Mountain Standards

Posted June 18, 2015

DMM Switch Review: Things That Make You Go DMM...

This season, DMM enters the fray with the Switch. With dual offset grips and a radically curved shaft, in essence it references the Nomic. But, put the two tools side by side and you'll quickly notice the first difference: Though both are marketed as 50cm tools, the DMM is clearly almost 2cm longer. Obviously, a longer tool offers a longer reach, which sounds nice on paper, but I wondered both, "Why these dimensions?" and, "Does the added reach compromise the swing?" Taking the tools out for a first spin on Grand Illusion in Smugglers' Notch, I quickly reached the twin conclusions, respectively, of "I don't know" and "Maybe."



Posted June 11, 2015

Duckworth Maverick Snorkel Hood:The Last Base Layer You'll Need to Buy

The versatility of the Maverick played a key role while hiking (a.k.a. sweating) uphill and making my way along a knife edge in Summit County, where winds picked up to near 35 mph, leaving little option other than getting low and waiting it out.



Posted June 3, 2015

Black Diamond Offset X4 Cams—Secure Traditional Gear for Flared Placements

Sometimes seen as an aid-specific tool for the pin scars on big-wall routes in Zion and Yosemite, offset cams can be invaluable almost anywhere.



Posted May 28, 2015

Lowa Cevedale Pro GTX Boot: Durable Comfort in Mountain Terrain

The Cevedale Pro GTX boot is comfortable right out of the box. A stretchy tongue combined with a well-padded midsole helped them break in quickly, and a partial-length shank lets the boots flex for walking. Lowa offers a novel approach to balancing the tension between the forefoot and the ankle, which is critical for maintaining a snug fit while avoiding pain in the Achilles tendon. An inventive lacing system uses low-friction ball bearings in the eyelets which allow you to quickly cinch the boot around the lower foot, then lock off the laces in cam buckles at the ankle in a simple motion.



Posted May 20, 2015

Tools for Climbing in Avalanche Terrain

Andrew Councell reviews Ortovox's trifecta of avalanche-rescue equipment: transceiver, probe and shovel. "In the States last year alone, avalanches claimed the lives of seven climbers. It's clear that we are not immune," he writes.



Posted May 15, 2015

Specialized and Complicated—Omega Pacific's Link Cam

I love watching my own mind make back flips, and it has put on quite an acrobatic show since the release of the Omega Pacific Link Cam in 2006: Early on, I remember looking at these crazy one-size-fits-all cams and thinking, "Yeah great...or how about just learning how to correctly place gear?" Later, I came to understand that recognizing the Link Cam's crazy genius is only a matter of the appropriate application.



Posted May 1, 2015

Voormi High-E Hoodie: Technical Wool, Perfected

After a day of cruising through the rolling hills and trees surrounding Brainard Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, under constant wet snow, the High-E Hoodie was damp around the sleeves and shoulders—a fact I didn't notice until I'd been in the car for fifteen minutes.



Posted April 23, 2015

Lorpen TEPAP Socks: Want to save $700? Try a $70 pair of socks

I never gave too much thought to my socks. In general, any pair of mid-weight wool socks would have been interchangeable for most days out in the mountains of New England.



Posted April 13, 2015

Mountain Standard Hooded Down: A Down/Synthetic Blend That's Easy on the Budget

I've been wearing the Mountain Standard Hooded Down jacket practically nonstop for the last three months. It came with me up El Cap this winter, and kept me warm and comfortable at hanging belays and when climbing through the night.



Posted March 27, 2015

Big Agnes Dunkley Belay Jacket: A Slim-and-Trim Synthetic Belay Parka

Bluebird days are so rare in Vermont that an overnight low of -18 degrees didn't dampen my enthusiasm for a day of ice climbing at Smugglers' Notch on Mt. Mansfield. I wore a Big Agnes Dunkley Belay Jacket, a slim-and-trim synthetic belay parka, to keep warm if our pace slowed or we lost the sun.



Posted March 27, 2015

Black Diamond Xenos: A Strange Fit

The Black Diamond Xenos mixed/ice climbing harness is aptly named since it enables you to visit some of the most unique and uninhabitable places known to humankind, places where we truly are the aliens.



Posted March 19, 2015

Grivel Candela: A V-threading Life Partner

Mentor to many aspiring mountain guides, Marc Chauvin once told me, "When you're out of options, you're dead." Now that statement might seem obvious, but he meant it with some wordplay: perspective often has an influence on the options you see.



Posted March 13, 2015

Grip-Positive Winter Runners: Icebug DTS BUGrip

DTS BUGrip provides a comfortable, somewhat cushy, and nimble ride, with positive traction for nearly all conditions.



Posted March 6, 2015

Arc'teryx Nozone 35 Pack: An Alpine Climbing Workhorse

While the basic anatomy of a pack hasn't evolved much since the hand-sewn rucksacks of Norman Clyde, a thoughtfully designed pack can be a major help to a day in the mountains. There's a fine line, however, between a smooth design and gimmicks.



Posted February 16, 2015

Kahtoola MICROspikes: Instant Traction Control

Mary Williams considers climbing approaches and descents at Rocky Mountain National Park a necessary evil. For improved traction, she wears micro spikes to cross icy terrain. "I have used [them] with light hiking boots, my ice-climbing boots, running shoes, and even a few times over my ski boots," she writes.



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