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Q- What clothings do climbers wear?

A- Virtually all climbers today follow the layering system. Basically, it consists of 3 layers – the outer shell, the middle layer, and a innermost layer. Let’s start with the outer shell.

Depending on the nature of the climb and the expected weather conditions, the outer shell can be a down jacket (for warmth and windproofness) or a totally waterproof and breathable one (mainly Goretex materials). In most 8,000m peaks, virtually all climbers will choose a down jacket, as the weather is mostly cold,but not wet. For tropical areas, a Goretex shell to protect climbers from the rain will be used.

The middle layer is mostly made of “Polartec” fabric – a material designed to keep a person warm but does not absorb water. Natural materials such as wool are excellent warmth keeping layer – but once it is wet, it hardly insulates well. Artificial materials such as Polartec are made from polyester yarn, and hardly absorb water. Hence, they will keep you warm even though it may be wet. This is important because as a climber exercise, perspiration will work its way into the middle warmth layer and soak it.

The inner layer is a wicking layer – mainly designed to spread the perspiration next to the skin and sent to the middle layer in a larger area. The idea behind the wicking layer is that if you increase the area to be exposed for evaporation, the perspiration will go much faster. Hence, the wicking layer is designed to absorb perspiration and spread it over a larger area.

Other clothings are worn – depending on the nature of the climb – such as if heavy snow is expected, then gaiters are worn over the shoes to prevent snow from entering the mouth of the shoes.

Q- How big are our tents

A- In base camp, we use a “two man” tent for personal use. This ensures that we have enough space to sleep as well as to store personal things inside the tent for easy access. Most tents at base camp are two walled tents – an inner wall which allows water vapour to escape easily (but is not waterproof) and an outer wall that is totally waterproof.

At higher altitudes, where weight is a premium, we will squeeze two people and their stuff into one “two man tent”.

If weight is really an extreme consideration (as it will be for summit attempts), a single walled tent is used. This material is similar to Goretex (which is waterproof, but also allows water vapour to escape).

Ting Sern

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