Gear Closet: Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro – 2018 Edition.

A couple of years back I took a look at a product from Hillsound called the Trail Crampon Pro and found it to be an excellent add on to our hiking boots and shoes for use on icy and snowy trails. True to its name, the Trail Crampon acted much like traditional mountaineering crampons, attaching to your boot in a quick and efficient manner. But, since that time the company has updates its design, making it a lot more convenient and easy to use than the previous generation.

Unlike the previous generation, the updated model of the Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro uses a ratchet and buckle system to securely attach the spikes to your shoes. Previously hikers had to adjust the sizing of the crampon using a tool, which required setting it up ahead of time and made it challenging to adjust in the field. This latest iteration is about as simple as it gets however, and having used both models extensively, I haven’t noticed any change in performance whatsoever. Essentially, this product now offers the same level of grip as a mountaineering crampon, with the ease of something that is far less technical.

Designed for low and medium grade ascents – as opposed to ice climbing or truly taxing alpine pursuits – the Trail Crampon Pro features ten individual 1 inch spikes, with six found on the front and four at the rear. This allows hikers to not only get a solid grip on the ascents, but make descents with more control as well. I’ve used them over snow, ice, and slush on trails and over rocks, and have found them to be an excellent option for use in the backcountry during high impact winter pursuits.

The latest version of the Trail Crampon seems more comfortable on my foot as well, although I can’t tell if that is due to any change in design on Hillsound’s part or if it is the result of using them with different pairs of boots. Either way, they aren’t overly constraining or restrictive, even when ratchet on tightly, making it a breeze to wear them for long hikes and alpine approaches. And when you no longer need them, they slip right off and can be stashed inside or hung from a lashing point on your backpack until you need them again.

It is important to point out that these crampons tip the scales at 23.5 ounces (667 gram) per pair. That isn’t especially heavy, but its not the lightest we’ve seen either. But, the good news is that I feel that Hillsound has found an excellent middle ground in terms of weight, durability, and convenience, making these a good all around option for those who need a bit of extra traction on slick surfaces.

The Trail Crampon Pro is also fairly budget friendly, carrying a price tag of just $79. That makes them less expensive than most technical crampons that you’ll find, but also more expensive than some of the less technical options from competitors. Indeed, I feel like this product has found an excellent middle ground that offers a more durable and stable product for those who need it, without forcing them to purchase higher price crampons that exceed their needs. Chances are, they’ll like what they find in Trail Crampon Pro, and love the price and convenience that they bring.

Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: –  Gear Closet: Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro – 2018 Edition

** see also: –

– Trekking – posts on my site :

Trekking in Nepal Himalaya : GOKYO, KALA PATTAR and EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK (19 days).

Everest Base Camp – CLASSIC treks. / Version polish and english /

Trekking in Nepal Himalaya : EVEREST HIGH VALLEY – Travel Guide. /Version english/

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Everest 2018: Weekend Update April 1.

Well, it’s the 1st of April and the Everest machine is fully operational. Climbers from around the world are streaming into Kathmandu and others to Lhasa to begin their journey to the base camps on opposite sides of Mount Everest.

For those just arriving, the excitement is palpable. For those left back home, the reality is just setting in. And for those who climbed last year, but are home today, their emotions are mixed.

K-k-k-k-k-k Katmandu

Kathmandu Airport GreetingWhen the airplane door opens, you feel Nepal. You can taste the humidity, the thick air of Kathmandu. Deep down you know that your first step onto the tarmac will not be the last time you make this journey.  Retrieving your bags reminds you that you have gone back in time by 50 years, perhaps to a small airport in rural Australia or Oban, Scotland. With bags on the wobbly trolley, you make your way past security noting the X-ray machine was unplugged. Your trust in the system is about to get the first test as you leave the airport and scan the line of drivers holding up signs. Then you see it, your name. Your tense and tried shoulders drop half an inch.

This scene will be repeated about 500 times just for Everest climbers this season, tens times that if you include trekkers. The Everest season is not just about climbing, it’s also about the lifeblood of a country. Between the trekking and climbing industry, it’s estimated to bring in tens of millions of dollars to one of the world’s poorest economies. The average income in Nepal hovers around USD$600. Giving the guy who helped move your duffle one meter a $5 dollar tip reinforces why Nepal loves tourists.


Meeting Strangers

Meeting your team for the first time is always an exercise in human psychology. While you are certain that your experience and skills are more than sufficient to scale Everest, looking at some of your teammates causes you to question theirs! The time-honored process of forming cliques begins at dinner. You sort out who you want to walk beside and those you want to be separated from by a camp or two. Your guides make their first impression – type A personality or another “climber dude”. Regardless they will watch your every move for the next two months.

Climbing has been a male-dominated sport but that is changing and for the better. As more women seek to join the summit team, the nature of the sport has evolved. No longer is it acceptable not to bathe or brush your teeth for weeks on end. The toilet humor jokes now take three minutes to begin instead of the usual three seconds over breakfast. The solitary individual who makes every rotation a competitive race no longer receives the “attaboy” from teammates. Women climbers are smarter, faster and safer than most of their male counterparts. You would be wise to partner up now.

Bistārai, Bistārai

After two days in the Khumbu or crossing the border at Zhangmu, you question the wisdom of spending $500 on your new fancy, highly-accurate altitude watch. Time moves like a sleeping dog in this part of the world. The strict training schedule and diet that held you hostage for the past year has now morphed into a life of eating as much as you can and sleeping as long as you can. Yes, you are now living the dream!

On Kilimanjaro you learned Swahili for slow was “pole, pole” now you are learning it in Nepal, “Bistārai” or as Kami said to me often “No hurry, chicken curry” (never did figure that one out)! But language aside, there is a new pace to your world. You walk slow, eat slow, talk even slower. You actually pause on the trails to take in the view or at least get that great selfie to post on Facebook at the next teahouse. Yes, life’s great frustrations have shifted from slow drivers on the M4 to waiting for a yak train to pass by.

Under Construction

The base camps on both sides are scenes of challenging work. Before tents can be erected, platforms must be carved out of rock and ice on the Nepal side. The large tents used for cooking, storage and dining must be tied down to withstand high winds, especially on the north where it never relents making people yearn for a silent night’s sleep. Heavy trucks disturb the tranquility on the north while helicopters occupy the south. The days of a thousand porters marching in silent are gone forever.

A few teams for the 2018 edition of Everest have already arrived but most are still driving or trekking. All are hoping EverestLInk will be up on the Nepal side and ChinaTelecom functional on the Tibet side. Access to WiFi has become standard for all teams on Everest.


I began this article with a mention of how people may be feeling. I have often written about the “ones left behind.” The spouse, friends, family that gave you all that encouragement for so many years. They hoped that this day would come for you. Now that it has, they are coming to grips with what life will be like until June 1. The climber knows what they are doing each moment while those at home can only wonder what is happening on the other side of the world.

For the climber, it’s show time. All the dreaming is now behind you. It’s time to stop training, wondering about gear, which guide to use and all the other thousand questions that have occupied your subconscious, and often your present state of mind, for way too long. If you are not excited today then your blood may already be cold. This is what you have been working hard to achieve, but it has also just begun. This is a marathon, not a sprint so relax and let every moment seep into your essence.

And if you were on Everest last year, or a few years ago, this is a tough time for you as well. Your memory is strong and alive with images and sounds of landing at Lukla, seeing that first big yak, hearing the monks softly chanting. One memory may shroud all the rest, that first view of the Big E from the Everest View Hotel. You sipped the freshly brewed instant coffee on the wood deck and let your eye trace the skyline of Everest, Ama Dabalm resting in the foreground. For a split instance, you saw yourself on the Southeast Ridge, struggling to take one step higher, gasping for breath only to lift your head to see teammates slightly above in the soft glow of headlamps. But this year, you are home.

Every year, April and May is a time of dreams and memories. It’s a time of review and plans, a time to let yourself go to a different place and time – even if it is only in your quiet moments of reflection.

The Season Ahead

The climbers are ramping up with their posts, videos, and pictures but not a lot thus far. I have a list of climbers in the sidebar with links to their most active media but click to see what else they are posting. These days people post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, blogs and who knows where else so it has become harder to follow 🙂

Remember that most teams will not enter the Icefall until mid-April. Hopefully a few will start early this year. I am updating my annual team tracking page that shows the current location of the majority of their team. I also use that page to post brief updates almost daily.

Not to be forgotten are those on the other 8000ers of Lhotse, Dhaulagiri, Kanchenjunga, Makalu, and perhaps Annapurna, Cho Oyu, Shishapangma and Manaslu. I’ll report on those as available. But for now, here’s to Bob Seiger and of course, Kathmandu!

I think I’m going to Katmandu
That’s really, really where I’m going to
If I ever get out of here
That’s what I’m gonna do
K-k-k-k-k-k Katmandu
I think that’s really where I’m going to
If I ever get out of here
I’m going to Katmandu

See this fun video.

.. more on : –

Autor : Alan Arnette

* source: – Everest 2018: Weekend Update April 1

** see also: – Trekking – posts on my site :

Trekking in Nepal Himalaya : GOKYO, KALA PATTAR and EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK (19 days).

Everest Base Camp – CLASSIC treks. / Version polish and english /

Trekking in Nepal Himalaya : EVEREST HIGH VALLEY – Travel Guide. /Version english/

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Everest 2018: Zos, Yaks, Porters and Helicopters.

When planes, trains and automobiles are not available to move your stuff, you do what you have to, to move your stuff. And that’s what we are seeing right now from Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp.

Pause for a moment and think about how much gear it takes to support a team, it can be overwhelming. Even a small team of a handful of climbers will have a couple of cooks, separate tents for dining, cooking and sleeping. Then the large teams add another few tents for storage and toilets. The high-end guides will have communications tent and even a “relaxation” tent.

All of this is at base camp where you live, eat and sleep for the better part of six weeks. Speaking of food, it also must be stored somewhere and there has to be fuel for the stoves, and sometimes heaters. Then there are generators, solar panels and on and on. Oh and don’t forget a few thousand oxygen bottles.

As you go higher, climbers share tents and often eat in the cooking tent.  Then there are the fixed ropes with snow bars, pitons, carabiners, ladders and everything else you need to actually move up the Hill. Regardless, the problem remains of how to get that gear up there.

So how does all the stuff get to base camp? On the Tibet side, it’s straightforward. Huge trucks haul it in on paved roads. However, it’s a different story on the Nepal side. Since Everest is within the Sagarmatha National Park where motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trails, everything is transported on the backs of people or animals or in a heavy duty helicopter. Lets first look at how the expeditions move their group gear to base camp and then how the personal gear is handled.


Freight helicopter at Syangboche

It may seem obvious to just use a helicopter to ferry tons of tents, stoves, fuel, etc. from Kathmandu to the foot of the Khumbu Icefall, but they are expensive and risky. If one goes down with all your gear, your season might be lost. Usually a version of a Russian cargo helicopter flies gear to a relatively low landing strip close to Namche Bazaar, at Syangboche, at 12,410’/3782m. Any higher might be impossible given the heavy loads. From there, the gear is shifted to animals and people.

Most expeditions use a combinations of animals – yaks and dzomos aka dzo. This last beast is a cross between a yak and a cow and can haul loads under 14,000 feet. They are smaller than yaks but not as happy! OK, so how do I know? Well all I know is that I get happy seeing a yak, so they must be happy as well. 🙂

All kidding aside, yaks are huge furry beast of burden that can seemingly go forever at glacial speed. They are colossal animals with a full-grown male weighing in at 1,400 pounds and standing 5.5 feet at the shoulders. Yaks have three times more red blood cells than regular cows thus can go higher than their cross-breed siblings. Also their long, thick hair insulates their bodies from winter temperatures that can plummet to -30C (-22F) or colder.

Continuing with “more than you wanted to know about yaks”, they are most comfortable above 14,000 feet probably due to generations of genes nurtured on the high Steppes of Tibet where Nomads constantly moved them between summer and winter pastures at 14,000 to 16,000 feet high. They will forage for food as high as 20,000 feet in the summer but usually don’t go lower than 12,000 feet.  Today, many yak owners in Nepal will not let them go lower than Namche fearing malaria, parasites or other diseases, often carried by cows, sheep and goats. They are treated very well by their owners due to their cash value from expeditions and then their meat at the end of life.

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Adventure Tech: Suaoki G500 Portable Power Station.

Yesterday we took a look at a new portable power bank designed specifically with drone users in mind. Today, we have a more traditional model of personal power station that delivers even more energy to your base camp, while offering pretty much all of the outlets you could possibly need to keep your expedition powered up for days at time.

The new Suaoki G500 Portable Power Station recently launched on Indiegogo and has garnered a lot of attention thanks to its massive battery, relatively light weight, and high level of versatility. This device features a 500 watt-hour lithium-ion battery, which translates to roughly 137,700 mAh. That’s enough to power your smartphone for up to 90 hours or a laptop for as much as 45 hours. The G500 is even strong enough to recharge drone batteries, run a mini-refrigerator, or power an LCD projector too. In short, it is a powerful and useful tool for mobile professionals, family camping, or expedition teams heading into remote areas.

The G500 is equipped with two AC wall outlets, 2 quick-charging USB-A ports, a single quick-charging USB-C port, two 12-volt DC ports, a 12-volt car port, and an Anderson Powerpole connector. That should cover just about any kind of device you might bring with you when you hit the road, including phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, GPS devices, and headlamps.

The power station itself ships with an AC adapter to recharge it via a wall outlet and a DC charger for plugging into the cigarette lighter in your car. The G500 can be recharged in the field using a solar panel as well, allowing it to serve as a solar generator on extended expeditions. Recharging at home or in your car takes about 8-10 hours, while the time required using the sun varies depending on the solar panel, how much direct sunlight it receives, and so on.

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Google and Discovery Join Forces for Virtual Reality Travel Series.

Tech giant Google and media outlet Discovery Channel have joined forces to create what promises to be quite the interesting travel experience. The new Discovery TRVLR series uses virtual reality to take viewers on a 38-episode, globe spanning, adventure that visits all seven continents. The episodes will be available on YouTube and the Discovery VR website, as well as in the Discovery VR app for iOS and Android, as well as various VR headsets.

The actual series isn’t set to debut officially until November 3, but according to the show’s website, the first season will take viewers to Auckland, Hanoi, Mexico City, Yerevan, Cape Town, La Paz and Antarctica. Along the way, they’ll get to meet locals, see the landscapes, and immerse themselves in the culture without ever leaving home.

The show will feature 7 chapters, each of which focuses on one of the continents. The chapters for North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia will be made up of six episodes each, while Antarctica will see two episodes. Viewers will be introduced to four different personalities on each continent, the Guru, the Renegade, the Entertainer and the Explorer.

Of course, there is no substitute for real travel and actually visiting these places, but this looks like a promising use of VR technology. I’m told that it isn’t just a 360º video shot using a special camera, but will be fully immersive stereoscopic virtual reality, which should make for an impressive experience, particularly on higher end devices.

Production of the series reportedly has taken more than three months, with some shooting and editing still ongoing. The recent earthquake in Mexico disrupted the crew to a degree, and there are still other locations to capture in VR before the show makes its official debut in a few weeks time.

You can check out the teaser trailer Discovery TRVLR below. Then grab yourself a pair of Google Daydream VR goggles or even Google Cardboard, and get ready to span the globe.

Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: – Google and Discovery Join Forces for Virtual Reality Travel Series

** see also: –

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50 Parks to Visit in 50 U.S. States.

The U.S. has always been at the forefront of creating public lands for its citizens and foreign visitors to explore. After all, the country was the first to designate a national park when Yellowstone was first created way back in 1872. Today, there are fantastic parks to explore in every state in the Union, and Popular Mechanics wants to help you discover the best ones.

In a slideshow entitled “50 States, 50 Parks” readers will go through each state in alphabetical order, with the individual slides providing some information on the absolute best park to visit at that particular destination. So, for example, in Alaska you’ll learn that Denali National Park has earned a spot on the list, which is no small feat when you consider the fantastic national parks that exist there. The slide not only contains a brief explanation for what makes Denali special, but an epic photo from the location as well.

Other great parks that make the cut include Grand Canyon (Arizona), Yosemite (California), Starved Rock State Park (Illinois), and Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I’ll leave the remaining 45 parks for you to discover, as it is a lot of fun to see what choices were made for each state.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the national parks, but there are some pretty spectacular state parks to be found as well. Thankfully, this list doesn’t count them out and you’re likely to discover plenty of new places to add to your “must visit” list. Check out the entire slideshow here.

Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: – 50 Parks to Visit in 50 U.S. States

** see also: –

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Video: A Timelapse of the Italian Dolomites.

Located in northern Italy, the Dolomites offer a spectacular setting that is strikingly different from the Alps. Rugged and dramatic, these mountains look more like something you’d find in Patagonia rather than Europe. In this clip, we take a journey into the Dolomites, both during the day, and at night. You’ll get a brief glimpse at what makes this place so special, and if you haven’t been there yourself, it will definitely be added to your bucket list.[4K] Sleepless In The Dolomites – Tiemo Weidemann (Panasonic GH4 / DJI Phantom 4 PRO)from Tiemo Weidemann on Vimeo.Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: – Video: A Timelapse of the Italian Dolomites

** see also: –

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