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First time advice buying Mountaineering equipment

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Postby albanberg » Sun Dec 27, 2009 6:42 pm

You might want to check out Smart Wool (and others) for base layers. I have the light weight leggings and the medium weight zip top, which are both great. They don't hold odor as much as the synthetic stuff and are very light for the weight. I also have wool hats from Arcteryx and Smart Wool.

Check out windstopper vests. I have one from Mountain Hardware. It's really versatile and has a high neck.

For colder weather I also like silk stuff. I only have a top but it's nice under the wool and it's super light.

For gloves I have polar tech to start and then some Marmot shells and Valadre down mits. My other gloves will fit into the mits just in case. I have not bought gloves for more technical climbing yet.

For jackets (in dry conditions) check out Feathered Friends as mentioned above. They are super light for the warmth they provide. Same for the bags.

I'm using Arcteryx shells. I went with proshell instead of the paclite, so I don't know how well the paclite works...sounds like it's good though from the above comments.
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Re: First time advice buying Mountaineering equipment

Postby nhluhr » Mon Dec 28, 2009 6:04 pm

lowlands wrote:Anyone have any recommendations for a solid layering system? I like the approach hikes and think it's a big part of climbing a mountain, I'd need a system that can go from 80 F to 20 F, or in that range. Something along the lines of a thin vest/jacket (eg. North Face Annapurna), then a Patagonia DAS parka (I've heard they're great), and then a windproof/waterproof outer hard shell. Or, would a Down Sweater from Patagonia be a better mid-layer than the DAS?

Pants? Maybe a Khaki type pant as a baselayer, some long underwear underneath and then a winter pant on top of that?

The area where I live has an REI and a Hudson Trail Outfitters, but their selection isn't really oriented towards mountaineering. They don't carry any Ice Axes because they're afraid you might stab someone and only have a few packs.

Whichever component you can help me with, please do!

So, I'm all ears and appreciate very much any insight shared.

-Steve
I just left the DC metro region and I can share some tips with you.

Go to EMS at the corner of VA625 and VA28. It's in the big shopping center with the Wegmans. They have some basic mountaineering/ice gear that you can try out.

As for getting wintery experience, since you should have lots of snow on the ground now, go to Old Rag. Hike that. You don't need crampons but maybe some yaktrax would be useful for making the dark icier backside safer.

Get with the PATC-MS and tag along on their ice climbing trips. You don't necessarily need to DO any ice climbing, but they are a generally friendly group and would be happy to teach some of the basics to a person starting out. They do their ice climbing in Shenandoah Nat'l Park mostly.

If you're not already a rock climber, become one. You can take an intro class at Sportrock in Sterling or Alexandria and from there, you can get some comfort with ropes, harnesses, etc.
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Postby nhluhr » Mon Dec 28, 2009 6:12 pm

lowlands wrote:Experience, what I have, is from hiking and sport climbing. I've done a lot of top rope climbing and am signed up for a lead climbing course that starts on the 7th of January.
Not sure if you're a member of Sportrock, but be aware that if you are, I think you get a 20% discount at EMS (which is only a mile or two from Sportrock Sterling)

Here's my layering system:

Baselayers: Minus33 Merino Zip-T or REI MTS Zip T (available in Tall sizes... I'm 6'3") on top, REI MTS Midweight (again, in Tall) on bottom. I don't frequently use the bottoms. It has to be pretty cold for me to need them. I also wear ExOfficio boxerbriefs.

Then I'll have maybe a exp-weight zip-T (like a light fleece) if it's cold enough.

Then I have softshell pants (REI Mistral, in long inseam) and softshell jacket (I have a few... generally prefer the hooded Outdoor Research Mithril, which is waterproof if I expect nasty conditions or the MtnHardwear Alchemy if I expect clearer conditions)

Full-zip Goretex pants (OR Furio). I like these because they are tough as nuts but they are on the heavy side at 20oz. I definitely prefer goretex with a fly zipper because they let you keep your harness on top of your softshell pants where it belongs so you can add/peel the goretex layer later, just sticking your belay loop/carabiner through the fly hole.

Goretex Jacket - OR Mentor - excellent jacket, not too overpriced, quite light (17oz). However, if you don't expect the weather totally nuke on you, something lighter (10oz) such as the MtnHardwear Quark is my next choice. Not as adjustable on the hood though so if you're not wearing a helmet or a baseball cap, the hood is annoying.

Puffy Jacket - For winter use I have a MtnHardwear Subzero SL... It's warm and water-proofish, but it's heavy. Feathered Friends makes some much lighter stuff that is just as warm. I'd like to replace it with a FF Volant. For spring/fall or higher altitude summer, I have a Feathered Friends Helios. Ultralight, warm enough. For summer lower altitude, I have a Mtn Hardwear Hooded Compressor (synthetic). All these puffy layers are sized to be the outermost layer, as you generally are going to pull it out when you stop for rest or when you're at camp and you want to be able to throw it on without having to take other things off.

I don't yet have puff pants but I am considering some. The use of puffpants is limited to some specific applications (such as allowing a lighter sleeping bag or for extreme cold weather). They are bulky and heavy to carry and probably not necessary if you already have softshells, goretex, and baselayer bottoms.

Socks, I use Smartwool. If I'll be out for a long time, I use liners to eliminate blistering, but for all other trips, I just go single layer and I try to let the callouses build.

Gloves, I have a wide array and I def don't take it all on each trip. Light liner glove, windstopper fleece glove, windstopper hard-face glove, waterproof lightweight glove, insulated one-piece glove, insulated mountaineering glove w/ removable liners, insulated mountaineering mitten, etc. You take the range of handwear you'll need to cover the conditions you might see. I especially like the insulated one-piece gloves because liners can be a hassle if it's wet outside and your hands don't want to slide in easily. Some people use Seam-Grip (a tent/gear seam-waterproofing product) on their gloves to make them work better in the wet.

Headwear, I have a MtnHardwear Microdome, and a Windstopper Dome (warmer), as well as a light merino wool balaclava if it's super cold. I use Julbo Nomad Zebras since they work from dawn through dusk, as well as a pair of light-tint ski goggles with spherical lenses for when it's nasty outside and the glasses aren't enough.

Boots, I wear Nepal Evo GTX for most conditions. I'd like a lighter pair for summer alpine climbing and something else a bit warmer for the coldest winter stuff.

This could keep going forever, but really you just need to spend some time out there and see what other people are using. It will all come together.
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Postby lowlands » Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:47 am

The advice has been great so far, thanks for that.

I'm looking for boots at the moment, and was wondering what you all thought of buying "used" boots. Specifically, I've been looking at LA Nepals, that have been used very lightly. A pair of LA Nepals, that have been worn 4-5 times, in very good condition, with no dirt on the treads, boxes included, etc. What would those be worth, what should I pay for them? $275?

Most of the people selling seem to be looking for a different size.

Thanks for all of the help,
-Steve
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Postby LakeofConstance » Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:06 pm

lowlands wrote: I'm looking for boots at the moment, and was wondering what you all thought of buying "used" boots. Specifically, I've been looking at LA Nepals, that have been used very lightly. A pair of LA Nepals, that have been worn 4-5 times, in very good condition, with no dirt on the treads, boxes included, etc. What would those be worth, what should I pay for them? $275?



If you haven't found this yet, check it out: http://neice.com/classifieds/showcat.php/cat/27
Lots of Nepals for sale here, mostly around $250.

Have you already tried on new Nepals in a store to find out your size and, more important, if they fit your foot at all?
When it comes to used boots I wouldn't care so much whether they come in the original box or have seen some dirt (any decent seller would clean them anyways before shipping them to you) but rather how much the sole has been worn down. Just ask for a close-up photo of the soles, that gives you a good idea of how much the boots have really been used. Shoes worn 5 times on sheer rock look VERY different from shoes worn on ice/snow with crampons.
If the soles look fine and the rubber rand seems intact I'd go for it.
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Postby Captain Beefheart » Wed Jan 06, 2010 4:59 pm

Keep it cheap! Get stuff on sale! Practically everything goes on sale in the climbing industry. I always try to buy the lightest gear that suits my needs.

Get a good lightweight baselayer like Cap 1 or 2 paired with a light mid-layer like Patagonia R-1 or even some cheap ass Eddie Bower type fleece... on sale. Then get a nice, simple/ lightweight hard-shell with a helmet hood... not too many pockets. I like Event fabric for its superior breathability. Check out Rab, Wild-Things and Loki for some good options. That is what you would wear while climbing. When you stop for breaks/ belays, put a synthetic fill insulated "belay jacket" over all the other layers. Wild Things has some stuff on sale at their website.

You can sleep in this system and get a lighter sleeping bag (10-20 degrees) to save overall weight. Check out Western Mountaineering (ebay) and Feathered Friends for over-the-top comfort. A less expensive alternative would be a Montbell "Super Stretch", although I'm about 2" too tall to fit in the long version.

Check out some lightweight full-shank boots suck as the New La Sportiva Trango Primes and the Trango Duratherm (silver model). If you need more beef, check out the Nepals or Batura's. Either way, make sure you break them in first. Scarpa and Garmont make good stuff too but I like Sportivas fit.

Grivel makes the best crampons in my opinion. Get some G-12's. They also make some nice lightweight axes/ tools. Maybe you can check them out when your in Mont Blanc.

Go with whats lightest and cheapest. As you use your gear you will learn what you like and need.
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Postby Captain Beefheart » Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:00 pm

Oh, and a CiloGear 45 or 60L pack.
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Postby lowlands » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:01 am

Again, seeing everyones' gear closet is quite helpful.

And grammy, thanks for the links, they're pretty much reaffirming what I've been reading in Freedom. And you're dad's quote is funny but true.
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Is House for Real?

Postby jthomas » Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:09 pm

"...here are two cool videos with steve house talking about his gear for nanga parbat. loads of knowledge in this 17 minutes.. mention of the dac in both videos i think. "

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIkmYiwbZWg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoACZH2N9gE

I realize House is a superman, but am I the only one who thinks going up an 8,000 M peak with a Pata Houdini for a hardshell and a DAS for a parka is insane/suicidal? He came back intact, however, so maybe he knows what he is doing.
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Postby lowlands » Thu Jan 07, 2010 10:50 pm

Those videos are good.

Question about crampons: I've been looking at Grivels, mainly the G10, G12, and G14. Is there a sizing system for crampons or is it one size fits all via their adjustability?
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Postby Autoxfil » Fri Jan 08, 2010 12:10 am

Crampons are adjustable to fit (almost) any boots. Sometimes if you have really big feet you will need a longer center bar.
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Postby Up2zmtns » Thu Jan 14, 2010 7:44 pm

I don't need to go into great detail about exactly what to buy (others have covered specifics nicely) but I have been in this first-time-gear-buying game for the past 3 years and the best advice I can give you... don't spend too much (unless you make bookoo bucks :lol: ). Climbing is a great sport to buy quality gear much cheaper than retail, buy used gear from buddies, jump on big sales in stores and on the web, make friends in the biz, and even check craigslist and ebay under the right circumstances (I don't buy pro/ropes/anything-you-trust-your-life-too on ebay, period).

This might be a bit tougher in DC, not as much gear floating around as CO, but it can be done. Don't rush, don't overspend... it can be done.

Spend most of your money getting to the mountains and taking time off of work, you can climb/hike/train with minimal gear and you will get stronger physically and mentally. :wink:
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Postby lowlands » Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:34 pm

I surface yet again to ask a quick set of questions;

Is there a problem with buying crampons used? Problem as in, the same way you shouldn't buy biners and rope used.

I've come across a pair of G14's used twice, for $95. There does appear to be a little bit of discoloration/brown spots in the black metal, would that be a problem? The guy says it rubs off with a towel, and I think I could clean it up nicely. They're the Cramp-o-matic kind, do those work well with LA Nepal EVO's? I have to check if he's including the anti-balling plates.

Thanks again.
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Postby nhluhr » Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:00 pm

lowlands wrote:I surface yet again to ask a quick set of questions;

Is there a problem with buying crampons used? Problem as in, the same way you shouldn't buy biners and rope used.

I've come across a pair of G14's used twice, for $95. There does appear to be a little bit of discoloration/brown spots in the black metal, would that be a problem? The guy says it rubs off with a towel, and I think I could clean it up nicely. They're the Cramp-o-matic kind, do those work well with LA Nepal EVO's? I have to check if he's including the anti-balling plates.

Thanks again.
Crampons are just like knives... the points get duller with use - and you sharpen them instead of buying new ones. "Used twice", they are PROBABLY still in great condiction and won't even require sharpening yet. MAKE SURE that they are they correct binding style for the boots you intend to use.

"Cramp-o-matic" or "Step-in" are the least versatile type out there as they require very stiff boots with the heel AND toe welts.

"New-matic" or "semi-auto" are very versatile, working on MOST mountaineering boots as long as there is a heel welt. The toe is held in place by a large plastic harness.

"New-Classic" or "strap" are usable on any boot but may move around a bit more on the foot unless you strap them down really tight.

I made the mistake of buying step-in crampons for my first pair (which was okay at the time because my boots had the proper attachment points) but now if I buy another pair of boots that might not have the toe welt, I'd need different crampons too.
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