Equipment used on my climbs

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Updated: 10/5/2008

Kathmandu local time

Equipment used - some worked some didnt - read below which things failed!!

Failures: (not recommend)

SPOT Tracker read more

Brunton, Solaris i6


Good stuff

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Equipment used in high altitude climbing must be of the highest quality. Manaslu

I put this page together as I had a lot of trouble identifying what type of equipment to buy. I read lots of reviews, but unfortunately, I think many of the reviews are there to say good things and advertize the product. So, here are the various pieces of equipment I have used on my climbs and these are my personal opinions of these items. Many worked very well, but some, even items that claim to be good quality, failed. Of course, you can always get a bad product so you have to take what I say as my own experience only. Since I am a professor and constantly grading students, I decided to give grades to my gear!

This expedition (August 27-October 10) was to Nepal - a mountain in the Himalayas called Manaslu.

Our team was organized by Himalayan Experience I gave them an [A+ grade].

. Manaslu (see Wikipedia link at Checkout Manaslu) is a mountain in central Nepal which is one of the 8000 m peaks (8163 m) (26,759 ft).

Sunrise, Manaslu, Nepal, Himalaya. Photograph by Ben Tubby


SPOT GPS Tracker (total failure to operate)

I purchased this device based on several reviews in the various hiking and treking magazines. Most reviews said how good it was. The company website is at SPOT website. However, my personal experience is quite different. I really tried hard to give this unit a go. It seemed to me a great way to track my climb. In fact that was the whole idea of my web page - and in the end the SPOT tracker was s dismal failure. For the price I paid ($135) I thought it would be good value. However, in the end it cost me an additional $120+ to activate the unit - so I basically wasted about $260. The unit worked at my home about 3 times if I went outside - I was well away from the house and stood there, or left the unit in a clear area for at least 30 minutes . If you move the unit - tough. You can't carry the unit and have it track you in real time. You have to stop and wait a minumum of 20 minutes in complete open space. Now if it worked all the time you did this, maybe I would not be so hard on it, but it didn't. I tried it at Indianapolis airport (outside), nothing - New York (EWR) - outside - nothing - Frankfurt Airport (Germany) outside - nothing, Gdansk airport (Poland) outside - nothing, I went back to Frankfurt airport and it worked once! Apart from that, it never sent a single GPS co-ordinate in 2 months!!!

One of the worst features" of this unit is that there is no way of knowing if it send the signal to locate your position. That's a real failure. Spot claim that it tries to send a message 3 times over 20 minutes, and that if it does successfully send the message, the two lights flashe independently. Frankly, the instructions are confusing and clearly written by people whop know so much about the unit, they forget that actual users do not have their knowledge base. So the bottom line is I gave it a failure grade. I was disappointed as I really wanted it to work. It's a good idea.[Grade F]

FAILURE - Brunton Solaris i6 solar panel

This seemed a good idea too. I took an IPOD and needed a way to charge it. This unit seemed to be the right thing to take. It is relatively light and not too expensive ($130). The company website is at Bruneton Website.

The unit worked for for a few days, then it stopped working. Fortunately, a colleague had a Brunton unit (he had a lot of trouble with some Brunton items as well that failed). I swapped around all the cables - and finally found the problem. The wires into the cigarette lighter connector are soldered on - very poorly. This is a design failure. There should be two strong clips there to hold the wires - not a weak solder joint that is under stress every time you move the wires. Frankly, Brunton really need to deal with this sort of poor engineering. Its not acceptable to design a unit that is clearly designed to take out into the bush....and then it breaks! It needs to be redesigned. [Grade D ]







Boots - Millet Everest

I had a lot of trouble wearing these boots in. For some reasone, I got a lot of blisters on the sides of my ankles and I tried hard to work out what the problem was. I never really did. In the end it was duct tape that saved the day. I wore these on Mt. Rainier, Denali and Manaslu and by the time I got to Manaslu I think they were worn in and I had no problems. Others however, did not fare so well and several people complained of bad blisters. I think that basically the inner boot needs some redesign - perhaps the newest version has done that - I don't know. There is no doubt that boots with built in gaitors are a heck of a lot easier to deal with! [Grade B+]

Crampons - Grivel G12

There worked very well on 3 trips so far. The size is easily changed - I had both treking boots and the Millets and when I changed I had to resize the crampons - it was quite easy to do - lift a clip and move the rail. [Grade A]

Mountain Hardware Down Jacket  

Grivel Air Tech Evolution Ice Axe

No problems with this it worked well and I quite liked using it. Minor annoyances were that the strap was too short to be useful and I had to extend it - making a starp that could be extended a little would have been helpful. Otherwise no problems with this [Grade B+]

BlackDiamond Poles

These were really great - really worked well [Grade A]

More items to be added....  

The expedition team

On Manaslu our team was organized by Himalayan Experience . [Grade: A+]


Some photos Manaslu photos from web

More photos are now at Manaslu