Dean Potter died. I knew moments after it happened as my facebook feed, news feed and twitter accounts blew up with posts, reposts and heartfelt "I'm so sorry for your loss" posts and tweets and comments.
Maybe a more kind hearted soul would have felt the same impulse to post and comment and share and join in the tear filled chest pounding self flagellation that will consume the climbing community for weeks to come but I just can't muster it - because here is the thing. I didn't know Dean. I didn't know his friends and family and I've never met him.
Since I started climbing over 30 years ago the community I consider myself a part of has lost dozens of the most daring and selfless - unknowns like Derek, well knowns like Bachar and Dan and Alex and the obscure like the poor bastard I watched gasp out his last moments on earth splattered half in and half out of the Mississippi on an achingly beautiful mother's days.
Each time I've watched the "core community" come together and make heartfelt tributes to the fallen - beating their chests in an effort to out grieve each other. But here is the thing. Behind closed doors and in the quiet of the night we all know that none of us are truly worthy. Dean put his life on the line and crossed it in the pursuit of his dreams - demonstrating a commitment in the process that we will simply never know. Wifes, kids, debt, parents, dependents and life prevent the vast majority of us from committing our lives in such a fashion. We post and grieve publicly not to comfort Dean's loved ones, but to draft behind those who have demonstrated and proved once again that our sport is truly "rad", "extreme" and really really dangerous. Dean's death allows the rest of us to bask in the knowledge that we are cheating death each time we set out to climb - when in reality our bolted lines and cam cracks aren't much more dangerous that running around a city block.
Compounding all this is the fact that lurking just out of sight are the sanuk organic cotton styly sunglass wearing uber groovy marketing directors who either consciously or unconsciously lick their collective chops each time another tragedy strikes. Death sells, risk attracts. Red Bull will sell even more shit to posers who have trouble climbing out of their xbox couches, Patagonia will sell more overpriced crap to Newbury street shoppers looking to be "authentic" and climbing gyms around the country will attract more daisy chain shiny gear wearing dudes and dudettes.
I'm sorry Dean died and I wish I had met him if only to shake his hand and wish him luck. At the same time I can't shake the guilty feeling knowing that his death and the death of countless others contribute to the popularity and attraction of the sport I love.
Scarpa Maestrale 1.0 review and use test
Who am I?
52 year old 5' 10" size 8.5/9.0 street shoe. Black Diamond Convert + Dynafit TLT Radical 260 Scarpa Maestrale 1.0 used 6 times late season Vermont.
Previous boot: Black Diamond Factor
Out of the box the Maestrale fit my left foot nearly perfectly. A little tight on the instep but perfect length. Per usual the right boot was tight (I'm about a 1/4 size larger right foot). Thermo forming helped with the fit of the left boot and had a substantial (unexpected) improvement on the feel of the tongue for both. The right boot was still tight - but after skiing it a few times I still think I got the right size.
Flex - on the way up
Coming from the Factor you would think that the climbing performance would have been amazingly improved between the two but what I found was that on the steep uphill I wasn't taking advantage of the improved flex of the Maestrale. Kicking steps and huffing up very steep skin tracks didn't feel dramatically different from the Factor. What I found instead was that hiking on flat was amazing, as was skinning on less steep approaches.
Flex - on the way down
I was pretty concerned about getting a boot that would be too soft for a wide ski like the Convert (105mm underfoot). What I found was the the Maestrale is more buckle "flex dependent" than any other boot I've owned. If you look closely at the inside of the boot there is an engagement notch between the upper and lower portion of the shell. This, combined with the fairly soft flex of the orange material, means that if the buckles aren't tightened all around well the boot can feel floppy on the way down. Once I figured this out, I found that by thoroughly tightening the buckles and power strap I could make the boot feel close to the Factor stiffness (110). Given that I've been skiing warm spring weather only (60F+) I think that winter stiffness will be fine even for a 105mm ski.
Overall craftsmanship is pretty amazing. The intuition liner is all it is made out to be - warm and perfectly "dense". Buckles to have a tendency to rotate when loosened - i'll want to use some loctite to hold them in place once I sort out exactly where i want them to be. Hiking and climbing performance are excellent and for the sort of 1-2 hour approach followed by 20 minutes of great moderately steep descents that I have in Vermont, i think I've found the perfect boot...
If you happen to be lucky enough to ski so many days that they are hard to keep track of, try this trick to get a good count of each one.
1. Head over to www.ifttt.com and create an account. If this then that lets you build 'recipes' based on actions that happen in the web or cloud.
2. Install the IFTTT app on your iPhone and set it up for location tracking.
3. Create a recipe that fires each time you and your phone enter into a geo radius based around your local ski hill.
4. Once you have the rule set to fire when you get to the ski hill, just decide how you want to record the data. In my case i just update my google cal to show a ski day
That is all there is to it. QED. The hard part is finding a lifestyle that lets you get too many ski days to count...