Ski Mountaineering Tools that sit at the junction of durability and featherlight.
There is gear that I love which needs writing about, even if it has been around a while. Camp’s Nanotech range falls into this category.
To create some understanding, let’s start with a short exercise. One that will hopefully cause you to ponder and maybe even modify the contents of your pack.
Make a list of the things you carry when riding in the backcountry and do not use much. Some I hope you never use at all; for instance, events have gone seriously awry when you reach for the shelter, first aid, or fix-it kit. Yet, it is undoubtedly wise to carry these items to prevent bad situations from becoming catastrophic. We still want to consider what they contain to maintain a light load. This alone is a lengthy topic, so I will let it go. It does, though, provide a good context for where I am heading with the main subject.
We might use some items infrequently or for a short part of each excursion; these are often hard to justify. Yet not carrying them can change how our day plays out.
When I started backcountry skiing, I used to take my mountaineering equipment with me. Think of a heavy pair of steel crampons designed for front pointing up steep ice and an ice axe I used to cut steps for clients. If I included them, my pack weighed a ton making the ascent more laborious and the descent less fun.
Throw in a full-weight rope, a heavy harness, and carabiners, and my backpack seemed to tip the scales more than a sumo wrestler at an all-you-can-eat bbq. I wonder how many times I opted to leave things at home when they might have been helpful. Of course, lighter gear means you are more likely to take it. It does, though, need to be robust enough for the job at hand.
If I was a skimo racer or if I only traveled on snow, then the situation would be different. I would look to count every gram and carry even less; the words “weight weenie” spring to mind. Camp has several super light tools to meet these needs.
So now I am ready to tell you why I love the Camp Nanotech range. The thing is, I am ultimately a mountaineer at heart. I am happiest when I not only skin or hike up a mountain; I also climb rock ridges, gullies, and ice steps to gain the summit before skiing off it.
And, just as my boots are not the lightest available, I love the way the four buckles provide reassurance. In some small part, they make up for my lack of ability and allow me to enjoy the downhill more, especially when the terrain is a little more exciting. Three cheers for boots that drive my skis in a way I cannot without them.
Nanotech tools do something similar; they sit at the sweet spot of durability and featherlight. They provide steel where they potentially impact tougher mediums. For example, the pick and the front points of the crampons can both forcefully drive into ice.
And yet, the rest is made from a lightweight aluminum alloy. This combination puts both my mind at rest and encourages me to pack them when I am unsure what conditions I will encounter. Oh, happy days!
A few weeks ago, my son and I skied Mt. Baker in WA. For the record, there is no way I would have taken my old steel crampons on a day where we ascended 7,000′. However, I was delighted to have them for the final 1,500′, which we booted up before the snow had fully softened.
And while we used ski poles, having my axe easily accessible between my shoulder blades and pack was also a good feeling given the crevasses that lurked ominously.
I have packed both items most days this spring, and while I do not always use them, I am more than glad to have them along for the ride.
It is always the case that it is easier to choose the right gear when you know how you will use it. And do not just think about what you are doing now; think about what you want to be doing in the next few years.
If we look at a comparison chart of various Camp tools, we can see which tools may suit your needs best.
Data from https://www.camp-usa.com
In both instances there is an uber-lightweight version and as you add more mass, the tool will take more abuse and is less likely to fail if you end up giving it a beating.
An axe is handy accessing the steeps, there is no need for it to be longer than 55cm.
The bottom line is that the Camp Nanotechs hit the sweet spot for me, and if you also enjoy climbing mountains to ride down them, I think they will work well for you too.