Sunday, November 11, 2012

UL climbing part 1 - Intro

I am gonna try to explain my thoughts and ideas considering ultra light approach in climbing (mountaineering). All of this is based on my personal experience and of course on reading a great book from a great alpinist Mark Twight (Extreme Alpinism, climbing light, fast and high).

Is it worth it to save weight in climbing gear? Of course it is, but just for some people.

You definitely don´t need the lightest rack, quickdraws and rope, when you are more a "rock climber" than a "mountaineer" - you won´t be able to appreciate the weight difference and mainly the price difference so much while walking few hundred metres or at max 1 - 2 miles from your car or train to rocks in your favorite climbing area. On the other hand, when you must walk 5 or more miles up to the mountains and you carry not only the whole climbing gear, but also your sleeping bag, cooking and appropriate clothing, the rules of game changes rapidly and every saved gram is a plus.

Part of my gear during preparation for mountain climbing trip. 

It´s logical that people tend to be more suspicious about light climbing gear than about light packs or clothing. Rope, racks, biners...all of that is supposed to partly save your life in case of some accident. When a shoulder strap of your pack tears off, it´s not very good, but you´re alive and you can repair it, carry it in your hands or whatever you come up with. When a sharp edge or stones cut your rope or your biner breaks - you are in serious trouble. Even though these thoughts aren´t mostly justified and all gear from solid manufactures is tested and has all the necessary norms, people still worry when you unpack a 7.8 mm thin twin rope in front of them. "Seriously? It´s not just a long reep cord?".

I think anyone who´s tried climbing at least once can confirm that the mental aspect is even more important than your physical condition. When you don´t trust your gear you start to project bad end scenarios, forget to concentrate and become very likely to make some foolish mistake or just stop, unable to continue. That´s not what you want to face in the middle of a steep and tall north face.

I understand it. For example - I am trying to avoid any climbing stuff that is made in Asia, it´s getting more and more complicated, but there are still plenty of companies making their great stuff at home, or at least near their home in trustworthy factories. Of course, even the best and most reliable company can make a mistake (remember some Petzl product recalls...).

UL means not only weight but also number - in other words how much gear you pack. "Do we need pitons or not?" "Is 8 quickdraws enough?" etc. It´s also a big issue sometimes and picking up the right gear (by right I mean appropriate for our target and just as much as we will need) can be tricky. You know that old bastard Murphy, who always shows up when you don´t expect him? Well he will show up you bet! The best defence against him is to start loving him. "Hey old buddy, nice try but we are prepared, next time maybe..." You smile and....improvise.

Being able to make a proper and safe belay station with any amount of gear and in any conditions is crucial.

Ability to improvise is very important in the mountains, even more when you carry less gear than usual, because the the need to solve problems by unusual ways is growing by the number of gear you are leaving at home. I am talking about protection placing, preparing of belay station etc. "Don´t have any cams or nuts but need to protect that crack? Use your reverso! It´s working."

Let´s end with this statement today:

"Being lighter, faster and thus safer during mountain climbing asks for wisely chosen light gear in smaller amount, ability to make maximum use of it and to improvise in different conditions."

Next part is coming soon...

No comments:

Post a Comment