Bargiel nabs first descent of K2!

Polish skier Andrzej Bargiel scored the first full ski descent of K2 in July.  A couple of guys have been trying to ski K2 over the last few years, Davo & Luis, both putting in serious effort.  Glad to see someone finally do it.  Not only do it, but send it in what seems to be good style, no supplemental oxygen, no rappels, sipping red bull and carrying his own skis ;)  Right on dude, killer send.


First Light, Karakoram


First light over Broad Peak and the Gasherbrum group.  Photo taken from just below the bottleneck coulior on K2.


K2 Ski Descent

Dave Watson skiing above the Black Pyramid on K2. 7600 meters


Gear I Trust 2,  Mountaineering

Folks seemed to like the last post about gear I use for ski touring so I thought I'd do another for my mountaineering kit.  This gear is pretty much the same whether I'm guiding or climbing with buds.  It's another busy pic but, chances are, if you visit this site you are detail oriented.

For clothing I use the Mammut Eiger Extreme collection plus a few of their more classic pieces.  


Wind/rain shell is the Felsturm, gore active shell means it's light and breathable, durable and packable.  Insulation: Synthetic is the Rime Pro, best for climbs when you could get wet from mixed precip, ice melt etc. The Broad Peak Hoody is my favorite down jacket, light with no frills.


Wind/rain shell is the Nordwand pant, gore pro, full featured pant.  Soft shell for cold weather is the Eisfeld pant, I use it for skiing as well.  Warm weather, Advanced Courmayer pant, light and breathable, zippered pockets.


Anything stretchy and non cotton works great. Light-weight, light colored longsleeve shirts with a hood are great sun protection and commonly seen of people who spends long hours on sunny glaciers (guides, rangers etc).  Darn Tough socks have been my favorite ever since I first tried them, they put all other socks to shame. Forget about smartwool and others, Darn Tough is the best for durability, lifespan, loft, comfort, breathability, wicking, easy to care for and the elastic doesn't get loose- They are made in Vermont, thats why.


Mammut Nordwand TL  It's the best mountain boot I've ever used. Wicked light, warm and comfortable.  It's a single boot so although it's warm, I wouldn't take it to Denali.  A great boot to replace your old leathers. The integrated gaiter is especially nice on muddy approaches and in deep or wet manky snow.  As with all footwear, put a custom/supportive footbed in it, like the Superfeet red hot (cold temps) or orange (cushioned for long approaches)

Climbing Gear

Zephir Altitude Harness, wicked light and pretty dang comfortable.  For a crevasse rescue kit I usually carry 2 cordelettes, Petzl micro traction, 2 DMM revolver carabiners (pulleys), a few single and double length slings, a few extra non-locking carbiners and an auto-blocking belay device.  For protection you'll want to carry ice screws and snow pickets. With this kit you could do pretty much anything.  I like the El Cap helmet, it's light and durable with a brim that keeps rain from dripping onto your face.  Petzl Vasak crampons are great for snow and moderate ice.  They are lightweight and very durable.  These crampons need mega miles on rock to get start getting dull.  For ice axes I'm using the Petzl snowwalker 68 as my piolet and the Petzl sum'tec 43 as my extra tool (hammer for pickets). 


Mammut Trion Pro 50+7, its a full featured pack with a lightweight and effective suspension system.  Waterproof fabric with taped seams keeps your gear dry.  Comfortable waistbelt and shoulder straps.  Compression straps on the side to hold a foam pad, pickets, wands etc.  2 axe attachments and the detatchable crampon pocket is a great place to store wet or muddy gear and trash. Gear loops on the waist belt keep rescue gear accessible.  Roomy lid.  It's a great pack.  Durable too.


I'm leaving out quite a bit but want to focus on the pieces I feel deserve special recognition.  Thermarest's neo air x-therm sleeping pad is rad.  It's very comfortable, I'm a side sleeper and never bottom it out.  Wicked warm (5.7 R Value) and it rolls down to the size of a Fosters beer can.  It is pretty thin so I'm suspect of it's durability, just take care around sharp rocks and course sand.  Another item I'm stoked about is the folding and collapsible bowls and cups from Orikaso.  They are easy to clean, take up no space in your pack and double as plates/ cutting boards.

This post is pretty Mammut heavy. I am extremely grateful for their support, and I would be using this gear even I didn't have a relationship with them.  I feel they are one of the top dogs. Many of the best companies are using the same fabrics for their high-end apparel, so it is up to you to decide which company has the best fit for your body type, what features you want (pocket configuration, etc), colors, brand loyalty.  It will all weight in to your decisions.  If I had to buy, I'd get what is in the photo.


Gear I Trust


The picture is very busy, lots to look at.  This is the gear I use for touring and ski mountaineering.  Sometimes I bring more, sometimes less.  I omitted little things like sunglasses, lip balm, compass because there was too much to fit in the image.  I included 2 pr of skis and boots because sometimes there is rad powder and sometimes there is rad ice.

Starting on the left are K2 Darkside with Dynafit bindings, this ski is super fun, floaty, has some rocker up front so it handles wind/sun affected snow and crust easily.  It also has camber under foot and a flat tail so it is not scary on ice.  There is no metal in it so it's light.  I use the K2 skins with these, the tip/tail attachment is bomber and the grip is great, the glide however is not as good as some others but makes up for it in durability.

The other skis are my spring/summer boards.  The K2 Wayback is my go-to when things are icy or when I have to climb with the skis on my back for many hours (too steep to skin).  These skis are super light and fun to ride, they hold an edge well and have a little rocker up front.  I use the 174 length, small, turny and light.

Dynafit TLT5 are the boots I use with the waybacks, killer set-up.  The boots are really low profile and volume.  It's like wearing a plastic rock shoe.  The boots are light, have great range of motion in the cuff, are easy to ice climb in and feel suprisingly stout while skiing.  The Dynafit Titan Ultralight are the other boots in the photo (lower right).  I use these boots with the Darksides and all of my alpine skis.  Nothing but high praise for this boot, light and powerful.  I've used this boot for ski patrolling the last 2 seasons and it is holding up well with 250+ days on it.  The stock liners in both boots work just fine, I just add a custom footbed from Superfeet.

The clothing is from the Mammut Eiger Extreme collection, love it.  The Nordwand Jacket is Gore-Tex Pro Shell, the best hard shell fabric available.  It pretty much lives in the pack, unless I am guiding or skiing in a storm.  I feel shitty when I overheat so I climb in thin layers and put a shell on when there is wind or precip.  Sometimes I'll swap the Nordwand out with the Felsturm pullover (lighter, different fabric).  The pants are the Eisfeld, a soft shell with schoeller fabric.  They are stretchy and breathable, great for climbing, shed snow well, plenty of pockets, awesome pants.  I also carry the Nordwand pants in my pack in case of rain or wicked high winds.  Jackets I use to keep warm are Mammut Rime Pro (synthetic) and the Broad Peak Hoody (down), both are hooded and work well as belay jackets, compress down nicely so they don't take up much room in the pack.

The pack shown is the Mammut Nordwand, classic top loader with a full length zipper down the front so access to gear in the bottom of the pack is easy.  I also use the Mammut R.A.S. Rocker pack, it's an avalanche airbag pack that is a bit smaller, I really like the low profile design but hope I'll never need to deploy the airbag to save my life.  It's an insurance policy, not a substitute for sound judgement.  As with all of the Mammut gear, the features are too numerous to list so check their site with the link on the left of the page.  Their gear has never let me down and I am extremely grateful for their support.

The other items in the photo are small but still important.  2 sets of gloves, 1 thin pair for the skin/climb and 1 warm pair for the descent.  Goggles, I'm using the Oakley Canopy.  They are the best googles I've ever used, max peripheral vision, comfort and a great selection of lenses.  For sun and high altitude I use the Fire Iridium lens and for stormy flat light/night action the High Intensity Yellow is my choice.  Mammut Zephir Altitude is a great harness, ultra light and able to be taken off/on while wearing skis.  I also carry a couple of cordelettes, 3 spare carabiners, 2 slings, 2 ice screws (1 larger titanium screw, 1 stubby), 1 DMM revolver carabiner (built in pulley) for crevasse rescue and sometimes a snow picket.  The rope is 5 or 6 mm and 125ft.  It can be used for glacier travel but is mostly used for rappelling.  The Petzl axe and crampons round out the collection. 

I posted this info because these are some of the items that let me go into the mountains and be safe, this is gear I trust my life to.  Many people will post pics of gear they just got and talk about how stoked they are to use it, well this stuff has been used and I'm even more stoked now.  Very few pieces of gear are perfect, gear doesn't need to be perfect, just like my grammar and spelling don't need to be perfect.  But gear does need to perform well enough that we are psyched to keep using it and trusting it.  I hope you find gear that gets you so stoked you want to tell people about it.