don bowie

don bowie

My Jeep, Nepal, Pakistan, Tibet...

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  • #3772of 20606

don's Passions

Alpine Touring
Trad Climbing
Ice Climbing
Mountaineering
Sport Climbing

don'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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0 Comments

don bowie

don bowie wrote an answer about on March 11, 2010

Warmth and weight wise these two boots are almost identical- but in my opinion, the Baruntse is a slightly better slogger as the upper is not as stiff as the Spantik. Neither are built to slog so much, but I end up doing a fair share of long approaches- and have done so wearing both models at different times- without too much discomfort. The La Sportiva rep says the Baruntse is more durable. I would agree.

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don bowie

don bowie wrote an answer about on March 11, 2010

Hey Jon,

A. Reduce excess volume space.

Any boot that has a full shank (does not flex in the sole) will cause some heel lift. However, if you lace up the inner boot tightly first- while the inner is out of the shell- the heel lift should be generally limited to the inner lifting against the outer at the heel. If this does not solve the issue, excess volume is the culprit. To reduce excess volume, use a thicker insole inside the boot. (I have this problem due to flatter, low volume feet, but a thick insole solves it.) La Sportiva also makes a "tongue spacer" that fits via velcro tabs against the boot tongue to further reduce volume and solve heel lift for technical climbs- and this really works well. This tongue insert comes standard with the La Sportiva Nepal EVO boots- but can be ordered separately through La Sportiva. As for performance, I think the Spantik is stiffer, and is therefore easier on the calves during extended frontpoint climbs. The Baruntse seems a bit more nimble, which could be better for harder mixed and technical rock. Hope that helps.

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don bowie

don bowie wrote an answer about on February 17, 2010

The Spantiks are stiffer construction, so they will climb steeper terrain better- and are a little warmer than the Degree. In my experience, the fit is quite different between Koflach and La Sportiva- and as you know, fit is key. Buy a few pairs and wear them inside your house for a day. You might want to consider the La Sportiva Nupste or Baruntse. The Nupste is very warm and will both climb AND slog pretty well.

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don bowie

don bowie wrote an answer about on February 17, 2010

You'll find as many opinions about socks as there are people. But in my experience, it depends on the temps you'll use the boot. I assume you'll be using these on an expedition. But if not, the following still applies: On lower sections of the mountain (or more moderate climates) you'll wear thinner, midweight socks as these boots will be very warm. The colder it gets, the thicker the socks you'll need. No boots are warm enough in the coldest conditions- socks are a BIG part of warmth that most people overlook. Lastly, these boots don't hike so well, and warmer socks like Smartwool Expedition Socks have long "terry loops" on the interior of the sock. The longer the terry loops, the less likely they are to cause blisters. Therefore, I personally wear expedition socks in boots like these for comfort reasons- in any temperature. Hope that helps.

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don bowie

don bowie wrote an answer about on February 17, 2010

Sportiva designed a fair amount of rocker into the sole, so the fore boot rolls under foot during stride. This dampens the ski-boot "thunk" effect typical of many full shank boots- but only somewhat. Personally, I don't lace them all the way up when hiking long distances. In 2007 my partner trekked 70 miles (5 days) into base camp wearing a pair of Nepal EVO's- brand new out of the box- apparently without too much discomfort. This boot is made for vertical- but it just happens to trek reasonably well for a technical boot. A 3/4 or 1/2 shank boot will hike much better than the Nepal.

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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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0 Comments

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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0 Comments

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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0 Comments

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 February 9, 2010

Street? Yup. But I think Tech, too.
5 5

I know that the Siphon is made for looks, but I tried it out as part of my layering system on a recent Himalayan trip. At first I wore it just around base camp, but then I ended up wearing it for a quick acclimatizing jaunt up the mountain- and was completely sold. I found the wool-poly combo worked excellently as my outer layer during moderately cold temps (around 10F, no precip)- as long as I kept moving. When it got colder or I when moving slower up high, I layered it under my down parka or shell jacket. More and more these days I try to incorporate wool into my layers for its insulation and moisture management benefits. Conclusion: Lightweight, strong tech performance, street looks = friggin' nice.

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0 Comments

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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0 Comments

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 an answer about on October 14, 2009

I don't have a size medium but I have both the Specter and a BC Stoic in Size L. According to my scale (and I weigh absolutely everything) the Specter is slightly less weight- within an ounce or two- in that size. The fit is were the difference is. I find the Stoic is less roomy and a slim cut for my 6'2 frame. The Specter has a little more room in my size for layering underneath- so, they both have their respective purpose in my gear room. I like them both, but for ultralight stuff, I usually choose the Specter. Hope that helps a bit.

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