What’s New In Ice Gear
Hottest gear for the coldest weather.
Ice is back and digging your tools, crampons and other gear from last year is sure to make you think about replacing your old stuff. Every year we review some of the hottest new ice gear to give you an advantage when searching the shops for the latest climbing gear. This year, there are revolutionary new harnesses, boots and helmets to consider when kitting yourself out for the winter season.
At just 238g, the AIR CR harness is one of the lightest fully adjustable winter harnesses available. Unlike other lightweight models, the AIR CR doesn't compromise on comfort or features. A wide, padded waist-belt and leg loops distribute the load and take the sting out of extended belays, while the patented No-Twist belay loop eliminates belay biner cross loading. A great harness for weight-conscious climbers.
With its hard outer shell and energy-absorbing foam lining, the Altios is part of a new wave of climbing helmets delivering excellent durability and impact protection. Petzl includes an innovative hybrid suspension system for maximum comfort and ventilation and an easy-to-use click-wheel fit adjustment. Clips secure a headlamp on night-time descents while the aftermarket Vizion face shield protects delicate dental work from shattered ice and misplaced tools.
Difficult mixed climbing requires grippy form-fitting gloves like the Amphibians. Built with Pittards sticky Oil Tack leather for grip in wet, snowy conditions, the Amphibians also have Vibram rubber-covered finger tips for added friction on difficult rock moves. The rest of the glove uses WindStopper Scuba softshell fabric for durability, warmth and stretch. A specialized tool for challenging climbing.
The Anaconda Cup combines low weight, tons of clearance and excellent handling in a tool that excels on modern mixed routes. A small-diameter shaft reduces fatigue during extended pitches while the secure quick-release leash allows for easy screw placements. For difficult mixed routes simply swap out the hammer and adze with the optional aluminum insert for an ultra-light tool that's perfect for pushing the grades.
With its weather resistant WindStopper shell and efficient PrimaLoft insulation, the Chaos jacket makes even the most miserable belays more pleasant. A helmet-compatible hood accommodates bulky hats and helmets while the generous fit layers easily over climbing shells. Two hand-warmer pockets, an internal mesh water-bottle pocket and an MP3 pocket round out the functional features. A warm belayer is an attentive belayer.
Arguable the best tool for pure ice climbing, the new BD Cobra combines the lightweight and vibration damping qualities of carbon fiber with the proven durability of a stainless steel head. A balanced swing, grippy shaft and huge clearance put the Cobra at the top of the list of premier ice tools. Climbers not comfortable with leashless climbing will appreciate the optional Android leash attachment point.
The Cosmic helmet's closure eliminates buckles under the chin with a unique webbing dial adjuster. The result is a secure and comfortable fit without the chafing and bulk of conventional buckles. The solid ABS shell provides great coverage and protection from ice and rocks while headlamp clips secure the headlamp during alpine starts and evening descents.
Sometimes the best innovations are the simplest. With the Crevasse Kit, Petzl packages all the necessary gear for crevasse rescue into a sleek, zippered pouch eliminating the frantic last-minute search for an extra pulley and ascender. A plasticized instruction sheet completes this mandatory piece of kit for safe glacier travel.
The Enforcer's flexible d30 padding hardens on impact, protecting knuckles and fingers during ice bashing epics. A waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex XCR liner keeps hands dry while the abrasion-resistant Schoeller fabric shell remains flexible in all conditions. For cold weather comfort, BD adds a low-bulk PrimaLoft and fleece liner while burly leather palms shrug off multiple rappels.
Easy-placing Express screws with their coffee grinder handle and excellent finish are mandatory for any ice climber's racks. Sharp teeth bite quickly into hard ice, increasing placement speed while the screw's tapered tube minimizes friction. The unique, silver-coloured hanger slows melt-out during sunny condition and provides a secondary clip-in point for extra biners.
Travelling ice climbers will love the new BD Ice Box. It is a heavily-padded, zippered suitcase style bag, to secure and protect sharp gear, keeping it organized and safely away from expensive shells and belay jackets. Large enough for two axes, crampons, screws and other ice climbing accessories.
The award winning Lucidi TX1 displays the high-level of Swiss design typical of Mammut products. Using three LEDs and two brightness settings, the Lucidi TX1 cast two wide energy-conserving flood light beams, a powerful spotlight and a three LED combo-beam for maximum visibility. Three small LEDs on the battery pack improve visibility for the second during walk-off descents and a unique Switchlock mechanism locks the on/off switch and protects the lens during storage.
With their body contorting techniques, modern ice and mixed climbing share many similarities with gymnastic rock climbing. Unfortunately, most traditional winter climbing harnesses are more suitable for slogging uphill rather than busting-out upside down bat-hangs and Jean-Claude Van Damme stemming moves. Thankfully, the M280 delivers a light-weight low-bulk package perfectly suited for difficult winter climbing. The smooth and secure single pass buckle provides peace-of-mind when pushing through the crux while the mesh leg loops minimize bulk and reduce weight. On the off chance the draws aren't fixed or there's a section of ice on the route, the M280 includes four racking biner slots and two large gear loops.
With their awkward, bulky shape or delicate foam construction, travelling with a climbing helmet is a difficult. The Madillo solves this problem with its unique and innovative folding design. A hard plastic shell lined with shock absorbing foam folds into itself creating a slim package, which easily fits into the lid pocket of most packs. The helmet provides excellent protection from falling ice and rocks as well as side impacts incurred from falls. Now there is no excuse to climb without a helmet.
Climbers familiar with techniques like the figure four and the figure nine will drool over the Mega Ice. Designed for steep and gymnastic modern mixed climbing, the boot comes with a bolt-on crampon for rockshoe precision on ice and stone. An integrated gaiter maintains a low profile, minimizes weight and adds precious warmth. The perfect tool for M-desperate.
Winter climbing in the Canadian Rockies is challenging even in the best conditions. The routes usually require long approaches, have difficult climbing and temperatures can hover in the sub-arctic range; perfect conditions for the Phantom Lite. Using an insulated inner boot with a built-in gaiter, the Phantom Lite delivers exceptional warmth without compromising technical climbing performance. Wide, sticky rands improve security on tenuous rock moves while the integrated GSb slot assures a solid fit with Grivel crampons. Borrowing technology from rock climbing shoes, Scarpa adds a tensioned heel rand for extra control and reduced heel lift during front pointing. An excellent and well made boot for the serious Rockies climber.
The new Outdoor Research gloves are a godsend for climbers suffering from cold hands. The gloves incorporate a built-in rechargeable battery, which delivers heat at the press of a button. The system works. During miserable conditions, simply hit the switch for soothing, finger-saving warmth. When activities levels increase, turn off the gloves and save battery life for colder temps. A beefy leather palm adds durability while the Gore-Tex shell keeps moisture out. An excellent solution for frozen hands during extended belay sessions.
The new Sarkens are the ideal crampons for climbers seeking one crampon for a variety of conditions. The hybrid T-section front points deliver excellent hard water ice performance while providing enough surface area for minimal shearing in soft snow conditions. Four different binding configurations and the option of a semi-rigid or flexible mode assure a great fit on almost any boot.
The Trango Belay Parka is a welcome addition when belaying at exposed pitches in the mountains. The oversized body quickly fits over existing layers while the adjustable hood easily accommodates all helmets and headwear. When the weather craps-out, the water repellent shell and PrimaLoft insulation ensure warmth as well as wind and water protection. Elasticized wrists keep in heat without adding bulk and fleece-lined collar won't scrape frozen chins.
Climbers wanting maximum clearance for mixed and competition climbing will like the new X-Dry tools. The massively curved shaft easily clears bulges while low profile grip encourages hand matching. A laser cut pick sports plenty of teeth for solid hooking and levering while the massive head cut-out keeps tool weight to a paltry 556g. Designed with input from the 2007 World Cup Ice Climbing champion Evgeny Krivosheitsev, the X-dry is ideal for modern mixed routes.