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James C Watts

James C Watts

Colorado Front Range (Boulder)

James C Watts's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Snowshoeing
Climbing

James C Watts's Bio

Software engineer who pretends to be a climber from time to time.

James C Watts

James C Watts wrote a review of on July 12, 2009

5 5

I use this for anchoring to bolts at the top of single pitch sport climbs, which it works quite well for. Probably my favorite application of this is for extending my belay device for rappels. I clip my belay biner through *both* the first little hole and the first "chain link", then when I'm ready to rappel I simply clip the PAS biner to my harness waist loop, creating a secure and redundant connection, which will keep me safe even in the (extremely unlikely) event that my belay loop or this sling fails. Also, this makes it easy to clip my "third hand" prussic directly to my belay loop. Note that this is not really designed to attach to anchors for belaying on multi-pitch routes, as the rope that is already tied to you is far superior for that purpose.

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James C Watts

James C Watts wrote a review of on July 12, 2009

5 5

I love little dental floss slings, but I find the durability of the 8mm Mammuts leaves something to be desired (though those are very nice as well, just need to be replaced more often). I think that Black Diamond has found the perfect compromise between size and durability with their 10mm slings. These really are excellent slings, and I'm slowly replacing all my other slings with these, other than the two nylon slings I use for carrying gear (these are a bit skinny and uncomfortable for shoulder carry of a heavy rack, which is probably the only use they aren't ideal for).

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James C Watts

James C Watts wrote a review of on July 12, 2009

5 5

This is my go-to belay biner for tube devices, as it handles rappelling on even the biggest 11mm fatty singles with ease, and also makes a nice large power point biner on anchors. Plus, the round bar stock is easy on ropes and provides plenty of friction. I might go for something a bit smaller if I have to lug it up a mountain, but for cragging and gym climbing this is a great biner.

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James C Watts

James C Watts wrote a review of on July 12, 2009

4 5

I have one of these that I've used for various things, including belaying and for the end of my PAS sling, and it works well, but I prefer something slightly larger for belaying with. It also works well with a Munter on small cords, but is probably a bit small for anything over 9mm or so (although it is quite good for a self rescue biner for use with PMMO hitches tied with cordalette and the like). Since I upgraded all my rigging biners to Shadow lockers, it now lives on the rope end of a locking draw, which it also works well for. It does have the sexy feel typical of all DMM biners.

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James C Watts

James C Watts wrote a review of on July 12, 2009

4 5

I have a couple of these with the Tri-act gate, and find them very useful for certain things. I wouldn't use mine with a tube device or for rigging anchors (though I'm sure they would work fine), but they work great for a GriGri and are nice because they always stay locked and are easy to visually confirm. Also, I use one on a Mini-Traxion for solo top rope, which works well because (again) it stays locked when moving around with it, and the pulley has no trouble swinging around on the biner to load it in the proper orientation in case I fall on it.

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James C Watts

James C Watts wrote a review of on July 12, 2009

4 5

I'm one of those people who prefer that my racking biners match my cams in color, so these were the natural choice to go with my C4s. I find that it makes it much easier to pick the size of cam I need off a crowded rack without fidgeting. These biners are light and small, and make for a good trad draw. Due to the size and notched gate, I would look elsewhere for sport draw biners, but these are great for trad. Plus, the price is right, especially if you need lots of biners (and who doesn't?).

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James C Watts

James C Watts wrote a review of on July 12, 2009

4 5

A well made and very light wire gate biner that works well for trad draws and racking cams. I definitely wouldn't consider these for sport draws due to the small size and notched nose, but when you need to carry a giant trad rack full of biners all the way up a mountain, these are tough to beat. Plus, the price is right, especially if you need a bunch of them.

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James C Watts

James C Watts wrote a review of on July 12, 2009

4 5

For general purpose climbing biners, better designs have been around for some time now, but there are still a few things that these ovals are good for. I don't aid climb, so I can't speak to that, but I find that these are still the best choice for racking wires. The oval shape allows them to hold many pieces comfortably, and the huge gate notch can prevent a stray wire from falling off the biner when opening it. Also, these make a handy bail biner that is a bit less painful to leave up on a tough sport route than a $12 Helium or the like.

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James C Watts

James C Watts wrote a review of on May 12, 2009

5 5

What more can be said about the venerable Ecrin Roc? There is a reason that this is the helmet that SAR personnel choose almost exclusively. It works well, is well designed, and will last forever, even when subjected to the rigors of daily use in the mountains. It does not protect from side and front impact as well as a polystyrene foam helmet will (the Ecrin Roc is primarily designed to protect from things falling on you, as opposed to you falling onto other things), but certainly provides a decent level of protection against all head-busting impacts. The exchangeable foam headbands are nice (I use the thick one in summer, and change to the thinner one when I anticipate wearing a beanie underneath), and the helmet adjusts nicely for a secure but comfortable fit. It also holds a headlamp securely and in a usable position. Over all, the best of the best. Buy one of these, and never need another helmet again.

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James C Watts

James C Watts wrote a review of on May 11, 2009

5 5

I've used this jacket climbing, backpacking / winter camping, and skiing, and it really is excellent for all purposes. Amazingly warm for it's weight, it excels as an outer layer while moving or resting, and works equally well under a shell for nasty weather or skiing. It blocks wind very well, and is easy to vent out (thanks to the pit zips) when working hard. Plus, it packs up nice and small (for a fleece). I'd say the only downside is that it picks up cat hair pretty quick, but I guess it adds to the warmth...

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James C Watts

James C Watts wrote a review of on April 17, 2009

4 5

This nut tool works well for removing stuck pro (don't they all?). The integrated "carabiner" works pretty well, and I've never had a problem with it. Also, the palm protector is a nice (but optional) feature. Only downside (as compared to something like the Pro-Key) is that you have to tie your own leash, but this takes about one minute and a couple of feet of spare cordage. Overall, nothing amazing, but works well for it's intended purpose.

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James C Watts

James C Watts wrote a review of on April 16, 2009

5 5

I was skeptical at first, but this thing really does work well! I had a pretty bad case of tendinitis in my elbows and forearms, and using this seemed to help with the pain and keeping my grip strength up while I was sidelined from climbing. Obviously, the unique aspect of this product is the finger loop rubber band, which provides resistance when extending the fingers as well as when closing them. I think that's what makes this stand out among the millions of squishy grip trainers out there. Even after my tendons healed up, I've continued using it from time to time, mostly just sitting at my desk at work.

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James C Watts

James C Watts wrote a review of on April 16, 2009

5 5

I use one of these as part of my solo top roping system, and it works very well. Feeds smoothly and with little effort, and catches positively when weighted. I've never done any hauling with it, but I imagine it would work pretty well for anything under 50 pounds or so. Of course, like any "toothed" cam device, this can remove the sheath from your rope in short order if you subject it to heavy dynamic loading, so (like any rock climbing equipment), proper training and a sufficiently redundant system are mandatory prerequisites of use. Over all, a very well built and versatile piece of gear.

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James C Watts

James C Watts wrote a review of on April 16, 2009

4 5

These gloves work well for catching big whippers without roasting your hands up (rope burn is no fun). They're very tough, but thin enough that you can manage biners and knots without taking them off (although undoing really tight overhands or fig8s might require removal). Also, they work pretty well keeping your hands warm while belaying / hiking / sitting around in slightly chilly conditions. Plus, the clip hole is convenient for racking them on your harness for multi-pitch climbs. Obviously, they work pretty well for rappelling too. Quite good overall.

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