Published on 11/09/2020
Most alpine climbs in the North Cascades require a long approach, snow and glacier travel, followed by simul-climbing or soloing long stretches of easy rock, some technical rock climbing to get to the summit of the objective, and then a long descent down. A typical day is ~22-30km and 2000-3000 meters of vertical elevation gain. That means you need a lot of gear. Rock gear, glacier travel gear, ice gear… it starts adding up, and honestly, I’d rather bring an extra chocolate bar than heavy or unnecessary gear.
I personally choose to do a lot of these climbs car-to-car instead of camping out for several days. This means I am obsessed with keeping the weight of my gear low and making sure my kit is dialed in so I’m only bringing items that are necessary, multi-functional and add to my margin of safety.
Below is my gear kit that I bring with me on most alpine climbs in the area. It’s light, efficient and I have everything I need depending on what I’ll encounter, from glacier travel to chossy rock ridges and steep crack climbs. I interchange some pieces depending on the objective, but this is my go-to:
A) Trail Three Poles: My favorite, lightweight and easily-stowable poles. I love these so much I even wrote up a gear review about them
B) Radical Light 21 Pack: Lightweight with full functionality and easy to stow an ice axe and everything I need. Easily packs all of my gear and any extras
C)Stealth Helmet: Light and functional
D)Mistral Harness: Super lightweight and great for glacier travel and moving fast where you’re simul-climbing most of the climbs
E) Chalk Bag: Everything you need in a chalk bag. Has a zipper pocket where I often stow a hand warmer if it gets super cold
F)Ghost Evo Ice Axe w/ Trigger: Super lightweight and functional. Swings well with the trigger and is all you need for lower angle ice up to WI3 on approaches.
G)Air Tech Light Crampons: So light your feet feel like there’s barely anything on them! Very secure.
J)Plume Nut K3N locking carabiners: My absolute favorite carabiners of all time. So incredibly light yet strong. I always carry a couple extras of these.
Beal Gully 70m Rope 7.3mm
Unparallel Up Rise Zero LV Climbing shoes
Katadyn Befree Water Filtration System 1.0L
TruWild Hydrate Amino Acids & Electrolytes
Totems & Camalots
Garmin Inreach Mini
Sunglasses, sunscreen, tape, pain medication
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
The Radical Light 21 pack fits everything (and then some). It’s comfortable on the shoulders even though it packs down into nothing. It climbs well, has lots of strategic pockets, an ice axe attachment system and generally is very well designed with an alpine/ice climber’s needs in mind.
Natalie Afonina is a mountaineer and adventurer based in Seattle, WA. Originally from Russia, she has a penchant for longer aesthetic ice routes, singing Beyonce playlists and sharing behind-the-scenes stories to inspire all the “weekend warriors” out there. When he's not out exploring or organizing a project, he works in the robotics industry developing autonomous systems and other frontier technologies.
Her favorite Grivel products are The Dark Machines, G20 Plus crampons and Plume Nut K3N carabiners. Get in touch with her on Instagram or www.natexploring.com