Guest Blog from Larry Goldie of North Cascades Mountain Guides
The minute I saw Black Diamond’s new Couloir harness, I knew I needed one. In the never ending quest to lighten my kit, it was immediately apparent that this harness would likely bump my current ski harness out of its favored spot. I have spent the last month using the Couloir while in the Chugach and the North Cascades. Here is what I have found.
The BD Couloir is a simple, clean, and ultra light ski mountaineering harness. It is made of 1 and 1 ½ inch webbing, weighs in at a mere 8oz, yet it comes complete with features not typically found on this type of harness. Right away, I appreciated the ability to put the harness on without stepping through the leg loops. It’s difficult to find a harness that allows you to do this and that still offers a belay loop. The Couloir has very usable, soft gear loops that aren’t even noticeable under a pack hipbelt, but the loops are ample enough to carry glacier travel gear. There is even a full strength haul loop on the back in the event that you find yourself wanting to ski a pitch on belay.
While ski touring on glaciers, we often wear harnesses regardless of whether we are roped up or not. Thus, it’s ideal to have a harness that you don’t even notice you are wearing. Between the harness’ light weight and the thin webbing leg loops, it was easy to forget that I was wearing the Couloir. As with many lightweight harnesses, the time you really notice them is while hanging in them. While practicing crevasse rescue and rappelling in the Couloir, its lack of lumbar support became readily apparent. BD has tried to beef up the 1” hipbelt with some extra fabric to spread the load, but the Couloir was not designed for hanging on a rope for extended periods. Personally, I can live with this for a harness that packs down smaller than a can of Red Bull.
The BD Couloir is not a do-it-all harness, but if you are looking for a ski mountaineering specific harness that is both ultra light and fully featured, BD’s Couloir is a great choice.