Friday, July 28, 2017

Guides Choice Awards 2017

The American Alpine Institute is pleased to announce the 2017 Guides Choice Award Winners! The Guides Choice has been a highly valued award for over 20 years and long coveted by manufacturers and industry insiders. A core group of AAI guides thoroughly test products in a variety of demanding conditions across 6 states and 16 countries. Recently revealed at the industry's largest trade show, Outdoor Retailer, here are this years four winners.

Beal Opera 8.5 Unicore Rope

The Beal Opera is an 8.5 millimeter triple rated rope incorporating Beal’s Unicore and Dry Cover technologies. The incredibly versatile Opera is capable of being used as a single, half or twin rope and was used by our guides in alpine rock and ice venues throughout the North Cascades of Washington state and the Bugaboos of British Columbia. At only 48 grams per meter, the Opera is in the very top echelon of lightweight single ropes and even lighter than many ropes in the half or twin category. The inclusion of the bonded core/sheath unicore technology adds a higher level of security, which becomes particularly evident when combined with a smaller diameter rope. The bonded core significantly reduces sheath shrinkage and slippage as well as allowing the user to complete rappels even on ropes with a completely severed sheath. 

Petzl Leopard and Irvis Hybrid Crampons

Aluminum crampons have been done before, but no company has taken the ultralight design as far or as successfully as Petzl. Both 10 point crampons, the Leopard is a full aluminum model while the Irvis Hybrid pairs a steel front section with an aluminum heel, weighing in at around 340 grams and 500 grams depending on the boot attachment system that is chosen. While the Irvis Hybrid is more appropriate for heavy use and situations involving mixed terrain, because of it's superb balance of strength and weight, both pairs are ideal for snow approaches as well as ski mountaineering. A key component of these crampons is the absence of a traditional linking bar. Instead, it is replaced by the Cord-Tec dyneema cord linking system. A length of dyneema cord is threaded through two holes in the front section and can then be adjusted through a series of notches in the heel piece to the appropriate fit, without the need for tools. A replacement Cord-Tec can also be purchased to accommodate bulkier boots and large sizes as well repair damaged cord. The cord allows the crampons to be folded in half making the Petzl Leopold and Irvis Hybrid exceptionally lightweight and compact.

CAMP Alp Mountain Harness

The Alp Mountain Harness is a lightweight mountaineering harness with a creative buckle system, great comfort, and the capability to rack all of your gear comfortably. The glove-friendly and durable steel buckles were an especially big hit on Denali. The main “Sicura” attachment consists of two steel plates, one with a diagonal groove that allows the other to pass through before lying flat against a plastic guard, offering extra security. The leg loop attachments are identical except for the lack of the plastic guard in this less crucial area. All three buckles carry a strip of nylon that assists when dexterity is impaired by bulky gloves. Guides also appreciated the unusual racking capacity for a harness of this class. Three gear loops, two with plastic protectors, and the ability to add 6 ice screw racking clips. Add in the comfort provided by CAMP’s 3mm load webbing as well as it’s low weight and small pack size and you have one excellent mountaineering harness.

Arc’teryx Acrux AR Mountaineering Boot

The North Cascades are notoriously wet. Double boots are often preferred by our guides, even when a much lighter and less bulky single boot would be used in similar temperatures. The Acrux AR boot is one of the lowest profile and lightest weight double boots available. A full-shank boot suitable for mountaineering and ice climbing, it takes dry a step further with dual layers of Gore-Tex. The outer boot is laminated, watertight and possesses an attached gaiter. The removable bootie incorporates another Gore-Tex layer while still remaining surprisingly breathable. In addition, the quick dry inner boot has been fashioned with minimal seams for comfort and a rubberized sole to double its function as a camp bootie. This bomber boot is one of the driest around, even performing well during Denali testing, yet still climbs exceptionally well and offers the user dexterity and durability.

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