Whitney Clark was skeptical about the Beal Opera’s skinny 8.5mm diameter when she first laid her hands on it–how well could such a thin cord really hold up against the sharp rock of alpine routes? The Opera is certified to be used as a single, twin or half rope, which adds great versatility for alpinists, and sure enough, the rope held up. After using the Opera at Index, Washington, the Cascades, Sawtooths and Wind River Range, Clark writes, “the Opera is a great choice for alpine routes when saving weight is key.” Five stars.
Whitney Clark used the women-specific Lowa Alpine Expert Gore-Tex boots in her snowy stomping grounds of the Sierra Nevada Range. She appreciated their lightness and comfort. The boots weren’t as warm as she would’ve liked, however, and on one occasion the supposedly waterproof boots soaked through while she was postholing and her feet got wet while her partner’s feet stayed dry. Four stars.
Whitney Clark tested the Mystery Ranch Scepter 50 backpack in Patagonia and in the Sierra Nevada Range. She reports that the pack provides a comfortable suspension system and is great for hauling loads. “I think that the Scepter 50 does really well if you have just the perfect amount of gear, but it does not adjust well to smaller or bigger loads,” she writes. Four stars.
Whitney Clark tested The North Face Women’s Summit L4 Softshell Pants in a variety of alpine climbing conditions and found them to be well designed to handle the wear and tear of ascending rock and snow and they were also well-made for female climbers. Her main complaint is that the fabric pilled after washing. Four Stars.
Whitney Clark takes the Sterling Fusion Nano IX along for some rugged granite adventures in Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada mountains. The 9mm rope can be used as a thick half-rope or a skinny single rope, and features Sterling’s new DryXP treatment, which exceeds the UIAA certification of less than 5 percent water absorption, keeping the rope light and durable in even the wettest conditions. Clark put those claims to the test and awarded the Fusion Nano IX five stars.
Alpinist contributor Whitney Clark tests the durability, warmth and water-resistance of the Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hoody. It did its job but she longed for a built-in stuff sack that would have allowed her to clip it to her harness. Four stars.
Last March Americans Whitney Clark, Jon Griffin and Tad McCrea ventured into a notoriously wet and seldom-visited coastal region of South America–Patagonia’s Cordillera Sarmiento–in hopes of climbing a peak called Alas de Angel Sur. The approach to their main objective proved too difficult to decipher in the time and weather that they had, but the team still managed to climb another peak by a route they dubbed Estoy Verde (M6 200m). Clark recounts their rain-soaked adventure.
It’s 3 a.m., July 2015. We walk through the darkness, headlamps illuminating our path. A cool breeze awakens the trees, and the creek bubbles to life as we switchback up the trail. Our movement becomes rhythmic. Three hours pass rapidly. Faint light paints the horizon, and the mountains are stirred awake…