I have spent the last year and a half plugging the Heliums into cracks throughout the Western US, including the North Cascades, Smith Rocks, Red Rock, Lover’s Leap, Yosemite and a few other areas. While they have a design common among high-quality cams, they were trickier to place and to clean because of their stem length and, in the case of the larger sizes, trigger placement.
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.
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.
Ultimately, the Kingpins don’t fit my hand as snugly as I had hoped, though they are still one of the best multi-purpose gloves I have used. The combination of durability, craftsmanship, warmth and attention to detail make these my current favorites for a variety of alpine endeavors.
After several months of abuse, capped off with a thrutchy ascent of Red Rock’s Epinephrine, I was amazed to find Prana’s Tangra pants still looking new. However, when it came to everyday use, the pants are clearly designed for fashion over function.
While the axe is fairly light, it is the weight distribution that really impresses me. With a curved aluminum shaft and a stainless steel head, this tool feels solid in the hand and swings like champ.
The TC Pros are comfortable, offer great protection while jamming and edge powerfully. However, because these shoes lack the sensitivity and aggressive shape of a sport-climbing shoe, face-climbing bolt clippers might not be impressed.
Unlike many other lightweight packs, the Cierzo had enough room for my gear, enough suspension for comfort and enough durability to outlast a few seasons.
The Corsa is ideal for low-angle glacier travel, moderate ski mountaineering and adventure racing but, if there’s a chance you might find yourself in more serious terrain, you’ll wish you packed something more hefty.