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!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bags are Packed and We're Ready to Go!

And.....We're off!!!!

Six days in Squamish for the Squamish Mountain Festival and eight days in Hawaii for some bouldering, surfing, and stand-up-paddleboarding make for a perfect vacation for some much needed time off!  I plan on doing something a little different on this trip and provide some daily updates on the happenings and run-ins with stellar rock climbing routes, volcanic bouldering, or some epic waves that will most likely toss me around like a rag doll!

This trip will be fresh adventure for me.  I've never climbed outside of the northeast or surfed.  But that is what makes an adventure great: trying new things!  Along the way, I will be testing some gear for Outdoor Research and seeing how it handles outside of my usual climbing areas here in New England! Stayed tuned for updates, photos, stories, and helpful tips for traveling on a multi-location climbing trip!

Gear packed and ready!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

#ORInsightLab: Men's Growler S/S Shirt Review

Tags on a shirt can be important, "Designed by Adventure"
(Photo by Mike Bowsher)

This week's 'Spray Down' for #ORInsightLab will be about Outdoor Research's Growler S/S shirt!  I decided to take this item for multiple test runs up at my favorite crag, Farley Ledges.  By now, you readers have to know I love this place for how much I have been writing about it and using it as my testing grounds for the #ORInsighLab program.  This past weekend was a hot one with temps reaching into the mid 80's F (~29 C for the international or scientist folks).  It is imperative that my clothing is able to keep me cool and dry through multiple lead ascents at the hot humid ledges of Massachusetts.

The shirt itself has slightly more stiffness (95% nylon vs 98% cotton of the Jinx S/S) than the Jinx S/S shirt but by no means performed in a lesser capacity.  The temperature crept higher and felt sauna-like while climbing.  Once I started perspiring I thought that this shirt would be a nightmare for the rest of the day!  But the surprise came with the shirt became wet.  Not only did it dry quickly, it brought a relieving cooling sensation much like the kind you get when you open a refrigerator door, very refreshing!  The shirt kept me cool at this point so it was time to ascertain the performance aspect of the shirt during such a sticky humid day.

Staying cool on the roof section on Oosik 5.12a at Farley Ledges!
(Photo by Shannon B.)

Quick and upfront: the shirt performed excellent!  My key favorites of this shirt is its ability to move with me and not stick to me while climbing in the heat.  It did not feel restrictive in any ranges of motion my upper body performed.  Although I do wish that the shirt had some elasticity, this preferred perk did not deter the overall performance.  The Growler S/S also seems very durable as it stood up well to some stomach drags over some roof routes.  The no nonsense collar on this shirt also maintained its fold and did not become wrinkled after washing, which is one of my biggest annoyances of collared shirts.  Once again, with this shirt also carries an element of style.  After leaving the crag you can feel at ease knowing that if you didn't get your sends that day you will have at least looked good trying! 

Definitely feeling good at the end of the day!
 (photo shot by Shannon B.)

I definitely recommend this shirt as it performs very well in the heat, tough rock situations, and can be worn in a casual setting with a cold brew in hand.  OK the last part doesn't necessarily require a brew in hand...but it definitely doesn't hurt!  Stay classy folks and send away!

Stay tuned to the blog for the next installment of #ORInsightLab reviews: The Outdoor Research Handbrake gloves!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

#ORInsightLab: Men's Deadpoint Shorts Review

The Outdoor Research Deadpoint Shorts are up this week to be sprayed about for the #ORInsightLab program.  This review is going to sound like a promotional plug for for the shorts because that is how awesome they have performed.  I have worn them every time I have been out sport climbing this spring and summer. The performance has been impeccable!  I really wanted to test out the durability of these shorts since most of my clothing doesn't make it past a season of climbing.

The Deadpoint Shorts were perfect length and didn't get caught on my knee while high stepping on the routes.  The stretch cotton canvas is the perfect material for climbing.  The material has held up very well so far.  I've been beating these up on the wall with scraping, impacts and slow drag friction.  The fabric hasn't snagged or frayed through any of these brush-ups.  One of the greatest aspects of these shorts is that they work well in a casual environment also.  The material is very soft and comfortable, which is something that doesn't always come with things touted as durable.  

I couldn't find anything wrong with the way the Deadpoint Shorts felt or performed.  I plan on taking these to Squamish and Hawaii for rock climbing in a few weeks since they passed all my expectations for climbing apparel.  I have to give props to Outdoor Research on these, they did an amazing job constructing such a great piece of clothing for rock climbing!

Up for the next installment for #ORInsighLab is the Men's Growler S/S shirt: 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

#ORInsightLab: Men's Jinx S/S Shirt Review

The Outdoor Reseach Men's Jinx S/S shirt!

My first review for Outdoor Research's #ORInsightLab program is here!  But first, a little bit about the #ORInsightLab program and what I'll be doing with it.  Outdoor Research has chosen me to review some of their clothing/gear and to post my honest opinions about their products through social media via the hash tag #ORInsightLab.  So if you're on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, search for the hash tag and you'll find our group of outdoor adventurers putting their product line to the test out on the rocks and trails.

The first review will be on on men's Jinx S/S shirt.  When taking it out of the box I thought this shirt was too nice to wear while climbing.  I had never climbed in a button down shirt before but I have a lot of friends who do.  There is a first time for everything, right?  I can keep an open mind.  The shirt fabric was very light weight, soft, and thin, but not so thin as to be transparent.  I was very excited to give this shirt a try while getting on the sharp end of a rope on some sport routes.  The first place I took it to was one of my favorite sport climbing crags in the northeast, Farley, MA.  

The Jinx S/S shirt is very comfortably light and stylishly cool.  On a humid and warm summer weekend here in the northeast, ventilation and quick drying is a must!  Although I really dug the shirt's performance, a couple of minor tweaks to it would make it perfect.  I felt like the button line and collar could have a little more stiffness (thicker fabric) without affecting the weight/ventilation properties of the shirt.  These were hard to keep folded properly after washing, but did not affect the overall performance and feel.  It gave me the 'just-rolled-out-of-bed' look though and allowed me to fit in with most of the other climbers.

In all seriousness though, the shirt performed well and had great ventilation.  This will definitely be a shirt I wear often both at the crag and around the campfires drinking some brews with my friends.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

#Bouldering in the Social Media Age

I recently made a rock climbing video titled #Bouldering.  The video showcases a few of the finest moderate boulder problems New England has to offer.  The title of the short film is more of a statement of the nature of rock climbing and the way we connect with it through social media.  Using the #bouldering hash tag in various social media sites can connect you to millions of rock climbing videos, photos, and articles from around the world.  There are some, however, that disagree the current trend of social media in rock climbing but that won't change where it is headed.

In my opinion, social media has helped fuel my passion for the sport by connecting me with other like minded individuals who share their trip reports, photos, and videos of climbing areas around the world.  Just type in any professional climbers' name in Google and you will find that they have a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account.  Climbing has changed drastically in the past decade with the intertwining of technology with the sport.  I can only imagine how it will change in the next 10 years.  Only time will tell.  Until then, enjoy the bouldering short film I created.