One of the top gear testers from one of our favorite magazines, BACKPACKER’s Steve Roy, recently returned from his latest adventure/gear thrashing session – climbing Mt. McKinley. It’s a brutal climb – more than 20,000’ – and more than twenty nights sleeping in a tent. It’s also dangerous – two very experienced climbers fell to their death at the same time Roy was on the mountain. Being mentally and physically prepared is paramount, as well as choosing gear you can rely on in the most punishing of scenarios. Here’s an excerpt from Roy talking about what it took to get ready for the climb:
“I trained really hard for several months, (but) unfortunately, I had a knee injury about a month prior to leaving, which left my cardiovascular fitness a little shy. This reared its ugly head on summit day, when the need for efficient oxygen exchange was paramount. I basically got through it with willpower and by drawing on my experience from other big mountains. Knowing when to push (like getting up past Denali Pass) and when to coast (like on the less steep terrain heading up to the Arch Deaconess Tower) helped a great deal.
As far as mental conditioning goes, I backpacked the AT in 1998. On more than one occasion, I spent several days stuck in my tent waiting for the rain to subside just long enough to make it to the next shelter or town so I could dry out. That experience really helped me cope at the high camps on Denali, when I was holed up in a tent or building snow walls for 3 days at a time waiting out storms.”
With room for only a few select pieces of gear, Roy chose the ColdAvenger Pro to make the trip with him. Here’s what he had to say about it:
“Though it looked like something out of Return of the Jedi, it turned out to be far superior to anything I saw other people using. It’s a warm, fuzzy-lined softshell face mask with a raised silicone/rubber piece that you breathe through. The rubber piece allows cold inhaled air to mix with warm exhaled air; not only did it keep my face warm and dry, it protected my airway from constant exposure to cold, dry air. Plus, I could breathe very heavily without fogging up my goggles.”
Glad you made it back safely, Steve … and thanks for the kind words. Can’t wait to hear about your next adventure, and read all about the gear you used.
Stay Out for the Jedi,
John B. Sullivan III aka ColdAvenger Pro