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Paul Brown

Paul Brown

Seattle, WA

Paul Brown's Passions

Climbing
Hiking & Camping
Skiing

Paul Brown

Paul Brownwrote a review of on March 6, 2019

4 5

Fit: Runs small
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 180 lbs
Size Purchased: Medium

I wear and love the OR Cirque pants for ice climbing (although I do wish the scuff guards were a little bit tougher), so I wanted to try these out in this interest of having some of the additional insulation and protection on the lower legs. The size M Cirque fit well in the waist and thighs, but these pants are too tight on the thighs to the point that they bunch up my base layer even if I open the thigh vents. My thighs are on the bigger side, but it was weird to have a pant that fits in the seat and waist but not the thighs.

Otherwise, the feel and warmth of the pants is great.

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Paul Brown

Paul Brownwrote a review of on December 8, 2018

Optimal Alpine Tool
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I've taken mine out for multiple days of cragging in the Coleman Seracs (AI2/3+) and on some water ice (WI2/3) here in Washington. They swing and stick well with the pinky rest at the bottom of the shaft. I'd prefer something with a more ergonomic grip and more aggressive curve for WI3+/4 to keep the pump down, but they feel secure for pulling bulges or when placed high on vertical ice. With the pinky rest pulled up, they plunge and hold well on steep snow.

I do wish that the pinky rest was a bit easier to manipulate with gloves on, but that's my only nitpick complaint.

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Paul Brown

Paul Brownwrote a review of on October 28, 2018

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

BD Magnetrons are my go-to for climbing on rock, but I have had issues with them getting blocked by grit (or in one case a spruce needle) and being difficult to manage with gloves when ice climbing. Screw gates aren't affected by grit but can freeze and aren't any easier to deal with when wearing gloves.

Thanks to their design, the Lambdas neither freeze nor jam, plus they're burly, can be visually verified as locked, are effectively automatic (like a magnetron or tri-lock), and have a rounded cross-section. I'm not ready to switch over for rock, but I'm sold for ice.

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Paul Brown

Paul Brownwrote a review of on October 17, 2018

Great on Ice
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Used these for a couple of trips to climb in the seracs on the lower Coleman at Mt. Baker, and they kept my hands warm and dry even when top-roping around running water. They're thin and preserve enough finger agility that I can clip draws, tie one-handed cloves, and manage gear comfortably.

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Paul Brown

Paul Brownwrote a review of on September 24, 2018

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I've used the harness both in the gym and for multi-pitch trad cragging and in the alpine. My list of gripes are:

1. In spite of being elastic, the leg loops are loose to the point of being slack. On occasion I rappel with the autoblock on my leg loop and the device on my belay loop, and that just isn't feasible/safe with this harness.
2. I can just barely squeeze my usual rack (single Camalots, nuts, 10-12 alpine draws, cordelette, various extras like knife and nut tool) on the gear loops, and there's no provision for overflow like an extra loop.
3. There are no ice clipper slots.

I'll probably relegate the harness to gym use or glacier travel (although it would be nice to have clipper slots for pickets or screws...), but I'm not going to take it out for rock climbs again.

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Paul Brown

Paul Brownwrote a review of on May 30, 2018

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

The wider range is awesome, but you need to keep in mind that unlike other cams, this is unidirectional when deployed in a vertical crack and then active only. (Normal cams are bi-directional, and multi-axis cams like Camalots also function as passive pro.) The issue is that the articulation in the cam lobes is a weak point if you apply sideways force on the cam.

That said, the range is awesome. My thinking was to add them to my rack as backup and "oh s..." pieces, but so far I've only used them to protect cracks that I knew were in the middle of the range but where I could inspect the placement visually. (Using a traditional cam would have left too much room for error.)

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Paul Brown

Paul Brownwrote a review of on May 4, 2018

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I bought a set of these with the intention of having what was effectively doubles for a set of Camalot C4 but with the added bonus of cams with sizes in between the Camalots rather than strictly doubles.

As a relatively new trad climber, the red-yellow-green coding is great and saves me a bit of thought when placing, while the fact that it's a single-axle design leads me to be a bit more thoughtful under some circumstances. (If a two-axle cam walks into a crack that widens out inward, it unseats but becomes equivalent to a passive chock; a single-axle cam will potentially blow if it walks inward and then gets pulled.) Having the in-between sizes has come in handy. The low-to-mid-range of sizes (#00-#6) have great, smooth action, but I like the feel of the similar-sized Camalots better than the #7 or #8.

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Paul Brown

Paul Brownwrote a review of on May 4, 2018

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

The larger sizes are special purpose pieces.

I picked up a few to experiment with (#3, #4, #5) when climbing some cracks (thin hands to hands to fists), and they're pretty much useless for placement in a vertical crack. Any amount of vertical movement will cause them to pivot on the stinger and unseat. (SLCDs are right at home in the same placement in part due to the play in the cam lobes so that they seat more tightly in slightly irregular cracks.)

That said, I am in the group of people who really like a good tricam placement, and I use the smaller sizes regularly with great success. Now I'm going to be on the lookout for some places to deploy the larger ones.

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Paul Brown

Paul Brownwrote a review of on February 21, 2016

Outlaw vs Axl: Different Bindings
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I have several days of skiing on some Outlaws (178cm Blizzard 0G 108 + Scarpa TXPro) after skiing on Axls (178cm LaSportiva MegaLo5 + Scarpa T2Eco) for the last three years., and I'm mostly pleased with the differences.

Some thoughts:

- The touring mode is identical to the Axl, as advertised.
- The binding is mostly metal and looks "bombproof".
- Stepping in works, but requires careful alignment of the "heel" of the boot with the binding, else you'll lock the binding down without your foot in it. (It's still infinitely easier than fiddling with the heel lock on a 75mm binding perched on a steep slope.) Multiple stick-on shims were required to build-up the height under the binding engagement mechanism.
- I have gotten out of the Axls several times while skiing (including once while skiing moguls that was an unpleasant surprise), but I haven't (yet) gotten the Outlaws to release. The Outlaw provides a much more definite connection with the ski to the point where they ski pretty well alpine style, even in deeper snow or in slush.
- The Outlaw requires a different technique than the Axl, and this may just be an NTN vs 75mm thing. The spring tension on the Outlaw kicks in almost immediately after the heel comes off the riser, and that permits a narrower front-to-back stance with quicker lead changes.

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