What is a Super Light Alpine Trad Rack for carrying into places...


Original Post
Sunny-D · · SLC, Utah · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 60

I have been thinking about this and tinkering with my rack for a bit and thought I would ask the question.   How would you build out a rack that you have to carry 8+ miles into alpine areas- Wind Rivers, Sierras, Cascades, Tetons and the like?  I have done a fair bit of alpine climbs and seem to change up my rack to try to make it lighter as I venture into the back country.  For me I know that my rack changes based on the climbs, so lets say 5.6-5.10 as a basis for grades of routes.  

My light rack as of now:

All my cams are each racked on CAMP Nano 22 biners 

0 Metolius TCU

1 Metolius TCU

2 Metolius TCU

3 Metolius TCU

.5 BD Ultralight CAM

.75 BD Ultralight CAM

1 BD Ultralight CAM

2 BD Ultralight CAM

3 BD Ultralight CAM

4 BD Ultralight CAM

Nuts and hexs racked on CAMP photon biners 1/2 a set per biner

1-10 WC Super Light Offset Rocks

5-12 BD Nuts 

3-9 WC rockcentrics (hexes)

4 Tricams  .25-1.5 all racked on a CAMP photon

Metolius ultralight nut tool

4 CAMP Nano 22 quickdraws

8 Alpine Draws Edelrid 8mm x 60cm runners with 2 Cypher Mytas Biners

4 Misty Mountain 9/16" nylon runners with 1 Cypher Mytas biner on each

2 Edelrid 8mm x120 cm with 1 each Grivel Plume locking biner

1 tech cord 20' cordelette with  1BD vaporlock biner 

1 cordelette 7mm x 12' nylon cord with 1 BD vaporlock biner

4 CAMP Nano 22 biners

2 Grivel Plume locking biners

2 BD Vaporlock biners

CAMP Alpine Flash Harness

BD Vaporlock biner with BD ATC guide

Misty Mountain Chalk Bag with 6mm cord belt

CAMP Storm Helmet

Red Chili Spirit VCR Shoes


 If I am doing harder climbs I will augment the cam rack with Metolius ultralight power cams depending on the sizes needed. The Metolius tend to complement BD cam sizes well. If I take more cams I leave the Hexes home.

So what do you take into the mountains for your rack? How would you lighten this setup? 

Keep in mind-I am not a 5.12 climber so I am not very comfortable running it out on "easier" 5.7-5.10 ground. 

There could be a whole thread on the full kit for alpine climbing to see "whats in your pack" to get the kit as light and safe as possible.

Dallen





Nick Young · · Spokane, WA · Joined May 2015 · Points: 5

Maybe it's just me, but bringing Nuts, Offset Nuts, Hexes, and Tricams, as well as a single rack of cams, is WAY overkill for an alpine rack, especially one that has to be hiked in so far. Granted, I don't climb 5.10 alpine, but this is too much gear IMO. All else aside, your rack will vary wildly based on where/what you're climbing.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 1,865

You couldn't pay me to carry NINE locking biners to a roadside crag, let alone a remote spot.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500

Single rack to 3 or 4" depending on the route, minus the smallest cams. 

Single set of stoppers (vary between offset and regular)

10-12 alpine draws

1 48" sling

2 anchor kits (locker, two tiny carabiners, cordlette)

Nut tool

Harness, belay device, helmet, shoes.

The lightest rope I can get away with for the objective (nothing fatter than 9.4mm, ideally 9mm or less)

Depending on the route, I'll pare this down even more. For Matthes Crest, we took 6 stoppers, 4 cams, and a single anchor kit in case we had to bail due to storms. For a harder route, I'll double up on the cams I'm bad at or need doubles of, but no more than that.

A full rack of cams, two sets of stoppers, and a rack of hexes? Dude- that's ALOT of gear for the alpine....moving fast is the name of the game in the mountains, and lugging all of that isn't going to make that easy.

Mike Mellenthin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 0

singles to #2 with biners, one set offset nuts, one set regular nuts (minus the few largest ones), 8 single length slings, 2 doubles, ~18 non-lockers, 2 lockers (for myself, partner has their own), one atc + locker, one sweet titanium nut tool i bootied years ago.

this has gotten me up loads off stuff in the sierra.

best way to save weight is to get better at climbing so you can run it out. regardless, the 4 is probably not necessary and the 3 you could do without on a lot of stuff. i err towards bringing more cams in the 0.5 to 1 sizes. they are a good tradeoff between weight and range.

Jarmland · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 0

If I was heading into the backcountry with you with the intention of climbing a real rock route with multiple steep pitches here's my pick from your stuff.

Rack:

Tcu 0-3

C4 0,5-3

WC OS rocks 1-10 on one light biner.

Camp Nano quickdraws x 4

Shoulder length dyneema runner with single lightest biner x 4

Double length dyneema runner with single lightest biner x 2

Per person:

Locking biners x 2 plus the one on the ATC

Nuttool

Knife

One extra wiregate with 6mm prussik loop

Leave the rest!

However,

I'd like to add a 120 cm nylon runner that's always on me. Very multipurpose tool. For building various anchors, as a cow's tail when rappelling, as a footloop when rope climbing, impromptu aiding or self rescue situations, for hanging your pack below you in chimneys, makeshift chestharness, gearsling etc.

Xan Calonne · · Joshua Tree, Ca · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 15

My thoughts in looking at your rack are similar to what others have mentioned. Way too much passive pro, way too many lockers. I also think you have an excessive amount of slings/cordage. I would probably dump the tricams, hexes, and BD stoppers, bring the metolius cams instead. I would dump the nylon runners, the cordelette, extra lockers (can't see needing more than 3 since you have the loose nano 22's). Also, only one 120 cm runner, no biner (again, loose nano 22's). Finally, I would just get a couple more light alpine draws, and skip the nano 22 draws. Of course, ymmv. Have fun!

Jacob Staelin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 0

My normal day to day roadside crag rack is:

Metolius Pre-ultralight Power Cams 2-7

A BD 2 and 3

One set of about 10 nuts, mixed brands

8 draws, mixed brands

6 shoulder length slings each with a biner, mixed brands

A 22' cordelette

A double length sling

Six lockers

This is also my alpine set up. You get good at running things out when you can't afford much gear.

Sunny-D · · SLC, Utah · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 60

Thanks for the input. It  is funny when I started climbing I climbed on a set of hexes,  a set of nuts and eventually 1 set of rigid friends.  I climbed on this rack for years and probably some of my best climbing on that set.  Now I have way to much gear and am trying to slim down.  It doesn't help to have gone through courses both AMGA and rescue where you learn to "need" extra gear for the just in case or what if senerios.  I want to get back to the basics of just enjoying climbing and making due with what I have.  

And yes thanks for pointing out that 9 lockers is excessive.  I had not thought about the fact that I carry 9. That is changing today. Keep the comments coming I am starting to realize that I might make my full kit fit into 30 liters after all.

Thanks Dallen

Tom Powell · · Rawlins, Wyoming · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 55

For packing into the Winds for moderate routes from your gear I would take the BD .5 - 2 and one set of stoppers (your pick from the two you have). I might add 4 of the mid sized the hexes if I wanted to sew up a pitch or two or for anchors. If I was planning on routes that got above 5.8ish I would add the tcu's. and possibly the #3 BD. Take 6-8 alpine draws and 2 lockers, use the rope for building anchors but bring a single codelette.  

Levi Painter · · Boise, ID · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0

In the Tetons I have climbed the Snaz, Guides Wall, Baxters, Upper Exum, and CMC on Moran all with 7 cams, a set of nuts, 5 quick draws, 4 lockers, two slings and a cordelette. 

Ronald B · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

When I go to the Sierras I carry some variation on the following:

Metolius TCU 00-2 racked on Edelrid 19g biners

DMM Dragon 2 cams 00-5 (same as BD .3 to 3) racked on BD Oz biners

#2 Omega pacific link cam on Camp Photon biner

Single set of nuts and three Edelrid 19g quickdraws on oval

5 dyneema 60 cm slings with misc non-locker on each

2 dyneema 120 cm slings with misc non-locker on each

1 nylon 120 cm sling with misc non-locker (good for slinging horns)

2 spare misc non-lockers

 3 lockers

spare oval for carrying approach shoes and emergency prusik

belay device on a locker, shoes, helmet, nut tool, etc.

Alex Kowalcyk · · La Conner, WA · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 50

If your max onsight grade is somewhere 5.10-5.11 and you are going to be climbing 5.10's in the Winds you might take the same stuff you would for any other 5.10 climb to protect yourself while cruxing out, especially for a place where you build all your own gear anchors instead of your local bolted anchor crag. When I go to the winds I take my normal rack plus my partner has extras (maybe each carry a set of nuts in case we epic or bail and need to leave gear). In the Winds you generally walk in only once humping your gear, then climb something different each day. So the burden of humping loads only happens once. Then you are in a remote setting relying on only what you brought. We took a third rope and a spare stove. Also in the Winds we subbed out some of our alpine draws for double-length tied webbing runners to use for replacing rappel anchor tat.

It is a completely different story if you are climbing many grades below your onsight level in an alpine environment and really looking to lighten things up. Speed may equal safety, but I'd say it depends on how hard (for you) you are leading. Everything is route dependent. Doing Black Elk or Feather Buttress? You may want some larger cams...

jaredj · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 0
Alex Kowalcyk wrote:

If your max onsight grade is somewhere 5.10-5.11 and you are going to be climbing 5.10's in the Winds you might take the same stuff you would for any other 5.10 climb to protect yourself while cruxing out, especially for a place where you build all your own gear anchors instead of your local bolted anchor crag. When I go to the winds I take my normal rack plus my partner has extras (maybe each carry a set of nuts in case we epic or bail and need to leave gear). In the Winds you generally walk in only once humping your gear, then climb something different each day. So the burden of humping loads only happens once. Then you are in a remote setting relying on only what you brought. We took a third rope and a spare stove. Also in the Winds we subbed out some of our alpine draws for double-length tied webbing runners to use for replacing rappel anchor tat.

It is a completely different story if you are climbing many grades below your onsight level in an alpine environment and really looking to lighten things up. Speed may equal safety, but I'd say it depends on how hard (for you) you are leading. Everything is route dependent. Doing Black Elk or Feather Buttress? You may want some larger cams...

This.   Prioiritize the climbing, not the approaching.  Either be in good enough shape that it doesn't really  matter on the approach (and you bring whatever makes you comfortable), or climbing below your onsight ability such that you're willing to run it out.  I think those are the variables that matter most.  

I generally agree that eschewing a lot of passive pro is a good idea as it will hasten the climbing.   

Sunny-D · · SLC, Utah · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 60

Realistically, I climb 5.9-5.10 in LCC, maybe a little harder in other areas depending on the route.  I am looking at 5.7 to 5.10 routes in the mountains.  I'm trying to get away from my regular rack and be more bold but not kill myself either.  I would love to to the Snaz in the Tetons this summer. I was just reading the reviews here and there are people taking triples up that climb. I don't want to do that but I don't climb 5.12 either so I have to be realistic about what my rack looks like.  7 cams and a set of nuts is an impressive rack for 5.10 in the mountains in my book.  I have climbed a fair amount in the Winds and Tetons so I'm not totally inexperienced in those ranges.  I am sure I am taking to much gear into the mountains and thought that this thread would help me slim down.  Some climbs on my tick list for the summer would be; Tetons Irenes arete, The Snaz, Gold Face on Exum Ridge.  In the Winds I would really like to get the North East Face of Pingora every time I have been in there the route was out of condition due to rain, ice etc.  I need to go in a bit earlier then September...I also have been looking at climbs on Haystack.  I have heard of a climb in the "south fork" that goes at an awesome 5.9 for many pitches but have not been able to figure out the logisitcs of where the "south fork" is. In the Cascades I am looking at the full North Ridge on Stuart. 

I am somewhat of a pack mule so weight typically does not bother me. it would be nice to slim things down and go a bit faster. 

Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 11,871

It does seem a lot for an "alpine rack".  But, for alpine climbing you've "gotta feel comfortable".  Whether that means a "full rack" on climbs at your grade, or a smaller rack on climbs 2-3 grades below what you normally lead is up to you.  

A few general tips to save weight: 

Forget standard quickdraws. (Unless you know routes you're doing have bolts on face climbing) An alpine draw weighs the same and has three different lengths (full open, doubled and tripled) Much more versatile. 

For each cam, put a "tripled over" alpine draw on the cam and rack it that way, hanging it from the "middle" biner.  80-90% of your mountain placements will usually have a long sling. 

Buy a few really small, really light locking biners. Sure, you'll want  two or three full-sized lockers for belaying and belay-anchor-point(s), but if all you want to do is make sure the biner doesn't open against the rock, a lightweight is just as good.

If you think you'll be climbing with gloves, there's something to be said about NOT using the small, superlight (1 oz ) biners and going with the larger, "normal sized" wiregates.  If you do use all "superlights/super-smalls, practice with gloves beforehand.  My ice climbing alpine draws and "screamers" usually have a small biner to be clipped to the screw (or cam) and a larger biner to clip the rope into.  

In general small cams, less than say 0.3 or 0.4's, are of less use in alpine rock (a bit more fractured), and frequently even in cracks that size nuts work as well at 1/3 to 1/4 the weight. 

Two or 3 of my over-the-shoulder slings would be of 7 or 8mm cord, with the express thought these are 'expendable' to be left behind around flakes and boulders for emergency raps.And, even when you're slinging a block or flake for protection on a pitch, it just seems to "feel better" if the sling is 8mm cord and not thin nylon webbing.

Except for #3 (and maybe #4) I'm not sure the ultralight cams save that much weight over the regular cams.  Check it out. Remember 1 oz = 28 grams. 

 Also, I usually take my OLD CAMS into the mtns.  If you have to do an emergency bail, it just seems to make more sense to leave an old cam rather than a new one....and thinking about leaving the cam might mean the difference between a rap-failure and a secure rap station. You're more likely to leave the older cam than something you just bought for the trip.     

Mike Mellenthin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 0
Robert Hall wrote:

Also, I usually take my OLD CAMS into the mtns    

Worth noting that the solid stemmed friends were the lightest cams around til the UL C4s came out. Not sure about the new Mastercams.

Matt Carroll · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 5
Mike Mellenthin wrote:

Worth noting that the solid stemmed friends were the lightest cams around til the UL C4s came out. Not sure about the new Mastercams.

Source? I was under the impression that the UL power cams (and even more so TCU's) are as light as they have ever come...

Mike Mellenthin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 0

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=2859392&tn=20

I actually don't know about TCUs though.

Here's a relevant fun thing from that thread. Steve House's rack for the Rupal Face. Yikes.

RKM · · Alpine, Utah and Almo, Idaho · Joined Mar 2007 · Points: 850

To each their own and I certainly do not want to sound flippant, but . . . for regular, popular routes in the Winds and Tetons in the 5.7 to 5.10 range, I would drastically cut down the rack and pack size.  I trust you are talking about Teton routes like The Snaz, The North Ridge (of the Grand), South Buttress Right, South Buttress Direct (on Moran), Irene's Arete  and Wind River routes like Northeast Face (of Pingora), Wolfs Head, etc.

I would take a small rack of wired stoppers, say about six or seven of the mid range - racked on one biner, three or four cams past the largest nut size you take - racked on one biner, ten long, doubled up draws with light biners and one long sling you can use around features or cut up if needed.  Most belays either have fixed items or you can use the rope around features, or use the rope in a knot like a hex in cracks.  For any of the routes mentioned above, I would not take a harness, just three wraps around your waist with a 'bowline on a bit'.  It will hurt if you fall, but don't fall.  People survived and thrived taking huge unexpected falls for years with just tying into your waist.  (Think Chouinard on the North Face of Teewinots Crooked Thumb - 100 footer caught with a hip belay)

Running shoes and an old sloppy pair of Chilli Spirits with soaks.  I would cut (literally chop) down a 9.1 ~ light rope to 50 meters.  150 feet is longer than most pitches your encounter and why link pitches together with your limited rack of gear.  Faster to belay when convenient and/or easiest to setup.  If you need to rap (South Buttress Right) take a light harness and DMM Bug.  Or . . . . one of the doubled light slings works ok made into a figure eight and four biners setup for a brake bar.

I love to chalk up, so I take a bag just for effect, but doubtful you really need it on Irene's Arete.  And, I would get the smallest pack you can find, carry the gear and extra cloths in it and have your partner carry the rope and some candy.

I'll bet you have more success going this way, and if weather or fear turn you around, go back later when the stars align.

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 87

To me, a "super light" alpine rack is a set of nuts and like 3-4 cams.  I don't carry as much gear as is on your list for cragging.  2 cordalettes?  9 lockers?  I usually carry 3 lockers; one for cloving to the rope, two for guide mode belaying.


I find it's more about the climb than the approach.  I might only carry some nuts and a few cams for a climb with only a 1 hour approach, but carry a double rack on a 4 hour approach, if the latter is close to my limit and the former is an easy cruise.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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