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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Light weight touring specific.

The morning this picture was taken coming out of the Vignette hut it was cold and windy.  To be honest I don't think any of us thought we would really be skiing into Zermatt later that day.  Weather was coming in, it was cold and all of us were tired from the last 5 days of skiing.


Last day of the tour.  Off we go to Zermatt!

When I dressed that morning I put on what had become known to me as the "business suit".  Solid performers in almost any weather and any situation....including the all to real possibility of Oscar dropping into a unforeseen crevasse at mach looney and having to sit out the resulting  rescue effort. 

Long skin in the sun?  Check.  Cold windy rescue effort?  With what little insulation I did carry added to it...Check. ( I hoped anyway!)
One of the things I really like about extended trips is you "run what you brung".  By that I mean you are forced to use what you bring in your pack.  If you are weak and a serious weight weenie like me the choices are not always obvious and making a mistake can be painful or simply end your trip.

Duct tape or helicopters are not my idea of required equipment on a ski trip.  Useful for sure but nothing I want to count on.  Boots better fit well.  Skis, skins, crampons and bindings need to be sorted long prior.  Best have the "right" clothing if you want to be comfortable.

It is a gear blog after all so I had better be able to pick my gear and love the results.

More fun to tell you about the failures most of the time.  But thankfully (for me) that didn't happen this year on the Haute Route.

Mind you it was my first time doing this trip.  Same for the other four skiers I was joining that flew in from California.   The differing levels of experience made for some great discussions.   But nothing we discussed beforehand enlightening on any of the gear choices.  A month skiing in Chamonix prior was thankfully.

This is my total Haute Route gear list.  Weather wasn't super cold or bad on this trip.  Neither was it Spring skiing every day.  A few weeks later (we went Cham to Cham via the Couloir Plateau 4/20 to 4/25) and there would likely be a lot of walking on some of the best skiing.  Of course this year it started snowing in town again 1st of May!

Dynafit Cho Oyu with Low Tech Race bindings with a locking toe
Dynafit skins

Dyanfit TLT6 P (using a La Sportiva Spectre liner, green tongue, no power straps)

A2.16 Pro Trailer touring pole

Camp Corsa race axe
Grivel skimo Race crampon

Petzl Hirundos

1 Platypus bag

Julbo Trek Zebra

Patagonia merino 1
long and short sleeve shirts
Costco Merino wool long johns
Odlo extra lt under wear

Mid layer
-33 Mid weight Merino wool zip front
Patagonia Piton  hoody

Westcomb Neoshell Shift

Peak performance Black light synthetic
Mont Bell Mirage down

Merino wool REI crew socks..single layer

Technique Extreme leather. summer weight
BD mid weigh liners

head bands by:
Nuptse (cold weather) and Buff (warm weather)

Dyanfit Race pant
Arcteryx Alpha SL GTX shell pant

Arcteryx Khamski 38...well stripped

But what I used day to day even interested me.   When I thought it was warm enough I used a Dynafit race pant and a pair of Oldo boxers under them.  When it wasn't (or I didn't think it would be) I used a single poair of lwt Merino wool longs from Costco and the Arcteryx Alpha SL GTX shell pant.  Perfect pairings.  Better yet lots of over lap on tempertures extremes with both systems.

Two things I never used in my pack were...the 33 Below zip front mid weight pull over and the Mont Bell Mirage.

My "business suit"?    Merino1 long sleeve crew neck, Piton Hoody and Costco Merino longs under the Arcteryx Alpha SL pant.  This is  Day two,  walking into Champex for an early lunch after an amazing 1200m ski down from the Trient hut.   One of my most fun days ever on a pair of skis.

Day in and day out I wore a Patagonia Merino 1 long sleeve and a Piton Hoody.   Only layering less or more changed that.  Base stayed the same.   Love both garments.   Nights in the hut I'd wear the short sleeve Merino 1 version.  Wool keeps the stink of a 6 day effort to the minimum as well.  That is greatly appreciated by everyone!

Chilling and extremely happy, top of the Col just prior to dropping off the Pigne D'Arolla.  Lounging in my Dynafit Race pant and Piton hoody.   One big day to finish a life long dream.

Pants?  Depending on the conditions the current Dynafit race pant was easy to use with the TLT6 and all the mandatory ski/boot/skin transitions.  If the weather was questionable the Arcteryx SL was the choice every time.  It is a truly well thought out pant.  Lwt GTX that works exceptionally well in every way except durability. But even the durability is good for the value and performance IMO.

(note: on the current Dynafit "Race" pant as opposed to the Dyanfit "Movement" pant.  I like the Movement better for a hard day/single shot efforts.  But the "Race" is more durable long term and more practical in long term/ multi day efforts IMO.  I still own and use both.  Race will out last a Movement 2 :1 in my experience.  That is not to imply the Race is a durable pant either.  It isn't.)

Movement pant used on a late afternoon ski of the Cosmique.

Huge fan of the Arcteryx SL pant now.  Simple, sleek and a close to perfect design IMO.  Worth every penny of the $250 retail they ask for them I think.   Can't speak highly enough of their choice in GTX or the color.  Only thing better would be the same pant in the lwt stretch Neoshell Westcomb uses in the Shift.  Now there is a pant that would really rock my world!   I could ditch the Dynafit Race pant more often if  I owned that pant ;-)

All in, the SL pants, merino longs and Merino shirt with a Piton hoody, in a size large is an amazing 1075g or just 2# 6oz.  You are not skiing naked...but it might well feel like it!  Race pant in a US 34 or EU 50 is 440g  (Movement is 408g) or very close to a full pound.  114g  or 3.5 oz under what the longs and SL are combined.

Used it all on day one starting the trip and used it all day 6, finishing up.  Couldn't have been happer with my intitial choices.   And for the record..really, really glad I had that Mont Bell Mirage stuffed away in my pack the entire trip ;-)

Bottom line here?  Lots of differetn modern combos will get you the same results.  I think the Patagonia Piton is unique for breathability and wind resistance.   But maybe not.  Oscar used a soft shell Mammut pant and a Piton jacket the entire trip, with little complaint.  The lightest weight GTX and Neoshells are pretty spectacular for performance.  I used one of each this trip.  Look around as see what you can come up for your own needs.  I have a duffel full of new shells to play with that I hadn't seen prior to this visit to Cham.  Going to be fun to see what works and what doesn't.  Even more fun as to why.

Martin's crew and our 5 happy campers join, where the snow ended, to celebrate in Zermatt.


Anonymous said...

Can we get phone # of pigtailed blonde hottie please?

Dane said...

Not sure Lagertha or her sister, Thorgerd, aka Leon, have a phone number or that they would answer if called.

Christian Strachan said...

"Only thing better would be the same pant in the lwt stretch Neoshell Westcomb uses in the Shift. "

I've got the Millet NeoShell Touring pant, which is pretty similar in fabric weight to the shift - very light, only side zips, rear pocket and scuff guards, no gaiter. Haven't had an occasion to try it out yet, but the waist is a little funky (high rise, just elastic band), braces would be recommended. Will report back! Will definitely be taking on any outing there might be precip here in the Cascades.

Christian Strachan said...

....and a pretty sweet deal on them on right now!

Dane said...

Follow up on the Millet Neoshell. Same Neoshell material or very close to the Shift but half the pant that the Arcteryx is IMO. Bad zippers (too big, stiff and bulky by comparison to the Arcteryx) and no adjustment at the waist is why. Material is good of course but aren't they all these days? Bummer because the price was really good. But mine will go back to on Tuesday. They do run large as reviewer mentioned it previous. I got a great fit in a medium. Same/similar fit as the Arcteryx slim fit large. But bulky stiff zipper on the Millet made them a pant I would be forced to wear (by bad weather) instead of a pant I really enjoy wearing.

Anonymous said...

Your list included some gear... harness, hydration, etc. I'm wondering if you carried an avalanche transponder or was the threat of avalanches very low?

Dane said...

As part of my kit I did carry a transponder, aluminum shovel and carbon probe.