Tag Archives: Gear review

Climb Glacier Education Series: Quad Maps On Line

EducationCan You Ever Have Too Many Maps?

Maps are an essential part of exploring Glacier National Park.

We use them for route planning before every climb. With just some simple education on how to read a map the outdoor enthusiast can gain some fantastic information.  In addition to the obvious location of peaks, streams and other geographic features it is also possible to determine the elevation as well as slope of a particular route.

I have included some practical map reading skills in Map Reading 101 Part 1 and Map Reading 101 Part 2.

There is a pretty cool on-line site called the Libre Map Project that features 7.5 Minute Series Topographic Maps.

Here is how to use Libre Maps find a geographic feature, such as Seward Mountain in Glacier National Park (or anywhere in the USA).

1) To locate the proper Quad map for Seward Mountain type Seward” into the Libre Map search engine.

Make sure you select the correct state if you are searching for data in another state.  This link is set for Montana.

2) Press “SEARCH” and a new window will open with Montana Place Names Search Results.

3) To save the map on your computer right click on the “TIFF” link.

4) Select “Save Target As” and store the file on the desktop or a selected folder.

5) Once the image is downloaded open it with a photo viewing program such as Windows Photo Gallery.

The results will come up and identify “Many Glacier” as the quad that Seward Mountain is found on. Download it and view it.

This is another fun way to explore Glacier National Park.

Please enjoy.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

Three “Essential” Free iPhone Apps

Okay, these apps are not essential, at all, to have a great trip into Glacier National Park, but sometimes we use them while we are up in the mountains to help in navigation.  We currently use iPhones.

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You might have others that you like better and we would like to hear about them.  Let us know about your favorite APPs for iPhone or Android devices in the comment section.

NeoTreksGPS –photo 1

What the developer says: NeoTreks GPS is your one-stop GPS outdoor recreation app, with over five million square miles of terrain and trail maps in the US – designed specifically for the iPhone. These are not shrunken USGS maps that were made to print in 2 foot paper sheets; HD maps are TRIPLE the zoom level and contain the most recent trail and public land data available, optimized for your iPhone. Comparable recreation maps for expensive dedicated GPS units can cost hundreds in additional fees – NeoTreks GPS gives you all this for one low annual subscription.

What we think: This is a good basic program for off-trail travel.  It is not as robust as a GPS unit, but it is a FREE iPhone app.  It works as advertised.

We like the fact that we could download all of the Glacier National Park maps at no charge.  This will not replace our paper maps or a gps but is a great back-up and the location services can be helpful in identifying the general area where you are located at any given moment.  Of course, this is dependent upon signal coverage.  The downside is that any program that is constantly sending and receiving signals sucks battery life.  Other maps can be purchased for an additional fee.

the SPOT app –photo 2

What the developer says: SPOT satellite devices provide GPS location-based messaging, emergency notification technology, and even anti-theft alerting and tracking beyond the boundaries of cellular.  Since launch, SPOT’s satellite technology has helped initiate more than 2,500 rescues around the globe.

With the SPOT App, you can easily view your SPOT’s messages, track progress, or monitor assets.

Features:

– Display SPOT messages with GPS locations on a standard map, a satellite map or in list view – Filter your SPOT messages by date range, message type, or device – Easily zoom to the most recent SPOT message – Selectable GPS coordinate display format – Option to auto-delete SPOT messages by time or quantity within the app.  Auto-deleted messages are removed from the app but remain in your SPOT account for 30 days. – Set the frequency to check for new SPOT messages

*The SPOT App requires a SPOT account with an active SPOT satellite device and a Wi-Fi or data connection to view your SPOT messages. To learn more, visit www.FindMeSPOT.com.

What we think: We carry the SPOT Connect and pay an annual fee for peace of mind.  It is a great back-up if the “hit really fits the shan”.

Call it peace of mind for your family or friends at home.  Call it what you will but the technology works and enables us to check in with our wives, families and friends and let them know we are okay.  That is peace of mind is worth a lot.

Altimeter –photo 3

What the developer says: Digital Altimeter is a GPS based altimeter for the iPhone 3G, 3Gs and 4G.

What we think: It works and doesn’t take up any more room in our packs.  Find one that works for you and load it on your smart phone.

What iPhone or Android apps do you use and why do you like them?

Thanks for reading this review and I hope that you are able to find your “best” apps for your trips into the wild.

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Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post.  I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Climb Glacier education series: Climbing Helmets

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The “goob” summit pose on Bishops Cap. Next time I took the Black Diamond Half Dome helmet off before the summit shots.

Got Helmet Hair?

Okay helmets are a pain to carry and they don’t look very cool in photos. But in the end it boils down to protecting your brain from stuff that can hurt or kill you.

If you have ever climbed in Glacier you have probably come close to being hit by rock screaming down a couloir.  This is especially true if you are climbing below others in your party or if there are mountain goats above your route.

IMG_0994

Scrambling on the Mount Siyeh route.

A FACT of science: Rock is hard and your head is not.

Wear a helmet whenever there is potential for rock fall or falling.

Consider these stats:

  • In the United States, every 21 seconds someone sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and over 50,000 people die from these injuries every year while 235,000 are hospitalized.
  • The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports that 21% of traumatic head injuries occur in sports and recreation.
  • Males are twice as likely as females to be injured.
  • In one study, wearing a helmet while climbing may have made a difference in 25% of the critical trauma fatalities.
  • Helmets also protect against fractures, concussions, and lacerations.
IMG_7767

A cooler “goob” shot. Above Preston Park on Mount Siyeh Route.  Wearing the Madillo helmet from Edelrid.

So please get Helmet Hair and risk looking like a goob in photos. Looking like a goob is better than having a traumatic brain injury.

Here are just three examples from my experience about wearing helmets.

  • In 2010, one of my climbing partners fell about 10 feet on a challenging section of Sinopah Mountain after the rock he trusted pulled out.  He landed directly on his helmet which saved his brain.  To this day he is convinced that the helmet saved his life.
  • Many times I have stood up into rock on overhangs while climbing through cliffs, each time I do this I am thankful that I have my helmet on.
  • While ascending Chief Mountain in October 2012 many of the team members were hit by rock that was falling off the snow-covered slopes.  None of it was huge but it could have been disastrous.  I was less worried about it than others because I had a helmet.

CGNP Education-smallThat being said here are a few recommendations:

  • The best helmet fits well, is comfortable, and is in your price range.  Purchase one that meets these criteria.  Climbing stores, like Rocky Mountain Outfitter, can help you with this.
  • Make sure you watch the video.  Jandy Cox from Rocky Mountain Outfitter shares his knowledge about different types of climbing helmets as well as how to get the proper fit for your climbing helmet.
  • Carry it until you need it.  There is no need to wear a helmet until starting the challenging portion of the route.  Wear it when you need it, take it off when you don’t.
  • Hang on to it.  There is a Black Diamond helmet on the slopes of Mount Cannon after it slipped out of my sweaty hands while adjusting the fit.
  • Carefully inspect your helmet if you drop it.  Be careful when you lay down your pack.
  • Falling = replacement.  If you need to replace your helmet that means your old one worked.
  • It only works if you wear it!
Summit shot from Mount Siyeh.  Good to be helmet free on the summit.

Summit shot from Mount Siyeh. Good to be helmet free on the summit.

I own two helmets.  The orange Black Diamond Half Dome is used by friends who don’t own a helmet and I use a Edelrid Madillo.

The Madillo collapses down into a smaller package which takes up much less room in my pack.  It is just a bit more expensive but due to the convenience of the smaller size I tend to carry it along on climbs.

Jandy also spoke about the Black Diamond Vapor Helmet.

One final hint, take you helmet off for summit shots to look like less of a goob.

Better yet take some of both.  Send the one with your helmet on to your mom, because she always wants you to be safe.  Send the one with your helmet off to that friend who will be jealous of the view from the top.

See you on the routes.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

Disclosure of Material Connection:I have not received any compensation for writing this post.  I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Gear That I Use – The AS-2 Pack

Blake01

Photo by Jake Bramante

I have a confession.  I like backpacks.

In 2012 I was looking for a new pack and discovered a the AS-2 pack from OutThereUSA!

I contacted Mike Kloser and I was super impressed with his resume and his customer service.  To say he is an athlete is almost an insult.  This guy is an elite athlete with multiple wins in races such as a 4 time Adventure Racing World Champion, World Mountain Bike Champion, World Long Distance Orienteering Champion, 3 time Eco Challenge Champion and  5 time Primal Quest Champion.

He designed his packs for outdoor pursuits such as adventure racing, climbing, trekking and mountain biking.  Mike packs more adventure in before breakfast than most of us do in a single day.

So I ordered one.  I purchased the AS-2 pack from OutThereUSA!429725_496360780425500_1298319338_n

One of the things that drew me to Mike’s pack was the numerous pockets to help keep things organized.

Additionally, the waist belt has built-in water bottle holders as well as a waterproof pocket on the right and a mesh pocket for miscellaneous items and such on the left.  Each shoulder strap has 2 more pockets for smaller items such as gels and they are big enough for a GPS as well.  The pack also has two water reservoir sleeves.  It is well designed and durable.

Other features I like are the beavertail as well as a stow-away mesh helmet carrier.

A handy map pocket holds maps and other stuff out of the way but is super easy to access without having to open the whole pack.

Perhaps my favorite are the two pockets on the top lid (the lower one opens from the side so stuff doesn’t fall out and the upper one has a mesh top so you can actually see what are looking for).

There are multiple attachment points for skis, snowboards, snowshoes, ice axes, tents, … you name it you can carry it.  The side access zipper makes getting raingear out of the pack a breeze.

Specifications:blue pack back

  • Pack Weight- 42oz., 1.2kg. (Blue), 44.5oz, 1.25kg. (Green)
  • Volume- 1,830 to 2,440 cu. In.
    • Internal Pack Storage- 30 liters storage in main pack compartment
    • External Mesh/Nylon Storage- 10 liters storage on outside of pack
  • Pack dimensions- 20″H x 12″W x 6″D / 50.8cm x 30.5cm x 15.2cm

Cost:

$179.00 plus shipping and handling

This pack is probably a bit more than many people would want to spend on a day pack for climbing.  I purchased the pack primarily for overnight jaunts but quickly found that I liked it a lot for day trips as well.  Its the pockets.

OutThereUSA! has other packs to consider as well.

The MS-1 retails for $144.00 plus shipping and handling.

The original AS-1 retails for $169.00 plus shipping and handling.

Recommendation:

The AS-2 from OutThereUSA! is a bomber pack for someone who likes to be organized.  It is also a great pack for those of use who enjoy multiple kinds of outdoor activities.  This pack can be used all year so a one pack system can replace multiple packs thus saving money, space, and hassles of switching  packs.

Give Mike a shout and see if he can help you find the OutThereUSA! pack that best fits your need.  Here is the link to his store.  OutThereUSA!

See you on the routes,

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post.  I did purchase this pack from OutThereUSA! at a discounted price for use in my book project.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”