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Advice needed: Layering for 6000m peaks in the Cordillera Blanca

Original Post
Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 650

I'm heading to the Ishinca Valley of the Cordillera Blanca in late June 2018 for some mountain climbing.  Specifically, we are planning on climbing Urus Este and Ishinca to acclimatize before attempting the NW Ridge of Tocllaraju.  I'm hoping to get some ideas/advice on layering - what systems have you used at similar elevations in Peru or elsewhere? Additionally, what do you recommend for gloves? My heaviest gloves are Rab Baltoro gloves, I think that I should pick up some mitts.  Recommendations are appreciated!

I've done some cold weather climbing before and already have a good system for the Cascades and Rockies in Winter.  Here's a list of what I currently own and wear on really cold days:

Upper body:

Wool/blend tee shirt

Arcteryx Fortrez (Fleece Hoody, equivalent to a Patagonia R1)

Arcteryx Squamish Hoody (wind shell)

Arcteryx Atom LT (insulated soft shell, mine is pretty packed out and due for replacement)

Arcteryx Beta LT Hybrid (Hard shell, Goretex Paclite 2 layer body with 3-layer reinforcements on hood and shoulders)

Black Diamond Stance Belay Parka (Equivalent to Patagonia DAS)

Lower Body:

Random North Face base layers - medium weight?

Outdoor Research Cirque (soft shell pant)

I feel like I may be a little light on insulation with what I have here.  I know that I need to pick up some Goretex pants in case conditions really get bad.  I'm considering getting some insulated pants(Patagonia Nano Puff Pants?), or at least some heavier fleece to wear under my soft shells.  In regard to the upper body, I am thinking about adding an expedition-weight base layer and replacing my Atom Jacket.

Greg Shea · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 10

I'd say another thin puffy that is more breathable to layer under the atom when cold and use with the fleece while moving up high, also deffinetly puff pants 

Michael Fleming · · Knoxville, TN · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 120

Is this with siet? I did it a few years back. Your layering system is basically the same thing I had and it worked just fine. Puff pants aren't a must but if you want to be a little warmer at camp go ahead.

Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 650

Thanks for the input guys!  Michael, this not with SIET.  I'm debating on the puff pants, seems like most people do not use them.  

Brian Richards · · Bozeman · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 0

Last year on Alpamayo and Chopicalqui I used a fleece base layer, R1, nano puff, goretex shell, and a down puffy for the summit. I used a pair of base layer pants with hardshells over, but my partner used softshells with no problem. Even with being at high camp on Alpamayo for a few days, I never felt puffy pants were necessary.

climber pat · · Las Cruces, NM · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 215

I was in Ishinca valley on the same peaks in 2011 and was way overdressed for the climbs.  I only used my big puffy one evening for laying around at basecamp.  I regretted bringing the double boots. The local guides were climbing in single boots capable of taking crampons. The clothing I actually used was similar to Brian Richard's in the above comment.  I also added a cloth sunshield to my helmet to prevent my neck from getting sunburned (way too much skin cancer to take risks with). The sunshield turned out to be great at keeping warmer.  I took some velcro tape and put a strip of velcro around the back of the helmet and sewed a strip of velcro to a piece of cloth and sewed some pennies to weigh down the loose edge of the cloth.  It looked dorky but worked great.  

 I think the guidebook recommendations are really for the higher peaks.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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