Clothing is one thing, but your gear is a whole new discussion. Colin Haley recently wrote "... anyone who tells you that gear doesn't matter is clueless (at least in alpine climbing)." While on one hand it would be amazing if gear wasn't a limiting factor, sometimes, having the right tool for the job can make the difference between success and failure. But with that said, keep in mind a favorite phrase of my friend and mentor Kel Rossiter, "Greater people have done more with less". At the end of the day, good climbers aren't made of fancy equipment.
I think here is a good place to start. I carry one of two packs, the Black Diamond Speed 22 or the Mammut Trion Guide 35+10. Both of which I am a huge fan of. The Speed 22 is an excellent choice for a light and fast day of climbing. If you have your systems dialed, 22L is more than enough for a full day in the alpine. I like the speed because it is function, light, and user friendly. It has exactly the features I want, nothing more and nothing less. For overnights, guiding, cragging, or routes that require an excess of gear, my choice is the Trion Guide does the trick. This is another well built bag. Comfortable, durable, and simple, the Trion Guide is a versatile mountain pack perfect for a huge range of use.
- Harness - The Black Diamond Aspect is designed for ice climbing. This harness is comfortable and functional. Four ice clipper slots as well as an extra loop for gear on the back make this harness a perfect choice.
- Helmet - I currently wear the Black Diamond Vapor. While this helmet does the job, I won't be replacing it when it's time to retire. This helmet fits me perfectly and is extremely light. If they were free, I'd wear one every day for the rest of my life. However, because of how light they are, they seriously lack in the durability category, and for that reason, I'll be looking for a beefier helmet next time around.
- Crampons - I am a huge fan of the Petzl Lynx Crampons. Adaptable between dual and monopoint, these crampons are ultra versatile. While they don't climb as well as their respective non-moving Petzl counterparts (Dart and Darttwin) they are two for the price of one. Couple that with the ability to replace the front points and these crampons should last you for years.
- Ice Tools - For the second year in a row I will be rocking the Camp/Cassin X-Dream's. These tools truly are a dream, and climb steep ice and mixed terrain perhaps better than any other tool on the market. They do come with downsides, mainly having to do with the weight and clunkiness. Additionally, these tools are serious overkill when it comes to climbing moderate ice and snow, and certainly don't make for a one tool quiver. Additionally, the ergonomic hand grip can be a bit of a blessing and a curse. On most days, the comfort of the grip is what makes these tools so amazing, but on cold days with bulky gloves, trying to climb with these tools can lead to you getting pumped far faster than normal.
- Ropes - There are two ropes I currently am using for ice climbing. My primary go to is a pair of the Petzl Paso 7.7 half/twin ropes. (Now Paso Guide) I prefer to climb on double ropes in the winter time for a number of reasons, but mainly because it's a hell of a lot faster to rap when s*@t hits the fan. That, and I find that a majority of ice routes here in Vermont and across New England require double rope rappels. When I am not using my doubles, the Mammut Infinity 9.5 is my go to single. In my opinion the infinity might just be the best climbing rope ever made. Versatile, durable, and a perfect weight and size, the infinity is not only a great ice rope but also a fantastic rope for technical climbing of all types.
My rack will often vary day to day and objective to objective. However, here is a general list of what I carry with me for a day of ice climbing.
- (6-12) Black Diamond Turbo Express Ice Screws
- (2-4) Extendable quickdraws (alpine draws)
- (1-2) Yates Screamers
- (2-4) Quickdraws
- (1-2) Spare locking carabiners
- (1) 20' Cordalette
- (1) Quadruple length nylon sling
- (1-2) Double Length slings
- (1) 19" Sterling Hollowblock
- (1) DMM Pivot Belay Device with designated lockers
On the back of my harness I carry a small rescue/bail kit which includes:
- (1) Wildcounty Ropeman 2
- (1) 6mm Prusik Loop
- (2) Camp Ultralight steel quicklinks
- (1) Small swiss army knife
In the Pack
- Repair Kit including
- Alan Keys for crampons/ice tools
- Small file
- Duct Tape
- Ski Strap
- 10' 6mm cord (often used for V-threads also)
- First aid kit including
- Pain Meds (Asprin & non-asprin)
- Gauze roll
- ABD Gauze pad
- Medical Tape
- Cravat (used for slings)
- Food/Snacks (some favorites include)
- VTPB Penut Butter Packets
- Cliff Bar Shot blocks
- PB&J on a tortilla
- Water - 32oz Insulated Klean Kanteen with Skratch Labs exercise hydration mix
- Goal Zero Flip 10 portable cell phone charger
- Fujifilm X30 Mirrorless SLR Camera
Overall, the gear you choose will ultimately become tailored to your own personal preferences and climbing style. Make sure you always pack the right kit to make it home safely at the end of each day. Let this list serve a guideline for some of the things you too should consider packing for a day of ice climbing.