One of the slightly frustrating things about doing the jaunts that I am doing is just how much kit you need for each one. The even more frustrating thing is that the gear almost never overlaps, and so you end up having to buy new stuff almost each and every time. Take boots for example – I have a very good pair of Meindl Burma Pro which I took to Kilimanjaro, and they are totally outstanding. When I go to Switzerland in two weeks time however they will be redundant, as I need to have “B2” (i.e ones which take a particular type of crampon) boots. When I go to Island Peak later in the year I then need “B3” boots, and so will have to go shopping once more. This all adds up when B2 and B3 boots are upwards of £300 a pair.
I realised today that as I have effectively only one weekend to go before my Swiss trip that I had better get my shopping list taken care of. I have just had a busy week where I was in Dallas on business, and then tried to get prepared yesterday for next weekend’s cycling ‘sportive’ – a 129 mile timed ride through Hampshire and Wiltshire called the ‘Magnificat’, with about 2,000 people taking part I believe. I therefore cycled about 60 miles or so to get the legs back in trim.
So today armed with the Jagged Globe “things you must take with you” list (I ignored the “nice to have’s”) I went off to various outdoor places and emptied my wallet in most of them. I had to get ‘mountaineering trousers, Schoeller or equivalent”, a ‘prussik rope’, some glacier glasses, some short gaiters, a crampon bag, climbing gloves, and all manner of other things that I have just never had need nor use of before. With some of the more technical stuff (ice axe, helmet, crampons, long rope, belay equipment) I get to hire those whilst out there, otherwise it would have been an even more horribly expensive day.
Each of these things took time to buy. When you are as naiive as I am, and you walk into a shop asking for prussik, you had better hope that the person you are asking knows what they are doing, as I couldn’t have explained or clarified for them if they had asked me one single question further! As it turns out I still got mightily confused however – my equipment list for example went on to (thankfully) elaborate “3m of 6mm soft cord” next to the word “prussik”, and so I thought I would be ok. The guy who helped me however said “are you sure? That’s way too long for prussik – don’t you want two lengths of 1.5m?” How the heck was I supposed to know?!! I came away with one length of 3m, and he helpfully showed me how to tie a prussik knot. I suppose I can chop this length in two if I need to shorten it right?
When I finally got home I laid all of my stuff out, and am just wondering how on earth I am going to be able to even lug all of this stuff over to Switzerland with me. What with two rucksacks, approach shoes, warm jackets, fleeces, harnesses and all of this lot, I have no idea whether there will be room for my dancing shoes on this trip at all! Maybe the world will be a better place if I leave them at home anyway, and I am sure that the mountain huts in which we will stay will just be places for sleeping anyway, and maybe even the odd beer or two at the end of a long hard days climbing. Oh heck, now I will have to find some room for that somehow:)