Downsuits, gps watches, solar chargers, gloves, mits, liners, down sleeping bag cleaners and of course don’t forget the Pee bottle!
Peeing in a bottle is non-negotiable on long high altitude expeditions. Freezing nights when you wake from a bout of sleep apnea or from rolling over and touching the side of tent and showering yourself in ice crystals for the umpteenth time. Altitude messes with sleep and coupled with the need to drink lots of water to stay hydrated in the ultra-dry air – one of the side effects is that most nights high up you often won’t make it through without needing to go at least once. Getting out of the sleeping bag, getting dressed in something suitable for the sub-zero temperatures and high winds and getting out the tent is not an option. Turning to the side and peeing in a bottle is the obvious answer.
Like all key pieces of kit for a big expedition like this, not all bottles are equal. The standard answer is the 1 Litre wide mouth Nalgene. I used a glow in the dark green bottle on Aconcagua in 2010 and while it worked a treat, my experience was that I needed something bigger to avoid having to empty on every use. When I arrived in Alaska to climb Denali, Andy, Ian and Mike from the Alpine Institute were raving about the collapsible 2 litre Nalgene – we managed to get to an REI superstore in Anchorage but they had sold out and only had the 1 litre. I bought it anyhow and found the collapsible to be a revelation as it takes much less focus or positioning inside the sleeping bag to use. Well, I’ve just ordered the 2 litre collapsible on Amazon for Everest and I’m excited about it. Hopefully gives a small insight into the value of the just the right kit when living in harsh environments for weeks on end!
The downsuit is another vital piece of kit. The cold is one of my biggest fears so I’m not messing around with the summit kit. Being cold is often the start of other problems. The best suits from my analysis (which largely meant reading Tim Mosedale’s kit comparison) are from Rab and Mountain hardware – check me out below trying on the mountain hardware suit in Snow and Rock in Covent Garden. It was a hard choice but I went for the very lofty new Rab downsuit: yes I do look like the Michelin man!
The fun end of the kit list are the new gadgets for the adventure ahead. My new kit for Everest includes a Suunto Ambit Peak, the Solarmonkey charger and an Inreach communicator so I can text and tweet from the hill even when we are high up on the mountains. I’ve also got to decide what to bring in terms of entertainment. The kindle is guaranteed, I’ll have my iphone as well, tempted to take an Ipad with a few tv series loaded which I haven’t seen yet. Any recommendations please let me know!
Away from the kit prep I’ve been staying local the last couple of weeks. Some training hikes with a full pack on the south downs, walking up laps of the stairs of my 10 floor apartment building with a weight vest for an hour most mornings, the odd run and gym session, cycling between meetings from Clapham to the west end and the city where possible. I’m heading to New York this Sunday to attend the Lendit conference (thanks Peter!). Been doing some work for a few new non-bank lenders since I left RBS and it will be a great opportunity to touch base with industry contacts and friends alongside advancing some of these initiatives. The conference runs Monday and Tuesday and I’ve a day of meetings in NY on Wednesday before heading back.
I’ll get back to London on Thursday morning and am getting the overnight sleeper from Euston to Aviemore at 9pm that night. I’m sure I’ll sleep well after the red eye from NY and I’ll wake up in bonny Scotland for 4 days mountaineering with fellow climber and expedition member Ronnie Rehn and our guide Di Gilbert who will be putting us through our paces on our last mountain training session before heading off.
It’s a great 10 days ahead. Reach out if you’re at Lendit and want to catch up.
Bernie, Sami and myself on a nice South Downs hike last week. Yes – lots of rocks in my backpack as usual.
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