Archive for Climbing

Patagonia R1 Hoody

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


You know what they say about Colorado. “If you don’t like the weather, just wait ten minutes.” If you’re climbing in the mountains, you also know that the blue sky can change to snow in less than half that time. Hopefully you’ve come prepared with clothing that will stand up to the test and keep you comfortable at the same time.

I depend on the Patagonia R1 Hoody. Most people believe that it hit the market in just the last few years. Not exactly; it was first released more than a decade ago. Unfortunately, aside from the elite alpinists, it wasn’t popular with the outdoor mainstream. I guess back then, ‘extreme’ wasn’t really all the rage. This time around, the R1 is more than just a cult favorite; it’s become the standard in any adventure junkie’s closet.

The R1 Hoody is the Swiss Army Knife of fleece base layers. Created in the spirit of Patagonia’s philosophy, the minimalist design includes a myriad of useful and well constructed features. Beginning at the top; the balaclava style hood fits easily under a helmet, even doubled with a lightweight beanie. Next, the ¾ length zipper is offset, making it comfortable to wear in cold conditions. No freezing metal on your skin. Finally, the external chest pocket is great for an energy snack, while the thumb loops keep your skin protected from the elements. Overall, the R1 Hoody is another well designed piece of clothing from Patagonia.

The R1 shines in the mountains when it comes to performance. Like any alpinist, I’ve mastered my own layering technique. For example, on most days I can wear the R1 directly against my skin, with the waffle-style structure of the fleece keeping me warm and dry. During colder and windier situations, I usually add a light base layer underneath. After some experimentation, I’ve decided that capilene works better than wool. The arrangement isn’t bulky and won’t soak up sweat when I have to pick up the pace. As I come to belays or stop for a snack, I can conserve heat by zipping up the fleece or putting on the hood. Overall, temperature control and layering are strong suits of the R1.

There is no doubt that the R1 Hoody is very durable. With nothing more than a run on the hem, I’ve worn this fleece non-stop for three years. In addition to many climbing routes, I also have many days logged from trekking, biking, and lounging around the campfire. When it comes to laundry day, the R1 goes in with everything else. In the midst of countless adventures, it’s been washed in the sink or thrown in the machine at the Laundromat. Whether it’s drying on a line in the sun or spinning on high in the Speed Queen, the R1 Hoody stands up to the test of unlimited washing.

Journeys in the alpine world require clothes that are functional, easy to wear, and long lasting. Thank goodness for second chances. Without them, we probably wouldn’t have the The R1 Hoody.

R1 Hoody Specs:

Price: $135

Weight: 10.9 oz

Material: 6.5 oz Polartec® fleece (60% recycled polyester), Capilene 4 stretch panels (under arms, cuffs, hem)


Balaclava-style hood, offset zipper, external chest pocket, thumb-loops

Sizes/Colors: XS-XL, Black and Red

Pros: Host of useful features. Recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program. Doubles as a ninja costume at Halloween.

Con: Never goes on sale



8550 White Fir Street

P.O. Box 32050

Reno, NV 89523-2050


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