Getting Rad with Petzl’s RAD System

If you dangle as many dingleberries off your harness as you can manage, you’ll trick people into thinking your dialled for ski mountaineering, right? That’s the move I pulled for the better part of 20 years in the backcountry, but I think people were onto me. Turns out that like any self-propelled sport, bringing too much junk is the first sign you don’t have your $#!t dialled. Busted. It was good while it lasted.

It’s time to shake it up with some more formal crevasse rescue refreshers and practices, plus the sexiest, lightest, smallest glacier gear on the planet. Enter Petzl’s new RAD System.

First off, they had us at RAD. Sure it stands for Rescue And Descent, but my first thoughts go to the dance scene from RAD the 80’s BMX movie. We interrupt this gear review for a moment of awesome…

Now back to ski mountaineering, the RAD system is a simplistic, ultra-light and compact gear kit designed for your classic ski mountaineering needs – rappelling, glacier travel, and crevasse rescue.

The RAD kit contains:

  • 30 m of ulstra-static ‘RAD LINE’ 6 mm cordage “developed specifically for crevasse rescue, rappelling and roping up on a glacier during ski mountaineering”
  • 3 ATTACHE carabiners
  • 1 TIBLOC ascender
  • 1 MICRO TRAXION pulley-ascender
  • 1 FIN’ANNEAU 120 cm sling
  • 1 handy little stuff sack that you can clip to your pack or harness, complete with loops for the above mentioned gear, and even a loop for an ice-screw.

The whole kit is only 1045 grams. Booooyaaaa. More room for apres beers or fireworks, but remember, fireworks don’t work well at altitude 😉

Price:

The whole kit sells for $435 in Canada at MEC, or $400 USD at shops like Backcountry.com.

Small, light and simple.

Review:

I won’t pretend to be a glacier rescue gear expert after exposing myself in the intro paragraph, but I can certainly appreciate just how RAD this kit is. With it’s minimalist weight and size, I think the biggest benefit of this kit is that you’ll actually bring it with you! I see it coming on plenty of mountain missions in the future, without having to debate whether or not we can get away without it. Be it an early season trip to a zone that’s ‘usually’ OK without ropes, to a gnar-bar line in Chamonix where you just wish you had a little throw bag full or rope and gear, this thing will have your back. Hell with the way climate change is going this system will be a daily driver. And last but not least, you never know when you’ll need to rescue an inflatable duck from the mountains – it can happen when you least expect it.

Recent inflatable duck rescue from the Tantalus Range.

Recent inflatable duck rescue from the Tantalus Range, thanks to having the Petzl RAD kit on hand.

Obviously it’s not the only glacier/rappel gear you’ll ever need on a ski mountaineering trip. I’m a big fan of packing a belay device, even if various hitches can often do the same trick. Likewise, an additional (and longer, say 240cm) sling would be a welcome asset for ascending, ice screws, and so on. I was able to ascend with just the one sling provided, but it was pretty snug, and I think the wrestling mask helped as well.

Testing rope ascents amidst some hut apres ski shenanigans.

Another factor to keep in mind with this ultra rad system is that the super static rope is only safe for certain applications,  and the main rope is so narrow that your ski partner’s prussiks might be too thick to work with your rope. Keep those in mind, gear up appropriately then give’er and enjoy this compact system.

For a more informative video than the BMX dance stoke, here’s Petzl’s promo for the RAD System…

Conclusion:

We haven’t got a tonne of use out of this baby yet, but its definitely coming on every volcano lap this summer, and really any other glacier trip in my future. If you’ve got some of this gear already you’d be able to DIY your own similar kit with whatever items you’re missing, but if you’re like me and well overdue for some gear upgrades, get yourself a Petzl RAD System and get’er done.

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