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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Equipment Checklist - Hands and Head

I finally arrived at the important bits of the body that keep me alive - me hands and head.  

The Head

The head is fairly self-explanatory in terms of its importance.  Freeze your head, freeze your body.  Thus, I have a fair bit of head and neck protection to not only protect my head from injury but also keep the heat in my body.  Here are my head items:
From the top left and rotating clockwise, I have my tuque (beanie, watch cap, or whatever you wish to call it) that sits atop me head pretty much all day and night.  I love this hat.  It doesn't do much for my ears but it sure keeps the heat from escaping through my noggin'.  Next, I have my climbing helmet (with attached headlamp).  You all know the purpose of a helmet so I will move on.  The attached light comes off but I figured I would strap it on in the picture to show you that the helmet does accommodate a head light.  You'll see next to my helmet is another light just in case the first one dies.  A head lamp is essential for night climbing and a mountaineer caught out without one is often a former mountaineer; thus, I bring two.  These LED lights are light and relatively tough.  Better safe than sorry.  Just below my helmet are my goggles.  These are really comfortable when it is cold but they are next to useless when it is warm and the climb is challenging.  They fog up and drive me nuts.  I prefer my sunglasses (below and to the right of the goggles) for most conditions.  Those glasses have seen me through thick and thin.  What makes them really functional on the glacier is the Beko.  If you have not seen the Beko, I strongly encourage you to check 'em out.  This contraption fits on the sunglasses and protects your nose.  I prefer the Beko to constantly lathering on sunscreen (or sun block - if you prefer that wording) because this thing just works and I don't need to fuss with getting white stuff all over my climbing gear.  It is one thing to get a little zinc oxide on your gear if you are out for a few days but when you are out for weeks, the white mess gets irritating.  So, check out the Beko in action:

Next, to the far right is my extreme weather face mask.  I only resort to this thing when the winds are extreme (greater than 40 mph) and I need to get someplace.  Usually, this thing stays in my bag for all but the craziest conditions.  To the left of the heavy-duty face mask is my balaclava.  I use this when I need to keep my ears, head, heck, and face protected.  In other words, rarely do I need it but when I do, it is unbeatable for true warmth.  My every-day preference is the Buff.  I own two types, the thin, standard one (bottom) and the thicker, insulated one (bottom left).  I like the insulated one because of the furry inside but it often keeps me too warm; the light buff is just right.  Together, all these items allow my body to retain heat and protect me from falling objects (helmet), the sun, and the wind.  

The Hands

My hand covers
We humans have an unmistakable advantage over other species in that we have hands with opposable thumbs.  I prefer to keep that advantage by protecting my hands as much as possible.  In fact, without hands and functioning digits, I might find it hard to write this blog.  Hand protection comes in multiple forms.  Above is a picture of my assorted items I find useful (and intend to pack for this trip).  Top left sits my summit mitts (OR Alti mitts).  Those puppies are warm - in fact too warm for my hands under most conditions.  I prefer my fleece gloves (top right) for most chilly and dry conditions.  My hands - like my feet - run warm.  Below my fleece gloves are my workhorse gloves.  These are useful in temperatures between -20 and 10 degrees F; colder than -20 and my finger tips get cold and warmer than 10 degrees and my hands are sopping wet from sweat.  My real favorites are split at the bottom.  These MH gloves - not sure the name - are my trusted companions.   I ski with these and wear them to about 10 degrees.  They breath, keep my hands dry, and allow me full dexterity - or what little I usually maintain.  Finally, the mitts below my summit mitts are just backups.  I actually prefer these to my OR ones for almost all conditions - save for the extreme cold.  Warm hands might sound comfortable but they are not.  When my hands get too warm, they sweat and the sweat turns to ice.  I prefer a slight chill to ice-encrusted hands any day.

That is all for this morning.  Stay tuned for my last preparation email regarding my exercise, mood, and sleep.  Not much to report but enough to finalize my preparation history.  See you soon....