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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Showa 282-02 winter glove..late to the party?

Takes about 2 minutes to do a Google search for this glove.  One of the first web reviews you'll find is Colin Haley (yes that Colin Haley) endorsing them for climbing.  I should/could  just leave it at that.

Colin Haley’s Clothing System for Alpine Climbing in the Chaltén Massif - Patagonia

Of course, I won't.  Hard to cut this glove with a sharp, really sharp kitchen knife.   I tried.    Just the ticket for busting 8" of ice out of 100-gallon stock tanks while the wind is blowing, and the temps are in the teens F.    Even better when you need to pull all that ice out of those same tanks now with 50 gallows of water in them and 200# of block ice.    You get wet no matter what you do.  But no reason to have wet or cold hands now.   I have used expensive neoprene gloves in years past, and they work as well.  Just not the the dexterity, warmth or comfort of the Showa.  And the long cuff with an elastic draw cord fits over my Arcteryx jacket sleeves like they were made for each other.

I have yet to climb in them, but I know just from working around here this winter they'll be one of the best gloves I own for ice climbing.   Only thing I miss is a leather palm.   These things are way stickier than leather.    I own a LOT of high dollar gloves climbing gloves with similar warmth and durability.  None of them cost anywhere close to $20! 

These things are easily found, currently for under $25.00 a pair.  Usually under $20.! 

I have been buying them here:   I am typically a XL in any glove and the XL fits we well enough, but a XXL might be appropriate as well.  Worth a try on sizes as they are very stretchy.

Showa 282 Temres, Gloves (

Friday, December 10, 2021

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Nirmal Purja? Project Possible?

Missing this one I have obviously been asleep at the wheel.  This is the most impressive bit of mountaineering I have ever imagined, let alone seen accomplished.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Looking back at Covid?

I had made this post on a FB page April of 2020 with little care and no clue where we would be today.   I found the post gain this morning and like the reminder. 
We aren't totally locked down in Idaho but practicing social distancing is lowering the curve and making a big difference in new numbers. First time out in a month and was able to get in a tortured 18 mile one way ridge line tour. Bad snow so it went a little longer than planned. Skiing is skiing even if you are just walking in knee deep isothermal chit snow that wouldn't support a ski.

I should add this considering the current situation via the virus and 1st Responders. By the time I realized I was going to be really late for my pickup and with no or little phone reception to call this one off I was feeling pretty stupid. It would be an easy run up the ridge line via the road I was following on a snow machine to pick me up if something had gone wrong. Not like post holing has ever caused a sprained knee or an easy slow motion fall hasn't caused a nasty spiral fracture. I am use to getting in over my head and getting out again...knock on wood....but I was feeling pretty chagrin at the thought of having to ask for help to get off an easy ski tour. I was having a hard time imagining what all would have been involved had my ride home decided to call 911 when I was 6 hours late. Some lessons learned and relearned again. Ya'll be careful out there!

Late?  Yes...hours late.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Tifosi Sledge sunglass with CLARION RED FOTOTEC lens?

Common for me to go back and look at a product I really like. Less common of me to go back and buy something again that I really like and to my surprise have been using a lot. 

 We are having an outstanding Fall here. The riding has been exceptional. 

 My general review format is, "did I notice the gear". If I did notice the gear it is likely not such good gear for me. If I didn't notice the gear past, "was actually helping me enjoy the sport", then I am likely impressed. For a few decades Oakley has been my go to sunglass on the bike. 

 I don't like change much so I keep one good pair around to keep me and my eyes happy. The Tifosi Sledge was inexpensive by comparison to any Oakley and silly me, made a lot of judgements on the lens quality and technology just from the price.

 Until wearing the Sledge I just thought of Tifosi and a "cheap" sun glass brand by comparison to a other more well-known glasses. Admittedly really dumb on my part. 

 I really like the huge field of view in the Tifosi Sledge. Reminds of some of the old school Oakleys from the 80s that the Sledge profile (and others now) resemble. I liked it enough on the bike that I went looking for others just so I didn't have to look through the frame of the glass if I didn't want to or was incapable of lifting my head to look ahead on the bike. So much that I bought a couple of cheap pairs with similar frames off Amazon. 

 Silly move there. Lens were OK for the price...but nothing to write here about. My experience is lens are really, really good or they are crap. But the frames...they were no question, crap. Nose piece was killing me on just a 30 minute ride. Ditched them asap. 

 The Tifosi Sledge on the other hand was really comfortable. Even more comfortable than my favorite Oakleys I hold in reserve for the adventure rides. So comfortable I simply don't notice the fit, the frame, the lens, in any condition even after hours on the bike. My better half with a much smaller face seems to agree with me. Impressive to me that one glass can be used by both of us and we are happy with the results. Next up for me?    This glass and skimo soon enough. 


 May be something a little special if you have the need. We bought ours (wife and I) on sale. I really like them a lot. Enough so, to write about them a second time! The lens changes from a cat 1 to a cat 3 lens in a very short amount of time. The Tifosi Fototech is as least as good/fast on lens change as my favorite ski glasses by Julbo.   That is saying something!    Julbos like Oakley also easily cost dbl the retail of the Tifosis.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The list?

 I have seen this before but seems like a better list now that I live 600 miles closer.  But a wonderful story of life in the mountains as well.  Worth a look if you haven't seen it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021



I have no clue if I am anything like other people when it comes to inspiration and imagination.  I do know that as long as I can remember I have admired other athletes for their known skills and likely even more for what they could imagine.  

Early on in my climbing I had read somewhere that one of the great alpine climbers of the 1920 or '30s said, "where there is snow, I can go".  That to me was imagination, as silly as it sounds now.  That quote opened my eyes to what might be possible.  Then as now I do a lot more reading than actual climbing.

But it wasn't long after reading that I went looking for snow to climb.   The quote might well have been from Wilo Wasenbach.


If you have been around the climbing community long enough if becomes pretty obvious it can be a dangerous sport no matter the level you climb at.  The higher the level of your achievements puts you at a higher level of risk.  It doesn't take much research or experience to see that many of the "best" in every generation of alpine climbers don't generally live full lives.  

What I am really thankful for, isn't the technology advances that a good many climbers have brought to the sport but the level of imagination they bring to do things differently.  Making adventures and efforts once thought impossible, eventually common place.  Even if those sorts of efforts were only being done by a very capable few. 

The inspiration you get for free.  And often as not that will still spark my own imagination and give me a goal to aspire too.  It doesn't have to be a cutting-edge goal.  Just a goal.   For that I am grateful. 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Gear geeking and why it can pay off.

Bear with me ;)

10 years ago I came home from the Alps tired and not recovering well.  One of the toys I had to play with trying to stay on top of my efforts and recovery was a polar heart rate watch.  I'd used in in Triathlons and running in general prior.  And I'd used a Mio HR monitor prior to that.

I was lucky enough to be sponsored by Polar for a few seasons and had great faith in the Polar products because of their support.

I am genetically blessed with a resting heart rate of 44 to 46.   So when I couldn't get my heart rate below 60 after any of my efforts in the Apls (and none of them I'd consider BIG efforts) I figured I was just burn out, and needed some time off and a rest.   That as in April.   By June my resting heart rate was still in the low 60s or high 50s.  Still not good enough.   I just kept blowing the discrepancy off to no working hard enough and by mid-summer intentionally being a lot less active.

My annual physical is in Sept. every year   Even my GP thought I was healthy but thought I should see the ENT guy for some swelling on th exterior of my neck.   I was getting concerned as my throat and side of my face's symmetry seemed slightly off.  Enough that I could see it shaving.    Thankfully a Physician Assistant (who had previously been a MD in Russian) knew what he was looking at.  it was bad enough that 48 hrs. later I was in surgery for stage 4 throat cancer. 

I knew there was something wrong.  My resting pulse was sky for me.  I was lucky my cancer was caught before it could go any further or get any bigger.    

Neat thing about the older Mio HR monitors was it didn't need chest strap.  The Polar HR monitors did.  They are a pain to use.  But not enough of a pain to ignore one.  I'm glad I didn't. 

Today?   I bought my wife a Fitbit watch not long ago to help her on her own fitness program.  Turns out she really likes it.  The little watch tracks her steps, her HR and he sleep patterns.   Handy tools all if you wonder why you aren't feeling as healthy as you might.

I found myself a little jealous of a little watch that does so much.   I have my own testing and endurance data going back to the '80s.  And I like making comparisons to a 40 year younger version of me.  Even more so with some of the health issues I've worked through.

Which got me thinking a watch HRM might well be a handy thing.  Might just tell me when i ma stoking out on the side of a hill or the ditch where I fell off my bike :)

So the bike?  (follow along I'll get there eventually) Power meters 10 years ago were very expensive.  I always wanted one to up my training but never had the coin I was willing to drop on one.  Turns out the price has been chopped in half these days and better yet the data is even better.  

Recently I was wanting to rebuild one of my 10 speed Cervelos and though the addition of a power meter would be a fun toy at 1/2 price while doing that.  And it was.  I learned more from 5 ride on a power meter than i had on years training with just a HRM.  Basics is by the time a HRM shows you have blown up you have pretty much toasted the effort for the day.

A power meter can tell you how to ride a fine line and never intentionally blow up if you are paying attention.   I ended up buying a Wahoo Element and a Quarq Power meter.  If nothing else I wanted to see just how different the power of each leg was after breaking my pelvis.  No additional straps and the Element takes care of the rest through a phone app that you can study and apply at home.

Quarq DZero DUB Power Meter Spider | Competitive Cyclist

ELEMNT BOLT GPS Bike Computer Bundle | Wahoo Fitness

I was liking the power meter a lot and learning from it.  It didn't take me long to start thinking GPS tracking of my actual ride would be pretty cool.  But I wasn't interested in another computer upgrade.  I also started thinking a no strap HRM  and  the addition of a I phone might be really handy climbing, running, and swimming.  Might be a few other things I could use it for as well.  I'd seen them from Garmin and Yahoo and thought what a waste of money originally.

I had ended up with a good size credit at my LBS selling my tri bike.  On a lark really, I bought the Yahoo Element Rival watch.

On the best purchases ever for me.   If I had known I'd likely not have bought the power meter.  I am still learning how to run the watch but so far it gives me way more info than I can use at the moment for training and a GPS route of every workout with a lot more useful additional data.      

I like tech tools that surprise me and help me do more with less.   I like knowing exactly how my main machine is working.    The Rival makes that happen.  YMMV.

Wahoo Triathlon Watch | ELEMNT RIVAL GPS Smartwatch | Wahoo Fitness

Not a place I really like to be.....

I've never been on terrain skiing in North America or the little bit in South America where I really thought I need a technical tool in my hand let along on a harness or in a pack.

France?  I can't say that.   Stuff gets skied most every were that would likely scare me bad, put me in a pity party and really wanting a rope.  Just seems to be easier to access and more common in Chamonix for me.    But one thing for sure it is not common need for me.

I used this axe from Camp on a trip of the Classic Haute route from Cham to Zermatt.  It never came out of my pack on the couple of small bits of boot packing we did.

A week later when we skied the Cosmic in hard conditions and I actually did want to rap one more rope length, and needed an extra anchor the aluminum head wasn't my 1st choice for a tool.   But it was what I had.  And it sucked.

A trip the next day to Snells I picked up this one.   This one or better yet a pair of them you can climb ice with.  Pretty much any ice  :)

The old hammer version, and shortest, Petzl Sum'tec.   After a couple of uses I bought two and used them a couple of times instead on Nomics on easy alpine ice that I skied in and out of.   Only down side in the pack is they are heavy.   The weight is a good thing for me when I am scared and trying to set dubious anchors or want a self-belay while I am trying to set dubious anchors.    

I wrote this in Jan of 2017.

Been a while but now we know what was then "new".  I had hoped for Ueli's "mini Nomic" but that is not what we got.  Recently I bought a pair of the Gully tools.  Ace and hammer combo.   Chances are I'll be using them some in March.   FWIW...I bought mine on sale in the off season at $99 per tool.  Having seen now where and how they have been used the last 5 years I hope to be pleased with the purchase.   I have a short trip planned mid-winter specifically just to play with them.  

Any one care to comment on their own set of Gully tools?


Currently $127.50 at

Petzl Gully Ice Axe - Climb (

Thanks Anthony!   Among others Colin, Ueli and Kilian have been standouts for adding new techniques and specialized gear for us all in the last decade and more.   Fun trying to keep up! (with just the gear)

Nomic weights are a perfect fit on the Gully tools.   And an obvious advantage in anything but neve conditions.  

Gully hammer       362g with high rubber wrap and pick weights
Gully  axe             352g with high rubber wrap and pick weights
Sum'tec hammer   496g with full rubber wrap
Nomic hammer     588g  that is bone stock

100g = 3.5oz

Kinda funny when you look closely at all three.  The fly weight.  The other arguably most versatile ice tool to date.   And an old school knuckle dragger tool that will likely get you up and down anything reasonably moderate in the mountains.  Sum'tec reminds me of the Chacal and the Terro before it.  Both were very capable tools on ice and alpine mixed.  No flies on any of the old style three.

And I remember a time when I thought a Nomic was going to be too light.

Winters coming!

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Alien boots for sale?

 I still have a pair of size 29 Alien 1.0s  I'd like to sell.   Still pretty much new.  I used them one long day in Cham.  My feet paid the price.   No booting in them.     Just too narrow for my feet but I sure wish they weren't.  $470 for the boots with a new and spiffy pair of the Lycra gaiters included.   I'll pay the postage in the US.    This could be a real score for some wanting an extremely lwt boot that skis really well. 

What's up?

The last time I wrote seriously here was in 2015/2016.  

I had left Chamonix in the Spring of 16 burnt out and sick.  I had bailed on a 6 week pre paid trip less than 3 weeks in.  Heart breaking for me.  But my heart, soul just weren't into it.  I needed a change in life style.

Buy the Fall of 2016 we had sold our home of 25 years and moved 500 miles south west to the Idaho desert.   No real snow close to speak of ( really Rainier and Alpental were close) and what therefor snow  is goes fast in the Spring.  I am close to the Sawtooths, and the Tetons.  Sun Valley is just up the road.   Haven't been.   And we are close to where I grew up as a kid, or at least closer than the Cascades. 

Moving was wonderful change of place and pace for our family.  The family grew by 5 more horses on the way.  For a total of 6.  The new 5 all under 4 years old then.  Now we ride them all.   We adding acres of hay to nurture, cut and bail twice a year, water to run during the irrigation season, May to November. and horses to feed every day, twice a day.

I got busier than I ever thought possible.  But no skiing, no climbing and not riding any bikes to speak of.  When I was riding it was a horse.  Something I had really missed from being a kid but just never realized how much.

Less than a year later (Spring of 2017)  my wife got in a horse wreck riding in a remote section of the Snake River canyon.  A badly broken the pelvis the result.  A harrowing day followed with a life flight at the end of it.  Two surgeries and a month in the hospital and then months of rehab followed.

Almost  a year to date (Spring of 2018) I broke my pelvis but thankfully not as bad.  And I was "lucky" enough to do it in our arena, a few feet from the back door on our house.  No surgery but again months of rehab.   Tracy likes to refer to it as pay back for not taking better care of her the first time around :)   Truthfully? Knowing what a broke pelvis is like now....I should have been a lot nicer and way more helpful! 

And you thought climbing was dangerous?

Today were are both back on our bikes and running again.  Life is good.   And I feel like writing again with new adventures just around the corner coming up.  

I get an occasional question  here on the blog.  They always surprise me.  I really thought Cold Thistle  would just cease to exist.   I have only ever written about what interested me.  If anyone else found it helpful or entertaining that too generally just surprised me.  Eventually a few folks saw what I was doing and spun their own web and most of them were doing it better with some rational behind it besides "just for fun".  Good for them!

I had a question on skimo race suits today.  Which I actually know very little about.  But I have two of them and I like to use them on occasion.   You can search that topic here but what I have is a Dynafit suit and a Camp suit.  The Camp is 8 years old now and the Dynafit almost 6 I think.  Likely made in the same factory but also slightly different.  Both are good from my limited use.

If I were looking for a new one today I'll head to: Men's Race Suits ( 

They'll answer most any question you can ask and should be able to sort you out quickly.

Race suits are an acquired taste.  But once you try one, you'll likely know pretty quickly if it is for you or not.  The cost seemed a lot of money at the time.  But I've also got a good deal of use out of them and will continue to for some time yet.  Money well spent for me.   If you wear Lycra on a bike you are  probably doomed to own one.  And they look cool on any boot pack :)

So Skis?  Yep I am excited about a new ski that I can find little to no info on.

I have been a big fan of Dynafit since the TLT5.  Most of the skis I do use are still Dynafit.  There are 2 dozen pairs of skis in my shop, many still unmounted.   I just slowed down mounting and testing once I found a couple of skis I really liked and was writing less.   But may be I am just a hoarder?!  I had a chance to go to Las Lenas late summer of 2015.   And lucky enough to snag a pair of early Dynafit Denalis to take along.  I simply loved the ski.  There on a mostly Spring corn or glare ice conditions.    I looked for the ski on sale the next summer and was able to buy a couple of spare pair, cheap.  But still skiing on my original pair that have been drilled twice.  The early word came down that the Denali was breaking and was going to be discontinued and then replaced.  I thought bummer!  At least we'll get another ski like it.  The replacement was called the Dhaulagiri and bright pumpkin orange in color.  

The 176 Denali weighted in at 2# 12oz for one ski.
The 177 Dhaulagiri was @ 3# even for one ski.

Your probably asking, "why do I care?" by now.  You may not but here is why it interests me.

Enter the new Black Light 95.
The Black Light 178 weights in at the same old 2#12oz for one ski  or 1247gr. in my 178cm length.
All these skis are/were '95 plus under foot  I found the Denali and amazing all mountain ski.  Back country, touring, even lift skiing.  Amazing on ice and hard snow.  Good for the width in soft.  I really like it.  And have yet to break a pair.  The  Dhaulagiri is virtually the same ski as the Denali for side cut and rocker, "I think",  but I have yet to ski them.   The plan was I would mount them after I broke my current Denali.  Not happened yet.

The '95 Black light  I have to assume was a replacement for the Denali/Dhaulagiri size touring ski.   It is a slightly different shape and rocker.  And will obviously ski a little longer.  But a 177 aint gonna ski very "long" at any time.   Either way I wanted a pair.  Just wasn't willing  to fork out $750 for the experience.  As I said I have plenty of skis. was running them on sale this week.  $599 for a pair.  I bought in.
The Black Light I'll mount with race bindings and ski hard.   Should be fun to give some feed back once I get them on snow.  

Skis?  I am still looking for the magic ski that rules them all for my purposes :)  The stoke is back!