Mountain Standards

Posted June 3, 2016

The Merino Air Hoody: A Most-in-One Base Layer

Recently I added Patagonia's Merino Air Hoody base layer to my collection. Unlike my other merino wool items, The Air Hoody, with its fluffy appearance, resembles a thin, non-itchy sweater more than a typical next-to-skin layer.

Posted May 25, 2016

Mammut 8.7mm Serenity Dry: Light, Stiff and Specialized

Although rope technology has greatly improved in the twenty-some years since I started climbing, I was still skeptical when a lime-green Mammut 8.7mm Serenity rope showed up on my doorstep. The manufacturer states this rope is designed for single, double and twin configurations. Mammut also says the rope is designed to stretch 31 percent when arresting a fall. When used as a single, the Serenity is the thinnest-diameter cord in Mammut's line.

Posted April 18, 2016

Ternua's Loughor Puff Jacket: Recycled Warmth

Instead of collecting new feathers, Neokdun recycles down that has been sterilized from old duvets in its special processing plant. The Spanish company Ternua works with Neokdun to process the down in their 800-fill power Loughor jacket.

Posted April 1, 2016

DMM Couloir ropes: great durability and water repellency

The rope is the single most important piece in your pack. During alpine climbs, the rope is subject to needle-sharp crampons, errant ice tools, rock and ice fall, and abrasive terrain while climbing and descending. For me, the most important qualities to look for in a rope are: durability, minimal weight, ease in handling and a permanent, obvious center mark.

Posted March 25, 2016

CAMP Speed 2.0 Helmet: One of the Best All-Arounders Available

Maybe Jerry Seinfeld said it best in one of his stand-up bits when he said that the helmet is designed "to preserve a brain whose judgment is so poor, it does not even try to avoid the cracking of the head it's in." As climbers and skiers, we embrace some risks while seeking to minimize others, and wearing a helmet seems like the obvious way to continue doing both.

Posted March 10, 2016

Iceline Jacket: a durable, weatherproof shell for winter climbing

Ice climbing is about high-energy output in cold, wet conditions. Adapting to changing weather can be as much of a struggle as the climbing itself in the winter season. I try to find layers that are versatile across a range of conditions.

Posted February 19, 2016

Petzl Laser Speed and Laser Speed Light: More Than Just the New Screw

A climber's relationship with his ice screw rack is a personal thing. Find the right match and life will be good. Play the field, using whatever happens to clip to your harness and you may regret it later.

Posted February 10, 2016

Lightweight Warmth in REI's Revelcloud Hoodie

I've used an REI Revelcloud Hoodie for a year now and have worn it in all seasons and while participating in numerous activities, including ice climbing, running, hiking and climbing. Every time I put it on I find it useful, no matter the time of year.

Posted January 29, 2016

Rab Xenon Hoody: A Compressible Puffy for Cold Rock Climbs

When you climb in cold places, you quickly learn the value of a lightweight puffy jacket. The promise of a sunny morning can dissolve quickly in the alpine: the wall passes into shadow, belays get long and cold, and the wind picks up. An insulated jacket can make the difference between starting the next pitch excited or shivering.

Posted January 12, 2016

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema 2400 Ice Pack: Strong, Tough and Ultralight

We packed up camp high on the Roosevelt Glacier and began climbing towards Mt. Baker's North Ridge (WI2-3, 3,000', Beckey-Widrig, 1948), in Washington's North Cascades, at 6 a.m. Challenging weather conditions required creative route finding. At noon, six hours later, we climbed into a storm below the summit.

Posted January 7, 2016

Petzl Sitta: Full Function and Barely Even There

Though I spend countless hours in a harness every season, I rarely get excited about them. To me, they are merely utilitarian. As long as the harness is comfortable and functional, I don't think too much about it. That changed with the new Petzl Sitta harness.

Posted December 31, 2015

Electric Tech One Sunglasses: Essential Gear for Alpine Adventures

This year I put my new pair of Electric Tech One sunglasses through rigorous field-testing. I wore them on a month-long climbing trip to Colorado's Front Range, the Moab area and northern Arizona.

Posted December 15, 2015

The Alpine Grind: Testing Five Camp Coffee Systems

Coffee is as essential to climbers as ropes, sticky rubber and excuses why they don't climb hard. Whether it's trad climbing at Joshua Tree, alpine starts in the Tetons, or iced-coffee afternoons at Tonsai, coffee is essential fuel for climbers. The problem is that camp coffee methods are often sloppy and cumbersome.

Posted December 2, 2015

Backcountry Dining Made Easy with Kung Foon

I'm a wilderness camping minimalist, bringing just enough food and not bothering with extras or luxury items. I eat freeze-dried meals out of a bag, eliminating cooking, cleaning pots and other annoying dish duties. My no-cook system is not perfect, since I usually eat tasteless freeze-dried meals, but it's difficult to reach food deep inside a bag without spilling it.

Posted November 18, 2015

DMM Mithril Harness: Light and (Mostly) Durable

I used the Mithril on glaciers in the North Cascades, and cragging and multi-pitching in Colorado's Front Range. I took whippers, hung and worked moves, belayed from hanging anchors, and rappelled off Cynical Pinnacle, in Colorado's South Platte, in an electrical storm.

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