/ First Time Alpine Climbing Questions

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Sutty22 - on 08 May 2012
I'm hoping to head out to Arolla in late June for my 1st time Alpine Climbing and have a few questions.

1. Boots. I currently have some La Sportiva Trango S (nearly certain NOT the gtx model)and some Nepal Extremes. The Trangos are very light and extremely comfy and the Nepals are obviously heavier and not quite as comfy although much warmer. Which boots would people recommend taking or would you take both? I don't plan on going above 4000m although plans are pretty loose right now :-)

2. Alpine axe. I have new model Petzl Quarks which I use for scottish winter. I plan on doing mainly rocky ridges in the alps. Would I get away with using one of the Quarks for the approaches or would it be worth getting an alpine axe?

3. Maps. Do people mainly use 1:50,000 or 1:25,000 scale?

Hopefully some of you experienced guys can point me in the right direction. Thanks in advance.

Chris
MJH - on 08 May 2012
In reply to Sutty22:
> I'm hoping to head out to Arolla in late June for my 1st time Alpine Climbing and have a few questions.
>
> 1. Boots. I currently have some La Sportiva Trango S (nearly certain NOT the gtx model)and some Nepal Extremes. The Trangos are very light and extremely comfy and the Nepals are obviously heavier and not quite as comfy although much warmer. Which boots would people recommend taking or would you take both? I don't plan on going above 4000m although plans are pretty loose right now :-)

Depends on what crampons you have and what routes you want to do. If you are staying off snow and lower down then the Trangos are probably fine. If you want to get higher then the Nepals. If you have the option of both then may be take them both.

> 2. Alpine axe. I have new model Petzl Quarks which I use for scottish winter. I plan on doing mainly rocky ridges in the alps. Would I get away with using one of the Quarks for the approaches or would it be worth getting an alpine axe?

You will get away with a quark, but just be aware of the limitations (braking and less comfortable walking etc).
>
> 3. Maps. Do people mainly use 1:50,000 or 1:25,000 scale?

The IGN 1:25k maps.
JLS on 08 May 2012
In reply to Sutty22:

1. I thinl most people would err on the side of the Nepal Extremes.

2. A Petzl Quark is not ideal but if that's what I had I'd just use it.

3. I think the 1:25,000 are easier to read as 1:50,000 look very cluttered. In reality they are the same maps just scaled up. To be honest the maps are really only for route planning. I cann't remember ever having to use a map for navigation on an Alpine route - but perhaps I've just got a good memory for the features I'm intending to link. If the weather is so bad you'd need to navigate with a map you'd do well to not go out.
Simon Pelly - on 08 May 2012
In reply to Sutty22:

1. My first alpine trip was with Nepal Extremes - great boots. Borrowed a pair from my climbing partner who is same size as me (handy), did not have any boots at that time. Next year's trip got myself a pair of Trangos. Unless there is a bundle of snow plodding/too high (cold), would recommend the Trangos. Found them to be much better for climbing rock in.

Taking two pairs of boots could make it difficult to stay with weight limits though. We end up wearing our boots through the airport to make sure not paying for excess baggage.

2. You could get away with Petzl Quarks, however, if you can stump the cash, would recommend light weight alpine axes.

3. Suggets maps with highest resolution possible. As already mentioned, you're unlikely to be navigating by them though. If the weather is going to be bad enough to have to navigate by map/compass - suggest choose another day/route.
jhw - on 08 May 2012
I think Quarks would be perfect actually - I'm using them this year. I'm actually taking both as I felt I could have done with two on some bergschrunds last year, and they're so lightweight
Sutty22 - on 09 May 2012
In reply to Sutty22: Thanks for everyone's replies. A lot of this years trip will be a fact finding mission anyway but all the advice is a great help. I just need to pull my finger out now and book the flights and find a partner.

Thanks again, Chris
harry1969 - on 09 May 2012
In reply to Sutty22: Swiss maps are Swiss Topo rather than IGN (which is the French mapping organisation)
mattrm - on 09 May 2012
In reply to Sutty22:

I used a Quark last year and got on fine with it. If it's your first season then I'm sure it'll do fine as you don't get many really steep slopes on easy routes.
Mountain Llama - on 09 May 2012
In reply to Sutty22:

1. Go with the Nepal, as they will cover more options.

2. Quarts will b ok, a tad short perhaps but manageable.

3. I use swisstopo 283 1:50k for arolla available online from Needlesports or stanfords, be careful as many euro 1:25k maps are just blown up from 1:50k with no more details.

HTH Dave
Skyfall - on 09 May 2012
In reply to Sutty22:

I would mostly reiterate what has been said above - the quark(s) will be fine (perhaps not ideal but fine). I would just take one if you aren't planning on doing any steep snow/ice but if you think you might find yourself front pointing up a steep hard snow slope you may feel more comfortable with two. It's not an easy one to answer but, generally, one axe is fine when getting started on easy classic alpine routes.

If you are doing classic snow/rock routes then I agree you would be best with the Nepals as they will be rock solid with a crampon. I can say from experience that the Evo S is not totally reliable with a crampon (mine fit well and I've still had them pop off due to boot flex) though it is a great approach and scrambling boot. If, however, you are only doing fairly short non-time pressured glacier approaches to rock routes they would be fine. I have matched mine with a lightweight alloy crampon before when doing that sort of alpine route. The problem is that if you are doing glacier approaches in the dark and possibly some steep'ish snow work, I wouldn't really trust the Evo's so I would suggest going for the Nepals unless you do know that you are doing very easy snow/glacier approaches which the Evo's can cope with.

So have you thought what rope combo to take...?

Enjoy anyway.
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Sutty22 - on 09 May 2012
In reply to Sutty22: Well, it looks like I'll take the Nepals. If I've got any weight limit left I might throw the Trangos in and try them out.

I'll stick with the Quarks for now, maybe invest in an Alpine axe for my next trip.

I'll order my map/maps before I go and settle for the 1:50000. Once again, after my first trip I'll be better placed to make my own descision.

As for ropes, I only have a 50m 9.2mm rope so I guess I'll stick with that for the moment. Thanks for everyone who has given advice. I am very grateful.

Cheers, Chris

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