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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Monday, June 27, 2011

4 part "Speed" series?

Steck on Everest?

Making Fruit boots for hard mixed climbing?

Now is a good time to put some thought into Fruit boots if it is something that interests you for next winter's mixed season.

I'll have a review on the newest Boreal Ice Mutant model later on as fall approaches and the temps drop. 

But nothing like thinking ahead.   The fun I was having in my home made pair is why I searched out a commercial pair.  One caution?  You'll want your boot crampon combo to come in at around 2# total per foot to really take advantage of a lwt technical combo.  BD raptors come in at 10oz per foot.  That leaves you with 22oz per boot before you bolt the crampon on.  More than one climber is just using the front half of the crampon so that can drop some weight as well.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

Another view on alpine clothing?

"Getting the right alpine winter clothing system is a nightmare of trial, effort ... and money, because you go through just about every kind of environment. First you have a walk or ski in, often conducted in sunshine, which makes things incredibly hot. Then you gear up at the base in the shade feeling a little cold and clammy, and follow this with some simul climbing up a big snow couloir to reach the base of the difficulties, where you'll start either getting cold on a belay or want to shed as much clothing as possible to increase your mobility when leading the pitch."

More here:

and here:

Eiger one more time?

The North Face of the Eiger - 1938 Route & Free Topo
by Jack Geldard - UKC Chief Editor Apr/2011

And a slightly different Steck video:

"The crux pitches are usually short-lived, but are very steep and are often poorly protected and mainly on almost bare rock. Usually climbed with ice axes and crampons due to verglas and very low temperatures, an estimation of the difficulty of the hardest sections would be Scottish VI,6 or M5. On many of these crux sections the sloping nature of the limestone is very unhelpful for crampon-shod feet, and the mixed climbing bears little resemblance to the more commonly climbed routes on the superb granite of the popular Mont Blanc range."

More spring "skiing", The Mallory, Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix

"Bruno said it’s an adventure, it’s like a journey in another world. It’s a long decent and you have to stay focus the all time there is not a lot of margin for error."

Pictures and comments here:

scrub it 01 from julien regnier on Vimeo.

Thanks to the for the links and a heads up on these.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Endless Flow?

Trailer for up-coming movies from Bjarne Sahlen on Vimeo.

Cool stuff...much more here:

I'd like to see these two get married!

I know, hard to visualise but I would really like to see these two boots have mutant off spring in a size 45.

How about a real climbing boot you can actually ski in that is tech binding compatible @ about 900g per boot?

"The truth is that LaSportiva's original heritage business was leather ski boots and when it all went to plastic in the 70's La Sportiva abandoned the category because they couldn't afford the plastic injection mold investment costs and that is when they really started focusing on climbing and mountaineering"
Colin Lantz, La Sportiva
The brain trust is there, who better to combine the two technologies?

Something similar in volume to the TLT and a price around the TLT Performance's retail?    Double the retail price of the Spantik and still save money?!

Photo courtesy of Krister Jonsson

The technology is obviously there now.   Not like we are looking back to the future or anything.  Galiber's "Rigid Rand" from the '70s.

Scott Super Lights from the '70s as well. 

With the current technology this would be easy.  Would you want a pair?

40th anniversary: Bill Briggs’ ski descent of Grand Teton

                                                    June 15, 1971

By Griffin Post

"Sitting in the corner of the Virginian Restaurant in Jackson, Bill Briggs blends in effortlessly with the regulars. The room is filled with a mix of tourists and old timers, toting Jackson Hole memorabilia and cowboy hats, respectively.

As I make my way across the room, I wonder if the patrons have any idea of the role that the unassuming man in the corner played in ski mountaineering in North America. Then I catch myself—no, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one here that’s enough of a ski mountaineering nerd to be star-struck by a man in his mid-seventies.

Bill Briggs

For me, Bill is a bit of a hero. He’s the man that arguably pioneered ski mountaineering in the States when he skied the Grand Teton 40 years ago on June 15, 1971. I introduce myself, and Bill jumps up and shakes my hand. His enthusiasm and animation catches me a little off guard. Although his hair is grey and a bit thinning and his face is reflective of the lifetime he’s spent outdoors, Bill still speaks with the energy of someone much, much younger. As we begin to talk, I’m relieved to realize that despite the undeniable contributions Bill has made to the sport I love, he’s just another guy who loves talking about the mountains."

Part of the story is here:

There is much more in the movie STEEP!.
Honor is due.  As a reality check for the same goal today?  Look here:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Social media?

I am convinced that climbing magazines and how we get the news is dead.  How we research products and how we then buy them has changed as well.  All for the better as consumers I think.  I have no clue how to use a blog effectively let alone Face book but I thought I would get C/T started there as well.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mt Hunter video!

I posted a congrads to the climbers earlier on the blog.   Some obviously hard climbing was done in bad conditions.

Mount Hunter video.

I posted a congrads to the climbers earlier on the blog.  And I was sincere.   Some obviously hard climbing was done in bad conditions.

But am I the only one who has to wonder?  The Wall of Shadows on Hunter (FA 1994) was repeated in alpine style on the 2nd ascent (2001) without a portaledge ledge? 

"The Wall of Shadows (VI 5.9 M7 95 degree ice/mixed) on the north face of Mt. Hunter's north buttress, which received its second ascent in 2001 by Kevin Mahoney and Ben Gilmore,"

Jon Bracey and Rich Cross in 2004 repeated,  "A Pair of Jacks" (VI M6 WI5+, 6,000')  on the northwest face of Mt. Kennedy without a ledge.  It too was first done in 1996 in capsule style with a ledge.

"The soaring tower stands prominent above Kahiltna Base Camp. Even an untrained eye may notice the thin ribbons of ice intertwining down sheer granite cliff bands and buttresses. These are the natural passageways that allow modern alpinists to ascend the intimidating buttress. Climbers attempting the route are on center stage for gawkers at the airstrip. The Park Service often has a high power telescope trained on the North Buttress so curious onlookers can track their progress. The remains of an old porta-ledge used on the first ascent of the Wall of Shadows can still be seen dangling above the Third Ice Band."  SUPERTOPO

Bracey has also done a alpine ascent of the North Buttress Gully on Hunter previous.  No question he has paid his dues there.

The actual first ascent of the North Buttress was done by Doug Klewin and Todd Bibler without a ledge.

Two other more recent climbs on Hunter worth looking at:


Looking down from the first rock band on what would later become Deprivation..1979.

STEEP! The movie?

I've made a point of commenting on a lot of ski gear recently and how skis can be better used in the mountains as tools for transportation.

The obvious over lap between skiing and climbing has some history to it.  One exceptional look at that history is the movie "STEEP!"

"It started in the 1970s in the mountains above Chamonix, France, where skiers began to attempt ski descents so extreme that they appeared almost suicidal. Men like Anselme Baud and Patrick Vallencant were inspired by the challenge of skiing where no one thought to ski before. Now, two generations later, some of the world's greatest skiers pursue a sport where the prize is not winning, but simply experiencing the exhilaration of skiing and exploring big, wild, remote mountains."

STEEP from The Documentary Group on Vimeo.
The movie is available for under $10. from

And one I first missed but by popular demand...added in.  Thanks guys.  Great film!

And a good example of what locals are doing  in the PNW today.

Drew Tabke 2011 Xtreme Verbier from Drew Tabke on Vimeo.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Modifying ski boots to climb?

With an on going discussion  back stage about how to best  modifying the latest TLT 5s  I found this old thread.  Some might  find interesting.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

La Sportiva Hi5 skis

I see that Lou over at Wildsnow finally let the horse out of the barn :-)

Big help now as I really wanted the info a couple of months ago!   I know Lou had the skis and wondered why he waited so long on the review.  Likely out skiing.  What was he thinking?  Let me help make it a stampede of sorts.

If you follow this blog you know I hadn't skied much (as in none) for a decade or so.   The climbing trip last winter to Chamonix was my cardiac jump start.   The continued ski season (and terrible weather) here in the NW and with the resulting never ending snow it has allowed me to ski instead of ride my bike or rock climb.

Enjoying it actually.  Getting to go back to several old spring ski haunts because of it.

I have been skiing on an assortment of old and new boards over the winter.  Shaped, asymmetrical, super short, skinny, fat and in between.  Lots of skis.   They all generally turn left and right as required.  My BD Aspects, Dyna Stokes  and the Dyna Broad Peaks are missing from this picture.  No huge surprises except one.  And that one ski the Hi 5 has been an interesting education that continues.

I first saw the Hi5 at OR last winter and was more than a little skeptical of the new La Sportiva Hi5 or La Sportiva in particular for skis.  But I did want a pair of those all carbon  race boots the STRATOS!    Any way, hard to miss a bright green, giant ski that resembles a retro water ski more than snow ski.  Or so I first thought.  It was a ski that stood out in the ski racks at two "ski bars" and riding the trams in Chamonix over the winter.  And of the La Sportiva Hi5s I did recognise, all  seemed amazingly LOOONG in comparison to the other skis being toted around the valley. (from a distinct mental note taken back in March...and obvious ski/mtn gawds riding them) 

Huge rocker on the tip of this ski.  (well huge to me,  the guy who had only skied one pair of rockered skis, these) a squared cut tail and a full 105mm wide at the waist.  It is a 75/25 %  rockered ski. My early production 188cms pair measure 135/105/125 mm and weight in at 8# 10oz.  Light I thought for such a fat and long ski.  But they will get lighter in the 2011/2012 production.  The goal is 7#15oz for a pair of 188s.    My skinny 162cm Se7en Summits with a race binding weight 6# for the pair as a comparison, My 178cm BD Aspects are just over 7# with bindings.

The Hi5s are a good bit wider and longer than either with the resulting performance advantages.

In French here:

- Longueur : 168 - 178 - 188

- Weight: 1.600gr - 1.700gr - 1.800gr - Poids : 1.600gr - 1.700gr - 1.800gr

- Construction: Sidewall Fusion - 75% Camber / Rocker 25%. Progressive sidecut Progressive sidecut

- Songs: ABS thermoplastic

- Core: Wood Light Karuba - Ame : bois de Karuba léger

- First layer: fiberglass tri-directional

- Second layer: carbon fiber bi-directional / fiberglass inserts 

Almost nothing on the Net early on besides these:

Having been on the same hill, on those same days, l have to admit I now really wanted to try these fat boys out.   But sadly, mine would show up in April and the closest I would come to a Cham pow day was a foot of nasty Cascade cement at Crystal that was doing point release slides under the lifts by the afternoon..

But that turned out to not be a bad thing.   I wanted to get some skinning in on my lwt stuff but the new snow and avi danger made that problematic.  So I stuck with the Hi5s on the lifts all day.  It seemed better than going home, as most did.  The first steep I dropped into was 4 turns to the packed again.  And I thought that was rather easy.   Easier than expected for sure.    Next drop I made 6 turns and was still not being pushed.  Seemed too easy in the sloppy snow.   Terrible snow to ski on but the kind of snow a good  snow boarder loves   So next time I dropped in the same place and did six turns before the first tree.    Holy shit!  Are these really 188cm and 105cm wide?  These will take some imagination and relearning what is possible was my thought that day.

Just say no to short skis ;)   These are real skis!

No wonder the kids in Cham were on head height or better skis lengths.  These things turn like they are a 150mm soft, skinny skis or a snow board.   And maybe they are with that much rocker and  flotation!  What ever is going on here for technology, they sure are a hoot and super easy to ski on!

Check out the actual surface area being used on flat ground between my 162cm  Se7en Summits and the Hi5 in a 188cm.  That is SOME serious rocker!

When you start looking at rockered skis you need to be really careful with the definition because the ski companies aren't.  "Early rise",  "semi rockered" and the other terms so easily bandied about generally aren't truly rockered skis.  Real rockered skis, ski and turn like much shorter skis than their measured length would first indicate because there is less surface on the ground taking full weight.

When the tips of your skis set on the snow like the Hi5 obviously does, the ski is rockered.  410cm of rocker by my measure on the 188s. A quick example of the difference?  A 173cm Stoke ski like a 188cm Hi5.  If I cut hairs here, the 176 Aspect feels slower to turn than the longer and wider 188 Hi5.  Most of that is rocker, some of it is the additional side cut of the Hi5.  The point is the Hi 5 turns like a much shorter skis in my opinion.  Surprizingly so and much to my personal enjoyment.

I hear fat skis are a little tough to edge.   Big, stiff  boots will solve part of that.

Fat skis are not suppose to like light weight boots. I took that test and like the Dynafit TLT Ps with these skis. And I generally ski the Ps without the tongue, as I was doing in the skiing comments above. Add the tongue and there is plenty of boot for the Stokes or the Hi5s in any length. But I haven't bothered adding the tongue. Might be the fact the Hi5 is so easy to ski and not the boots. It is a question yet unanswered to my satisfaction. But I have the technology to find that answer and will come back to it when I do. I like to think of the Hi5 as my Aspects with power steering and 4 wheel drive if that makes sense. Lower geared, and easier to drive in shitty snow.

The only other fat ski in my quiver is a pair of the new Dynafit Stokes.  Good ski as well.  But neither ski is  really FAT by today's standards.   Can't consider the BD Aspect as fat either.   I wanted some serious rocker just to see what it was like to ski.  But if possible on a more traditional ski with some side cut.  Dbl rockered skis seem a little extreme.  But may be I am wrong there.   Traditional you say?  Well no tail rocker (unless you consider the last 2" of ski rockered" and the reasonable side cut seems almost traditional  these days.   The side cut isn't that far off between the Aspect and the Hi5.    BTW I simply haven't noticed the square cut tail.  When you sit back there is good support and edge a decent GS ski.  Looks a little weird a first but then so does this ski.  That was amazingly easy to get over.  And amazingly easy to set tail first in hard snow if it is required.   The Hi5 numbers made it look like a more "traditional" ski  with some added rocker...OK a lot of rocker.

(all factory numbers..not my numbers)

Mustagh SL 187cm  6lb 9oz  122-88-111

Aspect   186cm  7 lb 2 oz   130 / 90 / 117   

Drift     186 cm  7 lb 10 oz  138/ 100/ 123

Stoke    191cm  7 lb 14oz  134 / 108 / 122   

Hi5       188cm  7lb 15oz  135 / 105 / 125  

Wailer HB 190cm   9lb 4oz  141/ 112 / 128

Megawatt  188cm  10 lb 1 oz  153-125-130

My pre production pair of Hi5s are a few oz. over at a measured 8# 7oz.  La Sportiva missed the mark early on  by  4oz per ski in a 188.    Close enough from my perspective for what I am getting in added performance.    I actually made a special trip to Marmot just to check my own numbers again when I started listing the weight numbers on the Aspect and Stoke.  Part of that is the HI5 is a little longer and a good bit wider.  And the ski performance matches the Hi5's bigger numbers.    Bottom line is I don't care about the weight on this ski  (within reason)  compared to my Aspects or Stokes.  The Hi5s have proven themselves as my go to, "Hero skis" any any kind of soft snow.   If I need a hero ski that particular day I'll deal with the marginal extra weight on the uphill.  (Thank Colin at La Sportiva for correcting the production numbers on the skis being shipped as of  Sept  '11)

I think, if given the choice, you'll find few willing to ski a non rockered 175 or 180cm ski where you can so easily ski the rockered 188 Hi5.   The rocker makes that much difference.  I like skiing a little longer ski again.  It was an easy sale after just three runs.

This is the most fun all around ski I have been on for junk snow.   Short of ice and really hard groomers anyway.   They aren't GS skis.  There is a definite speed limit.   These are my hero skis for junk snow.  Ski just about anything, anywhere on these and feel awesome while doing it.  Might even be able to give my boarding buddy a run for the money in wind blown.   Which says a lot.  No way I would have believed that if the only place I had skied them was on Chamonix pow.  Might be the only ski I use for the down there next winter though.    Ripping right out of the gate on the Midi is a dream I intend to make real with this board.

Bottom line?  If you haven't skied a fat rocker should ASAP.  Hero skis, plain and simple..   With a decade off line...I needed a hero ski ;-)

The Marmot Hyper Jacket.....a field test and review.

The new  Marmot Hyper Jacket
weight 13.3 oz

Westcom Apoc 17.3 oz
EB Frontpoint 18.2 oz
(all in XL)

I've been told I can be pretty harsh in person.

One of my basic judgement calls on people or gear is, "stand and deliver".

Basically the idea is back up your mouth with performance.  If you do/can, then say what you want.  But be prepared to be judged by your words and deeds.   Nothing wrong with failure but lets not make the reason behind failure an excuse.  Shit happens, get on with it.

What does that have to do with a garment review/field test?   I have been asked several times about how some of the newest fabrics measure up against the new Polartec NeoShell.  I had no clue really since I have only used two of the "new garments".   And since I seldom use hard shells these days I wasn't likely to be able to make a better comparison any time soon.

Add that to the fact the NeoShell was a writer's sample I was given and my comments would make me, as a consumer reading the review, very very suspect.

I enjoy writing and looking at the performance of new gear compared to what I have used in the past.  This blog is the end result of my curiosity.  Fun when someone disagrees or questions an opinion.  Fair enough, as I will try to back up with experience and facts what I write in a review .

I had a local Marmot rep ask if I had used any of the Marmot "Strata" garments.  I hadn't.   Neither did I have the desire (for a another hard shell) or the coin to pop for one.   But I was interested in the answer to the question as much as anyone.  When the Marmot rep (thanks Jon) offered a pro deal on any jacket of my choice.  I just had to know for myself how good Marmot's Strata really was.  

Marmot stood up and made themselves an easy target.  I figured it was time for me to back up my mouth.

First impression?  I had forgotten about the pro-form order until FED EX showed on a cold and damp afternoon in June.   I was wearing a EB down sweater over a t-shirt around the shop and freezing my ass off.  As I said, "cold and damp".

Saw the shipping label and I ripped open the package.  Love the soft red color.  Like a velvet rose.  You'll notice it.   But easy on the eyes. Nice.  Slipped it on over my down sweater.  Damn good fit.  Surprised actually.   And wonderful Velcro closed cuffs.   Slim fit.  Perfect for medium to lt heavy weight layering under it.  It is a close fitting shell I could climb in.  I'd like to climb in.  The stretch in the material is simply amazing...think lycra kind of stretch....and lots of it!

With the Hyper jacket over my down sweater I did a few arm/shoulder swings and struggled through a couple off pull ups .  No binding at all from the shell.  None!  Impressive....very impressive!

Here is the Marmot spiel:

"This extremely pliable shell features Marmot’s MemBrain® Strata™ technology, for lightweight, breathable, waterproof performance—with enough stretch to satisfy the most flexible athletes and weekend warriors"

Call it "stand and deliver".  By my call, the Hyper is judged worthy of its claims.

More from Marmot here:


◦Marmot MemBrain® 2.5 Waterproof/Breathable Fabric
◦Micro-Stitched and 100% Seam Taped - for maximum waterproof protection
◦Attached Hood - Provides an Extra Warmth Layer Under a Shell Hood or By Itself in Milder Conditions
◦Water Resistant Front Zipper - WR Front Zipper
◦Chest Pocket with Water-Resistant Zipper - Chest Pocket with W/R Zipper
◦Hand Pockets with Concealed Zippers
◦Stretch Anatomic Articulation - Stretch Fabric and Design Feature Reduces Excess Fabric and Improves Mobility
◦Collar Cord - Allows You to Cinch in Collar When Weather is Bad
◦Asymmetric Cuffs with Velcro Adjustment
◦Reflective Logos
◦Elastic Draw Cord Hem - For Adjustability in Serious Weather
◦Angel-Wing Movement™ - Allows Full Range of Motion in Arms so Jacket Doesn't Ride Up
◦29" Center Back Length for Size Medium
◦Colors:•Cardinal (6130)
•Black (001)
•Lime (470)
•Blue Ocean (2231)
•Small/•XX - Large

Center Back Length:◦29in / 73.7cm
Weight:◦11.8 oz / 334.5 g   (my XL is 13.3oz)

Main Material:◦MemBrain®Strata™ 100% Nylon Stretch 1.6 oz/yd

The hood is a little tight on my Petzl Meteor III.  But the hood stretches as well!  So not too tight.  Easy to use with a helmet.  Good coverage and good visibility.  Water resistant front zipper and huge side pockets.  Both much better than expected for a $200 price point.    Again worth mentioning just how good the cuff design is and how they seal up.  Seems like it would be simple...but it is not.  I'm not a fan of pit zips.  The huge side pockets on the seam line are also one way to vent this jacket.  Smart design.  Some thought went into this one.  When the hood isn't in use it makes a high collar that is exceptional as well.  Even the zipper pulls are better than the norm.   One of the best tailored climbing jackets I have had on. 

The drape of this jacket isn't one that would jump off the rack at me.  Nice color but on a hanger the jacket looks "frumpy" to me.  It looks super thin for a weather proof shell.   I am use to seeing "Goretex" and that extra laminate material and bulk.   The Hyper looks more like a lwt wind shell than the super high tech, water proof shell it is.   On a hanger the pattern looks boxy and not particularly well done.  Big mistake on my part to think that..  Not a jacket I would have ever tried on in the store.   I just ordered it and figured we'd see just how good Marmot is.  The answer to that is. " pretty damn good!"

Gotta say it is a very good shell and an even better fit.   I have what I consider three state of the art shells.  The Eddie Bauer Front Point, the Westcomb Apoc and now the Marmot Hyper.  All three are suppose to be stretchable "hard shells".  The EB Front Point a combo hard and soft shell actually.  But one I have used the most and been extremely happy with in every condition, rain, shine or cold temps under a streaming waterfall.

The Westcomb Apoc, in  Neoshell.  A new fabric that I once called the "missing link" and I am not retracting that comment.  Neoshell is very, very good.

I thought the Front Point and Epoc fit pretty good as well.  The Hyper just fits me better than either.

The Marmot Hyper is the lightest of the three shell jackets I own.  may be not in the same  "shell category". It seems water proof so far and it is by far the most comfortable because of how stretchable the material is.  Hardly believable really as to how water proof and how stretchable.   Make sure what ever you wear under the Hyper can take advantage of that stretch.  Shame to waste the technology and something you'll need to think about with this garment.  The material is called Marmot MemBrain® 2.5 Waterproof/Breathable Fabric.

All said I am not sure where this one will fit into my system.  It is so light I worry about it breaking the wind well enough.  I might be concerned on how durable it will be.   I am always leery of a "breathable" shell.  But as long as it is as wind resistant as say the Neoshell or the older Gortex I might find it useful in some nasty conditions.   This is a true stretchable, water proof, soft shell.  It leaves much up to your imagination as to where you will want to use it.    As a shell over my Arc'Teryx Atom Lt. in nasty weather?   Maybe it will become the water proof shell that really allows down insulation to live up to its potential!  I'm putting that idea to the test right now.  Is it as breathable as down?  I don't know.  How breathable is it?

Breathable enough and light enough to use it for running in the rain without using the side zip vents..  The only one of  the three shells mentioned that I would think of intentionally running in.  Nothing else I own besides a simple wind shell is this light...4oz better than the Apoc which was only a single ounce less than the "old technology" Frontpoint.  I suspect it won't be all that durable by the hand of the material.  Likely the least durable of the three but I have nothing to back up that comment past "how the materials feel"  in all three jackets.  Let's see how long it lasts?

But the stand out performance of the MemBrain®Strata™ stretch material is very impressive.  I thought the Neoshell was good and it really is.  But for just the ability to stretch, neither the soft shell combo on the Frontpoint or the stretch in the Neoshell are even in the same ball game here.

If the Neoshell is a "missing link" then the Marmot MemBrain®Strata™ 100% Nylon Stretch is a totally different Species.  And from the looks of it a predator at less than half the price and maybe ....only time will tell for sure....much better performance depending on your needs.   This is, if,  the short term promises pan out over time.

I seldom buy anything sight unseen or something I can't return if I am unsatisfied.  Pro deals are generally non refundable, non returnable and I wasn't expecting much on this one.  But I really wanted to know how some of the newer fabrics compared to the Neoshell.  I figure that is part of the "free gear" deal if you write a legitimate gear blog .   You make some apple to apple  comparisons at your own expemse.   Gotta say I am impressed with the Marmot MemBrain.   As much as I have been by any new piece of technology, ever.   It is like nothing I have experienced to date.  You really should try one on if given the chance.  Let me know what your impressions are.   At a retail of $200 MSR the Marmot with out question is a best buy.  I was told the MSR on the Apoc will be $475.  And it isn't the most expensicve Neoshell garment by any means. The Eddie Bauer Frontpoint MSR  is $249.  The other two have been big steps up in performance from simple Goretex.  Next up will be to test the Goretex Pro and Active shell.  This, so far, is leaps and bounds better in many ways over the two I already own.  Stretch and weight up front, breathability and water resistance will need long term tests.  But Marmot's claims are high in both.

This is the first piece of gear from Marmot I have owned. 
And I'd bet this one will  change the game or if nothing else point he way for water proof garments in the future, if it delivers the goods long term.   If not we'll see how that "life time" warranty works at Marmot..

I obviously forgot the field testing part to this blog.  Simply got caught up in the new fabric and how revolutionary I think it is.

Field testing? Forgot to be more specific on that part didn't I.

Skied, skinned, booted on my "stash" and 2 of the local volcano's. Worst spring weather here in the Cascades I have seen.  There have been very few clear days.  Spent yesterday in a white out, pelted by rain and snow. But wouldn't call it climbing. Trail running in the local monsoon is likely the most difficult test. I do a bit of climbing on my road bike. The Hyper makes a decent road bike shell as well. Running and the bike are a good look at how well a garment will breath and cut the wind when used for climbing.   Both are higher heart rate efforts than "climbing" is for me.   The bike is a wind tunnel test for the shell and how well it breaks the wind.  How the stretch effects comfort you notice everywhere, any activity. That is the field testing to date.

Result of the field testing?

At the moment the Hyper is my  "go to" shell for any NW trip (any sport ) with any insulation that is required, base layer to a down sweater. It is simply the highest performance and lightest shell I own by any measure.  Makes me look at down insulation in a new light.

Always interesting in getting other's experience with gear.  If you have used or seen the Hyper I'd really like to hear your experience.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Petzl picks?

Hey for those of us waiting for the new Nomics and Ergos to show I suspect we are getting closer to that fall 2011 delivery date!

Why would I say this you ask?  Well yesterday the UPS truck showed up unexpectantly with 4 brand new ICE picks for my Nomics!  I'm stoked ;-)  It is a great start for the new winter season.

Monday, June 13, 2011

It is the guy having the most fun....

that wins every time.  These guys are having some!   Make sure to dbl click this one and watch it full screen.


Brian's web site again:

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Congrads to all involved on this one!  Awesome trip....

Picture courtesy of Brian and his blog.


Adventure in one hand and failure in the other...some times a handful makes an unforgetable trip.

Great write up on a early spring, N. Twin attempt, a few days ago .

Photo from Hayden Kennedy's blog, more here:

Great write up on a early spring, N. Twin attempt, a few days ago .

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Dynafit TLT 5 as a winter climbing boot? Part 2

 The TLT 5s were new to Europe and North America this last winter.  The TLT's previous iteration of the same technology, the DyNA race boot, showed up in  the winter of 08/09.  But it took some convincing to for most to take the DyNA beyond the rando race circuit into the mountains and then snap a pair of ill fitting steel crampons to them.

But a few here in North America have already done and are still doing that.
 Photos courtesy of Andy and Jared and their must read blogs.

 Jared's well worn 1st generation DyNA's.
You have to ask when does skiing become alpinism?  For me it is anytime a steel crampon and a ice axe is required.

 North Ride of Mt Baker, spring '11

The first time I saw a Dynafit with crampons snapped on them (Nanotech versions btw) was on Jared's and Andy's blogs.  I kept seeing traffic generated on my blog by:

So I stopped by a few times and looked around. It was all about skiing which to be honest hasn't interested me in some time.  BTDT and frankly was tired of the "new" gear and lack of new technology.  I had skied Fuhrer Finger and a couple of  the other routes back in the '80s and while fun no way I wanted to pack a pair of 207s and an extra pair of boots back up Rainier again.  I'd rather walk down.

First write up that really caught my eye on those "ski" blogs was a spoof of sorts about skiing the Great White Icicle in Cottonwood Canyon, Utah.  I had soloed it while at the OR show in 2010.  So I had a vague idea of what Jared, Andy and their partners were up to.  I thought they were nuts of course  but I started to take some interest.    I like "nuts" usually some fun to be had there  ;-)

Then a few weeks later I was off to Chamonix for  2 months. 
That experience was an eye opener with the the first spark of imagination coming from Jared and Andy.

"They" claim Chamonix is the death sport capital of the world. I won't argue that from my short experiences there. Either way I did see some amazing skiing and climbing. And I started to notice the new TLTs on feet. Pretty common on the Midi lift with climbers headed for the ice on the east side of the Tacul. Or on the first lift on the GM with climbers heading up the Argentière basin  for the big mixed routes there. Or just as likely on skier's feet with Rando race gear headed up Mt Blanc from the Cosmic hut for quick ascent and ski down.

A few guys in SLC, Utah were/are doing some incredible ski descents and mountaineering while doing it all very quickly.  A Teton Trifecta and the North Ridge of Baker come to mind from the blogs.  All wearing one version or the other of the TLT 5s.

In Chamonix and much of Europe there is a lot of ski mountaineering and Rando racing happening.  But skis are also used as a means of transportation and not always for a ski specific goal.  Some of the best alpine ice climbing is done in winter now. And using the Chamonix valley's many lifts  is well accepted as the "approach" and descent to many climbs.  AT boots aren't mandatory but they do make things a lot easier, quicker and safer at times.  And AT boot you can actaully climb and ski in with little down side for either activity is a new tool as some of us are now just beginning to realise.

Colin Haley Photo

 Krister Jonsson photo

Colin Haley Photo
Andy's photos

Colin Haley Photo

Krister Jonsson photos

Again many thanks to those that allowed me to use their photos to do this blog entry justice.    It allowed me to show you how well received these boots are becoming not just tell you about it.   Take the time click on their respective blogs and photo galleries to see what they have all been climbing and skiing this season.

A special thanks to Marmot Mountain Works, in Bellevue, WA.  They are the local Dynafit Speciality shop and were gracious enough to loan me boots to make the early indoor comparisons.  That first comparison convinced me to buy the boots.

Double click all the photos for full value!

Be sure to check out the web sites of Jared, Andy, Colin Haley, Nels Nielson and  Krister Jonsson. 



Colin Haley

Krister Jonsson

Nels Nielsen

Which version do you want of the TLT 5s?

That depends on how much cash you are willing to drop and secondly how much flex do you like in a ski boot?  But to be clear none of these are free ride boots.  No matter how good of a ski boot I think they are.

Originally Posted by Federico:

"First of all boot concept... The TLT5 is born to cover a missing point in the ski mountaineering boots world. The idea was to offer a new benchmark in terms of up hill agility for those skiers which aim to climb MOUNTAINS with long distance, high altitude difference, technical mountaineering parts involving the use of crampons or rock scrambling even in vertical, no falling zone areas... and being these type of skiers also challenging the most vertical and steepest descent the idea was to offer also enough downhill support and stiffness to go down from everywhere in high safety and fun!.

As you can read from these few lines the performance of the boots are yes amazing for downhill but there must be always climbing and aiming for a summit involved... if it's all about the down, powder, jumps and so on... well this is simply not the right boot."

The new 2012 DyNA's will be the lightest by far but they also won't have the toe flex.  And the liner will be over lapping instead of a traditional tongue.  Great idea on the inner boot not so excited about the lack of flex for climbing.  All the new designs are rigid so it isn't something to bother the rando guys.   Weight and performance is going to be exceptional for skiing anyway.

The carbon cuffed boots offer some amazing skiing potential.  The Mountain version is slightly easier on the legs while walking and side hilling.  The Mountian versions ( TF in particular) offering just a bit more flex and a tiny bit lighter than the carbon cuffed Performance.   It is a tough choice.  But none of them are a "bad" choice imo.  For price and "mountain boot" performance the Mountian TF is the winner at the moment imo.
I am a big fan of the Palau foam liner in the Performance or the Mountain TF.

The tongue?
Both the Performance version and the Mountain version offer a removable tongue.  One is made of "stiff Grilamid" and Pebax, the other just Pebax if I am reading this all correctly.  Tongues that are made of a differing stiffness of  Pebax would be a nice option.   Jury is still out on whether the Performance and the Mountain use different materials in the tongue.  But I "think" the Performance tongue might well be stiffer than the Mountain's version,   A quote from TR thread, "In production the thickness of the cuff’s internal wall will be increased and the Pebax mix will be approx 20% stiffer.....the combination of the stiff Grilamid downhill tongue with the carbon cuff is impressive…"   "I'll have that specific info in a few days and re post the correct answer here."  Still no official word on the differences in tongues.  But my take is the SX black tongues are slightly stiffer than the DX green tongues.  May be +10% or more stiffer and a slightly more progressive flex with the black tongue.  But as I said, nothing official on this.  And it may well be my imagination as both weigh 80g per tongue.    Might be one way to easily add some rigidity to the flex of the Mountain version?   Most won't be climbing or doing skin approaches with the tongues in anyway.  Skiing on the other hand will depend on the boot.  Performance offers an amazingly high performance ski boot with the tongue in as well as tongue out.   The DyNA  doesn't have a tongue to add and the Mountain version will likely be skied with the tongue in place by most.  

I find the tongue easy to carry and add to or pull out of the boot as required.   It is easy to do so, but may be not a one handed operation for me.   I like having the option of the removable "ski" tongue in a "mountain boot" where double duty is required.   Bravo for Dynafit on that one.   I haven't required the tongue in the  boot while using the Performance version even on 105cm waisted, 188cm skis, as long as the temps are close to freezing.  The boots get soft in the heat I think.

Crampons?   What about crampons?


Nels Nielsen in Colin's photos is using Black Diamond crampons.

Black Diamond crampons standard front bails fit the TLTs extremely well. Perfectly?  Very close anyway.   On the back heel pieces how ever the vertical tabs are too far apart on my TLT size 29.5s  to stop or center the heel of the boot.  I adjust them and clip them tight and they stay on.  Good enough I suspect.  Nels did several routes on the north face of les Droites with the BD set up.   Take a look at Neil's web site for some idea of where else he has use that combination. But all the current offerings from BD will work.  I am partial to the Neve heel mated to a steel front if it is something you can use because it is a little tighter in the heel.   I have yet to bend a regular set of vertical heel tabs to fit because I am worried about the stainless cracking.

Krister Jonson and Jared are both using the Grivel G20.  I use the G22.  The new Grivel front bail fits the TLT boots fairly well.  But not as good as the BD front bail.  And they can't easily be switched.  But the rear heel piece and vertical bars on the Grivel G20 and G22 crampons fit the TLTs exceptionally well.  I may yet add a pair of BD front bails to my Grivel G22s for this particular boot.

Krister is doing some pretty good mixed and water fall climbing in his set up as his photo gallery will attest.. 
If we can ever get Jared to slow down and use a rope on the technical climbing I suspect he might have some advice to offer ;)

Petzl?  For the same reasons the Petzl crampons fit most mountain boots better than the previous two brands mentioned they don't fit a ski boot very well.  The Petzl front bail is simply too small for the TLT toe.  The Telemark bail makes the fit even worse.  BD front bail, for once, wins the toe bail challenge with the TLT.

Aluminum crampons?

The Camp USA XLC versions all seem to fit very well but not perfectly.  Heel is still too big.  Lots of options there for the mountaineer including the Nano versions. Toe bails fit almost perfectly on my all aluminium XLCs, heels not so well but good enough.  

A few quick comparisons to the BD Prime @ 1770g and the TLT Mountain TF @ 1280g with the tongue and 1190g without.  (which skis about the same as the Prime but walks and climbs  infinitely better)


Comparing the volume of a La Sportiva Spantik and the TLT shell (Performance in this case)   Both at size 12 US both with warm, heat modable inner boots.  The TLT taking the lead on the better inner boot here.  But La Sportiva offers virtually the same Palau liner for the Baruntse that will work in the Spantik.
 Comparing the rocker on the Spantik and TLT which is much of what allows the boots to walk in comfort.
The BD Prime and TLT rocker comparison.  When it comes to walking the additional rocker built into the TLT 5 and its short over all sole length means a lot more comfort.

 TF thermo formable foam liner and TFX liners which can in part be thermo moldable.
An obvious issue I worried about, is the skis chopping up the inside of the TLT shells in short order.  But Dynafit tells me this is common place, with extra material built in to take the abuse.  In the USA the Dynafit demo boots have held up fine to this kind of issue with zero failures to date.

left boot
 rigfht boot...after only 3 days of lift skiing
Typically my boots don't get that cut up in a full season of skiing.  But it is expected wear overtime.  Gotta say I am now trying to keep this sort of damage to a minimum.  It is scary when you realise how thin the boot shells are, every where but this part of the lower shell.

Skinning and skiing in spring snow for two days started taking the logo off.

Inner boot and cuff wear happened pretty quick as well.  But Dynafit tells you to expect it and gives you patch material to add some durability to the lwt boot and liners.  Buckles have been an early  and continued  issue for some owners.  The front one is easy enough to bend or loosen if you aren't careful and smack a rock booting or on skins.  I noticed the new DyNA has a slightly different lower buckle.  One of the early NA testers admitted to disabling a Performance version by knocking off an upper buckle while booting early season.  Think of it as a "race boot".  Treat them gently is my thought and plan on something to fix them if broken in the mtns.  Main buckle is easy with some duct tape and a rubber ski strap.  I suspect a rubber ski strap would work just fine on the lower one as well.  But you get the idea gentle when and where you can be.  Hammer them and forget about it when you can't.  No question there are more durable traditional boots for use in the alpine.  Just none that will do as much so easily.

Skinning had wear points showing up on the inner and shell liner very quickly.  Best to keep a sharp eye on it all.
I do have a long way to go before my own boots will see the mileage and abuse of Jared's after two full seasons though.  So I am not worried...yet ;-)

And so how do they climb?  On ice as good as anything I have used if you can deal with the little or no side ways ankle flex.  Same sideways flex as a typical plastic boot just less of it because the boot cuff is higher.  That will make them hard on your knees if used enough.  In the mid '80s we found that out using Scott ski boots with Vibram soles glued on to ice climb in. 

  Not the best mixed boot obviously because of that.  But for pure ice or endurance ice...lock the cuffs up and off you go.  Easy to keep your heels down with the forward lean built in ;-)  Even climbing with the cuff undone as you would skinning or walking the boots offer plenty of support for snow and ice climbing.

Just another tool for the box.  But the next time you need ski boots a good one to look at if you ice climb as well.  This from a guy who admittedly HATES climbing in AT boots.....really hates it.  Up until the TLT 5s showed up that is!

Now if they would only put all that energy into a full on mountain boot that also just happened to ski really well ;-)
We'd then have another pair of boots that are worth a $1000!
Federico Sbrissa!?   If you are out there I'd love to have that conversation with you!