When you climb in cold places, you quickly learn the value of a lightweight puffy jacket. The promise of a sunny morning can dissolve quickly in the alpine: the wall passes into shadow, belays get long and cold, and the wind picks up. An insulated jacket can make the difference between starting the next pitch excited or shivering.
Deciding on a sleeping system is a major consideration when packing for an expedition or alpine climb as a good night’s sleep can make the difference between feeling groggy and slow or energized and on-point. With so many mats on the market it can be hard to choose: Classic closed-cell foam mats are virtually indestructible, but inflatable ones are often lighter, more compressible and more comfortable.
Alpine climbing in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia inevitably involves extended travel through wet weather. While attempting an enchainment of Mt. Waddington (13,186′) and its neighboring peaks, I wanted a lightweight shell that was waterproof and breathable enough to wear during high-output exercise. Unlike my other shells, which fall short in at least one of these categories, the Muztag jacket exceeded my expectations.
The Cevedale Pro GTX boot is comfortable right out of the box. A stretchy tongue combined with a well-padded midsole helped them break in quickly, and a partial-length shank lets the boots flex for walking. Lowa offers a novel approach to balancing the tension between the forefoot and the ankle, which is critical for maintaining a snug fit while avoiding pain in the Achilles tendon. An inventive lacing system uses low-friction ball bearings in the eyelets which allow you to quickly cinch the boot around the lower foot, then lock off the laces in cam buckles at the ankle in a simple motion.
While the basic anatomy of a pack hasn’t evolved much since the hand-sewn rucksacks of Norman Clyde, a thoughtfully designed pack can be a major help to a day in the mountains. There’s a fine line, however, between a smooth design and gimmicks.