Sunday, April 4, 2010

OMG! The gear just keeps going!

Heart-stoppingly expensive mountaineering boots: check. Unnecessarily overbuilt lightweight stainless crampons: check. Extraordinarily pessimistic -20 degree down sleeping bag: check. Dangerously pointy down-gear-seeking ice axe: check….

Today it was puffy pants. Yesterday, it was some heavy duty training/hiking boots. Day before that, it was a box full of expedition mittens, a climbing harness, my helmet, some compression dry sacks, expedition GoreTex gaiters, and some other miscellaneous (but equally important) climbing gak. The day before that, it was mountaineering socks.

Tomorrow brings merino wool underwear, lightweight gloves (for days when the midweight gloves I already have are just too much), a warm, puffy midweight insulator jacket with hood... And that’s before we even get to all the piles of First Ascent clothes! Baselayers, insulating layers of various weights, softshells, hardshells, and allllll the accessories and pointy bits I bought before that. And more is on the way. Wow.

Seems like a never-ending procession of stuff that just keeps flowing in. Man, it’s like Christmas around here every single day. I love it! To put it like one of my fellow climbers from our upcoming Alaska trip: “I’m excited to learn all the new climbing techniques, but one lesson I’ve already learned: Climbing is expensive!”

Amen, brother. Though in fairness, another climber from our group put it another way when he wrote: “At least every year after this, you buy less and less gear, cuz now you have most of what you need.” True also. So, am I a cup-half-empty person or a cup-half-full person? Unequivocally the latter.

Maybe it sounds like I’m complaining. I’m not. The real truth (as anyone who knows me will attest) is that I find half the fun of getting good at something IN the gear itself, and in getting to know every detail about it you need to make your life better (or in the case of mountaineering, safer). That’s true of my music gear, my sound reinforcement gear, my automotive gear, my ski, biking, hiking, home theater and everything else gear… and although climbing is much cheaper on an item by item basis than, say, amplifiers to power a 20 kilowatt sound system, HOO BOY is there a lot of it, and it sure adds up. :-)

Of course, there’s a much easier and quicker way to say all this: Bryan is a gear whore.

So what’s left?

Well, let’s see: photochromic goggles and glacier glasses capable of Category 4 protection (ouch!), a pair of very insulated sleeping pads for crashing out on the ice every night, more socks, footbeds for inside said heartsoppingly expensive boots, lightweight waterproof trail running shoes, (and in the middle of it all, oops, boots finally arrived... too small! Send ‘em back and get the right ones!), ropes, carabiners, an ascender, a belay device, avalanche transceivers so I can be found in case I’m swept off the mountain by a mammoth white thundering snowslide… it’s endless.
But the really comical bottom line of it all is this: as crazy as it sounds for me and my fellow climbers to VOLUNTARILY spend (waste...?) tons of money to pay someone to take us someplace so harsh and inhospitable that it might kill you--to teach you to do things that can also kill you--and THEN go out and buy the piles and piles and piles of sinle-purpose gear necessary to prevent being killed in such a place, if possible...

Even in the face of all that, I simply cannot WAIT to put it all (and myself) to the test

1 comment: