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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.
Hyalite Canyon local Todd Preston tested out the new Black Diamond Ultralight Express screws on some of Montana's classic ice climbs. He concluded, "For...pursuits where weight savings can be critical, the Ultralights are clearly the new gold standard and I would rate them 5 stars. However, several days of climbing frozen waterfalls using both Ultralights and traditional Express screws revealed some design limitations...." Four stars.