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The cold world of alpine climbing.

The cold world of alpine climbing.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Why the weight of your footwear is important?

My apologies for not first putting the previous post on a 3# boot/crampon combo into context. The study cited below is worth a look if you find this subject interesting. The first quote is from this web page:

I have only looked at the boot weight info on that web page because it is old info I wanted to share and have not read the rest of the page so as always "buyer beware".

"Keep in mind that for every 1 lb of footwear, it's like carrying an extra 6.4 lb of weight on your back." [Authors: S. J. Legg a; A. Mahanty - This study was conducted in part fulfilment of an MSc in Human and Applied Physiology, London University 1982. Published in: Ergonomics, Volume 29, Issue 3 March 1986 , pages 433 - 438]

'Ergonomics' is a widely distributed journal, owned by 616 libraries in US and CAN, according to the WorldCAT. Many research universities have it available. 'Ergonomics' is published by the Ergonomics Research Society. They do government funded, peer reviewed, research worldwide, on fatigue, industrial and medical ergonomics, flight simulators, body armor, etc.

"Shoe Weight, runners 28oz, boots 70oz (my Trango extremes are just over 32oz per boot or 64oz)
Equiv. work for this Weight on you back, runners=11.2 lbs, boots=28 lbs"

I found from guiding that most folks are hard pressed to carry 25% of their body weight day in and day out. That means a 200# man gets 50 lbs in their pack. A 120 # woman 30 lbs in hers. Plus what ever they are wearing. If you want to stay healthy get under that number. Try doing hard technical climbing and it is even less. 20% for a "big" load or 40# for a 200lb man.

Sure you can carry more but you'll pay for it one way or the other.

A typical dbl boot and technical crampon in my size will be around 12 lbs on your feet per pair or 76 lbs on your back. Now you can see why I want to cut my boot weight to 6lb for the pair or what adds up to 38 lbs.

But as John implied in the previous post's comments if the crampon and boot combo you chose doesn't make your climbing easier you should look for a better combo and stop worrying about the weight.

As much as I like them I no longer climb in Dartwins because I found them too unstable on easy terrain. The weight drop of the "sport" style crampon is not worth the extra effort required for me to use them no matter how light they are.

So I work at getting my boot/crampon combo as light as possible. But I also work at getting all my gear as light as possible. I will not sacrifice weight for performance. Durability? Sure, depending on the economics involved sort out. 5 extra .oz on your feet is worth a full 2 lbs on your back. Think about what 2 lbs is worth in your pack?

I could loose extra body weight by the pound and worry less about the weight of my gear. But there are climbers out there who have no extra body weigh to loose. Those are the climbers who can best take advantage of lwt gear.

Or as a couple of my buddies like tell me when I start fixating on gear weights, "Just train harder and it won't matter." But in reality everything matters.

Same reason we train, watch our diet and buy the best gear possible. It is all in the details and it all matters.

Friday, May 21, 2010

3 lbs?

3 lb 4 oz per foot, Scarpa boot and Black Diamond crampon combo, in a size 45.

Not a dbl boot but more than a single boot.
Not a full steel crampon but at least the front half is.
Not 3 lbs but we are getting closer.

3lb 9 oz is the steel crampon, true double boot, gold standard in a size 45. Sadly that is a 1980's Kolfach Ultra, Evolite liner, strap-on steel, hinged Chouinards.

Spantik, Baruntse liner, Stripped Sabertooth with a aluminum Neve heel, Petzl front bail, size 45. 3lb 10oz. Make it an all steel Sabertooth with your custom Spantik and you have a 4# combo per foot. A 6# combo with a stock set of Cyborgs.
6lb 4oz with factory Spantiks and Cyborgs.

Only a 1/2 lb per foot to go.
Why does this have to so hard?
Is anyone paying attention?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Nomic Hammers?

Blatant commercial spiel be warned.

This is something I have been doing commercially but generally under the radar for the last 3 years all the while trying to get Petzl to do it themselves. The new Nomic will offer a hammer as an option.

I'll also be making this hammer as a retro fit for all the newest tools and the new picks this coming winter. But no reason to sell your old Nomic. Most of the newest features can be upgraded into your current Nomic including the better umbilical attachment point and hammer.

First experience with the new lower grip pommel is it will also retro fit with a little effort.

This hammer is lighter and better balanced than Petzl's new hammer for the Nomic. I cut new factory picks to fit my hammer. Spare picks for these hammers can also be easily made from the older style (pre winter of '10/'11) Quark picks and a few minutes on a grinder. Nomic pick weights are 62grams. The CT hammer is 34grams. The Petzl Nomic hammer is 65g.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

La Sportiva Baruntse revisted

With the volcano in Iceland nixing my plans to climb in Chamonix earlier this spring I had some time and money on my hands and no place I really wanted to go. That is a dangerous combination!

Daniel Harro's email last month and pictures of the work done on his Spantiks got me thinking.

The Baruntse gives my foot a great fit and offers a full length, rigid, nylon midsole so it front points very well. I like the support, lacing and cuff better for my foot than the Spantik. The over all warmth of both boots I suspect is very comparable with similar upper design and materials.

The obvious advantages of the Spantik is it has a foam midsole for extra warmth on top of a carbon fiber midsole used to cut weight and add rigidity. The other thing Sportiva used in the Spantik design is a very thin Vibram sole to also lower the weight.

After seeing what cobbler Dave Page of Seattle did to Daniel's Spantiks by adding a Nepal midsole and big block Vibram sole it got me thinking. Wrong direction for Daniel's Spantik imo by adding the weight of a Nepal sole/mid sole and duplicating the Baruntse combination, but how about going the other way and dropping a few ounces?

I took my Baruntses down to Dave Page's one afternoon and described what I wanted. Dave pulled out a couple of different Vibram sole options. I had brought along a accurate electronic scale to see if the weights "added up". And sure enough, it looked like a resole with the "proper" La Sportiva Vibram would drop 4oz per boot and add more insulation under foot while doing it. ( I didn't think the added insulation was needed but..if it goes with a weight drop why not?)

I ended up with a Baruntse that weights in at 2# 15.5oz compared to the factory Spantik at 3#.05oz. A total of 1.5 oz difference. Spantik has a 26mm mid sole at the ball of the foot and my lwt Baruntse has a 25mm midsole thickness in the same place.

Original La Sportiva factory, size 45, weights:

Spantik 3# .o5oz
Baruntse 3# 2.50oz

semi custom boot weights:

Spantik with a Baruntse liner 2# 13.5oz
Baruntse w/inner and lwt sole 2# 15.5oz

I ended up dropping only 3oz per boot but I did gain some sole insulation as well. The new lug pattern has a sold toe areas and will be better for pure rock climbing. Certainly more cushion in the boot now, both in the sole sole and heel. Down side? The Vibram soles are thinner so they won't last as long on hard surfaces. Same durability issue on a Spantik as well. But the Baruntse has more surface area being used on the newer sole.


Factory Baruntse and a Trangpo Extreme GTX in size 45

I like climbing technical ground in the Baruntse better than in the Spantik so it is a win/win for me. And even with the resole I am still almost $200 under the Spantik retail. Would I do it again? Cost was $78.00 for the resole. No real reason to do it other than curiosity on my part to see what kind of weight loss I would come up with. But if I wanted to take the Baruntse on a cold, technical Denali route, I would do it again in a heart beat. No question it is less weight and a warmer boot now. Warm enough to leave the over boots at home above 17K.....may be :)

This is an modification that would cost La Sportiva nothing in production and it would offer us one more option for dbl boots.

Factory sole..

Baruntse with a lwt, La Sportiva factory resole added.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Real weight?

Some times even I wonder just how important tracking you gear weights really is.

If you wonder as well take a quick look at what I used on Polar Circus in '08 and what I used on the same climb in similar conditions in '09, '10  and  '11.

pack-CCW in ballistics nylon 2#6oz
boots-Nepal Evo 2#10.5oz
screws-12 -12cm Helix 60.7oz
belay parka-Mtn Hardware Compressor Hoody 19.8oz
soft shell-Arcteryx Gamma MX Hoody XL 24oz
pants-Arcteryx soft shell Bib large 30.3oz
helmet-Grivel Salamander 13.7oz
crampons-Grivel G12 full bot 35.6oz

total weight in 2008 16.5#

pack-CCW Ozone, custom, 20" back, Spectra 1#9oz no lid
boots-Trango Evo Extreme GTX 2#3oz
screws-8 -12cm Helix 40.8oz
no belay parka
hard/soft shell-EB Frontpoint XL 18.5oz
pants-Gamma Lt large 12oz
helmet-Petzl Meteor III 7.9oz
Dartwin 1/2 bot 30.5oz

Total weight in 2009 10.6#

How does that relate to effort in the real world? In '08 we climbed the route as fast as I ever have with a partner. In '09, with more comfort and significantly less effort than I have ever used on the climb and not actually trying to climb any faster than normal we almost cut that time in half! And in very similar conditions.

Even better I didn't add the weight savings of my gloves, harness, 'biners or inner layers all of which added up quickly as well for an additional significant weight savings. So my take is; it really is worth paying attention to what you buy and carry.

It is always a learning experience. The system I last used in warm conditions?

pack-REI Flash 18L 9.2oz -
boots-Scarpa Phantom Ultra 2#3.5oz +
screws-8-13cm BD Express 38.4oz -
Arcteryx Squawmish XL 5.6oz -
pants-Gamma Lt large 12oz =
helmet-Petzl Meteor III 7.9oz =
Stainess Sabertooth stripped/Neve heel 25.4oz -

Total weight 8.2#

And what I used in -30C temps early last winter?

CCW packs 1# 9oz

Spantiks 3#.05oz / 1362g

screws-12 -12cm Helix 60.7oz

Atom Lt Hoody 14.4oz / 429g

NWAlpine Salopettes 21.6oz / 612g

helmet-Petzl Meteor III 7.9oz =

Vertical front point crampons 39.4oz / 1116g

EB down pull over 15.4 oz / 455g


Close ups of the upper tiers on Polar Circus.