Back home and settled from the last Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City and the event was a blast. I explored new gear, connected with our amazing manufacturers/distributors, and went to some exciting events!
Flew in and met up with Phil, from Misty Mountain, and Bret, an old friend in the Pro Division with Petzl. Phil had never seen the new Petzl facility and it is basically a dream workplace. 5,000 lb anchors all over the place for customer service to rig things up, a state of the art training facility, automated pick/pack system in the warehouse, and of course roped climbing and bouldering areas for staff breaks. Hit the tradeshow and street party afterwards. Mike from Misty Mountain rode the mechanical bull, but in the interest of keeping up his flawless cowboy reputation that video will not be shared publicly...
Petzl Technical Institute - ledge for AMGA Trainings
A lot of meetings and time checking out new gear. Some highlight items:
Edelrid Ohm - this has been out for a year now but we still find it innovative. Basically, you can use it in both a lead climbing and top rope scenario to limit the force on a belayer during a fall. A great risk management tool.
That night Edelrid held an event at Momentum Indoor Climbing with Tommy Caldwell signing autographs and gym patrons trying out Edelrid's harnesses and Red Chili shoes. Momentum has some awesome wall features, accommodating staff, and a nice roomy bouldering area. They also have one of the only full size speed walls in the area (with Perfect Descent Auto Belays of course) and teams travel from all over to train there. I climbed with staff from the Climbing Wall Association and Edelrid but the highlight was a team effort to convince Tommy Caldwell and Hans Florine to race (blindfolded so no bragging rights could be gained) on the speed wall. Hans was solid (but this is his wheelhouse) and Tommy stalled at the end - we are chalking this up to being pumped from the previous route ; ). Anyways, it was funny and they were good sports. Drinks and food afterward with most of this crew. Tommy told some stories and people shared fond memories of a lost member of the climbing and Edelrid community, Carsten von Birckhahn.
Tommy and Hans after the speed wall
Took a tour of Rock Exotica's facility and manufacturing operation in the morning with Lauren and Laura of the CWA crew. This was a definite highlight for me and I'm a total geek for this stuff. The tour was really informative and we walked away floored by the craftsmanship Rock Exotica puts into their products.
Bent carbiner rod stock ready to get heat forged
The afternoon was more gear exploration and meetings. A couple more highlights:
So iLL 2020 Gold - probably never gonna be a rental shoe or on our website, but we love the gold and silver shiny colorways honoring climbing being accepted into the 2020 Olympics. Perfect Descent Auto Belays will be used in the Olympics, so this is near and dear.
Sterling Rope 11mm WorkPro - feel and durability is comparable to New England's KM III at a better price point. We will be field testing this and reporting back.
That night I ventured out to Psicobloc, the innovative deep-water soloing competition, brain child of Chris Sharma. The ladies' heats were super exciting with a photo finish between Alex Puccio and Kyra Condie. The judges couldn't even figure out the winner through replay, so a tie was declared and they competed for a second time. It was still really close, but Kyra came out the winner and ultimate champion for the women's bracket. For the men's heat, I was really impressed to see a few hometown climbers from SLC gyms competing against some superstars. The sunset added a nice touch!
Congratulations at the top in the Psicobloc women's heat
Aerial Adventure Tech is pumped to see what Denver holds for Outdoor Retailer next year and we expect climbing companies to keep taking over show floor real estate! Coming soon: look out for some deep dives on the products mentioned here and Rock Exotica's manufacturing process.