Monthly Archives: June 2010

Going Light – Gear Updates

Training and preparation for the August climbs continues. A couple of years ago, when all of this started my primary concern when buying gear was probably the cost. I didn’t compromise too much on quality but I had a ton of stuff to buy before I could set foot on even the tamest mountain.

On Guadalupe Peak our gear choices worked well. It was a training run more than anything else so we took more gear than was needed. We were intentionally going heavy for the workout. Fast forward a few months though and we were on the steep switchbacks of Mt. Belford, in deep rotten snow, and with the same big packs full of heavy gear. That didn’t go so well.

That attempt on Mt. Belford was probably doomed from the start but my choice of gear removed any hope of success that might have existed. Struggling under that unnecessarily heavy pack taught a very important lesson about weight. Being a pack mule on sea-level hikes is useful and relatively painless but every ounce counts when you’re gaining elevation. Alan Arnette and I went back to Mt. Belford a few months later, dozens of pounds lighter, and reached the summit.

The summit attempts in August won’t require much gear but getting to base camp will require hauling fairly heavy packs 6.5 miles and up over 3,000 feet to an elevation of around 11,000 feet. Stripping out as much gear and weight as possible will make the trip significantly more enjoyable. Here’s a brief look at some of the changes I’ve made.

Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1 Tent: Incredibly popular – and light at just over 2 pounds. My previous Kelty tent weighed twice as much – ok for backpacking but not so much for climbing.

Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite Sleeping Pad: Folds up small and weighs less than a pound. My previous self-inflating pad weighed almost 3 times as much and took up a ton of space.

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles
: The pair weighs only a pound. Just a little lighter than the damaged Leki’s they’re replacing.

MontBell Super Spiral Burrow #3 Synthetic Sleeping Bag: 30 Degree: Weighs in at 2 pounds 10oz which is about two pounds less than the Alps Mountaineering Crescent Lake bag that it’s replacing. I like the Alps bag but I’ll take it camping not climbing. Thanks to Alan Arnette for the recommendation on this one.

Black Diamond Half Dome: This isn’t the lightest helmet – those are about 4oz lighter – but it’s proven and durable. I’m not so sure that I’m willing to shave all the weight out of the one thing sitting between my head and flying rock – or the ground.

Platypus SoftBottles: Flexible, strong, and 80% lighter than hard bottles. This will be my first time using these but the larger platypus hydration bag that I use for summer hikes has held up extremely well.

REI FLash 18: I’ll be using this light pack for covering ground between 11-14k.

Fozzils: Super light (almost weightless) and space-friendly plates, bowls, and utensils.

More gear changes are likely. I’ll update as decisions are made. If you have thoughts on this, or other useful gear, leave a comment. I’m interested in your feedback.