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The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
I had initially stayed away from using longer ropes due to their weight and bulk. The Apogee, at 9.1mm, dispenses with this concern, but its slim profile gave me doubts about its durability. After significant testing on summer alpine rock routes in the Tetons, alpine climbing in the Bugaboos and the establishment of new multi-pitch sport and trad routes at Rock Springs Buttress in Jackson Hole, my doubts about the rope's durability were firmly laid to rest.
Over the summer I tested the Sprint double rope (8.4mm, 60m), a member of the new Infinity line from Wild Country. While the company is a relatively new rope manufacturer, they've got the time-tested reputation to back up their products, and I was not disappointed. The rope, weighing in at 64 grams/meter, has a UIAA fall rating of 8, a relatively high impact force rating of 875 daN, an 8 percent elongation and 0mm of sheath slippage. And as a double-dry rope, both the core and sheath are treated to resist saturation. All of the aforementioned specs prove that Wild Country is truly putting safety and functionality at the forefront of their rope design.
The luggage gods are not kind. Multiple times, when traveling internationally, I've had to wait days for my luggage to catch up with me. I'm starting to get used to it—but it becomes problematic when I'm scheduled to guide clients and my gear is in airline purgatory. This was the case at the outset of a recent twelve-day trip to the Alps. Luckily, my bags arrived on the first evening as we prepared to leave for a backcountry hut. But one of our clients was not so lucky—her bag had not arrived by the time we departed. Between me and the other guide, we assembled an ample amount of climbing gear for the client. She ended up with my normal LED headlamp, and I pulled the Petzl e+lite from my first aid kit to use for myself.
This lightweight glove packs a punch for as light as it is and as well as it climbs. Had the temperatures been more normal in the Tetons this season, I probably would have squeezed more milage out of the thin Rab gloves, but global warming had most of us stripped to light sleeves—and certainly gloveless—many a day up high.
When I first heard of a new truly hydrophobic (no water absorbtion) synthetic belay parka called the Dually Belay Parka from Arc'teryx, I was sure it could not be true. We have all heard the promise before: "This synthetic insulation will keep you warm even when it's wet." The disappointment of realizing you are not warm—but in fact cold—sitting in a damp belay parka is true betrayal. This feeling goes away when you realize there is no better solution. Now there is no reason to compromise, or be wet and cold, as the Dually Belay Parka insulates while refusing to absorb water.