The key to keeping a layering system light for alpine climbing is keeping the ratio of shell weight/insulation low, in other words, the maximum amount of insulation with the least amount of shell.
One way this can be achieved is by having fewer layers - a big down jacket and a small down jacket have a similar shell weight but one has far more insulation. Wearing a lot of layers with shells also reduces breathability.
However, having fewer layers comes at the cost of versatility - you are always either cold, or sweating.
In the saturated and expensive market of high-tech sneakers for climbers, called ‘approach shoes,’ one model has for several years stood out in terms of durability and utility. In partnership with Bobo Products, the New Zealand importer of Salewa, I recently got my hands (or feet) on some new Salewa Mountain Trainer IIs. Not that I needed to: my 5 year old pair still looks almost new, despite considerable abuse. Nevertheless, the new model has received a few upgrades and improvements, and at the outset of this review I’ll simply say that they are great (you can stop reading now if you wish).
In search of a lightweight set of half ropes, I have recently been testing out the Tendon Master 7.8mm ropes. I have used them on recent climbs in the European Alps such as the long north faces of Dent Blanche, Aiguille du Jardin, and water-ice climbing in the Haute-Maurienne, and I found them to perform excellently on these particular climbs. If you are looking for a new light, compact double rope setup, read on.
The size and weight of your pack can have almost as much impact of your chances of success on a climb as your level of fitness and skill.
In this review Jaz Morris discusses what he's learnt about different models of offset cams during a long season trad climbing on North American granite. We couldn't find any comparison reviews on the internet so we hope this will fill a bit of a gap!
I have been using Jet Boil stoves for over 12 years. During this time, I have used most of the common models starting with the Zip, Flash, Mino Mo, Joule, Sol Ti and most recently the Micro Mo. As a member of the New Zealand Alpine Team I am lucky enough to get the latest models as part of our sponsorship agreement with Jet Boil. Jet Boil is the stove I have chosen to use long before we had any form of sponsorship from Jet Boil and it would still be my first choice of stove if I had to go and buy a new one in the future.
Salewa produce a wide range of mountain footwear, and one of their specialities is approach shoe footwear. Over the past year, Gemma, Alastair and David have each been trialling a different approach shoe in Salewa's range, each excelling at a different level of ruggedness in the alpine continuum. Gemma has been using the Salewa Mountainer Trainer for big walling in Yosemite, Alastair has been using the Salewa Firetail Evo for long approaches around Mount Cook and Patagonia, and David has been using the Salewa for trail running and less rugged approaches in the Arthurs Pass area.
All of us in the NZAT were stoked to partner with Julbo NZ recently, and as a result of that partnership we've each been given a pair of Julbo's latest sunnies to try out. Personally, I chose the Shield glasses, which have Julbo's top-of-the-line Chameleon lenses - polarised, antifogging and photochromic ('cat. 2' to 'cat. 4').
Macpac Pulsar Plus concept by – Daniel Joll , review by Matthew Scholes
I was sitting in El Chalten, Patagonia, with Kim Ladiges after a successful but particularly wet and cold ascent of the Ragni route on Cerro Torre. In total we were out for six cold and wet days. Often sleeping in our tent on top of a bed of water. We were talking over our ideas for the perfect synthetic belay jacket. Something that would perform well in cold, damp environments and also had a technical cut allowing you to easily climb while wearing it. We used the Pulsar, but felt we wanted something a bit beefier for cold conditions. The concept for the Pulsar Plus was born from this conversation.
There are many alpine rock routes including technical rock climbing, that you want to change into rock shoes for, that you need to carry the shoes you approach in. This is the category this shoe works brilliantly in, that I call approach shoes. Low weight is key here, you don't want to lug your old heavy leather tramping boots up a hard pitch, but they also need to be robust enough to handle a scrambling approach or scree descent that might rip a pair of light fabric trainers to shreds. The Firetail is my favourite shoe in this category. They were light enough to carry up a hard pitch of a new route at Cloudy Peak, robust enough to handle the long scree descent.