Year: 2014

How Much Money to do the Seven Summits?

This is a continuation of an idea presented in my previous article on How Long to Do the Seven Summits HERE

First of all, let’s look at some average prices for each of the Seven Summits. These are generally taken from major, well-established guide companies. Some could be more or less depending on your own abilities to take care of yourself within limits established by local governments, as well as finding your way around in a foreign country and reading between the lines to hook up with local small guide and logistics companies.

Kilimanjaro Summit - 6:45 AM Jan 1, 2010 - I"m in orange
Kilimanjaro Summit – 6:45 AM Jan 1, 2010 – I”m in orange

That was a mouthful for sure, but basically, most normal people will be with a major guide company.

  • Everest: $70,000
  • Vinson: $50,000
  • Carstensz: $15,000
  • Denali: $10,000
  • Aconcagua: $6,000
  • Kilimanjaro: $5,000
  • Elbrus: $4,000
  • Kosciusko: $1,000

Note that none of these include airfare, and are otherwise about mid range for that mountain. You could go cheaper or more expensive, but this is a decent average.

If you go for all 8 of the 7 Summits, you’re looking at $161,000. Add in some airfare and other miscellaneous fees, and it’s going to be another $25,000 or so bringing the total to $186,000.

Myself, Kilian Jornet, and Todd Gilles at the opening ceremony for Elbrus Race 2013
Myself, Kilian Jornet, and Todd Gilles at the opening ceremony for Elbrus Race 2013

I don’t know much about your life, but let’s assume for a second that you are able to put away $1,000 each and every month. You could do it then with about 182 months of savings. A little over 15 years. Not bad. Add in the year or two that you’re actually off to the mountains, so about 17 years.

How in the world do people do it if they’re not on the 17 year plan?

  1. Have a really really good job
  2. Trust fund “kids”
  3. Live off charity
  4. Become a guide
  5. Mortgage your, or your parents’ house

I know people in each of those groups. The most successful, oddly enough, seem to be group 3, though they are really quiet about that, since it would turn off the flow of donations. Since the mortgage “bust” 5 is a lot less lucrative than it used to be, since back in the “boom” banks would go out 140% of the value of your house with a 5 year balloon, even without equity and a current loan, no matter how silly the use of the money would be. Hence the “bust” that resulted.

Seven Summits Quest - Volume 5 - South America - from Aconcagua Base Camp
Seven Summits Quest – Volume 5 – South America – from Aconcagua Base Camp

Now for reality

Yeah, you need to get that really really good job. Or hook up with someone who has an inside track on discounted, yet reputable guides and logistics operators in the area of your summit.

While I usually try not to toot my own horn, I do have a Full Service trip to Aconcagua for about 30% off the usual price of such a trip HERE and I have an Aconcagua Light Package for about half what others charge HERE.

Fill out the form (upper right side) and I’ll send you more info about my trips as I put them together. Kili and Everest Base Camp coming soon.

It’s well worth taking a quick look at to see if you can pull it off in 2015. To be honest, it’s an experiment, and if no one takes me up on the offer I might not be able to do it in 2016. So if you can adjust your schedule at all, let’s go to Aconcagua this February.

Seven Summits Quest Volume 5 – South America

If we do go, I’ll be working on that continuation of my successful book series, and you could be taking a part in it, with or without a pseudonym. Up to you …

Here’s a video I made to introduce it to my Kickstarter Project HERE 

[weaver_vimeo id=114147041]

NOTE: Wasn’t trendy enough to be funded 🙁

 

 

 

How Long to do the Seven Summits?

What is the average time to do the Seven Summits?

I was asked that question by a Facebook Fan HERE. My quick and simple answer is “About Ten Years” but that’s not really doing the question justice.

 

Aconcagua in storm
Aconcagua in storm

If we remove all other factors, here is a list of the Seven Summits and the standard number of days that a professional guide service lists for the itineraries.

  • Kosciuszko- 3 days
  • Kilimanjaro – 7 days
  • Elbrus – 8 days
  • Carstensz – 9 days
  • Vinson 21 days
  • Denali – 21 days
  • Aconcagua – 21 days
  • Everest – 65 days

If you allow about 4 days of back to back flying for each expedition that adds up to 155 days of expedition and 32 days of traveling for all 8 of the 7 Summits. That’s 187 days. Yep, only 6+ months.

 

Todd Gilles and myself acclimatizing for Elbrus Race 2013
Todd Gilles and myself acclimatizing for Elbrus Race 2013

How fast can the Seven Summits be done?

Sadly, each of these has seasons that are good and bad, work and don’t work, and weather can be an issue or not. Here’s a potential itinerary that gets them all done in a very compressed amount of time.

  • January: Vinson
  • February: Aconcagua
  • March: Kilimanjaro, Carstensz, and Kosciuszko
  • April & May: Everest
  • June: Denali
  • July Elbrus

So that’s a Seven Summits in Seven Months Itinerary. If you attempt this, please let me know. I totally want to follow your progress. With a bit more risk and cleverness you could knock off a month, but it greatly decreases the odds of success.

Kilimanjaro Summit - 6:45 AM Jan 1, 2010 - I"m in orange
Kilimanjaro Summit – 6:45 AM Jan 1, 2010 – I”m in orange

Is this speed itinerary realistic?

Unfortunately, with an itinerary this tight, you’d need to be a semi-robotic automaton and have everything handed to you at each and every step of the way. All your visa’s, all your travel, all your baggage, everything, would have to be handled by someone else. Believe me, you probably can’t do it 100% alone on this tight of an itinerary.

Carstensz Pyramid Summit Shot
Carstensz Pyramid Summit Shot

It would also require that you have a boatload of cash and a bottomless credit card. Doing it this quickly requires that you pay a lot of people a lot of money to make sure that everything happens as planned without error.

You also have to be in top physical condition and able to recover very quickly from all the stress of travel and mountaineering and trekking. You cannot get sick or weak or injured on an itinerary this tight.

Myself and Todd Gilles Orizaba Summit Thumbs Up
Myself and Todd Gilles Orizaba Summit Thumbs Up

Stay tuned for another article about this

I’ll be writing another article soon taking a more realistic approach to an itinerary that allows time to solve all those problems. Stay tuned. Subscribe (to the right) if you want to make sure you’re notified when I write it.

TP-101 – Toilet Paper for Hiking etc.

Toilet Paper

It’s a necessity. Sure, I’ve used snow and leaves before. You have too, right? To be honest, there’s almost nothing as much fun as a chunk of solid styrofoam neve as toilet paper. You think I’m kidding?

Toilet Paper for hiking - two plastic bags and a little roll
Toilet Paper for hiking – two plastic bags and a little roll

You’ll want to carry the smallest lightest bit of toilet paper you can get away with, unless you’re on a porter or sled supported trip, then you take the whole roll. In the pic above, I have a ziplock baggie, with another ziplock baggie to put inside for the dirty used toilet paper. If you follow the Leave No Trace Seven Principles MORE INFO you won’t want to be leaving your toilet paper anywhere outdoors. The stuff seems to last forever. Even in the Papuan Jungle there were old bits and pieces left over from previous Westerners.

Getting that little roll off of a big roll can be a challenge for some people. I know of people who go to a gas station or NFS bathroom and carefully unroll it off the big roll onto the little roll. That’s a real pain. I prefer to just save the ends of the rolls, when it becomes about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick on the cardboard tube and stick them in a plastic bag in the back of the closet until I need them for a trip.

End rolls of toilet paper in a plastic bag waiting to be converted into hiking toilet paper small rolls
End rolls of toilet paper in a plastic bag waiting to be converted into hiking toilet paper small rolls

Over the years I have developed a little trick in which I squeeze and fold the paper tube liner until I can twist it out, leaving a small roll of toilet paper ready to go. Some toilet paper is glued onto the tube pretty firmly, so you’d have to slide your fingers around inside a little bit more to free the end. You can then put the resulting thin small roll of toilet paper inside your plastic bag for your hike, backpacking trip, or whatever it is you’ll need to do.

Two mini rolls from two end rolls of toilet paper. The tubes were folded and pulled out. Note that one has some paper still glued firmly to it.
Two mini rolls from two end rolls of toilet paper. The tubes were folded and pulled out. Note that one has some paper still glued firmly to it.

When I’m on an overnight or longer, I typically keep my plastic bags and mini roll inside whatever layer I’ll almost always have on. If I’m wearing a base layer with a Napoleon pocket, that’s a great place. If I have a puffy jacket that I’ll most likely put on before a trip to the “outhouse” I’ll keep it in there. I want it as close to me at all times as possible. You hate to get there and discover you forgot it.

Here’s a video showing the trick to get the tube out of your toilet paper

[vimeo 110856786]

If you have a better way, please leave a comment or better yet, post a video link for us. I’d love to get your opinion on this. Thanks!

Quandary in Snowstorm

October 27, 2014

Last night my wife suggested I do Quandary. It had been a couple months since last time and a few months longer before that. I checked the weather on Mountain-Forecast.com:

Quandary Weather near the bridge
Quandary Weather near the bridge
Quandary Weather at the summit
Quandary Weather at the summit

Looked like it was going to be really cold and windy and a bit overcast. I gathered up a few of the things I would be taking, including my Suunto Ambit 2S and my Salomon Spikecross shoes. I had seem some beta pics on Grays that implied there would be a fair amount of snow up high and I hadn’t used these shoes in a while. Strava says I only had 15 miles on them, but it’s probably more like 100 with all the winter summits I did do in them previous to Strava.

My daughter was already in bed, and I keep a lot of my stuff in her closet, so it would keep till morning. At least in winter you don’t have to beat the lightning. The next morning it was snowing hard. I got the rest of my gear together and dressed then took the kids to school and continued on to the Quandary parking lot. I followed a snowplow much of the way. I assumed they were going to work on Hoosier Pass, because the road was pretty slick. Quandary was socked in good, from this pic at the pull-off near the other road in.

Quandary from the pull-off on Hwy 9
Quandary from the pull-off on Hwy 9

At the parking lot I put on the HR belt and it took a good 10 minutes for the Suunto to pick up a GPS signal. Later I heard from a few friends who also had GPS acquisition issues today, so not sure if it was the weather or the system. For pants, I was wearing a pair of UnderArmour briefs, a pair of REI fleece tights (my favorites for cabin wear on expeditions) and some Pearl Izumi cycling wind/water shell pants. They’re really light and flexible and I wanted to test them out under stress today.

Where the rubber meets the trail - Salomon Spikecross winter trail shoes
Where the rubber meets the trail – Salomon Spikecross winter trail shoes

As I mentioned previously, I was wearing my Salomon Spikecross winter trail shoes. They have carbide spikes that I feel work a bit better than Kahtoola on the rocky sections of the trail on Quandary. Under them I had my classic combo of Injinji liners (the really thin ones) under Point6 Summit Mountaineering Wool Socks (Eddie Bauer brand). I normally don’t wear gaiters if I can help it, though I do have some Mont Bell softshell running ones that I wear now and then.

 

Trailhead sign for Quandary. Still accessible by road
Trailhead sign for Quandary. Still accessible by road

Up top I had on a Columbia Omniheat (reflective) zip turtleneck and a Salomon hybrid softshell/fleece jacket under an OR Goretex jacket. My gloves were a home-brewed combo of Columbia Omniheat Cell-compatible liners inside Mountain Hardwear mountaineering shells. For a hat I’m wearing an Icebreaker beanie (very thin) under a Salomon Swag Cap. Yeah, Swag as in they gave it to me at the finish line of a 10K run. I also have a buff on, though I wasn’t able to locate one of my favorites that I think is in my ice climbing backpack.

Near the bridge, nearly halfway and from here the swirling maelstrom of snowstorm is just visible at tree line
Near the bridge, nearly halfway and from here the swirling maelstrom of snowstorm is just visible at tree line

I wasn’t moving too fast, with a target of about 2 hours for the summit so I didn’t sweat too bad, though I did open up the neck of the two outer layers and the pit zips on the Goretex.

View of the upper layers if you're interested. This is still at the Trail Restoration sign near the bridge. Later in the winter the trail takes off from here straight up that hill
View of the upper layers if you’re interested. This is still at the Trail Restoration sign near the bridge. Later in the winter the trail takes off from here straight up that hill

When I got to tree line, just about 12,000′ I switched the Goretex out for a Mont Bell puffy synthetic jacket and cinched up the hood. It was really windy and cold and blowing snow pelting me. I’d say that 35-40 MPH wind forecast was about right. I passed a couple struggling near the top of the point at about 12,600′ and after a while looked back and didn’t see them. There had been three sets of footprints on the way up and one was still barely visible ahead of me and I followed it up the regular summer trail which was still easy to follow.

As I passed the flats at 13,300′ it became much rougher going with snow drifted in between the boulders making for difficult footing. Your foot would either hit wind crust and stick, hit crust and punch through into the boulders, or slide down into the powder and bounce around in the boulders until  you either stuck or fell.

At about 13,700′ I saw the owner of the third set of footprints heading down from way off to the North, angling back onto the trail. That implied the trail was hard to follow up high. I’d have to remember that. I ran into her after a bit.

“Windy” nodding her head up.

“Yeah” just nodding

And that was all we had the energy to say in the blustery day on Quandary.

Quandary Summit after 2:45 from the lower parking lot. Very difficult conditions and bad weather.
Quandary Summit after 2:45 from the lower parking lot. Very difficult conditions and bad weather.

Finally after 2:45 I got to the summit. 45 minutes later than goal, but the conditions were pretty bad and I had to face out of the wind braced on my poles several times to stay upright in some of the worst gusts. I made a short video on top then took off for the bottom without eating or drinking. I did that on the way down once I was out of the wind. Footing was even worse on the way down so it was slow going until I got down below about 12,000′ and then it was pretty quick.

So I’m back in training for mountaineering and have plans for some cool objectives coming up. As soon as any of them get past the “how much, what dates, how many climbers” etc I’ll let you all know. Subscribe to the newsletter if you want to be among the first to know.

Elbrus Race 2014

So, Elbrus Race. Obviously I didn’t go. Just as obviously it didn’t happen.

A friend on the Front Range took a group to Elbrus during the race at my recommendation and they had a blast with Nick and the rest of the gang. But they didn’t summit. Their pictures and video from 18,000′ are insane! Wish I had permission to show you some.

There’s a pic from Elbrus Race from the organizer. So in the big scheme of things, if I were doing the race I wouldn’t have gotten my summit. But the day before was amazingly blue sky gorgeous. A part of me thinks I might have gone that day and finally gotten it out of the way. I hope I can go next year.

I finally got my passport straightened out, got my invitation and voucher for a new set of dates, and then had a terrible time getting flights lined up that fit those dates, and then couldn’t get to the visa center in time to get my visa processed in the dates available. It was a mess from the beginning. I suppose that the second the lady at the visa center said my papers were out of order I should have just quit while I was ahead.

Kilian wasn’t there either, so I’m not sure what his plans are for Elbrus. It’s on his list.

I did get a lot of work done though, including two published books, one on training for hiking HERE and one on self-help finding time to train HERE – both have done awesome so I recommend you go check them out.

 

Waffling on Elbrus Race 2014

Elbrus Race 2014 is being held the week of September 6-13, according to the itinerary posted below and HERE.

IX international (2014) Elbrus Race program :

Date Days Day’s program
06.09.2014 day 01 Flight arrival to Min Vody. Transfer to Baksan Valley, Azau station. Accommodation in the Hotel Elba.
07.09.2014 day 02 Acclimatization walking nearby. Accommodation in the Hotel Elba.
08.09.2014 day 03 Transfer to Azau lift station. The opening of the competition. Going up to refuge “Barrels” ~3710m. Night at refuge “Barrels”
09.09.2014 day04 Qualifying speed climb from Barrels hut to the Pastukov rocks, 4800 m.
10.09.2014 day 05
(full moon at 15:00 pm)
Relax day. Night at the refuge “Barrels”
11.09.2014 day 06 Speed Climb of Mt. Elbrus West 5642 m. “Classic” from hut Barrels (3710) & “Extreme” from Azau 2400m Descent from Barrels to the Valley
12.09.2014 day 07 spare day for the Race or Awards Ceremony at the morning & The farewell party at the evening
13.09.2014 day 08 Transfer to airport. Flight from Min Vody..

I was forming a team of 3 to go DETAILS but over the past year since the 2013 Race a lot of water has passed under the bridge. Some of us were really sick for quite some time. Some of us had endured injuries. Some of us had endured financial hardship. I myself was involved in legal finagling to extricate myself from a series of business partnerships and investments. That took up a great deal of stress and in spite of any other factors contributed greatly to a deficit in training hours.

In other words, I wasn’t able to train the way I had for the 2013 Race, in which I took 5th place. Sadly though, since it wasn’t all the way to the summit due to weather I wasn’t able to achieve my Seven Summits Quest goal with Elbrus, the highest mountain and highest volcano in Europe. After a lot of deliberation I sent an email to my friend in Russia asking if there were a trip in August that I could attach myself to so that I could share expenses at the Barrels (cook/food) and he sent an itinerary for me that seemed to fit in with my own plans so I agreed and sent the deposit. I received the Invitation and Voucher and not coincidentally I happened to be in Seattle where I could go in person to the Visa Center.

Myself, Kilian Jornet, and Todd Gilles at the opening ceremony for Elbrus Race 2013
Myself, Kilian Jornet, and Todd Gilles at the opening ceremony for Elbrus Race 2013

At the Center I was informed that a technicality in the requirements for available Visa Pages in my Passport prevented my application from being processed. Thankfully it was not rejected, which would unnecessarily complicate future applications. I needed to get additional pages inserted into my Passport, which isn’t a very complicated process, but can take up to 6 weeks plus additional time for shipping back and forth both ways. They recommended Overnight mail, but in this county there really isn’t such a thing. Long complicated story. USPS won’t even deliver to most of the resort units even to full time residents.

STP - 13 year old rode with Puget Sound Mini 200 + miles
STP – 13 year old rode with Puget Sound Mini 200 + miles

In the middle of that process of course, I spent a week traveling to Utah and Seattle to drop off my 13 year old who would be riding in the Seattle to Portland 200+ mile cycling ride with his uncle. Immediately after returning home to Colorado I spent a week at the Boy Scout camp near Castle Rock Colorado as the Assistant Scoutmaster for my Frisco CO Boy Scouts. It rained a lot, and I was really happy that my son and I had done a lot of camping in a variety of conditions so that at least one of the boys had good morale during the week. Seriously though, it was great fun to help the boys earn a slew of merit badges, including the Wilderness Survival, which required them to spend a night out in a low impact shelter built on the spot.

BSA camp activity - dueling on the ropes near Castle Rock CO
BSA camp activity – dueling on the ropes near Castle Rock CO

To make things even more fun I had a house listed in Utah and it expired without being sold so am in the middle of dealing with the legal implications and handling the repairs necessary to list it again in a different price bracket so that we can appeal to a different market. That’s going to require several trips to Utah over the next month added to the other fun things I need to do. Full plate!

Of course, all of this wasn’t enough time for the whole 6+ weeks to pass. Once I do have my passport in hand it takes a minimum of 30 days to process a Visa Application to Russia by mail (for those centers that accept mail). Going in person is an option that cuts the time down to a week to 10 days depending on the Visa you’re applying for. In any case, as it is, I am getting close to the deadline necessary to go to the 2014 Race. The 30 day window closes in a few days. The 10 day window closes in a couple weeks. I am hoping that my Passport arrives quickly and that all goes well. In the past couple months of training I’ve achieved quite a few PR (PB) and top-3 personal records for some of the Strava segments I’ve run on. I even got a Male KOM (ascent speed best) for a segment on Rainier up to Pebble Creek. And I was “walking” it with a heart rate of 100. That inspired me that maybe I could go back to Elbrus Race and make a decent attempt. On the other hand, going up with the Photographers to the summit to await the champions (possibly with another attempt by Kilian) sounds enticing as well. Not sure yet. Still have to get that Passport back in enough time for the rest of the process.

I’m not telling you all of this so that you can pity me, or so that I can excuse myself. Rather I tell you all of this so that you can understand that I am working hard to overcome all the difficulties that the world is tossing at me seemingly to prevent my success. I fully believe that you are able to overcome your own difficulties even when it seems there is no way to do so.

The Qualifier in whiteout conditions for Elbrus Race 2013
The Qualifier in whiteout conditions for Elbrus Race 2013

I really want to go to Russia this year and get this one done!

Ultralight Hiking Article Rebuttal

Ultralight Hiking – what does that even mean?

In a [social] Group there was a link to an article about Ultralight Hiking [link removed] and after attempting to read it, I was dumbfounded. I need to step aside here for the next few comments, then I’ll get back on the topic of ultralight hiking in response to this article.

Ultralight Hiking Pack recommendations from the article
Ultralight Hiking Pack recommendations from the article

Ultralight Hiking Backpack Weight Recommendations

This is the type of information we get in this article. I’m contemplating a total newbie first time ever hiker at 180 pounds loping along the trail with a 36 pound backpack. On a day hike. And imagine the expert toting along a 65 pound backpack. Wow. As the spinner generated text so aptly states “The mind really boggles when you start researching the topic.” Here’s a real quote though, and one that addresses the whole ultralight hiking mentality.

“it is easy to get into the trap of opting to save a pound or two in weight”

And that sums it up nicely. If you’re intelligently boggling your mind by researching the topic of ultralight hiking, you’ll start tossing weight right and left until you’re trimmed down to your own minimum weight. That is what it’s all about.

When working on my Couch to Colorado 14er Training Program I recommended a maximum weight of 12 or so pounds for a day hike on one of these huge and popular mountains. That’s not even ultralight hiking weight either. That allows for a lot of extras that you could easily do without. It’s just that as a “couch to…” book it’s designed for newbies, who don’t know what is most important for their own hiking needs. Once you’ve been hiking for a long time you get a pretty good idea on what is essential or not.

Ultralight Hiking action shot
Ultralight Hiking action shot

 

What’s in my ultralight hiking pack?

When I do a hike up Quandary, a Colorado 14er near Breckenridge, I used to carry a lot more. Now I’m down to this simple 3 pound pack setup.

  • Ultimate Direction SJ Pack: 8.2 oz
  • Snacks and TP: 5.2 oz
  • Gloves, Hat, Bandanna: 3.7 oz
  • TNF Flashdry Vest: 6.5 oz
  • TNF BTN Hoodie: 5.3 oz
  • 3/4 Full Water Bottle: 19.4 oz
  • Total: 48.3 oz or 3.02 lb
Ultralight Hiking Daypack with gear spread out
Ultralight Hiking Daypack with gear spread out

Even my winter hikes here are with a very similar pack. I might carry a hooded down jacket instead of the vest, and I might carry two water bottles, but add in the two of those together and I’m only up to 5 pounds.  Going that light I don’t have a lot of margin for error, so if something goes wrong I’ll have to be prepared to suffer a little bit. I’m intimately familiar with the trails so I don’t have to worry about route finding or being lost. This kit is good for me in a temperature range from about 15-50 F. I can’t make a general recommendation as to whether this would work for you or not. If you feel inclined to try your hand at ultralight hiking then please experiment gently on known familiar terrain and work your way down slowly.

Read about Ultra Running Gear Requirements HERE

Ultralight Hiking Pack Video:

Here’s a video I made showing the above items packed in my pack as I pull them out so you can see how they all fit. Keep in mind that this is actually what I do take on my Colorado 14er hikes, even those of 10 or more miles, like Grays from Bakersville or the Grizzly Gulch Fork.

httpv://youtu.be/5Zq0Gk-zsaE

Obviously this is a minimum to carry and I don’t recommend it to anyone of any level of sanity or lack thereof. Remember that Ultralight Hiking can be quite dangerous and you MUST start off slow and take proper precautions for safety and any emergency equipment or gear. Do not rely on cellphone service and rescue crews. You are always on your own.

Ice Climbing Lincoln Falls Part 2

Todd Gilles and I had a great time Ice Climbing on Lincoln Falls, an area at about 12,000′ elevation on Mount Lincoln, a Colorado 14er. The approach and walk-off are part of a hiking route to the summit of Mount Lincoln called “The Amphitheater”. I don’t think there are too many ascents of that route in a given year, according to the reports on 14ers.com HERE.

I posted a photo gallery of some of the photos I took while climbing the route most often called “Scottish Gully” HERE and now I can share some of the photos taken by Todd Gilles [FACEBOOK PAGE]. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Ice Climbing Lincoln Falls – 5 Apr 2014

Carstensz Gear Guide to Boots

I explored clothing for traveling, trekking, and climbing on Carstensz Pyramid in my LAST ARTICLE so now we’ll look at the Carstensz Gear Guide to Boots. As stated in the previous article, you’ll most likely spend

  • a day or two in Bali
  • a day or two in Timika or some similar sized town
  • several days on the trek
  • a day climbing to the summit of Puncak Jaya and rappelling down

Each of these has some diverse need for footwear.

Carstensz Gear Guide – Bali Footwear

In Bali you can wear sandals most of the time and never need anything heavier. The climate is warm and the beaches are inviting. I really recommend that you leave your sandals in Bali if you plan on returning. You’ll really appreciate having a clean pair after all the mud and muck of the rest of the trip.

Carstensz Gear Guide Recommended sandals in the tide at Bali beach resort
Recommended sandals in the tide at Bali beach resort

Carstensz Gear Guide – Timika Footwear

Keep in mind that many trips will not be returning to Timika or whatever jumping-off point you’ll be starting from. With that in mind anything you take to Timika will be used on the rest of the trip. The porters carry your bags once you arrive at the trail head so it’s not really too complicated to add in an extra pair of something. Most of my group wore those high density foam sandals and their hiking boots while in Timika. Whatever you do though it would be a good idea to use the same socks here as on the rest of the trip. I’ll recommend them shortly.

I climbed Orizaba in my Salomon trail running shoes
I climbed Orizaba in my Salomon trail running shoes

I had chosen to wear my Salomon 3D Ultra shoes as my primary footwear in Timika. They were just a bit warm in the day but the Goretex waterproof outer was great during the frequent rain. If you have the extra room and weight in your gear, a pair of trail running shoes is a great alternative shoe to take with.

Carstensz Gear Guide – Trekking Footwear

There aren’t too many alternatives to the trek to Base Camp on Carstensz. Almost every Carstensz gear guide published by the guide companies and previous climbers will suggest Wellingtons like these Baffin Men’s Express PT Rain Boot. I wholeheartedly agree. You will most likely be walking up to 10 miles a day for 6 or so days. They should be reasonably comfortable but don’t spend a lot of money. I ended up giving my boots away to the porters afterward. They smelled so bad from being soaked the entire trek that I couldn’t bear to put them in the duffle to return home with.

Carstensz Gear Guide Suggestion: Wellies - you'll live in them for days in rugged slippery terrain
Carstensz Gear Guide Suggestion: Wellies – you’ll live in them for days in rugged slippery terrain

If you choose to put insoles in, they should be closed cell foam. Any open cell foam will absorb water and lead to blisters or trench foot or worse. They will not dry out. Closed cell foam will not absorb water. Socks need to be at least semi-synthetic and a pile or loop construction. Ragg wool will not dry. In fact, most wool and cotton will not dry no matter what you do. The synthetic socks, like Thorlo will dry out fairly well in your sleeping bag. Try them in the boots on the treadmill at the steepest inclination (like 15%) that your treadmill will do at about 1.0 MPH. You probably will never walk faster than that on the trek. Make sure it works before you go.

You will be walking in knee-deep mud, stepping on slippery roots, crossing wet lashed log bridges. You do not want to fall. Believe me. I did and tore up some rib cartilage that took me several months to heal from. The simple cheap square lug soles seemed to be the best for this terrain.

In camp at night you’ll want to immediately set to work drying your socks. Take an alternate pair and hang one to dry from your daypack while you hike and wear the other pair for the trek. You could also stuff them down your shirt and let your body heat dry them like on a mountaineering trip. You should switch to an alternate pair of shoes in camp then while you try to dry out your Wellies. Most of those on my group wore their trendy foam sandals but I wore my trail running shoes. I don’t think I would have been happy in the holey foam shoes, since most camps had slimy wet mud and a few had standing water. It’s up to you though. Keep your socks dry whatever you do.

Carstensz Gear Guide – Summit Footwear

Most of the guide companies recommend in the Carstensz gear guide they publish that you bring an alpine style climbing boot like the Scarpa Charmoz. I had waffled several times while training. Part of me just wanted to take my Salomon trail running shoes, since they’d worked for just about everything I’d done previously. I could even climb 5.8 in them and practiced that for a few weeks to see how they worked out. Whatever shoes or boots you take for the summit, I do recommend that you seal them up with an extra pair of socks in a silicone or otherwise waterproof kayak style bag and don’t touch them until you get dressed for the summit. A dry pair of socks and boots will really cheer you up.

Rope Solo 5.7 in Salomon Trail Running Shoes - Training for Carstensz Pyramid
Rope Solo 5.7 in Salomon Trail Running Shoes – Training for Carstensz Pyramid

I finally settled on the classic Scarpa Charmoz. Most everyone else on the trip had various light hikers, like the HiTec boots. Between the two I think that the Scarpa did better for climbing. Despite being Goretex they filled with water on the rappels down in the torrents of rain running down the limestone grooves. Because they were Goretex the water also stayed inside the boots. My toes got quite cold and very wrinkly wet. It was the next morning before they looked even close to normal.

Descending in Freezing Rain with very wet feet
Descending in Freezing Rain with very wet feet

I’m not sure what would have worked better, if anything. I probably could have been just as comfortable in the Salomons. It would have been easier to get them on and off to drain them. Being much lighter they would have dried out faster too. Something to consider would be one of the approach style shoes like the LaSportiva B5 which I think is available in a new version with high top Goretex. If by some miracle I ever go back to Carstensz Pyramid I might do that.

Wrapping Up

You’ll be reversing the order of the trip then, trekking back to an airport, flying to civilization, hanging out on the beach and going home. Trust me when I say that almost everything you take on the trek should be considered expendable. I ended up throwing almost everything away when I got to civilization. Some of it I was able to donate to the porters. Keep that in mind when you’re making your gear decisions.

If you have any questions, post them here or on my Facebook page and I’ll be happy to answer the simple ones as best I can.