1 pointHey Jason, it brings up some great memories from our 2004 winter ascent of Gibbs Ledges!
1 pointLooks like you hit the nail on the head with what I would also consider a good climbing pack. Heres my most recent 30l climbing pack I made, blending what I like about Cilogear and Alpine Luddites: Very similar and just slightly smaller than a cilogear 30l. Used a different closure system because if the pack has a removable lid, I'm often not using it. Permanent lids tend to work better I think, less flop factor. The body of the pack is made from a newer woven dyneema hybrid (around 45% dyneema). The stuff is bomb proof (and expensive...), got bored trying to wear a hole in a test scrap with 80 grit sandpaper. So far It's been out for one climb and a few ski tours this winter.
1 pointOn the topic of grip tape, I wrap the full length of my ice tools with Temflex. Keeps my hands a bit warmer while daggering and helps keep snow from building up on the shafts. Nothing new here, just my take on the idea. @Alisse, as far a shoulder strap water bottle holder go, many companies make a removable shoulder strap pocket for such things. I can't personally think of a DIY solution short of just sewing something similar to what those companies make. Perhaps a bunch of elastic shock cord loops with cord-locks (around your shoulder strap webbing and bottle) would be a cheap but not as secure way of going about it. That could work well with a bottle with a bunch of ridges (Gatorade) on the side or a soft flask type bottle.