Friday, December 30, 2011

The Nose - Heavy & Slow

Oct 7th was our fifth anniversary. What better way to celebrate than climbing the Nose on El Cap?

We had been prepping for this climb for the last few days. Buying 12 $0.79 two-liter bottles of soda for water containers, packing the haul bags, and practicing jugging were all part of the prep. After a casual breakfast we walked to the base of the route, only to see 11 other people on the first three pitches of the climb. We sat down and just watched. Everyone was moving very slowly, so we bailed.

Plan B, the next morning we got up at 3:30AM and were at the base of the route at 4:30. Most parties climb the first four pitches, to Sickle Ledge, then haul their bags to that point from the ground. Then the next day jug those lines and continue. Not wanting to get caught up in the mess of the lower pitches we decided to haul our bags from the first pitch up and just keep going. Those lower pitches were tough hauling. It is lower angle and our "pig" weighed about 120lbs; punishing work. After a summer of light and fast climbing we were in for a healthy dose of slow and heavy climbing, or should I say, manual labor. Hauling is just tough work.

We were gunning for Dolt Tower the first day, but did not make it. Thankfully, we had a borrowed portaledge with us, so we were able to set it up at a hanging belay below the Dolt Tower. In the middle of the night we were awaken by two guys flying up the route, hooting and hollering as they climbed. They were on their second lap up El Cap for the day! Moving so fast, so light. We looked at them longingly from our ledge.

The next morning the progress got a little faster, the pig got a little lighter, and we made it to the top of the boot flake. I thought this was the best campsite I'd ever camped at. The moon was full, we could see everything in the Valley, it was amazing.

Day three started out with the King Swing. It was my turn to lead, so Janelle lowered me down about 80 feet to the base of the pendulum. I was nervous. Two other parties were watching, along with everyone in the meadows 1500 feet below. I ran to the left, back to the right, and then sprinted back left, pushing as hard as I could. Slapping for a shallow dish of granite I halted my progress. Had I really made it on my first go? Nope. I was too high. So I swung back, lowered down, and tried again. After several airy swings I stuck it. Success! And I caught it all with my GoPro headcam.

At 1:00PM we got hit by the first sprinkle of rain. Rain was not in the weather forecast. It was forecasted to be clear and sunny for 7 days straight. We trusted that forecast, and therefore did not bring our rain gear, or the fly for the portaledge! Oops. I led another pitch in the spitting rain, and then Janelle took over for the Great Roof pitch. I was pretty damp when she got to the anchor and fixed the rope. I jugged up to Janelle, and we both hung out under the roof, twenty feet to the left of the bolted anchor, hanging in our harnesses and aid ladders.

We passed the time looking at the poor guys below us getting soaked. The rain should pass and we would keep climbing, I mean this is sunny California right? Well it didn't. So we decided to build an anchor in the micro crack above us and sleep under the roof, the only place on El Cap not getting soaked. Two hours later we had a 9-piece anchor made out of fixed nuts and C3 cams. We were dry, and I had a new favorite campsite of all time. I'm 99% sure that no one else has ever done that, an El Cap first!

Day four and five went by without event. We topped out at noon on the fifth day. We had done it. It was a great feeling. Even better than that feeling is the feeling we had eating pizza post-shower, later that day! That makes 35 classics complete.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Trending Data: Fun with Camping, Solstice, and Mustaches (in that order)

It's been no surprise that you can endlessly mine the treasure trove that is Google Trends to find some fun relationships.

While doing some other research today, we took some time to check out the search frequency of camping. Not surprising to see the uptick for searches start during the spring and peak during the warm months. Also, notice that searches for camping have steadily increased over the past 7 years—not surprising considering folks who are taking less lavish vacations and getting outside more.

What else can we search for here? Well, today is the winter solstice. And again, notice the spikes exactly twice a year... during summer and winter solstice.

Too easy right? Let's take a look at mustaches now. It's hard not to see mustaches all around, especially in enclaves of hipster-doms where the more old-timey, the better.

True that the popularity of mustaches has skyrocketed in the last four years, but what's the extra other peak late in every year? One word: Movember.

You heard it here first.


Friday, December 16, 2011

NEMO Classroom Lesson #905: How to Use Glove Hooks with Webbing

On some of our tents, you'll see these little pieces of hardware called glove hooks. Often we use them to tension the inner tent to the fly, to maximize the interior volume of a tent. We've had a few customers email in, asking about the best way to use them. You'll notice that they're not easy to press on the latch, and it can be frustrating to use them that way. Watch the video below for some tricks to using this piece.

If you're still confused, drop a line and let us know your questions.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2012 Sneak Peek: Transform Tarp

Historically speaking, NEMO hasn't made tarps for the commercial market. They are certainly useful tools to have in both the front and backcountry, but all of the ones out there tend to look the same. When we sat down together to design tarps, we wanted to make them more compelling shelters for all campers out there.

The beauty of tarps is in the openness and sense of freedom the protection gives you. At the same time, this can quickly turn into one of its biggest drawbacks in the wrong weather. We wanted to come up with a quick and elegant way to address this issue, without punishing customers with extra weight.

In the tarp configuration, you have a standard 12'x12' area of coverage. By unzipping one panel, folding back the fabric, and connecting the remaining edges together, you get a protected pyramid shaped shelter with 60" interior height and enough room to sleep 3.

I would say the space is better suited for two people with gear, but you can fit 3 in a pinch. The Transform Tarp has a reinforced pole pocket to protect the area where you would insert the single pole. There are volumizing guyouts that help pull the shelter walls away from the living space (and of course help anchor the tent down). The doors can be tied back for increased airflow, or to just make it super simple to get in/out of the tent.

Overall, we tried to balance a few key features with keeping the tarp simple and streamlined. We're interested to see how customers end up using this, and where the Transform Tarp might fall in the quiver of shelters.

Any questions?


Friday, December 9, 2011

A Very NEMO Christmas

The first annual NEMO office Christmas tree is up! We got this little guy at our local grower, Warren Farm, where they don't use pesticides in their growing practice. We have been having some good wholesome fun this week making ornaments like you did in Kindergarten -- you know, paper snowflakes, glue 'n glitter, oragami. The Tree got a boost from Mr. and Mrs. Zarrella of Z Name Shop in Ogunquit, ME via their daughter and NEMO employee Katrina, who brought in personalized ornaments for everyone! Happy Holidays from all of us at NEMO!