The Sierra Buttes, CA The approach felt harder than I remembered, but then again the first time out in the season is always the hardest.  As we approached our familiar jumbled quartz talus play-field, I couldn’t help but imagine how dead my pad must be by now.  I mean, there is no way that it could have lasted last season and all winter completely unprotected.

Joel Zerr working one of many projects

My mind became consumed by an image of a rotting foam spaghetti mass; a vermin’s delicacy.  How would I even transport that HAZMAT rug?  Resigning to my fate, we trudged closer to the location of what had at one time been our pad stash.  What lurked there now was something dreadful.

Dustin Sabo on Space Odyssey v10

My associate in excavation, Ty Fairbairn, was first on site.  Under “The Challenger,” a tight cluster of boulders accessible only via down climb, is where our pads have resided for the wintery months; left precariously wedged between two boulders unprotected from the elements, our pads had been left to Mother Nature and her devices.

Ty Foot

We had planned on bringing them out earlier, but a heavy early snow forced us to grasp the reality of the situation.  Our pads were lost to the mountain, what had once been faithful servants to the bouldering community where now nothing more than sacrifices to the mountain and the lesser rodent gods.  As Ty began to assess the damage I was prepared for the worst.  Why couldn’t we have just sacked up and carried them out that last time?  Ty began throwing the pads out from their tomb.

The Lesser Pad

First out was his mangled pad.  Heavily deteriorated form the weathering, this hanta-virus haven, had once resembled a pad at some point in time, but was now more of tattered bag full of holes that released little bits of and foam confetti.  “Man, the hippies are going to hate us for this,” I thought as Ty tossed up my pad.

Tried and true

At first sight I didn’t even recognize it, but lo and behold there it was; remarkably unscathed!  My eyes registered the scene, but I could not fathom how.


As it turned out the greatest damage done to my Flashed pad was slightly marred by some little nibbling menaces, but otherwise unscathed.  My Flashed pad had not only survived the entire winter in the mountains, it was still completely functional and ready to serve another faithful season as carcass catcher.  I have been blown away by the tried and true, field-tested, quality of Flashed products.

The Tools of the Trade