Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Skunky Start to a Perfect Rumney Weekend

I'd like to say that the past Rumney adventure started when I got to the campsite along Baker River...but it didn't.  It started at 11:30 PM the previous night.  Exhausted from toiling on the computer for a work presentation, I decided to unplug for the night and take my dog Bailey outside for her nightly ritual of finding the perfect spot to do her business.  Only this night was different.  The dimly lit backyard highlighted the most terrifying creature you could find in your backyard: a skunk.  As soon as I saw it, Bailey took off like a lightning bolt after the white and black fluff ball.  Moments later she came back wreaking of burnt erasers and rotten eggs.  It was one of the worst things that could have happened right before a perfect weather weekend to Rumney.

I thought I could just leave her at home for the weekend, but I knew it wouldn't be the same without her there.  I always share my adventures with my pup.  She is a huge part of my life and I couldn't leave her behind.  I decided to cash out a little extra vacation time and get some skunk odor remover from the pet store.  Luckily, 4 washes later and only a faint smell lingered.  I could handle a little stink from her.  My own odor from 2 days of climbing and no shower would even out the smells anyway.

Finally, all clean!!

The trip was back on track and we hit the road with all the gear. The weekend brought some great fall weather with cool temps and dry conditions.  We ate and drank (moderately) like kings the night before our first day on the boulders.  The sunrises while camping were our alarm clocks along with the rustling and unzipping from our tents.  Breakfast was surrounded by chatter about climbing plans and aspirations for the day while checking the guide book.  For the most part everyone was just anxious to leave the campsite to head to the crags and boulder areas. 

Bill warming up on the Umbrella Traverse (v2)

Getting ready to warm up is always a cause for anxiety.  The first climb of the day can, in most cases, be an indicator of the rest of the day's performance.  But this time, warming up provided a lot of confidence for the progression to the harder boulders.  The best part of the trip was revisiting a boulder problem that embarrassingly shut me down the last time I was out at Rumney 4 years ago.  I couldn't even make the first move of the problem and just had to walk away in shame.  I trained and worked hard to progress the last 4 years and it paid off with the send of the problem (Pyramid Power, v7) on that day.  Finding a new project wasn't on the agenda but it seemed like a new project found everyone.  Satan in a Half Shell (v10) has given me the perfect excuse to plan another trip to try for the send. 

Pyramid Power v7

The boulders at Rumney are quite sharp, making the end of the day climbs very swear worthy.  The end of the day brought excitement for the heading back to camp to get the camp fire going.  After about 8 hours of climbing, brews were calling our names along with some flat iron steaks.  Our fuel cells were craving calories after working on projects and peeling off of sharp crimps for so many hours.  The time spent around the campfire was much shorter that night due to the exhaustion but everyone slept like they were at the 4 Seasons with the thoughts of the next day's adventure before the long road home.

New project Satan in a Half Shell (v10)

In some ways, the 2nd day of a trip always seems less stressful.  There is no stress of finding a new project or trying to get a send.  It was about exploring to find something fun to climb on, since our fingertips were shredded from the day before.  This is what climbing should be about anyway: having fun and exploring new areas to re-invigorate the soul.  One of the best things about Rumney is that there is something new to climb there every time I visit.   I will always have a longing to get back there whenever I get the chance.  But until then, I plan on keeping the problems and routes on my mind and keeping myself strong for the next trip.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

#ORInsightLab: Men's Ferrosi 3/4 Pant Review

The Ferrosi 3/4 pants

When I got to try out the Outdoor Research Men's Ferrosi 3/4 pants, I immediately dubbed them the "barely there" pants.  The Ferrosi 3/4 pants were so light weight that it almost felt like I wasn't even wearing them.  As light as they felt, they were very durable and had an ideal amount of stretch to them.  The pockets were very low profile, which I liked since there wouldn't be a lot of bulging areas like cargo shorts or pants.  I decided the best testing ground for these were some awkward-leg-positioning, overhanging boulders at Lincoln Woods, RI.

The stretch is in all the right places!

I was worried that the pant leg would get caught on my knee when making a high leg move or heel hook and become uncomfortable or restricting in movement. What I found was that when the pant leg caught my knee, it provided enough stretch to allow my leg to move with little resistance and was comfortable.  Another big worry I had about the Ferrosi 3/4 pant was the material allowing for the dreaded "backside" sweat to show through.  Warm summers and humidity mixed with light colored, thin material clothing tend to be problematic in this area.  However, the pants were surprisingly ventilated and breathable, with no sweat problems.  Whew, embarrassment avoided!

I was never a fan of 3/4 pants for men, but after wearing the Ferrosi style I have changed my mind on not wanting to wear them.  One thing I would want added to these pants is the option to cuff them up (with latch, velcro, or button system) to become shorts to provide extra coolness on really hot days.  I plan to take these up to the sport climbing crags in Rumney, NH since they performed so well on steep boulder problems. At 8.5 oz., these pants will be easily packed with me on all my spring and summertime climbing trips.

*This concludes the #ORInsightLab reviews.  The products reviewed in this program were given to me by Outdoor Research in exchange for honest reviews and feedback.  Any and all positive opinions presented by me in the program are my own and were not required to receive products.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

#ORInsightLab: Dirtbag RV Tech Tee Review

I know what you are thinking, "It's a t-shirt, how can you possibly have anything to review about it??"  On the surface the Dirtbag RV Tech Tee, by Outdoor Research, looks exactly what any t-shirt would look like.  But once I slipped it over my head and slid my arms through the sleeves, I noticed it had quite a different feel than most t-shirts.  It was very light-weight, soft, and had a ventilating feel to it.  I knew this shirt would be a great to try out while sport climbing and bouldering.

RV Tech Tee keeping me cool through the roof move!

What better test area for this shirt than one of the most prized crags of the Northeast: Rumney, NH.  Temps were forecast to be in the low 80s F (27 C) and I wanted to get a feel of how well it kept me cool and dry since that is its purpose.  After climbing for about 7 hours my shirt remained dry and I was staying quite cool.  However, the dark blue color absorbed a lot of the suns heat, making me quite warm.  It was fortunate for me that the moisture wicking of this material was excellent.  My shirt would be wet for about 5 minutes before being completely dry.  The performance while climbing was amazing as well.  The shirt is stretchy and elastic and also did not restrict the dynamic throws on the tough routes at Rumney.  The shirt performed so well that I wanted to wear it while bouldering the following weekend.

The only thing I would like to see different about this shirt is lighter colors to help reduce the absorbency of the sun's heat.  Overall, though, I am impressed with the Tech Tee and will continue to wear it while I climb and hang out with friends around the campfires.

Up next for the final review for #ORInsightLab are the Men's Ferrosi 3/4 Pants:

The products reviewed in this program were given to me by Outdoor Research in exchange for honest reviews and feedback.  Any and all positive opinions presented by me in the program are my own and were not required to receive products.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

#ORInsightLab: Handbrake Gloves Review

(photo from

The Handbrake Gloves, by Outdoor Research, is the product from the #ORInsightLab program I have had the most experience with this summer.  I have been out sport climbing almost every weekend this spring and summer.  These gloves have been through many trials in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Squamish, BC.  I am a huge fan of sport climbing, and I love everything about it except for belaying.  Having the rope directly rubbing back and forth on my hand, wearing away small bits of skin into a "rug burn" is very irritating.  My hands already get enough abuse from the rock and chalk, so minimizing hand damage in any way is always a plus.

Luckily, Outdoor Research wanted our opinion for the #ORInsightLab program!  When I first examined the gloves I thought they might also be used for mixed martial arts cage fighting.  Seriously, these things have some stacked knuckle padding!  The glove consists of very durable cow leather (sorry vegans!) and provides a nice, snug fit.  It allows for a smooth belay descent of the climber while leaving my hands unscathed.  I assumed these gloves would be pretty well worn after using them for about 100 belays, but they still look new with very minimal wear.  I have never worn belay gloves before, but now I have been spoiled and can no longer go back to bare-handing the rope while belaying.

While these Handbrake gloves are rough and tough and can protect my hands during a half-hour hang dog ascent, there is one thing that could make them better.  An improved ventilation system would make them more comfortable on the mid summer climbing sessions.  My hands felt like they were in a sauna and had quite the sweat fest.  But I would rather have sweaty palms instead of torn and destroyed ones, so this was definitely not a deal breaker.

These gloves go with me wherever I take my rope.  They are also about to hit their 4th climbing location this weekend up at Rumney, NH for a great rope-burn free weekend of some sport climbing.  Invest in your hands!  Get the Handbrake Gloves by Outdoor Research.  They are worth it!

Next up for review, the Outdoor Research Dirtbag RV Tech Tee:

The products reviewed in this program were given to me by Outdoor Research in exchange for honest reviews and feedback.  Any and all positive opinions presented by me in the program are my own and were not required to receive products.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Squamish Spray Down Day One: The Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada

Lesson #1 when packing for a long trip: weigh your luggage!  You don’t want to have a garage sale-like event happening at the check-in desk at the airport.  Fun fact here: a Sterling Evolution 9.8 60 m rope and Metolius rope bag weighs exactly 10lbs (according to luggage scale at flight check-in).  Luckily all it took was a little shuffling and all was ‘flying’ smoothly again.  See what I did there?  

Some people just aren't cut out for the red eye flights!

After arriving in Squamish I decided to locate the outdoor/climbing shops to pick up a guidebook.  I highly recommend doing this for this area due to the sheer number of boulder problems and routes (totals go into the thousands for both!).  Also,bring an ATC and learn how to rappel off of the top anchors if you don't already know how.  Most locations in the northeast have locking biners at the top or cold shut anchors that will allow the climber to be lowered by the belayer.  

My final thought for the day is this: mingle with the folks at the crags or boulder fields.  Many of them were locals and were very friendly and helpful in finding routes/boulders that suited my style.  They provided some colorful history of the area along with some of the best places to grab a brew.  So far after 1 day, I have accomplished more than I imagined here in the outdoor recreation capital of Canada!