the san francisco peaks. i have been here many times, made a lot of mistakes and learned many lessons. this has been my mountaineering training ground, my practice field. always nice to come back here and even though it is a relatively little mountain it can still be a very dangerous place.
i am spoiled with so much great gear and such a lowa, hanwag, asolo fan that i sometimes forget that i have other good stuff just a little farther back in the locker like these scarpa escape gtx boots. i was on my feet for 12 plus hours straight over varied terrain ranging from smooth dirt and tree root tangled trails to frozen side hilling and boulder strewn avalanche chutes. They are not quite as luxurious to the feet as the hanwags, they feel a little hard on the bottom of the feet after a while, but they are incredibly capable. they still deserve a great gear recommendation but I think I will use a thicker wool sock next time.
that is an arborwear ascender pants leg in the picture and i am absolutely sure that these are the best outdoor pants on the market for 85% of what i do (and i have tried dozens of others). extremely comfortable and easy to move in because of both the cut and stretch capability of the fabric. they breathe very well but they also do a nice job of cutting the wind and sluffing light precip. and the pocket set is perfect. the right leg tool pocket is ideal for my iphone, the left leg is a well designed, highly functional bdu style velcro secured pocket on top of a vertical zippered one. the standard trouser hand pockets are deep, large and never ride up or spill their contents when i am sitting. i never use the back wallet pockets and don’t think they are necessary on work pants but these are the best i have seen because they are sewn down flat and have a thin fabric top that is held down by velcro for security. i am telling you, these are exceptional pants for everything except heavy precipitation and thorns, briars, sticker patches etc (which is what the arborwear original tree climbers are for).
i had not planned on summiting but the weather was holding, i felt good and i had the right gear with me so i pushed on to the top. 12,633 is the highest point in arizona. there is just something satisfying about getting up there, where ever that there might be.
spot 2 and garmin foretrex 401 continue to perform very well and are still my recommendations for backcountry comms and basic gps navigation.
these are my new communist buddies from red china. from left to right that’s you you (sp), jackie chan (really) and panda express (or something like that). supposedly they were loitering in the snow bowl parking lot and just followed a guy with a dog up the mountain, all the way up the mountain with no water, no packs, no food and just the clothes on their back.
the kuiu chugach jacket in olive worked as advertised, especially when the weather turned.
and it fits like a proper mountain jacket. here i am wearing a patagonia micro puff jacket under it and as you can see i still have room to switch that out for a full thickness insulation layer like a das parka (primaloft) or a western mountaineering (down) meltdown or flight puffy. even when fully layered for the worst of weather i am not restricted or compressed.
then, as is often the case, the weather changed. the wind picked up to gale force, the clouds rolled in, the temperature dropped ten degrees in five minutes and it snowed intermittantly the rest of the day.
and here, from the good folks at the ski lift lodge & cabins, is my just rewards for a hard days work and a few good deeds. that is a world class chicken quesadilla, of which i am something of a connoisseur, and a cold glass of coors (pronounced kerrs) banquet, my new favorite beer.
so get out there and do it. the best beta on gear and techniques comes from long hard days on the mountain.
cheers my friends.