We love innovation. If any company makes a business out of gear tweaking, it has to be Black Diamond. Witness every trade show and the new products they come up with (e.g., a complete line of backcountry ski boots created out of thin air to compete with the Italians on their own level; the Avalung; decades of climbing gear improvements and inventions). A few highlights from this summer’s Outdoor Retailer event:
Check out the Zpole trekking poles shown above. This has to fall under the “why didn’t I think of that?” category; a trekking pole that folds up like an avalanche probe or tent pole. If you’re a hiker or a walker, these things will fit in the side pocket in your car doors! Not recommended for skiing, but I bet they’d work in a pinch.
It could be said that Black Diamond’s DNA was formed when Chouinard forged his first carabiner so many years ago. Lots of companies make nice biners these days, but BD still holds its own. The Hoodwire carabiner is snag resistant like a keylock biner, but it’s a wiregate.
I’ve done quite a bit of glacier travel over the past couple of years, and noticed that it’s critical what type of carabiner is used as the primary harness attachment point in a glacier rig. Most biners are easily flipped around sideways and may end up in the weak “cross loaded” position, this also results in the biner tending to flip back to normal alignment with a disconcerting jerk when loaded.
Enter BD’s new Gridlock biner. As you can see in the photo below, it’s got a small eye in one end with an internal gate that keeps your rope or harness from slipping around the circumference. A big eye on the other end has room for a couple of rope loops; nice for roped travel with rigs such as Kiwi coils. I’m looking forward to trying this out.
Until I can spend summers in Alaska and winters in Antarctica, I’ll continue my love affair with headlamps. Here is one for your dance card: New Black Diamond Storm head “torch” is said to have the most lumens (100) per buck: $49.95 MSRP. More importantly in my view, it is waterproof. After seeing the demise of Wildsnow progeny Louie’s headlamp after a season in the PNW, and having mine disabled by a puddle of melting snow in my backpack this past spring, I’m thinking that with today’s technology as demonstrated by the Storm, nearly all headlamps should be waterproof. One less thing to worry about. One less thing to go wrong. Come to think of it, same goes for cell phones and avy beacons? All that stuff should be waterproof.
For a look at the new Black Diamond “Efficient” series skis and boots that’ll be available this winter, CLICK HERE.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.