Please use the following list as a guide. If you’re unsure about anything just ask.
Classic mountaineering style i.e. gently curved pick and straight shaft, at least 55cm long, up to 80cm. Please remove any wrist loops, as these are not necessary in Alpine mountaineering and are a hindrance to swapping hands when zigzagging uphill. Springer leashes, which attach to your harness are a very good idea to avoid dropping your axe.
These must be high-end insulated leather type. It is highly recommended that the sole should be the fully stiffened “B3” variety, able to support crampon use for many hours at a time. A very stiff B2 classified boots can be used, but must be matched with the correct crampon and will not be warm enough for some people. If you have any uncertainty over these please contact me.
These can be rented
If you buy new before the course, please wear your boots as much as possible both inside to make sure they fit properly, then outside on training walks.
Suitable models: Leather: La Sportiva Nepal Extreme or Evo (the choice of most of our guides), Scarpa Jorasses, Scarpa Mont Blanc; Scarpa Freney; plastic: La Sportiva Spantik.
For general mountaineering any standard steel mountaineering crampon with anti snow plates (essential) is fine. C2 or C3 should work fine. For B2 boots crampons must be fitted specifically, because they will rarely have a lip for a metal front bail attachment.
If in doubt rent these from me.
Suitable models: Black Diamond Serac, Grivel G12, Simond Makulu 2 mixte, all with any fixing system. Anti snow balling plates essential.
Any standard mountaineering helmet is suitable. Eg. Black Diamond Half Dome, Grivel Salamander.
Any mountaineering / climbing harness in good condition will do. Adjustable leg loops, which allow the harness to be put on over boots and crampons are a definite advantage. It’s worth noting that the lightest models are specific to alpine mountaineering and not suitable for rock climbing.
Other pieces you may need with your harness include: 2 screwgate carabiners and 1 120cm sling if you have them.
35 - 55 litres, 50 litres ideal. Simple designs are best without excess side pockets. Plastic liners can be a good idea to keep things dry, although plastic bags can work fine. Make sure you buy the right size for your back, as this makes a big difference. Think light and simple, with axe holding ability (although most bags have this)
Waterproof Jacket + Trousers
In the Alpine environment it’s often dry and sunny or snowing. Having said that rain does happen and the weather can get wild. You need either: a good waterproof jacket, with a hood, which will fit over your helmet; or a good soft shell jacket with a helmet compatible hood and a lightweight, cheap macpac. Same for trousers, although full length zips to put them on over boots is great.
You need to bring one thick warm pair and one thin pair. The thick pair can be anything from basic padded ski gloves for mountaineering; the thin pair I would recommend something similar to work-mans gloves, being dextrous and tough. There is now a large range of yellow gloves available in this style. Mittens can be good if your hands get cold easily, but should be an extra to more dextrous gloves.
This is all about a flexible layering system: Think light coloured, long sleeved base layers; fleece style mid layer and / or soft shell jacket; Soft-shell trousers work best, with long johns in case it’s really cold.
Duvet Jacket A warm jacket, which can go over everything else. Synthetic or down.
Sun Hat and Warm Hat
Socks Thin + medium weight walking socks work well. Thick mountain socks are fine too.
Gaiters Keep the snow out and the laces away.
Buff / Balaclava
Sunglasses Cat 4 with good coverage
Goggles For high 4000m peaks
Headtorch +spare batteries. Eg, Petzl Tikka or Zipka, Black Diamond Wiz or any of many similar models.
Water bottle / Flask
Choose at least 1 litre capacity. Not Camelback style bladder systems, although a 0.5l bottle you can keep in a pocket / clipped to your harness is useful. Thermos should be small and robust, good on higher summits.
Highly recommended, to save the knees and increase stability. Eg. any using the Flick-Lock sytem, e.g. Black Diamond or Gipron.
Camera The more convenient it can be the better.
Suncream & Lip balm Factor 50 ideally
First Aid / Blister packs Painkillers, personal meds, zinc oxide tape
Sleeping bag liner + Ear Plugs
MP3 Player / Kindle for mountain huts
This is essential and the policy must cover mountaineering. BMC is recommended. Austrian Alpine Club is acceptable and can provide cheap annual insurance.