Alpine climbing is what summertime in the North Cascades are all about. Routes typically involve an approach over trail, snow and glacier to rock ridges. Often times we get to leave our overnight kit in camp, but some of the best routes require carrying up and over. Often I'll watch the weather forecast right up until the last minute before I add a rain-proof jacket and pants - if you're coming from out of town go ahead and bring gear optional items, but then leave them behind in the car if we don't need them. This gear list is meant to cover trips in the Picket Range, Boston Basin, and early summer in Snoqualmie Pass.
Group Gear Provided
- Stoves and fuel
- Climbing protection
- Comprehensive first aid kit to stabilize bleeding and fractures
- Emergency communication - cell phone, satellite phone, or beacon device
- Emergency shelter
- Internal Frame Pack - 40L to 55L. Depending on the time of year or conditions, I've been using the Blue Ice Warthog 40L (my favorite but a bit hard to get in North America) or Mammut Trion Guide 52L
- Sleeping pad - I bring a full length, inflating pad for snow camping or a more robust 1/2 length inflatable pad if I'm camping on dirt and rock. Thermarest NeoAir XLite or Thermarest ProLite XS
- 1-2 Liters of water storage, in a combination of Nalgene bottles, MSR Dromedary bag and/or thermos. More about my thoughts about water storage and treatment is here: LINK.
- Sun screen and lip balm
- Sunglasses - with good side protection and dark lenses. I actually carry two pairs, a brown lense for low light and a reflective lense for bright light. Native Bomber and Smith Guide's Choice
- Small first aid kit with a couple of band-aids, aspirin, ibuprofen, your preferred blister repair. Also, an epi-pen if you have any critical allergies!
- Pocket knife
- Lighters - I carry 3-4 on any trip, in various places in my pack
- Headlamp - Black Diamond Gizmo Headlamp
- Sleeping bag - I like down insulation because it packs so much smaller, and a tent can add 5-10°F of insulation. 32°F / 0°C minimum. Feathered Friends Vireo
- Compression stuff sack - makes that sleeping bag pack really small! Outdoor Research Ultralight Compression Sack, 5L
- Mug - instead of a mug, I bring a 500mL Nalgene bottle. It works as a mug in camp and water storage during the day.
- Spoon - no need for a fork for most meals.
- Bowl - a few years ago I discovered this bowl that unsnaps to make cleaning easy and packs flat in my pack. Fozzil Bowlz
- Food - you'll want a simple, quick breakfast to get started in the morning; 4-8 snacks to get you through the day; and a hearty dinner to fill you up at night so you can sleep warm. Food shopping, preparation, and cooking is available for an additional charge. Read my menu recommendations and a few dinner recipes here: LINK
- Toothpaste, toothbrush, any medications you normally need
- Camera, cell phone
- Trekking poles - these things will save your legs! They help with balance on the way up and across talus slopes, and minimize the impact on your knees and thighs on the way down. Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles
- Ice Axe - 55-65cm is perfect for most application. Black Diamond Raven Ultra Ice Axe
- Boot Crampons with Anti-Ball plates - steel works best, and the heel-bail/toe strap models are easiest to put on yet have a secure fit. Make sure they work with your boots! Black Diamond Contact Clip Crampon
- Climbing harness - lightweight, easy to move around in, but padded for rappels and hanging at belays. I prefer leg loops that I can unbuckle - they're easier put on when I'm already wearing crampons. Black Diamond Xenos Harness
- Belay device. Black Diamond ATC-XP Belay/Rappel Device
- 1 large belay "HMS" or "Williams" carabiner. Black Diamond VaporLock Screwgate Carabiner
- 2 smaller locking carabiners. Black Diamond Positron Screwgate Carabiner
- 1 non-locking carabiner of equal length to the smaller locking carabiners. Black Diamond Hotwire Carabiner
- 1 48" / 120cm dyneema or nylon sewn sling. Black Diamond Dynex Runner
- Climbing helmet - must be rated for climbing use. Black Diamond Half Dome
- Boots - make sure they work with your crampons! Scarpa Triolet Pro GTX
- CONDITION DEPENDENT: 24" / 60cm dyneema sewn sling. Black Diamond Dynex Runner
- CONDITION DEPENDENT: 18' / 6m of 5mm or 6mm accessory cord, called a "cordellette"
- CONDITION DEPENDENT: Ice screw 13cm. Black Diamond Express Ice Screw
Clothing - recommending clothing can be the hardest part in the Cascades. What I wear for a tour in March is dramatically different then for June. Here is a loose suggestion that may be changed depending on actual conditions.
- On head: Knit hat, ball cap, neck gaiter. Outdoor Research Storm Beanie, Swift Cap, and Echo Ubertube
- On top: Short-sleeve shirt, active insulation, soft or hard shell, belay insulation. Insulation may be dropped if the forecast is good. Outdoor Research Growler S/S Shirt, Deviator Hoody, Allout Hooded Jacket or Realm Jacket, and Uberlayer Hooded Jacket
- On hands: I usually bring two pairs of light, medium, or heavy insulated gloves. Outdoor Research Stormtracker Gloves, Alibi II Gloves, or Super Vert Gloves
- On bottom: Softshell pants and rain pants if the forecast calls for it. Outdoor Research Cirque Pants and Furio Pants
- On feet: socks - I typically budget one pair for 2-3 days, and bring a heavier pair for sleeping.
- Underwear:1 pair per week. Outdoor Research Echo Boxer Briefs. Ladies, I leave it up to your judgement on sports bras. The Missus usually budgets one per 3-5 days, depending on the activity and time of year.
- OPTIONAL / CONDITION DEPENDENT: Light hikers for camp or Down booties - I bring down booties on almost every snow trip. Feathered Friends Down Booties