Month: March 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.

Carstensz Gear List Focus on Clothing

If you’ve dreamed of climbing the highest peak on the continent of Oceania, you’ve undoubtedly had a look at a Carstensz Gear List. If you go to the different guide companies they will put up their list for you to read and prepare. My own biggest gripe about the average Carstensz Gear List is that they seem pretty copy/paste and don’t consider the serious and extreme conditions that you will endure on this trek and climb.

Descending in Freezing Rain - your Carstensz gear list should have rainwear
Descending in Freezing Rain – your Carstensz gear list should have rainwear

Carstensz Gear List: Bali Tourism

Many of the guides and outfitters that service this area will include a day or two before and/or after your trek and climb in Bali or another beach resort area.

Bali Clothing:

  • 1 – Swimsuit – fast drying works best
  • 1 – Thin airy travel pants
  • 2 – Thin airy travel shirt
  • 2 – Thin airy undies

That should be all you need in the way of clothing for your beach resort phase of your expedition.

Does your Carstensz Gear List consider your beach days in Bali?
Does your Carstensz Gear List consider your beach days in Bali?

Carstensz Gear List: Papua Clothing

You might be in the West Island area, maybe Timika, for a few days waiting on weather for your flight. It might be a bit cooler at times, and insects and rain could also affect your comfort level. You will be leaving a bag in Bali most likely, and some outfitters do not return to Timika to get a bag left there. That means that everything you have in Timika will be going on the trek with you. Do not bring your Bali clothing on the trek. You will want some relatively clean and decent smelling clothes to put on when you return to Bali. So when you leave Bali, wear the following.

Timika Clothing:

  • 1 – very thin, very light weather resistant trekking pants
  • 1 – thin and light base layer shirt
  • 1 – thin and light undies
  • 1 – thin light water-resistant windbreaker
  • 1 – tech (running) baseball cap

Remember, these are your trekking clothes. You should be fine in Timika with those items on.

The Local Airport in Timika
The Local Airport in Timika

Carstensz Gear List: Trekking Clothing

The trek might be the worst part of the trip. It can be long, miserable, wet, muddy, and get colder each day you’re out. Then on the return trek it will get warmer each day. While most outfitters will give an estimated time for the trek do not get locked into that. Allow a few extra days for roadblocks, weather and emergencies. The less you have with you the better, overall. If you’re already experienced in expeditions, such as having climbed Kili, you know. Otherwise, get used to having to wear the same set of clothing for a couple of weeks. You already have some of these trekking items in your Timika list so add in the following.

Trekking List

  • 1 – pair of quick drying shorts
  • 1 – set of alternative or backup undies
  • 1 – tech fabric t-shirt
  • 1 – thin waterproof/breathable parka with zipper vents
  • 1 – thin waterproof/breathable pants with zipper vents
  • 1 – thin tech (helmet liner) beanie
  • 1 – fleece jacket with hood
  • 2 – pair fleece gloves with rubber pads, one pair weather resistant
Decked out in trekking clothes from my Carstensz gear list
Decked out in trekking clothes from my Carstensz gear list

Carstensz Gear List: Climbing Clothing

For climbing day on Carstensz you’ll be on jagged limestone cliffs using fixed ropes. I recommend that you keep this second set of clothes zipped up tight in a waterproof cargo bag and do not touch it until you get dressed to head for the summit in the middle of the night. You can use your windbreaker and waterproof/breathable jacket and pants if you have been able to keep them dry. If you have any doubts, add in the extra set to this list.

Summit Day Clothing

  • 1 – pair rugged thin softshell climbing pants
  • 1 – pair undies reserved for summit day
  • 1 – base layer set (pants/shirt)
  • 1 – fleece/hybrid/softshell jacket
  • 1 – medium weight synthetic puffy
  • 2 – pair treated leather gloves
  • 1 – synthetic buff (neck tube)

Climbing Carstensz might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Do not go cheap and do not risk having the wrong clothing.

On the summit of Carstensz Pyramid, Puncak Jaya on 30 April 2013
On the summit of Carstensz Pyramid, Puncak Jaya on 30 April 2013

Carstensz Gear List Consulting

If you are in need of further information about the Carstensz gear list, based on my own successful experiences, then please, buy the book I wrote about my climb Carstensz, Stone Age to Iron Age.

If you need some question answered that isn’t covered here or in my book, I do offer Google Helpouts consultations at a great rate, and they’re well worth the money and time. I have consulted with dozens of people about their own concerns for a Carstensz trip, and so far several have already had successful climbs. If you take a chance on Carstensz, you should definitely increase the odds in your favor.

Ice Climbing in Ouray

Todd Gilles and I haven’t had a chance to climb for a few months, so at the prompting of my wife we arranged an ice climbing trip to Ouray Colorado. Todd, if you might remember, was the star athlete I coached to a 3rd place finish at Elbrus Race 2013 [Book of the same name]. We arrived late on Thursday night. Actually very early Friday morning. We stayed at one of my favorite hotels, the Twin Peaks Lodge [CLICK HERE]. If you book online you can get a huge discount. The breakfast is decent and the pool and spa are good. It’s also right at the base of the trail up the canyon.

Ice Climbing in Ouray Colorado with beautiful sunrise
Ice Climbing in Ouray Colorado with beautiful sunrise

We set the alarm for 7:30 to try and get at least a little shuteye before heading out on our ice climbing adventure. The breakfast was decent and we enjoyed watching the little tourism video playing, noting that the skiers were the only sportsmen portrayed as proficient. We packed up for a day of ice climbing. I took the rope and Todd took the bag of pro. We took off up the canyon trail. The little ice rink by the fee building was buried in snow. I was wanting to climb in the Five Fingers area, but parts of it were roped off and closed. The park was almost empty.

Todd tossing the rope down our ice climbing route in South Park
Todd tossing the rope down our ice climbing route in South Park

As we passed the Scottish Gullies we saw a few ropes and heard a few climbers. We weren’t alone after all. We walked around to the road to see the Fingers, but it looked really beat up. We decided to head up to the School Room to see what it looked like. We put on our crampons at the base of the Kids Wall. We didn’t really need them though. The path was pretty solid. The ladder down into the bottom of the School Room was closed. We saw some groups ice climbing and a few of the routes were free. Todd wanted to take me to the South Park area where he’d climbed with friends the week before.

We kept going past New Funtier, where there were a lot of people ice climbing. We got to the South Park area of the Ouray Ice Park. There had been several inches of snow the last couple of days and we were happy to see someone had dug out the bolted anchors for the route Todd wanted to do. I set up a couple of long 6-mm and 8-mm static cords and equalized them. I’ve gotten a lot faster at that over the last couple of years. Todd flaked out the rope and found the middle. I clipped that into the twin opposed lockers and Todd tossed the rope. I let him have the privilege of rappelling down first. That way I could watch the anchor and make sure it was equalized. In ice climbing you might wander a bit more than in a rock climb, since you don’t have to follow the line of the available holds. You make your own.

Todd rappelling in to our ice climbing area at South Park
Todd rappelling in to our ice climbing area at South Park

We climbed for several hours, pacing ourselves pretty evenly. With only two climbers it’s possible to climb too hard too fast without enough rest. We alternated turns and took an extra ten minutes to eat and drink between each set of laps. That allowed us sufficient recovery time so that we didn’t burn out on ice climbing. We walked down the canyon (North) and found another route we wanted to try with a lot of variety. I climbed out with my pack then belayed Todd out with my Petzl REVERSO set in Auto-Lock mode. It was a bit of a struggle as the bolts were on the ground so I tied in a little below the anchor so that I stood with the Reverso at about knee height.

South Park wasn’t too busy that day so we were able to get on one of the ice climbing routes we’d found from the bottom. I did a backed-up anchor on a tree with 8-mm cord and a 13-mm sling. Todd stacked the rope, then tossed it down and rappelled in while I watched. I don’t like tree anchors so much. That’s why I back them up, probably more than I need to. We had a blast climbing. Todd has only been ice climbing a little over a year, but he’s gotten really good in that time. Probably because he pays attention to good climbing and tries to emulate it.

Ice Climbing Video: Todd Gilles Tops Out in South Park

I saved for last a short stretch of slightly overhanging ice at the beginning of the route, where a curtain formed over a large rock. I climbed it in my pack on the way out. This time I belayed Todd from the tree with a Petzl Grigri, which is a lot easier to do one-handed or no-handed. I took that short video of Todd topping out once I could see him where he transitioned off the vertical ice into the narrow chute at the top between the ice-making nozzles. I love the happy look on his face.

We hiked out then after a great day of ice climbing and talked about dinner on the walk down. We decided to go to Buen Tiempo for Mexican, then head to the motel hot springs. On the way into the parking lot we saw some deer that were walking in the little dog park in the middle of the motel courtyard. That was pretty neat. Since we arrived in the middle of the night we had to go to the motel desk to recode our keys. Just to make sure it’s me I suppose. After hanging out for a few minutes we walked the few blocks to town.

Apres Ice Climbing Activities in Ouray

Deer in the middle of Ouray Colorado is a common site
Deer in the middle of Ouray Colorado is a common site

Buen Tiempo was closed for another half hour so we walked to Ouray Mountain Sports to see if there were any ice climbing toys that we didn’t own yet. Nope. You can dream though, right? We walked back to the restaurant and they were open. After, we went to Mouse’s for hot chocolate and a chocolate treat for a midnight snack. It was getting late and we were pretty tired. The hot spring pool was very hot and felt great after our day of ice climbing. We soaked for about a half hour. Just long enough to feel really cooked. We went back to the room and crashed.

Rainy morning in Ouray Colorado
Rainy morning in Ouray Colorado

The next day we woke to rain. We drove through the park and saw that School Room had only one rope set up in it. I’ve never seen it that empty. The routes in the Fingers area had fresh snow on them from overnight. I imagine they’ll be gone soon. In the Gullies there were horizontal cracks. The season is wrapping in the Ice Park. I think a couple weeks more at the most, depending on the weather. A few cold days should prolong it. But for me it’s over now. I won’t be going back to Ouray for ice climbing until January 2015 most likely. I will miss it until then.