Aconcagua Gear Review
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
While training and preparation are crucial components to climbing, the gear is the final piece to any success on the mountain. Some of the gear that I used on Aconcagua were items that I have used on nearly every expedition, while other pieces were new additions and ultimately used for trial and error to determine what I will use on Everest. I sang praises, and I also cursed names for the three weeks of Aconcagua. See what’s coming with me for the next expedition and what’s being left behind.
• Black Diamond Legend Gloves (Women’s, XS): I will never climb another mountain without these gloves. Their versatility and durability blew me away. Even though these gloves are water proof, they are breathable and do not sacrifice dexterity. The fit of these gloves are comparable to none. Since I have such small hands, it is hard to find gloves that offer practicality without restriction. These are the solution.
• Black Diamond Absolute Mitts (XS): This was the second expedition that these mitts joined me — the first was Elbrus (the highest point in Europe, Russia) where the entire system was a must for our summit. Fast forward to Aconcagua. We departed camp three for a summit bid at 4 in the morning. It was freezing and my hands always get destroyed from gripping my forearm crutches. While I did not find myself in a situation to need the entire mitt system, I pulled out the liners to wear and was shocked at how quickly my hands warmed up.
• Black Diamond First Light Hoodie (Women’s XS): As disgusting as it may sound, I wore this layer nearly every day. Sure, I probably should have burnt it after everything I put it through — but I can’t part ways with this thing! It was the only insulated layer that I wore to the summit, but was also key in my layering system for the far colder circumstances of our descent. Hands down, my favorite garment of the expedition.
Everest? For sure.
• La Sportiva G2 SM: My right foot has never been happier. The G2s have been on several expeditions with me now, and my foot has never even caught a minor chill. While they are extremely comfortable, the straight forward concept of a removable liner, dual boa system, and single zipper for the double boot design makes getting the perfect fit easy, even when you are bundled up.
• Curves “Legless” Leggings (Small): I wore these leggings for the trek in/out as well as in basecamp. Especially due to the heat, these leggings were my saving grace – they allowed me to take off and put back on my prosthetic without having to strip clothing. The modifications of a short left pant leg allowed me to make quick adjustments while on the move.
Signature Curves Leggings
• JetBoil (Flash Cooking System): Obviously the stoves are a necessity for boiling water for drinking and for meals, however this JetBoil was more important to me as a means for safety and my residual limb health. On summit day, we found ourselves in a near frost bite situation with my leg — thanks to the JetBoil we were able to warm water quickly to be able to thaw out my leg and continue moving.
• Wilderness Athlete Hydrate and Recover (Strawberry Pomegranate): This electrolyte fuel is on me everywhere I go. Whether it is in my backpack for air travel, my pocket during snowboarding, or in the lid of my pack on expeditions — it is a staple in my diet. Hydrating on the mountain is a tedious task and one that is everything, but enjoyable. On top of depleting our bodies due to the amount of effort exerted, the altitude caused even more dehydration.
On this climb, David consumed tons of water on the trek in. However, due to the heat he found himself ill. After introducing him to Hydrate and Recover, and seeing the benefits in his performance, H&R became apart of his routine too.
Hydrate & Recover® Packets
• Wilderness Athlete Energy and Focus (Tropical Fusion): Like H&R, I’ve used Energy and Focus for years for a number of reasons. In training, I use it as a pre-workout or quick pick me up for when I’ve over exerted myself. While on backcountry hunts, it is my replacement for brewing a morning coffee. For travel, its my trick for strengthening my immune system. On expeditions, I use it for that boost to continue pushing. On Aconcagua, David and I would often refer to it as our “Go Go Juice.”
Energy & Focus Packets
• Wilderness Athlete ReBar (Mountain Berry): Altitude sucks the life and energy right out of you. Consuming calories is a chore and an effort that everyone has to truly try to make. Yes, I used these bars on the trail, but I also used them as a “sweet” treat while in camp. Let’s face it, camp food sucks — and these were a delicious reward for forcing ourselves to eat another freeze dried meal. Though they are small, they are packed with protein. My favorite part? Even when they freeze at -25 degrees, they are small enough to put in my pocket to thaw out while on the move.
RE-BAR: Protein Energy Bar (single)
• Oxigen Shots: Altitude is notorious for clouding climbers’ minds and creating an internal battle. Mountaineering is a mind game of convincing yourself to continue, even when every ounce of your being wants you to stop. In the moments where I needed clarity to remind myself why I climb, or when I needed to focus on the overall task at hand and the mission to summit, I found myself with a shot in hand.
• Mountain House: Just typing these words made me nauseous. In the beginning of the climb, these were amazing and delicious — there was still a sense of novelty to them. However, after weeks of eating these meals, I can’t stomach the thought of them (even weeks later). That said, the convenience and their light weight make them worth it. Just add boiling water to the package and ten minutes later you have a warm meal and minimal trash. For freeze dried meals, they really are the best; I just need another month to come around to the idea of eating them again.
Pro Tip: Do not go for the Mac N Cheese.
Everest? We know the answer is yes, but I am fighting it for the time being.
• Nemo Chogori Tent (3 Person): I loved how spacious this tent and its vestibule was. Maybe its because I was one person in a three person tent, but I felt like I could have a dance party in it every night. Every wall and corner had pockets – the most I have seen in any tent — which was a massive help in keeping my gear organized. I also quite liked the dedicated spot for a headlamp to light up the space. Only downfall? We needed repairs after the first day of use.
• Therma-Rest (Women’s, NeoAir XLite): This inflatable air mattress lasted all of one night before I sent it down the mountain. I will commend the ease of blowing it up, however, I could not stay on this thing to save my life. While it slid all around my tent and off of my closed cell pad, I slid off of it.
Everest? That’s a hard NO.
• Western Mountaineering -40 Degree Bag (Bison GWS Expedition): Entirely excessive for this mountain? For sure. Down low, this sleeping bag was a sweat shop due to the warm temperatures. However, like on Denali when the winds are screaming, the air is thin, and the temperatures well below 0, I slept like a queen cocooned in comfort.
• Osprey Pack (Women’s Ariel AG 75, XS): I’ve used Osprey packs on all of my climbs. I will forever appreciate the fit of the packs and the number of options it has for organizing and compartment access. This pack also seems to be nearly indestructible considering everything I have put it through. On this climb, I found myself passing off my pack for river crossings or on steep loose terrain. Because Christopher was also carrying an Osprey pack, we were easily able to attach the two together — a game changer for efficiency during climbs.
Everest? Sadly, no. This is a great tool for backpacking, but I need ultra lightweight everything this time around.
• Pelican Headlamp (2765): The most compelling part about this product is how light it is and how comfortable it was. On the trail, it stayed in my pack — but got the most use at night in camp and on summit day. It lit up the trail during the wee hours of the morning for the ascent and descent.
• SideStix: On Kilimanjaro, the locals referred to my SideStix as my “front hooves.” They weren’t wrong. My SideStix are my lifeline on the mountain — they keep me upright and stable while allowing me to distribute my weight differently in regards to terrain, as well as the state of my residual limb.
• Pelican Duffel Bags (MPD100): I used these duffels for nearly every stretch of the expedition – from traveling from LA to Argentina to storing gear back at the hotel, and even on the mules in to base camp. If you are looking for a duffel that will withstand the elements and that is strong enough to endure the roughest terrain and conditions, this is the duffel bag for you. Three duffel bags had ample room to carry all of my equipment, back up prosthetics, food, and clothing with plenty of room to spare.
Pelican Case (iM2050 Storm): My prosthetic crampon foot is the most important piece of gear that I have. Without my crampon foot, I can kiss summits goodbye. This Pelican case has been used on several of my expeditions to transport and protect my foot — definitely recommend.
Everest? For sure.