A January Storm clears Mont Blanc: there are few places more alluring to climb than the Alps in winter - Dave Pickford
Winter climbing can be the biggest test your gear can take. With the possibility of numbing cold, ferocious wind, screaming barfies, and attempting to stay dry and warm, one might wonder why we winter climb at all. But for those that test themselves in these conditions the reward can be some of the most exhilarating days out on the hill you'll ever have. Be it lakes mixed rock, alpine summits or Scandinavian ice-falls, the conditions can be as varied as is the range of gear on the market. This list attempts to help with the choices to be made in choosing the right gear for the job.
The 2012 Winter Climbing Kit List has been compiled with product from the planetFear online store. Prices quoted are RRP's and are subject to change - many of the products here can be found cheaper in our online store. Products listed are subject to availability and are correct at time of publishing.
planetFear store Keswick.
Arguably, the most important single component of a winter climber's equipment is their clothing: without the right clothes, success and survival in the mountains becomes impossible. Layering systems are now considered the norm for most adventure activities, chances are you'll be hotter going up the mountain and cooler coming down, so instead of choosing one warm layer which goes on or off, the more versatile and sensible option is to wear a number of layers that can be tailored to the amount of insulation or ventilation that's required, hence the layering system. Wools and man-made fabrics are the only real options, fabrics such as cotton are useless on the mountain as they do not effectively get rid of moisture, therefore you're far more likely to get cold and stay cold. High wicking fabrics actively push moisture away from the body helping to keep you dry and are the foundation of a good layering system.
The North Face Light Boxer £19.99 Synthetic material boxers: vast numbers of people spend a fortune on outer layers and forget about the basics, cotton boxers or your old y-fronts are no good, layer up with modern fabrics or wool - these ones by TNF even have stain protection !?
Rab AL Zip Neck Top £49.99 Cold weather base layer for those who want a warmer next to skin layer. Rab have packed this one with antimicrobial treatments to prevent you from offending your hut buddies.
Rab MeCo 165 LS Zip Neck Top £59.99 Rab's new MeCo boasts a ‘5 times faster' drying time than pure merino wool and uses a 65% merino wool 35% polyester and Cocona fabric, which apparently comes from coconuts.
Rab Baseline Hoody £74.99 Close fitting, synthetic base layer, works best next to skin and as with any technical layer, the closer it fits the better it works. Thumb loops are a welcome feature saving your sleeves from riding up.
Mid layers give extra warmth and could be considered as essential as base-layers. The variety of mid-layers on the market is vast, we have what we consider to be some of the best on offer in the current market.
The soft-shell concept has been around for some years now, but improvements to the technology and functionality of these brilliant garments is continuous among the leading outdoor brands. A softshell is the ideal winter climbing outer-layer for all but the worst conditions: light and very breathable, yet warm and windproof enough to keep the elements at bay, a good softshell is a perfect companion on winter climbs.
Rab Alpine Jacket £74.99 Designed to sit somewhere between wind shirt and full softshell, the Alpine Jacket is aimed at mountaineering where a tough durable wind shirt may be needed, warmer windy days on mountain routes. Team with a hardshell and you've a very versatile layering system.
Rab Vapour Rise Jacket £114.99 A personal favourite, the Vapour Rise series has been around for a good number of years now and keeps getting better. Extremely breathable, extremely durable and extremely functional.
Rab Exodus Jacket £119.99 Midweight softshell option will be warmer than other softeshells so if you're working hard on Alpine days then this may be too much, however get it in to a Scottish winter day and it will be in its element.
Haglofs Naja Q Jacket £159.99 Durable Water Repellancy treated Windstopper soft shell that is lightweight and can be worn next to the skin with a smooth internal finish.
Marmot Super Gravity Women's Jacket £149.99 Using Marmot's own M1 softshell fabric the Super Gravity jacket provides a full range of movement for climbing and alpinism with its ‘Angel Wing' underarm cut.
Climber using a soft-shell system in perfect conditions on the classicof Mont Blanc Du Tacul, the Chere Couloir (TD). There is no need to wear a hard-shell in conditions like these - it can be safely stored in your pack! - Dave Pickford
Hardshells are what we use when the conditions get really tough. In Scottish winters you might be considered a fool for not taking one with you. They'll keep the worst of the elements out and help to keep to you dry. They need to be hard wearing and assist you in your climbing rather than hinder, you shouldn't really notice you've got it on. Fit is essential as it shouldn't ride up too much whilst your arms are above your head reaching for that next move and it should be designed so it doesn't get in the way of your harness or gear. To get the best out of your hard shell it's also essential to care for it properly. Wash it frequently in care products such as Nikwax, keep the outer of the garment ‘beading' properly and it will breathe far better, keeping you drier.
Hard shells more often than not use a waterproof membrane such as Gore-Tex bonded to the back of the face fabric, if the outer face fabric is saturated with water, the moisture on the inside won't be able to get out through the breathable fabric that you've paid all that cash for.
Marmot Stretch Man Jacket 2011 £179.99 Super Stretchy materials allow for greater freedom of movement and the ‘zonal venting' means it's great if you're prone to getting a sweat on.
Berghaus Velum Jacket £199.99 Gore-Tex's active shell is used to provide a highly breathable jacket suited to fast and light activity.
Rab Latok Alpine Jacket 2011 £219.99 eVent is used in this now classic jacket from Rab, the Latok goes from strength to strength every year. If you want a do-it-all shell then the Latok will not come up short. Guaranteed quality and fit from Rab yet again.
Rab Stretch Neo Shell Jacket £249.99 As the name suggests the Stretch Neo is..stretchy. Polartec's new Neo Shell fabric draws on technology from the softshell market to give high windproof and breathability qualities.
Berghaus Mount Asgard Jacket £259.99 Feature-packed this jacket comes from a prototype that was used by Leo Houlding on the Mount Asgard ascent on Baffin Island, Gore-Tex Pro Shell is used to give high durability and breathability.
The North Face Point Five Jacket 2011 £274.99 TNF's Summit Series jacket that is cut for the ‘leaner' figure, it's a fully featured mountaineering jacket that will protect you from the most harsh weather out there. Fully featured and cut for winter mountaineering.
Haglofs P3 Zenith Jacket £274.99 Sonic seam construction means less fabric overlap and less weight coupled with better fabric strength for durability, plus the Zenith incorporates stretch material for better fit and comfort.
Rab Latok Jacket 2011 £279.99 The more durable partner to Rab's Latok Alpine jacket, if thrashing your way up gullies and chimneys is your thing then this is your winter shell.
Haglofs Spitz II Jacket £359.99 The redesigned Spitz II builds on a classic jacket from Haglofs, now with what I consider to be a better fit around the body and the shoulders to provide a serious winter jacket that ticks all the boxes.
Marmot Alpinist Jacket - £399.99 The Alpinist jacket from Marmot is what I consider to be one of if not the ultimate winter shell. Marmot have seen that a lot of us who want to be out in winter often cross over sports. Team the Alpinist jacket with the Alpinist pant and you have a system which enables the internal snow skirt to be zipped out and the jacket connected via a panel directly to the pants, the perfect solution to winter climbers who also ski. The fit is generous enough for layering up and technical enough for hard winter days. Highly recommended for the multi-sport winter user.
Arc'teryx Alpha SV £459.99 The Alpha SV uses some of the most advanced and robust face fabrics on the market to deliver a highly durable and dependable jacket. Advanced construction techniques mean the fit on Arc'teryx jackets is unrivalled.
Haglofs Ratio Jacket £480.00 Feature packed mountaineering shell using Gore-Tex Pro Shell 3 layer construction for extra durability. Helmet compatible hood and stretch fabric in key areas make for a fantastic mountaineering jacket.
Rab Momentum Women's Jacket £189.99 Alpine climbing jacket made with eVent 3 layer fabric for durability. Lightweight alternative to the Latok Alpine.
Arc'teryx Alpha LT Women's Jacket £399.99 Arc'teryx' famed fit and construction make this jacket what it is, no compromise on materials and design. Arc'teryx are often credited with being the company that develops new technologies and brings them to the outdoors market, the Alpha series is no exception. Go LT for lightweight options or..
Keeping your extremities warm can mean the difference between a successful and enjoyable day's climbing and a thoroughly miserable one. Gloves come in many forms such as those intended as liners or for extra warmth, which aren't necessarily waterproof etc, and those which are designed to cope with the worst of the weather. If you get cold hands regularly consider buying your gloves a little bigger to accommodate liners or extra layers. Also as we mention further down, mitts are warmer than gloves but you'll sacrifice dexterity.
Black Diamond Glissade Glove 2011 £49.99 BD's most versatile winter glove, the all-round cold weather option. Don't forget to think about sizing if you're aiming to wear liners with gloves. Tight gloves won't keep your hands warm.
Rab Modular Mitt £84.99 If you suffer from cold fingers or expect to go where it is generally a lot colder then mitts are the sensible option. With your fingers held together inside, your hands will be warmer than with gloves where your fingers are essentially looking after themselves, but the sacrifice of mitts is less dexterity. Rab's Modular Mitt makes a compromise by giving a softshell glove inside the waterproof mitt.
Black Diamond Specialist Glove £89.99 A glove with ice climbing specifically in mind, featuring stripped down insulation with a fleece lining on the palm for when it gets colder, the 4-way stretch outer will provide good dexterity and the shell is totally waterproof.
Black Diamond Mercury Mitt 2011 £99.99 Choose mitts if you expect conditions to get extremely cold, BD's Mercury Mitt internal liner splits so that the index finger is separated from the other fingers, giving greater dexterity.
Arc'teryx Zenta LT Glove £109.99 Gore-Tex XCR gives total weather protection to this lightweight glove. Arc'teryx gloves fit like nothing else you've stuck your hand in to, but it comes at a cost.
Arc'teryx Zenta AR Mitt £119.99 Primaloft synthetic insulation is teamed with Polartec fleece to give a very warm mitt, try these on and you'll wonder how you ever coped wearing other mitts.
Arc'teryx Zenta AR Glove £129.99 A glove version of the Zenta mitt, similar Primaloft and Polartec fleece combine for a very warm glove.
Arc'teryx Alpha SV Glove £199.99 They say less is more, so I'll shut up. Just simply try these gloves on, they are incredible! Fit as only Arc'teryx can deliver.
planetFear's Chief Editor Dave MacFarlane leading out a winter pitch on good Lake District winter conditions.
Insulation on winter routes and mountain days is essential, stand around for oo long and you'll soon start to see how quickly your body cools and you start o shiver. Insulating jackets generally come in either down feather or ynthetic fill, although as shown below some manufacturers are now mixing these aterials. Down has a superior weight to warmth ratio, but becomes useless when wet. Synthetic fill retains warmth when wet but arguably won't pack down as small.
Additionally when looking at down feather, the term ‘fill power' will often be quoted. Put simply fill power is the ability of the down to loft and trap air. Fill powers range in the technical outdoors market from around 650 up to 850. 850 is more expensive and is considered ‘expedition quality' down, whereas 650 will be used on garments where weight is not so much of an issue and price-point of the garment in the market is important. A 650 fill down is not necessarily an inferior down to 850, it could simply just be more suitable to the end use.
Haglofs Barrier II Vest £79.99 The barrier series has been around for a few years now, the latest Barrier II vest build on a solid foundation by Haglofs. Synthetic fill with a sturdy durable outer with a DWR finish.
Arc'teryx Atom LT Vest £99.99 Vests are versatile pieces of kit, layer up with them for greater freedom of movement in the arms or stick it over a t-shirt when it's warmer weather. Keep your core body warm and the rest of you usually follows.
Marmot Variant Jacket £109.99 Synthetic Thermal R insulation is box stitched in to the front of the jacket with Powerstretch on the back and sides to keep weight and bulk down, well thought out hybrid design from Marmot.
Rab Generator Jacket £115.00 Pertex Quantum outer keeps the wind out and Primaloft One provides the warmth, highly packable synthetic insulation layer with many uses.
Haglofs Barrier II Hood Jacket £124.99 Hooded version of the Barrier jacket will keep your ears snug and warm, well priced for such a technical garment.
The North Face Redpoint Optimus Jacket £139.99 Alpine fit complements this Summit Series insulated jacket, Primaloft One again is used as the fill and a PU coating gives some water repellency.
Rab Generator Alpine Jacket £139.99 Pertex Endurance outer gives greater weather protection than the generator jacket and the Alpine also comes with a hood. Think belay jacket for long stances.
Rab Xenon Jacket £149.99 The Xenon comes in as the lightweight brother to the Generator Alpine, Pertex Quantum GL is astonishingly lightweight, making this more packable and lighter than other belay jackets, but it won't be as durable if it's getting hard wear and won't be quite as weather resistant.
Berghaus Ignite Belay Jacket £149.99 Berghaus use Primaloft as their synthetic fill alongside brands such as Rab, Haglofs and Arc'teryx and also similarly Berghaus throw in a helmet compatible hood. A good belay jacket at a good price.
Rab Photon Belay Jacket £174.99 Primaloft Sport is teamed up with Pertex Endurance for greater weather resistance, extra warmth for use on belay stances and standing around.
Berghaus Mount Asgard Hybrid Jacket £189.99 Hybrid means goose down gets mixed with Primaloft One for extra warmth, not literally mixed though. Down is box stitched on the chest and core while Primaloft goes on the arms and back. However, remember that wet down is useless, so keep this one dry.
Arc'teryx Atom SV Hoody £199.99 Differing weights of synthetic fill are used on this jacket to supply warmth whilst bulk is kept to a minimum. Great as a midlayer or buy it bigger for a belay jacket.
Arc'teryx Kappa Hoody £299.99 A beefed up synthetic fill provides extra warmth whilst Gore Windstopper provides total wind protection with light protection from rain. Windstopper will keep out more moisture than a standard Pertex but will weigh more and be bulkier to pack.
Haglofs Barrier II Q Vest £79.99 Women's specific cut of the Barrier Vest, the barrier series has been around for a few years now, the latest Barrier II vest build on a solid foundation by Haglofs. Synthetic fill with a sturdy durable outer with a DWR finish.
Rab Photon Women's Jacket 2011 £119.99 Primaloft Sport is used in varying weights on this jacket where it's needed, low weight and very packable the fit hugs the body to minimise bagginess and thus keeping you warmer.
Marmot Dena Hooded Women's Jacket £129.99 Style meets function with Marmot's Dena Hoody, Thermal R Eco is their own synthetic fill made from recycled stuff. Lightweight and fitted for climbing.
Rab Xenon Women's Jacket £149.99 With nothing extraneous added to this jacket, its minimalist design gets the job done whilst remaining super lightweight. There when you need it, not in the way when you don't.
Arc'teryx Atom LT Women's Hoody £179.99 Power Stretch sides and underarms are joined by Coreloft synthetic insulation on the torso for warmth where it's needed. Stick a wind and moisture resistant outer fabric on this with a DWR finish and there's not much this jacket won't deal with.
Arc'teryx Atom SV Women's Hoody £199.99 Severe version of the Atom LT, this one utilising full synthetic insulation all over and water resistant face fabric, warmer than the LT and can be used as an outer jacket in all but the worst conditions.
Arc'teryx Kappa Women's Hoody £299.99 99 Women's cut of the Kappa Hoody - A beefed up synthetic fill provides extra warmth whilst Gore Windstopper provides total wind protection with light protection from rain. Windstopper will keep out more moisture than a standard Pertex but will weigh more and be bulkier to pack.
Marmot Baffin 1/2 Zip Jacket £109.99 A down smock isn't a new concept, you just don't see many of them, Marmot use a 650+ down for this jacket for good weight to warmth ratio. I think down smocks are a personal choice, you dig ‘em or you don't, if you dig ‘em them this is a solid choice.
The North Face Massif Vest £109.99 When you're sat in the cafes of Chamonix town TNF's vest will look the part and if you eventually get out in the mountains and start getting cold then the 700 fill goose down will get your core cooking.
Rab Neutrino Vest £114.99 Pertex Quantum gets filled with 110g of 800 fill power goose down, providing superb loft and warmth to weight.
Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket 2011 £149.99 Suited as equally to Alpine climbing or mountain marathons, the premise behind the Microlight Alpine jacket is warmth all over with minimal weight, get them while they're available, these always sell out quickly.
The North Face Nuptse II Jacket £159.99 It's been around for a few years now and for good reason, hard wearing, classic styling, and 700 fill power goose down. Tried and tested.
Rab Ascent Jacket £164.99 A longer cut in the body means it's bulkier and heavier than other down jackets, but then you're getting more protection from the cold. The detachable hood is a useful feature as is the Pertex Endurance fabric giving increased resistance to airborne precipitation.
Haglofs Bivvy Down Jacket £179.99 Similar in design and looks to the Barrier Pro jacket except the Bivvy jacket is down and not synthetic filled, will be more packable than the Barrier Pro but not as effective in damp conditions. Also made from recycled materials.
Rab Infinity Jacket £209.99 Utilising the absolute best in down fill power, the Infinity sets a benchmark for high performance and quality. Expedition quality 850 fill power down is used with the lightest Pertex face fabric on the market - Quantum 10d - for superior weight to warmth.
Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket £219.99 Now an established classic the Neutrino Endurance, lightweight meets durable with the weatherproof outer and 800 fill power down.
Haglofs Belay Down Hooded Jacket £239.99 A higher fill power than the Bivvy Down jacket, The Belay Hoody uses 750 fill power down meaning that the down ‘lofts' more and therefore traps more air for its size, keeping you warmer with less weight and bulk.
Rab Neutrino Plus Jacket £259.99 Neutrino jacket gets a ‘Plus' meaning longer fit on the body and a helmet compatible hood.
The guys at Rab show us how much fun some 850+ expedition grade down can be.
Rab Neutrino Plus Women's Jacket £259.99 The neutrino Plus jacket gets a female cut with helmet compatible hood and longer fit on the torso for extended use and is suited for colder conditions.
A well-fitting and correctly chosen pair of winter mountaineering boots are about as important as any individual part of your clothing or racking system: they can (sometimes literally) make or break your climb. You should choose your boots according to the type of winter climbing your doing: if it's mostly ice-fall cragging in Europe, you'll be better off with a light, technical pair; if you're doing long Scottish winter routes or full-blown alpine faces, then you'll need something a little warmer, more robust (and therefore heavier). The most expensive boots on the market however will be totally useless if they don't fit you.
Scarpa Jorasses Pro GTX £339.99 Compatible with fully rigid crampons, Scarpa leave just a little flex in the boot for the walk in, lightweight modern materials ensure the boot stays comfortable all day.
Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX Boots £349.99 Coming from a mountaineering stand point the Mont Blanc will eat up Alpine peaks and is ideally suited to stomping through the mountains for days on end.
Scarpa Phantom Guide Boots £399.99 Multiple layers in the upper of the boot ensure high warmth for your feet, the gaiter keeps in the heat and the elements out, extremely lightweight for a fully stiffened boot the Phanotom Guide is at home in serious winter use.
Scarpa Phantom 6000 Boots £499.99 Designed specifically with 6000m peaks in mind, the Phantom 6000's have a removable inner liner and extra insulation giving greater thermal retention. The gaiter keeps out pretty much any weather and the boots now have a waterproof membrane throughout.
Ian Parnell ice-fall climbing in Italy - the right combination of bootsand crampons is crucial for ice climbing. Forget expedition-weight breeze-blocks: think light and comfortable. A good pair of socks can make even lightweight ice climbing boot functionally warm in sub-zero temperatures. - Dave Pickford
Having chosen the best pair of boots you can afford, socks are often an afterthought: they shouldn't be - a properly-constructed pair of insulated socks can immeasurably enhance the warmth and comfort of your boots:
The interface between your arms and the ice / rock is about as important a single item of winter equipment as any, and the selection of axes on the market reflects this. The choice between leashes or leashless has become easier now as many modern axes offer the facility of removing the leashes quickly. Axes come with two ratings, one for the shaft and one for the pick, these will either be ‘B' roughly for ‘basic' or ‘T' for ‘technical'.
B rated shafts are usually used for walking axes, they can be lighter as they are not designed for taking a lot of weight, T rated shafts on the other hand are a lot stronger. When it comes to picks these have the same rating system, you will generally only find T rated picks on stronger axes with a T shaft, there is often little need for a technical pick on a lightweight B rated shaft. However the opposite is available - a B rated pick on a T shaft, these are often designed with pure ice climbing in mind and aren't specifically designed for mixed climbing.
It is considered that a T rated pick is stronger torsionally - be it side to side - to resist breakage when used in rock cracks etc, than a B rated pick which is designed to go into ice with less torsional stress.
Prices for axes are per axe.
Grivel Munro Axe £60.00 A solidly designed walking axe, B-rated shaft and pick, a good choice for any winter walking.
Dmm Cirque Alpine Axe £72.50 Step it up a notch with the T-rated Cirque Alpine, allowing you to tackle easier steep slopes and steeper ground, the technical rated shaft will also the axe to be plunged in the snow and take a belay.
Black Diamond Raven Pro £89.99 A shaved down version of the Raven, this axe could be used for ski-mountaineering as easily as it is for winter summits.
Grivel Air Tech Evo Hammer £125.00 A beefed up winter walking axe the Air Tech Evo will go with you up steeper ground and in to winter gullies with ease, think lightweight semi-technical axe.
Dmm Fly Axe £124.99 Now an established classic the Fly's have been around for some time and are still a proven axe for mixed winter conditions. The balance of the shaft to head can feel ‘heavy' to some but is down to personal choice.
Black Diamond Reactor Axe £149.99 A leashless tool that BD claims is suited to all-round conditions, make your own mind up as to whether you want a B-rated pick with no leashes on UK winter routes, this depends largely at what level you're climbing. A great axe with good balance when used in the right hands.
Black Diamond Viper Ice Axe £169.00 Black Diamond's more ‘conventional' ice tool design, a B-rated pick comes with these winter tools which also include trigger finger support and fang for hand support.
Although more gets said about axes, equally important are your crampons. The B and C rating system for Crampons and boots respectively was originally devised by mountaineer and guide Brian Hall and has become established as the simplest and most effective guide to choosing the right boot and crampon combination.
The following information is quoted directly from Scarpa:
BOOTS - are classified as follows:
B0Typically a flexible 3-season walking boot (generally made with soft leather or fabric uppers) intended for summer or light year round hill walking with the emphasis on comfort. Not advisable or use with crampons as the boot does not provide a sufficiently stable platform, leading to the danger of the crampon detaching in use.
B1 Four seasons hill walking boots with semi-stiff midsoles and a supportive and durable upper. This allows the limited use of crampons for walking on short sections of easy snow and ice.
B2 A stiff 4-season mountain boot with a supportive upper made from high quality leather or tough man made material. They usually have facility for heel clip bindings to be fitted. Suitable for mountain walking, glaciers, easy alpine terrain and low grade Scottish winter climbs.
B3 A totally rigid midsoled technical mountaineering and ice-climbing boot. The sole has the facility to allow fitting crampons with heel clips and wire toe bails.
CRAMPONS - are classified as a result of the design of the metal crampon and the binding system:
C1 A flexible walking crampon which normally has 10 or 12 relatively short, non-aggressive points. Two may be front pointing. Generally designed with a metal forefoot and heel piece with a central bar that allows flex and adjustment of length. Attached onto the boot with straps or a flexible "plastic" toe and heel cradle system. (e.g. Grivel New- Classic)
C2 A mountaineering and mid-grade snow and ice climbing crampon. Features more aggressive points (usually 12 including front points). Normally designed with a metal forefoot and heel piece and a central adjustment bar. Attached with straps or heel and toe plastic cradle system or more recently toe strap / plastic cradle and clip-on heel (Grivel New-Matic)
C3 For technically difficult climbing often on steep ice. Aggressive front points are often vertically aligned and made out of forged steel to allow for better penetration in hard water ice. The ability to modify front points to a mono-point configuration is common. Many models are a one-piece rigid frame design. Normally attached by a full clip-on binding system of toe bar and heel clip (Grivel Cramp-o-matic).
Boots in the B3 category are ideal for C3 crampons and will also take C2 and C1. At the other end of the spectrum a B1 boot could only be recommended with a C1 crampon.
Grivel Monte Rosa Crampon £80.00 Classified as a C1 crampon these are suited to winter walking as they utilise a classic strap binding and have a semi-flexible design which makes them suitable for softer boots. These should be fitted to B1 boots as a guideline minimum.
Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro Crampon £134.99 Full step-in design comes in BD's stainless steel, 12 main points provide stability while with the serrated ‘sub-points' this could be called a 14 point crampon. Horizontal front points on this C3 rated crampon.
Black Diamond Cyborg Pro Crampon £164.99 Vertical front points meet step-in binding for a fully technical crampon designed for steep routes. Front points can be configured to mono if desired.
Grivel G20 Crampomatic Crampon £175.00 The top end in crampons means lightweight materials meet highest technical properties. This crampon is designed only for pure ice at competition standards for those pushing the boundaries of winter climbing and dry-tooling.
A normal ice limbing rack consists of ten ice screws, twelve quickdraws, three screwgates, a selection of slings, plus an abalakov threader and spare cord. For mixed limbs, this is then supplemented with various items of rock protection. Other items such as the bulldog and deadman can be very useful in frozen turf or snow; obviously whether you take these along will depend on your chosen route.
Black Diamond Ice Box £69.99 This durable organised kit bag holds four ice tools, a pair of crampons, ten screws and other bits. Good for travelling with and keeping all your other gear safe from points and sharp bits.
Black Diamond Ice Clipper £5.99 Carabiner designed for clipping ice screws to, it has a flat back to sit neatly against the harness and an easy opening wire gate. NOT LOAD BEARING.
A powerful headtorch is absolutely essential for any day out winter climbing: as any seasoned Scottish or Alpine winter climber will tell you, returning from a long route in daylight is a very rare event!
Petzl E+Lite £27.49 Designed as an emergency, back-up light it doesn't offer enough light for serious winter use, but is powerful enough to get you off the hill if all else fails.
Petzl Tikka Plus 2 £39.99 LED's now lead the way in headtorch technology, they'll allegedly never blow and are incredibly economical on power. The TIkka Plus 2 will kick out over 50 lumens delivering white light for up to 35 metres.
Petzl Tikka XP 2 £44.99 The Tikka 2 XP sports a wide angle lens for greater peripheral lighting and with 60 lumens will give light for up to 60 metres.
Petzl Myo RXP 2012 Headtorch £74.99 Up to 140 lumens is available with programmable light output levels, fully customisable light in a competitively priced package.
Silva Sprint Plus Headtorch £328.99 Suited to multi-sport use such as mountain biking, the Sprint Plus allows the battery to be carried on the body or in a pack to keep it warm and out of the way, a massive 1030 lumens is delivered for up to 140 metres of light. A serious lamp for serious use.
On longer alpine and Scottish winter routes, a 30 - 45 litre alpinerucksack is essential. Giles Cornah uses a prototype Karrimor Alpiniste 35 in Fournel, France. - Dave Pickford
A good, tough alpine climbing pack is an essential tool for days out winter cragging. As much as any other item of your winter kit, a well fitted and comfortable pack is key. Make sure it's not too wide to restrict movement and not too 'fussy' on the outside, too many features hanging off the pack will just get caught on rock and gear when you really don't want it to.
Osprey Sirrus 26 Rucsac £75.00 The Sirrus provides 26 litres of well organised space without giving too many weight-increasing features.
Haglofs Roc Speed Rucksack £79.99 A slim design means this pack can stay on your back whilst climbing those narrow gullies and chimneys and won't get in the way of your arms as your body moves naturally. Plenty of lightweight features make this 25 litre sack perfect for winter days.
Osprey Talon 33 £79.99 Coming in as a versatile contender that will be light enough for summer use at the crag or multi pitch mountain route and durable enough to be a good winter performer, axe/pole loops are teamed with waist pockets and load stabilising straps amongst a few of the features.
Osprey Mutant 38 2011 £89.99 Lightweight and stripped down, nothing more than you really need, perfect for winter days or lightweight multi day trips.
Pod Alpine 30 Rucsac £99.99 Durable pack designed specifically for the alpine environment, can be stripped down to suit needs and has a tapered shape for freedom of movement.
Osprey Talon 44 £99.99 This versatile mountain pack has a floating lid and will provide enough space for a full rack - should you want to take it - and is better for carrying heavier loads.
Osprey Variant 37 Rucsac £109.99 The Variant series is built specific for use, designed solely for cragging, alpine and winter use, they offer glove friendly buckles, crampon pouches, ski loops and removable waist belts amongst a few of their features.
Pod Alpine 40 Rucsac £119.99 Again a larger version of the Pod Alpine 30, for when you need more capacity.
OMM Jirishanca 35L Rucksack £119.99 A fully featured pack from OMM that weighs in at 1040g yet allows itself to be stripped down to a minimum weight of 675g. Durable materials meet mountain versatility.
Crux AK37 £120.00 Possibly the sack that others look up to. Crux's AK37 is the benchmark in climbing packs, strong materials and simple yet clever design. Can't be faulted.
POD Black Ice £140.00 Another pack with a solid reputation behind it, fully featured for alpine and mountain use, can be stripped down for a super-lightweight climbing pack.
Crux AK47-X £150.00 Floating lid alternative to the AK47, which in turn is the larger alternative to the AK37.
Packs available at the planetFear store Keswick.
Beyond the main categories outlined above, you may need other items in your winter arsenal if you're planning on tackling multi-day alpine routes: a lightweight stove, tent, and a 4-season sleeping bag and mat would be the basic minimum requirements here. Check out the planetFear Online store for more
And finally - don't forget that a large percentage of the equipment you buy for winter climbing, from clothing to ice screws and ropes, will be perfectly suited to that other great winter pastime - skiing! - Dave Pickford