Old, Seasoned Gear, Far Mountains

At long last, the weather is more seasonable. Peaklessburg had 11 days this November over 70 degrees (F). Yesterday morning I wore a jacket and gloves and steam rose off my coffee.

I’m already looking forward to my winter getaway later in Vermont’s Green Mountains and I was making a mental list of what I would pack. It struck me that it’s mostly the same stuff I’ve been packing for winter fun for ten or more years, that I bought primarily as body armor for Adirondack ice climbing and that I now employed for snowshoeing and skiing.

There is the long, old-style shell, the ice climbing gloves bought on discount and the fleece insulation with the old EMS logo getting compressed, but not yet stripped at the knees and elbows. I wondered whether a refresh was in order.

This thought struck me because shortly before Thanksgiving I read 36 — that being issue 36 of Alpinist magazine. I really enjoyed it and already reread my favorite articles and sidebars, like Derek Franz’s fiction piece and Joe Josephson’s history of ice climbing in Hyalite Canyon in Montana. It’s enough to get really excited about the Bozeman Ice Climbing Festival next week!

I also enjoyed perusing through the three catalog inserts 36 came with from Mammut, O.R. and Bent Gate Mountaineering (BMR). For a moment, I was succumbing to the marketing genius and contemplated buying a three-layer Gore Tex hard shell in some bold, bright new color.

Some of you might remember that the popular color for new gear in the late 1990s and the early 2000s was a muted purple. That bright green — like on the jacket that Jimmy Chin zips up in that populist commercial from The North Face — I don’t think was even invented then.

My gear, minus my original shell, does the job of keeping me warm, dry and protected from the wind as appropriate, so from a practical standpoint there is little reason to make serious upgrades. I bought a new shell a couple of years ago that I am reasonably pleased with, but it is not nearly the hardcore climbing shell my original parka was.

Besides, having signed onto the Common Threads initiative recently — which I take seriously — there is no functional need right now to make big changes to what I am putting in the back of my Subaru for Vermont. Perhaps if I was heading for climbing in the Revelation Mountains or the Cirque of the Unclimbables I would get outfitted with brand new layers. Then again, maybe I would just sew patches on the threadbare areas and play up the old, veteran-of-the-hills look.

So, I could definitely use a bit of a refresh at some point. But I might wait until just before I might embarrass Wunderkind one day; I’ll be picking Wunderkind up from school or skating practice in the future wearing some ridiculously muted purple jacket with patches. Yes, that would be the right time.

Thanks for dropping by again. If you enjoyed this post, please consider following the Suburban Mountaineer on Facebook or Twitter. Happy reading and carpe climb ’em!

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