One of the most celebrated parts of the climbing life is the road trip. Taking off on a vacation with the sole purpose of climbing in new and varied locations. I was able to spend the month of June doing just that. My climbing partner and I loaded up my truck on May 28th and took off for California where we were able to climb in Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, and Lovers leap. On the way out and back we stopped briefly for a day in Vedauwoo WY, a run up the First Flatiron in Boulder, and a handful of days in City of Rocks Idaho.
Through out the trip I got to test out some new and old Mammut gear. Being the gear geek that I am, I was excited to see how new things performed, and put some of my tried and true favorites to new tests and applications. I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you below!
When I was in the market for new shorts last summer, home crag pride made it a virtual necessity that I buy these shorts. Named after one of the best sport crags in the world (there’s that pride), I expected these to be among the best shorts in the world. While I haven’t worn enough shorts to qualify that, they have not let me down. The have the longer cut that is necessary for me to comfortably climb in a pair of shorts. They are an incredibly lightweight material, and yet have held up remarkably well. Most cotton climbing bottoms I’ve had have had a life span of about one year before some serious tears and blowouts. These show zero sign of wear but for a small tear where I decked and hip checked a ledge last summer. They have great pockets for use with or without a harness. The 4 step closure system was a little complex for me at first, often leaving me with an unzipped fly, but I’ve grown to appreciate how well you can custom fit these shorts without a belt, in part due to that 4 step process and the built in draw cord. Finally, they’re wicked fast drying. A lot of our days in the valley involved a mid day siesta to beet the heat. We’d grab lunch, a beer and a quick swim in the Merced before a nap or some reading. By the time we were ready to climb in the afternoon they were totally dry.
I’ve already written my praise for the Togir click harness here. I’ve had it for over a year now and If I were to rewrite the review it would only be filled with more praise. The unique benefit of the click is the ability to completely and easily undo the waist loop and leg loops, to more easily put it on over crampons. After ice season I briefly stopped putting my harness on this way. Why do it when not wearing crampons? This felt weird though! I quickly reverted back to using the click feature instead of putting it on one leg at a time like a normal harness. This feels much less cumbersome, like putting on a work belt as opposed to the cliffside-balancing act that can feel more like trying to put your pants on before your first cup of coffee. With the increased ease of putting a harness on and taking it off, I started to leave more and more gear right on my harness, making transitions between climbing and approaching/ descending much quicker. As if that weren’t enough Mammut makes a matching chalk bag for most of their harnesses. While I’d like to pretend that I don’t care that my chalk bag matches my harness (as well as my lockers, and jacket, and pants…) I have to admit it feels kind of cool. It’s like a professional sports uniform, for climbing! More important than the style bonus is the little pocket on the back of the chalk bag. I’ve used this to carry my phone for pictures and route beta, a headlamp for fright of being benighted and an energy bar to stop from getting hangry. Putting something large in the pocket affects its utility as a chalk bag a little bit. I’ve found that making sure its well stocked with chalk counteracts that well enough! A friend who forgot his chalck bag at the crag the other day needed to borrow mine. Unsolicited, he offered up, “I know this is silly, but this is a really nice chalk bag.”
The Trion family of packs is an example of perfection. I have and love the Trion Light, and have a number of friends who are in love with their Trion Guides, but the go to bag for Mooney Mountain Guides is the Trion Pro in 35L. If in need of a one pack quiver, this would be the pack. It’s burly enough to with stand the plethora of sharp objects that are part of ice cragging, or even sport cragging at a place like Rumney. At the same time it’s light and compactable enough to be taken on a multipitch alpine climb in the mountains. The suspension system carries wonderfully for the approach, and the pack can easily be stripped down (hip pads and brain removed) and compressed for the climb. One of my favorite things about this pack is such a little detail! The buckles on the compression straps are opposite on either side so that you can strap something large to the very back of your pack, keeping it nice and balanced in the middle.
If jeans and a jean jacket is considered a Canadian Tuxedo, then would SOFtech jacket and pants be considered a Swiss Tuxedo? Whatever the proper terminology, this material is a bomber soft shell fabric for jackets and pants. For much of the trip I was wearing The Fiamma Pants and Pokiok Jacket, both made with Mammut’s in house soft shell fabric. While I’ve only had the pants for a couple of months, I’ve had the jacket for a year now, so feel comfortable making some remarks on the material. I tend to like a more waterproof material for my main jacket, but the Pokiok has been great as a warm weather Ice climbing or skiing jacket, or a cold weather rock climbing shell. The Fiamma pants are sure to become my favorites. I generally ice climb in a thinner soft shell pant, like this weight, as well as doing a fair amount of my shoulder season rock in pants of this weight. These pants have a sizeable thigh pocket for maps a camera or food, and all the regular pockets for functioning as a normal pair of pants when off mountain. One of my favorite things about switching to these pants, from a similar pair by another brand, is the ankle cut. On similar soft shell pants the ankle taper downs very narrow to minimize crampon snag. The Fiamma pants instead have a simple way of cinching down the cuff when so desired. When climbing in the mountains you frequently go through many temperature changes, both from external sources and internal. An easy example is setting off in the lowlands, where it’s nice and warm, and approaching your climb high in the mountains, where wind and elevation make the mercury drop. In this scenario it’s an awesome option to be able to roll up your pants to cool off your legs, as seen in the picture above. The taper around the ankle of previous soft shell pants I’ve had have made this impossible, where as the Fiamma pants easily open wide at the ankle and roll up high, then roll back and can be cinched down again once in the mountains.
Oh do I love a skinny rope! Its my impression that any one who does multi pitch climbing let alone alpine climbing, needs a skinny. Mammut ropes are top notch. Their thorough dry treatment repels not only water, but dirt as well, increasing the life span of their ropes. We used the Revelation as our main rope for everything but wall climbing with Aid pitches. After a month of almost daily abuse it shows hardly a sign of wear. My love for skinny ropes comes from the fact that they make my life easier! At 57 grams per meter, this rope is almost a full pound lighter than a similar 9.8 rope. That adds up on long approaches, or when hitting cruxes at the end of a pitch. Equally as significant is the reduced friction in a belay device. Lets do some basic math! The most classic multiptich climb we did on our trip was the Regular Route on Fairview Dome. 1,000 feet of granite gloriousness and elbow destroying belaying! Swinging leads, Paul and I each pulled roughly 500’ of rope through a belay device that works on friction. Say each motion of the arm through the top belay movement brings up 2 feet. That’s 250 individual weighted movements on your elbow, in half a day! Its no wonder guides can easily develop repetitive use injuries in their elbows if not careful when belaying. Skinnier ropes mean your pulling up less weight each time, and with less resistance through your belay device. The difference is incredibly noticeable!
Carabiners and Slings
The Mammut Contact slings have been a staple of my rack since I started fantasizing about its existence based on what my mentor’s used. One can have a lengthy debate on the merits of nylon vs dyneema slings. Ultimately, when used in the right application, having a rack of dyneema slings reduces both weight and clutter. While the weight is often sited as the selling point, the clutter is just as important in my mind. When wall climbing, alpine climbing or multipitch rock climbing, harness racking space is at a premium, and the less bulky dyneema slings take up considerably less room than their nylon brethren. I usually rack two 4-footers for slinging horns and trees or use in an anchor, and about six 2-footers for use as alpine draws.
One place I feel comfortable investing money is in my carabineers. Even the skinny lightweight ones will last you a long time, getting your moneys worth in weight savings over many years. The Mammut Wall (formerly Moses) carabiner is a great example of such an investment. At 27 Grams a piece you can save over a pound of weight on your harness by going with this lightweight wire gate over a typical wire gate for your standard carabiner on a trad rack ( 10 draws + 8 cams +2 4’foot slings)
Finally, I like to have a mix of lockers to match their needs. Low profile lockers like the Wall Micro are awesome for where you just need a carabiner that locks; attached to your gri-gri, connecting your haul bag and haul line, or on your jugging set up for example. They’re lightweight and less bulky, reducing clutter. I usually carry two to three lightweight, medium profile lockers like the Bionic Mytholito for applications where you need to put a knot or hitch on it, such as cloving in at the anchor, or belaying a second on a munter. These are still lightweight but a bit bigger to accommodate the hitches and knots. Finnally I like to carry one lightweight large profile carabiner like the Bionic HMS. This allows you to “stack” things on to it at an anchor, often reducing clutter. It would have been killer to have 6 of these for wall climbing, where you generally have three lockers on bolts for an anchor and are stacking all sorts of items on them from the lead line to multiple haul bags and everything in between.
This was truly an every man’s climbing trip. While we did a smattering of routes in the 5.9-5.10 range, the vast majority of pitches we climbed where at the attainable grades of 5.6-5.8. The lightness and ease of use of these products probably doesn’t mean the difference between send or sail until much harder grades. That being said, the same attributes can make big days in the mountains and on the cliffs much more enjoyable and comfortable, and the multifaceted use of many of them justifies their place in the limited space one has living out of a truck on a month long climbing trip!
A big thanks to Mammut for their support of Mooney Mountain guides!
For a trip report and photo gallery from my trip, please vist my personal blog here