Gear Shopping

24 Oct 2019 - Richard Horridge

2019-10-24 Thu 08:31

Gear is important

Preparing for the ascent of Pigne d'Arolla

The correct equipment can make all of the difference in making a successful ascent.

The above photo shows our guide, Andy, Lottie and I preparing for glacier travel. As you can see, we have ropes, harnesses, helmets, mountaineering boots (B2 or B3 rated), ice axes, walking poles, crampons, slings, ice screws, carabiners and Prusik cord. This is without mentioning the non-technical equipment - trousers, layers of clothing, sunglasses, gloves, rucksacks - all of which is equally if not more important. And all of this costs money!

When considering whether or not to buy any equipment, it is worth thinking about a number of things: can I borrow it instead? How much will I use it? Could I get it any cheaper than this?

Name Use Typical Cost Range
Mountaineering Boots Walking, wearing crampons £100 - £450
Crampons Gripping ice and packed snow £100 - £200
Walking Ice Axe Stability, testing ice, arresting a fall £60 - £100
Technical Ice Axe(s) Testing ice, climbing steep ice, arresting a fall £120 - £200*
Dynamic Rope Attaching yourself to something £50 - £100
Harness Attaching something to yourself, holding gear £60 - £100
Helmet Protection from rockfall above £60 - £100
Walking Pole Assistance for steep walking £10 - £50
Carabiners Attaching to things £10 - £20**
Slings Attaching to things £10 - £30**
Ice Screws Protection, crevasse rescue £30 - £50*
Prusik cord Abseiling, ascending, crevasse rescue £5*

* You need 2 of them!

** You need lots of them!

This table gives you an idea of how much equipment is needed and it is understandably difficult to justify spending so much money!

Fortunately, your mountaineering club will be able to lend out quite a lot of this equipment. Additionally, quite a lot of stuff can be found second-hand on forums and auction websites. Finally, one can take advantage of discounts that come up in stores.

I did this myself yesterday - Rock On had a 20% discount to UBMC members and I took advantage of this, buying a new pair of climbing shoes (my old pair now have a hole where the toe is), an already-discounted set of crampons and several extra carabiners!

My next purchases will be a set of quickdraws for sport and trad climbing, at which point I will be set up for sport leading anywhere without needing to borrow equipment! I'll then buy some extra slings as they are always useful, then it will be time to think about a full trad rack and a set of technical ice axes…

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