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Theodore

Looking for thoughts on a parka purchase.

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One of my friends, who likes Patagonia's jackets (or at least gets them on pro deal) went to Alaska last year with a DAS, nanopuff hoody, and one of the older models (don't remember the name) as his insulated jacket selection.

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I mean, do you really want to be advising noobs to hit the AK range without any down clothing? Really? Sure, people have done it, but that's not only patently stupid advice, its potentially dangerous.

 

With the exception of my sleeping bag I have yet to take any down garment to Alaska. I've done five trips (not counting ice climbing trips in Valdez) to climb in different parts of Alaska since 2009 in either winter, spring, summer and fall.

 

My choice of kit in Alaska is based on my experiences climbing in the lower 48 (OR, WA, ID, MT, WY, CA, CAN).

 

Down garments potentially have a place in one's kit but that is for each person to figure out for themself hopefully before they tackle their bigger objective.

 

 

I think you need to take this in context. John is talking about climbing one type of route and for that type of route a synthetic jacket works best. It's not dangerous to choose synthetic over down - it's just heavier and bulkier.

 

Jacket choice depends on your route, climbing style and the season / temperatures. If you're climbing something technical where there's a good chance of standing underneath an ice pitch while your partner buries you in spindrift then a synthetic jacket is the way to go. If you're climbing a moderate route at high altitude a big puffy down is the best choice.

 

I have 2 puffy jackets. My wife has about 20 (she has a puffy jacket fetish) and they all do different things. Here's my $.02:

 

For technical routes and cold (below 0) ski days I carry a Patagonia Full-Zip Hooded Puffball (don't know the actual name - these are heavier then their slip over puffballs but lighter then the Das). I use this for ice cragging and on routes like Ham and Eggs or the Japanese Couloir. It's heavier but seems to repel water better, allows me full mobility when climbing and functions reasonably well when damp. My wife wears an Arcteryx puffy (not the $500 model, some older version that was on steepandcheap.com). Her jacket is super waterproof, super comfy for climbing and quite warm. Pic of her jacket below.

 

wfinley_ruth_2009-05-05_39.jpg

 

For high altitude easy routes down is the best way to go. It's the best warmth to weight ratio - which is important when you're carrying food, gear and crap for 15 days. I have a Feathered Friends parka that i bought in 1997 (I think it's the Icefall - not sure. Big but not the biggest). I've abused it to hell yet it's still in great shape. I've used it in Nepal, on Denali 3 times, Aconcogua and a myriad of smaller peaks in Alaska. It's warm enough to keep me comfortable during a bivy and stays warm and dry as long as temps are well below freezing. My wife has a Western Mountaineering Ion parka. It's super light, super warm and also keeps her reasonably warm sans sleeping bag. Pic of my jacket below on a freakin' cold day that got much much colder.

 

wef_2005-05-15_44.jpg

 

In short... if you're climbing technical routes where you'll get wet, get a synthetic puffy. If you're climbing moderate high altitude routes go with down. And if you go with down, buy a jacket made by local climbers in the USA (Feathered Friends or Western Mountaineering).

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I mean, do you really want to be advising noobs to hit the AK range without any down clothing? Really? Sure, people have done it, but that's not only patently stupid advice, its potentially dangerous.

 

With the exception of my sleeping bag I have yet to take any down garment to Alaska. I've done five trips (not counting ice climbing trips in Valdez) to climb in different parts of Alaska since 2009 in either winter, spring, summer and fall.

 

My choice of kit in Alaska is based on my experiences climbing in the lower 48 (OR, WA, ID, MT, WY, CA, CAN).

 

Down garments potentially have a place in one's kit but that is for each person to figure out for themself hopefully before they tackle their bigger objective.

 

 

What do you bring, John, and for what temps?

 

I've only got two puffies myself - a ginormous-looking NF Nuptse and a light synthetic compressor. Not sure when I'd be in the market for a new coat, but should I keep getting out in Winter or headed up to Denali, I may.

 

 

In order of warmth I own a patagonia puffball vest, arcteryx dually vest, montbell thermawrap (old style no hood), and an arcteryx dually jacket.

 

I've taken some combination of them (but not all of them) on various routes I have climbed up there.

 

Things that influence what I bring include:

 

-what I'm wearing on my legs (bibs or pants? softshell or goretex?) and torso (softshell or hardshell?)

-how much of the route will I simulclimb (keeps me warmer) or pitch out (colder)

-what are the odds I will sit out (i.e. get benighted) and/or plan on doing a shiver bivy

-how much sun does the route get? wind?

-how cold do I expect to be?

 

Twight covers this topic in great detail in Extreme Alpinism and I highly recommend rereading it.

 

I'd be happy to discuss specifics with someone; shoot me an email.

 

 

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In short... if you're climbing technical routes where you'll get wet, get a synthetic puffy. If you're climbing moderate high altitude routes go with down. And if you go with down, buy a jacket made by local climbers in the USA (Feathered Friends or Western Mountaineering).

 

Well said. I was hoping you or Westman would chime in.

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Have to share my favorite puffy jacket pic. This is me holed up in a crevasse at 13K on Mt. Blackburn. We spent 7 hours inside a crevasse waiting for enough light so we could descend. My Feathered Friends puffy allowed me to sleep like a baby.

 

wef_2005-05-15_45.jpg

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Great pictures..."freakin' cold day ". Man that one looks REALLY cold!

 

 

Back to the original poster's question.

 

At some point I'd love to get up Orizaba, Kili, Aconcagua, and wondering if jackets for something like Aconcagua is going to be overkill for a Rainier jacket.

 

No where was Alaska mentioned. Nor was it addressed by me. By the question I'd assume the OP wasn't going to be on the S. Face of Aconcagua or any other technical route. His comment on the Emmonds supported that.

 

I've done 8 trips to the Alaska range. For time spent (45+ weeks) almost a full year on the glaciers there. Half of those trips included the summit on Denali. All but one were originally to more technical objectives first but not very successful. Trivial compared to some posting here. I've taken down jackets to Alaska twice. A synthetic bag once.

 

Here is an open bivy using both, 4000' off the deck.. We did three that trip. Not the first or the last with that or other combos. But never "slept like a baby" on any of them.

 

n1099338977_30382494_6962120.jpg

 

But not taken either there since '80. Dated technology imo for what I was trying to do. None of my partners or myself have had a cold injury...on any mtn using synthetics. Never felt it was dangerious but then may be I am simply a noob and those experiences don't mean anything. Maybe!? Would I take Down again? Maybe.

 

There are some pretty amazing synthetic stand alones available these days, DAS, Duelly, Tango, PhD and SV among others. Specific combos offer even more choices. And some nice Down as well, EB XV, the Naronna's.

 

But back once more to the OP's question.

 

At some point I'd love to get up Orizaba, Kili, Aconcagua, and wondering if jackets for something like Aconcagua is going to be overkill for a Rainier jacket.

 

His choice of a Narrona Lyngen is a pretty astute pick imo for his listed goals. It wouldn't be my first choice for the same goals as I already mentioned. (but it is a jacket I really like and use myself)

 

ama_sized.jpg

Polish route on Colfax n Feb '10.

 

I still think the LT/SV is a better *combo* for the mtns the OP listed, having summited on 3 of the 4. And just as important what I assumed was the Op's xperience level to be. I think he'd get more use out of my suggestion for his stated goals.

 

But it is the Internet...everyone gets an opinion. My suggestion is just that, my opinion.

 

"All" this talk of Alaska and the dangers there though has me laughing.

 

The coldest I have ever been in the mtns was in the Alps last winter. Technical climbing just a 20 minute tram ride above Chamonix and only minutes from a latte.

 

P1010793.JPG

 

Chricky I am such a noob maybe I should have actually zipped up that SV! In Alaska I probably would. Well may be I would. Down might truly be much safer in retrospect :rolleyes:

 

 

 

 

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Tvash vs. Dane: Am I detecting a huge difference in the layers BEFORE a puffy layer is used?

1.Tvash:

a. Wicking T

b. MH micro power stretch hoody

c. Expedition weight Capilene shirt

d. OR Ferrosi hoody (light, Schoeller fabric)

e. Shell: The lightest Activent you can find

2. Dane: “In the "layered picture" only one layer, the bright green Nano-Puff is without a hood. When it is cold out a helmet doesn't offer much warmth imo and I typically don't sleep in my helmet...so more hoods, more better, generally for me. Two hoods under those layers as well, in the RI and a wool base layer plus my knit hat.”

a. Wool base layer

b. R1 Hoody

By the time all of Tvash’s synthetic under-layers become too cold, any precipitation would be dry snow, so is this the source of his preference for Down? P.S: What is the total weight of Tvash’s system vs. the total weight of Dane’s system?

 

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P1010087_Medium_.JPG

 

This is at about 11,200 feet on Peak 11,300 in the Alaska Range waiting for enough light to see the way down. Jens is on the left wearing down, and I'm on the right with synthetic. It was about 0 degrees, and we dug in just enough to get out of the wind. We ate ramen and drank warm water and told jokes and everything was fine. He had puffy pants (I didn't) and actually slept for a bit. Happily it was only dark for a few hours. As others have said, I prefer synthetic when spindrift is a possibility, and cant afford to have both options.

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Clearly, the only way to solve this is a pillow fight.

 

Dane gets a synthetic pillow.

 

Tvashtarkatena gets a down pillow.

 

May the best man win. It's the only way!

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Do they get the same weight of pillow?

 

Or comparable in warmth?

 

Will the down pillow be baffled?

 

Otherwise all that wet down concentrated on one end is kind of unfair fight...

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I've got a Wild Things Belay Jacket and it is warm. I have not taken it up big mountain peaks (edit: 5 summits of Hood), but walking the 3 miles to and from class in -10 to -20 degree temps gives me a fairly good idea of its warmth. Even in those types of temps if I am walking quickly and not dicking around, I have to have it slightly unzipped or unhooded. Since I am going to class I don't have layers underneath it, so it is uniform and jacket.

 

Wild Things is selling it for $250.

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I was just in Pro Mountain Sports and they have quite a few Montbell jackets on the sale rack. Anyone have the new Thermawrap Guide? Dane, have you taken a look at the one yet?

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Jon, I have not. Lots of good gear/jackets we haven't mentioned.

 

Dane: “In the "layered picture" only one layer, the bright green Nano-Puff is without a hood. When it is cold out a helmet doesn't offer much warmth imo and I typically don't sleep in my helmet...so more hoods, more better, generally for me. Two hoods under those layers as well, in the RI and a wool base layer plus my knit hat.”

 

This is my poster boy look for layering that Messner mentions.

 

P1010815.JPG

 

That was the first night we spent stuck on top of the Midi during one of the biggest storms of last winter. Only us, a few guides and the Mtn Police trying to take advantage of a short weather window still in the mtns when the storm broke. Temps dropped to -30C.

 

Think goodness we weren't outside. Life would have been grim indeed.

 

The Midi loo..were I like to test cold weather clothing:)

P1010433.JPG

 

Of the four layers of synthetic, top down, 60/100/60 and 60. I climbed much of that day in 60g/60g with R1 hoody under them on the steep technical terrain. As the wind came up and the snow started blowing around I added the 100g SV. Not warm enough on the long belays but too warm to climb fast in leading or seconding. I did how ever zip up when the sun fully disappeared.

 

The climbing starts out with a steep mixed gully. Two pitches of mixed later the climb opens up to a this nice wide gully for 250m and finally finishes with 6 more moderate mixed pitches. A bit harder but a lot like Pineapple Express locally just more of it and at 12K feet and a easy dow hill approach.

 

107103506_medium_10daba.jpg

 

Obviously nothing cutting edge or very long but a fun climb to get on for the day. The final 60g layer made the night bearable in the Loo. But no picknick either, just bearable.

 

Would an assortment of only Down garments have worked on that particular climb? Sure. As Messner again noted it is worth pointing out what goes under the outer insulation layer it just as important as the insulation layer/s. But of the Down I own (which is a few) I can't think of any Down combo that would have worked as well.

 

one of these for more comparable warmth and less versitility may be:

Eddie Bauer XV 38.5oz / 1091g

Arcteryx Duelly 28oz / 794g

Narrona Trollveggen 37.5oz / 1063g

 

Or this combo:

Arcteryx Atom Hoody SV 19.0 oz / 538g

Arcteryx Atom lt Hoody large 14.4oz / 429g

 

I also really like the Duelly/Atom Lt combo if it is cold enough and a long wasys from town. I had the choice and thought the Duelly or any really big jacket (down or syn) was out of place here. No question even I thought 4 was a lot of layers but it was easy enough in reality for weight and bulk in my pack. No question it opened my mind to other options. I got to do this climb twice in similar conditions only days apart and both my partners finished the climb in only 60g Atom LTs. They added heavier parkas...a SV and a Tango..for the night out. And did seem to sleep like babies :)

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Just like any sanctioned fight, the weight will be the same. It's up to the fighters to determine what "skills" will be in attendance.

 

Baffling is legal. Any stitching is legal. The only requirements are that Dane is primaloft, and Tvash is down; AND the fill weights are the same.

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Thanks Jim, just want I need, another layer ;)

Hilarious...but he has never made the weight.

 

Another 150g synthetic? If the insulation is good likely every bit as warm as the DAS @ 170g. Primaloft One

 

Not like the synthetic/down thing doesn't get discussed elsewhere. Seemingly what the sponsors give you is what you use. I'm not complaining mind you since I get some great ideas from Bjørn-Eivind, Colin and Colin's other partners of late. Colin's photos below are from May '09/'10 and 2011. From that info I only fully adopted the idea of multiple lwt Primaloft layers in winter of 2010/11. But I have been using the 60g layer since 08/09 so I was an easy convert.

 

All the photos are linked from Colin's web site. Call it a free Patagonia/Narrona ad for this use.

 

http://www.colinhaley.blogspot.com/2009_05_01_archive.html

 

33.JPG

Summit of Hunter..twice in 3 days.

 

http://www.colinhaley.blogspot.com/2011_06_01_archive.html

 

12.JPG

summit of Denali on this one

54.JPG

And a Denali summit again in those dinky little 60g Nanos I like so much.

 

Colin just below the summit while soloing the Cassin in a 60g Primaloft layer @ 10oz per layer, and what looks to be a Houdini and a R1 with a cap under that hood. May be I missed something in there. It is no wonder he moves fast!

45b.JPG

 

Bjørn-Eivind in the down Narrona Trollveggen @ 37.5oz on the same solo with Colin, but a bit lower, at 17K on the Cassin.

 

44c.JPG

 

http://www.colinhaley.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html

 

Obviously none of these guys are noobs or making "weird" choices by today's standards. Look around..open your mind. Work with what your skills and experience tells you will work for you.

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