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Natasha Mealing

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As the cold weather approaches and snow starts to fall we start to think about the the winter adventures that are to be sent and the gear we wish we had.  Below we break down all the key gear items you’ll need to stay prepared this winter. There are important considerations when making a purchase: What is your skill level? What grade do you want to climb? Powder or groomed? Do you ski in the back-country? Your answer to these questions will narrow the search to help you find the specific gear you need for your activity. At Aspiring we are always ready to help you find the most suitable gear for your missions.

Crampons

Let’s start with Crampons. Climbing Technology (CT) has a huge variety of Crampons. From flex bars to rigid bars, classic, semi-automatic, automatic, 4-point, 6-point, 10-point, 12-point. The 13-point CT Hyper Spike has been designed to deal with the steepest and hardest ice walls and mixed climbing in the world. The 10-point Snow Flex has been designed for ski touring and general use, however the particular crampon design is specifically to better fit the large variety of ski-touring boot shapes. You could pair your boots with NZ made Aspiring Snow Gaiters which use a stiff canvas upper for durability and rigidity which is reinforced with cordura around the ankles. The knee height allows for you to tackle rugged conditions such as through deep snow and wet bush or in bad weather.

CT Semi-Automatic Snow Flex
CT Automatic Hyper Spike
CT Classic Nupste Evo

Avalanche Safety Gear

Unmissable in the winter backpack, the probe is a key element for safety along with the transceiver and shovel. The CT FINDER 240 probe is lightweight and resilient, composed of six light alloy elements pre-mounted by Ø 12 mm: thanks to the Kevlar lanyard, the hook is very fast and practical.

NEW at Aspiring is the BCA Tracker 3. The T3 is renowned for its ease of use, instantaneous real-time display, and pocket friendly design. This transceiver uses Signal Suppression (SS) and Big Picture (BP) modes for no-nonsense multiple-victim searching and motion-sensing auto revert-to-transmit mode. Another piece of important kit is a Snow Saw. Manufactured from aircraft grade 7075 aluminium the SMC summit Snow Saw is the lightest saw on the market!

CT Finder 240
SMC Summit Snow Saw
BCA Tracker 3

Shovels and Axes

Look no further than the CT Agile Kit + for all your needs for your lightweight set up. This set-up is designed for mountaineering, ski mountaineering, and crossing glaciers and allows your axe to be transformed into a practical shovel.

If the shovel and ice axe combo is not your thing then we have the CT Snow Blade. An aluminium snow shovel for ski touring and mountaineering, with ergonomic handle, for optimal grip during use and better efficiency during excavation. The blade is provided with ribs to increase rigidity. The Snow Blade comes in two versions. Both with a removable aluminium handle with the Snow Blade T Kit being telescopic that extends the handle length.

To go along side your Snow Blade, we have a variety of axes from the North Couloir (Hammer Adze Technical Axe Combo) to the Alpine Tour for Basic use. The Swhippy double lanyard is an awesome option to accompany your Couloir Axes which comes with a small walker that avoids the twisting of the lanyard webbing. Alternatively take a look at the Aspiring Tool Strop.

Harnesses

At the end of 2020 we released the Aspiring Tei Tei Mountain Harness. The most NZ Made harness we have ever made. The Tei tei is designed with simplicity, durability and weight in mind for NZ conditions. This harness will take you on your high altitude, ski-touring, glacial, and mountaineering adventures. With quick release construction, Ice screw retainers and compact gear loops, and a weight of 215g what more could you want. Another option to the Tei Tei is the CT Tami. To accompany both these harnesses we have the CT Truck Tool Holders, CT Ice Screws in 10cm, 15cm and 19cm lengths and CT pitons.

The NZ made Tei tei climbing Harness

Ropes

Maybe it is a rope to go with your harness. Fixe (previously Roca) is one of the oldest manufacturers of rope in the world with more than 125 years of experience. Many of the Fixe ropes use Full Dry technology to maximize protection against ice, moisture, and dust, increasing the sliding capacity and abrasion resistance. All ropes treated with Full Dry absorb less than 5% of the rope’s weight in water, highly recommended for mountaineering and ice climbing. Ropes treated with Full Dry include the NEW 9.2 Dominator SPD FullDry, 9.0 Monkey SPD FullDry, 8.1 Zen FullDry, and the 7.5 Summit SPD FullDry. The SPD Spiderwire technology optimizes the performance of the fibres, achieving optimal balance in the rope as a whole. This increases the capacity of number of falls by 30% and achieves a lower impact force allowing smaller diameter ropes have the same characteristics as large-diameter ones, without sacrificing a low impact force.

Crevasse Rescue

Looking for gear to create and perfect your crevasse rescue kit. Create yours with the lightweight SMC 30mm CRx Crevasse Rescue Pulley and the renowned CT Roll-N-Lock. Add a couple of the CT HMS Warlock Carabiners and you have a winning system. You could also incorporate the CT Be-up Belay Device or Petzl Tibloc to enhance your crevasse rescue kit even further. 

NZ made Aspiring Safety Sling, Warlock Carabiners, CT Roll-n-lock, Petzl Tibloc and SMC Crevasse Pulley

Snow Stakes

We could not finish without mentioning the NZ made Aspiring Snowstake. Originating in the 1980’s it has become standard use for New Zealanders. Our snowstakes are fabricated from high strength aeronautical grade aluminium and has been tested and found to have a tensile strength well in excess of the 8KN recommended minimum strength for snow anchors. To keep variety we also offer the SMC I Picket and CT Snowstakes!

We hope this article has helped you to have a think about the equipment you might need for your winter missions. If you would like friendly help and support come on in and see us in Riccarton, Christchurch or give us a call. We are always happy to help.

Fixe by ROCA

Roca is one of the oldest rope manufacturers in the world. In operation since 1891, in 2012 it went on to form part of Fixe, for which it currently makes all the ropes in its catalogue. Fixe ropes are backed up by more than 125 years of experience in the sector. All production is done in Sant Quirze de Besora (Barcelona).

Fixe was founded in 1983 in a place surrounded by mountains and premier climbing zones like Montserrat, Terradets and Siurana. It quickly became a leading brand among the climbing community, and its products are currently known worldwide.

With an image updated to the 21st century and a renewed catalogue, Fixe Climbing today produces its entire range of ropes and Alien Cams at its headquarters in Sant Quirze de Besora, it is the official European distributor of the Perfect Descent auto belay, and is also the distributor for Climbskin in Germany, Austria and Italy.

In manufacturing the ropes, Fixe uses Classic Plus 48 or Endurance braiding, both with 48 strands, unlike other brands that use 42-strand braiding.

Fixe also use an environmentally friendly Nature Treatment which does not contain chemical treatments. This makes it ideal for use in drier environments.

Ropes that use Endurance technology slide more easily over their working surfaces: carabiners, descenders, belays, anchors, etc. To achieve this, higher quality strands are used which, combined with the manufacturing system, enables Roca to produce ropes with unique characteristics on the market.

Endurance gives ropes a nicer feel, greater fluidity, and the ability to withstand 30% more abrasion cycles.

Fixe ropes that use Endurance braiding (known colloquially as herringbone braiding) are the following: Summit, Zen, Monkey, Dominator, IO Plus, Siurana, Rainbow, Pro Endurance, Canyon Endurance and Espeleo Endurance.

SPD Spiderwire technology optimises the performance of the fibres, achieving optimal balance in the rope as a whole. This increases the capacity of number of falls by 30% and achieves a lower impact force.

Thanks to SPD Spiderwire technology, small-diameter ropes have the same characteristics as large-diameter ones, without sacrificing a low impact force. These are lightweight and very strong ropes that are comfortable to handle.

Fixe has a range of ropes that use Full Dry technology in its catalogue. Maximum protection against ice, moisture and dust, increasing the sliding capacity and abrasion resistance.

All Fixe ropes that display the Full Dry seal comply with the UIAA Water Repellent requirements.

All ropes treated with FULL DRY absorb less than 5% of the rope’s weight in water. Recommended for practising mountaineering, ice climbing and for wet and dusty areas.

What Information should the Rope Include? 

WHAT IS A FACTOR 2 FALL?

The fall factor is used to determine the severity of a fall while climbing. It ranges from 0 to 2, with Factor 2 being the most severe. The fall factor is the ratio between the height of the fall and the length of the rope. It will be Factor 2 when the height of the potential fall is twice the distance separating the climber from the anchor device.

Middle mark
Mark that indicates the halfway point of the rope. Increases safety and lets you know the point of the rope to be used for rappelling. Impact force. Impact or jerk experienced by the climber at the end of the fall. The lower this value, the lesser the impact of a fall will be. To certify the rope, the Impact Force is calculated for Factor 2 falls.

Number of Falls
According to the regulations, the rope must withstand a given number of falls at a determined frequency and impact force. This is calculated for Factor 2 falls. Ropes with the highest number of Factor 2 falls will be safer and stronger. If you exceed the number of falls, this does not necessarily mean that the rope will break, but rather that it will lose its shock absorption properties.

Static elongation
Elongation of a rope is calculated with an 80-kg weight hanging from it. Elongation cannot exceed 10% in single and twin ropes, and 12% in half ropes. The higher the elongation value, the lower the impact the climber will experience.

Sheath slippage
The rope has two parts: the sheath (woven exterior) and the core (strands in the inner part). Slippage is the movement inside the sheath under the conditions established in the standard. The less slippage, the better the performance of the rope.

Sheath percentage
Percentage of the mass of the sheath compared to the total mass of the rope. In other words, the higher the rope’s sheath percentage, the higher its resistance to abrasion. However, the core will be smaller, and so the number of falls will be lower.

Weight per metre
Kilograms per metre of rope. The lower the weight, the more manageable the rope will be. In contrast, heavier ropes tend to be more resistant.

Down here we all know about the harsh affects of UV damage! Did you know when synthetic material is overexposed to UV light it degrades it by breaking down the molecular bonds in the fibre structure, thus weakening the fabric?

During Waitangi weekend Nat collected a piece of unknown UV damaged webbing on the route up to Mt Aspiring and thought we could give it a test. The type of webbing is unknown as well as the length of exposure. Nat and Grant conducted a static test of the length of webbing and produced a result of 6.05kn. Based on similar products it had lost approximately 9kn. The links below have a couple of videos of the webbing breaking in the test and looking closer at the webbing after it failed.

Unfortunately, there’s no SPF lotion to lather onto your synthetic webbing; so here are some signs that your synthetic webbing has been damaged by the sun:

  • Fading colour is a clear sign of UV damage. If a sling was originally orange and now it’s a pale peach, it’s time to take it out of service.
  • Stiffness, lack of pliability or a fuzzy texture along the length of the sling can signify severe UV degradation.
  • Inspect the structural integrity by snapping the sling against a hard surface. If you see a lot of fibre dust, you know the sling has been damaged by UV degradation.
  • Have a think about the type of webbing being used and the exposure factor. Is Nylon, Polyester or Dyneema the way to go? We are happy to help with advice.

UV Damage Webbing Testing Results: