Alaskan alpinist Clint Helander tested the Mystery Ranch Tower 47 backpack for all sorts of activities. The pack is designed as a crag pack for rock climbing—for which it shines—but Helander also used it for ice climbing and skiing. The pack is big and bulky, he reports, but its durability and functionality make it worth the extra grams. Four stars.
Alaskan climber Clint Helander generally prefers softshell jackets instead of hardshells when climbing and skiing, but the Rab Muztag GTX Jacket proved to be an exception. He writes, “I have always appreciated the ability of softshells to breathe and stretch while I methodically plod up steep snow slopes. In my mind, Gore-Tex jackets were still too heavy and restrictive in regard to movement…. I was happy to be proven wrong.” Five stars.
Clint Helander recently discovered a new personal standard when it comes to freeze-dried food. In this review he explains why Peak Refuel meals are in a different category from other backcountry food products that he has tried over the last 20 years. Five stars.
La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme GTX boots: Ideal for ice/mixed climbing and single-day mountaineering
Clint Helander tested the La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme GTX boots on some Alaskan ice climbs and cannot think of a single con. He reports that the Trango Towers are the “new iteration” of the discontinued “silver bullet” EVO Extremes and that these boots are “ideal for ice/mixed climbing and single-day mountaineering.” Five stars.
In what proved to be a month of strikingly optimal weather, Americans Jess Roskelley and Kurt Ross teamed with Belgian Nelson Neirinck to explore climbs in the Kondus Valley of northeast Pakistan from July 15 to August 15. They completed new routes on a 5800-meter tower and two 6000-meter peaks, which were all previously unclimbed.
Gus Barber, Lang Van Dommelen and Chris Williams recently established a 2,500-foot first ascent of a Grade IV+ 5.11 on the east face of Caliban (ca. 6,400′) in Arrigetch Peaks in Gates of the Arctic National Park.
Clint Helander remembers the life and prolific climbing career of his friend Ryan Johnson, who went missing and is presumed dead along with Marc-Andre Leclerc after the pair climbed a new route on the north face of the Main Mendenhall Tower in Alaska in early March.
Alaskan alpinist Clint Helander finds the Mountain Equipment Citadel Mitt to be a lightweight and versatile option for climbs that require cutting down on bulk and extra grams. Five stars.
Clint Helander lives, works and climbs in Alaska, where the risk of bear encounters is a regular hazard. He tested the BASU eAlarm and found it to be a versatile and helpful device.
Why Mark Westman should be famous (A postscript to Alpinist 19). May’s everlasting sun hovered in a low, lateral arc over the Alaska Range, bathing the massive peaks in fiery light. Waves of clouds washed up the Kahiltna Glacier and flooded the lower mountains in an ever-darkening fog.