With the Shuksan climb just a few months away, it’s been high time to pick up the gear I need. For Adams last year, both my partner and I decided to rent the speciality gear (helmet, ice axe, crampons, etc). This was primarily a financial decision- the gear certainly isn’t cheap, and there was the nagging question of whether this was going to be a one time thing or a passion I’d pickup and continue with.
Of course it wasn’t a one time thing, so just from a practical standpoint it made sense to invest in the gear rather than renting it year after year.
First up, (new) sleeping bag. My first bag (used on both Katahdin and Adams) was a North Face Snow Leopard II. It was a big green bag that was incredibly comfortable and super warm. It served me well (from the standpoint of comfort and warmth). The problem was that it was simply too big and heavy. Even shoe-horned into a stuff sack and cinched down it was still one pound or so too heavy and took up way too much room in my bag. Of course I didn’t really learn this on Katahdin since we left our sleeping and camping gear in the car, but on Adams this was clearly obvious.
Thanks to REI’s stupendous member policy, I was able to return the bag and get a store credit. I eventually used that credit to purchase the Kelty DriDown II bag. Bright red (a big hit with the kid at home), this bag is no less warm…but packs and stuffs down to the size of about a football, and weights much less than the Snow Leopard. The bag is highly rated, and won a number of awards from Outside Magazine (the 2013 Outside magazine gear guide is actually where I first learned of it). I think this one will be the winner.
Next up, ice axe. This is an exciting purchase, I think because it’s such a specialized tool. Not quite as many options in the world of ice axes (compared to sleeping bags), it’s mostly a matter of type and size…color is pretty secondary (or worse). In this case, I went with the Black Diamond Raven Pro. This thing is ridiculously light, it feels almost as if it weighs nothing. I went with the 60cm version- the one I rented last year for Adams was 55cm, and I found that at the crux part of the climb on the steep angled glacier, 55cm was fine, but on the lower angled stuff it was a tad small/short, hence the move up to 60. I just need to get a leash for the axe, and it’s good to go.
Crampons…an even more specialized tool. At the suggestion of the guide outfit I went with the Petzl Sarkens. I had Petzel Vasaks last year on Adams, and they were just fine. But I was pushed pretty hard towards the leverlock system, which seems a step or three beyond what the Vasaks had regarding attaching and securing to the boots. They came in earlier this week, but I haven’t had a chance to get them onto the boots yet. That’ll be next week.
Finally, to me the least exciting but maybe one of the most important pieces of gear, the helmet. The Elios was recommended, and that was enough for me. It is now mine as well.
So I’m 95% of the way there. A few smaller pieces of gear still needed, but this was the big gear hurdle. I have a mid-size pelican case at home that I use to store my gear…but it looks like I need a bigger case now!