In roughly about 11 hours, me and my friends (Ben and Dave) will be on a plane, flying to Portland, Maine to begin our trek towards climbing Mt Washington.    The trip is finally upon us.

 

Last night I got home to get backed up and do some final sorting of my gear.  I got to thinking about my Marmot parka and how that was going to work on the mountain.  My Marmot, which I bought in November is a very warm and high quality piece, but I never really fell in love with it.  It’s a touch short in the arms and I really never liked how balky it was.  And when I tried on all my gear last week, I noticed it was kind of uncomfortable to wear it with a backpack.  If it’s uncomfortable to wear at 40 degrees in my backyard, how’s it going to feel when I’m trudging through the snow in the backcountry of New Hampshire?

Also, while it’s warm, it’s kind of an all or nothing sorta of coat.  If I happened to get too hot wearing it up the mountain, I’d have to take it off or risk soaking myself in sweat (which is deadly on a mountain in the winter).  Then I’d just be wearing my fleece and a base layer.  My other option would be to wear a softshell and a down insulation layer lower on the mountain and keep the Marmot in my pack until we got close to the summit.  But then I’m going to be hauling a heavy coat that takes up nearly all the room in my pack.

What I really needed to do was get a nice hard shell to protect me from the wind and wear a down or primaloft layer under that to insulate me.  That way, if I got too hot I could just take off the down layer and keep from sweating my butt off.  Not only would this solution be a lot more versatile, it would be a hell of a lot lighter too.   Problem is, I don’t own a really good winter shell that’s waterproof and windproof.

I called REI (where I bought the coat from back in November) and told them my dilemma.  They told me that if I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the jacket I could bring it back, get a full refund and pick out something else I liked.  REI, this is yet another reason why I love you so much.

So shortly thereafter the fiance and I headed up to the local REI and had a look at shell jackets.   I found a few really nice jackets that would fit the bill and were in my price range of about $300.  A sales girl came over to assist us and I showed her what I was looking at and asked if there was anything better she could recommend.  She said she had the perfect jacket for me and, best part, it was on sale:

This is the Arc’teryx Alpha LT.  Top of the line hard shell jacket made from Goretex Pro Shell.  Completely water and windproof with a small amount of insulation built in.   I tried it on and it fit perfectly over my Mountain Hardware insulation layer.   I look at the price:  $499 $330.  (!)

 

Now, I have a rule about buying things on sale.  If I wouldn’t buy it at full price, I won’t buy it on  sale either.  Being on sale shouldn’t be a reason to buy anything, it should just be the icing on the cake.  But I loved it and the fiance thought it was really nice, and I trust her opinion on fashion.  🙂    So yeah, I bought it.

 

I got home and got to sorting and packing all my gear up:

What a mess! How is all this going to fit my duffel bag?!

 

Believe it or not, it all fit in one large duffel bag.  I went over my check list twice to ensure everything is packed in there that I need and now it’s sitting at home waiting for me to head off to the airport.

 

So tonight I’ll head to the airport, fly to portland with the boys.  We’re then going to rent a car and make the hour and half long drive to North Conway, NH which is about 30 minutes from Mt. Washington and crash at a little hotel in town.
We’ll wake up in the morning, grab breakfast, and head over to International Mountain Equipment to pickup our rental gear (ice ax, crampons and boots from Dave and Ben, just an ice ax for me).   From there we’ll drive to the AMC Lodge at  Tuckerman Ravine trailhead, drop off the rental car and do some hiking around the mountain to test out our gear, practice self arrest and maybe summit one of Mt. Washington’s neighboring peaks.

We’ll head back to the lodge, enjoy a  hot dinner and maybe a beer or two and head to bed early to get up early the next day.

On Sunday we’ll get up around 5am, grab breakfast at the lodge and get out the door by 6am to make our summit attempt.  With any luck we’ll be on top of the mountain before lunchtime and back down at the car by 3pm.  We’ll drive back to North Conway, drop off the rental gear and hopefully celebrate our successful winter summit of Mt Washington with a few beers and some good food.

Afterward, it’ll be another early night as we have to be up again at 3am to make the drive back to Portland for our 6am flight back to DC.
I have no idea what kind of cell/WiFi service I’ll have once I leave DC, but I’ll try to keep everyone updated on here and on Twitter (at twitter.com/outsidebrian) throughout the weekend.  With any luck I’ll be posting a wrap up of the whole trip on Tuesday (I’m sure travel and lack of sleep will mean I’ll be completely worthless on Monday).

 

Mt Washington, here we come!

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