July 10, 2008 Axes I Have Known: BD Venom Gear

Axes I Have Known: BD Venom

Every now and then a piece of gear comes along that changes the paradigm. Such is the case with Black Diamond’s Venom ice axe. The Venom directly addresses the dilemma of having to choose between a general mountaineering axe and a technical ice tool. An all-around mountaineering axe will be used for many tasks, including (more...)...

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June 11, 2008 Gear

A Spot Rescue Call

As I continue to use my Spot, I continue to learn more about the device’s pros and cons. A lot of people are reporting difficulty sending messages, for example. In my experience, Spot does not do well transmitting while in motion. It seems to need to stay in one place (motionless is best), with a (more...)...

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May 31, 2008 Gear

Trails.com Review

If you’ve searched the web for information on a trail or peak, chances are you’ve come across a listing from Trails.com, a subscription-only website offering trail information and topo maps. For $49.00 per year, Trails.com claims to give you unlimited access to over 40,000 trail guides and topo maps for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico (more...)...

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May 28, 2008 Climbing Helmet Roundup Gear

Climbing Helmet Roundup

I’ve updated some older content that had gone AWOL: a roundup review of several climbing helmet models I tried out over the past few seasons. My pick of the bunch (at the time) was the Kong Scarab, for its ultralight 8.6 ounce weight and amazing comfort. Basically, if I can think up an excuse to (more...)...

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April 22, 2008 Update: Quantum Love Affair Continues Gear

Update: Quantum Love Affair Continues

Just made a few quick edits to my Black Diamond Quantum review. I’ve now had the pleasure of using both 45 and 55-liter versions of the Quantum. I like the extra volume of the 55, because it makes it easier to sneak your ski boots into the pack for those oh-so-brutal dry Eastern Sierra approaches. (more...)...

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April 21, 2008 Gear

Nalgene Phases out BPA Bottles

Nalgene has just announced the phase-out of BPA-containing bottles from its product lineup, including all polycarbonate (Lexan) water bottles. Any way you put it, this is a stunning reversal from a company that has been an unwaivering advocate for the safety of Lexan/Polycarbonate. For interesting commentary on the subject, see Z Recommends’ article, Hell Just (more...)...

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February 4, 2008 Osprey Talon 44 — Winter Update Gear

Osprey Talon 44 — Winter Update

I liked Osprey’s new Talon 44 backpack enough in summer to want to give it a try in Winter. At an unmatched two pounds, nine ounces, the Talon is Oprey’s lightest multi-day pack, with an innovative frame that easily bests a traditional stay-and-framesheet design in stiffness and load-worthiness. Two pounds nine ounces puts the Talon (more...)...

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January 21, 2008 I Lost My Spot!! (sort of) Gear

I Lost My Spot!! (sort of)

Truly tragic news here: on Saturday I lost my Spot tracker while testing the device in the San Gabriel mountains. I’ve been continuing to try out the unit’s ‘track’ function, which automatically sends a satellite ping every 10 minutes with your current location & time (more...)...

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April 20, 2007 Gear

Epic Tents and Rain

If you’re familiar with Black Diamond’s ultralight single-wall tents (such as the Firstlight, Hilight, or Oneshot), you’re probably aware of at least some discussion involving the reliability of their Epic™ fabric. Nobody seems to know exactly how waterproof (or not) Epic actually is—which would seem to be a question of some importance if you’re venturing (more...)...

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February 7, 2006 Gear

This Just in: New Gloves Warmer than Old

Our cutting-edge research team has just confirmed new gloves are indeed warmer than old ones. With morning temperatures hovering around 9° during my Colorado tour, my ancient Marker racing gloves weren’t up to snuff anymore. I decided to try Marmot’s Randonnee glove. The Randonnee is simple, comfortable, and warm, with a waterproof Gore-Tex XCR insert. (more...)...

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About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

Pray for snow.