I had met up with BJ and his wife Tracy the night before in Las Vegas to see if we could remember how to climb multipitch routes after a winter of skiing. In the morning, as we got our gear together, I pulled out my old skateboard helmet because Tracy, AKA Captain Safety, insists that I wear one while climbing with them. They looked at my helmet and then at each other as if I had just pulled an amputated arm out of my bag. Naturally, I was insulted, as I was making a huge concession by wearing one at all, and my skateboard helmet was the only one I could actually stand to have on for any length of time.
For me, climbing helmets are similar to hybrid cars in the sense that I like the benefits they provide, but they’re ugly and they suck to drive. I don’t usually wear one, as I find it hard to focus with an uncomfortable piece of plastic strapped to my head. Also, I’m not a vain person, but I think most helmets look silly, and I generally don’t like any gear that makes me look dumb.
Before I had a chance to defend my point of view, BJ pulled out a new helmet he’d just received from Black Diamond, the updated Half Dome. He said it was surprisingly comfortable and that I should give it a try, as it would probably work a little better than the one I had. Begrudgingly, I took it, but made a mental note to complain at the first signs of discomfort.
A couple hours later, I found myself halfway up a thousand foot climb, completely unaware of the helmet I was wearing. I was shocked. This was the first helmet I’d worn that I didn’t want to rip off my head as soon as I put it on. It was svelte and well ventilated, and had been easy to adjust at the base of the route. The straps were well placed and didn’t rub uncomfortably on my beard or ears. And if that wasn’t enough, it even looked kinda cool (or at least I didn’t feel dumb in it.)
Since I first wore the Half Dome that week at Red Rocks, it’s come on all my climbing adventures this summer, from big walls in Yosemite to single pitches at my local crag in Boise. It’s changed the way I think about helmets, and I can happily say my skateboarding one has been sitting at home, gathering dust.
For tech specs and ordering info, check out the Black Diamond website.
We’re glad Jeff is finally wearing a helmet, as he spends much of his time on chossy basalt cliffs in Idaho. This is his first post for SplitterChoss.com.
Disclaimer: This product was provided to SplitterChoss.com for the purpose of reviewing. Like that makes a difference …