/ Gear for Peruvian Andes

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G1000 on 12 Feb 2013 -
I'm new here. I usually just hike in the UK and I have an exciting trip coming up and want to make the most of it. I'm going late May/early June to the Peruvian Andes. It's the start of winter but i'm not too sure of the temeratures up in the high mountains.

At the very least i'll be hiking around 4000-4500m mark and i'm hoping to get fit enough to tackle a beginner climbers mountain which will be around 5700m.

I've got base layers and a very effective ME smock which is windproof and microfleece inside. It works well on it's own in warmer weather or part of layering. I've got a NF Nupse down jacket. I have lots of fleece but they need replacing if I decide to use fleece but tbh I am not everly keen on them. I'm probably going to replace my waterproof shell at some point but the one I have is ok and will fit helmet underneith hood.

I'm ideally looking for an extra layer for the more gentle active parts. I am also going to need something for basecamp and on the summit/during periods of inactivity.

I feel my nuptse would be good for basecamp and summit but it's not the lightest to carry, plus it needs attention as it was compressed in storage for 1 year!! I have a Rab infinity down (with hood) and also a Rab microlight down (no hood) on hold in shop. Also for mid layer I have a Rab Generator stretch jacket and Rab Vapor Rise (non stretch) Jacket on hold. These actually seem quite thick tho. Hmmm All these are massivly reduced in sale half price and I prefer Rab (and M.E) due to the fit, they have long arms.

So it's basically down vs the synthetic tops. And whether a hood is good for the thick down jacket and would get in way if worn for some of the climbing. I wondered if the microlight down would serve as my basecamp jacket in addition to on the mountain but it's only thin. I also wondered about a vest top but havnt seen any in a good price range.

I'm really struggling to decide what to do. I've not been in those sorts of mountain ranges and I won't really want to buy clothes that only serve that purpose. Granted I am going to northern Finland in the snow very soon so down is good for that dry environment (i'll take my Nuptse) but mosty I walk in UK. I'd not normally think of wearing down in the UK (although it's likely to be worn under my shell.)I wonder if the down might not be good for very active stuff as if you sweat then it gets damp and no good. I don't want to struggle in the Andes tho, it's not going to be easy and if i'm not dressed in the best way then i'm more likely to have issues with continuing my activities.

Sorry long mesage but any help appreaciated. These tops listed are really likely my only option as they fit better than other makes and they are the only ones in the sale. Any other ideas considered tho but these half price deals will be difficult to avoid!

G1000 on 12 Feb 2013 -
Also... trousers
I wear Fjallraven so I can get the length right as I have long legs. I have these for hiking

would I be MUCH better off with these for the trip? MUCH expense!
Damo on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to G1000:

Sounds like you won't be camping over 5000m, so if your sleeping bag is decent to -10C or so you shouldn't need too much on top. The Infinity is the better jacket for high/cold but if the rest of your activity is UK etc then a hooded synthetic might be better (Rab Generator Alpine or Photon etc).
- Whichever, make sure it has a hood.
- Wearing down inside a shell is really not the best, for the reasons you've proposed.
- shelled microfleece (Vapour-rise etc)are quite good for the Andes, as it is often windy, but they can be too hot down low, on the trek approach or in villages. A light windproof over a thick baselayer or light midlayer is more versatile.
- sorting out the above is more important for now than your shell
- moving in the early hours at 5500m you should be fine in baselayer + shelled microfleece midlayer + synthetic insulated jacket. Jacket off when the sun comes up.
- all this assumes your feet, hands and face are sorted They're more vulnerable than your torso,
The Ex-Engineer - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to G1000: I think you're over-analysing things - chuck the Nuptse in a tumble drier to restore its loft (a few tennis balls help) and you should be fine with it.

I didn't really give much thought to clothing on the expedition to Peru I was on in 2009 which included both trekking and 5000m peaks. Other than decent boots (La Sportiva Nepal Extremes) I had a fairly random selection of clothing, none new or bought specifically for the trip and not much different from what I'd wear on any mountain trip in the UK from Autumn through to spring, or trekking in the Alps/Pyrennes.

I had a couple of mid-layers, old Mammut Champ pants, a rather baggy MHW softshell, waterprooof top and trousers, really cheap hat and some fairly well-used ME guide gloves. However for basecamp use I had a RAB Expedition down jacket (thicker is definitely better!) but others had various ones, including lighter ones like RAB Neutrinos.
JH74 - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
> (In reply to G1000) I think you're over-analysing things -

+1 to this. Take some warm clothes, some waterproofs and a down jacket for the evenings. Spend the money you've saved on some pukka c#ke when you get there. Just kidding! Sort of.

G1000 on 12 Feb 2013 -
Thanks guys

Damo, the hands, feet & face bit... i'd not really got round to that yet :/

No idea what to do about boots. I don't have any to fit crampons and don't want to be buying any and carrying them around but then again hiring there probably end in blisters!! There are some mountains for first time climbers that have no vertical ice climbing stretches at all. Someone said they used their own boots which werent plastic B3's with the crampons that were handed to them.

Hands, I have a random selection of gloves but probably none any good for this. Nothing with any grip anyway

Face, I have a bizarre almost neoprene type thick fabric thing that resembles a gimp mask than you wrap around and velcro at the back. It just has small holes to breathe through and if you wore a ski mask/simaler then no skin would be showing. I wasn't expecting to need that one tho

I am racking my brains about everything I have and nothing has a hood (apart from shell). I think if a hood on one of the tops is essential then i'll have to take the half price hoodless microlite and generator out of the options. Booo

Thankyou again everyone
almost sane on 12 Feb 2013 -
In reply to G1000:
If you are going with an organised trip, the company should have some good advice.

If you are camping below 4,500m, then hopefully you shouldn't get too cold. Of course, weather is unpredictable, and you sometimes get cold (and hot) spells everywhere.

If you hike in the UK in winter, you should be ok hiking in Peru at those altitudes.
Certainly, if you can be comfortable on a Scottish winter day, you should have all the gear you need for an equivalent day at these altitudes in Peru. Indeed, Peru in May/June should be drier than Scotland. Of course, if your hiking in the UK is bracing walks in the Peak District when there is no snow on the ground, then that is not the same thing at all.
almost sane on 12 Feb 2013 -
In reply to G1000: As for hooded tops - I see no absolute requirement for them, as long as you have a good hat. A balaclava would be even better.
That said, I have a hooded fleece, a hooded primaloft jacket and a hooded down jacket, so you can tell that I really value them.
almost sane on 12 Feb 2013 -
In reply to G1000:

Sounds like your plans and objectives are a bit unclear.
There is a world of difference between walking up a peak of any height with little or no snow cover, walking up a snow covered peak, and doing an ascent where there is technical winter climbing.

What are your current skills with respect to crampons and ice axes?
What are the skill requirements of where you are going?
If there is a gap, do you need to gain these skills before going?
If you aim to learn to use spiky things in Peru, is there enough time set aside?
G1000 on 12 Feb 2013 -
In reply to almost sane: I'm going to go on an organised trip but arrange it when I get there. I would like to see how quickly I acclimatise (I have 3 weeks there) and see how much I have increased my fitness. Then decide what to do. This is why it might not seem clear what my plans are.... Basically I am definately going to do some treks to acclimatise at least but I would like to try to summit a mountain aswell and want to be prepared for that. I am pretty determined to do this so am going to do my best to find the right mountain for me (still trying to get more info) and get as fit as possible.

All I know atm is that anything I do in regards to summiting a mountain will be in snow. It's the Cordillera Blanca range. Initially also crossing a glacier. It's hard to know exactly how difficult it will be as I know from experience of other activities abroad, the tour companies over there may not give a realistic view. The varieties for the less experienced seem to involve anything from a strenuous trek (but still using crampons) to a bit more crampon use on some sloping ice but that is still considered suitable for first time climbers. Obviously there are a lot more options more advanced than this!

I have used crampons and axe for a climb up a vertical frozen waterfall with an instructor but I had a fall which put me off going straight into vertical stuff again a little bit. I've not had much experience walking in snow, and never any that required crampons. My hiking has been steep ground and scrambling (eg Tryfan/other areas in Snowdonia)

I think you can do courses over there to get practice. I want to practice basics of axe self-arrest etc. It seems that the guides show you the night before summit which seems to be leaving it a bit late! :/

I wondered about this one

The highest camp is 4890m

What do you think?
G1000 on 12 Feb 2013 -
In reply to G1000: p.s I think the first day of that trip is mostly driving to the first camp, with part of it walking. Need to check how much but you certainly dont walk all the way from Huraz!
G1000 on 12 Feb 2013 -
In reply to G1000:

People have said this one is the easiest (more like a strenuous hike) but aparantly it's getting harder due to receding glacier and there will be some ice to navigate.

I don't know which websites give the best idea.

The Valanaraju mountain is not so bad, someone I messaged said there was no real climbing and certainly nothing vertical at all. They used normal hiking boots and the crampons supplied. I can't halp feeling that safety may not be taken so seriously over there. :/
The Ex-Engineer - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to G1000: Makes more sense now.

It is probably worth waiting to see how you acclimatise before booking a guided trip, although 3 weeks should be adequate.

The peaks you've mentioned (along with Ishinca) are just fairly straight-forward ascents on easy-angled snow, albeit with potentially a few cravasses en-route and still serious due to weather and altitude.

The Peruvian mountain guides, whilst not up to European standards are professional and well trained. They are more than competent in getting novices to the summit and back of their local mountains. There are also numerous companies seeking your custom and most have staff who speak excellent English.

You'll easily be able to hire B3 mountaineering boots if needed but you only need a pair of C1/C2 walking/mountaineering crampons for most peaks so it is certainly possible to use a stiff pair of hiking boots. However, you run a real risk of cold feet going down that route.

Depending on your current boots, I'd either look at buying a decent pair of B2+ boots before you go or hiring boots (probably plastic B3 double boots) along with the crampons and ice axe. If you have standard sized feet and rarely suffer from blisters, then hiring should be fine, but if you struggle with getting boots that fit due to very narrow or wide feet then using your own boots will be much preferable.
G1000 on 12 Feb 2013 -
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
Cool, i'm glad to hear it confirmed that the mountains are ok for novices. I do have issues finding comfy boots but wondered if there may be more choice than you get here! I have looked for some ages ago but didn't get on very well. I'll go back into looking for some. Thanks
Damo on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to G1000:
> (In reply to G1000)

> I don't know which websites give the best idea.
> The Valanaraju mountain is not so bad, someone I messaged said there was no real climbing and certainly nothing vertical at all. They used normal hiking boots and the crampons supplied. I can't halp feeling that safety may not be taken so seriously over there. :/

If you haven't already, check out: and ask similar questions or search in: as plenty of people there have done Vallunaraju.

Peruvian guides are a gamble. Some are fine, many are not. Plenty of horror stories out there. Depends on the route you want to do and your own experience too.
G1000 on 12 Feb 2013 -
In reply to Damo:

Thankyou, i'd not realised there was a forum! I'll have a read through Re the first link...I like the way they call it an acclimatization climb! They seem pretty extreme from my perspective, let alone anything higher :0
almost sane on 13 Feb 2013 -
In reply to G1000:
You can get training and experience in the use of crampons and ice axes in the UK.

If you did so, this would give you more flexibility whilst in Peru. You would not need to set aside so much time for skills training.
Also, doing winter skills training in the UK would let you experience cold, and let you get an idea of what clothing systems work for you.
Then doing some further walks in the British winter would refine that.

My experience has been that there is no one answer that I am working towards, and then when I get that answer, well, that is my clothing all sorted.
Rather, I try stuff out. Some gets rejected quite quickly. Other stuff I get comfortable with. Then I will try something different - is that better or worse? My gear choices on the hill come from a few decades experience, and I am still making changes, partly because technology keeps changing.
G1000 on 01 Mar 2013 -
In reply to G1000:
Thanks for the replies.

I ordered a ME Citadel thinking that it might be ok for abroad where it's colder and UK as I get cold in the mountains when I stop, even in summer! But wasn't expecting it to be so mega, don't think it could be used in the UK unless we had arctic conditions. Think it's a no go.

I currently am now trying on Rab Generator Alpine. It's more substantial than I thought. Think it would be ok as a spare for winter UK when I get cold at stops and good for colder countries. It was £104, is this a good price?

I'm a medium in Rab (and others) but got that plus a large as thought I might need it to enable me to wear it over lots of layers. I think they already designed it for this as it's pretty big.

I am not a mad fan of Rab fit tbh, i'm a girl and the upper half and waist can be bit roomy in the medium but also not very accomodating for hips. It's just about ok tho but I wouldn't use the drawstring things on the hips. It tends to annoy me and I like more width at the hips so I can draw it in or have it loose, I prefer to have the choice. The large is nice and roomy for hips and can use the drawstring if I want but big on the arms and waist (generally quite roomy all over!).

Not sure what to go for and what I might wear under it. I tried both over a base layer, a Rab Vapour Rise and a waterproof shell. Both seem ok... the large is still roomy on hips (will draw in with drawstrings aswell) and all over really and could definately fit another top underneith. Not sure if large would work well as a warm layer if it's too big tho. The medium is ok but i'd not want another layer underneith. Not really sure i'd wear more than a baselayer, something like the vapor rise and a shell tho :/

Any thoughts on fit? I always go for mens as i'm 6 foot, prefer the longer cut and like the sleeves hanging over my hands so I can hide them away if it's really cold.

plus the vapour rise I have here but not worn yet is good in medium (other than annoying hips) but I can't really fit more than a baselayer under it. Is it designed for more layers underneith? The large was way too big everywhere.

G1000 on 01 Mar 2013 -
In reply to G1000:
p.s I can fit more than the baselayer under the Vapour Rise if necessary but I meant it is not really confortable. The fabric has no stretch whatsoever and I like to be able to bend arms etc and not feel restricted at all. The large was flapping about but could fit a thickish fleece underneith
Nick_Scots on 01 Mar 2013

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