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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Friday, November 27, 2015

Climbing in Skimo boots?

It has been a few years now since I first seriously started looking for and writing about a ski boot that would climb well.  The original TLT5 was a decent climbing boot.  But easily bettered as a ski boot.  Hence the TLT6.  TLT6 is still likely the bench mark for a cross over boot.

PDG and the Scarpa Alien 1.0 will work well enough if it isn't too cold, the climbing not super hard and most importantly, the boot fits you well.  Other wise either will eat your feet up pretty quickly in my experience as will the TLT6! 

PDG and a good mate for the boot,  a Grivel G20 on easy mixed in Chamonix

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Blue Jeans and other oddities?

Blue jeans?  Seriously? 
OK, no question this is a  a little out of character for Cold Thistle.  But I have been riding my horse more than I have been climbing or skiing in the last 6 months so I figured why not?   Good climbing gear might well be found any where one is willing to look with an open mind.  

Just a few years ago high tech stretch fabrics changed how everyone climbed.  And those same fabrics made climbing easier.  Some times much, much easier.  Winter climbing was a sport that the newest stretch fabrics had a big impact for me.

Funny because the equestrian world  hasn't really changed a lot in the last 300+ years.  Lots of leather, wax coated cotton, wool and silk still used there.

As the weather turned this fall this year I suited up myself and a couple of my riding friends with several  versions of the Gamma line of soft shell climbing pants from Arcteryx.  All three versions are a huge hit in nasty weather on a horse.  Weight and insulation required is determined by the temperatures and moisture coming down that one chooses to ride in.  Kinda like skiing and climbing there. 

The upper layers commonly seen around our barn now are as often as not Patagonia or Arcteryx as they are Carhart or a bright yellow rain slicker.

Either way, the newest stretch fabrics are really appreciated on the lower body, just like they are in climbing.  Hard too believe for many I suspect but one might easily compare riding a horse to skiing or climbing when you look at what is required for mobility and from your garments.

So I was an eye opener to me to use a pair of Gamma ARs riding a horse on a chilly day.  Just as much an eye opener is to find the Wrangler "Advanced Comfort" jeans something that I would be willing to rock climb in.   Not Lycra by any means.  Heavier, more durable and none of the pretty colors :)  Just good old shades of blue denim with a tiny bit of Spandex added (1%).  1% doesn't sound like much.  But this time around they have the feel of a decent pair of well worn, button front, 501s and enough stretch (seriously) as to NOT get your attention on a moderately BIG move.    BTW,  denim jeans are way more retro than Lycra for the fashion conscious out there :) 

And the Wrangler version beats the retail price of another jean option, the Prana Axion by a good bit of coin.

But retro aint everything :)


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Outdoor Research's Diode Hooded Jacket...high tech insulation.

If you have been reading CT recently you'll have noted my comments on the newest label from of which is "Gold".  Seemingly... a simple re-label, but I wouldn't bet on it yet,  of the old "gold standard" for synthetic insulation, Primaloft One.

One might have wondered it the past post why I or anyone would actually care.

This is why I took the time to look up the new "Gold".

The new Diode jacket from Outdoor Research.

To really understand the Diode it pays to look here:

The original Narrona Lyngen and the newest OR Diode have much in common.   The basic idea behind both jackets was a home run with the Lyngen and should be again with the Diode.  The Diode might well be an even bigger hit.

Enough so that I went straight out and bought myself a Diode to see if my thinking was correct and if so to write about a nicely designed jacket.

So what is the deal?

OK, lets start with  a 60g PrimaLoft insulation layer.  Just about every current  climb jacket/sweater I use has a 60gram layer of PrimaLoft One or something similar...Arcteryx or Mont Bell's proprietary synthetic insulations come to mind.  Bottom line there?  The best of the best for my own use are a synthetic 60 gram insulation layer of one sort or another.

Some use a combination of materials, and insulation thickness of 40/60/80 or 100gram insulation thickness, add some body mapping and design the garment for a specific use.  There are LOTS of niche/specific uses!

The idea is to give the end user the warmest most breathable garment, with the greatest protection from a harsh environment over a wide range of conditions and the have the lightest weight garment.  That is a long sentence and quite the mouth full.  And an almost impossible design task.  A few garments push the envelope every year.  The Lyngen did.  As has another stand out, the Arcteryx Atom LT, on the light weight end of the insulation spectrum.

Mixing a synthetic insulation that works well when wet with a down insulation that isn't, is a risky endeavor.  In the case of the Diode OR used a DWR-treated down and PrimaLoft Gold insulation with a  spilt of  70% DWR-treated down and 30% PrimaLof Gold.

The down surrounds  the core of the body.  The Primaloft goes in places where it is most likely going to get wet from the environment or from your own sweat.   The areas with PrimaLoft on the Diode are hood, lower hem, cuffs and the top side of arms and shoulders.  Good call on OR's part I think.

This jacket is cut long.  Nice in a climbing jacket,   On the other end it is also cut small and TIGHTSizes in the Diode typically run really tight.  I can't wear a Large in this one and a XL is none too roomy.  I can normally wear a large and a typical XL from most of the better makers will hang on me a little.  Be sure to try this jacket on before buying or have a good return policy available to you.

I've been using a couple of garments that are 100% down that is also DWR treated.  So far so good with them.  But none have yet been out climbing in the typical swelter then freeze cycle of ice climbing.  I'll let you know the first time (when or if) I soak the down in this one and then have to suffer through the result of that.

Good inside net pockets for gloves.  Good hand warmer pockets on the out side.   Good inner and outer chest pockets for a camera or other trivia.  And a net key pocket inside the outer chest pocket.  Double slider on the main zipper to clear your harness on the bottom hem.

More high tech?  Pertex® water resistant outer shells on the Diode jacket.

Pertex® Endurance 30D in the hood, shoulders, and upper sleeves.

Pertex® Quantum, 100% nylon 22D in the jacket body.

More here on similar jackets and how I have used them:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Steck runs up the Eiger in 2:22:50.7!

Not sure how many times this week Steck climbed the Eiger but 4 may be 5!

From one of those ascents in perfect conditions...the picture reposted below!

"From the Hinterstoisser straight up, direct to the Swalow Nest."