Tag Archives: Jonathan Zambella

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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Pothole Escapes: An Introduction

I recently ran across this highly illustrative portrait of a pothole escape from a Lake Powell canyon in Spring 2009, and I thought it a good example of this infamous canyon character, the Pothole. Potholes have a grand reputation in canyoneering for being some of the most intimidating and diabolical characters around. Back when Imlay and Heaps were scary, don’t-go-there canyons, tales of the freezing, dark, unknown potholes left many canyoneers (including me) more than nervous to go see for themselves. So… what exactly IS a pothole? As seen here, a pothole is basically a big hole in a canyon, drilled out to large proportions by gritty water over hundreds of years. In this particular case, the pothole is about 15 feet deep and perhaps 20 feet in diameter. Because the walls are very to completely smooth, it is typically impossible to climb your way out, leaving your creativity to overcome what brute strength and agility cannot. And thus comes forth the barrage of tricks: pack tosses, sand bags, partner hoists, stick clips, and other techniques ranging from medieval to genius. All the tricks and tools have one simple goal – getting out of the hole safely and efficiently. In … Continue reading

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