20 July, 2009

What's in my rucsac...by Olly Allen!

1. Light rucsac 35-40 litres
2. Helmet
3. Rope (Guide only)
4. Crevasse rescue kit (Guide only)
5. Harness, 2 screw gate karabiners, 1 sling
6. Technical equipment (Guide only)
7. Ice axe 60cm, adjustable ski pole
8. Short gaiters
9. B2 Boots
10. Leather gloves, warm ski gloves
11. Crampons
12. First aid kit
13. Compass, wire, Abolakov thread, spares
14. Map(s) in waterproof case
15. Small headlamp
16. Hut kit: toothbrush, earplugs, wet wipes, sun/lip cream
17. Water bottle
18. Book, ipod
19. Sunglasses
20. Food, teabags, milk powder
21. Warm hat, sun hat
22. Waterproof Container with money, passport, cards
23. Lightweight Goretex pro-shell waterproofs
24. Light synthetic duvet jacket
25. Windproof soft shell
26. Thin fleece
27. Thermal T-shirt
28. Soft shell trousers
29. Light waterproof stuff sac

The equipment you carry for summer alpinism is always a thorny subject with a vast array of technical equipment and clothing on offer to baffle the budding alpinist!

During the summer months in the Alps the temperatures can range from plus 30 to minus 20 so you need to bear this in mind. Whatever you choose you’ll still be shivering on the north face of the Eiger or sweating buckets crossing the Trient glacier in the midday heat! Just remember light is right until you have an ‘Epic’ then its just downright cold and uncomfortable.

Choose a rucsac that’s light (around 1kg) and around 40 litres (my favourite is the Berghaus Phantom 38 as it only weighs 800g). Go for a simple, comfy design without too many straps as they just add weight. Your helmet is a personal choice and only necessary on rocky routes. The guide (if you have one) will carry a full weight rope of either 30m for easy routes or 50m for more technical (AD) terrain. They will also carry an array of shiny bits including a crevasse rescue kit (4 screw gates, 4 snap links, prussic, ice screw, 2 slings). This may be supplemented on harder AD routes with (belay plate, 2x screw gates, extra ice screw, 5 medium wires, 2 small hexes, 2 cams, abb tat and knife, 3 quick draws).

A lightweight, comfy harness is a must with a 60cm non-technical ice axe (strapless) and telescopic ski pole. Boots should be B2, waterproofed and well worn in. A short pair of gaiters are useful in snowy conditions. I carry a thin pair of leather gloves (pink ‘Wilco’ garden gloves are optional!) and some warmer ski gloves. Leave your camelbac at home – they often leak or freeze – and bring a cheap water bottle to carry about 1.5 Litres. I favour steel strap-on crampons (Charlet – Petzl Irvis 10 pointers or more technical Vasak 12 pointers) for most alpine routes up to TD as there very comfy for walking in. Don’t forget the crampon bag!

Rolling around in the bottom of my sac I have a small first aid kit and a spares kit for ‘on the run’ repairs. A map, head torch (Petzl Tikka+), sunglasses (wrap round or side pieces) and a waterproof bag with money and passport are also slotted in. In the hut it’s nice to have a book to read, an Ipod plus teabags and powdered milk if you like proper tea! I also have some wet wipes, tooth brush and paste (travel tube), ear plugs and some high factor sun cream and lipblock. Snack food is a personal thing but I usually take some cereal bars, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate and jelly sweets.

There’s a bewildering array of alpine summer clothing on the market. Berghaus has some excellent products in their ‘Extrem’ range that will cover all the bases. I have a set of Goretex pro-shell waterproofs which are light yet durable (I may take paclite if the forecast is good and I’m not going near any rocks!). Buried inside a dry bag in my sac I’ll have a light synthetic insulated jacket (thin fleece as well if its cold forecast), a woolly hat and sun hat. Then depending on temperatures I wear some soft shell trousers, a technical T (long sleeved if it’s a cold forecast) and a windproof softshell jacket.

Remember when packing - heavy and spare stuff goes at the bottom and light, regularly used stuff at the top or in pockets.

This is not exhaustive list and it may have to be beefed up slightly if it’s a mega cold forecast or you are going high (e.g. Mont Blanc). Some people (i.e. me!) feel the cold and others – Matt D - could do Mont Blanc in cut-off jeans, t-shirt and fingerless gloves...so tweak the list at your peril!

There you have it...hopefully this has shed some light on the mystical art of packing your rucsac!

See you in the mountains!

17 July, 2009

Success on Mont Blanc

On Wednesday Olly guided Jonathan Clare and Richard Jones to the summit of Mont Blanc, congratulations to them both. Despite poor weather early on the Wednesday morning they sat out the morning in the Gouter hut and headed out into the clearing afternoon sun around 3pm.

Summiting at 7pm having battled through strong winds to reach the summit ridge, a quick stop to enjoy the view and they were back down in the hut by 10pm for a well earnt late dinner and wait until they could get a bed to sleep the rest of the night away.

The Thursday morning dawned bright and clear and they headed back down to Chamonix to celebrate their success. Photo’s to follow in due course.

16 July, 2009

Success on the Matterhorn!

Congratulations to Anna and David, Elizabeth and Will who all made the summit of the Matterhorn today.

15 July, 2009

Matterhorn Climber week

Here's a selection of photos from our latest Matterhorn Climber week.
The group are currently (Wed 15 July) in Hornli hut preparing for the summit ascent tomorrow.

If climbing the Matterhorn is on your to-do list, we have availability on our final course this summer, 29 August-5 September. For more information click on Matterhorn Climber.

10 July, 2009

The Italian High Level Route

Nick Powell and Sarah Hart joined Nick during the last week of June for 6 days on the Italian High Level route...aka the Spaghetti tour!

They enjoyed excellent weather for the week and summitted on 5 4000m peaks only being thwarted on the Dufourspitze due to the amount of snow on the higher elevations.

The following photos are kindly provided by Nick Powell.

From Breithorn West summit looking east

The summit ridge of Castor

Nick, Sarah and Nick (Mountain Tracks) on the summit of Castor.

The view from the summit of Castor looking towards Pollux and the Breithorn

The south ridge of Lyskamm taken from the summit of Castor

From the summit of Castor looking SE towards Quintina Sella

Summit of Zumsteinspitz looking towards Dufourspitze (L) and Nordend (R)

There's still time to join us in the Alps this summer - click on www.mountaintracks.co.uk/summer for trip details or call our office on 020 8123 2978