Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ice Gear

Last weekend I got out to the Quarry with Tracy and Shawn. Awesome day but my gear was left in a a bit of disarray.

It started to fall apart right away once I realized that I forgot my waterproof pants in Fredericton the night before. Rookie mistake. I thought about the prospect of freezing my nuts all day climbing in just tights but that didn't seem like an awesome plan. I put out a plea for spare pants and Tracy came to the rescue... showing up with 6 pairs of softshells from Rob (just the ones he decided not to take to N.H. last weekend). Seriously... Rob has more invested in fine trousers than I have in my entire ice rack.

On the way to the crag I guess my helmet fetched up on something and the chin strap pulled apart from the foam shell. It turns out that the critical linkage is a plastic pin about 1mm in diameter. Now I love this helmet but it's been rendered useless by this. I mailed Wild Country Sunday night since they claim to carry a 3 year guarantee but I haven't heard from them yet.

Sometime during the day my super sweet jacket pocket came unglued from the chest. Amazingly I didn't loose my keys, phone, or anything else as far as I can tell. This jacket is a few years old now and it's been beat to hell so it really doesn't owe me anything. That said, I still wrote Patagonia to see what they could do. They responded in a day and offered to inspect and repair/replace the sucker under warranty (awesome!) but the catch is that I'd have to send it to the states and be without for the next 8-10 weeks. In the big scheme of things that just wasn't worth it so I re-glued it last night. Hope it holds. Turns out that most new Patagonia jackets are fugly anyway so I'm better off with the old one.

It wasn't all bad though: two gear wins to mention...

Frosty grips. Anyone who leads ice should be wearing these. They'll beat the crap out of your $100 guide gloves any day. These rubber/acrylic $6 jobs are bad ass! Specifically hunt around for the winterized tick versions. Last week I painted a thick coat of silicone seam sealer all over the back side of them to make them close to waterproof. Worked awesome. Nothing offers more dexterity for clipping/unclipping screws and they are good in short stints down to about -8. While belaying/seconding keep them in your armpit pockets to have them warm for the lead. High-vis yellow is way cooler than the blue copies available.

Foam tape. I've been suffering a bit with my new tools being slippery/cold on the upper position. Since I ordered a new rope last week I decided to shop around MEC for a solution. What I found was foam/gel tape used to wrap handlebars on road bikes for the winter. This stuff is nice and it's cheap. For $10 I got enough to do 4 tools. I used it last weekend and it worked awesome. Insulates and provides a lot of grip. I put down an extra wrap at the top of the shaft which works well for choking up on the tool when your topping out in snow/frozen moss. Not sure how durable this stuff will be though so I can't give it the thumbs up yet but it looks promising.

The climbing itself last weekend was good to. Thin in spots. But good.