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.
Home Office Furnishing Guide: Layout and Design Manual for Your Home Office
As communication technology and the internet continue to improve our ability to work from home, the home office is becoming an important part of modern living. Creating a home office that offers both the comfort of home and the efficiency of an office is a fun challenge, and one that can be accomplished easily thanks to a wonderful selection of office furniture designed for home use.
One of the first steps in planning a home office is locating a space for it. If you have an entire room that can be devoted to office space, you're lucky! However, even if the available space you have is small, we still have some great space-saving layout ideas for you.
Here are some important things to consider before you choose a location for your home office.
Wiring: It is important to prepare for all of the office equipment you will be using at home. Include computers, printers, fax machines, phones and copiers in your checklist, and make sure that the space you choose can accommodate their wiring needs. In addition, you will also need to provide an adequate number of telephone and data lines for your office equipment. Lighting:: Lighting is another critical home office provision. A combination of both natural, ambient light and task lighting is important in home offices. Putting your screen directly in front of a window may cause a glare, but having the natural light from a window and a view can make you happier and more comfortable while you work. Task lighting directed onto work surfaces prevents eye strain while you read and write. These lighting recommendations should be taken into consideration before choosing the location of your office or desk.
Who Will be Using It:
Shared Space: If more than one person will be using your home office, consider both person's needs. There are a lot of desk setups that are designed to maximize space for two people and two computers. Having a custom setup for each person is ideal, but if you're limited to one desk or one computer, make sure that you choose an easily adjustable office chair, keyboard/mouse tray and desk. If you will be sharing your office space with children you may also want to choose a desk with locking drawers for sharp objects or important documents that may need protection from sticky fingers. Cable management in home offices where children will be playing is also important. Many of our desks include both locking drawers and cable management systems that can protect your equipment and your kids.
Right or Left? Don't take your handedness for granted when planning your office. Arranging your phone, printer, fax machine and file cabinets so they can be easily accessed by your dominant hand is an important step in creating an ergonomic home office environment. If you will be sharing your office with someone with an opposite hand orientation, you may need to compromise and position your office equipment for the person who will be using it most. Once you've established a location for your home office and whose needs will need to be met in the office design, the next step is to decide which of the following layouts will be best at maximizing your office space.
U-Shaped Layout: This is a great layout for two people, but it does require a significant amount of space. It can be used in large or small rooms, though larger rooms work better if two people will be sharing the space. You can create a U-shaped layout with two desks and a joining table or credenza, or you can buy a U-shaped desk unit.
T-Shaped Layout: The T-shaped layout is ideal for shared office space where more than one computer will be in use. The T shape conserves space by providing individual desk areas for each person, plus shared workspace in the middle. The middle leg of the T is a great place for a printer, fax machine or other shared equipment.
L-Shaped Layout: The L-shaped layout optimizes floor space and workspace, by fitting conveniently into a corner of your room. L-shaped and corner desks are also ergonomically beneficial when the computer is place in the corner of the L. From this position supplies can easily be reached on either side of the computer without strain or need to move your chair. L shaped desks can be used for more than one person if need be.
Follow our tips for creating your ideal home office. For Small Rooms and Nooks:
A standard desk may be the best choice if your space is limited. Hutches are available to maximize overhead storage space. In addition, if at some point you would like to add onto a standard desk, many are offered with matching return tables and credenzas to expand your workspace. These additional modular pieces are sold separately, and can be purchased in the future if you desire.
A small corner desk can be a great space-saver, nestling right into a corner that may otherwise be unusable space. Corner desks are also very effective ergonomically, since all of your office equipment can be stored easily within an arm's reach.
Other space-conserving options include mobile workstations, which can be moved out of the way when not in use. In a small room or apartment a mobile desk is very practical.
We also carry a selection of beautiful and sensible office armoires that can house a computer, printer, files, books, CDs and other resources, in addition to their retractable writing surfaces. The contents of office armoires can be conveniently concealed behind their attractive cabinet doors.
The Look: One of the benefits of working at home is that your office space is designed for you. You can add personality to your office space with your own artwork, colors, drapes, shades and carpets. Not only do drapes and carpets add color and style, they also help to absorb unwanted background noise.
Home Office/Guest Room: Even if you have an entire room that can be devoted to your office, you may still want to use the space for guests on occasion. If so, a futon or daybed may be a practical addition to your home office room. Browse our sister store, Bedroom-Furniture-Direct, for a great selection of daybeds and futons!
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