Author Topic: D4 Review: Lost in America to T-Trip, September 2019  (Read 569 times)

stevent

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D4 Review: Lost in America to T-Trip, September 2019
« on: September 21, 2019, 02:09:37 PM »
My friend Eric and I had the pleasure of using a D4 double ledge on El Cap from September 16-19, 2019. We climbed the first 6 pitches of Lost in America and then switched over to T-Trip at the Bay of Pigs to accommodate a tight time window. This was my ninth El Cap route and I've used a variety of portaledges on these ascents. The D4 was by far the nicest one that I've seen and after two nights on the wall, we had the setup and breakdown dialed. We got the ledge from Andy the day before we took off and didn't have time to practice setting it up in advance, which shows how easy it is to use.

The first day of our climb was very cloudy and the forecast showed a 50% chance of rain. After climbing 3 pitches the sky was looking pretty ominous so we decided to set up the ledge and hunker down for a bit. This was the first time that we set up the D4 and it was simple to figure out. I had watched the instructional YouTube video before and found that to be helpful. The rounded tube ends were great and it took roughly 15 minutes for us to get the ledge set up. I really appreciate that the ledge is ambidextrous (no "wall side/air side") and think that this saves a lot of time and frustration during setup. The fly was easy to deploy and we got it up just in time before the rain started. It rained for less than an hour and we stayed completely dry inside the D4. When the rain stopped we opened up the fly and watched clouds and fog roll in and out of the valley (big advantage of the front zipper). For a longer storm or while climbing in a place with worse weather than Yosemite, I can imagine that the front-facing zipper would be inconvenient for accessing haul bags and having side openings would be more practical.

One additional note about the fly is that it doesn't have a draw cord on the bottom and fits perfectly over the ledge with deep corner pockets. This is a huge step up from the Simple Fly that I have for my BD double ledge, which has a draw cord and fits loosely over the ledge.

Assembling and breaking down the D4 got easier with each night and by the end of the wall, each took less than 10 minutes. In addition to its unparalleled ease of use, the D4 is very comfortable. Eric is over 6 feet tall and I'm about 5'11". There was plenty of space for both of us to lay down with some extra room. Fitting the ledge and fly into the included haul bag was difficult at first but we figured out a way to make it easy after the first day on the wall. We packed the ledge into the bag first and then stuffed the fly in after, which seemed to solve this problem.

Overall, the D4 feels like a big step forward in portaledge technology. It is impressively easy to use, lightweight, and just as comfortable notoriously heavy models like the BD Cliff Cabana. It was a treat to get to use it on El Cap and made our ascent much more fun.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2019, 01:54:45 PM by stevent »

Deuce

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Re: D4 Review: Lost in America to T-Trip, September 2019
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2019, 06:08:01 PM »
Fantastic Stevent!

For being the first review on the new "old-school" Big Wall Forum, send me your address to deuce4@bigwalls.net and I will send you a limited edition D4 t-shirt (the one shown is actually a hand embroidered t-shirt from our friend Alan in Afghanistan--might be this one, or another batch I am getting shortly).

But can you please also post a picture?  (Add as attachment).  If you don't have any of the ledge in action, just one from your route would be cool.

Will send another t-shirt to another D4 reviewer of each type ledge, chosen at random in a month or so if I get some more reviews of each D4 ledge (with picture please!--helps me identify which ledge you have, when was built, special features, etc)

THANKS! 
« Last Edit: September 22, 2019, 03:30:25 PM by Deuce »

Deuce

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Re: D4 Review: Lost in America to T-Trip, September 2019
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2019, 03:06:18 PM »
Also, good point about the front zipper vs. the side doors.  Bit of history.

The A5 Expedition Fly (once TM'ed) made for the A5 Cliff Cabana and later, an option for the A5 Alpine Double were the first portaledge fly made with doors and zippers.

Before 1993, the state of the art was the drape-over fly with drawcords around the bottom to cinch the fly to the ledge.  Although we had invented the single-seam fly and the integrated "ready-to-deploy" rainfly stuffsack system, the fly technology was pretty basic at the time.

Then I made the first "Diamond Fly" made for Patagonia winds, that was the first fully enclosed portaledge fly ever made.  Of course being fully enclosed we needed a way to get the ledge in.

We experimented with a few different zippered doors and vent systems, and eventually came up with the two side doors, each with two zippers, and large vent hood at the top of the door on each side.  This is the same system widely used today on other brands.  It all seems obvious now, but knowing all the iterations we went through, talking will all the best big wall practicioners at the time, some of whom had lots of ideas like Jay Smith, Jim Bridwell, and 100's of other big wallers of that era, and all the ideas that did not work, the current standard double door design wasn't obvious.  All design is like that, I guess, obvious once you know the answer.

Anyway, the downside of the double door and enclosed floor on the fly is that you need to put the ledge inside the fly when initially setting up.  Luke made a few custom Expedition flys for folks getting the D4 Alpine Double recently.

One new thing we've done with the D4 is eliminate the need for a drawcord on the bottom for the Standard fly, by making the corners of the fly with deep corner pockets, similar to a custom fitted bed sheet.  Another thing that seems obvious, but for the past 40 years of portaledge design, no one was doing it that way.  The deep corner pockets necessitate the need for the fly to open up completely.

Long winded here.  Anyway, those times between storms I suspect was nice when you were able to fully open up the fly.  I can assure you that the Expedition Fly would have felt more claustrophic during the nice weather spell.

There is probably a variation of our new D4 design--floorless and with deep corner pockets--that would ease the side access, just a matter of time before we offer that option if it indeed has overall advantages.

Cheers
« Last Edit: September 22, 2019, 03:31:26 PM by Deuce »

stevent

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Re: D4 Review: Lost in America to T-Trip, September 2019
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2019, 12:03:59 PM »
Hey John, thanks a ton for the backstory about the fly design and I'd be psyched to get a shirt! I'll send you an email today and am struggling to get photos to load on here. 

Deuce

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Re: D4 Review: Lost in America to T-Trip, September 2019
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2019, 01:00:39 PM »
Good stuff.

Photos do take a while to load and there is no progress bar to tell you what's happening, but looks like you figured it out.  Old school forum!  There is a mod i will try to install at some point to make photo uploading more clear.  Smaller photos better for now.

stevent

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Re: D4 Review: Lost in America to T-Trip, September 2019
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2019, 01:42:02 PM »
Here are a few more shots now that I figured it out.

Deuce

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Re: D4 Review: Lost in America to T-Trip, September 2019
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2019, 05:37:22 PM »
fantastic photos.  Post on Instagram too if you get a chance, with hashtag #d4portaledge

Just posted some more stuff following our email discussion about the deep corner pocket design.  As an engineer, feel free to post ideas or clearer explanations here if you want to share.

http://bigwallsforum.com/index.php/topic,9.0.html

Deuce

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Re: D4 Review: Lost in America to T-Trip, September 2019
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2019, 11:48:38 PM »
T shirt going out to Steve in Yosemite soon.