Thanks for all the kind words---luckily, behind the balaclava, no one can see me blush.
The MLD poles were just ordered so I will let you know when I know. They sound much stiffer than Fiberplex poles---they'd better be. I'll certainly do a short field test before the longer trips.
The soul bivy was one from 2 years ago. many of the features that were special to the bivy are part of the standard and ever evolving design. I ordered the hood section a bit larger and with much more breathable material in this section---formerly, the WP bottom came up much higher around the the sides and top. The length was also sized to fit me, rather than merely ordering the long length---but not so much that I couldn't fit a light Winter bag inside. I also cut all the surplus cordage to a minimum. My bivy had an opening bottom for ventilation----sure helped quite a bit to keep condensation in the footbox to a minimum. The new standard footbox is of eVENT. The Ti wire hood hoop wire (removeable) is great---min. weight penalty. Finally, mine has an Epic top, which has worked well for me. I've even used it alone in light rain, w/o benefit of a tarp.
Hey, guy----you can order an eVENT top, now (eVENT fiend that you are)!
Doug, you're thinking of getting one of these puppies over a BMW---what would Ryan say? ( Bumper sticker material?)
About ice axe length---I wonder if with an aluminum headed axe, one just might need a longer length for leverage, just to penetrate consolidated snow. More seriously, what I have noticed with many of the lightest of the alum. species is that the heads are so thin that they are uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time. J'accuse CAMP.
Finally, how's the Montane eVENT jacket holding up?