don bowie

don bowie

My Jeep, Nepal, Pakistan, Tibet...

don bowie's Passions

Skiing
Climbing

don bowie's Bio

When not taking third-person-narrative classes, Don can be found (somewhat obsessively) fondling the proverbial void in the higher environs of Asia, with recent expeditions to Annapurna South Face, Cho Oyu West Ridge, Gasherbrum 3 North Face, Distaghil Sar North Ridge, and Broad Peak (in winter)- among others. He summited K2 without supplemental oxygen in 2007 and GI in 2010. For more info check out www.donbowie.com

don bowie

don bowie wrote a review of on September 1, 2010

Light, tough, good bite = Very Impressed
5 5

I tried out the Sabretooth crampons on my recent successful expedition to Gasherbrum 1 (26,529ft) in Pakistan- and was really impressed with the performance, weight, and durability. A few years ago I climbed with the BD Sabretooth steel version which was much heavier, felt a bit loose under foot, and the anti-ball plate broke and had to be replaced a few times a season. In contrast, the new stainless version showed virtually NO wear after 2 months of glacier slogging, ice climbing, and mixed terrain- and comes in a lighter package with a much improved anti-ball plate, which make the Sabretooth my new favorite alpine crampon.

Pros: light, tough, super durable, much better anti-ball plate than prior models.
Cons: despite a more durable design, the anti-ball plate still isn't as effective at shedding snow as other crampons.

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don bowie

don bowie wrote a review of on February 10, 2010

Nice hand, good water/ice resistance, super lightweight.
4 5

This is a great twin rope for alpine climbing- and also as a single rope for moderate terrain, simulclimbing, glacier travel, or dragging no-pro. The dry treatment seems to resist icing and soaking pretty well, and the sheath travels nicely across edges without compromising hand too much. And just a note: use a Petzl Reversino as a belay/rappel device. These 7.5mm thin lines get far too zippy using standard belay devices.

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don bowie

don bowie wrote a review of on February 9, 2010

Lightweight alpine workhorse. (Image: Z55 on the South Face of Annapurna)
5 5

Weight is key for all my alpine gear, and the Z55 is very light without compromising performance. In my opinion, 55 liters is a perfect size for alpine climbing, and this pack can carry plenty more than that with the clever a strap system and a large, very usable, external pouch on the back. A smartly designed access zipper enables mid-pack access so you can get at gear buried deep down- without having to unbuckle the lid. Small but cool details like the 2 zip pouches on the hip belt are great for carrying small items like goggle wipes, candy bars, or performance gels- great for snacking on the go. The Z55 has a snug, close fit, which is great for scrambling and climbing. The zipper on the lid did break this year after over 100 days of use, but I called Gregory and they said it would be fixed under warranty. In my opinion, the only pack matching the Z55 for performance and features is the Black Diamond Quantum- but the Quantum can carry less shtuff on the outside and is almost a 1/2 pound heavier.

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don bowie

don bowie wrote a review of on February 9, 2010

Slick, color coded. (Image: Neutrino clipped to...er?)
5 5

As other reviews state- I also like the size, weight, and durability of the Neutrino. Once in a while the nose-hook bugs me, but such is the case with the same design for any biner. In my opinion, one of the nicest features of the Neutrino is that they come in multiple colors- and match BD cams. Using the Neutrinos I typically rack the same way each time, which makes pulling other racked gear like pins, screws, slings, etc., easier, and also aids in preventing the hip mounted junk show. (PS- Anchor seen in photo not recommended.)

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don bowie

don bowie wrote a review of on February 9, 2010

3 5

It's kinda odd to think of carrying only 12oz of hot liquid on any overnite trip, so I think the BC Tumbler is best for a morning warm-me-up on a half day outing. I found it kept things hot for a surprising amount of time- but realistically about 2 hours- and that's if kept in a pocket, not a cold backpack. it's pretty tough construction, but a bit too heavy for my liking when compared against against a lexan cup for my weight-conscious alpine climbs. However, on a few casual overnites I've taken it along- exchanging weight for warm drinks; plain lexan only keeps my drinks warm for about 5 minutes.

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don bowie

don bowie wrote a review of on February 9, 2010

Strongest strap- and I use UNDER shell or pant leg...
4 5

Crocs are a made with tougher materials than some competitors use, but in my opinion the extra weight is worth the supreme durability of this gaiter- especially the strap. It has the most durable- and replaceable- strap I've used. Any strap will eventually wear out and break if used enough, so if you get gaiters without a replaceable strap you'll eventually have to get one sewn on- which sucks. Crocs seem to be sized really big- I assume to fit over pants and shells. However, I get mine a size smaller and wear them UNDER my shell pants- not over. I use this technique for all conditions- even deep, soft, powder snow. By wearing them under the shell, the top of the gaiter is not required to be cinched shut (most of the time)so your calves will breathe much better without materials bunched up underneath, and they still won't get snow or debris inside.

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don bowie

don bowie wrote a review of on December 21, 2009

...and for alpine climbing too.
5 5

For years I've been trying to avoid the Mr. Kazoo-head look when alpine climbing- but it's unavoidable when you have to wear a balaclava and a fleece hat under a climbing helmet to stay warm. Finally, on a recent winter expedition, I figured- "Why not try a warmer helmet?" Voila. I now use the Fuse on technical terrain in cold conditions, instead of the bunched up head gear under the normal climbing hard hat. Plus, the Fuse is light enough to carry on my pack- as light as many climbing buckets- but with the warmth built in- esp with the ear covers. And, the removable ear covers come off and then vents open up to let my melon breathe on hotter days. for more images visit www.donbowie.com

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don bowie

don bowie wrote a review of on December 21, 2009

Best warmth to weight ratio
5 5

The way insulation works is to trap warmth in something manufacturers call "Dead Air Space" or DAS. In essence, the more trapped dead air, the warmer the garment. The Monkey Man fleece construction traps air very well, especially under a shell jacket, and is VERY light for the warmth it offers. But where I think this jacket really excels is its ability to vent heat and sweat during activity. I often use the Monkey Man as an outer layer (see image)- even in light snow and wind- due to the breathability of the fleece, and I can therefore better regulate my body temperature. The new generation of Monkey Man fleece is more subject to "pilling" than the older version, and subsequently compresses down in the elbows and under the pack straps after a few weeks of use- but this decrease in durability is still very worth it due to the jacket's overall performance, and I end up buying at least 1 new one every year. The Monkey Man jacket is definitely a MUST HAVE item for all seasons in the outdoors- but especially as an insulating layer during cold weather activities. 5 stars.

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don bowie

don bowie wrote a review of on September 30, 2009

5 5

Not since high school shop class have I experimented with such a flame thrower. This thing can really heat things- and fast. I am really impressed with the speed the Helios melts snow and ice for water, not to mention the rapid boil times. If you plan to use this stove at altitude or in a storm, make sure your tent has a vestibule. Sometimes we ignore warnings and must cook inside a tent during full alpine conditions- but I wouldn't try that with this beast. The platform is very stable and holds virtually any pot (not just Jetboil pots) with smart, fold-away feet. The igniter may not work in cold or altitude- but any experienced backcountry traveler will know enough to bring a lighter (or three) along anyway. This stove seems to simmer well, but takes a little feathering of the throttle to get it from blast-off mode to a lower setting. Surprisingly, the Helios will actually SAVE gas with its efficiency. Really, really impressed.

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don bowie

don bowie wrote a review of on September 30, 2009

R-Value 3.1 + lightweight + durable = must have alpine gear
5 5

I sometimes use other Thermarest pads like the Prolite series for comfort, but for the maximum alpine solution nothing matches the Ridgerest Deluxe. As far as sleeping pads go, this model is overkill for sleeping on anything but snow and ice- unless you are looking for the ultimate cushy sleeping experience. Insulation from the ground is only critical in wintry conditions, as bare ground temps don't really cool enough to notice. But in winter or sleeping on snow or ice, cold can seep through your pad and make for long, sleepless nights. Inflatable pads lose most of their insulating values if they are punctured. On expeditions and climbing trips I can't afford to gamble on durability, so this pad had become my mainstay. Plus, it has an insulating value of R3.1, which is higher than any pad on the market for its weight. Solid, simple, and reliable.

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don bowie

don bowie wrote a review of on September 30, 2009

Versatility and John Daly "bite baby bite".
5 5

After much obsessing I have yet to find a crampon this lightweight with equal performance in the alpine arena. The Sarkens are extremely versatile. The front points are oriented with both vertical and horizontal bars (essentially a "T" shape) which means they penetrate steep alpine ice AND bite into vert-snow, yet manage to resist sheer in combo-mank. Although, I say "ixnay" on the Sidelock binding system- unless you like a funky fit. The anti-ball plates work well and don't shatter when cold kicking. In my opinion, this is the best all-round performing crampon on the market.

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don bowie

don bowie wrote a review of on September 30, 2009

Design masters.
4 5

Rarely do you put snowshoes on in the parking lot and keep them on the entire time. If you plan to access backcountry, especially to ski, climb, or ride, you have to expect that these puppies will eventually go on your back. (see image) Therefore, weight and size in a snowshoe is also super important, beyond performance. On the flat stuff most snowshoes work pretty much the same. But with the Lightning MSR has created a fluff flotation device that climbs hills with ease, busts windcrust, spares posthole nightmares, and bites in on side-hill traversing slogs- all in a lightweight design.

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don bowie

don bowie wrote a review of on September 30, 2009

Can't live without.
5 5

Critical to all back country ski endeavors, I also find the Whippet invaluable for approach terrain on expedition climbs and glacier travel. Often times the varied terrain of glaciers and ice falls combine short steps with flat sections, and the Whippet handles both without getting an ice tool out. This is especially handy when slogging a big load. I've even used one to extricate myself from a crevasse fall. The blade is positioned in a perfect "low dagger" climbing angle (see image this page) and even has a palm rest so it won't wear a hole in your gloves.

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don bowie

don bowie wrote a review of on September 30, 2009

5 5

In my opinion, these are the warmest mitts you can buy. usually with extreme warmth you give up dexterity. Black Diamond solved this issue by carefully designing a trigger finger liner that pulls out of the mitt. When doing so the outer mitt hangs from your wrist by a dummy string. This means that simple activities which are impossible to manage while wearing big mitts can still be accomplished without having to expose a bare hand to the elements. The Absolutes are made for the most extreme cold, but are VERY light for the amount of insulation used. This is important for high altitude climbs because on warmer days, when these mitts will be carried in your pack. The palms are leather and very durable- even after rappels. One note: getting your fingers inside the grip of an ascender while wearing these is nearly impossible.

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don bowie

don bowie wrote a review of on September 30, 2009

4 5

Thicker, bulkier gloves may be warmer because they are made with more materials. More material- especially in the fingers- some dexterity is lost. The Punishers balance the spectrum between warmth and dexterity well. They are warm enough for zero degree days climbing (plus, I use them for backcountry skiing) but nimble enough to handle most ropes, bindings, and climbing gear while wearing them. One drawback: with no removable liners they dry a bit slow. (See image this page)

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don bowie

don bowie wrote a review of on September 30, 2009

Warm, nimble, dry quickly
5 5

The BD Guide excels over other gloves for a few reasons people typically overlook. 1) The articulated fingers mean that gripping poles and tools feel nimble and secure- so your fingers are warm without fighting the fabrics. 2) The removable liner dries quickly- for me, this means overnight in my sleeping bag- so they are not blocks of ice the next day. 3) They withstand rope work very well, including expedition use and rappelling on thin ropes- and the leather palms are super durable and can sill grip frozen lines. Warmth, high performance, durable, and quick drying. Perfect.

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