2017 Avalanche Course Season

This winter I will be teaching both AIARE 1 & 2 Avalanche Courses for Northeast Mountaineering based out of Jackson, NH. I am really excited to bring an avalanche education program to the growing list of mountain adventures that Northeast Mountaineering already offers. This will be my 8th winter leading these courses and I really can’t wait for the first one to start!

On-site lodging is included with the course tuition!

A word of advice. These courses (regardless of provider) tend to sell out before the season even starts. Last year most providers in the area were at 80+% capacity before New Years Eve. So want to pick the dates yourself? Book early! Now is good.


January 6-8
January 13-15
January 20-22
February 3-5
February 10-12
March 17-19
March 24-26


February 17-20
March 10-13

When booking use promotional code “DaveNEM”. It won’t discount the already competitive rate, but it will enter you to win a 2-day private custom guided adventure during the 2017/18 rock/ice season.

Another word of note… while we have decided not to schedule December dates due to historic snow conditions I can still highly recommend early season dates. The reasoning behind this is thin snow-packs are often the most dangerous snow-packs and we often see conditions in our late December early January snow-packs that are very conductive to learning. So don’t think you need “deep snow” to have a valuable learning experience. Remember this 5 person incident happened next to one of my courses last mid-January during a record low snow year!

Other snow worthy topics to be aware of:

Registration is open for the Eastern Snow & Avalanche Workshop on November 5th. This is an amazing event with a kickoff party Friday evening at International Mountain Equipment and then an information packed day on Saturday with some of the industry’s top minds when it comes to snow safety (not to mention lots of free swag opportunities in the raffles). I’ll be setting up an AIARE information booth at both the social hour at International Mountain Equipment and at the main event Saturday so stop on by and say hello!

Here’s a few links for all snow travelers to have bookmarked both on the home PC for trip planning and smartphones for field access (when you do have service):

Mount Washington Avalanche Center

MWOBS Higher Summits Forecast

MWOBS Current Summit Conditions

NOHRSC Interactive Snow Map

Before I sign off I want to thank EMS Schools for 12 years of great adventures and opportunity. The list of seasoned EMS guides who have helped shape who I am today is long and varied and I wish all of them, along with EMS Schools, the very best.

See you in the mountains,

Northeast Alpine Start



Posted in Avalanche Courses, Backcountry Skiing | Leave a comment

Product Preview- Arc’teryx AR Mountaineering Boots and Cassin Blade Runner Crampons

While I am excited about all the products I’ll be testing this winter I am perhaps most stoked to put this duo together and get on some early season ice as soon as possible! I’m hoping I’ll get enough field days in to have a full review post for each by early-mid January. I realize though by then a lot of ice climbers may have already geared up and wanted to share my first impressions on these before the season arrives.

Let’s start with a preliminary look at the new Acr’teryx AR Mountaineering Boots.

Arc'teryx Acrux AR Mountaineering Boot Review

Arc’teryx Acrux AR Mountaineering Boots

“A pinnacle of design for mountaineering, ice and mixed climbing, the Acrux AR is the lightest, most durable, and lowest profile insulated double boot available.”- Arcteryx.com

That is a strong statement, and it happens to be true. Let’s compare some of the other lightweight double boots on the market:

La Sportiva Spantik (88.96 oz/pair)

La Sportiva Baruntse (82.96 oz/pair)

La Sportiva G2 SM (72.22 oz/pair)

Scarpa Phantom 6000 (70 oz/pair)

Arc’teryx Acrux AR (69.1 oz/pair)

This is actually less than an ounce difference than my La Sportiva Batura 2.0’s that I reviewed last winter here.

The obvious difference here between these and my Batura’s is that these have a removable liner.





These liners “feel high-tech” in hand. I wore them around the house and they feel like a comfy slipper designed for astronauts. From arcteryx.com:

“Arc’teryx Adaptive Fit technology uses a removable bootie that employs stretch textiles and minimal seams to create an instant custom fit with no pressure. With protection extended beyond the cuff of the boot and the highest level of breathability in this category, the bootie’s GORE-TEX® membrane optimizes climate control and waterproof benefit. The perforated PE foam’s quick dry properties improve comfort, and a rubberized sole allows the bootie to be used as a camp shoe.”

Arc’teryx partnered with Vibram®  and created the AR outsole using Vibram® Mont rubber which keeps its frictional properties in sub-zero temps.

Arcteryx AR Mountaineering Boots Preview

The Vibram® AR outersole uses Vibram® Mont rubber to perform well even in extreme cold

“The specially developed Vibram® AR outsole is designed for support and sure footedness. The tread and construction feature a semi-blocked toe, with anti-slip grooves, a medial climbing support zone, and heel created to provide braking on steep descents. The Vibram® Mont rubber compound maintains its performance in sub-zero conditions.”

I’ll share a promotional video on the boots and move onto the crampons I’ll be pairing with them this winter!

CASSIN Blade Runner Crampons

CAMP Cassin Blade Runner Crampons

Cassin Blade Runner Crampons

These are the most aggressive fully adaptable to any situation crampons I have seen. I used to love my older Petzl M10 crampons because I could swap out the front points for either dual, mono, or mono-offset. The Blade Runner’s do all that but CAMP also makes optional “snow points” so you can turn your vertical ice crampon into a multiple purpose mountaineering crampon. It really does make these incredibly versatile! My demo pair arrived set for offset mono and I plan to test them that way first with our thin early season ice conditions. Included with the crampons were two more vertical front points and semi-automatic toe bails allow for use on boots without rigid toe lugs.

CAMP Blade Runner Crampons

Included extra parts


How well a crampon can attach to your boot is paramount. You want them to feel like they were designed for each other and no one else. Right out of the box the fit on the Acrteryx AR was quite good. There is plenty of adjust-ability to make it “perfect” starting with three possible toe bail positions, two possible heel lever bar positions, full vertical adjustment on the heel lever itself, and, something I haven’t seen before, the asymmetric bottom that more closely follows the contours of the boot outer-sole.

CAMP Cassin Blade Runner Crampons

CAMP Cassin Blade Runner Crampons- a snug fit

CAMP Cassin Blade Runner Crampons

Vertical heel lever adjustment

Obviously we can’t talk much about performance just yet but they are definitely a very aggressive crampon! One could argue this is a 19 point crampon (20 if set up in dual front-point mode). The design looks like it will excel on steep & cauliflower ice.

CAMP Cassin Blade Runner Crampons

Cassin Blade Runner Crampons- aggressive, included anti-balling plates

The front points are made from Chromoly Steel and taper from 5mm down to 3mm. A “wear indicator” of sorts lets you know when it’s time to swap in new front points.

CAMP Cassin Blade Runner Crampons

CAMP Cassin Blade Runner Crampons

Well that’s it for my first impressions. I absolutely can not wait to start putting these to use this winter. I’m also reviewing the Camp Cassin X-All Mountain Ice Tools and the Camp Cassin X-Dream Ice Tools.

CAMP USA Cassin Ice Tools/Crampons

Things with sharp points

Think the Arcteryx Acrux AR boots might be good for you?

You can purchase them on Amazon here. Ordering through that link will help support this blog.

Stay tuned this winter for lots of gear reviews and giveaways! I’ll be raffling off brand new climbing harnesses, ice screws, carabiners, and more. Don’t miss a review or giveaway! Subscribe/Follow this blog at the top right so you get all the details!

See you in the mountains,

Northeast Alpine Start


Posted in Climbing Gear Reviews, Footwear Reviews, Gear Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hounds Hump, Franconia Notch State Park (10/6/16)

I have a special place in my heart for the climbing on Hounds Hump in Franconia Notch. This alpine crag across the street from Cannon Mountain has some of the most spectacular rock climbing in the region and one of the most iconic rock features in New Hampshire, The Eaglet spire.

Yesterday Tom and I headed up there in unseasonably warm weather for a 7 pitch trifecta of the best moderate routes around. I usually tag Route 66, Salt Packed Pig Sack, and The Eaglet when I head up this way but Tom wanted to do a bit of maintenance on a relatively new 2 pitch route below Route 66 so before we reached the talus field below the Flatiron we bushwhacked north for about 10 minutes and reached the edge of the slabs.


Our day broken down into pitches

The bushwhack point is around the green arrow and is non-descript. When you think you’re getting close to the boulder field look closely for where people may have headed north through some semi-thick pine and moss. It would be a good spot for a small cairn or survey tape.

I’m not sure what the first route we climbed is called but it starts on mellow slab and works its way up to a steeper swell with great pro. Here a dead tree had fallen over the route and Tom’s mission was to saw it off so climbers wouldn’t have to scramble over it mid-climb. He left me with the saw as it would be easier to clean it while seconding.


Tom about to climb over the dead tree

With the security of a tight belay I was able to keep the saw in the pack and pull/kick the dead tree down and out of the way. It’s still up there but now it does not interfere with the climbing, which was pleasant 5.5-5.6ish crack & face.


Following the first pitch, photo by Tom C.

After finishing the first pitch a quick thrash through the woods brought us up to the 2nd pitch. Tom grabbed this lead as well and I switched into climbing shoes as it’s definitely an edgy 5.7. A bit of a slabby start leads to a bolt, then some decent gear, then excellent climbing on an arete with a few bolts at decent intervals.


Tom finding some protection on the 2nd pitch

The top of this pitch is right near the original start of Route 66 so I took the rack and ran us up to the 1st pitch anchor.


Tom follows the first pitch of Route 66

I led the next pitch, which has a great move pulling over an awkward chock-stone followed by engaging climbing all the way to a new double bolt anchor just left of the corner. Using Tom’s new Sterling 7mm Tag Line we rapped down to the base of the bolted New Variation start (and our stashed packs). After grabbing our packs we made one single rope rap down through the brush to reach the start of Salt Packed Pig Sack.


Tom starts up the ultra-classic Salt Packed Pig Sack

This is by far one of my favorite routes in New Hampshire. Steep face climbing on mostly positive edges leads past a couple bolts, a pin, some good small gear, and more bolts. It’t a fantastic climb at the grade (5.8) and I fondly remember on-sighting it over ten years ago.

From a new bolted anchor about 15 feet right of the old anchor we double rope rapped back to the starting anchor then carefully trended down the right side of the buttress (some loose rock) and landed right on the approach trail for the Eaglet. There is a little drag when pulling the ropes when choosing this option but it’s nice to “cut the corner” when heading up to the Eaglet.

We reached the base of the Original Route and met Cole, a familiar canine I had seen on many 4000 Footer hiking forums.


Cole, 4000 footer veteran Shiba Inu- photo by Ben M.

Running short on time we skipped the first pitch by scrambling up the gully to the left and caught up to my friend Ben and Cole’s human counterpart Alton. They were starting the 2nd pitch chimneys and while we were considering our time line Ben graciously offered to let us play through. After I made those chimney chock-stone moves look less than graceful we topped out.


Nothing but air


Ben leads the last bit of the Eaglet with Alton below

I rapped the spire and ran up the hill to grab a couple quick shots of Tom rapping and Ben and Alton summiting.


Tom about to rappel over the roof that makes the rest of this rappel free hanging


Alton and Ben on the summit

We hiked out at about 3:30pm, about 5.5 hours from leaving the car. Hounds Hump, and the greater Franconia Notch climbing area is a real mecca for climbing. From the easily accessed single pitch moderates at Echo Crag to the commiting and often scary routes on Cannon Cliff, this area has something for just about everyone!

See you in the mountains,

Northeast Alpine Start



Posted in Trip Reports | 3 Comments

This Knot Can Save Your Life

Following a climbing fatality last month in Yosemite that involved a climber rappelling off the end of his rope and a more local albeit less tragic accident last month at Rumney, NH I want to focus this week’s Tech Tip on one simple but important subject.

Closing Your System!


The common “stopper knot”, technically a “double overhand”, is a fast and common way to close your system when belaying and rappelling

I’m going to get into more detail on what I mean by “closing your system” but first some context as to why this is important. I decided to conduct a little research this past weekend to try to determine how many accidents in the last few years would have likely been prevented by the simple act of “closing your system”. I looked at data1 from the last four years of Accidents in North American Mountaineering2

Accidents in North American Mountaineering (Climbing)

Accidents in North American Mountaineering (Climbing), published yearly by the American Alpine Club

The result…

On average we have 7 reported accidents a year in North America that would have easily been prevented by closing the system.

While 7 does not sound like a lot consider that this type of accident involves complete belay/rappel failure which is likely to lead to serious injury and death. In fact the majority of the accidents I looked at from 2013-2016 involved fatalities.

So what does it mean to “Close Your System”?

Simply put, this means if there is a belay or rappel device attached to a rope there is no physical way to remove the device from the rope without unlocking and opening the belay carabiner. If you have 50 feet of rope on the ground with no knot I could essentially stand next to you and pull the rope through your belay device until the end of the rope passed through the device. This leaves the belayer (or rappeller) not attached to the rope.

This, is an “open” system, and it can sometimes cost a life.

Let us put it in context in relation to the two climber actions that are most at risk to “open systems”, lowering and rappelling.


2016-06-22 09.47.45

Being lowered on the Thin Air Face of Cathedral Ledge, New Hampshire

Lowering happens all the time when climbing. We get lowered at the climbing gym. We get lowered while top-roping outside. We get lowered after leading a hard sport climb. While we normally get lowered in a top-rope type format sometimes we get lowered from above. We’ve gotten better at backing up the brake hand in all these scenarios. Climbers are largely adapting to the Universal Belay Standard which wisely calls for two hands on the brake strand during lowers (and recommends closing the system).

Yet every year “attentive” belayers have the free end of the rope shoot through their belay device resulting in the climbers free fall to the ground.

The repeated theme in many of these accidents is that the anchor at the top of the climb is higher than half of the rope length and this is not discovered during the lowering until the end of the rope shoots through the belayer’s brake hand and device resulting in complete belay failure.


Common Misconceptions

  1. The route is half as tall as the rope
  2. The rope is twice as long as the route
  3. The belayer will notice if they are running out of rope

While the dominant length of climbing rope in use today is still 60 meters, some routes are developed with 70 meter ropes in mind. With routes close to half of your rope length care must be taken as any zig-zag in rope direction will mean less rope available for the lower. There have been multiple occasions when a partners rope was shorter than the victim believed, or even more rare when climbers simply choose to climb on less than standard length ropes which led to this accident last month at Rumney, NH. Finally, “attentive” belayers are typically looking up at the climber they are lowering, so when the unsecured end of the rope approaches their brake hand they often do not notice… until it is too late.

Luckily there is one surefire way to safeguard yourself from any of these potential errors…

Close Your System!


Rappelling off The Eaglet, Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire

Rappelling off The Eaglet, Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire

The majority of accidents that could have easily been prevented with a closed system were actually rappelling incidents, not lowering incidents, so closed systems during rappels should be strongly considered for 100% of rappels.


Common Misperceptions

  1. The rope will reach the ground/next anchor
  2. The middle of the rope is at the anchor point
  3. Our ropes are equal length

Every single year we lose climbers who believed one of the above. Every. Year. Off-route, bad beta, wrong anchor, shorter than expected rope, in-accurate middle-mark, double rope setups that are not equal in length. The reasons one can rappel of the end(s) of their rope are many. The prevention is a simple single step.

Close Your System!


By now I hope I’ve made a solid case for closing your system every time you belay or rappel. There are many ways to do this and some make more sense for certain contexts than others. Since the most common lowering open system failure occurs after a climber has led a route and is being lowered back to the ground let’s look at the three possible “next steps” and what the best practice would be for each.


This knot could save your life


Leader will not clean route during lower and belayer will clean route on top-rope.

In this case the best practice would be for the team to simply knot the end of the rope with an appropriate stopper knot, half a Double Fisherman’s Knot being appropriate and oft used for this purpose. If the climbing rope is used to form a ground anchor in the case of a light weight belayer the system is already closed.

Leader will clean route during lower and belayer will climb route on top-rope.

In this case the best practice would be for the belayer to simply tie in to the other end of the rope. This closes the system and speeds the transition when the leader is back on the ground for the belayer to get their turn climbing. A knot check should still be conducted before the belayer ascends.

Leader will clean route during lower and belayer is not climbing.

In this case the best practice would be for the team to simply knot the end of the rope with an appropriate stopper knot, half a Double Fisherman’s Knot being appropriate and oft used for this purpose. If the climbing rope is used to form a ground anchor in the case of a light belayer the system is already closed.


When rappelling there are two common excuses I hear against tying stopper knots in the rappel ropes:

“I know the ropes reach”

That’s great! Why not add a quick safe guard in case you are wrong? Rappelling often occurs late in the day when fatigue from climbing can encourage short cuts. Weather or encroaching darkness can cause haste. Closing your system adds only seconds to your descent and allows for manageable mistakes and misjudgments.

“Tying stopper knots will slow us down and if we forget to untie them could lead to stuck ropes.”

In a multi-pitch rappel the first climber down can remove the stopper knots and pre-thread the anchor for the next rappel, all while maintaining a secure “fireman’s belay”. This best practice closes the system and speeds the next transition to the next rappel. It also reduces the chance of forgetting to untie the stopper knots before pulling the ropes.

Better yet, if you always close the system you will get used to always removing the stopper knots before the 2nd climber rappels (while maintaining a fireman’s belay).

If I haven’t said it enough above I’ll say it one more time. Close Your Systems!

The practice of closing your system takes seconds and while it won’t eliminate all risk from your climbing (nothing can) it will eliminate some potential for complete belay/rappel system failure.

 Final Thought

If you’ve found this post and read its entirety consider joining the American Alpine Club to help support their mission. I’ve been a proud member since 2004 and it’s definitely an organization every climber should consider supporting!

Did you find this post helpful? If so I would greatly appreciate it if you would share it via the share buttons below. Comments are also welcome below! If you would like to go one step further and really help support this blog a small donation (literally any amount, like one dollar) would be greatly appreciated!

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1 Data was looked at from the following accidents published in the American Alpine Club’s publication; 2013 ANAM pgs 35, 38, 50, 75, 80, 81 2014 ANAM pgs 69, 70, 78, 84, 85, 90, 105, 114 2015 ANAM pgs 74, 84, 87, 96, 102, 105, 115 2016 ANAC pgs 38, 47, 124
From 2016 edition on the American Alpine Club has re-named this publication Accidents in North American Climbing

Posted in Tech Tips | 3 Comments

One of These Knots Can Kill You

It seems every year we lose climbers to a simple user error that can occur when joining two ropes together for a rappel. Compounding the issue is some media outlets refer to the knots (or bends) in question with various misnomers that create further confusion within the climbing community. There needs to be more widespread standardization of the options available for joining two ropes together and it starts with referring to them with the correct nomenclature.

The first thing to understand is any knot used to join two ropes together is technically referred to as a “bend knot” or simply “bend”. While there are quite a few bends that are appropriate for joining two ropes together it is the Flat Overhand Bend that has largely gained popularity for multiple reasons.

Flat Overhand Bend (FOB)

Flat Overhand Bend

Flat Overhand Bend

Like any option this one comes with advantages and considerations.


  1. Fast and easy to tie, especially with thick winter gloves on
  2. Low profile so less likely to get caught in cracks and on features while pulling the ropes
  3. Easy to untie even after a dozen high angle rappels
  4. Pull tests indicate a properly tied Flat Overhand Bend will not capsize unless loads exceed at least 1400 pounds, far more than any climber can generate on a rappel.


  1. Like any knot this one needs to be “dressed and stressed” to be safe. After forming the knot tighten all 4 strands separately.
  2. Leave 12 inches (30cms of tail). This is more than sufficient in the unlikely event of the knot capsizing. There has been at least one fatality when a cautious climber left 3+ foot tails and then threaded a tail through their belay device ending in catastrophic failure of the system. Twelve inches is sufficient.
  3. Use ropes of similar diameter. UIAA recommends within 3mm of each other, which with today’s modern (often skinny) ropes is usually easy to stay within. If using a thin tag line consider adding either an overhand tied with the thinner rope over the thicker rope and cinched tight to the flat overhand bend. The idea here is it will help prevent the knot from capsizing but in reality should not be needed. The practice of tying a 2nd flat overhand bend a few inches down from the first seems to negate most of the advantages (fast to tie and less likely to get stuck while pulling) so this author feels that practice is not needed.

I’ve made it this far without calling this bend knot by its more common name. I’ve decided to leave the common name out. It serves no educational purpose and its use should be considered archaic in nature.

Now we get into the two options that really exacerbate this issue. One of the two knots below can kill you.

Reverse Traced Figure of Eight Bend (Flemish Bend)

Reverse Traced Figure of Eight Bend

Reverse Traced Figure of Eight Bend

Like any option this one comes with advantages and considerations.


  1. Low profile so less likely to get caught in cracks and on features while pulling the ropes
  2. Super strong. If you look closely you realize this is the same option we use to tie into our harnesses. We can not generate enough force to get this knot to fail.


  1. Like any knot this one needs to be “dressed and stressed” to be safe. After forming the knot tighten all 4 strands separately.
  2. Leave 6 inches (15cms of tail). Since this knot can not capsize by design it is logical to follow the same guidelines as using the knot to tie into a harness. Six inches of tail on a dressed and stressed knot is sufficient.
  3. Adding “back-up” knots to both tails greatly increases the likely hood of a stuck rope and is completely unnecessary given the strength of the main knot.
  4. Can be very difficult to untie after heavy load, especially with gloves on and slick new ropes.
  5. While tecnhically called the “Flemish Bend” adding the METHOD one uses to create it (reverse traced) to the common name will help differientate between the two.

Flat Figure of Eight Bend


Figure of Eight Bend aka FATAL MISTAKE!

The above knot has a proven track record of killing climbers. It routinely capsizes and fails at loads easily generated in rappelling. So why is it still being used after years of accidents showing it’s not sufficient?

New Climber Perception

I’ve had hundreds of new clients look at the FOB (first knot pictured) and say “That’s it?” Having confidence that such a simple and quick to tie bend could be sufficient for joining two ropes together and committing our full body weight out over the abyss is not so easily won. Let’s be honest, its simplicity and small volume make people nervous regardless of its more than adequate strength.

So what does the new climber do? Well if one twist around the ropes forms a Flat Overhand Bend then two twists around the ropes must be safer right? That mindset creates the deadly Figure of Eight Bend pictured above… and kills people.


The common name I’ve heard used to describe both the Reverse Traced Figure of Eight (Flemish Bend) and the Figure of Eight Bend is the “Flat Eight”.

This needs to stop. One is a strong and suitable bend for rappelling. The other keeps killing people. We should not use the term “Flat Eight” as most climbers, especially new climbers, do not easily see the difference between the two. They tie a Figure of Eight Bend, thinking it is a “Flat Eight”.


In order to reduce or eliminate the amount of fatalities the confusion these options create, we, the climbing community at large, especially the widely read climbing magazines, need to step up and standardize our definitions of these knots and not use mis-leading negative sounding catchy names to describe safe practices. Using misnomers can encourage a new climber to switch to a different, and potentially much more dangerous option for joining two ropes together.

If every guide, mentor, instructor, and tenured climber starts referring to these knots with the correct terminology we will see a reduction in unnecessary loss of life.

Did you enjoy this post? If so I would greatly appreciate it if you would share it via the share buttons below. If you would like to go one step further and really help maintain this blog a small donation would be greatly appreciated! Even $1 would be a huge help!

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Tech Tip Tuesday-The One Handed Clove Hitch

In an effort to grow the Skill Zone of Northeast Alpine Start I’m going to start posting a tech tip every Tuesday. I’ll share some personal tips & tricks but I’ll also be highlighting lots of content around the web from other blogs, companies, fellow guides, etc. For our first weekly Tech Tip we are going to take a look at the one-handed clove hitch (and to a lesser extent the one-handed munter hitch).

The One Handed Clove Hitch

The One Handed Clove Hitch

But why one-handed you ask?

Without question I tie more clove hitches rock and ice climbing than any other knot. On a nine pitch route it would not be uncommon to tie the clove hitch more than a dozen times. There’s a few advantages to mastering this method of tying starting with the most important;


Climbers have slipped while building anchors in all aspects of climbing. The ability to hold onto the rock (or your ice axe) with one hand while tying a clove hitch with the other increases your security when on an exposed stance at the end of a pumpy pitch. Ice climbers should especially master this skill as being able to clove into an ice screw with one hand beats taking a whipper while ice climbing (but try to stay within your ability!)


 Learning to tie both these hitches directly onto the carabiner is faster than tying them any other way. For the clove hitch start by pulling the rope snug from your tie-in. This not only makes it easy to start the hitch but when you arr finished you should be at the perfect length from the master point. For the munter hitch, assuming you’re using it to belay your second, clip the first strand as soon as you are off belay. You can pull the rest of the unused rope up faster this way and when it comes tight on your partner a quick twist of the rope is added to the carabiner and your partner is on belay! Great for icy ropes!


It just looks cool. And climbing is all about looking cool.

Before heading out to the cliff to shoot a quick video of the process I did a quick search to see if anyone else had made a video on tying one-handed clove hitches. Well lo and behold this is a hot topic! So instead of adding to the insane amount of how-to videos on this skill I’ll just share them with you all here with my personal favorite first, these guys are funny!

Did I miss your video? Let me know I’ll add it😉

That’s it for this week’s Tech Tip. Stay tuned for a new one every Tuesday… well, almost every Tuesday.

Like this tip? Got a tip you think I should share? Let me know in the comments below and see you in the mountains!

-Northeast Alpine Start

P.S. Only 2 days left to enter to win a brand new Black Diamond C4 Camalot! Details on how to enter that raffle are at the end of this DMM Dragon/C4/Ultralight comparison review!

Posted in Tech Tips | 3 Comments

EMS® Men’s Feather Pack 800 DownTek™ Hooded Jacket Review

With morning temps close to freezing today it’s time to take another look at this returning piece from EMS’s Fall Outerwear line, check out my detailed review below!

Northeast Alpine Start

The EMS® Men’s Feather Pack Hooded Jacket was my most anticipated item in last years Fall/Winter line at Eastern Mountain Sports and it returns this year! I was amped to pick it up just in time for a quick alpine climb on Cannon Cliff.

EMS® Men’s Feather Pack 800 DownTek™ Hooded Jacket EMS® Men’s Feather Pack 800 DownTek™ Hooded Jacket

Built on the success of last year’s Icarus jackets (you remember, the ones that after the first production run EMS had low inventory right off the bat because employees snagged them all up?) this jacket falls in to the “light belay jacket” category. A few things set this jacket apart from your more casual winter coat and for me justified the purchase, even when my gear closet has no shortage of technical jackets!

EMS® Men’s Feather Pack 800 DownTek™ Hooded Jacket 1 fleece, 3 soft-shells, 1 hybrid, 2 hard-shells, 3 synthetic insulated and 2 down… off course I needed 1 more


The manufacturer states the average weight of a…

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