Saturday, May 30, 2015

Outdoor Gear Lab Publication

I have put a great deal of effort lately into reviewing gear and writing articles for My dad wants to see all the articles I have done organized in one place. So here ya go Dad (and others). Each review is a compilation of the main article, a "buying advice" article, and up to 28 individual product reviews.

Quick Tip: Lowering on real skinny ropes

The other day Meagan and I were out climbing near Buena Vista, Colorado. We squeezed 8 pitches into a seemingly typical showery spring day. For a variety of reasons, we ended up doing some top-roping on real skinny rope (7.7mm). This is admittedly aggressive, but we made sure that we weren't running it over any sharp or abrasive edges. We also made sure that we could lower smoothly on the inherently lower friction cord. In order to increase the belayer's holding power, we used a regular belay device, and added additional friction. A second carabiner between belay loop and rope is the first and easiest step. If that is still not enough grab, one can create a woven carabiner brake in addition to the belay device. See the photo below for the detail. 

(Crucial to this "trick" is the usage of the pictured ATC Guide's auto block hole. The orientation of the hole on the Black Diamond device allows the simplest construction. With a Petzl device or other product with a hanger hole that is turned 90 degrees, one simply adds another carabiner between device and first "braking" carabiner. Fiddle around with it. You'll see what I mean)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Rock Climbing Gear List, Summer 2015

Yours truly, April 2015 on the first ascent of "Low Flying Supercub" (5.10-), Labyrinth Canyon, UT. Jana Collin photo.
It is the mark of a great ski season when one can feel fully content with the white and slippery by May 1. If I hung up the skis today, I would be stoked with what could be called one of the best ski seasons of my life. Ski season (which, incidentally, isn't fully over. I still have a few big ski missions left) contentment is best gauged by my stoke for rock climbing. Usually the rock motivation is slow to come on. However, with a full and immediate immersion last week on the Wingate walls of the Green River Canyon near Moab, I find myself fully charged up for rock climbing. As mentioned, I'll still do some skiing, as well as quite a bit of alpine climbing, but I'll otherwise switch to rock mode right about now. 

With the change of seasons comes a reassessment of my equipment. Like I've done in the past with winter alpine climbing and skiing (both "normal" and more technical missions), I'll break down here what I carry. In this case, the "list" is far more comprehensive than I would ever carry on any one mission. In other words, from the below gear I will choose a subset. I'd argue that this should serve any climber on any route that isn't on a big wall or in Indian Creek (You'll need some specialized equipment and more cams for climbing in those unique settings). 

Harness, helmet, chalk, and footwear. For shoes, chose the right tool for the job. Clockwise from upper left: Nexxo for super tech. Skip the shiny red ones for now. Running shoes for long approaches. Cruzers for shorter approaches. Addicts for splitter crack cragging and super long approaches (They weigh half what the Astroman does...), Astroman for the long, easy, and/or wide. Those shoes in the middle of the top row are Evolv's new Luchador. These buggers do all that the others don't. They're ridiculously comfy, super precise, with just the right amount of protection for some crack climbing. Near perfection! 

Ropes. A 50m skinny for long routes, a fat 70m for cragging, and a pair of 60m half ropes for weird stuff.

Double set of cams from tiny to medium. I have a set of Camalots and a set of Metolius Master Cams. With one Omega Pacific Link Cam. This gets me basically anywhere. Occasionally, however, one needs tiny or huge stuff. That bundle there in the lower right is the big, tiny, and hexes. Hexes have their place...

Draws. 14 total. Mix of extendable, light draws, and beefier ones for top-roping. Mainly equipped with notchless wire gates, but a couple lockers thrown in there. Also, I have a set of super tiny carabiners for alpine rock routes. 

Other stuff. Clockwise from top left: Couple double length slings. Prussik loop. Belay device. Nut tool. Extra locker holding a knife, rap ring, tibloc ascender, and Micro Traxion hauler. Grigri belay device. Couple extra lockers. 12ft of 7mm cord. Don't ever carry all of this on your harness...

Clothes for big routes where you might get wet. Socks, synthetic pants, synthetic t shirt, synthetic sun/warmth hoody, windbreaker, waterproof jacket, puffy jacket, full-finger belay gloves, warm hat, sun hat. 

Clothing for the less committing and drier days and climates. Socks. Cotton work pants. Shorts,  cotton t shirt, cotton hoody, windbreaker, gloves, sun hat, warm hat. 

Other stuff. 35l pack. 18l pack. Two quarts of water capacity. Sunscreen. Emergency/first aid kit.  Emergency Comms- sometimes as simple as cell phone, sometimes a radio, and often an Iridium GO device. Trekking pole. And a "Wag Bag". There are tons of us out rock climbing. We can't all poop wherever we want to. Sometimes we need to carry it out. Small price to pay to keep these amazing places amazing.