Gear Feedback from Olly Allen, UIAGM Guide.

Olly Allen
We have received some nuggets of wisdom from Olly Allen. Olly is a qualified UIAGM mountain guide and part of Mountain Tracks. Mountain tracks offer bespoke guiding and group tours all over the world, from their backyard around Chamonix to Gulmarg in India.

Olly's Reverso 3

Petzl Reverso 3

This is the second generation Reverso which is cold forged rather than sectional. The mark two is far superior being more robust and wearing considerably better than the mark one. I have been using this whilst guiding and climbing over the past year and love it! The attachment hole in placket mode is nice and large so itís not too fiddly to get the Karabiner through. The wire for belay mode seems to be standing up to the constant abuse. It copes with small diameter ropes very well with the added toothed notch. All in all a top product and hard to fault.

Olly's OZ Carabiner

Black Diamond OZ

A nice light Carabiner from BD. Itís a bit easier to handle than some other light Crabs and doesnít look like a Ďkey ring carabinerí. Some of the lightest ones look pretty scary even though you know they are tested to 2500Kg. The wire gate seems to hold up pretty well. I have some WC ĎHeliumsí and the gates can get bent easily if you donít watch out.

Olly's screwgate

Black Diamond Vaporlock Screwgate

Simple, effective and light. This Crab is light but will take an Italian hitch no problem. The clean nose gate is great when using it to tie off coils (wearing gloves) and other rapid jobs as the rope doesnít snag on the gate hook. There are lighter Krabs on the market but they are pretty small and awkward to use.

Olly's Elios

Petzl Elios

I use this as my everyday helmet, its seen loads of abuse in the mountains over the past two years but still looks new. I prefer a plastic shell helmet in the Alps rather than the foam type like the Petzl Meteor. Foamies donít stand up to being rammed in your rucksack, sat on, dropped, peppered by ice and rock or used as a sandwich holder. The foam type helmets like the Meteor are great for multi pitch rock but† when ice or mixed climbing in the alps the last thing you want is the helmet exploding from an ice bomb direct hit then no helmet for the remainder of the route. So bearing this in mind I use my Elios, for Alpine, Ice and Mixed then change to my super light comfy Meteor when cranking on the rock.

Olly's Nomics

Petzl Nomics

These axes have seen loads of use on ice over the last two winter seasons. Whether guiding on Conge grade 4ís or cranking it out on ĎNuit Blancheí these axes are the best!

They have a nice swing and balance point with an adjustable handle for different hand sizes. They come with head weights so if youíre a 60kg stick insect like me removing them helps to prevent arm pump! You can get leashes but why bother, join the revolution! If youíre on longer big mountain routes then get some Grivel springy leashes that clip into the handle to prevent you dropping them. The Astro picks work well on mixed ground but for real ice penetration invest in a pair of the Cascade picks and notice the difference! They are pretty useless for mountaineering and I sometimes regret not having a small hammer head and adze to chop belay steps (maybe French Guides donít do this for their clients?)

(Facewest Edit – The Nomics have been updated for this season and we literally got our first pair this week. The picks have been changed a bit but nothing too major. You can now fit an adze and hammer to them as per Olly’s request!)

Olly's Split Skins

Colltex Split Skin

I was converted to these many years ago as an emergency one size skin fits all skis. Over the last few years Colltex has brought out these purpose made split skins (we used to cut an old set of skins up the middle) for any size or shape ski. This is great for modern Free riders who have skis over 95mm underfoot and donít want to push a huge carpet up the hill. I have used them and rented them to clients over the last two years in Gulmarg, Kashmir where we do the odd bit of skinning to access some far flung descents. They are perfect for a few hours of uphill as long as youíre not doing the Haute Route. You have to look after them though so take great care when sticking them on. I always cut the tails 10cm short of the ski with a semicircle on each strand and then re glue the back 15cm of the skin with BD Liquid Gold, it sticks like s**t to a blanket! Watch out on windy cols, itís like wrestling a sticky octopus.

Olly's Belay GLoves

Beal Assure Max Belay Gloves

As a Mountain Guide in the Alps I must wear through about four pairs of gloves each season. Gloves get shredded with constant belaying, short roping and abseiling on dirty ropes. I used to buy leather rigger gloves from the local Mr Bricolage in France but they were always too big and awkward to climb in. Iím very impressed with these Beal gloves they have lasted a whole season without any holes. What they lack in warmth they make up for in dexterity. If you treat them after every outing with liquid Nickwax they last a lot longer and repel a bit of moisture. Much to my mates disgust I now wear a pair whilst belaying on sport climbs, they think Iíve gone soft but if you have to hold a big fall they save your hands and your mate decking out!

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