Mammut Whymper Jacket
The Northern Rockies are known for their cold storms and temperamental weather. When I am climbing in the alpine, I need gear that can keep me warm and dry in rapidly changing conditions.
Mammut designed the Whymper Jacket to celebrate the 150-year anniversary of Edward Whymper’s ascent of the Matterhorn. With taped seams, an adjustable hood, hem and cuff adjustments, underarm zips and large pockets the Whymper Jacket attempts to be the jacket Edward Whymper could never even have dreamed of. Let’s see how it did.
Medium Weight: When compared to other hard shell jackets with similar features, The Whymper (15.9 oz) is a bit heavier than the Patagonia Refugitive (14.7 oz) and a bit lighter than the Arc’teryx Theta AR (18.1oz). The lightest hard shell jackets forgo the underarm zips, large front pockets and interior pocket and weigh between 8-12 oz.
Breathability / Weather Proof: Over the last 8 months, I have tested this jacket on alpine rock climbs in the Cirque of the Unclimbables along with backcountry skis and ice climbs in the San Juan Mountains. As expected, this jacket performed very well protecting me from rain, snow and wind. When I am active the underarm zips and Gore-Tex Pro 3L technology provide adequate ventilation, yet after several hours of sustained activity I found the breathability could not keep up with my sweat. On the whole I expected to get very wet in the hard shell and was impressed with how the Gore-Tex Pro 3L 40d technology worked to keep me dry.
Mobility and Fit: Overall this jacket has a wide range of features suitable to finding comfort in the alpine. I have appreciated the slim fit of this jacket, which helps prevent material from getting snagged when climbing cracks or skiing trees. Also I still have full range of motion in my shoulders so I can reach hand hold above my head without getting any lift at the waistline. The zippers and pull cords are all easily adjustable with gloves and there are two large pockets on the front that I have used to store ski goggles and extra snacks. Without a helmet on, there is a lot of dead space in the hood, but with a helmet the hood fits snugly and securely. At first this jacket was quite crinkling. Yet after 2 months of use, the crinkly noise dissipated. The slim fit and multiple features make the Whymper Jacket a good choice across a number of alpine adventures.
Bottom Line: The Whymper Jacket offers great weather protection at a moderate weight with a variety of glove-adjustable features.
Mammut Rock Rider Helmet
When climbing in remote areas beyond the reach of immediate help you learn to understand the importance of having a healthy margin of safety. On Grade VI rock climbs in the Cirque of the Unclimbables and Grade III ice routes outside of Silverton I have found the trick is striking a balance between a helmet that is light enough not to slow me down and still durable enough to take some abuse.
The Mammut Rock Rider is a foam helmet designed for a wide spectrum of applications. My testing areas included remote alpine rock objectives in Canada to warm, sunny days rock climbing in Indian Creek to cold, windy days ice/mixed climbing outside Ouray. The helmet performed equally well in each of these areas–I did not overheat in direct sun or get a brain freeze in fierce winds.
I have a larger head (for example the Petzl Meteor comes in only one size and doesn’t fit me). With the Rock Rider sized large I found I could still fit a hat under my helmet when I was climbing multi pitch ice routes outside of Silverton. In a moment when I took my hat off on lead, I was not able to re-buckle my helmet with one hand (which happens to be a feature on the Petzl Meteor with the help of a magnetic clip). To prevent this scenario I would recommend not taking your helmet off on lead or getting to a no hands rest before de-layering.
The Rock Rider sized medium (8.8 oz) is a bit heavier than the Petzl Meteor (7.6 oz) or the Black Diamond Vector (8.4 oz). All of these foam helmets are significantly lighter than hardshell plastic helmets, which weigh between 11 oz and 14 oz. Another advantage to the foam design is more back of the head coverage. Protecting the back of the head can be indispensable in a scenario involving an unexpected or upside-down fall.
After 8 months of consistent use I have not noticed any major wear. The overall structural integrity appears fully intact. Some of the stickers have faded and there are many scuffs on the top where small pieces of ice have fallen on me. Yet all the buckles, webbing and headlamp clips remain unfazed. I expect to get a lot more use out of this helmet.
Though the Mammut Rock Rider is neither the lightest nor the most durable helmet, its thick foam construction enables it to excel at combining durability with a light weight throughout a variety of terrain.
After a big day of climbing I often return home, sit down and reach out for a beer only to notice that my forearms are still pumped. The exertion of the day has left its mark on my arms in the forms of pink fingertips and ballooned forearms. For me to rebound from a big workout and climb hard in the days to come I need to focus on self-care. First I drink a beer, then I eat well, place climbing balm on my fingers massage my forearms, and go to bed early. This may sound a bit cliché. But on an extended climbing trip, I will do everything I can to stack the odds in my favor.
I have found that massaging my forearms after a rigorous day of climbing has a notable effect on my recovery and performance the following day. Olympic athletes understand this and have a professional masseuse loosen their muscles after each workout. As someone looking to receive those benefits in a simple and cost effective way, I tried Armaid. Within a few minutes I can loosen up my forearms and work out any tension from the day. For an even cheaper approach, try a lacrosse ball, a broom handle or rock. A rock can be massaged with the opposing hand while a straight stick can be braced with a leg to get a deep massage. All of these methods work, so try out the rock or stick first. It feels great to get a deep forearm massage after a rigorous day of climbing.
There are a few different ways to assemble Armaid. Of the three rollers, I found the white one to be the most useful and appropriate to my post-workout recovery. As a climber, I felt that the grey roller wasn’t aggressive enough and that the orange roller was too focused. Almost all of the time I am using the white roller. Another option is to get a strap. Buy one from Armaid or grab a piece of 1” webbing that’s lying around and use that.
Maybe you have read all of this and decided not to get an Armaid. That’s great you could put that money towards a new pair of climbing shoes or a new rope instead. And still massage your forearms after a big climb with a rock or a stick.
Armaids can be ordered directly from their website for $70.
Wilson Electronics (now weBoost) Mobile 4G Cell BoosterAs an avid rock climber and field geologist, I spend most of my time on the road. Living far off the beaten track for days or weeks at a time, I’ve had the opportunity to test the Wilson Electronics Mobile 4G Booster in some of the most rural and remote stretches of Colorado and Utah. And it sure excels at doing its job. Keeping in mind that ‘no signal’ is still ‘no signal,’ the Wilson Mobile 4G Booster will—without fail—take a weak signal and make it better. But there has to be something to start with. There has to be something to boost.
Wilson Electronics is the first company to make mobile 4G boosters. These boosters work by collecting the best signal from an external antenna attached to the roof of your car and sending it to an amplifier unit. The amplified signal is then rebroadcasted to your phone via the indoor antenna. Along with improving your signal, the Mobile booster will improve your battery life since your phone isn’t working as hard to get a signal.
My Wilson Electronics Mobile 4G Booster came with a complimentary ‘Installcard,’ but I never used it, opting to install it myself. The installation went quickly with easy to follow instructions and diagrams. Though there are a few guidelines which are important to follow as you set up your Mobile Booster. First, there are three components to the installation: the outside antenna, the signal booster box and the inside antenna. The outside antenna must attach to a metal roof to create a ‘ground plane,’ in addition with being 8” from any windows, 12” from any other antennas and free of obstructions such as that oversized roof box. The signal booster box can rest in any nook in your car and is connected to both antennas and a standard 12 volt power supply. The last step is to find a good spot for the internal antenna, it should be at least 18” from where you will use your cell phone. I drive a Subaru Outback and could simply lift up the side paneling and tuck the wires under it and out of sight. If your side paneling is difficult to lift up (generally the case on luxury style cars) and you are going for a professional, wires out of sight, look, I would suggest using the ‘Installcard’ and let someone else do the installation for you. For me the entire process took all of 15 minutes and I am more than satisfied with how it turned out.
I have taken the Wilson Electronics Mobile 4G Booster to some of the most remote stretches of road within Colorado and Utah. When I’m really out there or deep in canyon country, ‘no signal’ is still ‘no signal.’ But on the fringe of civilization or more accurately, the fringe of cell reception, the mobile booster works great. Through several tests, I have found that I will go from 1 bar to 3/4 or from 2 bars to 4/5 or from 3 bars to 5 bars. In general I gain about 2 bars of service. In practice this translates to going from barely sending a text message to making short phone calls, or from making short, interrupted calls to making long clear and uninterrupted calls. During tests I have found that despite the fact I’m using a mobile booster, my service is slightly better when my car is stationary. So when I need to get out that one call or email, I’m still looking for the best and closest spot, parking my car and then using my phone. But shouldn’t we all be parked to text/email anyways?
The Wilson Electronics Mobile 4G Booster will bring a weak signal up to a good signal, or a good signal up to a great signal. It excels when you are traveling through areas of patchy coverage—always on the fringe of having great reception, but stuck at one or two bars. Areas with ‘no service’ still have ‘no service’ and while areas of great coverage are still great, you do benefit from an extended battery life. Wilson Electronics has been rebranded as weBoost. Same products, new name. Check out the Mobile 4G Booster on weBoost’s website right here, or if you only need to boost one cell phone and don’t mind a cradle, also check out the weBoost Drive 4G-S—another option from Wilson Electronics at a more economical price.
Y&Y Belay GlassesWhen I first encountered belay glasses I figured they were just a fad among ever-too-serious pebble wrestlers. Left to my pride, I decided my neck was stronger and my focus more resilient. I can look up. Come on how hard is that? Years later, I will be the first to admit I was wrong. I tested out my friend’s belay glasses and haven’t looked back. Not only was I watching the leader 100% of the time, but my neck felt great!
I tested these glasses out over a period of about two weeks climbing in Rifle. I asked all of my climbing partners to try them out and comment. I usually turned on the light reflecting properties of the glasses around the second or third clip by staring into the mystical prisms. I still had to tilt my head back slightly to see the climber. When I am looking straight ahead-neither up nor down-cowboy calculations indicate that what I see through the prisms is 60° off the horizon. This means that if you want to see something directly above you, you would still need to tilt your head back 30° – still a great relief! Additionally, my field of view with the Y&Y belay glasses is more than sufficient to see the climber while still having the peripheral vision to see my immediate surroundings. This can come in handy if I encounter a curious dog, a thieving squirrel, or an attractive girl while on belay duty. Finally the Y&Y Belay glasses fit well on a variety of sized heads and could be worn over prescription glasses without any difficulties.
Y&Y has everything that you would expect from a pair of top line belay glasses at a reasonable price. Built by the French, the design is comfortable, yet compact, the frames are study, yet light, and the prisms are clear, crystal clear. The case is perhaps my favorite feature. With Velcro, zippers, and handy carabineer I can clip the case to my harness for easy access and storage throughout the day. Unlike other products, the hinges on the Y&Y Belay Glasses make such a compact case possible.
The light and compact design of the Y&Y belay glasses makes them an easy addition to my climbing pack. I’m even planning on taking them on my next multi-pitch climb! There is no way that the case or glasses could survive a squeeze chimney, but sustained pitches of hard face climbing will be perfect! As I mentioned earlier, the Y&Y Belay glasses fit well on a variety of sized heads and can be worn over prescription glasses without any difficulties.
A great pair of belay glasses at a reasonable price. The versatile carrying case and compact design are certainly the most unique features. You can get these belay glasses from Y&Y directly at http://www.yy-belayglasses.com/.