Archive for the Climbing Category

Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons

Posted in Climbing with tags , , , , on October 15, 2009 by thereandbackgalleria


While waiting for the group ahead of us to top out, I decided to try something new: mixed climbing. I examined the existing picks and scratches on the rock in front of me and got started. As I won the battle of learning a new technique, I returned to the ground to find that I had lost the war with my equipment. In the few desperate attempts I made to gain altitude on the climb, I folded the steel of one of my front points into a nubbin’. I guess I finally found the weakness in my trustworthy crampons.

I first learned of the Black Diamond Sabretooth crampons while on an expedition to South America. Our Jedi Master, aka climbing guide, displayed their versatility while ascending a vertical wall on the Cayambe Glacier. I soon discovered that horizontal, not vertical, front points were much more ideal for the varied terrain of the mountains. Upon returning home from the trip, I quickly went to my local outdoor shop and purchased my own pair.

As a steel and semi-rigid crampon, the Sabretooths come in two varieties; Pro and Clip. This option makes them compatible with boots that do or don’t accept a front bail. The crampons are constructed with horizontal points and perform surprisingly well on both alpine and waterfall ice. Finally, anti-balling plates provide a way to avoid snow build-up underfoot.

The Sabretooth crampons are great for all types of mountaineering routes. For example, I have climbed the deep blue waterfalls of East Vail, in addition to some classic routes in the famed Longs Peak/Meeker Cirque. Furthermore, I have made ascents with them strapped to both leather and plastic boots. Regardless of the season and terrain, they are easily adjustable, have good shear resistance, and transition well between rock, ice, and snow. The one drawback I have discovered is on hard and brittle ice. Overall, the Sabretooths are well suited to a variety of landscapes and conditions.

As with ice tools and screws, crampons do require some maintenance. Fortunately, keeping the Sabretooths sharp and functional is reasonably straightforward. Due to the design of the front points, I have found it relatively easy to replicate the chiseled pattern when filing. The most important thing to remember: use a hand file instead of power tools. Black Diamond describes the process thoroughly on their website.

Crampons are essential gear when seeking out snow and ice routes in the mountains. They are just as important as an ice axe and crampons. The Black Diamond Sabretooths are an excellent choice for all-mountain pursuits. And if you decide to tackle some mixed climbing, just make sure you are up to date on that filing technique.

Crampon Specs:

Price: $159.00

Weight: 2 lbs 10 oz

Models: Pro (boots with front toe welt) Clip (boots w/o toe welt)

Material: Steel


Horizontal fixed front points, aggressive second points with serrated edges; French style o-ring strap system; Anti-Balling System included.

Sizing: One size fits all to 12. Sizes above 12 require extender ($19.95-$24.95)

Uses: Ice, Mixed, Alpine

Pros – good all-around crampon, easy to maintain

Cons – sub-par on hard and brittle ice, steel may bend or fold on prolonged mixed routes


Black Diamond Equipment, LTD.

2084 East 3900 South

Salt Lake City, UT 84124

p: 801.278.5552

f: 801.278.5544

Writing & Photography By:

Leslie Kehmeier


Cloudveil Troller Gloves

Posted in Climbing with tags , , , , , on October 15, 2009 by thereandbackgalleria


Scream-ing Bar-fies.

Definition: The process of losing sensation in your hands while climbing and then having the feeling return afterwards with the urge to scream and barf at the same time.

A good pair of gloves won’t stop the screaming barfies; they’ll just make it happen less often.

Gloves are definitely a matter of personal preference, especially for mountaineering. There are a variety of styles on the market, but it really just boils down to the individual. My experience has led me to try on my fair share of gloves and, time and again, I chose them based on the following characteristics:

-Design: Simple is the best. Form equals function.

-Comfort: If the glove is uncomfortable, you’ll be uncomfortable.

-Durability: A climber’s hands are constantly in use and gloves must stand up to the abuse.

The Troller Glove from Cloudveil have become my climbing glove of choice. I love them because they’re not fancy; they’re just a pair of gloves that works. Originally designed for skiing, the gloves are perfect for mountaineering.

Trollers are classic work gloves made of leather and lined with fleece. In fact, it’s really soft fleece that ranks high in the comfort category. In addition, the gloves also include a stretchy Schoeller® panel on the back side of the hand. This feature allows the glove to expand while gripping an ice tool or mountaineering axe. The fit is slim and works well for anyone who has small hands like me. Overall, the construction of the glove is very functional and well suited to all styles of mountain climbing.

I’ve worn the Troller Glove on countless forays into the mountains and have found them to perform well while climbing both waterfall ice and alpine snow. Most importantly, they provide ample dexterity while swinging tools or setting up belays. Another key feature is the lack of ‘extras’. Some glove manufacturers have a tendency to include plastic reinforcements, excess fabric and the like. Unfortunately, if you’re like me, all of these ‘extras’ will probably lead to fumbling around. As we all know, speed is safety in the mountains and there is no time for wasted energy. Fortunately, Cloudveil has come up with a clean glove design that allows the climber to move efficiently.

As simple as the gloves are, they do require a little maintenance. First, the water repellant leather is just that, water repellent. During the initial outings with the Trollers, I noticed a fair amount of moisture soaked up when the ice was drippy or the snow was saturated. This obviously led to cold and wet hands. As a remedy, I now treat the gloves with Sno-Seal, and my hands stay dry. Second, the fleece lining insulated with PrimaLoft, does pack out after prolonged use. The solution to this problem is a round in the washer and dryer to fluff things up. Third, the cold on frigid days seem to percolate right through the gloves. In this instance, I keep a pair of liners or overmitts on hand to keep the frostbite at bay. Ultimately, with a little extra care, the Troller gloves will be resilient in just about any alpine setting.

The Troller Gloves from Cloudveil are a great choice for mountaineering. They’re just as good going up ice and rock as they are descending the snow. With a simple design, comfortable fit, and durable construction, they will perform well and keep your screaming barfies to a minimum.

Glove Specs:

Price: $ 75.00

Weight: 6.8 oz

Materials: Full grain leather: water repellent and breathable. Washable and dryable. Schoeller® Stretch Panel. 300 Weight Fleece Lining. 100-gram Primaloft Fill.

Pros – Simple design, Soft fleece lining, Women’s sizes available

Cons – Cold hands in really cold temperatures



Post Office Box 11810, Jackson, WY 83002

Phone : 307.734.3880

Fax : 307.739.8576


Writing & Photography By:

Leslie Kehmeier

Petzl Tibloc

Posted in Climbing with tags , , , , , on October 15, 2009 by thereandbackgalleria


For fewer than twenty bucks and less than a tenth of a pound (39 grams!), the Petzl Tibloc is a small but essential addition to any climber or aggressive hiker’s survival gear (note that I emphasize survival gear, as opposed to basic climbing gear).

Picture this: you’ve fallen in a crevasse and need to get back up the rope. Or for an example closer to home, perhaps you’ve rappelled past the correct Friday’s Folly ledge on the Third Flatiron, and you find yourself almost at the end of your rope with thirty meters of void still looming below you. What do you do? How do you get back up that rope?

Most people could not pull their own weight (plus pack, harness, and rack) up a rope for ten feet (about ten pull-ups on a slick rope), much less the ten meters that may be required. Okay, no problem; simply tie a Prussik knot and use that as a mechanical rope ascender. Say what? Can’t tie a Prussik knot? Well, just put a triple Kleimholst around the rap rope (above your ATC or rappel device, duh), and ascend that way. Can’t tie one of those either, huh? Wow, your options are running out fast, and you may be getting tired and just a tiny bit freaked. If you forgot to knot off the ends of your rope (a common mistake made by sport climbers moving up to alpine mountaineering) and can’t hold your brake position on the rappel, you are looking at a fatal fall.

Don’t panic! You’re not totally screwed… if you have the handy Tibloc clipped onto your harness (maybe by a 3-6 foot sewn runner), that is. No Tibloc or other manual mini-ascender? No full size ‘jumar’ ascender? Have ‘em both but A) left them at home—this is an easy 5.9 climb—or B) have them in your pack where you don’t dare try to reach? Gosh, I guess you are screwed. The Petzl Tibloc is a powerful climbing and survival tool, and its weight is negligible to even the most ounce-counting climber. The device can slide unopposed up a rope but, with a bunch of metal mini-teeth, will grip the rope when weighted with downward force. (Other models use camming action to prevent possible damage to the sheath of the rope, but if I need to ascend now, I ain’t too worried about the rope’s sheath-life. Little more worried about my own.

Use Spectra or accessory cord—or use a sling—to attach the Tibloc mini-ascender to your climbing harness through both the leg- and waist-loops (not the belay loop!). Such a setup makes for safe hand-ascension. Used this way, an ascender may save your bacon.

So for the price, it’s crazy not to have one, and for the weight it’s silly not to carry the one you have—just leave it clipped to your alpine harness. You can lean-and-mean-it with your sport/gym harness.

Once you have a good ascender rig going, don’t let it sit there and gather dust, unused. Don’t wait until you need it to become proficient with it. The best thing (if you can afford it… hmmm… what’s your life worth?) is to get some lessons from a pro, like Colorado Mountain School or your local climbing school. Although nowhere in Colorado is that isolated, even if you don’t have a climbing school nearby, find an experienced, professional guide (with a good reputation) or an experienced amateur climber if you must. Get someone who knows how to show you.

Then, once you think you’ve acquired a modicum of proficiency, go out to a local slab or crag and (safest is from a top-rope) practice a few feet above the ground. Practice rigging it, clipping it in, ascending on it. Heck, while you’re at it, you might as well practice those Prussik and Kleimholst knots as well. That way, if the scenario described at the start of this article happens to you, you’ll simply smile and jumar fearlessly up the rock without a care in the world.

So you have read this article (and maybe the Tibloc user’s manual and Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills if you’re real motivated), now rush right out and get one of these critical items. Hop to! Your rope-sheath isn’t getting any younger.

Writing By:

Mark Mullen