Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Arcteryx Acto MX Hoody Review

9 years ago I stood in a Philadelphia art gallery next to my professor, gazing at a blank white canvas with a $7000 price tag.  I was pissed.
"This isn't art!" I told my professor. "Who's going to pay $7000 for a blank canvas?"  It wasn't completely blank.  The artist had painted it white.
"Ah, but what is art if not something that evokes an emotional response?  Look how flustered you are."

I thought it would be easy to write a critique for what was, effectively, a blank canvas.  Yet, I learned, if I was going to pass the assignment, I'd have to offer my definition of art--my paradigm for what it should and shouldn't be--and show why I thought this was a poor specimen.

You would think reviewing climbing gear would be an easier, more concrete task, but you still have to reveal your calculus of psychology, environment, hopes, and dreams to qualify your opinion.  Otherwise you're like this guy, who reviewed the Arcteryx Acto MX Hoody on the Backcountry.com website:

"I had the chance to try this jacket on recently and I found it to be an amazing piece of equipment that I can't live without. You can rock it on it's own or use it for layering. It is super versatile and extremely technical. Perfect for any outdoor enthusiast. The liner is a fleece grid that can let heat out while wearing it alone or keep heat in if you are layering. Use this for anything you do in the snow. Not to mention it has a lifetime warranty. Awesome!"

His basis of review is from trying it on?

Anyway.  I have been interested in the Acto MX Hoody since Jason Kruk's "Acto PSA" (found via ColdThistle) piqued my interest in the jacket.  Then I got it for Christmas and have barely taken it off.  Here's my take:

Monday, April 2, 2012

NRG - Area 51- Replicant

Alex and I returned to the New River Gorge last weekend, this time attached to a crew of five experienced and talented climbers from the DC area.  We arrived at the crag, Area 51, Saturday morning, and proceeded to dispatch more hard climbs than I've witnessed being climbed in such a short period.  The company both daunted and inspired me.

There was one climb I thought stood above the rest.  It was a perfect dihedral perched upon a massive overhang--a line called Replicant.  The route caught Andre's eye too, and he went for it without delay.  Past a thin and crumbly start, large whipper potential at the roof, and well into the smooth corner and tips crack crux, Andre took a fall.  Undetterred, he finished the line, rested, then quickly red pointed.

The leftward traverse to gain the hanging corner looked dicey. Your last protection is well behind, and below you, and the thirty foot ride would have you swinging backwards, uncomfortably close to the rock.  But having watched Andre, and ruminating on it, I thought I just might be able to piece it together.

I climbed in a state of total focus, and stole every possible stance where I could regain strength.  Safely beyond the roof, I entered the crux dihedral, but I couldn't get my finger tips to dig into the pencil-width crack.  I edged on that damning feedback loop where you pull harder on the muscles that are losing feeling, but then eased my grip, and transferred weight to my feet.  The stream of blood in my forearms trickled back to life.  I'd have but a moment once my forearms recovered to finish the section before my toes gave out.  I leaned to the right on my finger tips, stepped up, and smeared hard on the left wall with my right foot, then the left.  Jamming my right shoulder into the wall, I stabilized, removed both hands from the crack, reset them higher, and pulled to a bridged stance.  Gradually the crack opened to accept more of my hand.  Gradually it dawned on me that I would pull this off.  What a great feeling.

Here's a photosynth with the photos I took of Andre's on-sight go.  It captures the first half of the climb up to the roof.


Summit of Campanile Eslevano, Frey, Argentina '08

A friend showed me Photosynth this weekend.  It stitches photos into a 3 dimensional collage.  This is a test with some shots I took on a trip four years ago.  It's from the summit of Campanile Eslevano in the Frey climbing area, which is just outside of Bariloche.  We'd just climbed a spectacular 5 pitch 5.10 called Imaginate.