Indian Creek 101 – Cragging and Gear Beta

16 06 2009

Lizzy and I are from SoCal and by no means Indian Creek locals. However a love for crack climbing has brought us to the creek for a wonderful week of climbing each of the last two years. Over these 15 days spent at the creek we have gained a bit of information that could be helpful to first timers. This is by no means a complete resource but a similar to CragReviews and TripBeta seen on other blogs. If anyone has other useful information please post up a comment. I will be doing a follow up post on good rest days around Moab, UT sometime in the next few weeks (though it took me almost 3 months to finish this post…).

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Sorting cams before going to IC.

Gear

To say that climbing at Indian Creek is gear intensive really misses the point.  The lengthy pitches, eighty to over one hundred and seventy feet, in addition to the the splitter nature of the cracks, require an immense number of cams. We have a pretty large rack by most standards, with at least five or six cams in each size, but we still need to borrow more. So before heading to IC, find as many friends as you can and plead with them to borrow all their cams. Most cracks are dead vertical and do not wander negating the need for quickdraws or slings. Also, the parallel nature of the cracks almost completely eliminates the use of nuts. There are exceptions to both of these rules and beyond hints from the guidebook you will often be able to tell from the ground if you need nuts or slings.  At a minimum you will always want at least 2 quickdraws or a sling since most of the climbs have a bolted anchor.

In 2008 our rack consisted of  four or five of each cam between Lizzy and I and we ended up borrowing around ten more of each size from friends. It was nice to have fifteen of each size but it was really overkill and heavy to boot. There are definitely climbs at Indian Creek that require ten or more cams of single size , such as Bunny Slope, Steve Carruther’s Memorial, and Christmas Tree but for the most most cracks have some variety so you only need six to eight cams of each size. For example, on the classic Supercrack you would bring a few small cams for the start and then around three #2’s, six #3’s and one or two cams in the #3.5 or #4 camalot range. According to the Bloom guide: (1)1.5 (1)2.0 (1)2.5  (2)3.0 (5)3.5

Once you work out having a bin full of cams you need to figure out how the different brands overlap. In a place like Indian Creek, where you have every size of crack, it can be beneficial to own different brands. Sadly our cam of choice, the camalot, does not quite fill all the sizes and in certain cracks the lobes become too tight or tipped out.  We do not have this issue in the smaller sizes since we own many different brands of cams.  The Bloom guidebook attempts to list approximate crack size in inches that directly correlates to the size of Wild Country Friends.  Ill try to do my best to portray our experience with the cams we have used at Indian Creek.

Cam Sizes

Size,   Size according to Bloom/Size in Inches,    Cams listed smallest to largest per that size

Sub Tips 0.10 000 C3, Ballnuts
Tips 0.20 00 C3, Black Alien, 00 Grey TCU, Ballnuts
Tips/Thin Fingers 0.30 0 C3. Blue Alien, 0 Purple Tcu, .2 MicroCamalot
Tight Fingers 0.50 Blue Tcu/Master cam,  Green Alien,  .3 MicroCamalot
Fingers 0.75 Yellow Alien, 2 Yellow Tcu/Mastercam, 2 C3, Grey Alien
Off-Fingers 1.00 Grey Alien, 3 Orange Tcu/Mastercam, .5 Purple Camalot, Red Alien
Stacks/ Thin Hands 1.50 4 Red Master Cam, .75 Green Camalot, 5 Black Master/Power Cam
Thin hands/ Tight hands 2.00 5 Black Master/Power Cam, 1 Red Camalot
Hands 2.50 2 Yellow Camalot, 3 Purple Friend
Wide Hands 3.00 3 Purple Friend, 8 Purple Power Cam, 3 Blue Camalot
Fists 3.50 3 Blue camalot. 3.5 (old) Grey Camalot
Fists/ Off Fists 4.00 3.5 (old) Grey Camalot, 4 Grey Camalot
Offwidth > 4.5 4 (old) Purple Camalot, 5 Purple camalot on up.

So in the chart above I listed few cams in multiple sections which is because of the lack of sub increments in the Bloom guide in the upper sizes.  A 2.5″ crack will fit a #2 camalot perfectly but as that crack approaches 3″ there is a size where it is useful to have a #3 Friend or an 8 Purple Power Cam before you can get in a bomber #3 Camalot. This size is usually labeled 3.0 in the book but sometimes a #3 camalot will fit in a “3.0” crack. The same is true of the Black Master/Power cam which nicely fits in between a .75 camalot and 1.0 camalot. We usually use #1 Camalots when we see 2.0 in the book despite the fact that #1 camalots are closer to 2.25. So if you see a large number of cams in 2.5 and 3.0 or 1.5 and 2.0 it can be good to have one of the previously mentioned in between pieces.

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Gotta have the crash pad for days in Big Bend.

Taping

So there is a lot of ranting about taping your hands when crack climbing. While some attribute tape to aid, others won’t climb without it. In many ways crack climbing can be painful as you torque your hand to fit in a crack since there is no hold to grasp and pull down on. Attempting to fill this void and get your digits to stick can be assisted by tape since it lessens the pain and in some cases makes it easier. Tape can easily change the size of your hands or fingers to allow them to better fit a specific size crack. As well taping helps reduce the amount of wear on your skin and often allows you to twist harder.  The skin on the backs of your hands is important since practically every move of every climb of every day is a jam.  Some may find exceptions with the occasional lay back or face hold but the reason people come to Indian Creek from around the world is the jamming.

For thin hand cracks I usually avoid tape since I need to sink as much of my hand in the crack as possible. However having a few layers of tape or a tape glove can make a hand crack much nicer. The same is true for fist and off-width climbing where tape is essential to the survival of your skin. Tape does allow a climber to be sloppy with their jams and can take away ones feel of the rock. I will tape my index finger and middle finger when doing finger stacks and ring locks to preserve my skin but I tend to climb finger cracks tape free.

At Indian Creek it seems best to start off with too much tape to save your skin while you hone your technique. As one gets more acquainted with each crack size you can decide if taping necessary.

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Lizzy tapes up before the off-fingers Puma.

Shoes!!

The most important part of your shoes is that they allow your toes to lay flat. Tight, knuckle curling shoes with thin fabric should be left at home. Since you will repeatedly be jamming your feet you want your toes to be in a flat position allowing the shoe to get as far in the crack as possible. If you have stronger feet  and are climbing a smaller crack, I would suggest the Mocasyms.  I wear these shoes when climbing anything thin hands or smaller. I prefer a stiffer shoe such as the Sportiva Barracuda for larger cracks. I haven’t gotten Lizzy hooked on the Mocasysms yet so she generally wears her Miura for everything small and Barracudas for hand cracks [yeah, and that’s because Miuras are still the most awesome all-around climbing shoe ever made. period. oh, and also, I only wear La Sportiva. ~Lizzy].

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My moc’s with a bit of Stealth Paint.

One of my experiments for this year was a helping of Stealth pain on my shoes. I was interesting in this product after seeing it on Ethan’s blog. Lizzy picked me up a package at the Five-Ten outlet in Redlands, CA and the night before we left I tried my best to coat my shoes. The kit includes a metal container of ground up bits of Stealth Rubber, a tube of Barge cement and some plastic applicators. I was hoping for a tube of pre-mixed stealth goo but to no avail. I mixed 2 spoonful of glue and 1 spoons of rubber in a disposable bowl. This instantly made a mess and the glue and bits of rubber were hard to mix into a spreadable substance. I mixed in more glue and tried to apply the rubber to my shoes. This did not work and the rubber moved around and did not stick. I applied a base layer of barge cement to the mocs to make sure the surface was nice and sticky and tried again. This worked much better and i was able to get a thick layer of rubber on my shoes. I still had extra rubber (from the 1st spoonful) which I applied to a second pair of mocs without the base layer of barge cement.

The fairly thick rubber on the first pair stayed on through the week of climbing at indian creek. Small holes did rip  as seen above but for the most part I was successful. However the second pair, with out the extra glue, quickly lost the rubber that I had applied. When I try this process again I plan on adding glue to the shoe and then sprinkling the stealth rubber dust directly on the shoe instead of mixing in a bowl. I think this will let me apply a finer layer and it should spread more easily.

Overall I have a got mixed impressions from the application process however once the Stealth Paint was on my shoes I was quite happy. Check out these reviews for proper application techniques.

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Find the Lizard!?! There are at least 10 in this photo.

Weather.

Both of our visits have been in March and we have experienced a range of weather from snow to shirtless climbing. Around Moab the sun is bright and the wind can be quite chilling. It is fairly easy to chase either sun or shade since there are so many different crags at Indian Creek. If there is snow on the ground don’t expect the climbing to be pleasant in the shade. We found this out while trying to warm up on the far left side of battle of the bulge. We were wearing all our layers and were cold in the wind and shade while others were climbing shirtless around just around the corner.

Some crags, such as the Cat Wall have south-facing areas that trap the heat and can feel like an oven. It is best to figure out what time of year you are going before putting together a tick list. It seems that it can get hot as soon as April as you can see in a TR from when some of our friends went in 2008. While the fall and early spring seem like the best temps, many climbers chase the shade all the way through May and into the start of June.

Since all of the rock at IC is sandstone climbing must be avoided at all costs post rain. The rock wears easily due to it’s soft nature and water speeds up this process ten fold. The day it snowed we took a chance to explore some of the mountain bike trails around Moab. This was a fun alternative that was a good adventure despite a chilly breeze.


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MOOOO!  Cows are one of the major inhabitants of the creek 😀

Wildlife

The main non-climbing use of the Indian Creek area is as a cow pasture. Negotiations with the local ranchers are done though the Friends of Indian Creek and the Access Fund. Since many of the crags are accessed through the ranch land make sure to do your part and close all cattle gates. It is important to keep good relations and pay attention to closures both due to the ranchers and bird nesting in the area.

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Why does the deer cross the road? It was the chicken’s day off!

So far we have seen deer on every part of the the 211 from the exit off the 191 all the way past Newspaper rock to the bathroom at Beef Basin Road. Do be careful driving since the deer are often out in herds and are not afraid to cross the road right in front of your vehicle.  Perhaps this is a Utah thing, since we saw herds of deer every day when we drove from Orangeville to the various areas of Joe’s Valley. We think that maybe they need to replace the “Frequent Deer Crossings” signs with something a bit more applicable like “Frequent Deer Herds”.

Food, Water, and Waste

There is no running water or gas stations within 30+ miles of Indian Creek. The closest small town,  Monticello is about 15 miles south of the 211 – 191 intersection or about 30 miles away from the Beef Basin parking lot. Moab is a bit farther away at 40 miles north of the 211 – 191 junction and 55 miles from Beef Basin. Moab has numerous gas stations, a large grocery store, City Market, and many gear shops such as Pagan Mountaineering and GearHeads.

The desert around Moab and Indian Creek is fragile and proper waste disposal is necessary. It is not ok to just dig a hole where ever one chooses. I use paper grocery bags that are cut to about 4 inches tall which allows them to fold closed easily. After doing one’s business simply add some kitty litter deodorizer and put in a ziplock bag. This is a cheap way to make a WAG bag which is used in the video below.  Taking a little bit of extra time to dispose of waste properly helps keep Indian Creek beautiful for years to come!

Have a safe trip!

Luke

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Sweet Gear Review: Patagonia DAS Parka

19 03 2009

I’m a pretty cold person, so I’ve had a down jacket almost as long as I’ve been a climber (got my purple TNF down jacket almost 6 years ago). It’s been pretty useful – lightweight and warm as you would expect from any down jacket. But lately, climbing in cold desert winters (I know I’m a total weather wuss, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve to be warm) has made me long for something a little bit better.

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My TNF Nuptse down jacket

These are the problems with my standard run of the mill down jacket:

  • no hood = I lose a lot of head from my head and I have way too much hair and a weird shaped head so beanies don’t work out so well for me
  • not perfect for belaying – since it’s a “jacket” it only goes down to waist level, so I can’t easily wear it over OR under my harness, which leads to waist-level coldness while belaying
  • the “stash pocket” is not a very good way of storing the jacket for attaching to my pack, so it has a tendency to get really dirty

So, for my improved insulated belay jacket, I was looking for something with a nice roomy hood that could fit over my climbing helmet, a longer length to help keep me warmer, and a belay zipper to facilitate harness compatibility. The Patagonia DAS Parka was on the top of my list from the start because I love Patagonia clothing and the DAS has synthetic insulation so I would still be warm even if I got a little wet (not that that happens often in SoCal, but it’s good to be prepared).

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Testing out the DAS Parka in the snow

I was lucky enough to get a great deal on my DAS Parka – 50% off. I had tried on the XS (the Parka only comes in Men’s for now – do they think women don’t need belay jackets too?) in my local Patagonia store and was pretty happy with how it fit. Sure, it looks a bit big on me, but that means it covers my butt and there’s plenty of room to wear other layers underneath (even my down jacket, but that might be a little ridiculous…).

I got my Parka just in time to get snowed on in December at my parents house in Poulsbo, WA and our bouldering/snowboarding trip to Bishop over New Year’s. In addition to some weekend outings in January and February, the DAS Parka was invaluable on our recent trip to Indian Creek, which featured sunny but windy and chilly weather.

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It’s nice and warm in the snow in Utah, too.

The thing I love about the Parka is that it has just the right features and nothing extra. In addition to the zippered chest pocket that’s perfect for some Shot Bloks or a topo, there are two zippered external handwarmer pockets that are very effective at keeping my hands warm. The jacket has two internal mesh pockets that are perfect for keeping your climbing shoes warm before you climb or storing a waterbottle if its genuinely cold out. There is also elastic to help adjust the hood or tighten the jacket at the hem. The cuffs are elasticized, which I prefer over velcro because it can’t come undone by accident. Finally, the jacket has a water repellant finish and has reinforced patches on the shoulders and elbows. And to top everything off, the Parka comes with a perfectly sized little stuff bag that has been very helpful for stuffing the jacket into when I’m attaching it to my backpack on approaches and descents.

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A cold morning at the Cat Wall

In terms of fit, the hood is warm and fits perfectly over my helmet. There is plenty of room to wear layers underneath, and the 2-way zipper makes it easy to belay while wearing the jacket. As I said, I have the Parka in XS (I’m 5’5″ and around 110 lbs.). I’ve found the insulation to be simply awesome. If the jacket wasn’t streamlined and lacking in little down feathers escaping at the seams, I wouldn’t know that it wasn’t down. It’s lightweight and, like down, keeps me warm when it’s really cold without immediately overheating me when the sun comes out. Plus it’s quite good at keeping out the wind, another invaluable trait in Indian Creek.

Patagonia’s quality is usually great and I have no doubt that I will continue to wear and love my DAS Parka for many years to come.

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Taking a break at Battle of the Bulge

I do have a minor gripe, though. The stuff sack for the Parka is great – very lightweight, but the toggle that came on it was very flimsy. The plastic snapped and became unusable within less than 5 uses of the stuff sack. It was, however, easily replaced.

With spring just around the corner, I know most people won’t be needing the DAS Parka very soon, but it’s not cheap, so if you’re interested, I’d recommend looking around for Parkas on sale for the off-season because you’re unlikely to find them on sale when it starts getting cold next November.

Happy Warm Belaying!





Sweet Gear Review: The Reverso3, The OZ and C3’s

26 02 2009

Wow, its new and shiny, it must be amazing! I am a consumer, I must have it!!

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I try to keep thoughts like these at bay when I read through online reviews or the bi-annual OR gear show reports. Unfortunately I can’t help lusting after the latest and greatest in the outdoor industry. In my free time I read a lot of news and often hear about a product way before it comes to market. I remember 2+ years ago seeing an article about a capillary based fuel delivery system. This product, which sounded beyond cool, became the MSR Reactor. A similar story comes to mind about an ultra narrow camming device that would have longitudinal springs, a first in the industry. This information came from a BD rep and it was just a matter of time before the C3’s came to market. Lizzy was a bit skeptical about the super stiff triggers and I was thrown off by the $70 price tag. Could they really be that good? I could find TCU’s on sale for half the price. A year or so passed and I finally bought the three smallest sizes.

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C3’s, made by Black Diamond, are a well polished three lobe camming unit. They have a plastic body that protects the springs and allows for each lobe to move independently. The smallest sizes, Grey 000, Purple, 00 and Green 0 fit in unique places and fill out the low end of our rack. The 0 is about the same size as a blue Alien / 0 TCU. I recently placed this piece on the crux pitch of cloud tower and it was bomber. The lobes sat nicely in the crack and the strong springs held it securely in place. Climbing the Vampire a month or so ago I had a stunning placement of the 00. It fit in a tiny crack and despite the small lobes it inspired confidence a rare thing for me when making such small placements.

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Since buying these cams back in August they have been my preference for the smaller sizes. I did not buy the finger size ones since they did not seem to provide as much of an advantage. We have finger size aliens and TCU’s that work very well in that range. Also when I used a Yellow #2 C3 in Indian creek it seemed to walk more than the smaller sizes C3’s or a same size Alien.

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When the Reverso3 was released this year Lizzy and I were anxious to get our hands on one. The older style reverse wears dangerously (after a few years of use) and the new design was lighter and came in sweet colors. I feel that having an autoblocking belay device is pretty essential for mult-pitching. My Reverso3 got put through the paces with 17 pitches in the first two days of use. I learned quickly that the device was a bit picky with diameter. Trying to use the autoblock with a fuzzy 10.5 rope proved difficult. Lead belaying on the other hand work perfectly regardless of the diameter. So it should be noted that you want to have a sub 10mm rope if you expect to use the autoblock mode with ease.

The Reverso3 really proved its worth when we were rapping cloud tower. The new friction slots allow for the Reverso3 to really grab thinner ropes. We were rapping with our lead line, a 9.5 mm Ion and the beal 8mm trail line and had no problem controlling our speed. The Reverso did a great job on the 8mm and we saw very little slippage a nice change for me from the previous generation. I was even able to do a single strand rap on the 8mm rope without having to redirect the rope to add friction. Also of note the Reverso still rappels well on larger diameter ropes.

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The last new toy that has become part of the rack is the Black Diamond OZ. This biner weights 28g or one ounce. It is the same basic shape as the Neutrino but with less metal. As a result the OZ is not as strong at 20Kn versus 24Kn for the Neutrino.  The biner handles well and is noticeably lighter than the Neutrino. Our primary use for the OZ is a racking biner for our cams. They sit well and are ok to clip. This past weekend I doubled them up for use as alpine draws and they helped shave a considerable amout of weight. They are not the lightest on the market, bested by the Camp Nano at 23g, the Mammut Moses at 26g and the Dmm Phantom at 27g, but are still well below the average 40g biner. Overall I enjoy using these biners and time will tell in regards to their durability.

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Cheers,

Luke





Sweet Gear: A General Rope Review

22 01 2009

Back in 2001 I bought my first rope a Mammut Tusk at 10mm 50 meter. I had been climbing on partners ropes for the previous year or so and it was time for my own rope. It’s main purpose was short sport climbing so I didn’t mind the 50m length. This rope has aged well and I still use it for occasional top roping or anchor duty. It is a bit fuzzy after almost 8 years of use but I have managed not to get any core shots. Since pitches keep getting longer I doubt I would ever buy a 50 meter rope again.

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Practicing the Portuguese Bowline on Sickle Ledge on The Nose with the Mammut Tusk

My next rope was a Maxim Whippet bought the first year of college at REI. It was the only 70m rope they were selling at the time and it was on sale!! This rope made its way to Australia where I sold it to fund a bouldering trip to New Zealand. During its two years of use it was my main rope, lighter than the Tusk and a joy to use.  It was my first skinny rope, 9.5 mm, even though it was supposedly a bit heavier than average. It wore well and I would have kept it except I was able to sell it for close to what I payed for it and didn’t have to carry it home to the US.

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Lizzy having fun during our short stay on El Capitan

Upon my return I purchased a 60m Mammut Infinity 9.5mm . This rope has been awesome and quite durable. While it is marketed as 9.5 it feels fairly thick and definitely fuzzed up a bit over the years, so it doesn’t feed super fast in a Gri-Gri. Regardless, I enjoy the clipping action and even though we had to cut the ends off, making it only about 155 feet,  I still like using it.  So far this is my favorite rope and at some point I will likely get a new one of the 70 meter variety. It is light enough for a hard redpoint but still durable to last on day of projecting.

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The end of a fun day in Squamish with the Infinity.

Around the same time I got the Infinity I picked up a pair of Beal Verdon II double ropes. At 9mm and 60 meters they were perfect for taking multiple followers on trips to the Gunks. These are a bit heavy for doubles but have worked well during their limited use. Lizzy and I used only one of these ropes as a superlight way to simul Royal Arches and Cathedral Peak. The use as a fast and light single as well as a lighter rap line adds value to these two ropes. I would not purchase such a thick set of doubles again but would consier the Beal Ice Line 8.1 mm orthe Petzl Dragonfly 8.2 mm.  I have used my friend Hartley’s Ice Lines and they are quite thin and light, though not as durable as our current doubles.

n3802675_31410505_8253Coiling the doubles on Solar Slab in Red Rocks.

Also in 2006 I got a Beal 8mm by 60m static trail line that I use for rappeling.  Initially purchased for aid climbing I worried about its long term durability. This rope was super light (40 g per meter) and went up many multipitches before it got stuck on Cloud Tower (Red Rocks)  in October of 2008. It was the perfect small rope for stashing in the pack for when one needed to do double rope rappels.

yosemite-june-07-252Lizzy is ready with the Beal Verdon II after a fun trip up Cathedral Peak.

Also in college I got another Mammut Tusk this time in a 60m length. We found this rope at the RRG and after multiple postings at Miguels it came home with me. Wary of a used rope this has been relegated to TR and Aid climbing duty.  It has seen use and spends most of its life in our rope box.

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Enjoying the 70m Petzl Fuse at Suicide Rock.

After graduating college I was anxious to get a 70meter rope again and bought the 9.4 mm Petzl Fuse. This rope was excellent until it got a core shot in the middle while descending the Incredible Hulk. We got super lucky because while we were unable to retrieve the cord, we ran into another party who hiked it down and I was able to pick it up at the Bridgeport ranger station. Fortunately I was able to salvage the pieces of the Petzl rope and kept the two parts since the rope was  still fairly new. I use the shorter section for a lead rope at the gym and the ~35 meter piece is perfect for short sport climbs such as our recent trip the Gallery in Red Rocks.

One of my ropes came to me by chance when I won a Sterling Marathon Pro 10.2 Bi-Color 60meter rope. This is the thickest rope I own and it shows. It however has been a great workhorse and accompanied me on my first 12c redpoint. Lizzy doesn’t like this rope at all and with a dry coating it is quite dirty but it has worn well despite constant use as a TR rope. It feeds ok through the Gri-Gri, mainly due to its slick dry coated sheath which is slowly becoming fuzzy. I wouldn’t buy such a thick rope but it impressed me enough with Sterling to buy one of their thinner ropes.

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The already fuzzy BlueWater static line with the frog we found on El Capitan.

After chopping the Petzl rope in half I was again in need of a 70m rope. I purchased a Sterling Ion at 9.5 mm and have only used it a few times. The main disappointment was the lacking middle mark. However it runs smoothly and clips well. It is quite small and feeds fast through the Gri-Gri. You have to be a bit careful lowering which is similar to the Petzl Fuze. Once this rope gets a few more pitches I will report back on it’s durability.

We also own a Bluewater static haul line that I bought for a trip to Yosemite. During the short time on the Nose, we bailed from Sickle, it showed alarming wear. As well the rope was super stiff and did not handle well. This along with some experiences with Bucknell Climbing Club ropes in college, makes me stay away from Blue Water.

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Lizzy and Rebecca and a pretty pink Beal rope at Rumney

Lizzy has a pink 60m  Beal Flyer II which is 10.2 but feels really skinny, more like a 9.8.  Lizzy loves it for its soft catch, even though I think it is too stretchy. It handles well but kinks easily due to it’s supple nature. She has had it for many years and I am anxious to turn it into a RUG…

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The well loved Edelrid LiveWire

Lizzy also has an  Edelrid Livewire. 70 meter 9.8. This rope has been our long route work horse and has taken a lot of abuse since Lizzy bought it back in 2006. Despite being fairly cheap at REI this rope has held out really well and cleaned up nicely after we washed it. It is still the go to rope for the 100+ foot pitches at the Riverside Quarry. Between this rope and a 10mm Edelrid of Leah’s (I think its a Hawk) that I used I have respect for the durability and handling of the brand. Even though it is getting old I hope that we won’t have to retire it any time soon.

Overall I think my ranking is as follows:  (Top being the best, in my opinion)

Mammut – Clips well and last a long time.
Petzl – A bit on the stiff side but handles and wears well.
Sterling –  Soft and a bit kinky but durable.
Edelrid – Feeds and clips well and stands up to abuse.
Maxim – Heavier than average but clips well.
Beal – Too stretchy and seems to fuzz easily.
PMI – A bit slippery but clips well.
BlueWater – Heavy and not very durable.

Cheers,

Luke





Sweet Gear: Coming Soon!

21 01 2009

Between holiday gifts and sales, I realized I have a ton of new gear to test out in the next couple months. A lot of it is relatively new, so keep an eye out for some upcoming reviews if you’re considering any of these items:

Mountain Hardwear Women’s Cloud Rest 5° Sleeping Bag – this is my new down sleeping bag. It’s not warmer than my older sleeping bag, but it is much lighter and is actually the right size.

Mountain Hardwear Cima Mitt – I needed some mittens for cold days climbing and snowboarding. These have some really good features and some not-so-good features. Stay tuned for more info.

Patagonia DAS Parka – This is my new warm jacket. Not that I’m getting rid of my down jacket, but this is way better. It’s built to be a belay jacket and the hood keeps my head warm. 🙂

Arc’teryx R280 Women’s Harness – Luke got me this sweet new harness for Christmas. All I can tell you so far is that I definitely forgot that I was wearing it.

La Sportiva Miura VS – I think Miuras are probably the best all around climbing shoe there is. I was very excited to try these tweaked Miuras, but due to my lame chest injury (which is still not better) I haven’t gotten to use them too much yet.

Camp USA Women’s Armour Helmet – Just got this on sale (screaming deal) at REI. My old helmet was not the most comfortable, so we’ll see how this one works out.

PMI 9.7mm Arete 60m Standard Rope – this rope was recently on sale at REI. I haven’t had a non-dry rope in a while and my beloved pink rope is probably nearing retirement age.

Also look for a couple of reviews from Luke pretty soon. If you are interested in any of the items and want to know about them (or tell me about them) feel free to comment.

Lizzy





Sweet Gear Review: Patagonia R1 Flash Pullover

3 11 2008

Luke and I love gear. Luke’s favorite is probably shoes (he has 5 pairs of Miuras…) And the gear I love the most is outerwear. I’d like to blame it on growing up in the Pacific Northwest, where your most important clothing asset was not your sexy clothing, but your “technical” outerwear. There was a time in my life where I worried that I was not cool because I didn’t own a TNF Denali jacket (you know, to wear with jeans and a hoody underneath). I now realize that I was more cool because I got a custom-made BeyondFleece jacket instead.

But on to the main point of this post.

I first came across the Patagonia R1Flash Pullover on my second summer of youth climbing trips with Northwest Mountain School (run by my friends John and Olivia). My friend Alex had one that seemed like the perfect layer for our adventures, which involved sport climbing in Smith Rock, alpine rock climbing at Washington Pass, and checking out the Smoke Jumper base near Winthrop, WA. Upon returning home, I immediately went to REI and tried on a Women’s XS. I was bitterly disappointed. It did not fit well for base layer, being baggy and strangely shaped.

Lizzy, Alex, and our awesome guide Matt Farmer at Washington Pass. Alex is wearing the coveted R1.

Despite my disappointment, I came back to the R1 after a couple years of cooling off from my disappointment. I spent the summer after my freshman year in college living in John and Olivia’s awesome house in Leavenworth and theoretically working for Northwest Mountain School. As an employee, I got to take advantage of NMS’s sponsorship by Patagonia and ordered one to try out. Women’s XS in green. This time, Patagonia got it right. The fit was perfect and I began using it immediately. In fact, Luke and I think that I may have worn my R1 on every single multipitch climb I’ve done since buying it, which is a real testament to its usefulness and ability to adapt to lots of different environments. I loved it so much, I now have 2 (green and blue). Luke also has one, which he loves, although maybe not as much as me because I am much better at being cold all the time.

squamish-sept-07-040Wearing the trusty R1 on one of my favorite routes, Diedre, in Squamish.

So here’s the story: The R1 Flash pullover is a great base layer. It’s excellent at regulating body heat (which is why it’s part of the “Regulator” series, I suppose) – it keeps me warm when I’m cold and it doesn’t make me sweat when I warm up a little. It has a 1/2 zip on the front that helps me cool down and I can pull the sleeves up to my elbows when I have to do a little crack climbing. It also has a small chest pocket where I can put some Shot Bloks or a topo. It has a soft waffled texture on the inside that feels nice on my skin. I often end up wearing it as my next to skin layer after I’ve gotten my t-shirt a bit wet from sweating on the approach hike. Plus, its fit isn’t too tight that I’m uncomfortable, but easily goes underneath plenty of other layers like fleeces, down jackets, shells, etc. and fits nicely underneath my harness.

yosemite-june-07-265R1s and Peachy-O’s in Tuolumne. I know, we’re pretty cute.

The punchline? Among the many (and yes, it is quite a lot) of jackets that I currently owned (or have ever owned), the R1 Flash Pullover is absolutely the most useful piece of outerwear that I have. Without it, I’d probably do a lot more shivering. The $115 price tag might seem a little much, but in my opinion it’s well worth the years of valuable use that I receive.

Lizzy





Pre-Trip Report, Going to the Sierras

29 08 2008

As Lizzy has already posted, she will be gone for the next three weeks leaving me scrambling to find climbing partners. Since moving to California last June Lizzy has been my main climbing partner and we try to climb just about every weekend. Sometime school intervenes or the California winter throws a bit of rain our way but usually we get to climb together a lot.

This steady outdoor climbing partnership contrasts greatly to climbing at the gym. With each new place I have climbed it has taken a while to find my place in the community. In San Diego I have made my way through a few different partners and in recent months have finally started climbing and training regularly with one of the guys at the gym.  Stein has proved to be a great partner and we have just started climbin outside togeather. With more years of expereince he is helping me move past my falling fears and is training me to become a quarrymaster.

This weekend, however, I am leaving my project behind at the quarry (hopefully it wont go anywhere) and heading up to Tuolumne and the Sierras for a bit of trad climbing.  While I really want to send Control Freak, since I have done all the moves and can climb the route in two sections, it will be nice to do a bit of easier climbing. It will be good for my fingers and elbows to not have to pull so hard and hopefully I wont suffer too much with all the hiking.

We are driving up today, as soon as Konstantin can get off work, and camping in Tuolumne. Tomorrow morning we will try for a speedy ascent of the Third Pillar of Dana, via the regular route. Time dependant we will hike into the Incredible Hulk Saturday night and collapse in an exhausted heap at the base. Sunday, hopefully with the hiking complete, will be a long day on the Red Dihedral. Finally we will hike out and drive back on Monday, some how if we are not still tired we may attempt to do the first continuous ascent of a new route a few of the guys over at pullharder established on Lone Pine Peak. The money pitch sports 15 hand drilled bolts protecting a glorious 200 foot long dike.

In other news Patagonia has just gone live with a new video and photography site called Tin Shed to honor its predecessor, the Chouinard Equipment Company. A list of videos can be found here and thanks to Dougald MacDonald for the heads up.

Also in the works should be a review of the Black Diamond C3’s. While Lizzy and I have a preference for Aliens, EMS had C3’s on sale and with free shipping so I picked up the three smallest sizes 000, 00 and 0. These represent blue alien size and below. I had heard mixed reviews of the smaller ultralight TCU’s including a story of some broken units from an old Sonnie Trotter blog so I am hesitant to buy them. As well the smaller sized master cams are only just becoming available which is sad since they place well, though they can be difficult to remove.

I will try to keep updating the blog although there will be less content and photos with Lizzy and her camera away from the internet in the hills outside of Bishop.

Cheers,

Luke