Archive for the ‘Guest Posts’ Category

Gear Review: EMS Down Jacket Review

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Gear Review: EMS Down Jacket Review by Ben Pope @benpope –

Let me ask a question…which of these people would you rather be, right or left?

That’s right – big, warm, fluffy, and even more fun to hug!

Last November, at the Fourth Annual JTree Tweetup, EMS was kind enough to circulate some clothing for review. I ended up with a new men’s large Ice Down Jacket . So far, it’s been an admirable replacement for my older belay jacket (also EMS brand). Both stash into their own pocket (though packing a bit smaller would be even better) and having a hood is perfect for cold weather belay duty. Both were polyester shell and lining and down insulation (at least 80% goose, the rest presumably being duck). The fit is roomy with plenty of space for layering underneath. Good for belay duty, but far too warm for strenuous activity. One thing to watch out for: it does leak feathers, but that may be because I received a pre-production model (the lining is polyester, not nylon as advertised in EMS’ materials).

With all that said, the model I have has apparently been discontinued. On the plus side, this year’s versions look like an upgrade: heavier duty nylon and hydrophobic down. I can’t say I’ve done an exhaustive survey (for that, head to Outdoor Gear Lab). For me, EMS jackets have been reliable gear for a reasonable price.

If you are buying a down jacket this year, there are lots of options, and buying a down jacket has probably never been more complicated. Two things to consider are the source of the down, and the treatment applied to it.

Down is an animal product. Therefore, there are ethical and not-so-ethical sources. For those wanting to know more about the source of down in their jackets, Patagonia [link:],The North Face [link:], and Arcteryx [link:] have been exploring those questions, to name a few.

The second area of research is the down’s treatment. There are a number of new, hydrophobic downs that are attempting to protect down’s Achilles heel such as Patagonia’s Encapsil, Rab, DriDown, and DownTek (2013 EMS jackets use DownTek).

For more information on down in general you can read EMS’s lowdown on down here. Stay warm!

Guest Post: Little Mustang

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

While riding all alone across the high plains yesterday, me and my horse found this abandoned, starving and thirsty, wild-horse foal in the desert… (he must have fallen asleep when his herd left – by the state he was in, I was guessing 1-2 days ago).

Baby Mustang. Photo: Ivana Crone

Baby Mustang. Photo: Ivana Crone

I decided to attempt to deliver him back to his herd.

First, me and my horse had to befriend him, so he would follow us… – that was easy enough, since he was so lost and lonely. I got back on my horse and tracked the hoof-prints of the long-gone herd in the sand-dunes, with the baby-mustang trailing behind me. Until there they were – 50 wild horses in a distance. When they saw me they took off at a mad dash.

I knew I had to get VERY close for the delivery (the foal was so attached to my horse by now, he would have to leave him and join one of them instead). So I stretched my horse to a full gallop after them, the baby miraculously keeping up. And we stampeded away for awhile through the clouds of dust, me alongside the 50 wild horses… I was running so fast, managing little by little to close the distance to them… Until they noticed the foal!

The lead stallion pranced over to me, rearing and pawing with my horse, until he sniffed me and the baby, and then took off full-speed with the colt behind him. I saw him taking him to one of his grey mares, who let the baby feed immediately…

Ivana Crone is a climber and photographer contributing to she spends part of her year on a cattle drive in California.

Review of the Eastern Mountain Sports Women’s Divergence Pro Jacket

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Review of the Eastern Mountain Sports Women’s Divergence Pro Jacket

By Terri Barry

Terri wins the EMS jacket!The 4th Annual Joshua Tree Tweetup was one of my best climbing trips ever. I had four full days of climbing for the first time, I spent time with some of my favorite Twitter Climbers, I met great new Twitter Climbers and I won an Eastern Mountain Sports women’s Divergence Pro jacket. Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) sent a box of goodies to the Tweetup that were raffled off during the trip. I was lucky enough to win a green women’s medium Divergence Pro jacket. I’m 5’7”/135lbs and the medium fits me perfectly. The fabric is Polartec Wind Pro and has DWR (durable water repellent) treatment so it repels water. The jacket has under-arm vents and two zippered pockets. I have nothing like the Divergence Pro in my jacket collection so I was beyond thrilled when my name was called as the winner!

The technical specifications lists “cold” as the weather type for the Divergence Pro jacket. This year it was very windy and cold during the Tweetup. The Divergence Pro immediately became my “go-to jacket.” The fabric is very wind resistant but still feels like fleece in the inside (a very nice feature!). With my light weight down sweater underneath the Divergence Pro I was plenty warm enough during all but the coldest parts of the night (when temperatures were in the mid-20’s). I also climbed during the Tweeup in this jacket. Joshua Tree rock is very rough but this fabric is abrasion resistant. I was worried about scuffing or pilling the fabric while climbing but that didn’t happen. In fact, it offered a bit of padding! I look forward to wearing this jacket while climbing next season.

Once I got home I found myself grabbing this jacket as I left for work or walk the dog. Since the Joshua Tree Tweetup I have worn it in light rain and the fabric does repel water. In addition, layered underneath a rain shell it is toasty warm. I would highly recommend this very versatile jacket.

Terri using her newly won EMS jacket

Guest Post: First Big Wall – The Regular Route on Half Dome’s Northwest Face

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Note from Rockgrrl: This post is a guest post by Katie London, an awesome local rockgrrl who I met, along with her partner, Ben while climbing around my hometown. They did a write up of their Half Dome, Regular Route experience as a PDF and I asked if they’d mind sharing. They didn’t mind so here it is for your benefit! Be sure to read the PDF as well as the following notes!


Great trip with a happy ending : ) Aug 4-6, 2009

Read our story and see our pictures.

Some editorial comments: We missed the climber’s trail on the death slabs approach from “Mirror Lake/Mirror dirt patch” (apparently there’s no lake this time of year), so we traversed the Ahwiyah Point rock fall a couple times (not fun), then bush-wacked and meandered our way up a good portion of the approach.  Did some spicy mossy slabby moves unprotected with our packs/gear on.  Using the fixed ropes on the approach with a heavy pack is a bit awkward, and a mid-day approach is hot with little shade.  I was conserving water as I was not sure if the spring at the base of the climb would still be running, which made the approach even tougher.  The spring had not dried up as of Aug. 4th; the water is cold and wonderful and I drank about 3 liters without treating/filtering and did not get sick.

I was pretty new to jumarring – it was something I came to love and hate.  Cleaning pieces and having to swing behind flakes to start a pitch was frustrating.  But the jumarring did allow my climbing partner to short fix some pitches, and therefore keep climbing while I was ascending, which sped things up a bit.

I got to do a lot of climbing on this route, lots of great pitches.  However, trailing a rope (our haul line/backup rappelling rope) and carrying a bag full of water and provisions for the overnight can make easy pitches seem really hard.

It’s amazing how fast time goes on the wall.  We started from the base of the climb around 5:30am and before I knew it the sun was setting before our last pitch of the day.

Sleeping on ‘big sandy ledge’ and at the base of the climb, without sleeping pads, is really uncomfortable, and requires you to toss and turn fairly regularly during the night as invariably, some rock will start digging into your side and you’ll have to roll over to get more comfortable for a few moments.