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Why hardshells ice climbing?
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Nov 17, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Me eating a cliff bar walking back from Frankenste...
I see people asking about hardshell pants and jackets for ice climbing. I don't understand why. In my experience it's below freezing and there's no moisture to worry about. If it is close to freezing or above and the ice is dripping it's warm enough that the water doesn't penetrate my soft shell to make me cold. I'm wearing. I've postholed in deep snow, glissaded and been in storms but never felt like I needed hardshells.

All I can think about is baking like a turkey in a GoreTex kit. What am I missing?
Bill Kirby
From Baltimore Maryland
Joined Jul 21, 2012
449 points
Nov 17, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: ice'n
I think to a certain extent you are right,

but there are also a lot of trips that can require ice climbing, but are not ice cragging days.
christoph benells
From tahoma
Joined Nov 14, 2014
239 points
Nov 17, 2015
I've been out ice cragging on 5 degree days where the water was still dripping (because physics?). Definitely glad to have my hardshell jacket on that day. However, yes, most of the time I'm quite happy in softshells. GregMiller
From Louisville, CO
Joined Jul 23, 2012
27 points
Nov 17, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Me eating a cliff bar walking back from Frankenste...
christoph benells wrote:
I think to a certain extent you are right, but there are also a lot of trips that can require ice climbing, but are not ice cragging days.



I've never worn a hardshell kit in the alpine unless I was snowboarding. Even then I would pack the hardshell jacket wear the softshell underneath and unzip my pants while skinning up. I've packed a hardshell on a trip in case of being out in bad weather. The bad weather rolls in and the GoreTex stays in the pack.

One thought though. I could see busting a hardshell kit in bad weather when it's close to freezing. It's just every time I'm out and it's raging the temp's been way below 32.
Bill Kirby
From Baltimore Maryland
Joined Jul 21, 2012
449 points
Nov 17, 2015
I think this might be the first thing you've ever posted that I agree with. I've climbed routes that were flowing with water plenty. It basically freezes onto your clothes and you shake it off later. You don't get wet.

My theory is the hardshell supporters are working off old info. It was once either a hardshell or fleece/pile. Now that we've got a great in between, it's unnecessary.

The time I had an opportunity to be above 6000m for extended periods of time, I did wear my goretex stuff.
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion
From Colorado
Joined Oct 29, 2012
43 points
Administrator
Nov 17, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Before the whip (photo by Jay Knower)
I actually like the hardshell pant/bib with a softshell jacket combo. James M Schroeder
From Sauk County, WI
Joined May 7, 2002
3,199 points
Nov 17, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: ice'n
i think it would dangerous to go anywhere 5+ hours away from shelter without waterproof clothing in a winter climbing environment.

Even if it stays in the pack, it is still something I would bring if I am going out for a big day, or even more so, for a big climb that requires more than a 20+ hour push.

what if you break your ankle? you're tellin me you would feel fine hanging there 1,000' feet up some mixed route in RMNP without waterproof layers while your buddy goes to get help?

wear softshell and layer gore tex on top if it is really needed.

if you keep gore clean it breathes exceptionally well, especially with a layer of good wicking material underneath.

But yes, i usually wear softshell pant, and a softshell or windbreaker type jacket.
christoph benells
From tahoma
Joined Nov 14, 2014
239 points
Nov 17, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Wunsch's Dihedral
Kirby, how often do you reapply DWR to your softshell stuff? Don Ferris
From Eldorado Springs
Joined Nov 27, 2012
143 points
Nov 17, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Chiller Pillar, Adirondacks
yes, I prefer my softshell for ice climbing when it's a nice day, but early/late season when it's likely to be above freezing I'm more likely to grab my hardshell.

Even when it's below freezing there are times you'll get lots of water. For example last season I was on Roaring Brook Falls in the Daks on New Year's Eve. It was very thin and had a huge amount of water coming down the falls (so much that it was hard to hear my partner 15' away). We got tons of spray as well. My jacket was completely coated, and I was glad to have my hardshell as my softshell would have been soaked through.

Same thing late season, you might be climbing a pillar right next to an active flow or punch through the ice and get drenched.

I've also climbed in hard rain. The ice was great, but the shell made a big difference.
TheIceManCometh
From Albany, NY
Joined Aug 15, 2011
634 points
Nov 17, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Stairway To Heaven - all the way to the Pearly Gat...
Like others, I have been ice climbing when it is well below freezing and been on lines that are dripping. Sometimes it is not the actual line that is dripping but the falls next to it are running full on. With a bit of winds you get all misty. Having a hard shell especially when out for multiple days. A soft-shell is fine otherwise. It is really all about picking the right shell for the conditions. Allen Sanderson
From Oootah
Joined Jul 6, 2007
1,194 points
Nov 17, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Me eating a cliff bar walking back from Frankenste...
Yo High, say what? You've disagreed with stuff I posted. You're like the only one :)

Christoph, No doubt I would be fine without a hardshell. In fact I doubt I would have one in my pack in that situation. If I had to camp out for an extended period of time while my partner went for help I would try to slide in my SOL Bivy and put on my syntactic belay jacket. I might even put on belay pants if I packed them that day.

None of this means hard shells aren't useful just that I personally don't find a use for them.

Don, I wash my gear with that Tec wash stuff has DWR in it. I might wash my gear every year or two.. I mean when it stinks! :)

Iceman, that's crazy you were on RBF New Year's! So was I. What a crowd!! The first pitch was funky. The crux on the second wasn't as bad as people talked it up but man that first pitch.. Unusually yikes!

That said I really didn't get soaked. Now it was the only thing we did that day so maybe I would've felt it if we weren't headed to the New Year's party at the Bivy. Too bad that's no more..
Bill Kirby
From Baltimore Maryland
Joined Jul 21, 2012
449 points
Nov 17, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: ice'n
kirby is so hard

he is his own hard shell!

Rock Climbing Photo: Me eating a cliff bar walking back from Frankenste...
Me eating a cliff bar walking back from Frankenstein Amphitheater


notice hard shell on top of head while hiking

Just joshing around, meaning no harm
christoph benells
From tahoma
Joined Nov 14, 2014
239 points
Nov 17, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Me eating a cliff bar walking back from Frankenste...
Hey I like it! It's better than the usual fat jokes! Haha..

No hard feelings. That brings back memories. That was the first multi pitch route I led. Poor Scott (my mentor), he about had a heartattack because I didn't protect myself from a ground fall. We took so long to get back to the car that we almost missed our flight that night. I wore my helmet all the way back to the car and didn't realize my helmet was still on til I tried to get into the car.
Bill Kirby
From Baltimore Maryland
Joined Jul 21, 2012
449 points
Nov 17, 2015
I only use softshells in the cold, dry Rockies for climbing. Polartec PowerShield Pro is a fantastic thing. I am loving my Patagonia Knifeblade jacket to death.

The only days I regret not bringing a traditional hardshell are the days where I had no business being out there in the first place (i.e. alpine climbing with a bushwhack approach in October with temperatures near freezing and nuking snow - a recipe for hypothermia).

That being said, I have a set of Neoshell pants for ski touring, and I sometimes take a light Goretex jacket which I only wear on the ski down. When it's puking snow, damp, and warm, or I am in Roger's Pass, those are awesome. I use beat-up hardshell pants at the resort.

Hardshells are overkill for climbing in cold and dry conditions.
Steven Kovalenko
From Calgary
Joined May 29, 2014
21 points
Nov 17, 2015
Another vote for hardshell bottom, softshell top. Tom Stryker
Joined Aug 24, 2014
257 points
Nov 17, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt Minsi, PA
Patagonia Mixed Guide, Harshell/Softshell Combo. Hood, shoulders, chest are hardshell, lower half of body and sleeves are breathable but still pretty water resistant softshell. Best of both. Michael C
From New Jersey
Joined Jun 9, 2011
374 points
Nov 17, 2015
The only time I think of hard-shell over soft-shell is on exposed windy climbs. As others have said Polartec Powershield Pro is the shit and can take on a ton of water for a soft-shell fabric, but if you are up on Mount Washington or in the alpine getting hammered by wind its nice to have a windproof hard-shell. I know Windstopper and other windproof soft-shell fabrics exist but when things are "getting real" I like to batten down the hatches with a bomber hard-shell. DRusso
Joined May 25, 2014
34 points
Nov 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Middle
Softshells do poorly in the wind and freezing rain. I've never been so cold as when I had a light mist blowing on me, completely soaked. For the most part I wear soft shells but I prefer a hybrid pant with a softshell jacket and rain shell in my pack. For over night ascents I take a waterproof shell only, especially since they typically weigh less than softshells. Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Joined Jul 23, 2010
180 points
Nov 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: City of Rocks
+1 Polartec PowerShield
+1 softshell most of the time top and bottom

I own a crazy hardshell and a M10. I bring the M10 sometimes, but try not to wear it. :)
Hiro
From Colorado
Joined Apr 2, 2012
418 points
Nov 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: ice'n
Ray Pinpillage wrote:
especially since they typically weigh less than softshells.


this is a good point

i have been using a windbreaker instead of a soft shell for most of my trips recently

(ski touring the sierra nevada, cascade volcano ice and snow routes combined with snowboard descents down snowier terrain, multi pitch rock climbing from the sierra nevada to the white mountain in nh, alaska range technical climbs, denali ski descent)

weighs next to nothing and you can practically store it in your pants pocket, and does essentially the same job as a soft shell.

ice cragging though soft shell all the way
christoph benells
From tahoma
Joined Nov 14, 2014
239 points
Nov 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: ice'n
does anyone know the difference between gore tex windstopper an the normal gore tex membrane?

i heard once that windstopper is just gore tex's old membrane
christoph benells
From tahoma
Joined Nov 14, 2014
239 points
Nov 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Me eating a cliff bar walking back from Frankenste...
christoph benells wrote:
does anyone know the difference between gore tex windstopper an the normal gore tex membrane? i heard once that windstopper is just gore tex's old membrane


You know what would funny? Me talking I never wear hardshell when in fact I do.

I have two jackets that are made with Gore Windstopper. The Mormot ROM and a Mammut something or other. They both are softshell but maybe not.. I thought Gore Windstopper was a kind of softshell while GoreTex was what hard shells are made of ie 3L, Pro Pac lite etc..
Bill Kirby
From Baltimore Maryland
Joined Jul 21, 2012
449 points
Nov 18, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: ice'n
outdoorresearch.com/blog/gear-...

well, its more like gore tex all stretched out but yes, more or less the same,

1.4 billion pores per square inch vs. 9 billion per square inch

billion!


higher breathabilty, less waterproof than gore tex
christoph benells
From tahoma
Joined Nov 14, 2014
239 points
Nov 19, 2015
My softshell bottoms are Ibex Schoeller/Wool and do not have side zips, and I do not see many that do. Most of my climbing the last 15-20 years involves an approach. I typically approach in one layer of Powerstretch on the bottom, and a wicking tee or if below zero, an Ibex thin wool layer on top.

The hardshell bottom lets me install the wind and water layer at the base of the climb. It's not unusual heading up to the climb to have frost on my thighs on top of the Powerstretch, and I want that moisture gone. For the same reasons I gave up installing any gaiters unless I need them, to let boot moisture escape.I also gave up tucking the shells into the gaiter as it limits high stepping for me.

I'm sure they make side zip softshells, so no need to post a link or pic. I also find that, and this is just my experience, it is easier to dodge a waterspout, or heavy drip with my upper body than my lower. In my geezerhood now I actually will sit down sometimes to belay someone up as I have a hip that troubles if I lean off the anchor too long, and hardshell works better for that too.
Tom Stryker
Joined Aug 24, 2014
257 points
Jan 12, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Off-widths are fun they said...    Morro do Anhang...
I always chose depending on the location and conditions of the day. Windy day, I'll probably throw the hardshell in the pack. High volume ice flow with possible exposed water section, packing the hardshell for possible spray. High temperature day in the sun or high-exertion, softshell all the way. Normal day cragging, softshell. Running water on the ice or post-holing in wet snow, hardshell bottom with softshell top. I don't think hardshells are completely dead yet, but they have come to occupy more limited occasions. That being said, my friends in Europe still like their hardshells. Esteban Martinez
From Columbia, South Carolina
Joined Oct 18, 2014
26 points
Jan 12, 2016
TheIceManCometh wrote:
yes, I prefer my softshell for ice climbing when it's a nice day, but early/late season when it's likely to be above freezing I'm more likely to grab my hardshell. Even when it's below freezing there are times you'll get lots of water. For example last season I was on Roaring Brook Falls in the Daks on New Year's Eve. It was very thin and had a huge amount of water coming down the falls (so much that it was hard to hear my partner 15' away). We got tons of spray as well. My jacket was completely coated, and I was glad to have my hardshell as my softshell would have been soaked through. Same thing late season, you might be climbing a pillar right next to an active flow or punch through the ice and get drenched. I've also climbed in hard rain. The ice was great, but the shell made a big difference.


This... That and if you ever hit an ice dam or put in a screw and hit a pocket of water, you'll be very glad you had on goretex.
Stagg54
Joined Dec 12, 2006
7 points


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