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Monday
Oct262015

Mountaineering and Alpinism is Expensive

There's a prohibitive cost barrier to doing a lot of the coolest stuff you can outdoors.

 

I think I've been 'realizing my life purpose' which is to maintain relative obscurity while (hopefully, if I'm lucky) attaining enlightment through conquering the outdoors. The challenges nature puts in front of us. I've proven to myself I can complete just about anything I put my mind to with the races I've been doing, and especially last year's Breckenridge Beast. It's in my nature to be cautious, and I'm learning patience and persistence, and I'm in no rush to become the best of anything, so I think this can be something to do for the rest of my life. There is no completing it, there is no end, no way to measure your accomplishments. No goal, aside from - live life, use my body the way it is meant to be used, recognize my place in nature.

 

So here I am, in Colorado, and as of yesterday there is now snow on the peaks. There was a big enough storm in the mountains in recent weeks that I-70 at Eisenhower tunnel was closed for a few hours. Weather is sitll mixed in Denver, and winter may not techncially arrive until December 21, but from where I am winter is here. And I want to get into winter activities.

 

Snowshoeing, mountaineering, alpining, ice climbing, backcountry skiing, and even sledding all require some gear that I just don't have. Not everything, but enough things that it makes me put my teeth together and inhale sharply when I make a list of things I'd need to buy.

  • Snowpants
  • Gloves
  • Winter boots
  • crampons
  • ice tool/axe
  • synthetic puffy with hood
  • base layer (top and bottom)

 

I have some waterproof pants (not insulated, not designed to stand up to alpining), I have some very mediocre gloves (that were cold and didn't repel water the last time I wore them), I just got some new hiking boots (that are not insulated, and will require additional waterproofing for snowy conditions), I have microspikes (which will only work in some situations, not those for which crampons are designed), I own trekking poles (which can not double as an ice tool), I have a puffy (which is down and no hood, and already partially failed me on Mt. Evans), and I have a base layer (which is not that thick and I specifically got it for spring/summer/fall conditions), and while all these things might work this early in the season still, as it gets colder and snowier I'm going to need different gear.

 

Not having an unlimited budget for these sorts of things means there's a debate about what to get and when, especially for such a long list. For any piece of gear you can go out and find something that is cheap, it will work, but it probably won't last. Or you can get that expensive piece of gear that's going to really cost you, but it will likely last you a long time. In my experience (as an adult) it's better to just get the more expensive gear, take good care of it, and it will fit/feel/work great, and last a long time. Earlier this year after extensive research, it sitting in my Amazon cart for months, a few too many walks to work in the rain where my older eVent jacket wasn't holding up as well, and one very soggy camping trip I finally bit the bullet and bought the (very expensive) Arc'Teryx Alpha FL jacket, and so far I have not regretted it one bit.

Even if I got a bunch of mid-tier stuff, this is still easily 1000+ in gear that I'd need to obtain to make these trips successful and safe, so I really hope things go well this Christmas.

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