equipment list - alpine mountaineering

A clothing system that is adjustable for a wide range of temperatures is one of the most important aspects to get perfected for alpine mountaineering. It can be very cold, particularly in the early morning, so a clothing system based on layers is preferred. This way, you can control your temperature much more easily than if you were wearing one thick item. As temperature increases during the day, particularly when ascending, your outer clothing will be in your rucksack, increasing it's weight. Therefore if you can, choose lightweight, good quality items over bulkier, cheaper ones. This equipment list is intended as a guide to what you will need on the mountain and doesn't cover any clothing etc for valley use. Also, quantities of items e.g. socks and undergarments  are a personal choice. We have made some recommendations based on our experience to help guide you towards the best equipment for our itineraries. Please contact us if you need any specific advice before purchasing.

It is possible to rent the items in bold text in Chamonix (cost not included). There are a number of shops in Chamonix that hire equipment, we can assist you with this if you let us know what you require.

Mountain boots - Good quality and appropriate to the itinerary, must also be able to accept an appropriate crampon. For Mt Blanc and general Alpine mountaineering, we recommend La Sportiva Batura and Nepal Series (Cube, Evo) or Scarpa Phantom Tech and Mt Blanc Pro. For the Matterhorn or technical mountaineering at a lower altitude, we recommend La Sportiva Trango series (Cube, S Evo) or Scarpa Rebel series (Ultra, Lite)

Helmet - Must fit over headwear. We recommend Petzl Meteor, Elios or Black Diamond Tracer, Half Dome.

Harness - Must be able to go over all clothing. We recommend Black Diamond Couloir.

Carabiners - 2 locking screwgates. We recommend DMM Shadow, Phantom or Petzl Attache.

Ice axe - Mountaineering style 50 – 60 cm. We recommend Petzl/Charlet Summit.

Crampons - With crampon bag and anti ball plates.  We recommend Petzl/Charlet Vasak Leverlock.

Rucksack - 35-45 litres maximum. We recommend Crux AK37, Black Diamond Speed 40, Deuter Guide series.

Ski poles - Three piece flicklock telescopic poles, either a pair or a single - make sure you have powder baskets. We recommend Black Diamond Expedition.                          

Headlamp - Lightweight LED type. We recommend Petzl Tikka.

Base layer -  Long sleeved, high neck top and pants, trunks or 3/4 length bottoms, Synthetic or Merino wool, we recommend Arc'teryx Phase & Satoro ranges.

Mid Layer - Long sleeved, high neck, Synthetic or Merino wool. We recommend Arc'teryx Arenite & Delta ranges.

Top Layer - Lightweight synthetic or down vest or jacket. We recommend Arc'teryx Atom LT Jacket and Vest or similar..

Jacket - Soft Shell. We recommend Arc'teryx Gamma series Hoody or similar.. 

Trousers - Soft Shell. We recommend Arc'teryx Gamma series or similar..

Outer Jacket - Waterproof and Breathable, Goretex or similar with appropriate hood. We recommend Arc'teryx Alpha SL or similar.

Over-trousers - Waterproof and Breathable, Goretex or similar, with full side-zips (easier to take on and off and control temperature). We recommend Arc'teryx Alpha SL or similar.

Gaiters - If your boots don’t come with a built in system, short ankle length are suitable. We recommend Black Diamond.

Socks - Wool or wool mix, loopstitch of a length that is suitable for your boots. We recommend Smartwool or Falke.

Hat - Woollen beanie.

Buff or Balaclava - Spare headwear, and neck protection.

Gloves - Two pairs. Thin (single layer) with synthetic or leather palms and thick (double layer) with synthetic or leather palms and waterproof/breathable shell/lining. We recommend Black Diamond Kingpin (thin) and Black Diamond Patrol (thick) or similar.

Sun hat - Baseball cap or full brim style for sun protection.

Sun glasses - Good quality, protection category 3 minimum, either wraparound or with side pieces.

Ski goggles - Good quality, used mainly for poor weather/strong wind protection.

Sun cream - High protection factor depending on your skin type. SPF 30 minimum recommended.

Lip salve - High protection factor. SPF 30 minimum recommended.

Small thermos flask - Lightweight stainless, 0.75 litre max.

Water bottle - Hydration systems tend to freeze at altitude, we recommend large neck Nalgene or similar, 1 litre max.

Personal items - Personal medication (please inform us on your medical declaration), Compeed blister plasters, Elastoplast adhesive tape (wide) to cover Compeed, plasters, painkillers (ibuprofen/paracetamol), small pack towel, small soap (washing facilities are limited so baby wipes are a good option for personal hygiene), toothbrush and small toothpaste, ear plugs, spare batteries.

Sleeping bag liner - Required in alpine huts for hygiene. We recommend silk, more compact and lighter than cotton.

Camera - Make sure that you have sufficient battery power and film/memory cards.

Snacks and lunch items - These can be bought locally before leaving on itineraries.  It is possible to get snacks and packed lunches from high mountain huts.

Insurance - Rescue, medical and repatriation cover.

EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) - For European citizens. Replaces old E111 in the UK for reciprocated healthcare in mainland Europe.

Passport - Check that it is valid for itinerary countries and in date.

Money - Appropriate denomination to cover personal expenses, hut costs, snacks, lunches, drinks- credit cards are not always accepted in mountain huts.

Optional Items - These are items that can be useful – it would not be expected that you would wish to bring all of these; book, iPod, mobile phone (reception and charging facilities are normally limited), playing cards, notebook and pen, map, compass, gps.

You will be required to carry all of your items with you and the lighter you can keep your rucksack, the more you will enjoy your itinerary.  Before you add that extra item that may be useful, remember that light plus light plus light equals heavy!

© Simon Abrahams 2005 - 2017