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Tips for High Altitude Mountaineering equipament in Mexico
It would be practically impossible to describe all the rules that apply to this sport in a few lines. So instead we have made a list of suggestions related to the things that we consider among the most important for this activity.
Firstly, and most importantly, to be able to practise any mountain activity it is necessary to have prudence. The following is a list of the most important things:
1. *Hiking boots:
There are different types and brands that are made of either leather, plastic, or synthetic fibres such as ultrex and gore-tex. In general the appropriate ones are:
a)Leather boots: it is necessary to waterproof your boots with grease or oil so that they are resistant to water and low temperatures. It is important that are not steel toed because this could increase the likelihood of your feet freezing.
b)Plastic mountaineering boots: these are the most appropriate for high altitude mountaineering (in Mexico in Pico de Orizaba is better ). There are rigid and flexible boots that are designed for different temperatures 0 to -50°C.
c)Cloth boots: these are made of a waterproof material such as gore-tex and have durable soles that are specifically designed to use crampons.
Note: Trekking shoes or sneakers should only be used to reach the base or below the snow line. The reason for this is that they are not practical for the snow much less for glaciers. Though they appear similar to cloth hiking boots they are not designed to be used with crampons.
They generally have 6, 8, and 12 spikes and can be divided into the following three main types:
a)With straps: These are attached to the boots using straps that wrap around the arch or pass through eyelets specifically designed for this.
b)Semiautomatic: These are usually used with plastic mountaineering boots, but may also be used with leather or cloth boots that have soles designed for their use.
c)Automatic: These are similar to the semiautomatic but easier to use because they have a metal bar that attaches to the front of the sole and an adjustment strap with an adapter for the heel of the boot. These are the most practical for any ascent.
Note: Do not use home-made or improvised crampons nor ones of questionable origin. It is recommended that you use only recognised brands that are of high quality.
3. *Thermal Socks:
There are three types: polypropylene (the most practical,) wool, and cotton. If you decide to use cotton socks you may have to use several pairs pending on the temperature. In this case you will need to use boots that are 1 or 2 sizes larger than usual so that they are neither too loose nor too tight.
Note: Never wear plastic bags inside your boots. This does not help waterproof your footwear. On the contrary it impedes transpiration and tends to promote freezing.
These are made of waterproof material and help to prevent sand or snow from entering your boots or pants.
5. *Stormproof Pants:
The outer layer is usually made of cloth (nylon or Gore-Tex) with a liner made of synthetic thermal materials.
Pending on the temperature you may need to wear cotton, fleece, or polypropylene pants under your stormproof pants. Though it is not as highly recommended as using stormproof pants, you can also use 1 or 2 pairs of cotton pants with a pair of nylon pants over top.
Note: It is not advisable that you use denim because it becomes heavy and rigid when it gets Wet.
6. *Jacket or Anorak:
There are anoraks made of various materials, from goose down to synthetics. You should use sweatshirts, parkas, or windbreakers as the weather calls for.
Note: Synthetic materials are more practical than wool or down because despite being thermal they do not weigh much when they get wet and dry quickly.
7. *Gloves or Mittens:
As with all mountaineering clothes there are thermal gloves made of synthetic material as well as woolen ones. It is recommended to bring at least 2 pairs.
8. *Ski goggles:
These must be 100 % UV repellent. This is important because the snow reflects more than 90 % of UV rays and your eyes can be damaged if they are not properly protected.
9. *Head wear:
There are different types of head wear: caps and headbands made of wool, fleece, polypropylene, etc. It is very important that you don't forget to bring head wear.
10. *Sun block: Sun block prevents sun burn and protects your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays. There are many different types and brands that can be found in pharmacies and grocery stores. It is very important that you remember to use sunscreen in the mountains. However, it is not recommended that you use sunscreen on your forehead because it may irritate your eyes when you sweat.
You must bring a headlamp even if you plan to return the same day, before nightfall. We recommend that you use a headlamp because it is important to keep your hands free during the ascent. Be sure to protect the batteries from the cold so that they do not loose their charge.
12. *Hiking / Mountaineering Backpack:
These are ergonomic and specifically designed for mountaineering and hiking. Pending on the magnitude of your trip you should bring the following:
*small first aid kit
*emergency and routine food
*water (1-2 litres)
*camping stove, dishes, cutlery, cookware
*an extra change of clothes
general gear: carabiners, rope, ice tools, ice stakes
There are different models and brands, in the case that you don't have one it is possible to improvise one using webbing. It is not recommendable to use one of questionable origin or quality.
14. *Ice Axes:
Similarly there are different models and brands, which can be divided into the following:
Technical Ice Axe - These are used in ice climbing. It has an oblique pick with an adze that can be replaced with a hammer and a metal handle with a rubber grip.
Traverse Ice Axe - (Better for mexican mountains aroun 70cm)This must be large enough, that is, standing upright with crampons on the ice axe should reach you hand.
Note: You will need to use both technical and traverse ice axes, or a telescopic technical ice axe. Do not use home-made ice axes or ones of questionable quality. There is a organisation, U1AA, that in charge of controlling and rating the quality of equipment that you may want to refer to.
Well okay, so that you aren't shocked, the truth is that you probably don't need to bring all of the equipment that we have mentioned, pending on the activity you have planned. For example, harnesses, carabiners, ice tools, and rope are only needed in more difficult areas., so we have marked the basics for any given ascent with an asterisk.
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