Monday, January 9, 2012

Tricks in the Alpine - Episode 4

Traveling and living in the alpine environment can pose many challenges, and often times it is the little tips and tricks that make existing in the alpine more enjoyable. Many of these tips and tricks have been passed down from climber to climber and guide to guide, but some of them are stumbled upon randomly and seem so inconsequential that they often don't get shared.

Well - I would like to change that! In an effort to do so, I'm introducing a new series to this blog, called "Tricks in the Alpine." In each episode, we will attempt to share alpine trickery that you may or may not know already. Please feel free to comment on how you've used these tricks, expanded on them, or look forward to using them!

1. Use a hose clamp and cord to make a hanging kit for your stove

You can purchase a Jetboil hanging kit for $30, and it will come with a fancy triangle base and strong steel cable and a bunch of other stuff that is only used for hanging your Jetboil and extra weight.  Or, you could go to the hardware store and buy a $3 hose clamp and 50 cents worth of cord and make one yourself that is more simple.  The nice thing about the homemade kit, is that it never leaves your Jetboil, it's lighter weight, and the materials used to make it could be used for other repair needs if necessary.  I believe the photo is explanation enough for how to make this yourself.  

2. Bring different sized slings for different tasks

When I'm in the alpine, light is almost always right.  The skinniest Spectra slings out there (the middle white sling in the photo below) absorb the least amount of water and are the lightest, so most of my alpine-draws are made up of them.  However, sometimes I'm nervous about abrasion over a particularly sharp rock, and that's when I like to use more of a nylon-Spectra blend (the purple sling at the bottom).  These slings are a little thicker, yet are still lighter than full nylon slings and don't absorb as much water as nylon slings.  Lastly, I do like to bring one double length nylon sling for anchors.  When you're in the alpine, things are often wet or frozen, and you may be wearing gloves.  Trying to remove an overhand knot in a 10mm Spectra that has been weighted at an anchor can be next to impossible with gloves on.  Although the thicker (9/16" - 1") nylon cord is heavier, it is much, much easier to untie after being weighted.  This additional weight of one (1) nylon sling is worth the time I save at belay transitions and the warmth I maintain by being able to keep my gloves on.  While I mostly like to keep my rack as simple and uniform as possible, I do like incorporating one or two of the thicker slings for the purposes I mentioned above.  Having options can be nice sometimes.

--Andrew Yasso
Program Coordinator and Guide

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