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Courtney Dean

Courtney Dean

Utah, Maine, New Hampshire, VT, Sierras

Courtney Dean's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Biking
Running
Yoga
Paddling
Skiing
Climbing

Courtney Dean's Bio

I like to Ski, but I can get distracted with Ice and Alpine climbing. Especially in the Northeast where scratchy snow skiing can get a little uninspired during the frost/freeze cycles. I'll do just about anything fun in the summer, but always try to find an opportunity to climb and camp. Gear is expensive and even more so when it doesn't get used.

Courtney Dean

Courtney Deanwrote a review of on June 26, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

I expect this to get my wife and I back into the woods with our son and enable much more activity.
The Poko Plus apears to be pretty great. It's lighter than other options with more storage. I do wish i'd paid more attention and gotten the Poko Premium as i think the extra 600 cu in. would be vital, but the option to put a Day Lite pack (700 cu in) on the back should be fine. I want to stowe diaper bag contents as well as sport crag kit and maybe some food/water.
It's relatively easy to set up and adjust though some clips have stowaway capabilities that make them less easy to adjust but hide them from little hands. The drool pad is awesome for a teething 5 month old. The hip pockets are pretty small. Maybe fit a knife, compass, small snack or two, but little else. The cell phone pocket on the shoulder is a bit small for most smart phones. Probably better for a point and shoot (do people still have those?)
The best feature is that it's adjustable so my 5'8" wife and I (6'3") can trade duties.

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Courtney Dean

Courtney Deanwrote a review of on June 2, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Holy cow, I'll say that again. These are far superior to Yak Tracks (Trax?). I knew this before i bought them, but here's a story anyway. I picked up the Yaks several years ago because they were cheap and i knew they'd be a nice thing to have in the bottom of a pack in a pinch. But NOvember 14 i went with a group to tackle early ice in New Hampshire (Lincoln's Throat). It features a long approach up a river on rocky/snowy terrain. The Yak's deteriorated over the course of the up to the point where i was just trying to get some of the spring coils under my boots. Sure, i could've put on my crampons, but i would've crushed them and the conditions weren't that bad. I also could pack alpine crampons. But the Microspikes are so handy for their weight and the all metal bottoms mean they survive a bunch of adventures.
I was fine on my trip with the lesser product, but i wasn't as happy as the other folks in my party.

Get these, keep them in your pack in the winter and have no regrets.

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Courtney Dean

Courtney Deanwrote a review of on June 2, 2015

4 5

It's a carabiner. Not unlike the hundreds of models for sale here. But it does sport the goat. I must admit, i have a bit of brand worship, so i picked one up on sale for the thrill of having a goat biner. It's great, but i am not buying dozens of them. Not when there are cheaper, smaller, lighter, hooded, etc. options out there.
The blue is a great color though!

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Courtney Dean

Courtney Deanwrote a review of on June 2, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: True to size
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 215 lbs
Size Purchased: Large

I have a fundamental problem: long torso. Every shirt i have will ultimately end up at about my L3 or L4 when i bend over, sending nice chill up my back. I bought the onesie hoping it would solve that problem, but neglected to consider the necessary escape hatch. And i suppose the tradeoff is worth it. Pooping is a hassle enough outside of a real restroom, i couldn't imagine trying to do it without the back flap. But the flap does open up that gap, albeit a slightly smaller one, when i bend over. Of course, it could have something to do with my love handles..

Overall, i think a onesie is a great way to go cold in the mountains. It moves with you and and stays at the ankles and wrists thanks to snug but not prohibitively tight cuffs and elasticity. The chest zipper is big enough to get out of the suit, so venting is well accommodated. Capilene breathes well and wicks nicely. The integrated hood is awesome too. I follow my guide's philosophy of always getting kit with hoods as they're easier to keep track of than hats. And i have not found that having 2, 3, 4 hoods from multiple layers to be a problem.

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Courtney Dean

Courtney Deanwrote a review of on June 2, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

This axe isn't useful as a cane. Unless you're much, much shorter, you're not going to be leaning on it as you climb anything but the steepest slopes. It's a utility axe. It'll serve as a self-arrest mechanism, as an anchor, as a means of creating anchors or hammering them in (if you have the hammer). But it's just not quite going to reach the ground on a climb. That's not what I bought if for though. I have a 74cm piolet. I wanted this to do the above and have a different resource for the occasions when it is dictated (e.g., there isn't a guide doing all th work for me).
It is a heavier tool, but the tradeoff in utility is worth it. And the replaceable pick means it'll pass down to your kids and their kids.

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Courtney Dean

Courtney Deanwrote a review of on January 13, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

The first time I handled a Photon, I felt like I couldn't trust them. For their size, they are remarkably light.

But after checking the test strength for the 8th time, I racked them and promptly tested them myself with a fall or two. Splendid.

Now i love them. They work. That's all that matters. And they are large enough to use with a rope, with thin gloves, etc.

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Courtney Dean

Courtney Deanwrote a review of on January 13, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

And backcountry.com keeps sending them.
These aren't quite as great as the Camp Photon. The Photon feels like a key ring carabiner (e.g., not for climbing) but is great once you get over the misttrust.
The Nano is lighter and smaller. I have big mits so it's not ideal for me. but it makes an awesome biner for
1. racking cams
2. the wall side of a quickdraw
Places where you're clipping the biner to something or unclipping the biner from something offset the small size. I don't have a problem unclipping these from a harness or nylon sling.
I would struggle to clip a rope into these repeatedly. Hence i use these for specific purposes and use a larger carabiner for other purposes.

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Courtney Dean

Courtney Deanwrote a review of on January 13, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

I review a lot of gear with an implication for how each piece saved my life. I think that's a good testament to the kit. If you're going do stuff that is dangerous, your gear should be good enough to keep you going.

I got pretty cold on an ice clib this past weekend. I didn't bring belay gloves or my typical leader jacket. So bringing up the second and third, then rigging a rappel became an ordeal in exposure. I was pretty cold and visibly shaking by the time i got to my parka and my Stanley Classic.
After donning my parka and a thicker pair of gloves, i pulled out my gas station coffee and was pleased to have a steaming cup. It was single digits when we left the car that morning and a couple horus later i was still enjoying a hot beverage.

Will probably put something more appropriate in it in the future (e.g., broth, tea, hot gatorade, etc.). The coffee was tasty but definitely not optimal. if we weren't cragging, i would've definitely chosen an alternative.

Regardless, the integrated cup is nice, the vacuum bottle has a metal rim that isn't too hot to sip directly from the bottlel. Its folded steel rim is just separated enough to dissipate heat so you don't burn the **** out of your lips.
The cap has a thick rubber gasket that should last through a lot of uses.

This is my first vacuum bottle for winter activity. Wish i hadn't waited so long.

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Courtney Dean

Courtney Deanwrote a review of on January 13, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I think so. I have two 10 cm to fill out my rack. Unfortunately, 10 is so short that you practically don't need to open the crank. But it does feel ultimately better. I find with my BD's that i will still make many turns without the crank. Especially for the last couple.

They do fit into smaller places a bit better, but the aluminum hanger should not be hit with a hammer. You shouldn't hit the steel BD hanger either though, IMHO. I use the heel of my fist (OR gloves come with a nice pad for this) to try to push the hanger over some bulges or back the screw up and hack out things a bit when that fails.

The screws bite perfectly. This is either because they're brand new or because Petzl tips are better. This is unverifiable as none of my BD screws are new. But it does give me confidence to buy the Lim'ice sharpener and apply it to my BD screws.

I'd like to try the superlight aluminum shafted Petzls, but i don't know if i am prepared to pay the price difference. These seem pretty solid to me.

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Courtney Dean

Courtney Deanwrote a review of on January 13, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

So this is an expensive nut racker. but it's also great for this purpose. I own three of these. I am not quite ready to change my rack out. But they are splendid for many purposes. The tiny single gate is easy to open, even with gloves and the biner seems as secure as any other.

I bought two for racking nuts based on a friend's suggestion. He said they're great for holding nuts and removing one nut is super easy. Same applies to extender slings.
I have a third that sits on my leg loop of my harness. It's there for emergencies ("oh wow, how come this Yates Screamer that i just clipped to an ice screw doesn't have a rope side carabiner on it?") and for holding a prussic/kleimheist on rappel.

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Courtney Dean

Courtney Deanwrote a review of on January 13, 2015

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I bought this stuff for ice work and was really hoping my gloves would manage. I paired it with the Nikwax dry treatment for other materials (e.g., synthetics as my gloves have both materials) in the hopes of keeping my digits for another season.

My gloves didn't soak through to the point of dripping inside. That's the good news. They also didn't freeze solid. But they weren't dry. I was expecting something that would bead early and eventually saturate. What I got was not that.

My main complaint is that there are no instructions for use. Just an applicator and sever general purpose statements. Do i bake the gloves after? Do they need to be treated with oil before/after? will mink oil affect the wax? Would be nice to get some application instructions on the package.

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Courtney Dean

Courtney Deanwrote a review of on January 13, 2015

3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

So they are just as good as the stock frontpoints. Will work to replace your worn or nubbed frontpoints on old or new Cyborgs and Stingers. But it's $14.00 per frontpoint. That's about$56 for those of us who use two. Maybe this is the impetus to go monopoint - for... economical reasons.

At this cost, one should strive to keep their ger tuned and sharp. I let my front points develop a roundness akin to a Kardashian's leaving me with poor purchase on precarious pecipices.

I ordered two of these assuming they came two to a package (even though i know i have seen the packages in stores and should have known better). Was surprised to find only one per package. Seems this makes little sense givent that crampons come in pairs.

Get a bastard file and do some routine maintenance. Will go a lot further than replacing front points every couple of seasons.

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Courtney Dean

Courtney Deanposted an image about on December 30, 2014

What a view!

Summit of Cayambe, Ecuador. Would be great except for the hack blocking the horizon.

Summit was maybe low 20's. At altitude, that's pretty cold, but maybe not justification for a 6000 meter jacket... But i run a little cold so i choose to carry a little bit of luxury. And it makes for a great bivy jacket in case of emergency.

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Courtney Dean

Courtney Deanwrote a review of on December 30, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I don't own much from Grivel. But I bought this when other brands were sold out of my length...
I've used this on three peaks over 14k and am super happy with it as an alpine axe. The 74cm is about the longest you're going to find in an axe and that's good for me at 6'3". I found the head to be a comfortable hold, though cold as ice (duh). so i covered some essential spots with 3M electrical insulated tape to give it a bit of a more comfortable hold. I've had a BD axe and can't honestly tell the difference.

The adze is great for chopping a seat on a rest. The swing weight is nice for same such activity. Don't knock the benefit of chopping a seat. For those steep rest areas, it makes a much more restful stop.

The curved handle doesn't really seem to make much of a difference. if anything, it pulls the pick slightly out of the snow on self arrest when the spike is at your hip. But the ergonomics might make for a slightly nicer walking stick...

Strictly by price, it's not worth paying the extra $5 or $10, unless you count the leash, which is a nice freeby. I took the leash off on the mountain. But, if you need an axe you can't go wrong with this one.

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Courtney Dean

Courtney Deanwrote a review of on November 11, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I drooled over this pack for several months before i finally picked it up. The major decision factor was the rigid frame. I need something that will stand up and hold my kit a little bit better. I had a sack before that had a soft frame and I routinely found the pack folding in the middle, putting all the pressure on my shoulders and belly button (e.g., no weight on my hips where it should be).
The Ascensionist is the right size pack for a day of cragging. I fit rope, draws, biners, cams, nuts, helmet, lunch and water in here with no problem. There's just barely room to spare for another layer and removing the rope increases the available space dramatically - a better option for an overnight bivy.
The hood is awesome. Lots of flexibility and expansion room (for that bivy kit).
Ice tools fit nicely on the pack, though there's no magic interface that lets me reach back and pull one off one handed (no pack does that as far as i know).
The hip suspension is nice, though I haven't found a use for the gear loops just yet (only used for day trips).
I've been carrying the pack heavily laden for alpine training, too. It holds up ok with 30lbs of random stuff. Tried to get it close to volume full at 30lbs and it was pretty comfortable for 2 hrs.

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Courtney Dean

Courtney Deanwrote a review of on October 7, 2014

5 5

Fit: True to size

I took a pair of Julbos with Zebra lenses up Rainier and in bright sun my eyes were really overwhelmed. They just couldn't get dark enough. I found myself resting my eyes closed periodically and was concerned about how well my sight would persevere.

So for my next trip i picked up the Explorers. I made the buy for two reasons: the SPectron 4 lens is as dark as things get, and the Explorers have LOTS of coverage. I wasn't always convinced that the frames on my glasses were large enough. Now, I can go up with confidence that i can tackle a variety of conditions.
I'll probably bring both glasses and make the call based on weather before heading up.

The Explorer with Spectron has great coverage with removable blockers. They still aren't fashionable, but they work. That's more important than anything else. They also feature a nose clip if you want to add the nose cover.

The case is spacious enough to put my other glasses in it. I'm a little bummed there was no cleaning cloth or bag. fortunately i have lost enough pairs of glasses to have a spare.

The lens is dark. Really dark. Perfect for super bright, blue bird days at elevation.
They fit my average sized face nicely and reach my uneven ears pretty well.
I have not tested their resistance to fogging yet. Hoping that doesn't turn out to be a problem.

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