Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

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Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby ash-ish » Sun Apr 07, 2013 12:47 pm

I am trying to find a balance between weight and speed. For short approach couloirs like Dragons Tail or Cristo, I am thinking of dumping my primaloft one synthetic hooded jacket and replacing it with mid weight base layer for April and later. My clothing system will include:

1. full length light weight base layer
2. half length synthetic tshirt
3. Mid weight polartec fleece
4. Windproof/waterproof shell
5. Serius waterproof non-insulated gloves

1. Mid weight base layer
2. Space blanket
3. Woolen gloves

The logic is I am moving most of the time and its not a very long day. Is it reasonable?

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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby Dave B » Sun Apr 07, 2013 1:21 pm

Your kit should vary depending on conditions.

I've climbed couloirs in a t-shirt and also with every-single layer I've had with me while wishing I'd had more.

With that said, I never go above 10K, even in the summer, without some form of insulating layer.
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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby mrburns » Sun Apr 07, 2013 4:49 pm

I think I am with Dave on this one. How much does the primaloft layer weigh? 10-15 oz? Not much difference in weight vs a huge difference in warmth.

If I am going on a 14er or any other trip above tree line for any period of time, I generally always bring a light weight puffy layer of some sort. More than once I have found myself at the top of a couloir or other ski descent waiting for the snow to soften up, and been very glad to have a nice, warm, puffy jacket.
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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby oldschool » Sun Apr 07, 2013 4:58 pm

I have seen too many people try to save weight, when in reality they are saving mere ounces. I agree with always having a puffy, no matter what. At some point, there is a minimum one is willing to haul. Look not to lightweight items, such as insulating layers, but to those items we sometimes overlook, thinking them indispensible, yet quite heavy.

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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby pvnisher » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:37 pm

Replace the t-shirt and (carried) mid weight base layer with your puffy.

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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby globreal » Sun Apr 07, 2013 7:47 pm

I have to agree with some of the other posts...I always carry an insulating layer. My thinking is, what if I have to overnight? Sure you can stay warm moving fast. But what if you broke an ankle and can't move at all? Can you make it through the night?

And, what if you broke an ankle above treelike and it gets windy as well as cold? That space blanket will be worthless in a 50mph wind.

For me, I'd rather carry a few more ounces.
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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby climbingaggie03 » Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:22 pm

I'd say ditch the space blanket and maybe swap the fleece for a synthetic insulation layer, but other than that you're about right. I climbed Cristo last april with pretty much the same set up, I carried my 18L REI flash pack, it was a nice casual afternoon out. If you're more committed then it makes sense to have more of a safety net with your clothing, but with cristo, you can pretty much sit down and glissade down almost all the way back to your car.

Yes a puffy is only a few ounces, but it's a mentality issue. If a puffy is only a few ounces, a gps is probably only a pound, an extra bottle of water is only 3lbs, and a first aid kit is another pound, and a repair kit might be nice... Strip away everything that isn't absolutely necessary, every ounce costs energy.

Just as a disclaimer, I've had my own mishaps and have spent more nights than I care to think about shivering because I brought too light of a sleeping bag, or not enough layers, and I've even suffered a bit of frost nip on my toes from spending 8 days hiking in snow in "waterproof" trail runners. I also have a buddy who was climbing quandry in winter, got a bit disoriented in a white out and ended up spending the night out and having SAR haul him out the next day, he says that the bivy sack in his pack, that he was carrying for the first time, saved his life. So you should know what you're risking but on low commitment climbs I think the risk is pretty low.

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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby Dex » Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:55 am

I got up at 5am to check the weather for Yale - 40 or 50% chance of snow at 1p or 12p - went back to bed - It better snow.

A couple of discussions about going light.
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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby nyker » Mon Apr 08, 2013 6:53 am

Many places to save weight, just be aware, often this comes with sacrifice elsewhere.

An obvious spot to begin is yourself. Do you have a pound or two you can lose? You can keep all your gear, but by losing a pound, you can match the weight savings you're referring to pretty easy. Unless you're a svelte LD runner, most everyone can drop a pound in a few days or week.

One thing you don't mention is your pack - you might be able to save several ounces in using a lighter pack (while keeping all of your layers) or stripping non-essenials out from the pack (flaps, pockets, etc you may not need)- As mentioned, carrying a puffy or similar layer is pretty light (7oz in some cases);

You could also use lighter gatorade bottles in place of Nalgenes. Have hooded undergarment or two? You may be able to do without a hat - though how much does a fleece cap weigh anway...

If you are purely climbing on snow and would expect to enounter no rock, you could look into aluminum crampons, but only if you're pretty sure you won't be on mixed terrain. This will save more weight, but you'll be wearing equipment that's weaker than steel. They are also pretty pricey.

Have fun!

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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby ash-ish » Mon Apr 08, 2013 11:43 am

Thanks everybody, I think I get the message. I will keep the insulated jacket. I may (or may not) skip my mid-layer fleece as some suggested. The fleece gives me the right level of breatheabilty when I am moving - the primaloft jacket will most likely be too hot when moving. I am also considering a vest. The links by Dex, does a great job of reiterating what others have been saying. I think I might opt for a lighter smaller backpack and get rid of frills on my backpack that I dont need.

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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby tommelch » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:03 pm

Check out the Osprey Talon backpack series. Very light and comfortable.

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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby Andymcp1 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:35 pm

My guess is that like most of us you have a few pounds you could loose. Figure if you give yourself 2 weeks of eating healthy and some good exercise you could cut 4 pounds pretty easy. Imagine all the extra stuff you can bring with you now! Dont skimp on your gear. If you have any weight to loose cut it off yourself before you start removing gear from your pack.


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