Climbing Gear

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for fast and light alpine mountaineering

Introduction
A ‘Fast & Light’ approach to travel, especially in the mountains, has long been ‘the Grail’ for many an outdoor enthusiast. This section contains what we have ranged as most suitable for outdoor enthusiasts wanting the best lightweight gear for fast mountain travel, without compromising on performance. Fast and Light alpine climbing is an approach to traditional mountaineering that seeks to leave behind everything but the minimum gear required to reach the objective under the assumed conditions. It also seeks to use the lightweight gear. It is an approach used only by Trained and Experienced climbers. Go as Light as reasonable, as Fast as possible for you and your companion(s) together, being sure that all are physically and mentally Trained and Experienced in the tasks required.

Gear Lists
Many backpackers create a gear list for each backpacking trip. Each list varies depending on the location of the trip, length of the trip, weather, etc. High altitude and winter trips will require more backpacking gear. However, there are some things in common for most backpacking trips.

How Much to Carry
Don’t carry too much weight. Even the most fit people can hurt themselves trying to carry too much. If properly equipped, carrying a lighter pack is almost always best as long as you have not left something important behind. One method to evaluate how much weight to carry is to look at pack weight as a percentage of your body weight. An individual in good health should be able to carry 20% of their body weight – a 40 lb pack for a 200 pound person. Intermediates should be able to carry 25% of their body weight – a 50 lb pack for a 200 pound person. Experienced and well conditioned backpackers can carry 35% of their body weight – a 70 lb pack for a 200 pound person. Does this mean you should carry this much? Of course not! Go as light as you possibly can. Current trends indicate that more and more backpackers are hitting the trail with packs in the < 30 lb range, with many venturing out for a week or more with less than 20 pounds of gear and food.

Distance
A frequently debated topic is how much distance you can travel each day. There are several variables that determine how far you should plan to travel each day including your physical condition, weight of your pack, starting elevation and elevation gain, numbers of days on the trail, and your experience. For well maintained trails a common estimate is 2 miles an hour. Add one half hour for every 1000 ft. of elevation gain and add fifteen minutes for every 1000 ft. of elevation loss. Of course your physical condition and experience are the most important variables.

Gear Lists

Fast and Light Climbing Gear List

Gear lists, of course, can be widely variable. Following is a list of the common primary items carried for Fast and Light Mountain Climbing.

Shoes/Boots

Get them oversized (1-2 sizes). This is not your average weekend climbing trip and you need something where your toes have space to move freely, or you´ll get frostbite by rush delivery.

Crampons

Camp, Kahtoola, and Stubai make ultralight crampons. Bring spares and carry one spare at the summit attempt. There are many brands of crampons around. Choose your favorites, remember only that ice climbing crampons differ from glacier crampons.

Harness

Camp and Singing Rock make great no-nonsense harnesses that are very light.

Ice Axe / Ice Tools

Camp, Ushba, and Simond make very light ice axes.

Multi-day Gear List

Backpacking gear for multi-day outings depends on your abilities, level of conditioning, season, current weather, and geographical location. Here is a list of the primary items you should consider for any overnight backpacking trip:

  • Tent or Tarp
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Backpacks
  • Base Layer Clothing
  • Wind Shirt
  • Insulating Jacket
  • Rain Gear
  • Warm Hat and Gloves
  • Trekking Poles
  • Backpacking Stove

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