If you are an alpine climber and haven’t checked out Dane Burns blog it’s well worth the time. I always learn something, and when I saw the recent post about crampon fitting I wanted to know more. Dane Burns is a long time climber with a passion for snow and ice climbing and the equipment that makes it possible. Here Dane shares his thoughts on how Pro Mountain Sports can help.
When I go shopping for climbing gear these days it is easy to totally ignore many of the retail stores in the Seattle area.
The knowledge base and customer service of the big guys in town is generally zip. A 10% dividend and a 100% refund on your purchase doesn’t mean much if the sales person sold you the wrong piece of gear for your intended purpose and you find that out your first time out.
That 100% satisfaction guarantee doesn’t mean much when you are hours from a trail head or worse yet, in the middle of a climb.
It isn’t a issue of money. It is an issue of time. Most of us don’t get to spend that much time in the mountains anyway. Having a trip spoilt by the wrong gear can be really disappointing.
I really like alpine and ice climbing. The best thing you can do to improve and be more comfortable while climbing on ice is have the proper boots required, a great fit for your foot and just as important the right crampons, fit perfectly. I have been playing at it a long time, but with the multitude of new boots and new crampons available no way anyone out side the industry can keep up with them all. Long gone are the days of one choice in boots and maybe two crampons suitable for climbing hard ice.
Both boots and crampons get more specialized every season.
I like to pinch my pennies. I don’t like buyer’s remorse and like even less making a silly mistake purchasing expensive gear. Both of which I have done more than once.
There are a few guys and gals in the climbing industry that I’ll ask for advice. All of them have long and successful alpine climbing careers. Few of them work in retail. Jim Nelson at Pro Mountain Sports is one guy who’s advice I take to heart every time. Jim’s knowledge is based on hard won experience and wanting the best gear for his own adventures. Adventures as good, and as difficult, as it gets. Trips where success or failure could turn on his own choices in gear.
Classic example of that kind knowledge and decision making is the many different styles of crampons PMS carries in inventory. Not every crampon is suitable for every climb or for every boot. You ( or I ) really need someone to help us through the boot fitting process and then the crampon available to fit that boot. The bigger stores don’t offer that kind of service and Internet sales are likely to miss the mark by a mile as get any where close.
The last step in customer service for boots and crampons is having a place indoors at the store to test both the boots and the crampons strapped on for fit. Plywood in this case instead of hard ice. Same results though. I’ve spent literally hours fitting my own crampons. The crew at PMS will first fit your boots, then suggest the crampons that best fit your choice in boots and finally will hand fit those crampons as required, generally while you wait.
Trust me the drive to PMS is worth the time and effort. In the long run you’ll be way ahead in your own climbing using properly fit gear. The time and effort involved in getting it right the first time is priceless. If you want that kind of service to be available and more importantly, stay available, you need to support your local retailers with the willingness and knowledge base.