Creative Shoving 101: how to pack for alpine climbing.
Alpine Climbing: The art of shoving; shoving the lightest and most compact gear I currently own into the smallest pack. Bonus points are given for creativity. Success! I nail it. With my shoving expertise I fill each itty bitty air bubble or minuscule cubbyhole for a tight, well-balanced pack. A smile grows across my face as I envision the transitional ease from the trek into base camp when half my gear is dumped to a lighter summit climb.
Now I just need the right pack for this job. I eye the Deuter line-up before me.
I am packing for one of the objectives on my Advanced Alpine Guide Course and Aspirant Exam through the American Mountain Guides Association. This organization is the go-to place for formal training and education for the guiding profession. No smaller or larger pack volume is appropriate for a three day climbing trip on Silver Star Mountain in the North Cascades. The same proved true for my other overnight objectives on our course and exam.
Creative Shoving 101:
OK, here we go. Sleeping bag and pad, puff jacket and other clothing accessories such as gloves and GoreTex, tent, climbing rack, helmet, harness, picket, ice ax, water, food, JetBoil & 8 oz fuel canister, first aid kit, 40m rope... 35L+. Yeah, this will fit in a 35L. Hmm...
I weigh the choice between the 0 degree sleeping bag (which has survived four rapidly-aging duct-taped years) and the 40 degree super light bag (this one has lost more goose feathers than it currently has). I realize with the Pacific NorthWET predictions, I will need the larger 0 degree bag and will have to go with the 45L+. Damn!
Although carrying a smaller pack is psychologically comforting, the 10L difference is insignificant in weight (especially with the Deuter Guide series). Using an appropriately spacious pack for the amount of gear you bring is essential to how the pack load evenly distributes. If you attempt to cram too much and strap too many accessories to the outside, not only does this fall in to the 'gumby/newbie' category but your hip bones suffer the consequences.
For the past six months, I have predominantly used the Guide 45L+ throughout the spring season guiding Mt Whitney four day trips and summer season guiding on Mt Rainier and the North Cascades. I have found for most multiple day climbing objectives, the 45+ has the durability to withstand the daily abuse and elements as well as the versatility to create space and slim down to the basics.
The brain (lid) expands allowing 10L additional space or when climbing, it packs away inside the body after gear has been extracted. This feature is key when moving from a glacier to a rock band, a common occurrence in the North Cascades. Silver Star Mountain proved to be no exception. During transitions the brain of my Guide 45 was enclosed inside, leaving a level, flattened top allowing range of motion for my helmet and rope coils.
The gear loops on the pack waist belt allow for 'immediately needed' gear to be easily accessed. Often times, gear clipped on harness gear loops is covered by the pack's waist belt rendering it inaccessible.
The most impressive feature of the Guide 45+, exemplary of all Deuter products, is its lifespan. Currently with over 200 days of use from 2013 & 2014, this pack shows little wear aesthetically and structurally.
About Deuter Ambassador Lindsay Fixmer
When Lindsay began climbing over 14 years ago, she knew her life was forever changed. In pursuit of inspiring heights, seeking new adventures and mountainous challenges became her goal. Throughout her rock, ice and alpine climbing career, Lindsay has climbed in 25 states throughout the U.S and abroad in classic destinations such as Potrero Chico in Mexico, Canmore and Banff in Canada, and Southeast Asia. Professionally Lindsay has coached nationally competitive youth climbing teams and managed one of the largest climbing gyms in the nation. She currently guides across the U.S and abroad in the Sierra, Rockies, Tetons, Cascades, the northeast and southeast Appalachia range, and Argentina. Lindsay most enjoys sharing her passion in various terrain with fellow mountain enthusiasts. A Deuter ambassador since 2010 with an eclectic mix of Deuter packs ranging from the Speedlight 20 to the entire Guide collection to the ACT 60+, Lindsay is psyched to take on any new mission.