Category Archives: Climbing Equipment

Gear Review: FiveTen Anasazi High-Top Climbing Shoe

When FiveTen and Dean Potter went to work making a shoe to crank twenty pitches a day in, they came up with the Anasazi Hi-Top. A stiffer, more plush climbing shoe meant to soothe your aching feet as you stuff them deep into whatever crack system you are scaling in Yosemite. Fortunately, climbing shoes designed for granite are awesome in sandstone as well. The Anasazi Hi-Top fits the bill for an all-around desert shoe. It’s stiff, sticky, comfortable, and sized correctly, based on a last Chris McNamara calls his “cheating shoe.” But most importantly, it covers your ankles. Anyone at Indian Creek, Zion, or Red Rocks will tell you ankles bones are only to make you suffer more as you stuff your feet as deeply as possible into whatever crack you are ascending. That only sightly protuberant part of your ankle is constantly grinding into the lip of the crack. It’s not fun, you get a bloody spot that eventually scabs over only be cracked and ground bloody again and again. Hi-tops are an obvious solution to this problem.Most people will tell you you need to rush out and buy a pair of TC Pros from La Sportiva, almost universally held up as … Continue reading

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Gear Review: Petzl Ange Carabiner Nails Clean Nose Design

In the midst of a long climbing trip, climbers have a special event called Rest Day, a break from a week of leisure to pursue an entire day of deeper leisure. Writing this blog allows me to salvage some sense of accomplishment from this particular Rest Day. I can only sit by a pool, read a book, eat, and surf the internet for  so long. I have been climbing in El Potrero Chico, Mexico for the past five days and my fingertips are so raw it hurts to wash my hair, let alone grab onto sharp limestone edges and do anything resembling a pull up. I can, however, review the Petzl Ange carabiner. The Petzl Ange is commerically available in small (S) and large (L) versions, but we have been using only the Ange L. So, here goes… The idea of a”clean-nose” carabiner may not seem like a big deal, but sometimes snagging a ‘biner while clipping can make the difference between falling and sending. Since clean-nose solid-gate carabiners were released over a decade ago, carabiners have improved very little. Lightweight wire-gate ‘biners have replaced the solid-gate, but most wire-gates sacrificed functionality for weight, and reverted to the hooked gate. Several … Continue reading

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Gear Review: Totem Basic Cam Improves on CCH Aliens

When the Spanish climbing company Totem announced their intention to begin producing a cam based on the classic CCH Alien I was excited about everything but the name. Perhaps marketing is done differently in Spain, but here in the ‘ol US of A, companies go to great lengths to come up with cool names, flashy packaging, and sex appeal for their new products. Totem, however, went with “Basic Cam,” a name that would avoid drawing any special attention to their new product. It is like they are telling us, “Basically, this cam has some springs and cam lobes. It is nothing special, and it is used for crack climbing. Buy it if you feel like, it is the one called ‘basic cam’…” Well, I can believe they are so confident about their craftsmanship that the cam will sell itself. Without wasting time and money on marketing, maybe they can make this a profitable venture by sending them out to people like me, who are so excited about new equipment that we can do some marketing for them. Dang, maybe the Spanish know more about marketing than I give them credit for. So here it is, glamour shots, glowing review, and … Continue reading

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CCH Alien Cams – Coming Soon

I had a bunch of equipment and personal items stolen from my car while I was out climbing in St. George yesterday. It was a fairly upsetting experience, and without going into it too much, I have yet another opportunity to grow and to let go. I am reminded of a question asked about another upsetting experience this year. A co-worker asked, “Is it a problem or an opportunity?” His words echo in my head today and have helped me step back and find a new perspective. So, I have the opportunity to buy a bunch of new climbing equipment. In the midst of researching climbing gear I stumbled upon some information regarding CCH Alien Cams. These have been indispensable parts of my climbing rack, especially for aid climbing. For the past two years I have babied my few Aliens, because they are no longer in production. Well, I discovered today that Aliens are BACK. This discovery is very exciting for a climbing nerd like me. For a minute I forgot that I was preparing to spend a thousand dollars on new climbing gear. Anyhow, Aliens are set to be released by two European companies, Fixe-Fader and Totem. Both are … Continue reading

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Polyester vs. Nylon Ropes – Which Absorb More Water?

How much water does a rope absorb? It has always seemed that polyester ropes hold less than nylon ropes, but is this actually true? How big is that difference? I decided to find out yesterday… Rope Water Absorption Test – July 13, 2011 Test Method: At least 30m of a particular rope is coiled, weighed, then immersed in a cooler full of water, and held under by weights, for one hour (+10 min, – 0 min). The rope is removed and hung in the air for 10 minutes (+1 min, – 0 min), then weighed again “wet.” The two weights are compared. Conditions: Summer conditions (85 deg F air temp, low humidity, no wind). Water at faucet temperature. Test Samples: I tested three samples: 1. Nylon climbing rope: Beal Joker 9.1mm x 60m dynamic climbing rope, lightly used (about 20 pitches), in good shape. “Standard” treatment on this rope is DryCore. 2. Polyester canyoneering rope: Imlay 8.3mm Canyon Fire x 40m static canyon rope, lightly used (about 40 rappels), in good shape. 3. Polyester canyoneering rope: Imlay 9.2mm Canyonero x 60m static canyon rope, brand new. Results: – The used climbing rope absorbed 42.4% of its weight in water. – … Continue reading

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Petzl Recalls GriGri 2 for Release Lever Problem

In February, Calvin reviewed the GriGri 2, awarding flying colors to the new-and-improved belay standard. Now, Petzl has issued a recall on GriGri 2 belay devices with serial numbers between 10326 and 11136. Here is the recall information: Petzl has discovered that exerting excessive force on the fully extended handle of the GRIGRI 2 can cause internal damage, such that the GRIGRI 2 handle may become stuck in the open position. When the handle is stuck in this position the assisted braking function is disabled. A damaged GRIGRI 2 in this configuration will function similarly to a manual belay device (e.g. tube style device). When using a damaged GRIGRI 2 with the handle stuck in the position as shown in Figure 1, failure to control the braking side of the rope will increase the risk of an uncontrolled descent. A GRIGRI 2 with a damaged handle must be immediately retired from service. Read the complete recall details on Petzl’s website. Sounds like even though the problem is serious, it should not directly cause problems for anyone belaying correctly, holding onto the brake line in addition to using the release lever. Still, a jammed lever could surprise you and cause something unexpected to happen with your … Continue reading

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Climbing Gear Review: GriGri 2

Twenty years ago Petzl introduced the original GriGri with this simple, tongue-in-cheek ad campaign: For the best belay job you’ve ever had, Call 1-800-555-0100 Ask for Grigri GriGri has been giving amazing belay jobs for years now, and all my friends know it. For hang-dogging on climbing projects, multi-tasking on big wall aid climbs, or hanging from the anchor at a top-managed belay, the GriGri is my go-to belay device. It provides unmatched utility, comfort, and options for belaying. But the smooth, easy pleasure only Grigri can provide just got better. I’m talking, of course, about Petzl’s new assisted braking belay device, the GriGri 2. The design is 25% smaller than the original, 20% lighter, accepts a broader range of rope diameters (8.9mm – 11mm), and features a “progressive descent control lever”. I picked up the new GriGri 2 about a month ago and have been putting it through rigorous testing. I have used it for several days of cragging, long multi-pitch climbs, ice climbing, and some single-rope rappelling. Through a wide range of rope diameters -skinny rope (9.2mm) to fat (10.2mm) – I’ve seen no significant difference in action. The GriGri 2 feels good in my hand. It still feels substantial … Continue reading

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Finding the Right Cord: Climbing Rope Review

The author, geared up for another day of playing with ropes. It is time for another Climbing Gear Review, and in this installment I’ll focus on the backbone of any climbing system – ROPE. As our direct connection point and lifeline, it’s worth considering the vast options before dropping a couple hundred dollars on a new cord. Rope Longevity, Inspection, and Care First, a word about rope life. Except in extreme circumstances, modern ropes do not fail. Ropes only fail when they are cut by sharp rocks or knives, bathed in cat pee or battery acid, or when they’re used for canyoneering (haha). So, when your rope starts to get fuzzy, don’t worry, it is unlikely it would break under any normal circumstances. Like most protection, however, if you have any doubts about your safety, it is probably time to replace it. I typically go through one rope each year. I retire a rope when it gets really fuzzy, has taken A LOT of BIG falls, and/or has soft spots (bend the rope in half and it should maintain a round shape). When assessing a rope’s integrity keep in mind that the sheath (the outside layer) is deigned to protect … Continue reading

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Gear Review: Black Diamond Offset Micro Stopper

A review of Black Diamond’s newest passive protection should really take place in the context of the competition. BD’s offset nut is the first not produced by a British company, and Black Diamond (BD) is fighting for a niche market held by the HB Brass Offset for a long, long time. The HB Brassy has proven itself to be an indispensable aiding tool. When HB went out of business years ago, the brassies become a coveted piece of equipment, unavailable on the retail market until recently, when DMM bought the old molds and continued the production of these amazing little nuts. Now, BD has tweaked the tried and true formula, using bronze instead of brass for better durability, and utilizing a less aggressive taper. The width of the sides correspond almost exactly between the HB and BD offsets, but BD made their stoppers with a slimmer, longer profile giving it a larger surface area. When I finally got my hands on a set of these I had very specific ambitions to climb the Desert Shield in Zion. With a few hundred feet of sustained thin aid and pin scars, it was the perfect place to put them to the test. … Continue reading

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Petzl Elia: Women-Specific, Ponytail-Compatible Climbing Helmet

Leave it to the French to make not only a highly engineered, comfortable headpiece, but also a beautiful 5+ minute video to tell the world about it. The new Petzl Elia helmet was designed specially for women’s heads. How are female heads differnet than their male counterparts? That’s what I wondered. But the video help point out the subtleties: 1. Perhaps obviously, women sport a much greater variety of hairstyles than men, and accomodating for this seems to be a major feature of this helmet. 2. Women generally care about fit and comfort more than men (and rightly so), so this helmet was specifically designed to hug the entire head evenly, rather than the rear-center weighting most helmets feature. 3. Female heads are much smaller than male heads (in more ways than one). 4. The removable interior helmet foam allows washing for a cleaner, odor-free experience, which women seem to value more than us smelly dudes. As per usual, Petzl’s color choices seem a bit… Euro?… but that’s to be expected. Thanks to Petzl for helping fill to void of women’s climbing products; hopefully we will incorporate them into our guiding line-up soon. Here are the rest of the specs … Continue reading

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