Mountaineering Equipment and gear

Nepal is every mountain climber’s paradise. There are plenty of mountain peaks to climb in Nepal ranging from low altitude trekking peaks to the highest mountain peak in the world, Mt. Everest. Peak climbing and mountaineering expeditions are a serious commitment and every climber should prepare for it in advance.

Peak climbing in Nepal is an exciting adventure that takes you to the top of the pristine snow-capped mountains. The preparations regarding climbing are not limited to checking travel itineraries and physical training. Finding the right Climbing Gear and Equipment is equally important as well.

Every climber must complete all the necessary preparations, including the purchase of essential equipment and gears in advance. The right gear will play a critical role in taking you to the summit and bringing you back safely. Faulty and insufficient gears and equipment could lead to unfortunate accidents. Occasionally, this could also mean the difference between life and death in some cases.

We have compiled a list of essential gears and equipment needed for rock climbing and mountain peak expedition. Frequent climbers and veteran mountaineers will be quite familiar with these gears. Beginners in peak climbing will find this information quite handy to kick start their expedition.

Some of the equipment listed below are common in rock climbing and indoor rock climbing. The other equipments regularly feature in climbing snowy mountain peaks and ice climbing. Climbers need to familiarize themselves with these gears before they start their ascent to the summit.

The climbing gears and equipment list are as follows. Read further for the detailed descriptions of each product.

S.N Equipment/Gear Primary Function
1. Fixed Rope Assists the climbers in harsh terrain by anchoring to the point of protection
2. Climbing Rope Assists the climbers in ascending and descending the mountain, absorbs the impact of a falling climber
3. TentProvides shelter and warmth in the harsh mountainside conditions
4. Crampons Assists the climbers to walk or climb in slippery surfaces in the mountains
5. Mountaineering/ Climbing Boots Serves as a primary mode of transport and protect from external elements
6. Ice Axe Assists the climbers in movement over the terrain covered in snow and ice
7. Sleeping Bag Provides warmth and protect from external elements for a good night’s sleep
8. Climbing Backpacks Serves as the primary storage option during the expedition
9. Gas Stove Assists in the preparation of daily meals and melt snow for drinking water
10. Gas Fuel Serves as the main source of fuel for the gas stove
11. Ascender (Jumar) Provides security while ascending with the help of a fixed rope
12. Mattress Keeps you warm and gives you a good night’s sleep
13. Figure 8/ Descender Minimizes excess heat caused by friction, also used as a belaying device
14. Carabiner Reversibly and swiftly connects components during climbing
15. Tape Slings Wrapped around the climber during rock sections or around other stuff, also used as anchors
16. Harness Provides maximum access and safety while ascending and descending
17. Helmets Safeguards from a head injury caused by falling of rocks
18. Ice Screw Helps screw the ice or snow for belaying the climber, also used as anchors
19. Belay Gloves Protects your hands from rope burns while belaying
20. Ski Goggles Protects your eyes from harsh winds, bright sunlight and dust and snow storms
21. Headlamps Helps in visibility during overcast and low light conditions
22. Trekking Poles/ Ski Poles Assists climbers with their rhythm and provides stability
23. Altimeter Watch Measures altitude gained by the climber over the sea level
24. Snow Shovel Digs up, lifts and moves snow in bulk for various purposes
25. Large Thermos Store cooked food and boiled water for future use
26. Water Bottle Assists in hydrating the climber by storing drinking water during the trek and climb
27. Cooking Pots and Equipment Helps to cook and dine daily meals during the expedition
28. Mountaineering Jackets Protects the climbers from freezing temperatures and external elements
29. Waterproof Trousers Protects from cold weather, harsh winds, and wetness

Fixed Rope

Fixed Rope

A fixed rope gets anchored to the point of protection to assist climbers in exposed mountain conditions. Multiple anchor points usage provide better safety. Generally, the fixed line gets attached at the upper and lower ends and also in the middle.

A fixed rope, as the name suggests, does not move. The fixed rope, when pulled tightly, assists the climbers in the harsh terrain. The rope gets used in a section where climbers have to pass through frequently.

The most famous example of a fixed rope use is in the Hillary step of Mt Everest expedition route. The installation of the fixed rope saves time and effort. Multiple climbers can move along the installed fixed rope one by one.

Climbing Rope

Climbing Rope

A climbing rope is a piece of crucial mountaineering equipment. There are two basic types of climbing ropes, namely static or dynamic. Static ropes, primarily designed for abseiling, have minimal stretch.

It can also act as an alternate for fixed ropes for ascenders. Dynamic ropes used for belaying ropes are quite stretchable. These climbing ropes are specially designed to absorb the impact of a falling climber.

Both the types of ropes listed above frequently feature in peak climbing. A climber needs to carry both these types of ropes an insufficient amount.

Tent

Tent

A tent is one of the most significant investments you can make in a mountaineering expedition. The environment in the mountainside is brutal and unforgiving. A good tent protects you from elements and unfavourable conditions like a massive snowstorm and excessive precipitation.

There are different sizes and shapes of tents available for a mountain expedition. The significant factors to consider while purchasing a tent are the types, strength, winter storm resistance, weight, and ease of set up.

Double walled tents provide two layers of fabric. The inner layer provides increased breathability, and the outer layer protects from wind and snow. These double walled tents are quite expensive and provide excellent protection.

The design of the pole determines the core strength of the tent. The number of intersections, thickness, and the usage of clips is a few other essential factors to consider. However, added features like extra pockets and others make the tent heavier than desired.

Crampons

Crampons

Crampons are a specially designed mountaineering equipment that helps climbers to walk or climb in the slippery surface of the high mountains. The two types of crampons available in the market are: flexible and rigid.

Flexible crampons feature in basic mountaineering as these crampons are flexible and can bend with your feet. They are ideal for walking on ice or snow. The crampons get correctly strapped on the climbing boots with the snug fit before the climbers head out on their expedition.

There are three different types of crampons attachments systems, namely: a step in straps, and hybrid crampons. Among these, hybrid crampons are the best choice. Hybrid crampons combine with lightweight mountaineering boots whereas strap on crampons gets paired with more technical boots.

Mountaineering/ Climbing Boots

Mountaineering/ Climbing Boots

Mountaineering or climbing boots are the backbone of any mountaineering expedition. They serve as the primary mode of transport and also protects you from external elements. A proper snug fit and boot is essential for a successful and pleasant experience in the mountains.

The selection of the best climbing boot also depends on the warmth it provides. On freezing temperatures, there is nothing more important than protection from frostbite. There are various climbing boots available based on the technicality of the climb.

The heel welts for crampons are a must even for less challenging climbs. Heavier boots make the climb slower and taxing. A snug fit and broken in boot provides proper protection from extreme weather conditions.

The climber can access across technical terrains smoothly. An excellent mountaineering boot is stiff, waterproof, and comfortable.

Ice Axe

Ice Axe

An ice axe is another essential mountaineering gear that assists in your movement over the terrain covered in snow and ice. Ice axe comprises of a pick and an edge which helps in gripping the axe while hammering into deep snow or ice.

The shaft works for plunging and self belaying that can be either straight or curved. The straight design is perfect for the mountain expedition allowing for better plunging. On the other hand, the curved design is ideal for use on technical ice.

Choosing the best ice axe for climbing is a tough task. The length of the axe is a crucial factor. The end of the shaft should not touch the ground when you are in a relaxed upright position. Some axe has spikes at the end of their shafts for deep cuts into the snow.

The material used to construct an ice axe is aluminium or stainless steel. Both types have their advantages; aluminium is super light, whereas the stainless steel is extra durable and effective at penetration.

Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Bag

Nothing gives you satisfaction as much as a good night’s sleep when you are on the chilly Himalayas. A sleeping bag gives you the ease of access and warmth. The sleeping bags comprises of down or synthetic materials.

Down has a slight edge over the synthetic material because of the excess warmth it provides. Hence, it is perfect for a mountaineering expedition. There are water resistant sleeping bags available in the market that protects the down from moisture.

Moisture takes away the properties of insulation. A water-resistant sleeping bag can make or break your trip. The primary factor for differentiating sleeping bags are the temperature ratings. Mountaineering expedition requires a minimum of zero degrees Fahrenheit sleeping bag.

The amount of down material is another crucial factor for deciding the best sleeping bag. As the down material used increases, the bag gets warmer. However, it also attributes to the weight of the bag. The minimum down fills for a suitable sleeping bag for the high altitude climbing adventures is 750.

Climbing Backpacks

Climbing Backpacks

A climbing backpack is your primary storage options when you set out for your expedition. The backpacks first carry the gears to the base camp and then from the base camp to the summit.

The major factors you need to consider while purchasing a climbing backpack is the comfort and weight capacity. You need to carry the bag on your back all day, so it has to be extremely comfortable. The storage options and the weight capacity of the backpack determine how much gear you can carry.

The weight or the heaviness of the backpack is another factor to consider. The backpack should have a removable frame for ease of use during a summit ascent. You should go for an all-inclusive bag specially designed for mountaineering which has a built-in rope, ice axe, and crampons holder.

A 50L backpack is perfect for your mountaineering expedition. The backpack should be fit, comfortable, and strapped on correctly for climbing purposes.

Gas Stove

Gas Stove

A gas stove is essential climbing equipment in high altitude conditions. The gas stove gets used for boiling snow for drinking water purposes and for preparing meals.

Various gas stoves in the market run on pressurized liquid fuel like kerosene or liquefied petroleum gas. Gas stoves require proper maintenance and cleaning after every use as they can get jammed easily.

These gears require proper care and cautious use. A gas stove is of great use whether you want to melt the Himalayan snow or cook a meal for the day. A good gas stove can be a lifesaver in these cruel conditions.

Gas Fuel

Gas Fuel

The gas fuel varies upon the different types of stove used. A canister, liquid petroleum or pressurized liquid gas are different types of fuel used in climbing expedition. A canister type fuel is ideal for alpine conditions and comes attached with a gas stove.

They use isobutane or propane fuel, has a high flame and comes in compact versions. However, canister fuel is not available everywhere. The gas fuel gets mainly used for boiling snow and cooking meals, A liquid fuel source like kerosene or liquid pressurized gas(LPG) works fine as well.

Ascender (Jumar)

Ascender (Jumar)

An ascender is a mechanical device that commonly gets used for ascending a rope. It provides protection when combined with a fixed rope while climbing on steep terrain in the mountains. Ascenders frequently get used in rescue missions with a rope hauling system.

They are primarily used in pairs like friction knots but are quite faster and effective compared to them. Jumar is an ascender device named after its manufacturing company Jumar Pangit. Mountaineers commonly use the verb “to jumar” or “jumaring” for the process of using the device.

Other phrases used include ascending or jogging. In the process of jumaring, the second climber uses the jumar to climb the rope instead of climbing the rock.

Mattress

Mattress

The climbers will stay in the base camp for a long duration to train and acclimatize. A right mattress serves as a piece of multi-purpose equipment. A 3 closed cell foam mats are the best for high altitude conditions.

You will not always want to sleep in a sleeping bag. A good night’s sleep courtesy a comfortable mattress and a warm and fuzzy blanket can make your day. However, an inflatable mattress is not suitable for the mountains as the risk of accidental puncture is very high.

Figure 8 / Descender

Figure 8 / Descender

Figure 8 is a device made of aluminium alloy metal. It is in the shape of an 8 with one large and one small end. The device uses a friction brake that facilitates steady and smooth descent with a rope.

Commonly used as a belaying device, figure 8 is quite useful in minimizing excess heat caused by friction. Figure 8 uses a large surface area that is in contact with a climbing rope to provide sufficient resistance.

It requires a proper technique to use it as a belaying device. Figure 8 usually gets combined with a climbing harness and locking Carabiner for adequate safety during the climber’s descent.

Carabiner

Carabiner

A Carabiner or a Karabiner is a specially designed shackle made of metal and a spring-loaded gate. The primary function of a carabiner is to reversibly and swiftly connect components.

The word Karabiner comes from the German phrase of “Karabinerhaken” meaning a spring hook. Usually made of aluminium and steel, the Carabiner gets used extensively used in rope intensive sports and activities including mountaineering.

The Carabiner used in sport is lighter and portable. The ones used in mountain climbing and other rescue missions tend to be quite heavy and well built.

The carabiners for mountain climbing should get well tested for load bearing and safety standards. You should always check carefully if the carabiners are suitable for climbing or not.

Tape Slings

Tape Slings

A tape sling or runner is climbing equipment made up of sewn or tied loop of webbing. Tape Slings gets wrapped around rock sections or attached to other stuff. They are also commonly used as anchors.

There are generally two types of slings, sewn to length or assembled as the desired length. The sewn to length tape slings come in a range of 10, 30,60,120 and 240 centimetres. They have a breaking strength of 22 kilonewtons (4900lb).

Nylon was the primary material used in tape slings. However modern day tape slings consist of ultra-high molecular weight polyethene. Both the material types have their advantages.

The nylon has more melting points and is ideal for high friction rope usage, whereas the speciality polythene is lighter and smaller.

Harness

Harness

A climbing harness is an essential climbing equipment that provides maximum access and safety. A harness will secure a climber to a rope or anchor point while descending or ascending.

The earlier harnesses were of pure nylon webbing tied around the waist.

However, the tightness of the older harnesses puts pressure on the diaphragm and looping around the legs puts pressure to sensitive areas. The modern-day harness has sophisticated designs to provide further comfort and safety.

These harnesses have extra padding and ample storage options. There different harnesses available in the market, are a sit-in harness, a chest harness, and a full body harness. As the name suggests, a chest harness provides better security than the sit-in harness.

Subsequently, a full body harness provides better security than a chest harness. The best harness for a climber may vary based on the expedition type and the climber’s comfort.

Helmets

Helmets

Specially designed mountain helmets have a sturdy design and contain the thick and hard plastic shell. The environment in the mountains is harsh and demanding. The climbing expedition continues for an extended period. Thus, a well built durable helmet is a must in these conditions.

The climbing helmets can withstand multiple impacts of stone and rock falling. These helmets typically weigh around 300-400 grams approximately. Helmets are one of the most overlooked climbing equipment and gears.

Climbers don’t wish to wear a helmet as they don’t find it necessary. However, the risk of head injury is more significant in the mountains. A slight injury to the head and the whole expeditions get cancelled. Hence, a good helmet is never a nuisance.

Ice Screw

Ice Screw

An ice screw is a tubular screw used for belaying by the climbers or used as an anchor. An ice screw works best in a steep ice surface like waterfalls, ice falls, or for crevasse rescue. Ice screw holds the climber in the event of fall and while belaying.

The ice screws come up in different lengths, ratchet mechanism, numbers of cutting teeth, surface area, among others. A rack of ice screw is possibly the most significant investment you will make in your climbing expedition.

The average length of a reliable ice screw is 10-23 cm, and the appropriate strength rating is that of 7kN.

Belay Gloves

Belay Gloves

Belay gloves comprise of either leather or synthetic substitute as their primary material. They protect your hands when belaying and specially made for classic or body belay.

They help in controlling the belay with single lead ropes.

Belay gloves protect you from rope burn through friction and prevent accidents like involuntary rope release. Belay gloves are often overlooked but are quite essential gear for any mountaineer.

Ski Goggles

Ski Goggles

Regular sports glasses work quite well in the mountains. However, a pair of ski goggles will provide extra safety and protection from external elements. There are chances of dust and snow storms in such high altitude conditions.

The winds are also quite harsh in the region. Hence, a pair of ski goggles will protect you under any circumstances. Furthermore, polarized ski goggles will reduce glare in case of excessive brightness and subsequently increase contrast when overcast.

Headlamp

Headlamp

One might think why would they need a headlight for a daytime mountaineering expedition. However, the conditions and environment of the mountainside are harsh. The clouds cover up the sky in no time and out of nowhere.

The overcast conditions make visibility difficult in the mountains. In such times, a right headlight attached to your helmet comes in handy. Besides, there is a summit expedition that begins in the middle of the night.

The ascent to some of the peaks start by midnight itself. This process helps to avoid strong afternoon winds that may derail the climbing adventure. Hence, a good headlamp will help you wander across the terrain without any discomfort.

Trekking Poles/ Ski Poles

Trekking Poles/ Ski Poles

Trekking poles or ski poles assist trekkers and climbers with their rhythm and provide stability. The Himalayas are rough in terrain, and extra security against these terrains help the climbers from falling.

It also helps to remove snow out of the way. The poles help the climbers to cross the rocky route easily and conserve their energy for further ascents. Trekking poles or ski poles are a must in any trekking or climbing expedition regardless of the difficulty level.

Altimeter Watch

Altimeter Watch

An altimeter is a device that measures the altitude attained or altitude of an object over sea level. For mountaineering expedition, an altimeter is a must as we need to check the altimeter gained every step of our way.

Modern day sports watches come with altimeters and other high tech functions. The sport watches that come with the combination of an altimeter, barometer, and compass may be the best option for you.

Snow Shovel

Snow Shovel

A snow shovel gets used to dig up, lift, and move snow in bulk. The climbers will find the surroundings covered by snow all the time. One can never know when you will need to move the snow and why. The snow shovel is of multiple uses in mountaineering.

It digs up snow for drinking water, setting up tents, emergency shelter, avalanche rescue, and others. The materials used, grip, the design, and the shape and size of the blade are all crucial factors that need consideration before purchasing a snow shovel.

Large Thermos

Large Thermos

It is not possible to boil water or cook a meal three times a day in such harsh Himalayan conditions. The boiled water and cooked foods get stored in a huge thermos.

A good vacuum insulated thermos maintains the nutrients of the meal and keeps it warm as well.

A well-built thermos flask will keep the food and drinks at the desired temperature irrespective of the external conditions. Different crucial factors that need considering while buying a thermos for mountaineering expeditions are the size, construction, type of the flask, the lid, among others.

Water Bottle

Water Bottle

The primary key to enduring and completing the climbing expedition journey is to go slow and hydrate regularly. The hydration process increases the oxygen levels in the brain and improves the overall function of your body.

Hence, a large water bottle carried at all times during the trek and ascent will aid the climbers. The main factors to consider while buying a water bottle is the size and weight.

Cooking Pots and Equipment

Cooking Pots and Equipment

The climbers will spend days, weeks, and in some cases, even months during a tough climbing expedition. A hot meal every day gives you the necessary strength and nutrients that keep you going.

The climbers usually carry a few of the utensils to cook and a set of dining cutlery. The climbers can figure out their need for appliances for the time duration. And take only the ones that are of utmost importance.

Mountaineering Jackets

Mountaineering Jackets

The climbers need protection from the cruel weather conditions at all times during the expedition. The mountaineering jackets are enormous as compared to other usual clothes.

The size is enormous because the climbers need to wear multiple layers of thermal underneath to protect from cold weather. The sleeves must be long and comfortable enough to stretch upward as ascending requires a lot of upward hand movements.

The sleeve ends must be tight, and the lower edge should reach the crotch area. The jackets must not restrict any body movements. The jacket must get reinforced with thicker materials like, which increases the durability of the jacket.

Waterproof Trousers

Waterproof Trousers

Waterproof trousers for climbing are highly functional and provide comfort fitting. A good pair of comfortable waterproof pants must be on the list of any mountaineer’s climbing gear.

The mountaineering trousers protect the legs from freezing temperatures, harsh winds, and wetness. The extra padding on the trousers also protects you from possible injuries from falling and from sharp rocks or objects.