M's & W's Bagby Shorts $20 & $27 M's Sun Hoodies
Free shipping for orders over $75
0 Cart
Added to Cart
    You have items in your cart
    You have 1 item in your cart

    Matthew Van Biene in Patagonia


    Matt Van Biene self portrait, high on the Cassarotto Route, North Pillar of Fitz Roy during his ascent of the Care Bear Traverse

    Our good friend the climber/photographer Matt Van Biene headed down to Patagonia for a couple months this season and returned with this review of a prototype NWAlpinist Salopette we made for him.

    Usually clothing is… well, simply clothing. Even when we are talking about garments made for activities such as alpine climbing. A jacket might have waterproof characteristics, breathe well, fit over your helmet, but essentially you just wear it and do your thing. Pants are the same deal. Sure you’ll probably want soft shells over jeans when romping through the hills, for obvious reasons, but whatever dri-stretch-neo-tex-fabric company A uses over company B will likely have no bearing on whether you make it to the top. In fact, I can’t recall really ever wearing an article of clothing that “did” anything for me while climbing, other than be there and keep my dry and warm, but everything does that. That is until I donned NW Alpine’s Salopette down in Patagonia this past season.

    Like a form fitting stretchy suit of armor, the Salopette hugged my core snug and provided a force field from the elements. The combination of upper body warmth and lower body durability made for an ideal combo while climbing gritty granite and bivying at night. During high output moments the whole piece breathed extremely well and I was easily able to regulate temperature with the full-length zipper that runs down the front and through to the back. Hiking ten miles in on a good weather day? Drop the front zip and let it breathe. For extra high output with a heavy pack, open up the crotch area for a nice draft to keep you cool. Being in the backcountry, nobody cares that you’re exposing your underwear that you’ve been wearing for three days. But, as my mini rant stated above, these are all qualities we’ve come to expect in well-made outdoor gear, and the NW Alpine Salopette is no exception. Handcrafted in Portland, OR by climbers, for climbers, this piece stands out with its build quality alone. But how did it help me get to the top? It’s not a long story, but let me explain…

    So there I was, on lead, hundreds of feet off the deck and few thousand more to go. Blissfully enjoying stellar crack climbing on near perfect rock in an unbelievably sublime setting. I was bordering on an out of body experience when all of a sudden I had a very internal body experience. My stomach dropped and the dehydrated mountain cuisine that I had feasted on earlier began to wreak havoc and make a mad dash for the exit. With the end of the pitch near I sprinted to the ledge. Frantically slamming two cams and clipping them, my mind screamed “fuck equalization!”, and I called “TAKE!” to my belayer 150 feet below. A perplexed response, “Dude, are you OK?” echoed back. I panted out, “Hold on!” This was happening NOW and my bowels rumbled. Normally, with any other pants I wear I would have been up shit creek, literally. But realizing all I had to do was unzip through the back and lean back I relaxed a little. That was a bad idea all things considered, but thankfully the seamless transition from glory hand jams to hanging bowel movement went cleanly, to say the least. Naturally, if it hadn’t we very well might have been forced down and that is how the NW Alpine Salopette helped us send that day.

    Read more

    Doug Shepherd reports on the FA of Can't Knock the Hustle, Mt. Burkett

    Wonderful, warm sandstone towered above us as we racked up for the north face of Castleton Tower.  The day before my right big toe had been bothering me all day, especially on the thin hands pitches.  As soon as I pulled my rock shoes on, I knew something was wrong.   I had an Alaska trip in two weeks and didn’t want push things, so I took a nap in the sun and watched my friends and others have a blast playing on Castleton. (Photo: North face of Castleton Tower ©Doug Shepherd)

    Fast-forward a few months and between our first ascent on Mt. Dickey and training for the Speedgoat 50K race, I’ve ruined what cartilage I had left in my right big toe.  I finally meet with Dr. Clanton at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado about fixing my toe.  He assured me they knew how to fix me right up and we scheduled my surgery for the end of August.  I pushed through the pain to finish the Speedgoat and hobbled into surgery unable to move my toe more than five degrees up or down.

    After my surgery, my wife was nice enough to drive me back and forth to Vail from our home in Northern New Mexico for follow-ups and help me figure out how to shower without getting my foot wet. I think she took a bit too much pleasure in taping the plastic bags to my leg as I lost quite a bit of hair each time I showered, quickly leaving me content to lie on the couch working and watching climbing movies on my laptop. (Photos: The magic workers (top). Pretending to work during recovery (bottom). ©Doug Shepherd)

    After a few weeks and more 12 hour round trips to Vail, I had my stitches out and was gimping around on crutches. Another 2 weeks and I was able to wear a normal shoe and walk around at work. Right around that time, John Frieh texted me with his usual, “hey, they weather is looking kind of good in Alaska. What are you up to?” I wrote him off the first time, as I could barely walk without the crutches. Another week goes by and John texted me again, “are you sure you can’t wear ice boots?”

    I immediately went out to the back yard and pulled my double boots out of the storage shed. Gingerly I try to pull on my right boot. The first attempt ends in almost blacking out and tears as I bend the toe too aggressively on the stiff insole. After a few minutes, I pull out the inner boot and put that on first. By angling my foot into the shell, I’m able to wiggle my foot into the boot with a bearable amount of pain. I quickly pull on my other boot, walk outside and climb on my system board a bit. Seems good enough, as long as we don’t climb anything too technical. I text John back that I’m in and the usual weekend ninja alpinism plans are formed. It just so happens that the weather window falls right after 6 weeks post-surgery, the arbitrary timeline my doctor’s gave me to resume “full-activity”.

    (Photo: Burkett Needle and Mt. Burkett ©Doug Shepherd) I fly to Seattle from Albuquerque on Thursday night and John picks up me at the airport. We crash at a friend’s house, but not before John pulls out a pair of baby blue NW Alpine Neoshell salopettes I had asked to borrow from NW Alpine since they are significantly more waterproof than my green power pants that NW Alpine had made for our Mt. Dickey trip. I’m excited by the prospective of combining these with my orange Big Four jacket, mostly because of the excited color combinations (blue and orange, yes please!) but also because I know the design of the pants is excellent and the Neoshell will keep me dry no matter what conditions we encounter.

    (Photo: Way too happy to be back in the spooner bag. ©Doug Shepherd) On Friday morning, John and I fly from Seattle to Petersburg and after coffee at Dieter Klose’s house, a quick shopping trip, and the usual junk show of packing Wally, our helicopter pilot, has us on the glacier by early afternoon. Because John has been here before, he knows exactly where we need to go and we are relaxing at the bivy site shortly after dark. My toe had responded reasonably to slogging up the talus slope, but I still was nowhere near healthy and definitely worried about the next day. Thankfully, we had brought along the two-person sleeping bag again, so I got to cuddle up to John and try to sleep for a few hours before our early start.

    We negotiate the broken Burkett glacier, with a bit of antics to connect the lower and upper glacier and quickly find ourselves below the access couloir to the Mt. Burkett-Burkett Needle col. I take off leading, the first time I’ve found myself in any sort of climbing situation since my toe surgery. We simul-climb to the col and drop down to where we can access the NW face of Mt. Burkett. The face takes roughly four long simul-climbing blocks between John and myself, unraveling quite nicely with moderate ice and mixed climbing in an amazing position. The only worry during the day, besides the building pain in my toe, is the wind on the upper North face. At times, it was strong enough to blow our arms back as we tried to swing our ice tools. We eventually emerged from the north face into the sun on the East Ridge and make our way to the summit. (Photo: Rocking the baby blue below the Burkett col ©John Frieh)

    Neither of us was willing to stand up on the summit, as the wind would have been blown us to Canada. After the wonderful belly crawl that compromised our summit experience, we begin the descent down the Golden Gully, a couloir splitting the Southwest aspect of Mt. Burkett. 6 or 7 rappels lead us to the lower angle snow compromising the lower portion of the Golden Gully and we down climb that to the glacier. At this point, my toe is hindering my ability to front point, so I am fairly slow down climbing and thankful that John is waiting for me just around every corner. (Photo: John Frieh on the upper ice fields of Mt. Burkett’s northwest face ©Doug Shepherd)

    Reversing our glacier shenanigans from the morning goes quickly and we are soon enjoying another dinner of ramen and preparing for an evening of cuddling. My foot is desperate for a break from my boots by the time we reach camp and I am pretty worried about the walk down to the helicopter pick-up point the next day. Thankfully, the next morning comes and I’m able to wear my boots and the walk to our cache and pick up point goes very easily. Within 24 hours I’m back in New Mexico, completing a first ascent during a long weekend break from work. (Photo: John Frieh and myself standing just below the summit of Mt. Burkett. ©Doug Shepherd)

    Thanks again to NW alpine for making quality alpine climbing clothing. The Neoshell fabric kept me dry while breathing and blocking the crazy wind we encountered. These quick alpine trips require the weather, your fitness, and other factors to line up just right for success. Because I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about my clothing system working, I was able to better focus on keeping my toe pain free and making a successful, and safe, first ascent of Can’t Knock the Hustle with my partner, John Frieh.

    (Photo: Waiting for Wally to pick us up below Mt. Burkett on Sunday morning ©John Frieh)

    Read more

    Guest Blogging- Nate Tack on Squamish Climbing

    So we're implementing a new guest blogging program. We're asking some of our favorite people to blog about anything that's on their minds, the only caveat being that it has to be at least tangentially related to climbing. If you have something to say and are interested in being a guest blogger, please shoot an e-mail to us at info@nwalpine.com Our first post comes from our good friend Nate Tack. Nate is a Portland local who enjoys sailing his boat and climbing hard cracks.

    Squamish has always been a special place for me. A really unique combination where perfect granite walls meet the Ocean with the Coast Range looking over it all. I've spent two summers in Squamish and made several other road trips there and never seem to get bored: bolts, big walls, slabs, bouldering and lots of crack climbing, every style of rock climbing is well represented. As an added bonus you can start your day with some Timbits from Tim Hortons. (Yeah, yeah I know in the rest of the world "Timbits" are doughnut holes or "Munchkins". Canadians are proud though, call a Timbit by any other name and you might get punched in the nose.)

    The only downside with such good climbing to be had is that everyone and their neighbor wants to climb their as well. Squamish is a regular part of the annual migration for climbing bums and weekend warriors alike. Trying to climb classic crack pitches like the Split Pillar or Penny Lane on a sunny day feels a bit like a trip to the DMV. That's the nature of classic climbing, the routes are popular for a reason, because they are so damn good. I'm not unique, I like to climb clean, esthetic lines like everyone else, however I'd much rather do it without a huge group of French Canadians clambering all over me. Here's a few routes in Squamish that in my mind are super classic, but don't see that much traffic. If you're tired of the wait on Exasperator check out these routes:

    Milk Run- Tantalus Wall, The Chief. 5.11D or 5.10, AO 8 Pitches

    An interesting route that combines the best and worst of Squamish. The first two pitches are a bit whacky and often wet as you wander around a slab moving left. However the awkward nature of pitch one and pitch two is a small price to pay for the insanely good corner that make up pitch three and pitch four. The fourth pitch is one of the better corner pitches I've ever done and goes at 5.10D. It's one of those pitches that looks burly from the belay, fingers and laybacking in a steep corner. However like many Squamish corners, every ten feet or so a small edge will appear for your feet giving you a chance to shake out and place some gear. Conserve gear and pace yourself on this one, the pitch is fifty meters and rather sustained. Triples or quads of finger (yellow and orange Metolius master cams) would be a good idea, but save a single hand size piece for the small roof below the belay.

    Rutabaga- Base of the Chief- 5.11, 2 pitches

    This little gem would a great afternoon outing when combined with other more well know classics in the area such as Seasoned in the Sun or Apron Strings. P1 is short and fun, twenty meters of double cracks (5.10B) takes you to a bolted belay. The real treat is the second pitch, forty five meters of sustained laybacking and finger jamming in a corner. Every so often the crack will pinch down and you'll start thinking thinking that this isn't 5.11, but as always a nice crimper or foothold will appear on the wall away from the corner. Near the end of the pitch switch into bouldering mode as you're forced to slap out right on an arete feature! to gain the belay. Exciting moves above a purple Master cam. Tough guys take note, with some long slings and a seventy meter rope this route can be done in one very long pitch. Yikes!

    High Plains Drifter- 5.11 Sherifs Badge

    The guidebook touts this route as being, "The best hand crack in the known universe." That's a bold statement, but having just spent a month at Indian Creek climbing a LOT of hand cracks, I can confirm that this is not hyperbole. If this pitch were near the ground it would still be top ten for sure, but put it 2,000 above the valley after climbing 14 approach pitches (Angle's Crest) with the sea in front of you and Mount Garibaldi framing the background and you have something special. Hand cracks don't normally intimidate me, it is one of the few types of climbing that I feel completely secure on, my hands feel like portable anchors when slammed into a two inch crack. However, when I looked up at High Plains Drifter from the fourth class approach ledge I was nervous. Not sure what it is. Maybe it's the exposed position, or the slightly overhanging nature of it, but from the belay High Plains Drifter just looks burly! We had gotten delayed behind slow parties coming up Angles Crest, so by the time we made it over to High Plains Drifter the sun was setting. Climbing such a great pitch with the sun setting over Howe Sound with my good friend Dan, truly a special monument.

    The crack itself is actually a detached flake, the whole feature rings when smacked with a fist. Starts out hands and big hands keeps on going for a glorious thirty meters. At about the twenty five meter mark, a slight crux is encountered where the crack widens to four inches. Mercifully the wide stuff gives way to a "Thank God" jug and a rest before some thin crack work to the chains. Triples of #2 BD, Doubles #3 BD, and a single #4 will be enough gear if you're solid with big hands, although if I had a few extra hand sizes pieces with me I certainly would have placed them. It takes a bit of effort to get up to High Plains Drifter, but well worth it. If I only got to do one more pitch of climbing before I died, I would climb High Plains Drifter.

    Read more

    Summer Sausage

    Tyler Adams reports from the field. While everyone in Oregon is out there just clipping bolts and climbing basalt splitters, most don't know that Oregon is home to hundreds of rock spires. Think of it as the Utah desert but covered in trees, and then instead of sandstone spires, in Oregon it's volcanic choss with quality ranging from the most decrepit looking spires, to some awesome bullet hard stone.

    With Summer finally here, it's prime time for tagging rock spires in the Oregon Cascades. One of my favorites is Horse Cock Rock or HCR named so due to it's phallic nature. Don't let the name deter you because the summit of this one is hard to beat, it's right up there with other classic Oregon spires such as the Turkey Monster or Steins Pillar. Located just a little bit east of Sweet Home HCR has only one route to the summit, almost all on bolts, so it makes for a relatively stress free day in the hills. First attempted by Bob Eckstrand and Steve Knutson back in 1967. After climbing the first free pitch and reaching the blank upper section they retreated. Pete Pollard and Darryl Gotwald returned in April of 1980 to make the first ascent. My hero Jim Anglin and Mike Hartley made the second ascent later that year. When Brian Gilbert and I climbed it in 2008 with a tiny bit of beta from Jim Anglin, we found no evidence of a recent ascent except for some new bolts on the 1st pitch and a bail sling. There was no visable summit anchor, so we drilled a new two bolt anchor wich makes it easy to make one rappel with two ropes that puts you right back at your packs. Originally climbed in three pitches it makes more sense to do it in only two pitches, and avoid an uncomfortable hanging belay. I returned last week with Kiwi hardman Steve Elder to fix up a couple bolts, and made this beauty good to go for another hundred years. I wound up talking to Pete Pollard eventually, and he recalls the summit tree having a little bit more life in it when they did it. They rappeled off of the tree and to the top of their second pitch and then to the ground. Pete had absolutly no objections to our added rappel bolts. So don't miss this classic Oregon summit! HCR - Soft Space - 5.8 A2 FA: Pete Pollard & Darryl Gotwauld, April 1980 Pitch 1 (5.8): From the uphill saddle climb up the obvious wide crack system using some bolts and larger sized cams for protection. Some bolts were added to this pitch, most likely by the "Lebanon Bolt Cowboy". Natural protection is available so it's possible they may be removed at somepoint. The crux is located just below the belay ledge. Mind some loose blocks on the pitch. Pitch 2 (5.7 A2): Begin with two bolts off of the belay to a short nailing crux, using RURPs or knifeblade's. Continue past more bolts and a couple of rivets, with a hook move or two. When the bolts end, nail a couple more pins or just start free climbing to a trough to the right. Climb past a hangerless 1/4" bolt and continue to the flat and spacious summit with a single bolt and tree anchor. The free climbing is quite runout, but the rock is super solid. Rappel with two ropes from two bolts on the uphill side of the spire. Protection: A couple of cams to 4", a small selection on thin pitons from RUPS to Lost Arrow, a medium sized hook and some wire rivet hangers.

    Read more