Donny Roth

Donny Roth

The mountains of Colorado are home in the winter, and Chile is the center of my attention in the summer.

Donny Roth's Passions

Running
Climbing

Donny Roth's Bio

I am professional ski guide, avalanche course instructor, athlete, and writer. I ski year round in some of the most fantastic places on Earth. But more importantly, I live to share this passion with others.

You can read more on my website:

www.independent-descents.com

Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on May 9, 2012

Light and Durable
5 5

Full Disclosure First: I am a Dynafit sponsored athlete. So I will only describe objective observations - both positive and negative - and will resist using judgmental words like, "better" or "best." But not many people have been in this stuff, so I will share my experiences.

Size: These run small. I am 5'8", 140 lbs, thin, but not pro cyclist thin. I would normally wear a small jersey. In this I wear a medium and it fits well. I would recommend buying a size up. The length is great for cycling, and hasn't bothered me a bit for running.

I have found this to be the most versatile shirt in the Dynafit collection. It is long sleeved, but I haven't over heated in it yet - even on a trip to the desert. In fact the sleeves offered great protection from the sun, and might have helped me stay more comfortable. It also has one, zippered pocket in the back, which has been perfect for short runs, where I don't want to carry a pack.

It is really lightweight, and obviously designed to breathe well and move moisture. It's so thin and silky, I was a little nervous about durability. After several rides in the piece, I can honesty say I am not worried about it. I have run through branches, and even augured in hard on my mountain bike and it held up fine. I put a hole in my knee warmers, but the jersey looks new.

For mountain biking and trail running, this is truly a great piece. It is thin enough to use in warm to hot weather, and the long sleeves offer a bit more protection. It's good looking and comfortable.

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on May 9, 2012

A Lot of Jacket But Still Lightweight
5 5

Full Disclosure First: I am a Dynafit sponsored athlete. So I will only describe objective observations - both positive and negative - and will resist using judgmental words like, "better" or "best." But not many people have been in this stuff, so I will share my experiences.

The Transalper is truly a unique jacket. It is almost a new category of jacket. It clearly excels while you are pursuing aerobic activity in the alpine environment.

Material Weight / Hand: It is lightweight, but not featherweight. If you're familiar with Patagonia, it is lighter than a Simple Guide Jacket, but heavier than a Houdini or Nine Trails. It is soft to the touch - almost silky.

Weather Resistance / Breathability: What has surprised me so far is how breathable and comfortable the jacket is, and yet it cuts wind extremely well. I have worn this jacket on cold morning starts, and it has made a huge difference in allowing me to warm up. But what has been really neat is how long I keep it on for. I don't over heat or get clammy. It's more than a simple wind jacket, but it's definitely not a heavy soft shell either.

Pockets: There are a lot of pockets on the jacket. There is one on the breast. There are three in the back like a cycling jersey. There are two drop in pockets inside.

Size / Fit: The fit is small. In every other company's jackets I would wear a small for a jacket like this. In the Transapler, a medium fits me perfectly. I am 5'8", 140 lbs. I am thin, but not pro cyclist thin. If you are between sizes, go up one.

Sleeve Design: The sleeves can be pulled off the jacket with one hand by reaching across your body, over the opposite shoulder, and grabbing a tab on the back seem. It is easy to reach and find. When you pull on this, the zipper is separated and the sleeve is easily pulled down off your shoulder. The sleeves are then easily stuffed into any of the pockets.

But it doesn't actually become a "vest." There are still really thin, stretchy short sleeves attached to the body of the jacket. The material is almost like a thin rash guard used for surfing.

I have not been able to put the sleeves back on while still riding. It is extremely fast to put them back on, but you have to start the zipper in the back of the shoulder, so it is easier when off the body.

So far I have been using this piece intentionally, rather than bringing it "just in case." It has been an incredible "warm up" jacket, meaning I start with it on in the cold, but can keep it on a long time because it breathes well. Then I rip the sleeves and this has been buying me even more time before I have to stop. I find I can dress lightly underneath.

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on May 9, 2012

Awesome All Day Trail Runner
5 5

Full Disclosure First: I am a Dynafit sponsored athlete. So I will only describe objective observations - both positive and negative - and will resist using judgmental words like, "better" or "best." But not many people have been in this stuff, so I will share my experiences.

Fit: It seems to run "on size" in American sizing. I wore a 7.5 in Salomon and Patagonia running shoes, and I wear a 7.5 in the Feline. I wear a 41 (euro size) casual shoe and in this I wear a 41 2/3, which seems about right. The forefoot is narrowish, but not too narrow - I haven't had any issues with circulation yet. The tow box seems to be roomy, as when I run down hill my toes do not slide to the front of the shoe. The heal pocket holds me in nicely. It feels like a performance shoe, but not a race shoe.

Waterproof: I haven't done much more than tromp through a few puddles, so I can't say much yet. But I can say that even after running in warm to hot temperatures, I am amazed at how well it breathes. So far this is one of my favorite characteristics.

Grip: Excellent. I haven't had any issues with slipping, etc. The lugs are deep and pretty soft. I don't think it would be fun to run on the pavement with these shoes. I can't say how long the treads will last, but there is nothing jumping out that would cause me to be nervous yet. I'll add a comment in another couple weeks.

Lacing: The lacing is very traditional. There is no Boa system or kevlar laces. Pro or con? That's for you to decide.

Stuff I've noticed: I'm not the greatest runner in the world. I do it to train for skiing. So I know my technique is not incredible. That said, I do honestly feel that my stride is improved while wearing this shoe. I do not understand all the technology that goes into the chassis of the shoe, but it seems to promote a stride with less heal strike. It feels very stable and I have yet to turn my ankle, which is unusual for me. Lastly, I have noticed that they do not fill with rocks and debris like many of my other shoes do.

I gave it 5 Stars because 4.5 wasn't an option. I personally really like everything about the shoe, and am impressed, but wish the lacing system was a little better. I can honestly say that I am running better this spring than years past - I'll give the shoe some credit for that.

It seems to be holding up very well, and it hasn't stretched out too much. But I will come back to this in a few weeks.

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on January 12, 2012

4 5

I normally like to carry a pillow and a ham sandwich with me in the backcountry - just in case I run into trouble. I was nervous that the Float 18 wouldn't hold the pillow. To my delight, it's bigger than I expected.

In all seriousness, I was surprised that the 18 has enough volume for sidecountry and heli-ski days. Getting a rescue sled, first aid kit, repair kit, etc. in the pack isn't really possible, but an extra layer, water, a little food, and a camera is. (Shovel and probe are a given.)

This pack is not designed for touring. If you access the backcountry from a resort, or go heli-skiing, you are counting on help being relatively close, and you might be making quick decisions without the benefit of gathering information on the way up. This is what the Float 18 was designed for.

I've blown up a lot of these as demonstrations, and putting the airbag back in the pack is pretty easy once you figure out the best system. Changing the canister is easy. It would be nice if the 18 was a zipper closing system like the 36, rather than velcro. If you pop open the velcro will carrying your skis in the ski carrier, use the haul loop to connect the skis and the problem is solved with no change in function.

It's not a touring pack, but it's great for those days when mechanical assistance gets you more vertical.

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on January 12, 2012

5 5

I was reluctant to carry a pack with an airbag. I am touring for most of my turns, and the extra weight turned me off. I changed my mind when I saw the design of the Float 36. I am incredibly impressed with the pack design. The airbag is just a huge bonus.

The Float 36 is big enough to handle my entire guide kit - first aid kit, rescue sled, repair kit, food, water, extra clothes, camera, etc. The zipper design allows easy access to everything in the pack. The back panel access allows for access to the stuff on the bottom if you've got skis attached to the back. The pockets are excellent. The pockets on the waist belt are big enough to be functional. The goggle pocket is in a great spot and doesn't interfere with the rest of the pack.

If I have one negative, it would be that the shovel blade doesn't have a great home. If it goes in the pack, it is awkward. I have a BCA shovel and have managed to get the blade into the compartment with the canister and mechanical pieces of the pack. I haven't asked if this is a bad thing to do. So far it hasn't been an issue.

The pack carries extremely well, and the extra weight doesn't fall onto your shoulders. It doesn't flop around on the descent. Honestly, since touring with it, I haven't even noticed the extra weight. If you're used to carrying a full pack, it's not really a big deal.

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on December 21, 2011

Good Technical Hardshell
4 5

I've been out in this jacket for a month now. I am impressed with the fabric and apparent durability of the piece, but I would not call it a revolutionary jacket. It is a tough, not too heavy, technical three-layer, hardshell jacket. It is kind of a throw-back to traditional mountaineering jackets, but a little lighter. The front pockets are huge, and hold skins nicely. (Dynafit Stoke skins) The hood is a good size, and the velcro features work really well.

The zipper is European style, so this takes a little time to get used to. They are also a little stiff, which I think is okay. The pit zips open wide and allow for a lot of air flow. One note, when they are closed, both zipper ends nest at the same elevation, so occasionally they "catch" against each other as your arm swings past your body. It's rare, but a strange sensation.

If you're looking for a solid, shitty-weather, hard shell, this is a good choice. It seems like it will last for a while.

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on December 21, 2011

Great System!
5 5

I used this shovel system all season in Chile, and am now using it in Colorado. I am psyched with the new shovels. (Initial note: I am using the B1 with the integrated snow saw, not probe.) The blade has proven to be tough, and the pack size is awesome. If you do a lot of snow pits, the flat blade is really helpful. The connection between the blade and shaft is perfect - not too tight, but doesn't rattle around like others. The extension on the shovel isn't really long, but it seems to be adequate. (And I do dig a lot of holes - it doesn't just live in my pack.)

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on December 21, 2011

Great System!
5 5

I used this shovel system all season in Chile, and am now using it in Colorado. I am psyched with the new shovels. (Initial note: I am using the B1 with the integrated snow saw, not probe.) The blade has proven to be tough, and the pack size is awesome. If you do a lot of snow pits, the flat blade is really helpful. The connection between the blade and shaft is perfect - not too tight, but doesn't rattle around like others. The extension on the shovel isn't really long, but it seems to be adequate. (And I do dig a lot of holes - it doesn't just live in my pack.)

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on July 12, 2010

4 5

There's so much to keep organized on an extended trip or expedition - both in your head and physically. The Brooks Range Backcountry Tool Kit will help you keep it all together. The cards and books included inside are full of useful information, and the book itself keeps it from becoming a disaster. It's really hard to describe how much information is in these cards. It's like carrying the Cliff Notes version of Freedom of the Hills.

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on July 12, 2010

4 5

Most of the time, I use a radio harness that is strapped to my chest. But sometimes, that's a bit irritating, or just overkill. That doesn't change the reality that things can happen quickly while traveling in the backcountry. You're constantly pull out the map, the compass, the slope angle meter... For most people, once they make the decision, they want to get moving. That means everything gets jammed into which ever pocket is easiest. By the end of the day, nothing is where it started. You're looking for the compass and pulling out beef jerky.

This little book weighs nothing, but keeps your poop in a group. All the essentials fit inside, and then it fits in some convenient spot like an inside pocket of your jacket. It's simple, handy, and cheap. All good things!

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on July 12, 2010

4 5

As a guide, I use these cards all the time. Because I don't know the information? No. But the information on these cards answer so many of the questions that my clients ask. These cards provide fantastic, easy-to-access reference to all of the little details that solid backcountry travelers juggle on every trip. What happens if the batteries for the GPS unit die? Well, you need a map. And if you need to read the map accurately, there's a great card for that. Hmmm, can't remember all of the different tests you learned in your last avalanche course? There are great charts included in the ski guide cards. Have you traveled away from home and need info on the area you've landed? There are tons of numbers for centers all over the world, and operating procedures for foreign rescue services.

These little babies are chocked full of good stuff. You won't look dumb for carrying them. You'll look like a genius.

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on June 14, 2010

5 5

When I lived in Slovenia, I carried an ice tool with a hammer. I would occasionally need to set pitons and ice screws, so the hammer was helpful. But I have never had to do this once in the U.S. So I carry a simple, strong, light, mountaineering piolet.

The Raven Pro is a great mix of strength and lightweight. The steel head and spike are balanced by an aluminum shaft meaning you won’t be weighed down, but your tool won’t look like something out a woody-the-woodpecker carton if you accidentally swing into rock.

You really shouldn’t go ski mountaineering without a piolet. You never know when you’ll run into a steep, icy section. Being able to self-belay off a plunged axe is tremendously comforting.

Why not use a more serious climbing axe? Because the reality is that even if you are skiing the steepest slopes out there, you’re rarely going to top 60-degrees. And for anything of this angle or less, a piolet will suffice. Learn all the different techniques for holding a managing the piolet and it will quickly become one of your best friends in the mountains.

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on June 14, 2010

5 5

If you’re paying attention, you may notice that I tend to prioritize durability over weight-savings - generally speaking. Crampons are an exception to this trend. Putting a big, steel crampon in your pack, or on your feet, is like carrying around a brick. If you’re not climbing water ice, or clambering all over rocks, a good aluminum spike will do.

For most of the ski mountaineering that I do, the climbing is on hard snow. Aluminum crampons can save well over a pound compared to steel. The primary concern is durability of course.

I am amazed at how well these crampons have held up. I have certainly walked across short, rocky sections, and have kicked into surfaces that were harder than expected and the teeth are still in perfect condition. I used to go out wondering if I would want something tougher, but I don’t doubt my choice anymore.

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on June 14, 2010

5 5

I use the Traverse pole for a few reasons. One, they are strong and therefore I don’t worry about them while I’m abusing them in the mountains. Two, adjustable poles are nice. Three, they accept a Black Diamond snow saw easily.

Aluminum poles are tough. While cruising around the resort it’s difficult to understand why a tough poles is helpful. Once in the mountains the reasons become apparent. They get stuck between rocks, used as anchors, and generally hammered throughout a day. A carbon pole is cool - until it shears into nothing.

Adjustability is really helpful. I don’t get picky about my pole length while I am going up, down, and across terrain. But it is helpful to be able to shorten the poles while stowing them on the pack. It is also nice to be able to extend them while touring out of long valleys while in tour mode, but not using skins.

Attaching a snow saw makes cutting big blocks of snow much easier. Whether cutting a Rutschblock, or an extended column, it is a lot easier with a saw and a pole.

Certainly these poles are not the lightest of the bunch. But they overcome this deficit with durability and function. The FlickLock is a great locking mechanism. While poles with twisting devices constantly come loose, allowing the pole to shorten or lengthen, the FlickLock stays put - always.

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on June 14, 2010

5 5

Of all the Black Diamond products that I use, and have used over the years, this is the product that stands out in my mind as head-and-shoulders above any competitor’s version. The reason: longevity! I cannot believe how long these skins have lasted.

I’ll be honest, I treat my skins like shit. I ski over everything, dirt, downed trees, rocks, pavement, you name it. I hate to take off my skis to cross a ten-foot obstacle. I make sure to dry them out every night, but I have no clue where the little cheat sheet thing is. I stick them together, and leave them that way for days at a time.

I have a pair that is going on three years old, and still perform beautifully. This particular pair has recently been trimmed way down to fit a pair of skinnier skis. Even though there’s not much adhesive surface, and the tail clip has been completely removed, I have never had them slip of the ski once. They accept skin wax, and don’t get soaked too quickly. They dry out fast - even with body heat as the drying agent.

They aren’t as “fast” as Mohair skins. They are a touch heavier than some other brands. But they have lasted forever, and will allow you to climb anything.

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on June 10, 2010

More of a Parasol.
4 5

This is probably one of the most frivolous pieces I own. I have wanted one for years, but they go off the shelves quickly, and I’ve never been quick enough. As strange as it sounds, I use this jacket for when it’s blazing hot out. It’s more of a parasol than a jacket to me. If it’s hot and windy then this jacket is really the ticket.

That’s it. It’s a simple, nylon jacket that blocks a lot of wind and sun, therefore helping you regulate your body temperature in normally draining conditions. The hood cinches down tight, and the sleeves don’t twist around or pull up your arm.

For long objectives that have exits in long valleys, during warm, afternoon temps, the Houdini is a key piece to getting you out of a tough situation.

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on June 10, 2010

Soon-to-Be Classic!
5 5

Instant classic? The M10 is certainly poised to be. Patagonia has finally created a truly bombproof hardshell, that is minimalist in concept, yet delivers big time when the conditions get demanding.

3-layer waterproof fabric and under eleven ounces! This is fantastic! It packs down to the size of a soda can, and obviously you won’t notice the weight in your pack. But it performs as well. Being 3-layer H2No, we know it will keep moisture out. What separates this jacket from others of similar weight is its ability to vent perspiration. The fabric is extremely breathable for a hardshell, and the pit zips allow for major exhaust when grinding out the climbs.

It’s labeled minimalist, but it’s really only missing a few pockets. The hood closure system is simple, but effective. It will stay on in the wind, and move with your head. The breast pocket is big enough for a map, sunscreen, or energy bar, so you’ve at least got a little stowage. Even though it’s said to have a slim fit, I don’t feel it is that slim. I think it runs true to size, and goes over a few layers without trouble.

The best testimony I have at the moment? I have carried this jacket everyday for the last few months, on dozens of outings. I have lent it out more than I have used it myself. Friend’s and client’s hardshells have completely clammed up, or soaked through, and I have given them my M10. It literally has kicked everything else’s kiester in comparison.

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on June 10, 2010

Mountain Essential
5 5

I will not hesitate to label the Micro Puff Hooded Jacket the single most important piece of mountain clothing I own. I do not consider going into the alpine without it - regardless of the season.

From icy belay ledges to unforeseen squalls, and from early morning starts to nights out under-the-stars, this jacket nearly always makes an appearance. Considering how often it comes to play, the extra pound-plus in my pack is well worth it. The synthetic insulation compresses like down, but never stops working.

I prefer to wear this layer over the top of everything. I tend to pull it out and stuff it back into my pack a few times during a long day. Therefore, I have it one size larger than my softshell layer. Keep in mind, I wear my softshells fit “properly,” so there’s not a lot of bagginess to the system. (I’m 5’8”, 140-lbs and wear a small Ascensionist jacket, and a medium Micro Puff Hooded jacket.) But doing this means the jacket glides over under layers without constriction. And if I do end up wearing it in town, I don’t look like I stole my big brother’s clothes.

There are no downsides to this jacket. It is useful, fits well, durable, and easy to care for. I recommend it to every client before a trip. I consider it to be a mountain essential.

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Donny Roth

Donny Roth wrote a review of on May 18, 2010

Bomb Proof!
5 5

This jacket is quickly becoming one of my favorite jackets of all time. I cannot believe how well it handles tough conditions. I have put it through its paces in environments from the Alps, to Hokkaido, Japan, and recently in a wet spring in Colorado. While all of my partners and clients are constantly changing layers, I am simply adjusting zippers on this jacket. It breathes well, as a softshell should. But it really excels in the wind. The other day, we spent a few hours skinning in solid 50mph winds, and all I had was a Wool 3 base layer, and the Ascensionist - in perfect comfort. It is a true workhorse that I think will be an instant classic.

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