Packing Lists: Alpine Style Car Camping

Its springtime, and with spring comes the road trips - places near and far, for a day, a night, or a week. The longer I'm gone the more elaborate my car camping gets - the shorter the simpler, especially for overnights, when I've been known simply to throw in a sleeping bag and called it good.

Somewhere along the way in our culture/community/sport/lifestyle/whatever, car camping became complicated. REI is probably complicit in this - just take a walk through and look at all the modern conveniences of the modern world re-built for the camping life.

Yes, car camping can be luxurious. But I live in a city, without off street parking, so packing means filling up a collection of plastic bins and duffels. If I'm lucky I found a parking spot on the block in front of my house and I can simply move the bins/duffels to the door, and then out the door to the car. If I'm unlucky the car is parked all the way around the block on the other side. And then I get to repeat the process when I come home, usually to the excited barking of two 50 lbs dogs who want me to wrestle while simultaneously unpacking.

Its a pain in the arse. So instead I go without - I sit on a foam pad or stand instead of a chair. I get cold deli food from my local grocery instead of cooking. My stove is primarily to boil water for hit drinks.
So here, then, is my alpine style car camping list. I use it for a night out or a weekend.


  • Car coffee mug
  • Spoon
  • Fozzil Bowl
  • MSR Reactor Stove with a handful of half-used canisters
  • Via instant coffee or French Press with ground coffee. This really depends on the trip - if its a single overnight and alpine start, I'll go with the Starbucks. If its a longer, or more leisurely, trip then I'll use the real stuff.
  • Tea/Apple Cider for dinner
  • Pastries for breakfast
  • Fruits and bars for lunch
  • Deli sandwiches for dinner
  • Chips and salsa for appetizers
  • Adult beverage(s) of choice - I prefer something stronger than beer because it doesn't need to be refrigerated.
  • Tarp or tent. I actually prefer sleeping under a tarp - but if the fly's are bad a tent is a must.
  • Air mattress and a foam pad. My concession to comfort - and the foam pad doubles as a seat. Be warned: an air mattress and dogs do not mix well together, no matter how well behaved or intentioned the dogs are. A crash pad can be substituted if its coming along already.
  • Sleeping bag - duh! I prefer a 20 degree synthetic that I got years ago. I don't have to worry about holes, or stains, or spilled coffee.
So my Kitchen stuff (minus the coffee mug that already lives in my car), gets thrown in a bin. My tent, unstuffed sleeping bag (its going in a duffel, why bother?), pads and extra clothes get thrown in a duffel. My climbing or ski gear get thrown in a separate pack, and that's it. A weekend in three containers, I can be packed up in less than 30 minutes and a quick trip to the grocery.

One day, I'll reclaim my road trip mini-van and eliminate a lot of the packing list. Who wouldn't like a car pre-packed with the kitchen and bedroom already set up? Meanwhile, I know it can be fun to bring along the expedition dome tent, camp chairs, the big coleman stove, and an entire cooler of food.

But more often, I like this method instead:  grab your s#!^ and get going.

photo from the Model T Ford Forum, www.mtfca.com


Where the Hell Have I Been?

OK, confession time: I'm tired of blogging.

I mean, I still write. But not here - not for this. And while I want to post up inspirational trip reports and get folks excited to come out into the mountains with me, I'm tired of feeling constantly obligated to put out "content", and I don't want to just put up filler to say "hey, look!"

So I'm working with an incredible web design consultant, and long-time friend, to launch the 3.0 website. If you're relatively new, this website started as a blog about 6 years ago, called Climb.Ski.Sleep.Repeat. (v 1.0). Then I got professional-y and renamed it Chris Simmons Guiding (v 2.0), but I've kept the original title as a tag line, and it will be showing up on the new site too.

Facebook, like it or not, has become the go-to forum for quick updates and easy following - something I worked to do through my blog but lacked the convenience of easy posting and easy networking.

What I am excited about is a host of new trips I'll be offering in the next 18 months: Ski traverses in Europe, California, Canada and here at home; incredible trips to Mexico, Chile, Norway, Sweden, China and Japan. My personal goal is to travel abroad 4-6 times a year, on trips of 2-3 weeks long - I'd by stoked to have you join me.

So stand by. Wait. A little more patience. 3.0 is coming, and I'll be "journaling" instead of "blogging" - mostly about the great trips, the occasional notable great-for-a-different-reason-trip, and some odds and ends I've been thinking about (packing lists? product design work?). But more important - to me at least - it will showcase what I'm most passionate about: to Climb.Ski.Sleep.Repeat. with the occasional trail run and gym session thrown in.

See you soon.


Red Rocks and Road Trips

Red Rocks, Nevada, is some of the best beginner and moderate multi-pitch climbing in the United States. Now combine that with cheap and easy airfare to Las Vegas, a multitude of lodging options from hotels to camping, and you have a true climbing destination.
Interested in checking it out for yourself? I've got the weekend of 10-13 October available, and we can start even sooner than that if you'd like a longer trip.  $360/day for 1:1, or $215/per person/day for two guests. Offer ends 15 September!

Other Road Trips:
Washington Pass, North Cascades. Possibly my favorite local destination, Washington Pass and Mazama has an incredible concentration of easy-to-access moderate alpine rock climbs.  Lodging options cover the whole spectrum. Awesome destination for a weekend from Seattle.

City of Rocks, Idaho.  An insane number of single-pitch routes under 5.10, this destination lives up to its name.  Camping amongst the towers and trees.  Better for a long (4 days) weekend to a week.
Smith Rock, Oregon.  The birthplace of American sport climbing, Smith also has some great trad climbing in the lower gorge and some classic multi-pitch rock routes.  Lodging can vary from hotels just 30 minutes south in Bend to the campground right in the park.  If you can get out of work early on Friday, this makes for a great weekend.

Boulder, Colorado. Special Offer, 23 October - 1 November!!
 I'll already be in Boulder, Colorado, for the AMGA Annual Meeting.  If you're in the Denver area and interested in experiencing the iconic Flatirons, contact me!