After years of consistent OR show attending, I’ve skipped the last two, first for a ski trip to South America, and second for a ski trip to Japan. Good reasons, if I do say so myself. This year, after a hiatus, I journeyed to the concrete and steel temple of gear.
A few changes were apparent since the last show I attended: most stunning was the huge influx of stand up paddle board companies. It’s gone from one or two a few years ago, to at least 20, by my count. Is it a fad, or here to stay?
Another big trend was solar and other portable power companies. In years past it was just a few players, mainly Brunton and Goal Zero. Now there’s quite a number competing in that space. I saw a few unique brands, including one that was making a small portable windmill. The Powertraveler wind generator works in fairly low wind, and can even shut off if the wind gets too high. Could be terrific for a storm-bound expedition. As we discovered in Alaska this year (using Aspect Solar equipment), PV can only eek a bit of power during a severe storm. However, who knows how a little windmill would stand up to days of a sustained mountain gale. Another cool idea was Big Agnes and Goal Zero’s collaboration on tents with integrated solar power. They could solve some of the common hassles with setting up a solar system. However, I wonder how many people are going to shell out the extra cash for a solar powered tent.
There of course wasn’t much ski stuff at the summer show, but I still saw a few things that caught my interest. One was Petzl’s glacier rescue kit. It uses a super thin Spectra rope, and includes a Tibloc and pulleys designed for use with the skinny rope. They woven the rope in a specific way to make it as grippy as possible, since skinny ropes are notoriously hard to grab when rappelling or hauling. I’ve carried a skinny Dyneema cord for years as a glacier cord, although I only take it on trips with minimal crevasse danger or where weight is a major concern. I’ve always wondered about the safety of using such a static cord. It was good to hear that Petzl had conducted tests on static glacier ropes. They found that with the rope cutting into the snow, and the movement of people arresting, there wasn’t a significant difference in the force generated by a static as opposed to dynamic glacier rope. Good to hear.
The show held my interest for a few days, but soon my mind drifted towards skiing. With 90 degree heat in Seattle, winter doesn’t feel close, but it is only a few months away. Woohoo!
While most of this stuff has yet to come out, you can get Mountain Equipment Eclipse Hooded Zip Tee here.
Louie Dawson earned his Bachelor Degree in Industrial Design from Western Washington University in 2014. When he’s not skiing Mount Baker or somewhere equally as snowy, he’s thinking about new products to make ski mountaineering more fun and safe.