Equipment & Packing

Below here, I have linked five videos as an introduction to the basics of mountaineering equipment. On the right, I have an overview of all of the alpine style mountaineering equipment shared from each video. The three videos below cover clothing, equipment and miscellaneous (like beverages); explained in depth and in order through bullet points. Lastly, the packing is shown in timelapse.

Note: Below each video I have linked an article that elaborates about each according section from different mounatineering associations

Clothing

Clothing Description

  • Climbing Boot: this is one of the most expensive and essential pieces of climbing equipment you need. The boot must be built completely water proof as it will have to keep your feet warm across snowy terrain and the surface shoe sole must have resistant grip. On  the edge of the toe of the shoe, it should have a similar design to one of a mountain goat (you will be using your tip toes to hold and push yourself up) 

  • Crampons: they are traction devices that attach to the shoe sole of the climbing boot when traversing across ice or glacier terrain (both downhill and uphill). When climbing, it is important to always use the tip toes of the shoe. In the case of utilizing the crampon, walking uphill will require you to use the front points of the device (sharpest tips)

  • Climbing shoes: if you know that the majority of you ascent will consist of just climbing (less hiking uphill) then it would be a good idea to take with a pair of climbing shoes, as they are significantly lighter and smaller than those heavy climbing boots. They provide more freedom and flexibility during your climb (they also provide a very strong rubber sole), however, there is less protection around your ancles which is a downside.

  • Wool hat (sweat resistant): this will keep your ears and head warm for the hiking section of the expedition but is not worn during the climb (instead, there is a helmet for that). 

  • Waterproof gloves (heat insulating): you need a pair of gloves that are thin enough (so your fingers are flexible) but also thick enough so that they keep your hands warm (hands are your toold after all)

  • Down Jacket: this piece of clothing is relatively thin, but is still very good at insulating heat to keep your body warm (water proof too). The material can rip easily though, so it is not recommended for the climbing section of the ascent. 

  • Soft Shell Jacket: this jacket is much thinner and lighter, providing full water resistance and durability. It is not as warm as the down jacket though. 

  • Long or Short underwar: depending on how cold it is, you have to optimize the inner layers of clothing according to the weather. In regular mountaineering in the summer, short underear are fine paired with long hiking pants. Long underwear should be sweat resistant (thermal) and keep your croch comfortable.

  • Sports Shirt: a short shirt that is sweat resistance (worn under the fleece)

  • Fleece: a moderately thin sports sweater that insulates heat effectively (second layer of clothing). 

  • Hiking Pants: waterproof pants that have sippers to convert into shorts as well. This can be useful as the temperature can change when reaching different alititudes. 

  • Smart Whool socks: smart whool is a great materials, as you wan the shoes to be as comfortable as possible, with little to no sweat forming in the feat. 

Equipment

Equipment Description

  • Climbing Harness: it is the most essential piece of equipment. The harness is an adjustable belt (categorized in different waste sizes), that is optimized to keep yourself safe when securing yourself (it uses various straps to adjust to your legs and waste, too) 

  • Walking Stick: acts as stability and is secured with a wrist strap around your hand (size should be adjusted based on steepness of terrain

  • 50 m Nylon Rope: used to tie various parts of equipment together to secure yourself with other's climbing harness and additionally secure yourself onto rock bolts

  • Carabiners: a specialized metal shackel that has various locking mechanisms to secure yourself or clip various ropes together

  • Slings: round, dead-end ropes that can be tied through the loop of your belaying rope with a cow hitch knot. They are large in diameter and allow you to stablize yourself on them or they can be tied over a boulder so you can take a break

  • Quick Slings: two carabiners parallel from one-another that are held together by a hard rope. They do not have safety-locking mechanisms. Used to bridge/bind different pieces of equipment together

  • Carabiner for belaying: this carabiner typically uses a sliding mechanism to open and has an additional safety clip on the bottom of it to hold the rope in place (no playroom for the rope to waddle around).

  • Climbing Helmet: adjustable helmet that ensures safety for your head and can be adjusted using a strap on the chine and turning piece to match the size of your head. This is worn for the climbing section of the ascent.

  • Sport Sunglasses: sunglasses that stick to the head well and protect your eyes from the sun. They must be worn at all times, as they will protect your eyes from the UV light from the sun reflecting on the snow/glacier into your eyes. Note wearing these can really damage your eyes and can lead to snow blindness.

  • Ice Axe: a light axe shaped device that can penetrate ice so you can pull yourself up certain terrain. It is either gripped from the rubber handle or from the head of the axe using gloves so you can push yourself off of objects (like a safety or balance tool for steeper terrain). The sharp tips should also be secured with tennis balls after sliding through the straps of the bag.

  • Cams/Friends: a device that is triggered by pulling the trigger using the two index fingers, to insert into crevaces of the mountain in order to secure or pull yourself up (come in various sizes for different holes). This is used in the event that there are no rock bolts built in the mountain to secure yourself. 

  • Removable Ice Bolt: can be screwed into parts of the mountain made up of ice, in order to sercure yourself using cararbiners attached to it, extended by slings.

 

Miscellaneous

Misc Description

  • 30 L Hiking Rucksack: this piece of equipment must not be too large or too small, as you will have to stay as light as possible whilst still being able to carry all of the equipment effectively (straps and carabiners). Straps should also be adjusted so that they are tight enough since this can restrict the movement of your bag and improve balance. Lastly, all of the weight should be distributed onto your waste rather than your shoulders, in order to minimize shoulder and upper body pain

  • Toilet paper: if necessary, leave your droppings somewhere where it won't affect terrain (burried in snow for example). You should always attend the bathroom before any ascent to be absolutely sure that you won't have to go later.

  • First Aid: for emergencies, first aid should be administered in the case of an injury from another person in your group or perhaps even the guide too

  • 1.5 L Water: water will be essential for energy, as you will not want to dedydrate. Make sure that you bring with more than enough water, as you will be drinking a lot up there. I personally find one and a half litres of water to be just the right amount.

  • 1 L Tea: warm beverages are also important to keep the body and core warm (along with other fuilds). Tea boddles typically insulate hot water for about 24 hours. 

  • Lunch Box: should be in moderate size and contain a variety of snacks that are high in carbohyrdates and fats (power gel, almonds, cashews, rice cakes, power bars, etc.) - see nutrition page for more detail

Benefits of Packing:

By getting acquainted with various equipment, you are displining yourself to be mindful, strategic and this also teaches teamwork; as you will also be communicating with your mountain guide or group during the planning phase of climbing the mountain. Mountain climbing is definately a social sport where you have to notice other people's needs and also communicate with your mountain guide too when optimizing the route in terms of difficulty (can you handle it?, is it too hard?, is it too easy?, etc.). There can be drastic temperature changes from sea level and all the way to the piek of the mountain. Packing the correct clothing will be essential, especially when considering the weather. 

Packing Timelapse:

Packing the equipment right is just as essential as getting the equipment in the first place. You have to make sure that essential equipment is accessible from the top of the backpack and non-essential equipment (such as food) can be stored at the bottom for later use (more effective weight distribution). Straps should also be tightened propely in order for everything to seal compactly and so that external equipment (hiking stick and ice axe)​ can be attached as well

The mountain guide is there to teach you everything you need to know, in terms of technique, training, packing and much more. By adopting this mindset of humility and absorbing all of these skills, you begin to become more mindful of your surroundings as a whole (geographically and physically).

 

Trusting the material is one thing, but letting the material carry you up the mountain is another. When we look at gear nowadays (how modern and more useful climbing gear has become), it’s important that you remember that you have to be far more reliant on yourself than the gear. Gear doesn't necessarily always mean safety. It's the ability to trust yourself and others, learning the skills in a controlled and engaging environment. In my interview with former scout leader and school counsellor Steven Gregory, we go in depth about this aspect. Check it out by clicking HERE!

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