This jacket is ideal for colder, higher-altitude alpine climbs like those found in the Canadian Rockies, Alps and Andes, making it an amazingly versatile jacket for cold-weather use.
As a lightweight gear freak (and an aging alpinist), I am always looking for the latest and greatest in the ultralight world.
Winter mountaineering: some people love it. But rarely do I picture the clear summit days with perfect cramponing and one-swing ice. Instead I think of the long and cold nights, my sleeping bag stuffed with everything I don’t want to freeze. I consider days at a stretch in the tent, arguing over a magazine before tearing it in half, broken only by endless sessions of postholing. With these grudges in mind, I’ve been known to obsess over weight (hence the magazine instead of a book). When I received the new CiloGear Dyneema(R) 45 mountaineering pack to test, I knew immediately that it would lighten my load.
Frequently I am accused of being a pack snob. It started way back in college when I had a part-time job sewing backpacks for a small outdoor company in Bellingham, WA. The owner and I would stay late tweaking, modifying and otherwise trying to improve the current line of packs as well as our personal climbing packs. Whether building custom packs, bringing old, well loved packs back to life, or modifying brand new packs, it was rare that I saw a pack that didn’t need some improvement.
The luggage gods are not kind. Multiple times, when traveling internationally, I’ve had to wait days for my luggage to catch up with me. I’m starting to get used to it–but it becomes problematic when I’m scheduled to guide clients and my gear is in airline purgatory. This was the case at the outset of a recent twelve-day trip to the Alps. Luckily, my bags arrived on the first evening as we prepared to leave for a backcountry hut. But one of our clients was not so lucky–her bag had not arrived by the time we departed. Between me and the other guide, we assembled an ample amount of climbing gear for the client. She ended up with my normal LED headlamp, and I pulled the Petzl e+lite from my first aid kit to use for myself.
Anyone who has exited from the top of the Aiguille du Midi ice cave to descend the narrow ridge leading into the Vallee Blanche above Chamonix will agree: it has your full attention. To the left, the ridge drops away down the famous Frendo Spur, somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,500 vertical feet. To the right, 800 feet of 50-degree snow will drop you to the base of the Midi’s south face. So as I guide two guests down the steep and exposed arete, the last thing I need is my crampons balling up. Holding the rope tight between us, I wait for just the right moment, when all’s steady, to whack my boots with my axe and knock the snow from them. That’s it. I am buying new crampons, I tell myself. Tying yourself to people who are seemingly trying to pull you off of your feet every other step can make the cost of a new pair of spikes seem like chump change.
I hate tight rock shoes. Don’t get me wrong–I realize the need for a precise, tight fit, though after nineteen pitches and almost eight hours, I will take comfort over anything else. My partner and I were nearing the top of Mt. Stuart’s classic north ridge when I realized something remarkable: my feet were totally comfortable. While this isn’t inconceivable in rock shoes, I wasn’t used to this kind of comfort in a shoe that climbed so well. I had cranked them down for the two crux gendarme pitches and was able to edge easily on small nubbins. When the climbing backed off again, a quick flick of the Velcro put me back into super-comfy mode.