Tuesday, October 9, 2012
I am happy to admit that I don't have much in common with gun American climber Mark Twight. While his attitude to alpinism is something akin to 'go hard or die', mine is more along the lines of 'tread extra cautiously'. But I do buy into his 'climb light, climb fast' approach. In fact, trying to sweat as little as possible is one of my priorities on long climbs. If nothing else, it means I can get away with carrying less water. So, I'm always assessing, and updating when necessary, my technical climbing gear and climbing clothing to lighten the load. And, with winter climbing, I've got my layers pretty sorted. The insulation layer is where I still find room for tweaking. Up until now, I've been using a relatively thin Primaloft jacket, but have sometimes found it a bit cold. This means my top layers are as follows: light synthetic top or 100 weight fleece next to skin, then the Primaloft jacket, and a hard shell over the top to keep out any moisture. I tend to just wear unlined soft shell pants, but will add thin tights if it's super cold. I've recently started climbing in an Arc'teryx Atom SV Hoody. And, combined with a light fleece and thin wind shirt underneath, I've found it to be super toasty. Insulated with Coreloft, it feels significantly warmer than Primaloft. The nylon ripstop outer also has a water repellant coating, which means I've been able to do away with the hard shell. The wind is kept out, and it sheds snow well. But, the fabric is pretty lightweight, so durability may be an issue in time. With its insulated hood, which fits well over a helmet, I can regulate my body temperature while climbing. Normally I go for a size large but, with the Atom, I've dropped down to a medium. It is still long enough to fit under my harness, and the zipper is easy to operate with gloves. One of my pet hates are these sticky zips found on lots of jackets, which are near impossible to drive with gloves on. So big ups to Arc'teryx for fixing that also, even if it means driving the weight up a tad. At around 475gms, it's a little heavier than my old Primaloft jacket, but the added benefits more than make up for that. Arc'teryx has pitched the jacket at the backcountry ski/snowboard market, but I reckon it works a treat for alpine climbing also. Five out of five.