvertently became my go-to layer for climbing, skiing and traveling. If my house were on fire, my Shak jacket is one of the items I would grab on my way out.



Posted January 11, 2012

C.A.M.P. XLC Nanotech Crampons

But once I gave them a chance, trusting that the steel front points on the aluminum body would hold up, I found that the XLC Nanotech is one bomber, why-didn't-I-think-of-this piece of gear.



Posted December 20, 2011

Rab Latok Pants: Solid Where It Matters

When I look for winter pants I think of two words, "waterproof" and "hardshell." Some of you (probably people who only ski powder, don't break trail or are too hardcore to use their tools on ice) will disagree. That it is fine, wear your softshells all you want. But I want pants that will keep me dry when kneeling against melting ice, breaking trail in heavy snow or on a multi-day trip. I also want a single pair of pants that I can comfortably climb, skin, ski, hike and, occasionally, toboggan in.



Posted November 4, 2011

Nemo Espri 2P Tent: Shelter From (Most) Storms

The Espri is exceptionally light for a double-wall, with a simple set-up and take-down. And though it's advertised as a backpacking tent, I suspected it would work for most summer alpine climbing in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada. I was right.



Posted October 19, 2011

Metolius Ultralight Offset TCU: Configured For Constriction

Adding these cams to my collection has made my trad rack much more versatile; they absolutely excelled in the granite cracks of Mont Blanc and even tagged along with me in the desert. They are not the best choice for Indian Creek splitters, but funky, flared cracks (on both free and aid routes) are their forte.



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