In the rucksack: Alpine snow, ice and mixed climbing at grades F to PD+

frenchitaliangerman
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Presentation of the usual gear for alpine ascents on snow, ice or mixed terrain, at moderate grades (between F and PD+)

In the camptocamp guidebook, the field describing gear specific to a particular route or tour is does not include the gear that is considered standard for the particular activity or type of route. You will find below a list of such usual gear for moderate snow, ice and mixed climbs.

The lists were established for:

  • Routes that are in good condition.
  • For people with adequate experience and expertise for the route’s level of difficulty.
  • For people who follow French-alpine traditions. Other regions, within or beyond the Alps, might have other traditions and use other techniques or gear. Do not hesitate to improve this article by indicating how things are done elsewhere.

Usual gear

Individual

  • Clothing, warm hat, gloves and gaiters
  • Sun glasses, sun screen, individual first-aid kit, toilet paper.
  • Headlamp with new or spare batteries
  • Harness
  • Crampons with anti-bott
  • One classic ice-axe
  • Helmet
  • Knife
  • Food for the tour, water.
Crevasse rescue kit (for setting up a double mariner hauling system and climbing up the rope)
  • 2 ice screws and 2 simple carabiners
  • 2 120cm slings (or 5-7mm cord) for setting up the anchor and getting up the rope
  • 2 locking carabiners for the power-point on the anchor and getting up the rope
  • 2 simple carabiners (possibly with friction reduction mechanisms such as the DMM Revolver)
  • 2 auto-blocking devices:
    • 1 auto-blocking device for the anchor or the harness (such as Minitraxion, ropeman 2, Duck, Jumar handle, Basic or a cord)
    • 60cm of 5-7mm cord (see below) or for the top auto-blocking device when climbing up the rope
    • a cord or sling that provides for a third auto-blocking device that allows you to stay connected to the anchor as you approach the crevasse lip once the anchors are set-up. This auto-blocking device can be replaced by the one above but that requires that you undo the hauling system. A reserve of rope can also be sued to stay connected to the anchors.
  • 5m of 5-7mm cord (can be replaced by not tying in to the end of the rope and thus having a reserve of rope in the rucksack)

Collective

  • Dynamic rope. The rope length, generally between 35 and 50m, and the type or rope (single or double) will depend on the route
  • Abalakov hook
  • Small collective first-aid kit, space blanket.
  • Navigation: altimeter, compass, map, possibly a GPS.
  • Tools for signalling you need help: radio, mobile phone, mirror, whistle, flare...
  • Spare pair of gloves
  • Spare pair of sun glasses

Technical gear must be handy at all times. Using other crevasse-rescue techniques might imply other sets of gear or less gear (e.g. Polish auto-blocks, 1:1 hauling…). Nevertheless, do not forget that in the advent of a fall, panic might make you drop and loose gear or the gear might not be accessible and you will have to improvise. It is useful to know how to handle such situations with as less gear as possible but having extra gear always makes things easier.

Example of route-specific gear

  • Length of the rope, possible need for an abseil. It is important to mention if you are referring to the length of the rope or the length of the abseil. If possible, indicate if the abseil is compulsory or optional. There is no point in systematically indicating 2x50m double ropes when the longest abseil is much shorter.
  • Rock protection such as friends or nuts for any rock or mixed climbing sections (detailing the brands and models or, better still, the width of the corresponding cracks). Such gear is however rarely needed on F to PD+ snow, ice and mixed routes.
  • The usefulness of avalanche transceivers, shovels and probes depends on snow conditions. It must not be mentioned as route-specific gear.
  • Document type:
    article
  • Categories:
    gear and techniques, additions to the guidebook
  • Activities:
  • Article type:
    collaborative article

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Version #5, date 22 May 2010