May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, August 2000 Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
»IN THE LAST few years, the permanent climbing bolts that mar the surfaces of crags all over America have started attracting the attention of land managers, many of whom contest they violate the prohibition against mechanical devices in wilderness areas. In response, several companies are now manufacturing removable bolts that leave the rock free of metal. Among the best are Climb Tech's RBs ($35; 512-847-7251), spring-loaded camming devices that can be placed and then removed from normal bolt holes (six sizes: 1/4' to 3/4 inches). The sleeve is tapered against a ball on the stem of the unit, so the harder you pull on the clip-in loop, the more securely it locks into the hole. In good rock, the 1/2 inch RB is rated to 3,700 pounds—strong enough to hold even the most monster whipper.

It's important to realize, however, that this is not "clean climbing." On new routes you still have to drill permanent holes in the rock. And RBs come with their own particular challenges; finding the bare holes on repeat ascents can be difficult, and the devices are tough to remove after a fall, requiring two hands, a hammer, and an RB Hand Tool ($16). The price is several times that of a traditional bolt, and you'll need at least ten RBs even for single-pitch routes. Nonetheless, they're fast and easy to place, and they should last for several years (provided, of course, you're not logging excessive air time). I'll definitely have a few on my rack the next time I step up to the big stone. —MARK SYNNOTT

In September, Mark Synnott joins a team attempting a new route on Jannu in Nepal.

Très Ginsu
»RATHER THAN add pincers, pliers, saw blades, or other gadgetry, the creators of the Laguiole knife (pronounced "Lay-ol," $135; 800-706-0183; www.laguiole.com) have crafted a distinctly French "multitool." In 1829, the forged blade was mated with a poinçon, or awl, so that Aveyron shepherds could deflate the bellies of bloated sheep. Six decades later, when wine storage switched from barrels to bottles and every peasant became a sommelier, the corkscrew was added. Later, the brass rivets on the hilt were arranged in a cross so that farmers far from church could say their prayers. Since then, nothing has changed—including the view among the 50 craftsmen who assemble every Laguiole. They believe that any outdoor endeavor requiring more from a knife than a poke, slice, or uncorking is simply impropre. —ERIC HANSEN

Safety Net
»EXPERIENCED WANDERERS often tender grim stories about how their backpacks were rifled on the train from Mumbai to Ahmadabad, mysteriously implanted with heroin just before the Turkish border, or swiped altogether from a hotel safe in Thailand. Pacsafe has created a device that, while not invulnerable to a determined criminal with wire-cutters, may help you deal with your paranoia. The Travel Plus ($70; 800-873-9415; www.pac-safe.com) is a one-pound, five-ounce, high-tensile stainless steel net that wraps up and defends up to 7,300 cubic inches of luggage. You can walk around with the slashproof antitheft carapace cinched around your pack, discouraging pickpockets right and left, or use its padlock and cable to attach the whole thing to, say, the roofrack of a Nepalese bus so your belongings won't get nicked while you're throwing up from the exhaust fumes inside. Getting the cage stretched over your backpack can be a bit of a struggle, but it's still easier than hitchhiking home from Lima with nothing but your flip-flops and a pocketful of centavos. —GILLIAN ASHLEY

Photos: Clay Ellis

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