Mountain Standards

Posted June 1, 2010

Cassin Vector Nanotech Crampons: For Peaks, Not Crags

Nearly as light as aluminum crampons yet much more technical, the Nanotechs will sit lightly on the pack for the approach and still perform decently on a section of steep ice or mixed.

Posted May 18, 2010

Arc'teryx Alpha SL Pullover: Four Seasons, Four Stars

In winter it's charged through powder in the Absarokas and high Rockies; in spring it's tackled mud season on hiking and biking trails across Wyoming; in summer it's scraped up long alpine routes in the Tetons; and in fall it's explored from the canyons of Red Rocks to the top of Castleton Tower.

Posted May 11, 2010

Black Diamond Express Ice Screws: Drill Baby Drill

The Express is to ice climbing what the Camalot is to rock climbing: a well-designed workhorse that sets the industry standard.

Posted April 28, 2010

Petzl Dragonfly 8.2 Double Ropes: Light and Bright

I look for equipment that will do everything. For me this means finding the driest and most durable half rope I can. So this autumn I picked up a pair of Petzl Dragonflys, curious to see how much winter climbing they could handle.

Posted April 1, 2010

C.A.M.P. Radion Ice Screws: Filling the Frozen Niche

I tested the Radion for four months this winter on steep ice, meandering gullies and snow mountaineering slogs. In some regards, the Radion design is without equal. But in other respects—or the wrong conditions—the Radion is exasperating.

Posted April 1, 2009

Clean Ascent Hammer Drill: Safety On Lead

The drill has served me well for a full active climbing season. It has completely replaced my entire rack. On most of my climbs I now rely completely on the drill for all of my placements. At first it was a bit awkward drilling on lead. The weight of the drill can be difficult to manage one handed and beginners might be advised to carry a single wide range cam to rest on while drilling. However much of the weight lies in the external battery pack that you clip to your harness and after some practice I have been able to drill single handily with my stronger arm while hanging on my left. Also knowing that you can always rely on your last bolt it is possible to go further between protection than traditionally without compromising safety.

Posted October 13, 2008

Sierra Designs Convert 2: The Do-It-All Tent

I lived in the tent for about thirty days before Applebee's granite slabs started wearing on the floor and the back corners' poles punched right through the fabric. Those areas should be beefed up and handled with care. All in all, the tent saw a lot of abuse, but only the floor showed signs of damage.

Posted October 8, 2008

Black Diamond Speed 30: Light and Comfy

The Speed 30 is an excellent choice for big outings that require all of your precious energy. The pack weighs 2 pounds, 3 ounces but is easy to knock down to a mere 20 ounces if you strip off its removable top pocket, hip belt, ultralight plastic framesheet and stay. It's hydration compatible, and it adjusts to multiple torso lengths.

Posted October 2, 2008

Boulder Based Designs The Mark: Save Your Stuff!

The Mark is so much better than all those initials I used to sketch onto my gear—they always took a detective's eye to discover, and eventually they’d wear off. The Mark takes only one application, and it stays on, no matter the beating.

Posted September 29, 2008

Asolo Distance: A Hiking-specific Approach Shoe

I would recommend the Distance as a great lightweight, durable hiking boot—not as a true approach shoe. Its performance as a hiking boot earned them a spot inside my duffle for my fall climb of Cho Oyu.

Posted September 27, 2008

CiloGear 60L WorkSack: Simple Success

Six months ago I unpacked a new 60-Liter WorkSack made by CiloGear, and it was love at first sight. I marveled at its simplicity and then loaded it up to find a number of basic-but-brilliant features: a removable frame sheet and bivy pad; lightweight, strong techy materials such as SilNylon; removable compression straps; simple suspension; all the right pockets and no extras; a single interior compartment; a dense foam hip belt: PERFECTION!

Posted September 25, 2008

C.A.M.P. Corsa Ice Axe: Too Light for a Real Challenge

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.

Posted September 22, 2008

Millet Peuterey 40: The Brawny Ski-Mountaineering Pack

The Millet Peuterey 40 is marketed as a “versatile summer/winter mountaineering pack for one-to-two day excursions,” but at 4.2 pounds, this little pack weighs in heavy for its limited capacity.

Posted September 16, 2008

Marmot Kingpin Jacket: Versatile in Winter

This jacket is ideal for colder, higher-altitude alpine climbs like those found in the Canadian Rockies, Alps and Andes, making it an amazingly versatile jacket for cold-weather use.

Posted September 10, 2008

Cloudveil Enclosure Hooded Jacket: Little Guy in a Fat Coat

The Enclosure survived two months in the Chugach, two weeks in the Alaska Range, and a week rock climbing at the local crag with only slight abrasion marks, one pinhole, and a lovely stain pattern.

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