What's in Colin Haley's Pack?
Alpinist Colin Haley joined the Petzl Team in 2014, but he's been questing in the mountains since he was 11 years old. Since then, he's made many notable first ascents in the Cascades, Alaska, British Columbia, and Patagonia. These days, he splits his time between Seattle, Washington, and El Chalten, Patagonia. In the following post, he details the contents of his pack for a specific objective: Exocet, on Aguja Standhardt.
October 22 2014
I’ve always been a major gear nerd, but I hate carrying heavy backpacks, so what goes in my pack is always carefully considered. Different sorts of climbing objectives require totally different kit, so for a nice example I’m sharing the contents of what would go in my pack for a climb of Exocet.
Exocet is the easiest route up Aguja Standhardt, the easiest summit of the three-and-a-half “Torres” in southern Patagonia’s Chalten Massif. Don’t be fooled however by a sentence which contains the word “easiest” twice—Exocet is far from a beginner’s route, with some tricky mixed climbing, a fantastic four-pitch chimney of vertical ice climbing, and finally a rime mushroom guarding the summit. It’s well-deserving of its “classic” status, and I’ve climbed it three times because it’s so good. Here’s a list of the gear I would bring if I climbed it again tomorrow:
A Pack for Exocet, Aguja Standhardt, Patagonia, Argentina
1) Two 60m twin ropes: Almost every climb in the Chalten Massif requires a lot of rappels to get down, so carrying two ropes is nearly always necessary. I like using twin ropes for the simplicity of rope management and ease of rappelling (except for climbs where ascenders are being used, in which case I use a single rope and a rappel line). I use a pair of Petzl’s new 7.7mm PASO, which is rated as both a twin and half rope.
2) SIROCCO helmet: I absolutely love this helmet. It is comfortable, accepts a headlamp, and in a size 1 (which I can wear with a fleece balaclava if my hair isn’t in hippie-mode) it’s only 145 grams—literally half the weight of my previous helmet!
3) DART crampons: I’ve been a big fan of the DARTWIN crampons for many years, because nothing else can match their combination of climbing performance and minimal weight. Only in the last couple years have I finally come to appreciate how awesome it is to mixed climb with monopoint crampons. For a pure ice route I would still choose the DARTWIN, but for Exocet I would bring the DARTS, because their superiority on the mixed pitches is more important to me than their slight disadvantage on the ice pitches.
4) La Sportiva Batura 2.0: I use these awesome boots for the vast majority of the alpine climbing I do. They climb super well and are quite waterproof with the integrated gaiter and double layers of Gore-Tex. Realistically, they are much warmer than necessary for climbing Aguja Standhardt, but the new 2.0 version is so much lighter than the older version that there is no reason to use less-warm boots.
5) NOMIC ice tools: For a lot of alpine climbs, I use the QUARK, but there is enough vertical ice on Exocet to justify the extra weight of NOMICs. They’re definitely not heavy though—in fact, they are lighter than the BD Cobras. For a climb like Exocet, on which I don’t need pitons, I leave the hammers off.
6) HIRUNDOS harness: I haven’t found any other harnesses as light as the HIRUNDOS that are so comfortable to hang in. I also appreciate that, unlike some other ultra-light harnesses, the HIRUNDOS has four gear loops. I really look forward to trying the new version, which is supposedly even lighter!
7) Single set of cams, from green C3 to #2.0 Camalot.
8) Seven FIN’ANNEAU 60cm slings with two ANGE S biners each: For day-to-day cragging abuse, I use 12mm ST’ANNEAU slings, but for alpine climbing I definitely prefer these ultralight 8mm Dyneema slings. The ANGE S wiregate biners are lightweight, have a wide rope-bearing radius (unlike most lightweight biners), and a low-profile nose that doesn’t get in the way of clipping old pitons. They take a little bit of getting used to, but then operate as easily as any other similarly sized biners.
9) Four “alpine quickdraws”: I put these “alpine quickdraws” together using 24cm ST’ANNEAU slings and ANGE S biners. Of course, they aren’t as easy to clip as an ANGE FINESSE quickdraw for sports action, but they’re a bit longer to reduce rope drag, and have the advantage of versatility—they can be girth-hitched or clove-hitched, for instance.
10) 10 LASER SPEED LIGHT ice screws: Having 10 screws means I can place six per pitch in the ice chimney—it’s certainly doable with fewer, but 10 is a nice balance. The longest length screws aren’t in vogue among many ice climbers I know, but I like to carry a couple. I think they are confidence-inspiring at belays, and I also feel that I can make Abolokov anchors more quickly with the long screws. These new LASER SPEED LIGHT ice screws are f**king awesome! Honestly, I think they are one of the greatest gear advances of the last 10 years for alpinists. The screws have steel tips, aluminum shafts, and aluminum hangers, making them drastically lighter than all-steel screws. The aluminum ice screw concept has been around a few decades, and E-Climb did a good job of improving it a few years ago, but Petzl has perfected it, as these aluminum screws place as smoothly as the competing steel screws. I would use LASER SPEED LIGHTS for all 10 screws, but as they just became available I haven’t been able to get that many yet! Fortunately, even the standard LASER SPEED screws are lighter than competing screws because of the aluminum hangers.
11) Multihook and prusik: For making Abolokov anchors, and for using a 4mm prusik as backup while rappelling.
12) Single set of chocks, from Stopper #3 to Stopper #10.
13) Cordelette: Six meters of 6mm perlon, useful for making belays on funky rock and for leaving behind on rappel anchors during the descent.
14) Two 120cm FIN’ANNEAU slings: For making belays on good rock or ice.
15) REVERSO 4 and three locking biners: I bring three lockers: two SPIRITs and one ATTACHE, for smoother belaying and rappelling.
16) Patagonia Piton jacket: A nice mid-weight fleece, with a bit of wind resistance.
17) Patagonia Fitz Roy jacket: A very well designed down jacket with an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio.
18) Patagonia Capilene 2 top
19) Patagonia Alpine Houdini
20) Patagonia Capilene 4 balaclava: I’m a big fan of balaclavas, and this is by far the best one I’ve ever used. I definitely recommend getting one (or four) before they stop making them!
21) Patagonia Capilene 4 bottoms
22) Patagonia Knifeblade pants: These pants are absolutely da bomb! Here’s a link to a lengthy blog post of mine [http://www.thecleanestline.com/2013/04/two-new-products-i-want-to-rave-about-m10-jacket-knifeblade-pants.html] explaining why these are the best alpine-climbing pants I’ve ever used.
23) Two pairs of gloves: One of medium-thickness, and one really thin. The thin ones pictured here are the original Black Diamond Torque gloves, which were awesome alpine mixed climbing gloves, but have since been changed for the worse. Unfortunately I haven’t yet found a pair of gloves as good as the original Torque gloves, and I’ve definitely been looking!
24) MYO RXP headlamp: This has been my preferred alpine-climbing headlamp for a full ten years now! It’s super bright and pretty light. Although there are obvious advantages to rechargeable headlamps, I still prefer old-school batteries for expedition use.
25) SPF chap stick and small tin of sunscreen: I don’t need much for one day out, especially because I know that on Exocet, only my face will be exposed to the sun.
26) Adidas Terrex Pro sunglasses: These sunglasses come with an optional nose-protector, which is massively helpful to me. I’ve been spending a lot of time on glaciers for most of my life, and the skin on my nose has become permanently damaged and burns easily, so using the nose-protector helps me a lot. It works much better than generic nose-protectors that Velcro/button onto your sunglasses; that kind usually pushes the glasses too far away from your face
27) Canon Elph 300 HS: This little camera produces excellent photos for its size! On some climbs, I justify the weight of my Canon S100, but usually I’m seduced by the ultra-small Elph. I’d like to upgrade, but I can’t find any better camera for the size.
28) Patagonia Ascensionist 35 backpack.
NOT PICTURED: Socks, underwear, watch, 4-liter MSR Dromlite, Hammer electrolyte tablets, and an assortment of energy bars and dried fruit.