The Guide's Blog

Gear Reviews

Gear Spotlight: Beal Dynaloop

May 8, 2022 fmg-adminGear Reviews Rock Climbing

It’s 2022. Climbing is more popular than ever before, and the increased number of users has ushered in a secondary revolution - innovation by equipment manufacturers has led to more specialized equipment intended to increase the margin of safety for us all. A quick Google search reveals how many new types of belay devices have been introduced in the last 5 years, from the ATC Pilot to the Revo to the Gri Gri+. All these devices are meant to add that extra layer of security so that we don’t hit the ground when we fall.  More on that in a separate post! 

I want to talk about another realm of materials innovation: soft goods.

 While ascending, we clove hitch ourselves to the anchor, reasons being:

A. We’re already attached to the rope with a figure 8 knot; 

B. We can enjoy the properties of that dynamic rope; and 

C. It’s easily adjustable to keep tension on that critical connection point.

Descent makes things tricky; we need the rope ends free to thread through rappel anchors. 

Historically, climbers have used a static tether when descending, whether it’s a designated




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Showa Gloves for Ice Climbing: Two (Blue) Thumbs Up

February 12, 2022 fmg-adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Gear Reviews

Shopping for climbing gear can be overwhelming, and ice climbing gloves are no exception. Most gloves designed for ice climbing are quite expensive and never seem to perform as advertised. Over the years I have gone through several pairs of gloves, and I felt like I was always searching for a pair that didn’t exist. During last year’s ice season I noticed several climbers including other guides wearing blue gloves that I found out were actually designed for fishing. At first I was a little suspicious, but I decided to give them a try, especially after learning they were only $25 a pair. 

Those popular blue gloves are the Showa Temres 282. They're a waterproof and breathable glove designed for people who work in cold and wet environments. They have a waterproof flexible outer layer with a rough grip. This works well for holding onto ice tools, minimizing the chance of dropping them. The inside of the glove has a warm, fleece-like lining that is soft and insulating. They have an ergonomic design which fits well to your hand. This is a huge benefit when clipping carabiners or tying knots . To top it off they are $25 per pair so they w




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The Misty Mountain Cadillac Harness

October 7, 2021 fmg-adminGear Reviews

Most climbing guides have at least one piece of gear that they cannot live without. For FMG's Petey Guillard, it's hands down his Misty Mountain Cadillac Harness. As part of our "Things We Love Thursday" series, he tells you why he loves it, and why he thinks you will too.

Misty Mountain Threadworks: it's a local North Carolina climbing brand that needs no introduction. If you have been in the southern climbing scene for any length of time, you’ve heard of Misty Mountain Threadworks; they are known for their overbuilt, burly, and hand crafted harnesses that are made right here in NC’s high country. The Cadillac is the stuff of legend. For trad and multi-pitch climbing you just can’t beat this rig. Alright, lets get to it… 

My favorite piece of Misty gear is hands down the Cadillac. This beefy, cushy, masterpiece of a harness lives up to its name. With six gear loops, and a wide padded waste belt, one can comfortably rack a double set of cams, nuts, and draws with little feeling of being weighed down or harness sag. If you’ve ever tried racking a full kit on something like the Petzl Hirundos you know what I’m takin




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Unsponsored, Unaffiliated, Unbiased, and Unfiltered Gear (and Travel) Recommendations

September 14, 2021 fmg-adminGear Reviews Guides' Tech Tips Travel Recommendations and Tips

Climbing gear is great. FREE climbing gear is awesome! I mean, who doesn't love free gear? We all certainly do, but our guides also want to be able to make gear recommendations to you based on their personal favorites and not because they are sponsored by a particular company. With sponsorships and partnerships so ubiquitous in the climbing industry these days, it can be hard to know if someone making a recommendation "really" prefers a particular item or is perhaps making a decision that's influenced by their sponsorship. Sometimes you even see recommendations on a forum where the person answering says, "Even though I'm sponsored by ___________, I really do think their __________ (rope, shoes, helmet, etc) is the best." Really, I do. But how can you be sure?

Petey in his Misty Cadillac harness

Because of this dilemma, we as a company made a decision over a year ago to forgo sponsorships so we can allow our guides to recommend their favorite gear without bias. We give them a yearly gear allowance to purchase whatever climbing gear they want to try rather than requiring them to wear and promote a particular harness or brand of shoes or rope




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Beginning Trad Rack: What to Buy and What to Skip-2.0

December 1, 2020 fmg-adminGear Reviews Guides' Tech Tips Rock Climbing

A lot has changed since our original “Beginning Trad Rack: What to Buy and What to Skip” blog post in 2017. Black Diamond discontinued the much-loved C3 Camalots, updated the C4, discontinued the short-lived X4 line, and replaced it with a new line called the Z4, which is supposed to take advantage of the best features of the X4 but eliminate the floppiness so many people found difficult to deal with. Our guides have been putting these new cams through their paces since they were introduced earlier this year and have some updated recommendations for you based on their findings. 

Standard Rack

Cams: BD Z4 0.2; doubles of C4 0.3-3

Nuts: BD Stopper set #4-13

Set of Tricam Evos, black through brown plus violet and blue regular tricams

Minimalist (cheapest) Rack

Cams: BD Z4 0.2 and C4 0.3-3

Nuts: BD Classic Stopper set (#5-11)

Set of Tricam Evos, black through brown

High-End Standard Rack

Cams: BD Z4 0.2, doubles; C4 doubles 0.3-3 plus a 4 and 5

Nuts: BD Stopper set #4-13

Tricam black-brown Evos plus violet and blue regular tricams

Rationale for These Choices

Z4 vs. C4 (




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Beginning Trad Climbing Rack: What to Buy and What to Skip***

April 4, 2017 fmg-adminGear Reviews Rock Climbing

***Updated here, December 2020.

Beginning climber trying to put together a trad climbing rack?
I often get asked about what first pieces of trad gear the beginning climber should purchase. Most new climbers are not looking to go out and spend $3000 on a full trad rack and want to know what pieces make the most sense to buy first. So here are some of my suggestions on what you might want to purchase first.
Minimalist (cheapest) Rack:
Cams:
BD C4 0.5 to 3
BD X4 0.2 to 0.4
One set of nuts (skip the micros) so BD #5 to #11
One set of Tricam Evo’s Black through brown

Standard Rack:
Cams:
BD C4 0.5 to 4 Doubles 0.5 to 3
BD X4 0.1 to 0.4
BD C3 0.1 to 0.3
Set of Nuts #4 to #13
Set of Tricam Evo’s Black through Brown

High-End Standard Rack:
Cams:
BD C3 0,1,2
BD X4 .3 and .4 Doubles of .4
BD C4 .5 and .75 Doubles of both
BD UL 1 to 4     Doubles 1 to 3
Set of Nuts #4 to #13
Set of Tricam Evo’s Black through Brown

From here you can expand into all kinds of specialized protection like big bros, offsets, and many other size specific and placement specific protection based on your goals for climbing. I have found that the




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A Week in the Life of My Deuter Speedlite

January 13, 2017 fmg-adminGear Reviews Rock Climbing The Guides' Climbing Adventures

I like versatility. I love it when my gear can transition between many tasks and suit each one with ease. In fact, as a guide, I NEED my gear to be able to fill multiple roles. This single best piece of gear I have that fits this bill is the Deuter Speedlite 20. To iIlustrate just how versatile it is, consider how it performed as I got ready for a climbing trip to Las Vegas recently.

Saturday - Sunday: I spend my weekends guiding guests who have waited all week to get out into the mountains and enjoy a carefree day of rock climbing in Western North Carolina. Often this is a multi-pitch, day and I'm meeting my guests in the Linville Gorge. Our objective is Table Rock on Saturday and the remote Amphitheater on Sunday. I put my harness on with my “Guide’s Rack” on my waist. In my Speedlite, I have climbing shoes and a chalk bag, first aid kit, 2L water bladder, single rack of protection, and an extra layer or two. Inside the small, quick access pocket, I put in my lunch, snacks and headlamp. On the outside, using the compression straps, I secure my helmet neatly on the outside. This pack goes from a full 20+L and compresses to less than 10




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What to Bring Cragging: Trad Climbing

December 13, 2016 fmg-adminGear Reviews Rock Climbing The Guides' Climbing Adventures

In the time I have spent rock climbing, I have really loved going to crags that rely on the use of traditional gear. What I love most is the type of terrain and the areas that can be visited. You can challenge yourself on hardstuff or climb really fun, longer, moderate terrain too. Multi-pitching allows you to get higher off the ground, giving a greater feeling of exposure. It usually involves climbing with a partner, and you can develop strong bonds with those you share a rope with. Crack climbing has been my favorite traditional pursuit. I love the art of jamming! Cracks form striking natural features that catch the eye first. It’s an obvious path to the top, and they usually protect really well.

Trad climbing is gear intensive, requires a higher level of technical skill, and is a more thoughtful type of climbing. These places are rich with climbing history, can feel more adventurous, bold, and at times (especially on slabs, or here in North Carolina) downright scary. I recommend getting guidebooks because they are a great source for this information. They can be expensive, but they make a great souvenir, and help avoid unnecessary epics.




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Book Review of Training for the New Alpinism by Steve House

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Gear Reviews

Recently, Patagonia Books published Training for the New Alpinism: A Manual for the Climber as Athlete by Steve House and Scott Johnston. Constantly seeking to better myself as a climber, I could not resist the title. I have read Mark Twight’s Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light, Fast, and High cover-to-cover numerous times. At the time of publication, it was widely considered a template for cutting-edge alpinism involving structured physical training and unconventional techniques on next-level climbs. House and Johnston’s new book appeared to be a worthy successor to Twight’s title, and it certainly proved so on the first read.

The first thing I noticed when I got the book was its size; this thing is BIG. The author’s choice of the word “manual” for the title was clearly intentional. The book is textbook-sized and organized like one. Like any good textbook, though, the material is presented in an extremely accessible manner. The writing style utilizes clear, concise, and palatable word choice. It addresses complex topics in a way that allows for comprehension while avoiding oversimplification as well as unnecessary details. The text




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Hallet Peak: Putting the BlueWater 9.1 Icon to the Test

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Gear Reviews

Fellow AMGA Rock Guide Lindsay Fixmer and I recently tested out the BlueWater 9.1 Icon on spectacular Hallet Peak in the Rocky Mountain National Park. As you can see, this rope sets a new standard for performance in the alpine:




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