In the email distributed prior to the clinic, they told us to bring all the gear we have so far that we would use on our actual climb. And everything we brought. I had a 65 litter pack but I ended up using every cubic centimeters of it to fit all the gear in it:
• Backpack - Osprey Atmos 65
• Pack cover - Gregory
• Sleeping bag - Mont Bell UL Super Stretch #1 (15 degrees F)
• Sleeping pad - Therm-A-Rest Toughskin Regular
• Balaclava - Fleece
• Fleece hat - Mountain Hardware
• 3 pairs of Gloves - Heavy warm gloves, Medium weight fleece gloves, and a glove liner
• Snow shovel - Black Diamond D7
• Ice Axe, 70cm - REI (made by Grivel), rented from REI
• Crampons - 12 points, semi flexible, stepin type with horizontal front points, rented from REI
• Climbing helmet - Petzl Ecrin Roc, rented from REI
• Small shovel for digging cat holes, etc.
• A small baggy containing odds and ends such as batteries, band-aids, accessory cords, matches, a lighter, mole skins, an emergency "blanket", a pen and a waterproof pad, etc.
• Packable towel - MSR
• A flask of whiskey
• First aid kit
• A bag of food
• Small cooking pot - Snow Peak titanium
• Insulated mug/cup
• Stove - Brunton
• Stove fuel
• 2 1q containers of water
• Extra cloths, long underwear (top and bottom), underwear, pants
• Outer shells - REI rain pants and Columbia jacket
• Warm insulating jacket: Columbia down jacket - borrowed from Jennifer today
• An assortment of carabiners
• Climbing harness - Black Diamond Blizzard
• An Assortment of runners/slings - 5 singles, 3 doubles, and 2 triples made of 1" webbings
• Prusik cords made of 7mm accessory cords
• Head lamp
• Waterproof notepad & pencil
• Glacier glasses
• Snow goggles
• Fire starter
I'm sure I missed few things but the total weight came to about 45 pounds or so. On the actual day of climb, after adding food, pieces of tents, etc., it might top 55lbs.
As we settled in the conference room, Mat was the first guide to introduce himself and talk to us. He had been a mountain guide for about ten years and he had been volunteering every year for the Reach The Summit program to train and guide the climbers. Soon, Joe, the guide who would be guiding my group climbing Mt. Adams, joined us.
Joe started by laying out few of the concepts that went into mountaineering. One reason why I have enjoyed mountaineering, I think, is because it requires the thought processes that are very similar to those in aviation (I'm a professional pilot by trade.) That might sound complicated but it really isn't. To me, the issue is pretty simple whether I'm climbing a mountain or flying an airplane, though it takes practice to get in a habit of thinking in this term - it is all about not getting yourself cornered into a situation you cannot get out of and making sure that you always have a way out (preferably more than one, actually.) I really enjoy putting together all the elements that goes into climbing mountains, from the initial planning to the actual climb and the descent. Not to mention the Plan Bs.
For example, Joe stressed the importance of keeping the exposure low while maintaining the control high when we are on the mountain. And that in fact it would be one of the guides' primary roles on our trips. The topic of conserving energy in order to maintain high level of reserve was another one. He pointed out the differences between cycling with his friends and climbing mountains with his friends as an example. When bicycling, Joe would go fast uphill so that he could savor the sight of the pain in his friend's face struggling to keep up with him. However, on the mountains, it would be the opposite extreme. On the mountains, he would like to make sure that his climbing partners are well taken care of so that they would be able to take care of him as well.
He talked a little about the equipment unique to mountaineering such as helmets, ice axes, crampons, and mountaineering boots, emphasizing particularly the importance of being cognizant of the sharp parts that could cause injuries if one was not being careful, like sitting on the pack with the crampons strapped on it. He also showed us how to carry the ice axes on our packs, a trick on how to carry the crampons, etc.
Then it was time for Jennifer to split us into three groups. Joe led the group that would be climbing Mt. Adams plus Charles who would be climbing Mt. Hood. Jennifer took the "girl power" group's helm. And Mat took charge of the rest. Once this task was completed, it was time to have our gear inspected by our respective leaders.
When my turn came, I dumped everything out on the floor and Joe looked at them one by one. He seemed mostly happy with what I had. Particularly my whiskey flask. About the only thing he mentioned was that I would not need to bring any of my webbings, pullies, carabiners, Prusik cords, etc. as each guide would be carrying a set. However, he also left it kind of up to me. I have not decided yet but I think I will probably carry a minimal set of things at least anyway. It's sort of a security blanket thing for me - I remember there were more than one occasions in my past when I wished I had certain equipment with me that I didn't take with me. They wouldn't do any good just hanging in my closet for sure. Joe also showed me how to tie cords and webbings into small bundles to keep them from flapping around in the wind.
We marched out to the bottom of a small gully next to the Timberline Lodge's overflow parking lot where we could practice safely. The snow was very soft, loose and heavy as my thermometer was threatening to shoot past 60 degrees. Joe had explained to us earlier what boot penetration meant, which basically was the measurements of how far your boot would sink into snow as you put your full weight on your foot each step. The boot penetration was probably nearly two feet or so in some sections.