Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Review of M's Stormtracker Gloves!"

Originally submitted at Outdoor Research

The ultimate in backcountry versatility, the StormTracker Gloves have more useful applications than you can think off. Alpine climbing, ski touring, ice climbing - you name it. This glove is thin, but the WINDSTOPPER® membrane and tricot lining make it warmer than ...

My everything glove!

By Morgan the mango from Ontario, Canada on 12/25/2010


4out of 5

Pros: Awesome dexterity, Minimal stretch, Light, Surprisingly warm, Construction Quality, Durable, breathable

Cons: Cold on sides of fingers, No fingertip hangers, Dry relatively slowly

Best Uses: Snowshoeing, Cycling, XC skiing, ice climbing, Hiking

I'll start by stating that I work in the industry so I got these on pro-deal. When i bought these, I had intended to use them for ice climbing when it wasn't cold enough to warrant BD Punishers.

Then I found myself wearing them to campus, while driving, while walking the dog, even just for the heck of it.

The dexterity is awesome, the thin fleece on the inside makes them comfy and they hold enough of my own heat to keep my hands warm.

I got these soaking wet one day and they took a little longer to dry in the pockets of my alibi than I had expected, but they're not likely to get that wet on a regular basis.

they climb ice beautifully, its almost like climbing bare-handed. heated rappels seem to do nothing to the great leather palm, and they're so dextrous that i can even tie my boots with gloves on.

i like them so much that I use them for everything, which has me worried that i'll wear them out doing something silly like driving around town!

my only gripes:
- slow drying time - for something so thin they did take a little longer than expected
- no fingertip hangers - many other manufacturers include this feature, which allows us to hang our gloves by the tips to keep precipitation out of them. i understand the motivations against it (store gloves in your jacket, requires reinforcement in the fingertips) but its still a nice feature
- cold on sides of fingers - the sewing structure that provides great fit and articulation also unfortunately produces cold spots on the sides of the fingers.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ice Season 2010 is here!!

Here's a short little unedited blurb I wrote for the Guelph Grotto newsletter...

Swing, check. Swing, check. Kick, kick. Stand. Repeat.

Ice climbing is a dish best served freezing cold. While many Ontario climbers are heading south to warmer climes to pull on rock, or huddling under artificial light getting their fix on urethane, some brave souls with spikes on their feet and carrying axes venture out into the tundra in search of monsters.

Eastern North America is home to some seriously world-class ice. What we lack in sheer size compared to destinations like the Canadian Rockies, we make up for volume and access. In the United States, New York, New Hampshire and Vermont offer hundreds of outstanding climbs at various difficulties all within 20 minutes of your roadside parking spot. Quebec’s GaspĂ© has some of the highest quality ice on the Continent in outstanding volumes; the town of Mont-Saint-Pierre has 50 world-class routes within 20 minutes of the town among beautiful seaside hills. In Ontario, Thunder Bay offers very high-quality difficult ice in droves. Further south, the area north of Peterborough up to the Quebec border is full of single-pitch climbs; Canadian Shield rock is very leaky.

So how do you take advantage of all the East has to offer this winter? There are a few options:

  • Friends that ice climb and own their own gear!
    • Note: this is the riskiest and most dangerous option
    • make sure you trust this person 100%, especially if your anchors need to be made in ice. make sure that they are able to evaluate ice quality properly and that they know how to set up an abalakov anchor.
    • in this case you can rent all the gear you’d need from a store like Mountain Equipment Co-op, and it shouldn’t break the bank (information can be found on the MEC website under “Services”).
  • Take an introductory course!
    • There are many companies in Southern Ontario that run introductory ice climbing courses throughout the winter. One such company is One Axe Pursuits, based out of Guelph!
    • The instructors are extremely knowledgeable and have extensive experience, this is a very worthwhile course if you’re serious about trying ice climbing out.

If you’re ready to plunge your own axe and are serious about getting into this most awesome of winter pursuits, the most important piece of gear you can buy is a pair of boots. You can borrow axes, you can borrow crampons, you can borrow a helmet...but your day is immediately ruined if your boots don’t fit and you find it uncomfortable, cold, and difficult to climb. Try on as many different options as you can, because just like climbing shoes, technical mountaineering boots fit differently depending on the company. Look at boots with both a heel and toe welt, this allows you to use any type of crampon. Boots are an investment piece, and if you take care of them they should last you many years.

So, don’t let the cold weather get you down! Look at it as an opportunity for adventure and maybe we’ll see you out on the ice this year.

Get excited because the water is freezing! It's time to kick some ice!