GEAR REVIEWS & WHAT TO PACK: ADVICE FROM FEBRUARY 2011 MT. ELBERT CLIMB Comments thanks to Steve Filips and Dale Clymens WHAT to WEAR Snow Shoes (bring them, but might not need them) Chances are better someone has broken a trail through and packed the snow down. I would definitely bring yak-tracks or crampons or both.
Hiking Poles or Ski Poles are important
Socks: Recommend only one pair (seriously) of Smart Wool socks. They come in various thickness ( I used the heavy cushioning)
Boots: I used an insulated winter boot by KEEN. They were great. I brought along a package of Foot Warmers, but never had to use them. I will still always bring foot warmers, just in case of cold feet.
Base Layer Pants: I use an Under Armour Base 3.0 or 2.0 (can not remember for sure)
2nd Pant Layer: I use a form fitting pair of running pants.
3rd Pant outside Layer: Windproof/Water resistant Looser fitting Running Pants. Hold them up to the Light, if you can see any light through the fabric, then they are not good enough. They should be windproof. My pair flares at the bottom over the boot top slightly.
This 3 light layer system works well for me. If you are standing around more than 30 minutes you might start to get a little chilly. So keep moving.
Base Layer Top: I purchased a Justin Charles 100% long-sleeve merino wool top. Very nice breathable, warm and snug fitting. Kind of expensive though (look for sale). In the past I have worn other long sleeve wicking running shirts. If using them I think I would wear two of them because they are thinner. You can also probably use an
Under Armor Base Top. Then another long sleeve running/breatheable on top. On this last hike I only wore the Justin Charles Base and that was it.
Top Outside Layer: I use a North Face, Hooded, Windproof Denali Jacket. A little expensive (look for sale) Has plenty of zipper pockets for Map, Snacks and Etc. I really like the Arm pit zippers, it lets you cool off if you get hot.
Headgear: Balaclavas Style Head Gear. This is very nice. You can wear it a number of different ways. Over the head, around the neck or both. Below this I also wore a wide headband that covers the ears. When it was warm I pushed the Balaclava down around my neck and this Headband/Ear protection worked great, It allowed the top of my head to cool off. If do not have a Balaclava, bring a bandanna. You need something to keep your neck warm and lower face if the winds kicks up.
Gloves: Cold hands are no fun. I have had frost bite on the middle fingers of both hands and I do take any chances anymore. Listen up, if your gloves are too tight, they will restrict circulation and your fingers will get cold and you may not even know it too its too late. Here is the challenge with gloves though. You need warm thick gloves or mittens, but you will also need your fingers dexterity to look at map, open up snack wrappers, write a note or draw line on your map with pencil, unzip your pants or jacket, etc etc. I still fine tuning this dilemma, but on the Elbert hike I had a pair of cotton/wool blend gloves that I kept in my pockets. I took off my Mittens (I am a believer in mittens after frostbite) then put on the gloves to do the above tasks. I had rigged up a length thin rope/twine and ran it up the inside of my Jacket sleeve, across the back of my shoulders and down the other sleeve. I then tied each end to loop on my Mittens. This little system allowed me to shuck off my mittens off but not lose them in the snow or have the wind blow them away. I felt alittle like a kindergarten student with my mittens hanging off my sleeves, but I didn’t want to take any chances and loose hand protection. I also had a pair of “hand warmers” inside of each glove. They last several hours and it feel nice.
Eye Protection: Googles or Visor. I have both, one is a dark lense for sunny bright weather, then other is a yellow/orange color for cloudier days. I wore my contacts on the trip, but also packed my glasses in case I would have contact issue. Protect eyes, its important. Look at Retina sunburn (snow blindness), not good. My Dad experienced this after snowmobiling all day without eye protection. His googles kept fogging over so he took them off. Eyes did great all day, then the next morning he woke up barely able to open his eyes, in pain and thought he was going blind. Took several days for his eyes to heal up. Your retinas will burn without any pain or signal something is wrong.
What to Pack
On this last trip, I packed a sleeping bag for a the day trip. I just did not want to get caught without some kind warm protection in I had to spend the night on the mountain. In case someone got injured I figured we could put them in the bag and drag them down the mountain. Another person packed a coleman fuel stove. This is great for melting snow into water. Maybe have someone pack a sleeping Bag and someone else pack the stove. Of course do not forget to pack your HARD SHELL outer layer clothing. You might never need it, but having that thicker parka and insulated snow pants will be much appreciated if the really bad weather and wind comes up above tree line. Roll them up tight put them in the bottom of the pack.
Knife HeadLamp (with good batteries) Snacks: I brought along a good size sack of Trail Mix. I made myself eat this even when I did not feel hungry. Roll of Summer Sausage (hopefully it does not become your breakfast) A few feet of twine or small rope (lots of potential uses) Put on sunscreen before you leave Lip balm Cell phone (if you have service) GPS Compass Map Toilet paper Solar blanket Waterproof matches/lighter. Ice Ax. I purchased a used one on this last trip. Did not use it at all, but had it just in case. Pack a few liters of water, If its cold, it will freeze, try to keep it close to your body.
If your pack is too heavy and you brought too much stuff, find a place to cache items and pick them up on the return trip.
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