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Gear - Alpine Rock Climbing, Overnight

Footwear and Clothing. Route conditions and weather can very dramatically from June to September. If your in doubt about bringing something, then bring it - it can always be left in the car after a last minute check of the weather!

  • Boots, approach shoes, climbing shoes. A lightweight alpine climbing boot works 80% of the time. Later in the summer, high top or low top approach shoes may be more comfortable and save weight. On particular objectives, rock shoes may be required.
  • Socks - for overnight trips, I budget 1 pair for two-to-three days, maximum of three pairs. I may also bring a heavier pair of "camp socks" for the evenings and to sleep in.
  • Gaiters - I prefer low-top or running gaiters.
  • Legs - I like to hike in shorts if its going to be hot, and change into trousers later when its necessary. I'll bring long underwear if I know I need to be moving outside below freezing. A mid-weight soft shell pant is ideal 80% of the time, in the late summer, I may use a light-weight softshell pant instead and bring long-underwear for added insulation.
  • Upper body tops - my "base layer" is a synthetic, button-down, short-sleeve shirt and a wind shirt. On top of that I'll added an insulation top (usually synthetic), a softshell jacket that can layer on top, and a big puffy "belay parka" that I can layer on top of all of it. I'm a big fan of hoods.
  • Goretex top and bottom - I prefer a lightweight set that I can wear over my softshell layers.
  • Hands - I'll bring two pairs of gloves; a lightweight daytime pair with leather palms that I can climb with and an insulated pair for wearing in camp or colder conditions.
  • Head - A ball cap for sunny days, a toque, and a neck gaiter.
  • Eyes - sun glasses should be appropriate for snow & skiing, with plenty of protection from reflected light from the sides and below.

Climbing Equipment

  • Crampons - glacier travel crampons (opposed to water-ice climbing crampons) are appropriate. Please make sure they are compatible with and adjusted to your boots before the trip starts!
  • Harness - for these routes, a rock climbing harness is more appropriate than a lighter-weight glacier harness.
  • Belay device and locking carabiner - the belay device is also used as a rappel device on double-rope rappels. Pair it with a large "Williams" or HMS-style locking carabiner.
  • Second lock carabiner - let this one be smaller, more standard-sized.
  • Sewn sling, 48" / 120cm - nylon or dyneema.
  • Two non-locking carabiners
  • Ice axe - I prefer very short axe - anything more than 60cm is too long!
  • Helmet

Other equipment

  • First Aid kit - I'll be bringing a comprehensive kit. Yours only needs to address blisters, scrapes, and any medications you normally need.
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Water storage - I use a reinforced dromedary bag from MSR. If the temperature drops close to or below freezing, I replace that with an insulated thermos (and bring tea).
  • Headlamp - with fresh batteries!
  • Collapsible trekking poles - three or four piece trekking poles are awesome for steep approaches and descents.
  • Small compact camera, Go Pro, or your cell phone - avoid the DLSR unless you are a pro. If you are a pro, please make sure I know!

Camp gear

  • Camp shoes - extremely trip dependent. Sometimes its down booties, sometimes a pair of running shoes, sometimes a pair of flip-flops, and sometimes none at all.
  • Sleeping pad - if I'm camping on snow, I'll use a full length air mattress. If I'm on dry ground, then I'll switch to a smaller 1/2 length air mattress and use my empty pack for the other 1/2.
  • Sleeping bag with compression sack - no summer weight bag needs to be rated to more than 32°F / 0°C. Down packs smaller than synthetic, especially when you use a compression stuff sack. The smaller the bag stuffs down, the smaller your pack can be.
  • Cup, bowl and spoon - I prefer to have my hot drink while I eat, so I bring all three. I use a 500mL Nalgene bottle for a cup - because I can screw the lid on and use it as a hot water bottle too!
  • 45L-55L pack - the smaller this pack can be, the better it will climb. I actually use a 40L pack for most trips, and bump up to a 55L pack only for base camp trips.


  • Food is not automatically included on my trips.
  • Breakfast - I prefer quick and hot, which translates into instant coffee and instant oatmeal. For heartier appetites, bring two packets per day.
  • Lunch - lunch happens all day long in the form of snacks at every opportunity. I usually budget 4-8 snacks per day, and mix it up sweets and savories.
  • Dinner - dinner is where I really try to get calories and water on board. I like to have soup, dinner and desert, each preceded by a round of hot drinks. If its a warm night or I've been well hydrated through the day, I may cut out two of those hot drink rounds. Hot drinks are teas and instant chocolates; I prefer instant miso soup; desert is licorice or caramel-chocolates. Dinner is usually couscous with nuts, raisins, cheese and salami; or mac & cheese with dried tomatoes, added cheese, and salami.

Base camp considerations

  • You can afford to go a little heavy - but not too heavy!
  • Bigger pack - a bigger pack requires less precision to pack and let's me bring an extra sweater.
  • Camp shoes - I almost always bring camp shoes on a base camp trip.
  • Cell phone recharging - battery, solar panel, or both. This way I can look through and edit my photos from the day too.
  • Camp chair - why not?
  • Climbing pack - since you don't need to carry all your camp kit climbing, a 25-30L pack can be brought along for the climb.
  • Bring a book - there may be some down-time. A cheap paper back weighs little and doesn't use batteries.

Up and over considerations

  • Light is right! You're carrying everything - food, fuel, and camp - on the climb with you.
  • The smallest pack is best - the smaller your pack is, the easier it is to climb with. I use a 40L pack for most overnight trips.
  • Skip the luxuries - leave the camp chairs, camp shoes, extra socks, and the paperback at home. Bring exactly what you need and not a bit more.

Last thoughts

  • Change of clothes - consider leaving a grab bag with a fresh set of clothes waiting at the car, especially if we have a long drive ahead.
  • Apres climb - celebrate the success with burgers and a beer!
  • Gratuity - tipping for excellent service is always appreciated.

April Newsletter

Gear - Repair Kit