Archive for Colorado

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


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

Smartsocks! Smartunderwear! Smartwool!

Posted in Apparel with tags , , , on October 13, 2009 by thereandbackgalleria

Here at There & Back we’re assuming that you’ve heard of Smartwool; one of the renowned companies pioneering the use of the New Zealand grown, merino wool. In 1995 Smartwool started with Smart-socks and since then have branched out to shirts, sweaters, hats, leggings and more. These items can be purchased in nearly every outdoor retailer in Colorado. In fact, if you’re in an outfitter store and they don’t carry Smartwool products, turn and run away screaming! To find out more about how Smartwool achieves their outstanding quality visit and click the “Why Smartwool” tab and get an education on wool fibers.

Smartwool Socks


Men’s Microweight Boxer Brief–



100% Merino Wool

Elastic Waistband

Wool underwear? Sounds itchy.

I know what you’re thinking, that wool underwear is going to be scratchy and uncomfortable. Well, you are so wrong I don’t even know where to start… I guess I’ll start here. It’s not itchy at all; in fact these jewels nearly disappear while wearing them. The 100% Merino Wool is so soft it doesn’t even feel like wool. They’re extremely thin yet keep you warm and cheerful at the same time. Again, these are machine washable and dryable. One note is the sizing is a bit weird. My waist is a size 34 and I’m comfortable in a size small for the boxer briefs. I do like tighter fitting baselayers, so they don’t move as much. But the medium, and large sizes seem really big. So, my suggestion is grab a few sizes and try them out before purchasing. Speaking of purchasing, I know you’re looking at that price and wondering why you would pay $40.00 for underwear. Honestly, if you “hike” Mount Evans once a year, I wouldn’t tell you to dish out on a pair of underwear you’ll wear only briefly. But if you’re going on a multi-day hike or week excursion buy a few pairs. They dry super fast in the sun, pack down small, and don’t cinch to your thighs when lifting your leg.  Overall, Smartwool’s Boxer Briefs are a great investment for people who spend weekend after weekend in the outdoors.


PhD Ski Light –

Light Cushion, Over-the-Calf



67% Merino Wool

32% Nylon

1% Elastic

Technically speaking, what makes this sock different?

Starting with how this sock is constructed. Smartwool uses their patented, “4 Degree Fit System” giving the sock a tighter fit for all day use. Four reinforced zones located on the ankle, arch, upper and lower instep keep the sock from moving and give better support. Also built with WOW Technology for better durability on the bottom, and Mesh MVT Zones on the top to improve ventilation.

Not technically speaking, what makes this sock different?

First off, this sock can be put in the washer and dryer which is a nice feature for wool items. Smartwool also boasts about odor control saying, “no moisture build up, no bacteria growth, no odor” which is true with ALL their products, not just their socks. But to be realistic, wearing a pair of socks on a 12-hour hiking trip in August produces a funk no matter what. However, a quick wash of these babies and the smell is gone. Furthermore, all of these socks fit to your foot and stay that way all day, no matter the activity. They’re extremely comfortable and truly provide support as indicated.

All that said and done, does this stuff really work?

I have 8 pairs of Smartwool socks, uses ranging from cycling, hiking, skiing and snowboarding. In my opinion, when it comes to socks, Smartwool is king. They have done their homework and when they say they’ve reinforced certain areas and vented others, they did it based on research and experience, not happenstance. I’m a big winter cyclist and have found that when the temperature drops to the single digits, wearing the PhD Ski Light with the Hiking Crew (also featured) keeps my feet warm and happy. I believe that a great piece of outdoor equipment is created with certain activities in mind, but can be useful in other situations and still operate to your benefit. These socks do that. For example, the reinforced shin attribute in the PhD Ski Light is made to ward against abrasion and shock. However, when winter-cycling it also gives a bit more wind resistance. Which is a great added benefit.


Hiking Medium Crew–

Medium Cushion, Crew



70% Merino Wool

29% Nylon

1% Elastic

So what makes this sock so great?

It is an all around a great sock. This three-season, all-purpose piece of equipment is a must have for light hiking, or everyday cold weather use. When compared to the PhD sock this hiking crew may seem average, since it doesn’t have the gizmos of its more intelligent sibling. But there’s no need for such technical attributes here. This sock is made for rugged use, while keeping your foot dry and comfy.

What’s in it for me?

This is one of my favorite pair of socks. Great for snowshoeing, a snowy day hike, or walking from your car to work when the temperature drops. I try to only wear this sock when I go hiking, so it isn’t worn out when I really need it. But I somehow convince myself to wear it whenever the cold weather rolls in, even if I’m only walking around town.

Clutch – Electric Worry

Posted in Music Videos with tags , , , , on October 13, 2009 by thereandbackgalleria

If you like music, you’ll love these guys!

Westcomb iRebel Hoody

Posted in Jackets with tags , , , , on October 13, 2009 by thereandbackgalleria

Westcomb Whaa?

If you haven’t heard of Westcomb you should be ashamed of yourself! Not only is this company based out of British Columbia, their products are made there too. Their goal is simple, create top of the line apparel that works great and looks even better. To learn more about Westcomb and to see the rest of their line, visit them on the web at,

iRebel Jacket

Men’s iRebel Hoody

Hiking Geeks get ready, for an iPod compatible jacket that actually works. But before we get to the technological-stupendousness lets talk about the jacket itself.

Equipped with Polartec Wind Pro, and winner of The Polartec Apex award for best use of Polartec fabrics. This über comfortable hoody is great for hanging around the house, walking downtown and of course hiking on the trail. The thumb loops on the sleeves add functionality and style to the hoody. The iRebel is cut superbly and can be worn by itself or underneath another jacket.

iPod Close Up

Now for the techno-side of this little piece of heaven. As shown in the photo, the iRebel has two pockets inside the left front of the hoody. One holds the Westcomb interface and the other your iPod. {This jacket was tested with a 3rd generation iPod Nano, and it worked great.}

True Control Panel

The left sleeve is outfitted with Westcomb’s True Control interface and works as it should. It takes some practice to get the pressure right on the buttons, but after you get it down it’s a piece of cake to use.