These ideas have helped me and I hope some of
them may help you.
Let me just tell you just a little bit about how I like to climb, LIGHT! I hate carrying any more weight then I need to so I found some awesome gear that I just love and that is very lightweight and great quality. Also, I hate to be COLD. These are the two primary factors contributing to where a lot of my choices for my gear and ideas stem from.
I think the best advice I can give you after the mountaineering experience I have is, be responsible for your self. Make sure you have everything you need. Donít rely on anyone else. Even though Jeff is my guide to the 14ers, I still like to read about the mountain I am going to climb in one of our many 14er guide books. I like to read about the route and also see pictures of the route. I think itís important for me to also be knowledgeable about the mountain we are climbing.
We have an array of gear ideas on our Gear Guide page but I would like to share with you some of my favorites. I have tried a fair amount of gear that is available today and I have found itís very important to research all your products before you invest in them.
One of the most important things for me is to pack my daypack the morning of the climb because I want to make sure I have everything I need. So I make a list the night before because some mornings we start very early and Iím a little groggy. I make sure everything on my list is in my pack because too many times I took for granted that everything was in my day pack only to find out later on the climb that I forgot my light gloves or my hat. I knew I wouldnít die, but I sure was miserable. For the climbs when my husband will be carrying a few extra things for us, I make sure on the morning of the climb that those things are in his pack.
The day pack I use is the Camelbak HAWG. I find it to be the right size for everything I need, not to big not to small. I love the secure fit on my back. I have climbed 5.9 rock with this pack and never felt off balance. I love the straps below the netting pockets for my rain gear and the netting pockets on the side to hold little things I want to grab along the way. It holds a 100 ounces of water which for me is more than enough for even the longest 14ers. I can even strap my skis to this pack with out a problem.
I have a first aid kit (bag) thatís light and compact with matches, compass, water purification tablets, mini flashlight, aspirins, signal mirror, whistle, a space blanket, an extra contact lens and a couple pieces of mole foam.
On colder days or winter ascents I like to carry a small Thermos of hot tea. Itís light, narrow and keeps your liquids hot for a very long time (actually Jeff carries it). I like to layer my clothes. I really like my light, high tech base layer, both long sleeve and short sleeve depending on the temperature. They feel good next to my skin and are highly breathable, moisture wicking and fast drying. My next layer is a long sleeve fleece top, itís just another light layer that is lightweight and feels great. Then I have either a light softshell jacket, just my rain jacket or a heavier parka depending on the weather. I also do the same for my legs. I have a pair of hiking pants that are lightweight, waterproof and breathable and with a lot of pockets. If I feel like I need a little more warmth than that, I wear a light weight fleece base layer. I also carry lightweight, waterproof, breathable rain pants in the summer and lightweight ski pants for winter ascents. Itís important to stay warm, dry and comfortable.
Make sure to take off your rings off before you climb, I had to get mine fixed twice, once because I bent it and the second time I had to replace a diamond. Leave it at home or put it on a mini carabiner attached to your pack.
I didnít think I needed a helmet until we climbed Little Bear Peak and there were climbers above us who accidentally kicked rocks down on us. It was one of the scariest experiences I have ever had climbing a 14er. I have also hit my head just climbing close to the rocks. Iím sorry to say it had to take experiences like that to get me to buy a helmet. Protect your head, itís the only one you have. I personally like the Petzl Meteor. Itís so light it doesnít even feel like I have anything on and when it gets cold I can fit a nylon cap underneath.
I like to have a short, lightweight (8mm thick, 30meters long) rope with me (that Jeff carries) on climbs where there might be a difficult pitch. Sometimes Jeff just scampers up these things like theyíre nothing whereas I might feel a little intimidated with a possible 100 foot fall. You can either just do a bowline knot around the waist or I like to wear my lightweight alpine harness. Make sure the person belaying you knows what theyíre doing.
I love doing crossword puzzles to pass the time at camp or just to do something in the car on the way to the trailhead. Jeff helps me when I need help but he charges me a quarter a wordÖsometimes my time with him is costly. Well after about my 16th 14er I got real tired of crosswords so I decided to make an activity book about 14ers with some crosswords, word searches, trivia, mazes, word scrambles, tongue twisters and a few out of the ordinary games. Every puzzle or game has to do with 14ers. I figure people can have fun and at the same time learn about the 14ers. My friends love it and people have written me and thanked me for making it.
Something else I do that helps me a ton is two days before a climb I eat a little more food than normal but most importantly I rest as much as I possibly can. I was told this by a friend who is a world class athlete. I tried it and I couldnít believe how well it worked, one day before the climb just wasnít enough rest for me.
The day of the climb I like to have a hot chocolate and a Power Bar. I just canít seem to get anything else down my gullet early in the morning. The Power Bars make me feel good during the climb and they donít hurt my stomach. The only bad thing about them is when they get cold they get hard, so 3 minutes in the jog bra (with the wrapper still on, of course) and itís nice and soft. Eat what you like and what works for you, the time for experimentation should not be climb day or the day before.
I just have to tell you about my two favorite pieces of gear: thatís my raingear. I have a Marmot rain jacket and a pair of Arcteryx pants that are both light weight, waterproof and breathable. We walked out of Chicago Basin in a downpour and I stayed completely comfortable and dry. Itís worth it to me to buy a little higher quality gear to keep me dry and happy.
I love my husband very much but we run out of things to talk about on the longer 14ers so I like to turn on my iPod Shuffle. It weighs next to nothing and it really gets my energy going. Jeff asks me not to sing out loud but sometimes I just canít help myself. I also really enjoy writing about my adventures, whether itís just with the kids on a small hike or one of our climbs on a 14er. I know I wonít always be able to remember what trail we took or what the day was like or who I was with, so I decided to make a diary with the entries I wanted and room to put a photo or drawing that the kids could make. I donít know who loves writing in these journals more, the kids or me. To me, they are memories that can be saved forever.
In closing, I wish you safe journeys and long lives. And remember, anything is possible.
LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH