Marian and I spent the day “pulling gear”. We have a gear room organized by season and expedition so today was the day to delve in and begin the process of making hundreds of decisions of what gear and clothing options will get to go to Antarctica and which will stay home. WIll I chose the minus 30 sleeping bag or the minus 40 sleeping bag? For now-the minus 30 as I’m taking the down suit, and as seen above, the down suit fits inside the minus 30 bag. The minus 40 bag is much heavier because way back when I had to get it in the long version (they don’t pump out many minus 40 bags a year). The extra room is great for everything that has to go into the bag with you at night…water bottles, boot liners, gloves, mitts, socks, snacks…but since I’ll be carrying it up the hill, I’m electing for the lighter bag.
The process is both exciting and anxiety producing. Those of you who’ve followed my adventures before know that I often get into the head space of “If I can only pick the exact right combo of gear, everything will be fine” which makes making gear decisions seem all the more loaded. Couple that with travel to Antarctica and you can see a recipe for a quick emergency trip to The Outfitters today and a MEC order tonight. In reality, I’m in fine shape and the pile of climbing gear above has been tamed into piles of like items with all decisions made. I’ve also got piles of clothing with a few choices left to me made…my Black Diamond Guide Gloves or my Hestra Lobster Mitts…my Alti Mitts already got the call up.
It was great to have company and another brain to run gear decisions by. Marian helps me to not take too little (as would be my default) or too much. She also helped fix some stuff and she wields a sewing needle with great skill. I must have tied 20 zipper pulls onto various zippers (where do they go?). Zipper pulls help out a bunch when one is wearing big gloves or mitts. Here we are trying various balaclava options/face mask options out…Already I know I’m going to miss Marian so much while on the ice and wish I could sneak her into my duffel bag. It might be a bit hard to get the bag through all the airports/flights as I’m only allowed one 50 pound bag (excess baggage costs $30 per pound!!!)
I always like to start this part of the process early as it makes it more relaxed and gives time to check out “small” details such as which lower body layering system works best with a pee funnel and climbing harness or which cup and bowl nest the best for the least amount of weight? Different trips have demanded different answers to these such questions and now I get to make my best guesses on what will work best in the super cold/super dry/windy Antarctic. I’m trying a mix of polar training, Denali, and Everest thinking/planning/decisions. So despite all the anxiety today, good decisions got made, gear got piled up, and now the challenge will be to live without it during training in the next two weeks (we washed everything to free it from soil, seeds, and plant bits as required for Antarctica).