At Up and Under we like adventures. We hope that this year we'll get to try lots of things we have never done before and go places we've never been. We have plans for this year (not that that's unusual!) and we hope you do too. We'd like to help you to reach summits and have adventures because we know it feels good, and whatever the trip, whether you're climbing Everest, walking the Pennine Way, or just getting into a kayak for the first time we can provide you with the kit and the advice to do something amazing in 2013.

This time we're talking about high altitude expedition kit.

The kit that you will need depends on where you're going, how high you're going and what time of year you'll be there. Everest is a very different proposition kit-wise than Mont Blanc, although both are callenging. In this blog, we're talking about really high altitude - think the 8000ers like Everest, Cho Oyu and Broad Peak. We'll also start by assuming that you've done some walking and have the kit for walking to base camp.

There's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. At the summit of Everest, the temperature can reach -41 degrees celsius, there is only a third of the amount of oxygen as at sea level and there is a big increase in the strength of UV radiation which causes snow-blindness. This is an extremely hostile environment, and your kit needs to be up to the job.



The Rab Down Expedition Suit is a really specialist bit of kit – perfect for 8000m peaks. You’re looking for a suit with high quality down, box wall construction so you don’t get cold spots, and as windproof as you can get. Rab also make a windsuit to go over the top and keep you toasty (ish!)

 

 

Keeping your extremities warm is really important. Once they’re cold they will be really hard to warm up again and you leave yourself at risk of frostbite. Good gloves, like the Outdoor Research Alti Mitt are essential, as are liners (its quite tricky to clip into ropes with mitts on) and a spare pair of warm gloves.

 


Have you ever been for a walk in the snow and ended up with cold feet? Its not fun, and could mean an early turn around (or worse) if your boots aren’t insulated enough. The La Sportiva Olympus Mons is a very specialist boot for high altitude mountaineering, and should keep your feet warm enough to get to the summit.

 


Whilst it isn’t technically true that you lose most body heat through your head, keeping it warm and wind-proofed will go a long way to keeping you safe and warm on summit day. We recommend a windproof balaclava in addition to the hood on your down suit. The Outdoor Research Gorilla balaclava is ideal.

 

 

Most summit days begin in the dark, so you will need a headtorch. Battery life is greatly reduced in the cold, so a torch with a remote battery pack like the Petzl Duo Belt allows you to keep the batteries warm under your clothes and extend the life of your torch. You can even upgrade the spot light to LED as that halogen bulb drains batteries very quickly!

 


Your water will not stay liquid for long on the mountain, especially if you’re using a camelback system. For liquid water further into summit day, try 500ml Nalgene bottles with warm water tucked into the pockets of your down suit. The wide mouth bottles don’t freeze up quite as readily as others do.

 



Oakley’s ski goggle range will give your eyes protection from UV radiation, and protect your face from the elements. For lower altitudes you may appreciate the Julbo sunglasses range.

 

Once you're on the mountain its just you and your kit, so its better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. If you need any advice on kit for your expedition, give us a call or pop in to see us. We'd be happy to help and always like to hear about other peoples adventures (even if we do get a bit jealous at times!)


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