Cali and anywhere else...
That's low brow and possibly-inappropriate low-hanging metaphoric fruit and I'm not 15. But cmon. We've all used that joke or a similar one. Let's not kid ourselves here, we're dirtbag climbers...
What can one say about chunks of metal you cram in cracks and trust your life (or insurance coverage) to?
If they don't work, it's probably your fault, not the chunk of metal's.
I have two sets of stoppers and a set of chocks in my passive-pro kit. My other set of stoppers are those sweet Trango ones. The orange and grey ones. I forget the name and I'm too lazy to check my order history. They are super cool, but I haven't even used them yet...and I'm going to blame JOHN for that one...
BD makes great gear and these are, perhaps unsurprisingly, great stoppers. I've heard some people lambast the rainbow explosion of colors in favor of a more muted one, or a lack of one altogether, or the Trango approach of alternating colors for each size step.
I get all the arguments and some of them are well-posed and well thought-out, but imho, choosing the correctly-sized hunk of metal for the terrain feature at hand is analogous to driving a standard transmission. I mean...do you really know or even care what gear you're in at any given point? As long as my turbo goes "vroom", I don't.
And it sorta becomes second nature.
But at any rate, it's kinda cool to say or to hear something along the lines of, "HA! Have fun with that BLUE one...can't believe that thing even went IN there!"
I know there are lots of theories (arguments? marketing bullet points?) about shape and cut and taper etc but in practice, at least in my experience, the differences are so slight that it really boils down to brand loyalty.
I guess weight is really the biggest factor.
My set of 5-13 BD stoppers with a BD Oz weighs in at 395g.
Trango set of 9 with a BD Oz; 337g.
If I sweated 58 grams, I wouldn't carry a 5DMKIII...
The bigger brother of the Solaris 12.
These Brunton charges are awesome.
I have the 26 and 12 and have used both extensively.
I prefer the thin-film Copper Indium Gallium diSelenide Brunton uses vs the heavier and bulkier polycrystaline cells used by Goal0. I have a Goal0 setup as well, but I almost never use it. I find it too heavy to lug and there's just way more accoutrements involved. Really cool concept though...solar catch, store and release via battery block...
I've charged my Canon 5DMKII, and the entire team's phones and ipods and whatever else they brought over and over with these, sometimes in completely clouded-over conditions.
One important note; this thing basically spits out a car outlet. If you can charge your stuff in your car, you can charge it with this.
You can easily enhance that capability by using a car adapter that also has a USB out. Before a big trip, get that dialed.
For example, I had to buy a specific car adapter to charge my 5D batteries. Everyone already charges their phones in their cars, so that's a no-brainer.
Just let everyone else who'll be with you know, too.
Because they will want to use it. Get in line...
I've found that 12 watts is about as low as one can go in practice.
In theory, yes, you could use a 6 watt.
But charging with 6 watts in variable conditions is janky at best and will probably annoy you. Some devices need to register a certain amount of juice coming in to even consider charging.
I've run into this with the 12 watt under cloudy conditions.
Not with the 26 watt, though...that thing swallows photons and barfs them back into your 1st World Toys with incredible efficiency.
5 stars for both the 12 watt and the 26 watt.
Great devices and really fun and rewarding to use.
I always get a crooked little "stick it to the man" smile on my face when I'm shooting mountain photos with a 5D powered by the Sun...
Here's a 14.5k BDAY 8h47m car-to-car solo selfie of me on the summit of my favorite local crag. I wore this jacket from Iceberg Lake to the summit and back down to 13k via the Whitney Main Trail before I got too hot, including scrambling up the last 400 feet of the Mountaineers Route, where it was liberally scuffed but yet unscathed.
I dig, I dig...
That is a self-satisfied, hypoxia-induced smile if ever there was one.
Love the jacket...
I don't own this headlamp, but my climbin' bud, John does.
Here it is at the base of Mount Tom near Bishop in the Sierra Nevada, in red LED mode. I stole a shaky 3 second/8k ISO exposure from the Universe behind him while he finished packing up to leave what we dubbed Camp Hanta Virus.
We don't recommend camping there.
Or disregarding the signs in the parking lot that read:
He loves the headlamp though, for what it's worth.
Here's the Petzl Tikka XP2 headlamp living on my Mammut helmet on the top of Aiguille du Tour after a 2am start near Chamonix in the Mont Blanc Massif of the French Alps.
Gettin all European up in this review!
I used to have the Tikka XP1 but bought this version because it looked cooler. I gave the other one to my wife, then found out Petzl squeezed a few more lumens into this one, so I felt like my purchase was justified. Then I started spending a significant amount of time on scree fields at 0:dark30 with my climbin' bud John, who has a BD headlamp and I will say this:
Lumens envy sucks.
You find yourself asking questions such as, "Is my vision dimming because I'm hypoglycemic right now, or are the batteries draining? When did I put batteries in here? Maybe his has more lumens...gonna check if I get home..."
Not that this headlamp is dim, but the disparity between 80 lumens and 90 is noticeable and sorta weird when both are shining at the same scree pile you're trying not to leverage-crack your tib-fib in.
Battery life is great. As is the red LED, which has become nothing less than a requirement; nobody wants their preciously-cultivated night vision decimated.
Front battery compartment means you can lie back and read in your sleeping bag without headache-enducing contact pressure from a rear-mounted pack.
Doesn't say so here, but the strap buckle is a whistle!
And that's fun.
The best part is the simplicity of the flood vs. beam switch.
It's just a little semi-translucent plastic plate that slides up and down over the LEDs. Basically just diffuses the light when down, so no fiddling with the power button to swap flood/spot modes.
If 88g is their "claimed weight", they should reclaim it.
Mine's 75g with lithium batteries in it.
All and all, great headlamp.
I don't plan on re-wifing, so if they make a cooler-lookin one, I'm not sure what I'm gonna do.
Certainly not giving it to JOHN...
I was going to return on item on BC because I found something else I liked more. (I know. I'm THAT guy.)
Hear me out.
I was at Adventure16 and came across the MH Ghost puff on sale for 220 bones and I was like DUDE!
I have a Western Mountaineering puff that I love other than the ridiculous hood.
I thought "SWEET! I'll buy this, and return the WM puff! And I'll MAKE 80 bucks!"
So I bought it.
And came home.
And then realized I bought the WM puff from; Adventure16.
Made my face look like this:
Karma at its finest, my friends. My wife laughed.
A while ago, I posted a review of a spork, in which I mentioned that I'm sort of stupid from spending too much time frolicking in the Troposphere.
<useful info starts here>
This puff is awesome, if you go into the relationship realizing it's not really meant to keep you warm in a "White Spider, Annapurna, Touching The Void" sort of way.
It's a light sweater at best, a down alpine layering rockstar, pushing the techno-boundary further still from the venerable and aged fleece top, and I love it.
I find myself wearing it more than I thought I would. It seems to be a great middle-ground insulation when you're up high and pushing hard in cold and dry weather.
I wear a red Salomon breathable shell much of that time, but this puff is a perfect weight for when it's a bit colder than that.
It's been more durable than I thought it would be. I've scraped it against rocks, just assuming it would rip, but not really having another option at the time; it's held up.
Sort of surprising, actually.
It's incredibly well-made, packs into its own pocket and mine weighs in at 182g. That's crazy. My iPhone weighs 113g.
I've been rained on wearing it. The DWR is solid.
Fit is athletic, but not body-hugging. I got it in silver and I look like Neil Armstrong in it.
What's not to winning?
Outdoor Research calls it the SunRunner, but here all it's doing is a moderately-fine job of keeping my eyelashes frost-free in a weird frozen fog at 3am on the Kahiltna.
I probably have upwards of...eh, let's just use the ubiquitous "hundreds" quantifier, of photos of me in this hat, or in one of the 4 hats of this type I have owned.
It goes under my helmet, under my beanie, over my dome, under a buff, over a buff, in a hood, even OVER the hood on one of my floppy-hooded puffs (no drawstrings on that puff's hood...thing gets all manner of askance...)
Wearing it spilled over into casual life, then into work life, sometime around late 2009 and pretty much everybody I know has since become disgusted with how frequently I wear it.
I think it's actually turning into a bit of an...issue.
I tried to shake things up with a shiny, black Craft hat recently, but it's just not the same vibe, man...
The skirt thing on this is great if you don't like schmozzing sun goo all over your neck and ears and cheeksandface every 8 hours.
I took mine to a tailor and had a snap installed on the front, so I could secure it from wind. I don't like the tie-down solution they went with.
But I don't use it much. I posted a pic here somewhere of the hat with the skirt and my little snap engineering project.
It dries fast, the velcro strap is nice to crank your lid down in the wind, the sides (which are not visible in this pic) vent out, so it never feels hot.
It's a great hat.
Sometimes when I like something, I buy 4 of them at once because I know the company will discontinue it before I stop liking it.
I did that with this hat. I have 2 left and both are pretty gnarred-out. One gets frequently bleach-washed and is thus starting to look more not-here than here, and the other one used to be white and is now just yellow and very sadpants, and that is gross.
Glad they are still making them.
Everybody who knows me probably wishes they'd stop making them...suckers.
But hard data is irrefutable.
I've had a pair of these since before they were called XA Pro 3D Ultra blah blah blah somethings...
I bought my pair in 2009 and they've been my only running shoes since. It's October 29, 2013.
In between 2009 and 2013, I've trained hard for some big climbing goals (Denali, Aconcagua, Teton Traverse, French/Swiss Alps, other stuff), and I started thinking, "I wonder how many miles I've run in these things...wonder how many calories I've burned while wearing them...I wonder what my average heart rate has been since wearing them..."
I've been tracking most of my workouts since June 2009 with a Suunto HRM, so I totaled it all up.
In a nutshell, I've spent in excess of 545 hours running in these things. 1200 miles. Burned almost a quarter million kcals...
Then I sorta went full-nerd (cause that's what I do):
243,979 thermochemical kilocalories =
968,186.88817 thermochemical Btus
7.747481 US gallons of aviation gasoline
283.5578 kilowatt hours
104,093,460.66 meter kilogram-force
380.2572 horsepower hours
202.9840 miles in my Subaru
These are like...good shoes.
The tread is getting thin. If they were tires and I took them to Goodyear, they'd pull out a Quarter and attempt to shame me into buying new ones.
But I've decided I won't replace them till I hit an even 250 thousand kcals. I like round numbers. Don't tell me what to do...
Pretty weak kiloton value, but...I'm cool with it. I GUESS.
0.000243979 explosive kilotons
Now if I could only figure out how many beats-per-minute of pure #@$%ing metal I've rocked out to in that time. How many cumulative decibels. How many double-bass hits, how many drop-C triples, how many times I've streetmoshed, pointed at cars in traffic and yelled lyrics at soccer moms.
But that really has nothing to do with how awesome these shoes are...
5 Stars...and only 6 thousand kcals to go before it's New Shoe Xmas Time. STOKED!
Not sure. The drop-off on the Italian side of Blanc's summit ridge was a bit vertiginous and I was trying to get as close as possible without getting TOO close...
This is a GREAT ice ax.
I've had a few.
I think I'm all done trying out ice axes.
The TrigRest is awesome and burlier than I thought it would be.
I got janky on a picket-bashing on the Breithorn and came down right on the plastic shank...thought I'd be reviewing the replacement TrigRest...but all it did was nick it up a bit.
The radius of the curve in the shaft is a good mix of harsh vs. mellow. You can climb AI2 and still self-arrest.
The spike thing on the end sort of fits onto/into the shaft a bit weirdly. There's about a millimeter of...off-kilter...ness.
It's sort of driving me crazy, but when my salt shaker is not in the EXACT proper location and orientation, it sort of drives me crazy.
I'm gonna file it off when I get around to filing the pick.
Speaking of pick, it's B rated. Shaft is T.
You can swap it out, but according to the Petzl cartoons in the Ice Ax Accessories PDF on their site, you can't swap it for, say, a Cascade Nomic U21100 T rated pick, but if you need a T rated pick you probably need a Petzl Nomic et al...
Weird, but I also wrote a review about a spork, so...
Since I have not worn all available socks, I cannot say with any degree of authority that these are the best socks ever made, but I can tell you that these are the best socks I have ever worn.
I stumbled upon them 9 years ago when I bought two pair on a whim. I still have those two pair, and I've recently acquired two more.
I have worn these socks every single time over the last 9 years that I've hiked, biked, trained, run, and climbed when it's not hovering near 0 (I wear a thicker pair in that case) and the climb doesn't involve my 5.10 Newtons (then too if there's an approach). It is not an exaggeration to say that I have literally not worn any other brand of sock or even any other physical SOCK over that nine year period of time during those activities.
I'll post a photo of how little they've degraded in that time (old/new...note the very slight wear near the achilles.)
How does Icebreaker make money when you can use one of their products for almost a decade?
In addition to wearing them on my feet, I've used them as isobutane cozies, sunglass and iPhone protectors, constituents of my cram-pillow, sleeping gloves, 100% UV-blocking sleep masks for taking naps next to alpine lakes while my now-bare feet soak. I've strained Andean and Cascadian glacial till through them directly into a nalgene so I could sort of see through my water before I drank it, and done the same in the Sierra to cull out wiggly mosquito larvae, then worn them...(the socks.)
I even flew to New Zealand to take a photo of a merino sheep! (and to get married...)
They only work moderately-well for wiping up tent condensation/puddles or for clearing wet snow from fisheye lenses, though. (stupid disulfide cross-linkages in a hydrophobic fibril shell vs. polypeptide cortex chains in the hydrophilic inner fibrils...)
Anyway, don't let that dissuade you.
If you by a pair, you will have a long love affair with them.
c.) End result of a frigid game of chance?
d.) Testament to the practical efficacy of the BD Legend?
e.) A combo of all the above?
Gonna go with "d.)" and add the caveat; " with good weather". (sort of).
The glove in this photo is not the most recent rev of the model, but it really hasn't changed all that much in the big scheme of things.
That big scheme can be defined as "you can wear this glove on the summit of Denali, depending on what the Weather Gods decide to do. (and other factors)"
Not that I recommend that, of course. (every one of my 7 finger-tips peeled for a month...)
I wore them on the top of Aconcagua, too.
(Just kidding, I actually have all 9 fingers.)
Morbid jokes aside, I love these gloves.
I've worn them in some pretty extreme conditions, probably a bit more extreme than they were intended for, and for the most part, they have kept me comfortable (in a relative way, of course.)
I've worn them on Whitney in the winter, Rainier in the Summer and Fall, in the Andes, AK Range, Wasatch...
I've found them to be as waterproof as one would expect a waterproof glove would be. That is, you can dig around in the snow for extended periods of time and the only moisture you feel is what you're manufacturing on the inside...
They don't breath well, but that would be like expecting a double plastic mountaineering boot to breath well.
Mine are 4 years old and are showing no signs of wear, but I'm tempted to try out these new ones. Mine don't have leather shell tops, only the palms.
Unless you're planning on spending weeks on-end above 15K feet, you'll probably love these things. And even if you are planning to, you'll probably love them, just also plan on doing lots of arm swings.
I believe their intended purpose is for FC/BC powder-planking, but I can still make a fully-intact shadow-puppet eagle, so they work for other stuff too.
(Also..."goat-skin shell and palm" = disturbing cannibalistic irony...)
My 6 year-old MicroFix vs. my new ResQLink.
290g vs. 142g.
Moore's law in effect.
ACR ResQLink next to a Black Diamond Oz carabiner.
The last time I bought an ACR COSPAS SARSAT PLB (acronyms, anyone?...) It was more than double the size of this one, double the price and double the weight.
I'll post a pic...
There were times when I would look at my pack...look at the PLB...look at the pack...and ditch the PLB. (Gotta make room for my DSLR and 3 lenses, after-all...priorities...)
That won't happen with this one. It's so small, it falls into the "negligible" category.
Earlier, I said I'd post a pic showing the difference in gate sizes between the new Black Diamond Oz carabiners with hoodwires on them and the older versions without.
So without further ado...
From Left to right...older to newer.
They used to stamp the kN stats into the metal.
Then they printed it.
Then there was a batch of weird bluish ones. (anybody else get those?)
Now they're doing this hoodwire thing.
The hoodwire versions are consistently 2g lighter than the older versions. Not sure where they squeezed that out. The spine is wider but pretty significantly thinner. Maybe that's where.
One thing to note about these new hoodwire ones is that the gate opening is a little smaller. Not much, but enough to "feel" it.
(I'll post a photo...)
I've always thought that Oz biners were rad because they are super small and light, but didn't really feel that way. When I got a couple of the new ones, I instinctively went right to the gate to obsessively click it a few times and I was like, "WHAAA!!!??"
I never really had a huge problem with my carabiners hanging on runners, that's why my non-locker rack consists of entirely of Oz and Hotwire biners and not HoodWires. Hoodwires are basically the same biner, just a little heavier and a little beefier, but not enough to justify completely phasing out an entire line of otherwise great biners by adding a similar feature.
I mean...the Oz is now a HoodWire Mini(tm)...
I don't know...maybe the world was desperately struggling with snagged runners and I'm just out-of-step. Maybe I'll grow to love them. Maybe I'm wrong and they'll still offer the non-hoodwire versions. Maybe it doesn't really matter. (probably doesn't really matter...)
I lost my old CORE (Regular Black) on Mont Blanc and replaced it with the Glacier Gray version. I love this thing. I've actually bought four of them, two as gifts. Out of those four, I like the Glacier Gray one the best. The two gifted versions were various iterations with black faces, which look super cool, but I find them hard to read.
You might notice in some photos online that the Glacier Gray version has a lighter face as compared to the Regular Black version. In some photos, the face looks almost white.
It's not. (lamentably...)
The Regular Black and Glacier Gray version have the exact same face.
The bezel is easier to read (dark on light) than on the Regular Black version, and the buckle is matte black, not silver.
Anyway, great watch. If I could change anything from a functional standpoint, I'd make the elevation adjustment operate more like the one on the Suunto T6d.
When you are adjusting the elevation on that watch, it starts slow as you hold the button down, then starts jumping in larger increments. You can change it from sea level to 5K feet in a few seconds. Not the case with the COREs. You have to hold the button down so long you get painful imprints in your finger.
Minor detail, though...5 stars.
There's really nothing bad to say about them. I sized mine to fit comfortably, not painfully (sounds weird but...a full size up from my street shoe...) I can walk around in them without wincing even after cranking down on the laces, which are great and give you some fit leeway. You can crank down on them to squeeze out a tight fit or leave 'em loose. The soles are quite stiff and the rubber is insanely sticky, even when wet. Not even really sure how that works or why that same rubber isn't on my hiking shoes...
Anyway...I guess it's a "basic" climbing shoe (it's not shaped like a boomerang), but it's solid and well worth the price.
The suede soaks up rain/sweat, though. Takes awhile to dry, but it's still 5-stars...
First the caveats.
1.) The Contra Grip is nothing short of terrible when wet. It should be called Contra Slip. Compared to my La Sportiva Ganda Guides (possibly an unfair comparison) or Nepals (Vibram sole, totally different beast) the grip on the Salomon X Ultra GTX leaves a lot to be desired. But if a mountaineering boot that has crampons on it 75% of the time can be sticky when wet, so too should a hiking shoe, IMHO...
2.) The flare of the heel wedge is not as extreme as previous variants of this shoe. (Wings XT? ...I forget the exact name, but I had a pair for 5 years and absolutely loved them. I'd use them for anything from scrambling to carrying large packs on approaches...even threw crampons on them a few times and kicked steps up an icy couloir...I never once rolled an ankle in those things in that entire time. I've rolled my ankle 4 times in the month I've had the X Ultra GTX...not cool.)
3.) This one is minor and I'm probably in the minority, here...but I don't like the laces on these. (Or most Salomon shoes). I therefore remove them and put my own laces on (old fashion white cotton ones...call me crazy. I like them.)
On this version of the shoe, I'm not sure if you can do that. The eyelets are all metal and the diameter of the hole looks a little small. I didn't try, because I bought them 2 days before heading to the French/Swiss Alps and I didn't want to wreck them.
All of that said...it's a pretty sweet shoe. :)
The waterproofing is no joke. Works great. They are SUPER comfortable. I had zero break-in time with these. My old Salomon Wings XT's finally gave up the ghost after 5 years (tread was gone, but the leaks started a week before before my trip) So I bought these in a rush and was worried about break-in time.
None needed. Which is great.
I think I probably should have tried the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 GTX shoes, and still might. If you had a pair of Wings XT (or whatever they were called), I think those are the closer comparisons.
The Sum'Tec Adze resting in camp at 10k feet on the SouthEast Ridge of Mount Tom near Bishop, CA in the Sierra Nevada.
Love at first swing.
I'm 5'6" and this is a 52cm. Might be the perfect size ratio for an all around do-it-all ice ax.
I bought the hammer as well, and one thing to note;
Both versions of this ax have a spike, not just the adze.
I'm not sure if my hammer version is old or new, but it has a spike, not a sawed-off bevel like the one in the photo on Backcountry.
If I remember, I'll come back and post a photo of them side-by-side.