Gear review

Climbing the Midi-Plan Traverse

My partner was sick yesterday so I went out on a solo mission and wanted to see some new terrain. Not knowing exactly what I was going to get into I packed my Deuter Speed Lite 20 and took off for the Aiguille du Midi. After leaving the Midi I could see the Aiguille du Plan and it seemed the obvious choice for an outing but I knew nothing about the route. In my Speed Lite 20 pack I brought a 7.5mm tag line if I needed to rappel, a half liter of water, one GU, my Petzl Altitude harness, my Reverso, Sarken crampons, a sling and locking carabiner, and my La Sportiva Hail Jacket. So I was definitely...

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Deuter Guide Lite 32 Review

The Deuter Guide Lite 32 With summer season in full swing here at Fox Mountain Guides we are putting gear to the test. One piece of gear that our guides use daily is the Deuter Guide Lite 32+. This pack is a lighter version of the guide series packs due to the ripstop nylon and Duratex Lite fabrics that are used. This makes it a great pack to save weight for bigger climbs as well as keep your knees healthy all season long. I have personally put the pack to the test this season on the rock as well as skiing some volcanoes in the Northwest. The pack has held up exceptionally well and seems...

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Life, on the road, in my house…

  In 2011 I moved out of my Subaru and into a Toyota Tacoma Double cab truck with a Four Wheel camper. The Subaru was great, but eventually you kinda want a bed. I was spending 50 to 80 nights a year in my car and was doing this in every season as well as needed off road capabilities for those long approach desert rock climbs. I had a look around for what the best options were, Sprinters, Sportsmobiles and truck campers and came to the conclusion that 4 wheel drive is a must and it had to be an everyday driver. What fit the bill, the Four Wheel camper on a Double Cab, Long Bed Toyota...

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La Sportiva Swing Sandal “review”

The perfect summer approach shoe I just got done testing out one of the best summer approach shoes I have ever worn. The La Sportiva Swing offers exceptional comfort. Your feet feel free in them, and the leather is placed perfectly to allow maximum breath-ability. This helps keep the odor down and also helps keep your feet dry, which is important since they are not GoreTex. The bottoms have FriXion rubber, which the website says is “for everything.” I couldn’t agree more: they hook up on the sandy, muddy, and rocky approaches and still handle smears on the overhanging rock. They have a great...

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Footwear Choices in the Alps

As I got ready for the Alps I inquired to some friends who were already there as to what boots would be appropriate for the conditions this season. There has been quite bad weather and much more snow than is typical has fallen this summer. Most of the recommendations I received were that the “red boots” would be too cold and I should instead go with a Batura to stay warm. Having recently upgraded from the Trango GTX to the Trango Cube, I really wanted to try the boot out, so I brought both. On our first afternoon up the Aiguille du Midi we did a small glacier stroll over to the Cosmiques...

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iPhone as a GPS or a “Standalone” GPS?

After a few seasons in the mountains with my iPhone as my GPS, it was finally drawn to the real test. Full storm conditions on Mt. Rainier on a route I have never been on. There was never visibility farther than 20 meters and most of the time it was hard to see your hand in front of your face. The storm was wet so everything was riming and as we moved uphill we would start to sweat and the phone would condense with dripping water coming off it before it would start to freeze. I didn't take too many pictures as the situation was waning of its fun and started to be more serious. I will stay out of the technical...

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La Sportiva Batura 2.0 GTX

My time in New Hampshire is fading fast as Fox Mountain Guides NH Ice trip comes to an end. This year we have seen quite the swing in temperatures from 51°F to -10°F. I have been in my La Sportiva Batura 2.0 GTX every day for work or play! This year I have had two different clients on this trip alone buy the Batura 2.0 and be way psyched on them. I have had all three generations of the boot, and the Batura 2.0 GTX is the ringer! It weighs in significantly lighter than its predecessor at 1.8 pounds total. As we all know pounds off our feet in the mountains make the summits that much sweeter! Even...

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BlueWater 9.1 Icon

Icon 9.1 BlueWater Rope Review     Check out the Icon 9.1 here: www.bluewaterropes.com

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Keeping Your Feet Healthy

I remember coming off an alpine day about four years ago and wondering if I would be able to keep climbing due to the pain in my feet. I went to a foot doctor and told him I was having problems but refrained from telling him my profession until he briefed me with the diagnosis. The treatment: wear loose shoes, nothing to tight and make sure to have flexible bottoms. I then told them the problem... "My job requires me to shove my size 43 feet into 40.5 shoes and then stand on small little edges or walk miles to some remote place in shoes that have a very stiff sole as to support the spikes that...

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The Locking Quick Draw

      After seeing several guides in the Tetons this summer using a locking quickdraw in various applications, I started testing it out for myself and have made a video showing its utility. I have found it to be not only extremely useful, but also a huge time-saver in several situations. For example, there are times when I prefer to extend the master point of my anchor to achieve some separation between the munter hitch I am belaying from and the clove hitch I am tied in with. Similarly, when I am doing a belayed rappel, I find it useful to have the rappel carabiner...

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Ibex Breakaway Hoodie

As fall approaches, temperatures get cooler, the leaves start to change, and we start to put on more clothing. I have been testing the Ibex Breakaway Hoody all year and it has finally come to the market! I love this piece for climbing as well as hanging out after a long day in the mountains. I started wearing this jacket during the ice season last year. It is great for ice climbing with its Schoeller® Wool stretch woven fabric and articulated elbows. The jacket also performed well in the Tetons during cool summer nights at high camp and frigid mornings heading up the Grand. The fabric held...

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Repairs…

If you spend a lot of time in the mountains (and traveling the country in your truck), you get really good at repairing things on the fly. McNett makes products that have become essential for carrying in the backcountry and have proven equally useful in the "front country." I was driving down a backcountry road in my truck the other day, and one of the batteries in my camper busted the hinge to the compartment door that they are stored in. I also have been needing to repair my LaSportiva Gandas as I have put close to 60 mountain days on these great shoes and want to extend their life before...

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Deuter Guide 35+ pack Review and Tips

The Deuter Guide 35+ pack has been a go-everywhere, hold-everything, take-anything-I put-it-through pack. Deuter has been making packs since the 1800's, and they are built German tough with nothing held back. I have used this pack for everything from guiding winter Sierra summits to putting up first ascents in Armenia to cragging in the Red River Gorge and just got off the Cathedral Traverse in the Tetons with it yesterday. Over 400 days of mountain use later, not a single thing has broken on this pack! The only thing that even had wear was a pull string for the lid, and all that happened there...

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Sizing for Climbing Shoes

"What size climbing shoes should I get?" "How should my climbing shoes fit?" "How do you size your approach shoes?" These are common questions about the sizing and fit of climbing shoes that I hear all the time. I put together a video answering some of these questions. Remember, climbing is supposed to be fun; pain isn't fun. Buy shoes that fit and feel good, and you WILL climb harder!  

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The Best Camera to Carry

Shooting photography has become a passion of mine over the last few years. I have lots of equipment that cost too much money, yet which camera do I always have on me and find myself constantly relying on? My iPhone! So I have delved more and more into shooting and editing with the iPhone. I use various applications to edit, but I still just use the built-in camera for shooting in all cases but one, which I will talk about later. I've learned a couple of useful techniques for shooting photos with an iPhone. First,  the "shutter" takes when you release your finger from the screen, as opposed...

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The Solution

I have been climbing in the Red River Gorge for the last few days and have been noticing the humidity rising with the warmer temps. This equates to slimy holds, slick feet, and well... not sending. The solution: La Sportiva Solutions. Though marketed as a bouldering shoe, the Solution's sticky rubber wants to hold you onto the wall whether you are 10 feet off the ground or 50. I had worked a few 5.12s and was not having any luck fighting the pump on  the steep overhaning sandstone that the Red so readily throws in your face. So I threw on a pair of Solutions and onsited the very next climb. Today...

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Why Wool Works

I am not sure when we deviated from using wool in the outdoors. Many of the ancient mountaineering pictures we see have old, hard men wearing their wool sweaters and knickers. So why are we all wearing synthetics? Maybe to keep away the crowds from the horrible body odor emitting from our capilene'd pores. Or maybe it is just marketing... I have been using wool for the last few years in the mountains and now try to wear nothing other than this amazing natural material. Some folks think they are allergic to wool, disapproving of it's 'itchy' quality, like grandpa's old sweater. In reality,...

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La Sportiva TC Pro

After slipping this shoe on well over a year ago, I haven't found anything that can perform and be as comfortable. La Sportiva markets this shoe as a technical face and crack climbing shoe. They are right on, but I have found it to perform well on harder sport routes as well as the longer crack climbs that everyone raves about this shoe on. I have been climbing in the Owen's River Gorge on my days off from guiding alpine objectives in the Sierra this last month. The only rock shoes I brought with me on this trip were the TC Pros. You can see I am trying to stay with the "trad ethic" in this...

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Deuter Speedlite 20

The new Speedlite pack by Deuter is living up to its name. While built for fast and light adventures, the pack is loaded with features. I especially like the rear pocket that is almost not noticeable. It carries a small micro-puff coat very well, which came in handy when climbing last week in suboptimal conditions in the Utah desert. The compression straps on the pack keep it very slim when not fully loaded. After wearing it through a few chimneys, the pack held up very well, and I hardly noticed that it was there. Deuter says the pack has a 15 lb load capacity. I put this to the limit with...

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Petzl GriGri 2

I have been using the GriGri for many years in my guiding as well as my personal climbing pursuits. It was a game changer when it came out. Now that Petzl GriGri 2 has come out, it seems to be a game changer as well. It is 25% smaller and 20% lighter than the original GriGri. This has made me not even think twice on carrying it in multi-pitch terrain. It preforms great for lead belaying as well as for belaying off top anchors. Descending is still tricky even with small ropes. The Frieno carabiner works well for this with its friction spur to add a little grab without burning those hands. There...

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