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Contents of a climber’s back pack

A- When doing a summit bid, the golden rule is “the lighter, the better”. Well, that being the case, what are the most essential things you pack into a back pack? It depends on the nature of the summit – whether sub-zero temperatures are expected (the Himalayan peaks) or rain is expected (tropical areas). Virtually all 8000m peaks are devoid of rainfall – the reason why they are snow covered is because the temperature is so cold any snowfall hardly goes away.

So, if you are doing a Himalayan peak, the things to bring along are as follows –

a) A full body down jacket with a water resistant layer. Down is the warmest thing we have (and also one of the lightest), and a full body down jacket is the warmest clothing you can have. However, once down is wet, it looses its insulation properties immediately. Hence, you need a water resistant layer (nowadays, it will be Gore DryLoft) to repeal the occasional snowfall and light rainfall.

b) A down sleeping bag. Again, the same reason as the jacket.

c) A bivy bag. This is a “tent” big enough to hold the sleeping bag and slighty more room for little personal things. The other membrane is waterproof (mainly GoreTex) to keep the elements out. This item is needed in case you need to spend a night out among the stars without a normal tent.

d) Head torch & spare batteries. Needed for night use.

e) Spare gloves & mittens, in case you loose the one you are using.

f) Water bottle (with water), food, sunscreen, lip-balm.

g) Climbing gears (harness, crampons, jumars, etc). Climbing helmets might be needed too for technical peaks.

h) Radio & spare batteries (for communications).

i) Snow googles or sun glasses (spares needed as well)

For a tropical peak, you don’t need a down jacket – but a waterproof rain gear (like GoreTex) is needed.

j) A short coil of rope (if neceesary)

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