Category Archives: Reviews

211 Reasons to Wear a Climbing Helmet

This past month we invited a few rock climbing friends of ours to help spread the word about wearing helmets while climbing. Each of these climbers has a unique story about how they came to realize that wearing a helmet was important to them, their friends and their families. Reading the over 200 comments on these posts we hope that their followers; and you, decide to wear a helmet too.

Venturesome Krysia

I never used to wear a helmet rock climbing. I usually climb at the Red River Gorge, and many people that climb there don’t. My thought was if there was if there was a lot of overhang on the route, or when I start leading trad, then I would. But then something happened that changed my mind. // Continue Reading…



Ever since Cragbaby came along however, I’ve discovered a new reason to show my hard hat some love – and that is setting a good example for my son. When he’s ready to start climbing, I’m going to require him to wear a helmet. I can’t very well expect him to be happy about wearing one if he’s never seen me or my husband wear one. The funny thing is that at this point C thinks helmets are uber cool – at least once per climbing trip I turn around to find him wearing my helmet – usually accompanied by hysterical toddler giggles. // Continue Reading…


Splitter Choss

As Tracy and I spent more time climbing together, I started using my helmet more often, and now it’s a rare day you’ll see me without it. Often it feels like we are the only two people in Rifle wearing them, but a friend almost got killed there when a loose rock fell on his head as he walked under a popular cliff, so we don’t let the odd stares bother us. // Continue Reading…

So what about you?
Why do you, or don’t you, wear a helmet?


Need a helmet? Buy a PETZL Helmet online now
or visit your local PETZL retailer to check them out.

Don’t Play Climbing Helmet Roulette

Chicago area climber Justin Berry being littered out after a block of quartzite dislodged, smashing into his forehead and knee

I’ve written 3 different versions of a post for Pemba Serves about helmets and the outdoors.  Each one prior was full of stories that I had of how a helmet saved my life, or that of someone else that I know – like the time my long-time climbing partner Jay knocked loose a fist-sized chunk of granite from 70’ that knocked me flat, or Justin’s aid-climbing accident that had him littered out, or tales of my various bike wrecks that had me in stitches – not the funny kind of stitches.

But really, pictures and videos speak more than words. Let’s face it, if you participate in sports that carry an inherent risk – like biking, skiing, climbing…not wearing a helmet is playing Russian Roulette. The riskier the sport, the more bullets in the gun. I was going to put the end scene from The Deer Hunter in here, but you get the idea without Christopher Walken explaining it to you.

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Splitter Choss: PETZL ANGE S Finesse Quickdraw Review

PETZL ANGE S Quickdraws

I’ve been getting a lot of odd looks recently. It could be due to dressing in drag, or climbing on a fatter rope than normal, but I think these glances are directed at the fancy (and funky?) looking new quickdraws on my harness. “What are those?” seems to be a common question when people first spy the Petzl Ange Finesse draws. It’s not that I blame them, I’m just starting to get self conscious with all the attention.

When wiregate biners came out, they were a game changer. It opened the door to the incredibly light clips we have today, but there was always a piece of the puzzle that was missing. How to give them the no snag functionality of a key lock. A few other companies have put forth some idea, but arguably none are as cutting edge as what Petzl has achieved with the Ange.

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My PETZL GRIGRI 2 Recall Experience

Recalled Devices: serial number between 10326 and 11136

Recently Petzl had to recall the GriGri2 not long after it hit the market.  The new Petzl GriGri2, which was released earlier this year, is a new and improved version of the GriGri.  The new belay device is more compact and lighter than its predecessor, easily fitting into the palm of a hand.  Petzl also changed the design a little to allow for greater controlled descent, especially when a smaller person lowers someone who weighs much more than they do.  Petzl, women everywhere thank you.

A long-time fan of the original GriGri, I was excited when Petzl released this new device, and of course, had grand plans of putting it to the test over the summer.  I had already taken it out once to a local crag and was impressed with how well it handled slim ropes, big weight differentials between climber and belayer and how light and compact it was.  When I received the news of this recall, I went and checked my GriGri2.  My heart sunk.  It held the digits listed in the recall.  That meant the days of playing with my fabulous new belay device were numbered until the replacement arrived.  It was the start of summer and I had many great climbs on the books and fun cragging days coming up in which I had been looking forward to using the new slimmer, lighter GriGri2.  But, it would not be, at least not until the new GriGri2 arrived and I wasn’t sure how long that would take.

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Splitter Choss: PETZL XION Rope Review

PETZL XION testing at City of Rocks

“Hey, how skinny is this rope?”
“How skinny is this rope, it’s flying through this GRIGRI.”
“Ha, that’s a 10.1! It’s the fattest rope I own!”

You can imagine my friend’s surprise, as he thought I had sandbagged him with a tiny 9.2 or something similar. In reality, we were out using the new Petzl Xion, which clocks in at a beefy-by-today’s-standards 10.1. I usually shy away from anything bigger than 9.8, but Petzl was touting this as being a beefier cord that offered “excellent hand and suppleness similar to that of thinner ropes,” so I decided to check it out.

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What’s Your “Trekking Pole Trail”?

Following the "trail" in Willow Canyon

Following the "trail" in Willow Canyon

It’s that time of year in the shop. Customers with backpacking equipment lists bound for adventure start their journey in your store. We know the drill. Start with the boot fit. Next the pack fit. Then with the boots on and the pack loaded help them with all the other essentials. One item that’s usually found on the “optional” part of that list is trekking poles.

It can be easy to dismiss that “optional” item. Trekking poles can seem gimmicky, only for wussies or backpacker nerds. Plus it can be a $100+ “optional” item on that list. But after a great clinic as a shop employee and some “Trekking Pole Trails” of my own I’ve changed my mind.

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Splitter Choss: PETZL Xion 10.1 Rope

“On our recent trip to City of Rocks, it was nice having a beefy cord that could stand up to the abuse of top roping over the abrasive granite. I’m still going to take the skinnier cords out most of the time, but when I want something stout that still feels nimble, the Xion is the ticket. Stay tuned for more on this one in the coming weeks.”

Splitter Choss: What’s in Your Rope Quiver?

Petzl Ultra-Wide Headlamp: Turn Night Into Day

Want to see in the dark?  To turn night into day?  Then this is the headlamp for you.  The Petzl Ultra-Wide Headlamp illuminates one’s whole field of vision.  No more following a small beam of light through the night, trying to keep it trained exactly on the rocky ground in front of you.  This ultra-wide headlamp illuminates a very large field with its powerful beam and it’s durable enough to survive the most rugged expeditions.

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It seemed reasonable enough. We’d arrived late the night before and didn’t feel like getting an early start, so here we were leaving the car at 11:30 to climb a thousand foot route, as a party of three, in March. Thankfully the approach was short by Red Rocks standards, a quick thirty-five minutes to the base of the wall. As the first multipitch route of the season, there was some rust to work out getting our systems dialed in again, but soon we were moving along at a good clip.

To help speed things up, and avoid spending the first day of our trip trying to find a steep descent gully in the dark, we were belaying both seconds at the same time. This tends to cut down on the time, but adds to the cluster at each belay, as you have two ropes to deal with. The Reverso works OK for this, but sometimes it’s hard to manage both ropes so close to each other, so I’d brought along our new GRIGRI2, and had one climber on each device. It was rope management heaven!

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Review: PETZL Ultra Wide Headlamp

Petzl designed the Ultra Wide headlamp for “activities like caving.” I’m not a caver, but I’ll tell you what this headlamp is awesome for: Night biking. Especially night mountain biking. Also night hiking and scrambling, or any night activity that would be more comfortable with a huge box of light projected in front of you.

The Ultra Wide isn’t Petzl’s brightest headlamp – the Ultra is, by 50 lumens. The Ultra Wide was built with a frosted lens to diffuse the beam and give a wide swath of light, 180 degrees to be exact. So when you stand on a dark mountaintop and turn the Ultra Wide up to its highest setting, you can see a perfectly straight line cutting across your boots where the Ultra Wide lights up the ground.

It’s great for night activities where you want to see under your feet as well as what’s ahead of you, which is pretty much everything at night, besides walking on a smooth trail – think scree-hopping, rappelling off a climbing route, search and rescue. For the activities I do in the outdoors – climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing – the peripheral lighting is more valuable than the ultra-long beam out front.

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