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Training for first climb need help

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Training for first climb need help

Postby Cooksomerice » Thu May 16, 2013 3:22 am

Never climbed. Never carried a heavy pack. Very fit. Strong upper body. however, I am Currently a couple of weeks into training for a guided climb of Rainier in July and having trouble adjusting to a weighted pack.
I picked up a used Cilo 65 liter pack and have loaded it down with all my gear and some additional weight in the form of water bottles. Total weight around 40lbs..
I have played with weight distribution, shoulder straps,etc.,but still, my shoulders, traps and upper back scream for me to quit after just a mile or so.
Is this normal?
is it the pack?
Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated.
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Re: Training for first climb need help

Postby radson » Thu May 16, 2013 5:58 am

I have several Cilogear packs and yeah their thing is to be fairly minimalist on the shoulder straps. I met a guy on Denali who was moaning about his pack whereas I was quite comfortable with a weighted pack and towing a sled. Carrying 2 x 4 expedition person tents plus my gear in Pakistan last year, I did start to find the shoulder straps uncomfortable on occasion. Opinions vary, but I love to have my weight belt sinched uber tight and to have minimal loading on the shoulders but with heavier loads, you will still get weight on the shoulders.

With the tradeoff between weight and comfort, Cilogear err towards the weight end of the spectrum. You may find comfort in a big chunky Osprey or Greogory and the extra pound or 2 mut be ok, especially for a guided Rainier climb. I like Cilogear due to its expandable and adaptable nature with the strap system but yeah they are not for everyone.
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Re: Training for first climb need help

Postby mconnell » Thu May 16, 2013 12:52 pm

As radson said, probably a lot to do with the pack. Generally, you shouldn't have much weight on your shoulders. It should all be sitting on your hips. If a pack is sized right, the straps should not start down your back after going over your shoulders. I generally adjust my pack so that the point where the straps attach to the pack is a little higher than my shoulders. For hiking on trails, this distance might be 5cm, which takes almost all the weight off my shoulders.
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Re: Training for first climb need help

Postby Cooksomerice » Thu May 16, 2013 9:07 pm

Thanks to you both for your reply.

mconnell, I did get some relief today after adjusting the shoulder straps as you described.
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Re: Training for first climb need help

Postby ExcitableBoy » Fri May 17, 2013 6:00 am

I have some thoughts. Cilogear does not have any less padding in the shoulder straps and hip belts as other alpine packs like Cold Cold World Chaos, Wild Things Andinista, Black Diamond or Montbell packs. In fact, the Cilogear has more in the way of suspension with its aluminum stay.

40 lbs is stretching the limit of what would be comfortable for many of these packs, however, you should not experience pain after only a couple of miles. Especially with the Cilogear and its plastic frame sheet and stay.

I have a lot of partners who use Cilogear and I recall one fellow said he spent all day adjusting and tuning the straps and suspension to get a comfortable ride but was quite happy once he had it dialed in. You may need to get some advice from Cilogear and spend a day swapping straps and what not including bending the stay to fit the shape of your back.

The other thought I had was maybe you purchased the wrong frame size for your torso. If you need a large and you bought a small, no amount of futzing will give you an optimal fit.

I would explore these avenues before buying a big pack like a Gregory, Dana Designs, big Arc'Teryx. In the long run the lighter pack will be more appropriate for Rainier and other climbs in the lower 48 and Europe if you can get a comfortable fit.
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Re: Training for first climb need help

Postby Ben Beckerich » Fri May 24, 2013 5:53 am

I spent several days really dialling in my Cilo... fucking with the compression strap positioning and compression, even put the stay into a vice and fine-tuned it to the contour of my back.. but once I did get it dialled in, I found it to be the best riding/climbing pack I've ever owned.

I ditched it for a number of reasons unrelated to ride... but it was one hell of a shit-hauling pack.
where am i going... and why am i in this handbasket?
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Re: Training for first climb need help

Postby pvnisher » Fri May 24, 2013 8:12 am

My guess is that the frame is too small for you. I'm tall and have trouble finding a pack that is long enough for me. The one-size-fits-most packs don't fit me. I need a dedicated "long/tall" pack. When I wear too small a pack I get pain like you described.

Alternately, make sure all the weight (or as much as possible) is on your hips, and tighten the waist belt really snug. I actually prefer for me shoulder straps to have basically no weight, only there to keep the pack from toppling off.

But, as mentioned above, you need a long/tall enough pack for this to happen. If it is too short then the weight will hang off your shoulders and the wasit belt will only tighten around your abdominals.
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Re: Training for first climb need help

Postby ExcitableBoy » Fri May 24, 2013 7:14 pm

I can't add much to what has already been written, but here is a link to an old, but good page on how to pack a frameless style pack which may also help.
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Re: Training for first climb need help

Postby brrrdog » Thu May 30, 2013 6:48 pm

Unless the pack is too small for you, it sounds like your waist belt is too loose. I don't know about this particular pack, but by in large, a good multi-day pack should transfer a majority of the weight to your hips. The waist belt should be firmly tightened and positioned over the belly button. When putting the pack on you should tighten the waist belt and then tighten the shoulder straps to bring in pack in close and relieve the hips some. When I loosen my shoulder straps to get some air to my back, the pack falls away a bit but not down.

Frankly I'm not a fan of the minimalist packs - I gladly take the tradeoff of added weight to comfortably carry 70+ lbs (not climbing of course but I'm the mule for my wife and little kids :)).

EDIT: Sorry I didn't realize I was basically repeating what pvnisher said - so the short version is I agree with pvnisher :P.
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Re: Training for first climb need help

Postby Buz Groshong » Thu May 30, 2013 7:10 pm

brrrdog wrote:Unless the pack is too small for you, it sounds like your waist belt is too loose. I don't know about this particular pack, but by in large, a good multi-day pack should transfer a majority of the weight to your hips. The waist belt should be firmly tightened and positioned over the belly button. When putting the pack on you should tighten the waist belt and then tighten the shoulder straps to bring in pack in close and relieve the hips some. When I loosen my shoulder straps to get some air to my back, the pack falls away a bit but not down.

Frankly I'm not a fan of the minimalist packs - I gladly take the tradeoff of added weight to comfortably carry 70+ lbs (not climbing of course but I'm the mule for my wife and little kids :)).

EDIT: Sorry I didn't realize I was basically repeating what pvnisher said - so the short version is I agree with pvnisher :P.


For regular hiking and backpacking, this is good advice, but for climbing at altitude it presents a problem: a tight waist belt restricts breathing. You don't want your breathing restricted when the air is only half as dense.
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Re: Training for first climb need help

Postby brrrdog » Fri May 31, 2013 7:55 pm

Buz Groshong wrote:For regular hiking and backpacking, this is good advice, but for climbing at altitude it presents a problem: a tight waist belt restricts breathing. You don't want your breathing restricted when the air is only half as dense.


The most I've carried is 55 lbs to 9000 feet so I may have to respectfully yield to experience. But for the sake of learning and the OP, I'll disagree. The waist belt should cover the iliac crest which generally puts the buckle slightly below belly button height, transferring the load down below the hips to the all-powerful legs instead of the shoulders and spine. The diaphragm which is well inside the rib cage should be relatively unaffected, however I suppose I could see some resistance due do to compression of the abdominal cavity, but excessive compression only in cases where the belt is too high (off the hips giving a weight belt effect), or the person was slightly overweight (pushing belly fat into the abdominal cavity). I suppose you could wear the belt low (though I don't know of any manufacturer that still presents this as an option), but to wear it loose to me is out of the question with anything more than 10 or 20 lbs. You could also argue that the alternative of tight shoulder straps is equally restrictive by limiting the expansion and rise of the chest. Hell wouldn't it even help a bit with pressure breathing :).

Don't get me wrong, I'll continually make slight adjustments during the climb in order to give my abs or shoulders a break, but in general I'd hike or climb without shoulder straps well before I gave up the waist belt. That might change for summit day when you leave half the weight in the tent, but for the other 80% of the trip, I've gotta have that waist belt.

Again I'll admit that I do have a hell of a lot more experience backpacking while I'm just cutting my teeth mountaineering, but that just means I'll play devils advocate for a different color of the sky if I can learn something from it.
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Re: Training for first climb need help

Postby jdenyes » Sat Jun 01, 2013 10:48 am

Buz Groshong wrote:but that just means I'll play devils advocate for a different color of the sky if I can learn something from it.


coolest phrase i have heard all week... :)
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Re: Training for first climb need help

Postby peninsula » Sun Jun 23, 2013 3:18 pm

brrrdog wrote:
Buz Groshong wrote:For regular hiking and backpacking, this is good advice, but for climbing at altitude it presents a problem: a tight waist belt restricts breathing. You don't want your breathing restricted when the air is only half as dense.


But for the sake of learning and the OP, I'll disagree. The waist belt should cover the iliac crest which generally puts the buckle slightly below belly button height, transferring the load down below the hips to the all-powerful legs instead of the shoulders and spine.


No question about it, a snug waist belt is mandatory. The shoulder straps primarily serve to keep the weight of the pack balanced on the hips and should bear no weight otherwise. The only problem I have after long trips is the skin down the sides of my legs will go numb! Annoying, but less so than the discomfort when the shoulders begin to bear the weight of the pack.

For sores or tender spots under the belt, use thin, porous medical tape to protect the skin. Knowing those areas ahead of the trip is helpful in applying prophylactic taping measures. I use 3M Micropore to do the trick, it works very well. Good for tender spots on the feet, too (heels and/or toes).

Also, keep the heaviest items near the bottom of the pack and as close to the spine as is possible to maintain a lower center of gravity. This will also help in giving the shoulders a bit more relief.
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Re: Training for first climb need help

Postby Buz Groshong » Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:54 pm

peninsula wrote:
brrrdog wrote:
Buz Groshong wrote:For regular hiking and backpacking, this is good advice, but for climbing at altitude it presents a problem: a tight waist belt restricts breathing. You don't want your breathing restricted when the air is only half as dense.


But for the sake of learning and the OP, I'll disagree. The waist belt should cover the iliac crest which generally puts the buckle slightly below belly button height, transferring the load down below the hips to the all-powerful legs instead of the shoulders and spine.


No question about it, a snug waist belt is mandatory. The shoulder straps primarily serve to keep the weight of the pack balanced on the hips and should bear no weight otherwise. The only problem I have after long trips is the skin down the sides of my legs will go numb! Annoying, but less so than the discomfort when the shoulders begin to bear the weight of the pack.

For sores or tender spots under the belt, use thin, porous medical tape to protect the skin. Knowing those areas ahead of the trip is helpful in applying prophylactic taping measures. I use 3M Micropore to do the trick, it works very well. Good for tender spots on the feet, too (heels and/or toes).

Also, keep the heaviest items near the bottom of the pack and as close to the spine as is possible to maintain a lower center of gravity. This will also help in giving the shoulders a bit more relief.


Maybe my pack wasn't adjusted properly as far as height of shoulder straps goes, or maybe it was the lack of large enough hips to carry the waist belt without it being too tight (I have had a bit shaved off of one hip for a bone graft and the muscles covering it were moved a bit). This being said, I noticed on my way down from Pisco that loosening the waist belt allowed me to breathe a lot better. I prefer to keep as much weight on the hips as possible, but not at the cost of breathing ability when at a altitude.
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Re: Training for first climb need help

Postby brrrdog » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:34 pm

peninsula wrote:The only problem I have after long trips is the skin down the sides of my legs will go numb! Annoying, but less so than the discomfort when the shoulders begin to bear the weight of the pack.

Interesting - see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meralgia_paraesthetica. There are some exercises but maybe loosen the belt from time to time? Every once in while i purposely loosen my belt to give my hips a breather.

peninsula wrote:For sores or tender spots under the belt, use thin, porous medical tape to protect the skin. Knowing those areas ahead of the trip is helpful in applying prophylactic taping measures. I use 3M Micropore to do the trick, it works very well. Good for tender spots on the feet, too (heels and/or toes).

Is this better than standard moleskin?

peninsula wrote:Also, keep the heaviest items near the bottom of the pack and as close to the spine as is possible to maintain a lower center of gravity. This will also help in giving the shoulders a bit more relief.

Close to the spine yes. "Bottom" if you're not counting a sleeping bag compartment - Most manufacturers recommend light weight items in the very bottom. Not sure why - maybe to help destribute the load from the items above it and not sag. Or maybe to keep the bag from pulling away from the sholders. Not sure.
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