Climbing

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Pick up a couple of Petzl Attache 3D lockers, which are great utility ‘biners for anchors and slings and can also be used for attaching your belay device to your harness. petzl.com…

BEAL‘s 8.1mm, 60-meter ICE LINE makes life a lot easier.

You can cram all your climbing gear in Mountain Hardwear’s Trad pack. The alloy-reinforced framesheet gives plenty of support for a 30-some-pound load, and the full-length daisy chain makes lashing on extra gear easy. mountainhardwear.com…

Necessary addition to your starter kit: a chalk bag. Keeping your hands dry is essential for better grip. This bag offers easy access—and is available in feminine prints. metoliusclimbing.com…

Get bang for your buck. The Big Air XP package comes with a beginner-friendly belay device (for catching your partner while she lead-climbs) and a locking carabiner (so you can secure your harness’s belay loop to the device, not shown). bdel.com…

When you start gearing up to cling to walls of ice in the dead of winter, it’s no time to skimp, and PETZL‘s versatile and redesigned QUARK ICE TOOLS are a good place to start.

This moisture-wicking, skin-tight nylon-Lycra racerback tank has four-way stretch so it moves with you. Plus, because it’s extra-long, it never crept above testers’ hips. No built-in support means you can strip down to your sports bra on warmer days. lululemon.com…

MAMMUT‘s super-comfortable TOGIR SLIDE HARNESS has loops designed specifically for ice screws and tools. A lightweight dry rope (i.e., one that’s treated and won’t suck up water)…

If you aren’t flailing on 5.10’s anymore, you’re probably ready to start lead-climbing. It’s time to invest in quickdraws (like Black Diamond FireWires, $17.50), a daisy chain, and a high-quality rope. BlueWater’s 10.2-millimeter, 60-meter Eliminator is long enough for some multipitch climbs. Bonus: A percentage of the proceeds…

In a sport where rock can fall like hail, every gear list should start with a helmet. The comfy Wild Country Rock Lite helmet is available with an optional polycarbonate covering ($15) that can be affixed for extra rockfall and weather protection. wildcountry.co.uk…

While you can continue to use your daypack, eventually you’ll want to upgrade to something climbing-specific, like this 2,250-cubic-inch hauler, built roomy enough for a rope, a sling full of quickdraws, and extra layers. Why else do we love it? Ski loops mean it can double as a winter…

Eventually, you’ll probably own multiple pairs of shoes for different types of rock, but at first you want something with a flat last and ample support that’s agile in a variety of conditions, like SCARPA’s Thunder shoes. scarpa.com…

Short shorts are never a good thing when you’re above your belayer. These knee-length capris will give you the right coverage without hindering your ability to move. Plus, the stretchy nylon fabric can stand up to scraping the wall. lolewomen.com…

Black Diamond’s Aspect harness has intelligently designed seams that don’t dig or chafe, while the three speed buckles provide maximum safety and flexibility in a light, affordable package. bdel.com…

Give me your best mountaineering kit on a teacher's salary! I'm looking to tackle the serious domestic peaks. –Jay (Alexandria, VA)

What do you bring up the northwest face of Yosemite's Half Dome in early October? Answer: not much. It’s a 1.5-mile approach gaining 3000-feet in elevation with multiple class 4-5 scrambles, followed by a 2000-foot wall of sheer granite. My climbing partner cut his toothbrush in half to shed weight.

Since being jettisoned from Patagonia's empire twenty years ago, Salt Lake City—based Black Diamond Equipment has prided itself on breaking all the rules. They eschew advertising, take enormous risks, and employ a team of superfit athletes who do their only "market research" skiing and climbing in the Wasatch backcountry. And it's working.

I will be spending three months at Everest Base Cp. What jacket would you recommend? I a 5'1" female, and it seems all the jackets targeted for temps at 8,000 meters are only made for men. Torrey Kailua, HI

Before she on-sighted the 2,000-foot Northwest Face of Half Dome, in October, the 28-year-old sylph from Kentucky was already hailed as one of the world’s best sport climbers winning both the X Games and the World Cup earlier this decade. On-sighting free-climbing on her first try, without…

You want: the best gear for summer cragging. You need: this setup.

Are there climbing pants out there that are rugged and stretchy, and that actually make wearing the harness more comfortable? I’d appreciate any suggestions to make a long day of climbing more enjoyable. Tony Montreal, Quebec

I'm getting back into mountaineering and I want to know whether I should be using steel or aluminum crampons? I've used steel in the past, but looking at the newer ultralight crampons, I'm wondering if they're actually tough enough to take all the abuse I deal out. So, which is it: steel or aluminum? Bob Salisbury, North Carolina

I've been out of ice climbing for a few years now and wanted to know your thoughts on the lightest, warmest mixed- and ice-climbing boot. I used to have trouble with keeping my heel down in the boot. Have today's boots improved on this? Ad Lansing, Michigan

I planning a climbing trip to the Yosemite Valley in a few weeks, and I was wondering if you have any recommendations for a hydration pack I could use while climbing. I would use it to also carry a small headlp, rainjacket, and a few energy bars. I looking for something low profile that will not get in my way while climbing. Anything fit the bill? Alan Locust, New Jersey

I starting to gear-up in preparation for climbs of Mount Baker and Mount Rainier this summer. I have an older Princeton Tec headlp that I use for backpacking, but can you recommend a good replacement? Are any of the newer LED headlps good enough to use when climbing? Kleet Renton, Washington

I'm planning a mountaineering trip to Bolivia in June. I have a pair of Koflach Degre boots, which have been fine on Mount Hood and when winter climbing in New Hampshire. Will these be OK for climbing Bolivia's 19,000-foot peaks? Do I need Alveolite liners? Brian Augusta, Maine

Most highly exalted Gearness, I humbly bow and await your faultless advice. In February of 2002 I will be attempting Mount Whitney via the Mountaineers route. My group will be using snowshoes and 12-point step-in crampons. My old boots just won't cut it anymore, and I in dire need of replacements. I plagued with the age-old question of plastic versus leather. I will need plastic mountaineering boots within the next two years, but would they be overkill on Mount Whitney in February and Mount Rainier in September of 2002? I've looked at every brand and model available, and can't sift through them all. Your expertise on this matter would be a lifesaver! I have size 13 feet and weigh 170 pounds. Benjamin Kennedy Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

I'm planning a summit attempt on Mount Rainier this August and a possible bid for Denali in May 2004, so in the process of upgrading my gear, particularly boots and sleeping bag. My budget may not allow for separate gear for each climb. I've been looking at Millet's Everest Boot and the North Face Inferno bag as my options, but prices are steep! Do you have any other suggestions, and is this gear suitable, or even overkill, for both climbs? Michael Stoneh, Massachusetts

I'm looking for a boot that is automatic crampon compatible. Also, I'd like it to be a very well rounded boot—I need it to be able to go on extended backpacking trips and even some vertical ice climbing. What is my best choice? Dan Charlton, Massachusetts

As a bowman on a racing sailboat crew, I called upon to climb various things. The usual practice is to wear a climbing harness rather than use a bosun's chair as it saves time on the racecourse. My problem is that salt water is corrosive, and our usual sailing area off the south coast of the U.K. is particularly so. I'm not too comfortable going up the mast wearing a harness where the buckles are showing signs of corrosion. Is there a harness with buckles made of stainless steel? Or what other solution could you suggest? Edward London, England

I have recently begun rock climbing and have decided it is time to purchase climbing shoes (I sure that this isn't another phase for me like decorative soap making). I have been told and read that when purchasing climbing shoes to buy them one and a half sizes smaller than your regular shoe size. Will they really stretch one and a half sizes lengthwise to fit my foot, or will I just be inflicting some strange foot torture on myself? Thanks! Matthew Cpion New York, New York

What do you recommend for mountaineering in places such as Mount Rainier and Denali as far as headlps and bibs or pants? Would an LED light be better than a regular headlp? I know LED lights last much longer, but what about lighting up the trails? Also, are there any three-layer bibs that you would recommend that are warm, durable, and inexpensive? I like the description of the Marmot Alpinist but it's quite expensive. Are there any less expensive options? Charleton Churchill Pine Grove, California

A friend and I are planning an attempt to summit Mount Shasta this summer. Neither of us owns an ice ax or crampons and we plan to rent those items when we get to the area. But recently I've been looking at Kahtoolas, which are kind of "crampons light." They're aluminum with no front points and touted as compatible with everything from hiking boots to running shoes. Looks like they might be adequate for a trek up Mount Shasta. Also, I might get some use out of these in future winter hikes. But they are north of 100 bucks (in the same territory as some entry-level crampons). Do you have any experience/insights on Kahtoolas? Mitch Thompson Shaker Heights, Ohio