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Posts posted by Autoxfil

  1. I sent this email to MEC a while ago and got no response. Has anyone noticed this before? Everyone raves about Evazote, but the numbers don't add up.


    I was thinking about getting one of your Evazote foam pads. However, looking at the specs, I'm confused. The 1cm Evazote pad is an R-value of 1.6, so warmth per thickness is R1.6/cm. But the other two thicnkesses, 0.5cm (R0.66)and 1.5cm R2.06), are both ~R1.35/cm. Is one of those in error?


    Looking further, I noticed that the Evazote pads are very heavy - 175g for the very thin Bivy pad. At 220g, the Blue foam pad offers an R value of 1.36: twice the warmth, and only 25% more weight. Two blue foam pads would get me an R-value of 2.72, at 2cm thickness, and only 440g. The Winter Evazote pad is over 2x the cost, 525g, and only R 2.06.


    So, what do the Evazote pads do? I always hear that it's some kind of great material, but they just appear to be heavy, cold, and expensive. They are somewhat warmer for a given thickness, but a cheap Ridgerest or self-inflating pad beats them handily there as well.


    Further investigation showed that Granite Gear sells Evazote pads with 1/2 the weight per thickness. Thier 150x50x0.95cm pad is only 156g, to your 1cm pad's 350g. This makes me wonder if your numbers are right, because while they don't offer R-value data, they claim that Evazote is 1/2 the density as your specs show.

  2. I'm going in the middle of June (second full week), after my school-teacher climbing partner gets off for the summer.


    I guess the best strategy might be to just check the forecast the day I leave - it's not like a heavy single boot will give me frostbite (unless I eff up in other ways), and it's not like dragging plastics up on a warm day will hurt me any either.

  3. It's kinda silly asking because I understand the pros and cons of different boot choices, but sometimes other people's opinions help me think it through.


    I have Raichle 80-degree single boots, (Kinda like a Nepal Evo), and Invernos with Intuition liners. With the Intuitions there's not a ton of difference in weight.


    The plastics hike well enough in snow, but I'd pack them to the snowline and wear super-light sneakers for the approach. The Raichles hike better, but aren't that much lighter. I might pack them on the approach too, but probably not. The Raichles climb much better.


    Both fit quite well and I've done multi-day trips in each without issue. So - more comfort while climbing, or clunky plastics and nice dry liners each morning, and overkill warmth for toasty toes? My feet get chilly ice climbing in the Raichles here in the NE, but it's usually colder here in the winter than Lib Ridge.


  4. http://innermountainoutfitters.net/catalogentry.php?search=&page=all&catalogentryid=645&brand=PMI



    This stuff is extremely stiff and tough. The stiffness which sucks on a lead rope produces extra friction on a skinny rap line, and helps dramatically with reducing tangles, a big problem with skinny lines. Regular PMI cord is stiff as heck anyway, so I bet that stuff is great.


    I got a 60m 7mm Eidelweiss cord for tag-line and emergency rappel use because it was dry-treated. However, it's very supple and tangles easily, and the dry-treat doesn't seem to do anything anyway.



  5. Windproofing on the Ascentionist is not lacking. I just had mine on Mt Washington (NH) in 60mph gusts and was quite happy.


    Hold off on the extra layer if you haven't tried the Ascentionist yet - you might be surprised how much additional warmth it offers over a hardshell.

  6. It all depends on your exertion level and personal physiology.


    One of my climbing partners sweats even when he feels chilly if he's working hard. He can't even wear down belay jackets because he soaks them while shivering at the belay. I personally don't sweat much until I'm feeling too warm, so I can get away with less clothing, and clothing that doesn't deal with moisture as well.


    However, we've both gone to fleece and softshells because we find they provide a much wider comfort range than hardshells and synthetic insulation. A lot of mountaineering involves quick changes in temperature and exertion - burning calves up a sunny snow couloir, then slow, careful mixed moves in a windy chimney, for instance. Even in less intense situations it's hard to swap layers when climbing, especially when harnessed.


    If you sweat less than my climbing buddy, and aren't working as hard (we usually climb vertical ice with high humidity and temps in the teens), then you can perhaps get away with a Nanopuff or other synthetic. For most hiking, I bet it would work fine. For non-technical climbs, maybe.


    I wore my Nanopuff on Adams (solo up the dog route) in July. It was in the 20's and I was too hot to climb in it - I shed it soon after starting up from 9k camp in the dark for a thin wool layer and Houdini. On top, standing around with 25-30mph winds it was very nice.



    So in my experience (mostly in the Northeast), and with my physiology, I opt for ultimate breath-ability and quick drying in all my clothing except the belay jacket - at least for technical climbing. For hiking, and non-technical mountaineering I may, on occasion, use something like my Nanopuff as a layer while moving to save some weight. If the effort is moderate and consistent, it can certainly work. Many Cascade snow climbs fall into that category.


    Like most questions pertaining to either people or the mountains, there's no universal answer, but hopefully my experience can provide some guidance.

  7. I have the NanoPuff and have used it extensively.


    My partner has an Igniter and I've used it a little. I tried them on quite a bit and they seem to run a little snug - I'm skinny and don't think a Medium would work for an over-layer for me.


    The Igniter is much warmer, as you'd expect from the weight. It also has a fully-featured hood, hem drawcord, velcro cuffs, etc. The NanoPuff just has elastic for the hood, cufs, and hem. I have also used the MH Compressor a lot, and I believe the Igniter is superior in every way.


    I do not reccommend either as a mid-layer. You're adding three layers of highly impermeabile fabric to your system, which will cause you to sweat up fast and not dry off quickly. I too was excited to get a warmer, more versatile layer in my system, but after experimenting and being very dissappointed, I'm back to fleece - R1 Hoody or R2 jacket, or both for really cold stuff. They are heavier, but in my experience the breathability and quick drying are more important than the weight. And I'm a real weight geek: gram scale, spreadsheets, and everything.

  8. Ice quality is everything. That's the lesson. I often place screws at a high positive angle because there's awesome ice on top of bulges. But no matter where you find it - put your screw into the smoothest, most consistent ice you can find.



  9. They are designed for very different things. A bike helmet won't take any abuse - get some chunks of ice or rock bouncing off it and it's done. Plus they have huge holes in them that debris could go right through.


    So yeah, a bike helmet is probably good for protecting you from whacking your head in a leader fall, but debris protection is the primary job of a climbing helmet, and bike helmets don't do that at all.

  10. Update:


    I switched from old (pre-SS) Sabretooth to G12s.


    The biggest difference is that the old BD steel was very soft. This is neither here nor there, since the new alloy is totally different and sounds much better.


    The next big thing is the secondary points - the G12 are monstrous compared to the BD. I get a little more calf relief with them. The Serac may provide a similar climb in a BD crampon.


    Mine are 39oz (on my accurate scale) with full anti-bott, which is quite disappointing. This is 1 oz less than my old BDs, but significantly more (5oz?) than new Sabretooths. That's a lot of weight.


    Fit is better on small boots, as Dane noted, especially in the heel.


    I am by no means looking to get rid of the G12 - they are a wonderful crampon and I'll gladly wear them out. But, if the BD fits your boot it seems to climb just as well at a much lower weight. If the new alloy holds up as well as Petzl and Grivel crampons they have a real winner.

  11. By the way; They fit perfect. LaSportiva feels a touch narrower to me.


    That's your answer. If they fit, they are the right boot.


    Of course, they do sound like a very good boot for your needs as well. I've had my eye on them but don't really have a reason to replace my Reichles, which fit me great.

  12. Although many people wear black and yellow crampons, the Grivel tool lineup is often over-looked, much like CAMP, e-tools, etc. But, while I find pretty small niches for their Light and Race models, the Tech tools bring an interesting option to the ice tool debate, which lately has been pretty dominated by BD and Petzl.


    I've owned my QTs for a little while now, and can give some feedback. Before these I climbed first-gen Cobras, mostly leashless. I've climbed the same routes I tested the Grivels on with first-gen Nomics (Astro w/ weights) and new Vipers with Laser picks. I have climbed a long AI 1-2 snow/ice route, lead, followed, and TR'd WI2 to 4+, and climbed easy mixed to some M6/7 drytooling.


    Note: The Matrix Tech is the same tool with a slightly heavier aluminum shaft. The Quantum and Matrix Light have the same pick but much straighter shaft, and are similar to the BD Venom or Petzl Aztar. The Matrix and Quantum Tech are all-around tools, focused on the Viper/Cobra/Quark market, but are more aggressive in geometry than any of those.


    I paid $490 for the pair at the Mountaineer, but prices seem to have gone up to $265 each. This is still quite reasonable. The Matrix Tech, weighing 1oz more per tool was $194 each but has gone up as well.


    The first thing you notice about the Quantum Tech is how light it is. Mine are 1lb 2.5oz each. The only comparable tools are the new Quarks, which are a little lighter or heavier, depending on the configuration. The weight is one of the things that drove me to these tools - I can put them in my pack for a long alpine trip with some moderate ice, buying myself lots of security for a little extra weight. I dreaded packing the Cobras for such trips - this cuts over a pound off my pack.


    On low-angle terrain the curved shaft allows a variety of high-grip positions to dagger up easy slopes, easily slipping back into the bottom grip for swinging. This is a little easier than tools with big upper grip rests, but most (all?) of those are adjustable/removable these days, like the Slider you can put on the Grivel. Plunging in hard snow is poor due to the large pinkie rest, but the carbide tip provides security on ice in piolet cane.


    On moderate ice (WI 3-4, and I assume WI5), the tool really shines. The swing is marvelous, and this is the place where the weight of the tool really shows up. They feel like feathers compared to Nomics or Cobras, and the weight is extremely biased towards the head, making them very much a wrist-flick tool. The Nomics feel very heavy and sluggish by comparison, although on thin ice the Nomic seems to be better at getting those precise peck-peck-peck placements. The Astro picks are also probably not a fair way to judge the ice performance of the Nomic. But, I was really expecting less pump from the Nomic's more aggressive grip, and didn't find it. Instead, I felt the weight of the tool tiring my skinny arms, even after I adapted to the different swing of the Nomic. One other factor - the Grivel has small grips, better suited for little hands. I wear an M glove, those with L or XL mitts might prefer the bigger, more positive Petzl handle. The Petzl was also adjusted to the Large grip setting, so maybe there is some pump-relief I was missing out on. Also, the Nomic protects your hands better. It takes some work to bash your fingers with the Quantum Tech, but it can be done, whereas it's almost impossible with the Nomic.


    Mixed climbing was much better on the Tech than I'd expected. On overhanging terrain the grip was plenty aggressive, although I'd add a slider for easier matching. The picks have a large un-toothed but aggressively angled area on the tip which allows great purchase on thin edges, and the light weight is again brilliant for precision. The shaft is noticeably flexier than the Nomic. When placing the Nomic on a dime-edge and weighting it, the grip moves down the rock just a little as I apply my 160lb and it flexes in response. The Grivel moves at least twice as much, which is sometimes unsettling, but doesn't really seem to make it climb worse. This is even more noticeable on camming placements and Steinpulls. In general, I can't imagine that there exists a mixed or drytooling route that I could climb on Nomics but not QTs (or vice-versa). However, given the choice, I'd always pick a Nomic for the better ergonomics unless weight was an overriding concern, or if there was a lot of ice.


    Much cheaper, much lighter, better on ice, nearly as good on rock... yeah, I'm happy I got the QTs. But, they have downsides. They just don't show up in the mountains (usually).


    The minimalism that gets this weight and cost means they are not easy to maintain. To ensure a light, robust pick attachment, they use an integrated pick/hammer or pick/adze, with three small bolts and nuts. These bolts are mushroomed (hammered flat against the nut) to prevent them coming off. Given the extreme durability of the picks, and lack of pick options, this is not as much of an issue as it could be, but it's annoying coming from the Cobra's elegant system. The $55 pick price is hard to swallow too. If you tend to swap picks for mixed and ice, trade hammer for adze, and/or replace picks often, those could be really major downsides. You can always re-assemble the tool with locknuts and not mushroom the heads, but they are still small nuts and bolts that you could never mess with in the field.


    Similarly, the pommel appears to not come off. Perhaps Grivel can replace it, I'm not sure. It's also not-adjustable, so if the grip or pommel doesn't fit - look elsewhere.


    I have not yet climbed on the new Quarks. They appear to have all the light weight of the Quantum Tech, with configurability that makes them even more versatile. If they climb as hard as the QT, the extra cost might be worth it for those looking for an all-around tool.


    For those looking to make climbing hard ice and mixed as easy as possible, the Nomics and the QTs are pretty evenly matched, although I don't doubt that as you get into really gnarly stuff the Nomics are better. If I stuck to crags and small mountains, the Nomics have a lot to offer. But I'm a weight geek, which is the biggest thing that kept me from them. Plus, my partner has Nomics, so I can borrow them on hard mixed routes when I want the better grips or don't want to mash my $110/pair picks up on thin stuff. :-) For those who don't tend to mess with (or mess up) their tools, the Quantum Tech provides awesome performance and no hassles, assuming they fit you.


    The Matrix Tech might be the best buy in tools right now, and given how foolproof and versatile they are, are now my default recommendation for a first set of tools (which used to be the Viper).


  13. Good to hear! I picked up a pair and hope to get them on ice this weekend.


    They are stupid light, and have a higher percentage of weight in the head than anything I've used before. The grips aren't Nomic aggressive and I'm sure they won't climb overhanging mixed the same, but I sure won't be doing that anyway.

  14. I do extremely well reading books on technique and applying it in the field. John Long, Will Gadd, and Craig Leubben have done wonders for my climbing.


    I suck at skiing, but I'm fit and have decent resort and BC setups, time, and dedication, so it's gonna happen this year. What books should I pick up and study while I wait a month or so for snow to blanket the Northeast? I need general advice on technique for every kind of terrain, on and off piste. No tele stuff, and I don't need gear advice - it's the Indian, not the arrow. I don't mind picking up 2 or 3 books, dissenting opinions are usually good and I have time to read.