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Chockstone Forum - General Discussion

General Climbing Discussion

Topic Date User
Gear for New Zealand Alpine climbing 13-Jun-2007 At 7:52:45 PM stuart h
As Citationx observed, the answer is, as always, it depends. It would be nice to have different kit for for various types of climbing, but obviously that gets a bit expensive and stretches your luggage allowance. It is also hard if you don't know what sort of climbing you are going to like. On the other hand, even the scruffiest gear is much better than the antiquated junk with which lots of really hard routes were established. If you get the chance to borrow some gear for the first season that saves you committing until you know whether you like snow walking and non-technical peaks or are keen to try steeper routes and can buy appropriately, otherwise look for general purpose gear. Alpine climbing is about making the best out of trade-offs most of the time in any case.

I'm not really familiar with the K3 boots - make sure they are basically rigid or consider replacing them; flexing boots are exhausting and traumatic to climb in.

Semi-rigid crampons, with horizontal front points and downward points facing both forwards and sideways, like the Charlet Moser S12, CM BlackIce (and the similar but asymetric and probably cheaper Simond Makalu models) are very popular in NZ, offering a good compromise between lightness, flatfooting performance and a solid climbng platform on steep ground.

A pair of tools with replacable picks gives you lots of options. For non-technical mountaineering I have a reverse curve pick on my hammer and a classic curve on my axe, which I change to a reverse curve pick for steeper routes. 50cm is a pretty standard length for technical climbing and is usually long enough for general use. If you are going to climb mostly low angle routes, you will probably want a slightly longer axe (and shorter hammer if you can find one), but I don't recommend anything longer than 60cm - if the ground is flat you won't fall over so shouldn't need an axe for self belay. Longer tools make stronger anchors in snow but generally don't climb as well. Longer tools give you more leverage for self-arresting (which is something you should avoid having to do), but are more likely to cause the ferrule (sp?) to catch in the snow.

You want axes that are easy to maintain in the field and, for general climbing, where you might hammer them in to the odd anchor, will withstand a lot of abuse. Black Diamond tools are very good in these respects, whereas CM are not. Grivel gear is excellent but I don't see much of in Australia or NZ.

If you are buying something these days and are confident that you want to climb, I would be inclined to suggest a pair of mederately technical, slightly cruved tools like the BD Rage (whatever the current models are called) or Simond Naja (DMM make some good similar things). These will do just about anything and give you plenty of scope to move into harder climbing.

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