Guide to buying and finding the best essential ice climbing tools, gear and equipment.
Several sporting goods companies have come forward to respond to the demand of the modern alpine ice climber. The surge in new technologies in this area provides ice climbers with the newest and most state-of-the-art gear on the planet. Ice climbing is one of those sports when specialized equipment and clothing are a must for both safety and survival.
As far as clothing is concerned, most ice climbers desire a body suit or set of bibs specifically for winter travel. These suits are designed to retain warmth while keeping out moisture and debris. Most of these suits are made for the articulation necessary for ice climbing. They are often reinforced at the knees and the ankles. If wearing bibs or separate snow-pants during a climb, a coat that hangs past the waist is a must. As an ice climber reaches, and stretches, the longer coats cover the midsection and ensure that the climber is not exposed to the elements.
While focusing on clothing, it is important to mention that a hat that accommodates a climbing helmet is also a necessity. Gloves with rubberized palms, designed for gripping ice tools, are the best bet for hand coverage. Gloves should always be attached with wrist straps to avoid becoming lost. An ice climber without gloves can find him/herself in a bad spot battling frostbite without this simple precaution.
Boots used by ice climbers are often designed out of synthetics such as plastic. Hard shell boots are the rule in alpine regions as they provide rigid soles for the attachment of crampons. More sophisticated models also allow for good foot rotation, necessary in "flat-footing", and still provide excellent ankle support. Lastly, gaiters, to go over top of footwear, are also a good idea. Gaiters keep the ankle free of ice, snow and debris while, at the same time, protecting bootlaces. They also provide extra warmth and make moving through deep snow more pleasant.
The tools of ice climbing are, like the clothing, highly specialized. Crampons are the mainstay of this activity. These metal spikes make it possible for the ice climber to safely traverse icy landscapes and scale vertical ice falls. Crampons attach to the climber?s boots and can easily be removed when no longer necessary. The two main types of crampons are rigid and hinged. The type chosen by the climber is based on the activity at hand. Front-pointing, a technique used in scaling vertical ice, is most easily accomplished with rigid framed crampons. These are more technical, and more expensive, than hinged crampons. Hinged crampons, however, are sufficient for moderate ice travel.
The next most important piece of gear in the ice climber?s arsenal is the ice axe. These devices are usually fitted with an adze or hammer opposite the axe?s blade. They come in many varieties; curved, reverse curved, technically curved, or straight. These tools have numerous uses from aiding in scaling ice to stopping a climber who has slipped on steep ice and is sliding out of control. Most ice axes are fitted with wrist leashes to keep the climber from loosing the device and also to facilitate in holding and swinging the axe. These leashes are bound close to the axe shaft so that they do not get caught or tangled on any other equipment while they are in use.
Ice screws are important pieces of equipment for setting rope placements. Ice screws come in several designs and, again, the type used depends on the type of climbing being attempted. Some screws are hollow, allowing for less ice fracture, while others are solid, for harder more stable ice. Some ice screws are made to be quickly placed by screwing in with an attached ratchet or other device (read: hand) and some are hammered in and "screwed" out. All are designed for removal and to be used more than once, depending on the condition of the device after the climb.
Another piece of gear for ice climbing includes the holster. Holsters for carabineers, screws and other ice tools make it easy to carry a large quantity of these items while at the same time keeping them well organized. Ropes for ice climbing are standard 10 ? 11 millimeter climbing rope. While the standard length is 50 meters (165 feet) some climbers prefer longer ropes for longer pitches. It is also worth looking into the newer, water repellent ropes that are designed to keep from freezing.
With all the gear covered, the final thing that needs protection is the eyes. It is often underestimated how quickly one can become blinded by the reflection of the sun?s rays off of freshly fallen snow. Heavily tinted and specifically designed glacier goggles are the answer to this problem. No brand is cheap, and it is worth noting that when dealing with one?s sight, think quality over price. Even temporary blindness in such extreme conditions can lead to disaster.
The fundamental tools and equipment of this alpine sport have been covered in their most basic form. It is always best to personally try on and inspect all gear prior to purchase and prior to every trip. Each climber will have unique needs and tastes. Always remember that this equipment should be used only after receiving proper instruction in its use. A little training can go a long way to make this adventurous sport enjoyable for a lifetime.
Skirt suits are the standard for conservative business dressing and can be worn to weddings and parties.
The skirt suit has a dressy, classic appeal that cannot be matched by a dress or even a slacks suit. This appeal makes it an appropriate style for many occasions.
When interviewing for a business job, one should dress according to the job they want, not the job they have. A skirt suit will present a professional appearance. When applying to work in a conservative office, stick with navy, gray, brown, or black in a wool or wool blend. The jacket should be tailored and single-breasted. The skirt should be about knee-length and not have slits. Choose a nice silk or synthetic blouse in a neutral or pastel shade which has a simple neckline or collar. Choose a blouse with sleeves in case you need to remove your jacket. Your outfit should fit snugly but not too tight.
Keep accessories simple and elegant. Wear hose in a skin tone, and make sure they have no runs or snags. Shoes should be dark-colored and dressy, with 1 or 1-1/2 inch heels, but avoid straps and sandals. Wear a matching leather belt. For a bag, carry either a conservative handbag or a nice leather briefcase, but not both. Limit jewelry to one pair of earrings, a nice watch, no more than one ring on each hand, and a simple necklace. A silk scarf in a conservative print is acceptable as a feminine accent. A 34-inch square scarf is the most versatile. Make-up should be minimal.
For business dressing, invest in the best skirt suit you can afford. Accessories should also be top quality. Shop around because prices vary widely. A new college graduate can anticipate spending around $1000 on her working wardrobe.
A serious skirt suit is also the correct apparel for court matters, whether you are the attorney, defendant, or a member of the jury. A skirt suit suggests authority and responsibility and indicates that you are too serious about the matter at hand to dress in a casual, care-free manner, or in a way that would draw attention to yourself. Government office jobs also call for this type of traditional attire.
If working in a less conservative, office setting, such as a bank or insurance office, the skirt suit may be more colorful and less austere. Here a double-breasted jacket would be appropriate. Always keep a double-breasted jacket buttoned. An unconstructed jacket, one that fits loosely and is left open, can be worn with a matching or contrasting skirt and is acceptable as well. Again, accessories should be simple, although you can get away with a cheerful holiday pin or other bold jewelry.
Dressy skirt suits are also proper attire for attending a wedding. If a wedding is scheduled in the morning or afternoon, the suit may be more casual than if the wedding is in the evening. For an afternoon wedding, choose a pastel or brightly-colored suit, or even a floral. Fabric should match the season, with lighter cottons such as seersucker or linen blends being appropriate for spring and summer. In the fall or winter, heavier, textured fabrics in jewel-tone colors are attractive.
For an evening wedding, a long, dressy suit is becoming, especially if formal attire is requested on the invitation. The color should be darker and more sophisticated than what you would choose for a morning or afternoon wedding. The suit can be made of velvet (in the fall or winter) or another evening fabric. For an elegant look, carry an evening bag instead of your regular handbag. The mothers of the bride and groom can match their look to the color scheme of the wedding. Generally black is not worn to weddings, but this is a custom that is changing. If in doubt, check with the bride.
Another occasion where a skirt suit is appropriate is an evening party, such as those held around the holidays. A suit that is worn at work all day can be transformed into party attire by changing to a sequined blouse and strappy high-heeled sandals and leaving the jacket open. Add some dangling earrings or other sparkling jewelry to dress up your look. For a formal or "black tie" evening party, you may wear an elegant suit with a floor-length skirt.
A nice skirt suit is always appropriate for attending religious services. A stylish matching hat looks great with a suit, for those who enjoy wearing hats. Ruffles and a feminine silhouette work well for these occasions.
In days past, brides often chose a neat, pastel-colored skirt suit as a traveling outfit. These days, a suit hardly seems to be the best choice for taking off on one's honeymoon, and brides are choosing more casual apparel for this purpose. Even so, a skirt suit is a valuable and versatile addition to any woman's wardrobe.
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