Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Metolius Harness review

I found this review from Splitter Choss of the Metolius Trad Harness I used for a year vey much to the point. I love the double loop on big routes in the Dolomites where I have put quite some milage in to my Trad harness. Only thing I like to add is that its even comfy to sleep in and thats rare for a harness!

Splitter Choss

Metolius Safe Tech Comp & Trad Harness Review

As the new crop of modern harnesses began to emerge, there was one player who’s absence was obvious. Where was Metolius, and when were they going to offer up something comparable for those who love the Safe Tech features, but desired something more modern, including speed buckles?
The answer came in spring of 2012, when they stepped into the game with two offerings, a sport and a trad model. We’ve tested both over the past year, and they’re everything you’ve come to expect from Metolius, with a modern twist.
So what was the hold up? In typical Metolius fashion, they weren’t happy putting out a speed buckle until they knew it would be the safest of its kind, and could actually “lock” in place. In fact, in testing other harnesses during their R&D process, they actually found that in weird fall situations, such as sideways or completely upside down loading, some harnesses currently on the market were failing, some with the webbing cleaving in two, some that slipped under relatively low loads. (The current CE/UIAA dummy test is in the upright position only, though they are looking into changing these requirements). The end result is a speed buckle that locks in place, and will stay put no matter how you come flying off the wall. It’s not as smooth to cinch down as other models, but the learning curve is minimal, and there’s no question it’s safer.
The Comp (sport) harness  is sleek, with four gear loops that can hold plenty of draws for your next sick projjy proj. The waist belt is slim but comfortable enough that when you are dogging up the wall, you can hang for hours figuring out how to get from one hold to the next, assuming your belayer doesn’t tie you off and head off with other friends. It weighs 13 oz and retails for $89.
The Trad harness is fully featured, with dual belay loops, four big gear loops, and adjustable rise/leg loops, which means you can dial in the perfect fit for your body type. Tracy has been testing this one and she grabs it without fail whenever we aren’t going to clip bolts (and sometimes even then too.) The comfort level is high, and she’s found the dual belay loops quite useful when descending multipitch routes, as you can use one to tether into the anchor, and the other for managing your rap device. The Trad weights 16.5 oz and retails for $99.
In climbing, it’s easy to be complacent about safety, especially when you’ve been doing it for a long time, but make one mistake and you can die from it. Metolius has always had our respect for fully acknowledging that and creating products designed to keep us safer out on the rocks, in spite of ourselves. Some have shied away from their products, claiming them to be overbuilt, but if you are looking for an excellent harness that combines comfort, functionality and best-in-class safety, it’s hard to beat the Safe Tech Comp and Trad.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Raising funds for Layton Kor

Here's a neat way to get a piece of North American rock climbing history and help out a fellow climber. Jody Langford is selling around 50 poster-size prints of Layton Kor on the first ascent of The Gothic Pillar (V 5.10 A3) in the Black Canyon in 1987. Each one is signed by Layton and Ed Webster, who took the photo. The $100 price per poster goes directly to Karen Kor for funeral expenses. Shipping is $5. Mail a check or money order to:

Jody Langford
P.O. Box 953
Templeton, CA 93465

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Tragedy on Nuptse

Picture from:

Creating history is not always a good thing...  Over the weekend a true mountaineers mountain was victimized and forever lost part of its glory. Yet an other mountain has been lost to the profit hunger of commercial expedition organizers. Nuptse has always been a true challenge for the best alpinists in the world. The list of outstanding alpinists whom have tried and some times successfully managed to forge lines up Nuptse is long. Its a list of who is who when it comes to climbing hard lines in alpine style. 

Some controversy was sparked when Babanov finished the much-desired South Pillar on Nuptse East and Steve House protested against the Piolet D'Or the ascent received by distancing himself from the event. Babanov and his partner fixed the start of the long and exposed route all though several strong teams had attempted the route in pure alpine style. Many argued that Babanov and his partner lowered the standards in order to be first and thought of it as bad judgement and lack of style. 

At that time I don't think any one in the climbing world thought it would be possible to buy a summit of Nuptse. Now that has sadly happened. And on the back of the commercial expedition some “uncool” tagged along and pulled off some kind of ascent. 

The Everest shit show is spilling over to Nuptse

This season marks an all time low in the Everest region. Everest is a can of worms and literally the floodgates are wide open for any one with a big enough wallet to get to the summit of what ever they desire. Its pathetic, sad and tragic that one of the most distinguished of all Himalayan peaks have fallen victim to a guided commercial expedition.     

The responsible organizer placed a team of about 10 to 12 clients and guides on the summit after fixing ropes all the way to the summit. I frankly think it’s an irresponsible decision to offer Nuptse to paying clients. What is next? A Via Ferata up Great Trango Tower? 

Will the elusive North Ridge of Latok become a victim of a team blinded by ambition or a commercial organizer keen to do some thing spectacular for its paying clients? Or worse will it succumb to a team of climbers looking at the Everest shit show and deciding that it’s ok to reach the summit by any means?

Is it really necessary for HIMEX to pollute every single mountain they can? It all boils down to scale of economics; by offering some thing extra with in reach of Everest BC they can use its army of Sherpa’s and its supreme logistic power to squeeze even more business out of the Everest season.  

Have they no sense of understanding and respect for the climbing history on Nuptse?  

Profit and peak bagging before dignity that is how we have to view this ascent. A truly hart breaking event. 

© Copyright 2013 - All Rights Reserved David Falt

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Crux X1 Raid tent

This tent reminds me of the Rab bivy shelter but looks slightly better proportioned and if its easy to pitch that is a major advantage to the Rab tent and the DB First Light. I have not seen the tent but at 1.48 kg with a breathable fabric its a hot contender for what one is looking for in a tenet when going fast and light but yet in need of solid protection from the elements so one can recover properly. I'm looking forward to see reviews from use at altitude. 

This short review is from wet conditions.  

"I tested the X1 Raid - the smallest from the X1 tents - with my son last weekend. It was raining, we kept the window closed. And amazingly - we did not had any condensation problem. Yes - the tent felt slightly wet inside - but not one drop fell on our sleeping bag.
Pitching was amazingly simple."

by Micke Sundberg, a Alpine Icon in Swedish mountaineering history.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Can enough be said about Everest?

Is the kind of stuff happening on Everest even remotely associated with what we call climbing or alpinism? I would say no, but thats just me... I can't find words to describe what I feel about this... I only note that through out history, Everest has always been a place of excessive consumerism.

Some time have now passed since the distinguished trio got kicked off the mountain after trying to do some real alpine climbing. Many have commented on the events and this is just an other post about the Everest shit show. I found it quite interesting to read Russell Brice defensive comments on his corporate website and I think it reflects the Everest industry sentiment. 

In all its glory and rich history Everest stands tall but the history of true alpine climbing is limited to a few sporadic moments barley remembered and not that well known to the larger audience. 

Many of us who dedicate time to climbing mountains don’t care that much about Everest. It’s been a lost cause for a long time and the recent event just proves the point that Everest is Babylon*. The sad state of affairs on the mountain dates back to the era of national pride, where any means to reach the summit was accepted as long as the flag of a sovereign state would feature on the summit picture. 

Why would any one want to go to Everest?

Given the history of Everest and the fact that Everest is not a mountaineers mountain, I think its relevant to ask why such a distinguished trio of outstanding alpinists chose to go to Everest?

I think most of us agree that the Himalayas is full of much more attractive mountains on which to open cutting edge lines. We can hike up virtually any valley in the greater ranges and be bombarded with amazing unclimbed lines of much better quality compared to what one can find on Everest. And all the unclimbed objects come with the added benefit of lacking annoying and violent crowds. I con only speculate and that is pointless. 

Cash is king

Are today’s money making tour operators on Everest taking the same kind of social, environmental and economical responsibilities as we take for granted in any other normal business? Can IMG, AAI, JG, Global Adventure, Arun, Peak Freaks, Himex, Astrek, Miura and Seven Summits, show that they are not just shamelessly exploiting the Everest region for profits? My guess is that the answer is a big fat no. And this is, in my opinion, probably the single most frustrating issue with the concept pre packed guided trips to the Everest region. 

Is this not the real reason behind the recent lynching of the Trio?

It’s a common misperception that Everest tourism is bringing in significant income to Nepal as a country. However, not a single major guiding company operating on Everest is incorporated and based in Nepal and therefore not paying corporate taxes and taking real corporate social and environmental responsibility in Nepal. If you sign up with Chamonix based HIMEX for an Everest expedition you will be instructed to pay for your trip up the tallest mountain in the world to a bank account at UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland) in Geneva. 

In real economical terms only a tiny fraction of what a western client pays for his Everest expedition is actually spent in Nepal to the benefit of not only the high altitude Sherpa’s but also the country (UN economical data on GDP revenue sources in Nepal). Its so marginal that one might be able to argue that a team of four attempting Annapurna IV in alpine style might actually be a bigger or at least an equal net contributor to the economy in Nepal. How ever it should be mentioned as pointed out to me that teh peak fee is going to the Government of Nepal. 

A few high altitude Sherpa’s and their families in the Khumbu valley have no doubt benefitted from the hype on Everest in the short term and that’s great for them. But the real question is whether the Everest game is a sustainable way of doing business? Is the whole commercial guiding culture (operators and Sherpas) of greed to be blamed for the lynching of the trio? I think so. 

One mountain but not for every one...

The events that played out at 7200 metes tells me only one thing, it’s all about the clients need and in order to retain clients and get a job as a high altitude Sherpa you need to perform. The guided trips and package tours take precedence over any other ambitions present at Everest. John Griffith is reporting that an influential individual (I speculate Russell Brice) has demanded that every issued Everest Permit should come with the condition that no one is allowed to climb above rope fixing Sherpas. That would be one of the single most tragic developments in mountaineering history. If this becomes the reality I guess its only a question of time before this will spread to neighboring Nuptse and Lhotse not to mention Ama Dablam etc. etc.  
Deal with the real issues 

When discussing the Everest issues, lets be honest and transparent. Its about money and business. Its guiding companies lobbying for the future of their business. If this issue was isolated to Everest its might be containable, but when browsing the web looking through the commercial outfitters offerings I notice that I can get dragged up a rarely climbed route on Ama Dablam, the SW Ridge on Cholatse and from the looks of it, even Nuptse is now on the menu.  It’s a disaster in motion and something has to be done about this development. 

Russell Brice, HIMEX posted this:
"We are right on schedule and the ropes on Mount Everest have been fixed all the way to the South Col at 7,900m while the ropes are only 150m short of the summit of Lhotse. The Himex Sherpas also used the low-wind-period and fixed the route on Nuptse all the way to 7,400m."
Source: Himalayan Experience

I think its essential that the people involved in today’s commercial circus on Everest and its surrounding peaks in the Khumbu region take a hard look at what they are doing to the area. They exploit the area for profit and other dubious reasons. Its time to shift to a sustainable business model that is for the real benefit Nepal on a macro level and allow every aspiring alpinist space on the mountains. After all they are mountains and not an amusement park.  

* According to Babylon is used to indicate a strong and powerful, yet corrupted and immoral place.

© Copyright 2013 - All Rights Reserved David Falt

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Back to reality

I'm just back from a climbing trip to Kalymnos that was very productive. I managed to climb 10 out of 12 days, opting to climb low grades and low volume in order to get as much as possible out of the trip. The strategy worked and progressively I better and better at climbing the Kalymnos type of climbing. The interesting question is if I got any stronger during the trip?

We had fantastic conditions even if I think I was the only one who were truly happy about the cold and windy conditions. It was actually freezing cold and perfect friction, making even some of the well-travelled routes I would normally avoid pleasant to climb.

Much can be said about the climbing on Kalymnos and it’s so much talk about the grades and I have come to the conclusion that the climbing is easy. Its well featured with plenty of rests. Very few routes are exposed and few routes are truly committing or demanding. Nothing bad with that. It's user friendly Disneyland climbing.  

Coming back home I'm psyched for more climbing. But Jesus what is wrong? I'm fit and have plenty of meters in me and still I climb quite shitty. Well its reality! Climbing on the local crags is a very different proposition to the relaxed days at Kalymnos. 

Climbing a 7c at the home crag feels harder than trying an 8a on Kalymnos. Its not only the grades as such I think are different its the style of climbing that is very different. It’s actually good to be back on the more demanding home crags. Its fun to climb on Kalymnos and its rewarding for the ego, but its hardly a destination worth going to if you want to improve your skills and become a better climber. The only way to improve as a climber is the hard way. The way to improve is all about doing meters and meters outside of the comfort zone and that is some what hard to do on Kalymnos. But having said that, I will be back!

Looking forward to a great climbing summer!

Pretty obvious its a holiday spot!

© Copyright 2013 - All Rights Reserved David Falt

Sunday, 5 May 2013


I love the FS Mini but the new Bravo draw looks pretty sweet!

This is the FS Mini in action on Alpenliebe 7c or 5.12d, 550 meters on Cima Ovest Norh Face