Mountain Standards Gear Review: IFMGA/AMGA guide Mike Lewis has been using the Mountain Hardwear Phantom Down Parka for several months. He writes: “Its 800 fill down is really warm, making it a good choice for the 6000-meter objectives such as Denali, Aconcagua, Ama Dablam, Cotopaxi, Elbrus–basically, anything that is not an 8000-meter monster…. It appears that few products compare to the Mountain Hardwear Phantom Down Parka in terms of its warmth-to-weight ratio at 619 grams (20 oz.)” Five stars.
Mountain Standards Gear Review: IFMGA/AMGA guide Mike Lewis has been using the Dragon Alliance PXV2 snow goggles this past winter. The goggles come with two fog- and scratch-resistant lenses, and feature a Swiftlock changing system that allowed him to swap out the lenses with gloved hands on a ski lift. He writes: “My suggested ideal uses for the Dragon PXV2 goggles include downhill resort skiing, heli and cat skiing, backcountry skiing, high altitude mountaineering and polar exploration.” Five stars.
Mountain Standards Gear Review: IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide Mike Lewis has been appreciating the Trango Agility 9.1mm rope for its handling and added safety feature of prominent red markings on each end of the line. He writes: “I believe the red ends will likely become a standard in rope design and manufacturing, and…the tight ‘Spider Wear’ construction allows [the Agility] to run through a device as smooth or smoother than any rope I’ve ever used.” Five stars.
Mountain Standards Gear Review: IFMGA/AMGA mountain guide Mike Lewis has been using the Blue Ice Akila ice axes for a variety of missions. He writes: “The Akilas kick butt for skiing and light and fast technical mountaineering because they are light, have technical picks and curved shafts (so knuckles don’t slam into ice when ice climbing), and are short and can fit either on the back of a small pack, or even in it. Whip them off the pack for some low-angled ice or even a steep bulge, and then plunge them in 50-degree snow to top out a major mountaineering objective. An effortlessly slidable plastic pinky rest makes for easy gripping on technical ice, yet can be moved out of the way, further up the shaft or completely off the axe, when sinking into deep snow.” Five stars.
Mountain Standards Gear Review: IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide Mike Lewis announces that the Trango Vergo has replaced the Petzl Grigri in his kit, awarding the Trango Vergo five stars. He writes: “Having been a die-hard fan of the…Grigri for more than 20 years, I now proclaim that after less than three months of using the Trango Vergo assisted braking belay and rappel device, I am officially a Vergo convert. A light sadness trickles through my body in making this bold statement.”
As an IFMGA/AMGA guide, Mike Lewis spends a lot of time in the mountains in all conditions, rain, snow or shine, and he appreciates the value of quality eyewear, especially after LASIK surgery that left his eyes more sensitive to the elements. He’s been using the Dragon Alliance Flash LL Ion Sunglasses that feature Dragon’s Lumalens technology and eco-friendly manufacturing. Lewis points out that the big, flashy style of the shades might not be for everyone, but the quality is all there. Five stars.
Mike Lewis finds that the three-person Nemo Chogori Mountaineering tent provides a good in-between option between lightweight tents and expedition tents. The former don’t fare as well against the harsh conditions typically found high on a mountain, and the latter are too bulky and heavy to be ideal for fast-and-light missions. The Nemo Chogori filled the niche for Lewis, who awards it four stars.
Mike Lewis finds that the Ortovox Col Becchei softshell jacket is well designed for alpine and rock climbing as well as backcountry skiing, but he has concerns about the $320 price tag.
After lugging the Blue Ice Warthog 40L backpack around the mountains for several months, IFMGA/AMGA guide Mike Lewis came to some conclusions: the pack is ideal for ice, rock and alpine climbing (5 stars for that category), but the lack of a padded hip belt makes it less comfortable to carry long distances when you’re not wearing a harness and you want to load more of the pack weight onto the hips instead of the shoulders. “For someone who is specifically looking for a pack with an unpadded, removable hip belt for technical climbing, this pack is a slam-dunk,” Lewis writes.
Blue Ice is a small, relatively new company that started in a garage in Europe and now has a presence in North America. IFMGA/AMGA guide Mike Lewis has been using the Blue Ice Yeti 50L backpack, and aside from a few details that didn’t comply with his exact personal preferences, he liked it well enough to award it five stars.