I am currently packing for a short trip (a long weekend, really) I am taking to Chamonix, hoping to get a little bit of alpine climbing done before the summer is over (and before going to Nepal in october). The goal is a long route with two or three nights at altitude and at least one a bivy on the route. I thought people might be interested in learning what gear I am taking for such an occasion. The actual climbing rack will depend on which route we decide on once we have assessed the conditions (possibilities include Traversee des Aiguilles de Chamonix, Frendo Spur, South Ridge of the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey and a few other routes), but here’s about the rest:
- Tent: The Black Diamond Bibbler i-tent: small footprint for narrow ledges, single wall but sturdier than the eVent versions and possibly more breathable, too. At 2kg, this is one of the big weight investments.
- Sleeping bag: Western Mountaineering Alpinlite: it’s only rated to -7C but that should be enough for summer climbs when sleeping fully clothed. The weight compromise makes it worth it.
- Sleeping pad: I got one of the fancy new Thermarest NeoAir in small size. It’s only 120cm but a ridiculous 260g and packs tinily, for almost as much warmth as a normal inflatable pad.
- Baselayers: There is no question that now, it’s all about merino wool, the magic fabric. It is warm, it is comfortable, it breathes and it never smells. I use a Norwegian brand called Aclima, but will probably get some new ones from Icebreaker for Nepal.
- Fleece: A small Arc’teryx microfleece. Any would do as long as it’s light.
- Softshell: The amazing Rab vapour-rise. Again, warm, crazy-breathable and comfortable.
- Hardshell Arc’teryx Alpha LT, the rolls royce of gore-tex jackets, for the extra warmth if it’s windy or rainy. Before I won this jacket at the Sheffield festival last March, I was using 50€ Marmot precip for the same purpose.
- Hat: A nice Patagonia woolen one with extra fleece around the ears. It’s crazy how a good hat will make a world of difference, and how difficult it was to find one that I liked.
- Gloves: The Black Diamond pursuit have pretty nice liners and they dry relatively quickly. They are also very dexterous for hard mixed or even easy rock climbing. Given the low temps forecasted, I may decide to bring an extra pair of mitts for comfort.
- Socks: One heavy duty woolen pair with liners to move the sweat away. I don’t bring spare but am careful to dry them at night.
- Shoes: I will use the La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX instead of the Spantik, as they climb technical ground better and I shouldn’t need the extra warmth. This will actually be my first trip with them, but from trying them and from all my experiences with La Sportiva, I am sure they will perform beautifully. I also bring a pair of rock shoes, of course.
- Axes: I bought second hand Black Diamond cobras from kickass Danish climber Kristoffer Szilas and they are the best thing since sliced bread. The carbon fiber makes them light, they are perfectly balanced and swinging them is just an awesome feeling. I have the BD spinner leash to avoid dropping them.
- Harness: DMM Supercouloir. Super light, plenty of gear loops and screw holders, a real belay loop and a quick release of the leg loops which allows relieveing without untying.
- Crampons: Simond Makalu. Good all around alpine crampons, though on retrospect, I probably should have gotten them fully automatic instead of semi-auto, as they have come undone a few times on the huge Spantik.
- Helmet: Black Diamond halfdome, simple but it does the job and is actually pretty comfortable. I forget I have it on until I see the photos, which is exactly what I am looking for.
- Camera: Nikon D90 + Nikkor 16-35 f/4 VR. After the tent, this is the heaviest thing I carry, but it’s always worth it in the end. Since the focus is on adventure images rather than landscape (which I can work on when weight is less crucial), I only bring one good wide lens.
- Bag: Thinktank skin belt with one single pouch. I put it on in the morning and keep it there until the day is over, which makes my camera accessible in an instant, the absolute key to bringing back good images.
- Consumables: 16GB of high performance cards, a spare battery, a lens cloth. That’s it.
- Backpack: To carry all of this, the Osprey Mutant 38. I am pushing its capacity, but it can do it. This is the best bag I have ever used for climbing, as it somehow doesn’t change my centre of gravity too much.
- Headlamp: Petzl tikka xp2, small, light and incredibly powerful, perfect for this kind of climb.
- Cooking gear: Nic will take care of the stove and fuel, so I only bring one Nalgene bottle, a bowl, a knife and a plastic spork.
- Glasses: Glacier glasses and contact lenses, my biggest pain in the morning (it can take up to half an hour to put them on…).
- Really misc: some aspirin and paracetamol, self-adhesive patches for the mattress, a cellphone turned off for emergencies, an altimeter watch, a topo, a fighting spirit.
Add the ropes and the rack and you have an alpine gearlist for two climbers. Quite a lot of stuff but (except for the camera of course), not much that can be left out.
What do you think? Anything that you would change in that list?