"Life is brought down to the basics: if you are warm, regular, healthy, not thirsty or hungry, then you are not on a mountain... Climbing at altitude is like hitting your head against a brick wall - it's great when you stop."

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Nanga Parbat

Credit: Ari Paulin,  Shot on 2009-10-31 Photo taken.(c) (c) 2010 Ari Paulin, licensed under: (c) 2010 Ari Paulin.

Even if it looks like the Everest movies isn't going to come to theaters near you anytime soon, there's still others. More specifically Nanga Parbat covering the tragic Nanga Parbat Rupal Face expedition by the two Messner brothers in 1970, on which Reinhold Messners younger brother Günther died.

Gear-whores ahoy!

There seem to be few interesting items just out or coming in the near future.

Without further ado, here goes:

Updated version of the superb Phantom Lite, the Phantom Guide is a very light boot with a precise fit and new uppers designed for use in cold conditions. Credit: Ari Paulin,  Shot on 2010-10-21 Photo taken.(c) (c) 2010 Ari Paulin, licensed under: (c) 2010 Ari Paulin.
  • DMM DragonDMMDragon Looks a lot like lighter and somewhat improved version of awesome Black Diamond Camalot C4. Looks like the final production design is different from the prototypes so that final model does not have a thumb loop. Before actually trying it out this feels disappointing.
  • Scarpa Phantom GuideScarpaPhantom Guide This one looks like a no-brainer to me. I've been using excellent Phantom Lite's for years. However they are starting to leak due to wear and tear, so I need to replace them anyway in the near future. Phantom Guide seems like a new and improved version. The only question that remains is whether to get them half a number larger than my Phantom Lite's; they are very snug, climb excellently but walking downhill would be more comfortable if there was more room for toes. See also introduction/review Scarpa Phantom Guide vs the La Sportiva Batura Edit: after using a pair for a trip to Alps (albeit with regrettably little climbing due to poor conditions) I think the fit has been changed. I ordered mine half a number larger, so direct comparison of fit against Lite's is not possible, but the Guide certainly feels like it has larger inner volume, more so than the size difference might suggest. I offset this by inserting thicker after-market insoles. The lacing system has been changed and the new one feels to lock ankle better. Certainly a plus. The shaft is a bit taller and possibly a bit stiffer as well. Not sure yet whether I like this change.
  • Hagan NanookHaganNanook There are situations where some form of flotation aid is unavoidable in order to get to the climb. While full-on ski touring kit can get you to the bottom of the climb as effortlessly as possible (not to mention the joy it provides while descending), it is also very heavy unless you can leave it below the actual climb. Furthermore, climbing shoes are much better to climb with than skiing shoes, but they really suck in skiing even if you could use them (with Silvretta 404 binding you can). Howeverer, this effectively means that even if your skis would be great for downhill skiing, the shoes aren't up to the job. The other option would be to climb with your skiing boots, but they are big, bulky, heavy etc. Basically everything that makes a bad climbing boot. This solution is very much workable, if the climbing isn't too difficult (especially not on rock). Not being much of a skier myself, I figure the ideal solution for me though would be a very light and compact skis that can get me to the climb using my climbing boots and that I can strap to my backpack for the climb if I need to descent to different side of the mountain. The fact that they aren't too great to ski downhill is negated by the fact that I couldn't ski down anything difficult anyway, especially not when wearing my climbing boots and a backpack containing the climbing kit. It seems that Andy Kirkpatricks reasoning is very similar in this matter.
Credit: Ari Paulin, (c) (c) 2010 Ari Paulin, licensed under: (c) 2010 Ari Paulin.
  • Petzl ice tools for season 2010-2011Petzlice tools for season 2010-2011 Petzl are revamping their ice weaponry for the next season. Once again, they have changed the pick system. This time around it actually makes sense though, as now their technical line-up (Quark, Nimic and new Ergo) use the same picks and modular head. This same system also fixes (one of) the biggest drawbacks of their excellent Nomic, the lack of hammer. Other revamps include clever-looking slider/trigger system for all of the tools and improved trigrest. For Nomic and Ergo this means studs added to the bottom of trigrest. This is not ideal in my book, as there's still no good solution for using umbilical cord-type system should that strike your fancy and such studs are most likely not as good for support as real spike (like used in Black Diamond Fusion 2nd gen). However, improvement still compared to current Nomic. Since I don't use Nomics for alpine climbing anyway (I use somewhat tricked Quarks for that) I can easily live with that drawback though. The hole in the handle works for attaching yourself to tool in case of emergency, especially if you expand it somewhat with a file. For the Quark Petzl did exactly what I wished though, by making the spike clippable. They seem to have some new ideas regarding to wiregate carabiners up their sleeve as well. New Ergos look funky, interesting to hear how they perform.

I tumbled on two very informative videos featuring the gear tips and tricks of Steve House.

Climb out of Development Hell, my ass

Some months back it seemed like the Everest movie based on 1996-events was actually going to get made when the reigns were passed over from Stephen Daldry to David Fincher. In recent months things seem to have gone pear-shaped again for the project. Now the holdup being mr Fincher being tied up with a Facebook-movie.