AK on route gear beta


On Route Bivy Kit

We knew that we were going to be sleeping on route and planned accordingly. By bringing along a small bivy tent, in this case a BD Firstlight, along with two super light sleeping pads (Thermarest Neoair) and bags (Feathered Friends Vireo) we are able to achieve a restful sleep for under 6 pounds in a tight little package that will easily fit into our two 30L Cilogear WorkSack packs along with the rest of our gear.

Remember: this is Alaska, the land of the midnight sun. In order to make the most out of this system we sleep during the day when it's warm. We stay warm and rest well. Then, we’d start climbing at night as the cooler temps make when the snow on route safer.

The other super important part of this system is our stove. For these longer climbs in colder temperatures the MSR Reactor is absolutely the jam. It is super efficient, especially when it is cold out and it functions as an excellent easy to use unit, particularly when used with the new MSR hanging kit. More than once the efficiency of this stove has saved my bacon when a route has taken longer than I expected! (see climbing Mt Bradley in 2010) The efficiency of this system is once again improved by all of our on route “cooking” only requiring tepid water. More later on this in the cooking section.

Climbing Kit

On this last trip I had the pleasure of using the newest kit by Petzl. Having used the last generation of Quark ice tools during many of my breakthrough seasons in New Zealand and the Canadian Rockies I was super pumped to take out the newest incarnation of this tool and I am super impressed. For crampons I used the new Lynx and they were also excellent. For a long time I used the Darts, which are undoubtedly an excellent and lightweight crampon, but over the last few years I have been doing significantly more mixed climbing than proper ice climbing which has meant that I tend to plow through front points and having the interchangeable points makes a pair of crampons last much much longer.

The selection of any rack is extremely route dependent. Expecting hard climbing on the NE buttress we brought a double rack of cams to a #2 Camalot with one #3, a rack of wires, a selection of pitons and four ice screws. Along side the hardware, we brought three double length slings, seven single length slings and five ultra light quickdraws. For the route, this rack was near perfect, we could have gotten away with a few less cams certainly but having the selection allowed for faster and more confident climbing with minimal extra weight. 

As a note, two of the doubles we bring are full nylon slings. This is for use during rappelling when we use these to clip to the anchor. HERE is why...

I think that we are all very clear on the fact that in the alpine helmets are a must. On this trip I used the new Petzl Sirocco. Honestly, I brought an extra to basecamp since I was dubious of how well it would stand up. But as it turned out, I found it far more durable than any other foam domes that I've ever used, despite its very light weight. It is also very comfortable and the trim profile allows for unencumbered climbing.

In terms of clothing I was as per usual sporting kit from OR. The standout pieces on this trip were the new Transonic Jacket, the newly redesigned Chaos Jacket, the layering raddness of the Acetylene Top and the Warrant Gloves.  As always, the Extravert Gloves are my go to work glove for everything cold and snowy. 

The Transonic top is far and away the best shell that I've ever gotten my hands on. It has an excellent trim fit, has a great hood, is cut very well from the excellent Gore Active Shell fabric and has no frills. I think that having a hard shell in the big hills is nice for piece of mind and having one that fits well, climbs great, breathes okay and weighs very little is clutch.

The new Chaos is big, warm, well cut and super durable. I brought a synthetic parka on this trip since we were going to be climbing at low elevations and I was unsure about how wet it would be. As it was I could have gotten away with down, but the Chaos worked very well and I’m happy with my decision. The reason I would have brought down would have been for its higher compactability and slightly lighter weight. But synthetic down is nice both in terms of durability and ability to handle moisture. Both things I certainly appreciate as a PNW alpinist.  

If I had brought down it certainly would have been the Incandescent Parka.


Technology in Basecamp and the 'Pine

With the plethora of new technology directed at use in the outdoors I thought I might highlight a few things that I have found truly useful on expeditions. To be clear, on expeditions I work hard to keep my experience simple and clean. I feel like these are items that aid in that goal.

Petzl Tikka RXP Headlamp -

This lightweight headlamp is a pretty sweet improvement on a simple and proven design. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of the Reactive lighting, rather I will just link to the video on it and say that it is sick technology. What I will rap about here is the rechargeable batteries.

In the past ending an expedition for me has involved dumping a bunch of used batteries. I have tried, fairly unsuccessfully to use rechargeable AAAs but always manage to need to dig into the set of non rechargeables that I have along. With the new Tikka RXP, Petzl has switched over to a lithium ion battery that is recharged via USB. I carry an extra battery pack in case it runs out of juice. It has been a really great system that has worked well and allowed for some serious waste reduction.

Kindle -

I don’t think the Kindle needs any more advertising… but it’s gotta be said that with it’s epic battery life and ability to hold hundreds of books in such a small light package, it is an all time win for expedition climbing.

One note, bring a case of some sort, they are fragile and it is a sad day on a trip when you break it and no longer have any reading material for long weather days…

Sat Phone -

I’ve been running around with a Iridium Sat Phone for a little while now and it is an extremely enabling tool in the mountains. Modern forecasting makes climbing on big mountain a more safe affair and the ability to contact the outside world for help or emergency advice is very powerful.

It also keeps loved ones at home happy, when they hear you jabbering on about whatever you have or have not accomplished while out in the hills.

Speakers -
I love music, and for me, having it along in the mountains is a real benefit to life. I’ve been using the Goal Zero Rockout Rechargable Speakers. They are super simple, inexpensive and have a good max volume and a great run time. They charge on a USB.

Solar Panels -

'The simple life'
The panels can be seen in profile on the right side of the tent. 

All of the equipment above can be charged from a USB. This mean that they work perfectly with the Goal Zero set ups. Recently I have been carrying along a Sherpa 20 Solar Kit  which has been totally sufficient to keep everything I need charged.

I leave the panels up on the side of my basecamp tent with the cables running through a vent into the battery that lives on the interior. This way, even while I am gone the battery is still charging. It is quite excellent to get back to camp after a 3 day climb and be able to immediately start recharging the equipment no matter what time of day it is.

This setup has also proved very durable, which is of course important!

Cameras -

I thought I would at least mention the cameras I am using. As of late I have been carrying a Sony NEX-7, a Cannon S120 and a Sony Action Cam.  Together these allow me to take care of everything that I personally need to capturing images and video.

The point I would like to discuss more is how to keep these charged. Online can be found third party chargers for these cameras that can be plugged into a female cigarette lighter adapter. The goal zero products all come with this attachment making charging easy.

Lastly, it should go without saying but keeping all of this stuff dry is very important. I use a combination of Exped and OR dry bags and pouches along with a Pelican Case to make sure that I can ensure this.