The packing/gear list for these trips always seems to occupy at least 3 single spaced pages and to contain various incomprehensible descriptions such as “soft shell guide pants.” And there is a dreaded moment of truth when you set everything you have for the trip on the bed in your guest bedroom. My stuff on one side of the bed; husband’s on the other. Shared equipment in the middle (such as the multi pack of carabiners – the use of which we only have the vaguest idea).
That’s the moment where (a) somehow despite hours of shopping you seem not to have certain pieces of what could be essential equipment and (b) even if you have it, you don’t have the faintest idea how to use it.
This is what happened on Mt. Hood in June 2012. This was to be our first climb that involved anything as complicated as a climbing harness and a rope – all of which, fortunately, were supplied by the guiding company that operates Mt. Hood climbs. When we got off the snow cat with our guide at 1 a.m. or thereabouts – having taken off or not put on all of our equipment – we were met with over 40 mile an hour winds that rapidly increased to plus 60 mile per hour gusts. This is what I learned:
Cheap dark ski goggles do not provide night vision.
Goggles cannot be pulled over helmets.
It is impossible to pull up a zipper without a long tie when you are wearing thick gloves.
Gaiters outside your pants will let in snow.
There is apparently no such thing as a water proof glove.
Oh, and if you don’t really know how to attach your ice axe to your back pack in a high wind at night said ice axe will definitely be lost. (Husband and I managed to lose both of ours.)
So, lessons learned. And despite the 80 plus degree heat in Florida I plan to spend quite a bit of time rehearsing how to use all my winter climbing gear for Mt. Elbrus. Now, if I can just remember again how to attach my brand new crampons to my boots.