The biggest piece of news out of Winter OR 2016, for ice climbers anyway, is a new Petzl pick, designed specifically for ice climbing. The Pur’Ice bears a resemblance to the Cascade picks of old, but is T-rated and has all the necessary filing to fit the current hammers and other accessories. It adds a slight curve towards the end, a more tapered cut and altered angles, as well as a prominent first tooth. It looks like Petzl took complaints about the current Ice pick into consideration and this is a serious attempt to rectify any issues current users experience. I’m looking forward to trying them out!
Possibly the next coolest thing is Grivel’s ultralight all-aluminum ice screw, the Ghost. Coming only in 15cm length, and weighing in at an incredible 74 grams, the Ghost is stupidly light. Check out the odd tooth profile, which Grivel say is a result of the coating process that is applied to the aluminum tube. I don’t remember the details exactly, but the coating is good for 30 placements or so, at which point it will start to wear off (and the screw will then be ‘stickier’ and harder to place or clean).
It seems as if lightweight, alpine / skimo oriented harnesses are the ‘it’ item, with Black Diamond, Camp and Petzl announcing new models or redesigns. Conveniently, all are going to be priced around $50-70 (sorry, I don’t really remember which will be how much!) Alphabetically:
The BD Couloir weighs in at 215 grams for a size S/M, has quick-release buckles for the legs, two gear loops and four ice clipper slots. There are also ‘ice screw’ keeper loops on the leg loops.
Camp’s Alp Mountain weighs in at 250 grams for a size Medium, has two gear loops, plus a large loop in the back, as well as six ice-clipper slots (which can also be used to affix more gear-loops if needed). Quick-release buckles all around make for easy on-off.
Petzl’s Altitude looks sort of like the Sitta without any padding: it’s all Dyneema fibres and mesh, and weighs a scant 150 grams. Pretty cool. No ice clipper slots on this one, but it’s thin enough you could put on as many as you’d like. The four vertical gear loops are made of Dyneema, and I’m told are much stronger than typical gear loops. There are also four screw-keeper tabs on the leg loops.
Other cool things for the ski-mountaineer / fast-n-light alpinist? These kick-ass crampons from Petzl, which utilize a Dyneema cord to attach the front and heel sections. The Dyneema is supposed to be stronger than steel, and locks in just as well as regular linking bars on full-shank boots. The all-aluminum Leopard weighs 330 grams (or so, I think), with the Irvis Hybrid not being much heavier (and apparently perfectly capable of climbing ice, according to members of the Petzl development team).
..and other than that, a few more random bits of hardware but this is about it for what I found of interest.
The Esbit stove might just be the perfect short-trip alpine stove? It’s temperature and wind-proof, and you only need to carry as many tablets as you think you’ll need: one tablet boils around two of these 550ml pots and weighs next to nothing.
Now on to packs… not a lot happening out there, other than a whole lot of airbag packs. With a few exceptions, I’ll mostly let someone else deal with that…
BD’s Cirque packs are designed for skiing but they look perfectly well suited to climbing as well. Not sure I’m a fan of the whole single-tab top closure thing, but maybe BD’s figured out way to make it easier to work. The ski-safety gear compartment is inside the pack, and has to be accessed by opening the main compartment. Again, I don’t think that’s ideal for skimo but it sure looks like a great pack for climbing and alpinism!
Bergans of Norway appear to have done a good job with their first ski pack, the Helum Pro. It’ll come in 40 and 55 sizes, as well as both Men’s and Women’s models. There’s a zipper-accessible ski-safety gear compartment, multiple ski-carry options, a side-access zip and even the back-length is adjustable.
Patagonia will be introducing some outdoor-inspired waterproof packs. My favourite is the StormFront Wet/Dry Duffel, constructed of waterproof fabric with watertight zippers – not submersible, but quite waterproof otherwise. It’s got two compartments, an upper and lower, with a flexible divider in between so you can separate your wet gear from dry/clean stuff.
Cotopaxi has this cool little pack coming out. Called the Tarak it’s about 20L and designed for multi-pitch leading, its wrap-around compression straps cinch down even the smallest load. In keeping with Cotopaxi’s repurposed-fabric philosophy, no pack is alike as each panel and strap is randomly chosen by the individual sewer.
Mammut is introducing Airbag 3.0, and this tiny 18L pack weighs just 1900 grams all while incorporating a full-size airbag. And, MSRP will be ‘just’ $490. That’s pretty awesome for an airbag equipped pack!
Arc’teryx’s Voltair airbag was making a lot of noise at the show — literally. You could hear this thing power up and inflate from a few aisles away, which is quite a feat considering the hubbub and overall noise levels at Outdoor Retailer!
And finally, this little tidbit from an Osprey biking pack. The shock-cord stretches and moves along with your shoulders. Great for biking, but I figure even better for climbing? Just add a load-lifter strap to secure the straps for heavy loads, and loosen it to release the shock cords for climbing. Osprey, please make this!