My Alaska Range Packing List, Complete With Badminton Racquets

What was that game we played, growing up? It involved being banished to a desert island, and only being allowed to bring five things with us. I think the last time I played, the list went something like 1) My best friend, 2) A guitar, 3) A volleyball, 4) My Harry Potter books … you get the idea—of how young I was when I played that game. Packing for an alpine climbing trip is kind of the same idea. You get two checked bags for four weeks in the Denali Range: What do you bring?  I can show you some of the things that work well for me.

1. Warm things. I don’t know about you, but I’m terrified of being cold.  You’ll notice that I’ve got quite a pile of gloves set out. I particularly like the Outdoor Research Lodestar Gloves for warmth and dexterity, the Outdoor Research Alti Mitt for when things get really cold, and then a good ol’ set of liners and shells for general climbing. On the note of staying warm, I am also quite particular about puffy jackets. I prefer the Outdoor Research Incandescent Hoody for sheer warmth, the Outdoor Research Chaos Jacket when I could possibly get wet, and the Outdoor Research Filament down jacket to layer under my shell when climbing in super cold conditions.

2. Sharp things. When it comes to sharp things—and pretty much anything technical-climbing-gear related—I love Black Diamond for their innovation and reliability. I took a pair of Cobra ice tools, Stinger crampons, and Sabretooth crampons for the mountains, plus plenty of cams, nuts, and ice screws.

3. Things that carry things. Finding a simple, sleek way to carry our essentials can be harder than one might expect. Anyone who’s climbed with a pack knows how distracting it can be when that pack doesn’t fit well or bumps into your helmet when you try to look up. This spring I got to try out the new CiloGear Women’s Worksack, which has a torso design, shoulder strap and hip belt configuration purely designed for us lady climbers. It’s awesome, and I’m really excited to see the whole line on the market. I also enjoy the Black Diamond Speed packs, and I threw in the 22 liter and 30 liter sizes for Alaska.

4. Safe things. Ropes, cordelette, harness, helmet. These are all items that see frequent wear, and need to be unquestionably strong. This season in the Alaska Range I used the Beal Gully rope system, incredibly lightweight twin/double ropes that are dry treated. The Beal Unicore system ensures that the sheath and the core will remain bonded, making me confident about using these ropes in extreme conditions.

5. Eating things. When you’re on the move for hours on end in the northern latitudes, you may discover that your stomach has become a bottomless pit. Do your best to keep up. I find that peanut butter, bacon and cheese are high-fat fuels that I love in the mountains. Though I can’t bring a jar of peanut butter on route, I actually do pack bacon and cheese, along with Pro Bars, Hammer electrolytes and gel packs, and Mountain House meals. I use an MSR Reactor while climbing to turn snow into water in record time, and an MSR Dragonfly stove for base camp gourmet cooking, which often also involves peanut butter.

Bonus: Entertainment items! Because even if it’s magically sunny every day, you can’t climb every day. What to do in the middle of a glacier when you can’t climb? We found badminton racquets to be a lightweight addition to our ski bag, and our cordelette convenient for a makeshift net. Badminton tournament: Game on!

Enjoy the hills!  Hope to see you out there.