Posts Tagged ‘utah’

After living in Salt Lake City for 7 years, I finally got around to going to the outdoor retailers convention. This is one of those events that you hear so much buzz about and always kind of wonder what the deal is.

The Outdoor Retailers Show is like going to a huge REI where every product has its own huge display with all the newest toys. Half a city block’s worth of toys. Oh and they serve beer and cocktails and you can buy a lot of the stuff at half price at the end of the week. Holy shit, for a gear and tech head like me this is nirvana.

One of the amazing advances in gear lately is how light everything has gotten. Like Mammut is selling an entire quickdraw that ways less than a conventional oval carabiners.

The camping cookware from GSI Outdoors was also amazing. They make a super lightweight cooking pot that had 2 bowls and two insulated cups that fit perfectly inside of it — no more fighting to fit all that crap in your backpack, it all sits nicely inside the cooking pot. They had lightweight everything from completely flat fold-up spatulas to hip flasks. Stuff like this makes me appreciate that we really are living in the future we dreamed up reading sci-fi as kids. You start to see how you could soon have a completely bomber camping setup for any season that would pack down tiny and weigh 10 or 15 pounds – stove tent sleeping bag food and all. It completely redefines what adventures are possible.

I bought a full length insulated sleeping pad from Pacific Outdoor Equipment that weighs barely more than a pound,it was made from sustainably grown bamboo, and the price includes carbon offsets for the CO2 to produce it. Pretty sweet.

Another toy I couldn’t get enough of was the helmet camera from GoPro. GoPro ads show up in practically every Google search I do since I’m always researching camera gear and it was great to finally get a look at one. What they’ve done with the setup is amazing. The camera weighs just a little more than the 2 AAA batteries that run it, comes with a housing waterproof to 100′ and can take an hour of video or 2 hours of 3 megapixel stills at 1 per 5 seconds. All you do to run it is push a button. It attaches to pretty much any surface from a ski boot to helmet, plane wing, surfboard, motorcycle, you name it. It retails for $180 which is seems like a lot of money, but considering what you get is pretty dang cheap since for most digital cameras, just a waterproof housing costs 2-3 times that.

One shortcoming of the GoPro is that it is hardly low profile (I mean do you really want to look like a cyborg when you ski?), but since it is self contained, this is hard to get around. Another issue is that if the clamp or sticky-mount fails you loose the whole camera since its not like a typical helmet camera where there would be a cord running into your coat to the recorder.

Video Quality — The camera records mpeg4 avi files @ about 550×350 (can’t remember the exact specs). this is reasonable quality for online use and actually looked surprisingly good on the wide-screen tv’s they were showing it on. . Unfortunately, by their own admission, the video doesn’t look that great on YouTube because it gets recompressed. They didn’t seem to fazed by this and were encouraging people to use other sites that have less compression, but to to me this seems like a major shortcoming. I mean really, the only reason anyone is going to buy one of these is to put their video online to show off what they do and probably 99% of people putting video online use YouTube. If you make a camera that seems directly targeted at YouTubeusers, having video that isn’t optimized for YouTube seems kinda lame. But hey, this is thing is only a year old so maybe they’ll see the light.

As someone who always wants to buy digital toys with the most available options, part of me really appreciates the simplicity of the GoPro. It has 2 buttons, nothing to adjust and almost no settings at all — it only does what they sell it to do, take pictures and movies when you push a button. I’m sure this will be annoying after a while, but as a product development paradigm it seems like something useful to think about.

Its supposed to snow 40 to 50 inches in the next two days so I’ll take the camera for a ride and post the video soon.


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I’ve been trying to get back into climbing again. It is hard to find the time between working and taking care of Leo. If I go away and climb all day it just means Kathi has to be on baby duty for another day, so I don’t get out much.In the American Fork guide book there is a photo of someone doing a climb called Helix. I’ve been staring at it for probably 8 years now. On Sunday I decided I was finally going to try and climb the damn thing. I managed to drag my friends Adam and Naomi out with me to check it out.

The climb goes at 5.12c which these days is about 4 grades past anything I’ve climbed in the last 6 years. But hey, I’ve been wanting to work on something as a serious project. I’m also interested in seeing how much harder you can climb when you practice something in a concerted way.

Lucky someone had put up draws on the climb already which made it a lot easier to try since it would be a nightmare to clean your gear off of it.

The climb has a total sucker start because there are a bunch of fun, big dynamic move that make you feel like a hero even though they aren’t that hard which gives you the mistaken impression that you might be able to climb the thing. Until you get to the roof and then it becomes insane. The perspective up there is so weird, the first time I got to the roof I fell of because I couldn’t tell which way gravity was pointing and I leaned in all the wrong directions.

So Adam and I went back yesterday (Wed.). We had to go after work and the sun goes down at 7:30 now so we only had about an hour and a half to try it.

I managed to get past the crux move at the top and do the rest of the moves. What an amazing climb – after you leave the right-hand wall, you climb left across the inside opening of the cave, and then back into the middle of the roof so about a foot below your feet is the 50 foot drop to the ground. There are no holds really, just this series of deep holes in the ceiling so you are stuck trying to get a solid fist jam in the back of a hole while looking down into the void below you and wishing you’d remember some climbing tape for your hands.

The last move is particularly ridiculous. Clipping the anchors requires you to under-cling at the wall and then extend your body out until your body is completely horizontal. Then you have to take a ton of slack and reach out as far as possible while your arm starts to shake. If you blow it you end up dropping probably 10-15 feet and hanging in the air in the middle of the cave.

Some might say it is contrived – I say it is f’in awesome!

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