Ama Dablam 2017 – Equipment List
[ ] Passport (must be valid for 6 months after trip).
[ ] Scan or digital photograph of the information pages of your passport (to be e mailed in advance).
[ ] 2 x passport photographs (please bring in case they are required by the agent in Kathmandu)
[ ] Visa (can be obtained on entry – 1 x passport photos and some GB£ or US$ or €uros required. Please note that there are no facilities to obtain photographs at Kathmandu airport). Alternatively contact the Nepalese Embassy to arrange for a Visa in advance. (Please note that there is conflicting information on the various pages for Visa information for Nepal and it changes on almost a yearly basis. Sometimes there’s a 60 day visa option, others a 30 day. So I’m not quoting prices)
[ ] Insurance – this MUST include helicopter rescue, repatriation, be valid for Ama Dablam and the issuing company must accept we may need to instigate proceedings without first contacting them, but this is unlikely since we will have use of a satellite telephone (see here for further details)
[ ] Money. You will probably need around £150 to £200 personal spending for the trek and expedition phase and £50 to £100 for Kathmandu depending on souvenir hunting ability. Don’t change money at the airport as you will get a better rate of exchange in the Thamel District of Kathmandu. GB£s are fine so no need to bring dollars.
[ ] There are cash points in KTM so bring your debit and credit cards just in case.
Personal Trekking Equipment
[ ] 50-55 Ltr rucksack (See Note 1).
[ ] Boots / Approach shoes
[ ] Tevas / sandals (optional)
[ ] Waterproof jacket – lightweight breathable preferred (but not too lightweight) e.g. Gore-Tex Paclite, eVent or similar. A full weight breathable jacket is fine – it just weighs a little bit more
[ ] Waterproof trousers (Must go on over trekking boots / plastic boots)
[ ] Duvet jacket (optional for trek but a really superb ‘luxury’ item. Pretty much a necessity for the mountain)
[ ] Windproof top (optional)
[ ] Fleece (optional)
[ ] Lined windproof (highly recommended instead of the windproof top and fleece mentioned above – Marmot’s Driclime, Mountain Hardwear Tempest, Berghaus Rage, Rab VapourRise etc)
[ ] Thermal / wicky tops x 3 min (mix of short and long sleeve). Check out Icebreaker, Smartwool and Macpac
[ ] Thermal leggings (optional / personal preference – but highly recommended for summit day)
[ ] Trekking trousers x 2 prs
[ ] Underwear x 3 (minimum)
[ ] Good quality trekking socks x 4 prs. You can’t beat Smartwool
[ ] Light gloves (depends on circulation as to how thick they should be – a pair of thinnies AND a pair of Powerstretch gloves both recommended)
[ ] Sunhat (baseball style hats not so good as they offer no ear protection from the sun)
[ ] 2 x 1L Water bottles (NOT Sigg bottles – See Note 2)
[ ] 4/5 season sleeping bag (3/4 season sleeping bag if only coming to Base Camp and not on the mountain) (See Note 3)
[ ] Sleeping bag stuff sack
[ ] Sleeping bag liner (optional – but stops your bag getting too soiled and adds extra warmth depending upon type)
[ ] Karrimat / Thermarest / Ridgerest (repair kit required if using Thermarest)
[ ] Beanie style hat or silk balaclava (must be comfortable to wear when sleeping i.e. no big seams and poppers to jab you in the head)
[ ] Headtorch – with spare bulbs (if required) and spare batteries. Note:- LED preferred due to excellent battery life, no spares required and light weight. Check out the range by Petzl and Black Diamond).
[ ] Sunglasses (See Note 4)
Go to Sunglasses gear review
[ ] Sunglasses hard case
[ ] Sun cream – Factor 50 or above. (Small tubes preferred for the mountain)
[ ] Lip salve with SPF
[ ] Toiletries
[ ] Sponge or flannel (makes washing your bits a lot easier)
[ ] Towel
[ ] Small personal 1st aid kit (See Note 5)
[ ] Personal medication (See Note 6)
[ ] Foot powder (optional)
[ ] Wet wipes (these are readily available now in KTM)
[ ] Antibacterial Hand gel (50ml tube should suffice) – again available in KTM
[ ] Multi vitamins (optional)
[ ] Iodine / water purification / filtration system (See Note 7)
[ ] Penknife / multitool
[ ] Watch with alarm
[ ] Trekking poles (optional / personal preference). It’s got to be Leki or Black Diamond
[ ] Personal stereo + Batteries (optional)
[ ] Camera + Lots of Film / memory cards + Spare camera batteries. Please also bring 8 x AAA lithium batteries for use with the Walkie Talkies that I will issue (I can’t freight lithiums anymore and I can’t carry more than what is deemed to be for personal use)
[ ] Personal solar charging system (optional). The powermonkey eXplorer is the best I have come across. Solar panels on their own are fine (but limited) – this one has a battery for holding power when your device is already charged so it is very versatile. Even better is the more recent powermonkey extreme (with battery) and solarmonkey adventurer (with integrated battery)
[ ] Waterproof stuff sacks to separate your gear. Lots to choose from in the Exped range.
[ ] Some ziplock bags usually come in handy
[ ] Reading book
[ ] Diary
[ ] Pen
[ ] An old unlocked mobile phone with charger. You can buy a SIM in Kathmandu card for around Rs350 and it’s about Rs18 per minute to phone the UK (subject to signal of course)
[ ] Kitbag for portering (90L). Available in KTM for around a tenner! Not as durable as a North Face duffle but will suffice for the trip
[ ] A few heavy duty plastic bags to pack items in to your kitbag
[ ] Small combination padlock that fits kitbag zippers
[ ] Tips for the crew (US$125 or GB£ / €uro equivalent)
[ ] Summit bonus for your Climbing Sherpa (US$300 or GB£ / €uro equivalent)
Personal Mountain Equipment
[ ] Plastic boots (available for hire). Please DO NOT bring Scarpa Alphas – they are not warm enough. Scarpa Vegas (with HA liner), La Sportiva Spantik, Boreal G1 Lite etc are all fit for purpose. The Scarpa 6,000ers are a little bit on the light side and definitely aren’t warm enough. What you actually need is the Scarpa 7,000er – but they don’t make one. (See Note 8)
– latest update … Adventure Peaks are offering my clients 15% discount on high altitude boots, down suits and sleeping bags and other items in their shop (excluding electrical items, books and maps). They have a very good selection and are very knowledgeable. Please visit their shop and mention our expedition. The same applies with Needlesports (15%) except they don’t have as many brands of boots and suits to choose from.
[ ] Gaiters (wide enough to fit over the ankle of your plastics – the OR Expedition Crocodile is a good example)
[ ] Crampons – Heel clip and ‘French’ straps or thermoplastic ‘Y’ toe piece preferred. (See Note 9) Your crampons need to be razor sharp so alloy crampons are not suitable
[ ] Crampon antiball plates
[ ] 4 x long heavy duty plastic cable ties (emergency crampon repair)
[ ] Soft shell trousers (See the range the Needlesports)
[ ] Warm good quality mountaineering socks x 2 prs min. Check out the Smartwool range.
[ ] Air activated warm up sachets for summit day. Check out the Heatmax range.
[ ] Mountain gloves (preferred to mitts for dexterity but depends on circulation) – see here for some advice
[ ] Down mitts – available in KTM at a fraction of the cost of Europe (optional / personal preference – but it would be a shame to turn back half an hour before summiting due to having cold fingers)
[ ] Powerstretch Balaclava
[ ] OR a neck warmer / buff (this probably gives better versatility as it can be used in conjunction with a beanie to give multiple options.
For the next few items have a look at my page about dealing with fixed ropes.
[ ] Light weight harness. Recommended are the DMM Super Alpine or Black Diamond Bod (it’s got a belay loop). DMM also do the Super Couloir which is the biz. It’s very similar to the old Super Alpine and Troll Alpinist but with a few extra added features as well. It packs down small, is easy to put on and is very light. Please note – DO NOT bring a Black Diamond Alpine Bod (Why not? See Note 12)
[ ] Lightweight Figure of 8 (not a chunky group abseiling device) – try the Super 8 by Black Diamond
[ ] Belay plate as a back up (or just don’t drop your belay plate! See the ‘How to deal with fixed ropes‘ article for a cunning approach to using a Fig 8 without dropping it.)
[ ] Jumar (available for hire). Beware the Black Diamond nForce – their moving parts have been known to freeze up in frosty conditions.
[ ] 2nd Jumar (highly recommended. This is optional – but A LOT easier than using prussiks if ascending any fixed ropes ‘in extremis’ – if you don’t bring one but then realise that you wish you had fear not, I have spare ones (for hire) at Base Camp)
[ ] 5 x locking Karabiners. HMS / Pear Shaped Karabiners preferred due to ease of use with gloves on and wide gate opening (but NOT the old style DMM Boa – they don’t fit through the holes in the jumar). ‘Autolocking’ style karabiners are NOT recommended.
[ ] 1 x 4m length of 9mm dynamic cord (available off the roll from Needlesports)
[ ] 1 x 120cm sling
[ ] Helmet – light plastic helmet preferred to a polystyrene one. The ultralight helmets are very easily crushed or damaged when being portered.
[ ] 1 x ice axe (50-55cm Alpine axe recommended. See DMM Cirque, Petzl Summit, Black Diamond Venomand Grivel Air Tech)
[ ] Plastic bowl or Tupperware box for meals above Base Camp (See Note 10)
[ ] Plastic insulated mug (See Note 11)
[ ] Plastic spoon
[ ] Pee bottle (I used to say that this was optional but I have been told by one group that it should be down as an absolute necessity. In which case I recommend bringing a Nalgene 1L Loop Top Wide Neck Polythene Bottle)
[ ] For the ladies – you also need a Shewee. Please practice before you need to use it in anger!
Extra Equipment you might want to also consider
(this is IN ADDITION to the above equipment already listed)
[ ] Extra 1 litre waterbottles. Personally I have 5 x 1 litre bottles and 2 x 1/2 litre bottles so that I can constantly have cold water available. I don’t find hot water particularly refreshing, or palatable, but that is what is provided as standard by the cook crew. So I have a bottle of cold water that I am drinking, a bottle that is cooling and a bottle that I have just filled with hot water. In addition I can then leave a water bottle at Camp 1 which will be there for when I go back again on the next rotation (as well as the one that I will carry down the hill with me and another few waiting for me at Base Camp). These are available in Kathmandu if you want to buy a few before the start of the expedition
[ ] a 2nd Pee bottle (wide mouth Nalgene 1 litre water bottle). Again this is an item that I can then leave on the mountain rather than carting up and down to use at Base Camp and at the high camps
[ ] Small (and I mean really small) tubes of sun cream for when we’re on the mountain. 2 tubes would probably suffice in addition to the other tubes of sun cream that you’ll use for the trek. A non freezing (oil based) cream is recommended or something like a dermatone stick or small tin of zinc oxide cream
[ ] Battery operated footwarmers. If you have any doubts about your circulation (bearing in mind that it will be compromised by the lack of oxygen the higher you get) then these could well make the difference between summiting or not.
[ ] A pillow! Yes you can make something with a down jacket popped in to a stuff sac (and indeed that is what I do on the hill) but at Base Camp … a pillow is the business. Thermarest do the compressible pillow or you could get one on the international flight (but don’t tell them I told you)
[ ] Down booties. You can get these in the UK or at a fraction of the price they are available in KTM. Great for knocking around in at Camp 1 and Camp 2
[ ] Earplugs. You never know – the person you may be sharing with on the mountain could well be a snorer! And even if they aren’t they may well have some bouts of sleep apnoea which could keep them, and you, awake.
[ ] A hat that will keep the sun off your neck no matter where you are. The Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap is an excellent choice and whilst it may not look very fashionable neither does sunburn. Another alternative is the Jack Wolfskin Supplex Hat.
1. For the duration of the trip a 45L (or less) rucksack will be sufficient. On a daily trekking basis you will be carrying minimal personal equipment (water, camera and film, sun cream, fleece, waterproofs etc). On the hill, however, you will be carrying more gear and 45L is, for most people, a little bit tight. So a 50L to 55L bag with a floating lid, side straps and compression cord will be necessary. You can often get away with using these for hand luggage on the international flight as long as it doesn’t exceed the 5Kg to 7Kg weight limit. If you bring a larger sack you’ll only fill it and be more susceptible to the affects of altitude.
Having said that the Mountain Hardwear South Col is a 70L sack that is incredibly lightweight and packed with great features. But if you bring it then please, please don’t overfill it with extras.
Please Note – it is well worth having a comfortable sack, preferably without side pockets so that thermarests / sleeping mats and any other gear you can’t get inside can be strapped to the sack using the side straps.
2. Nalgene Lexan wide neck preferred – won’t burn your hands when it’s hot, easy to fill with hot water and won’t stick to your lips when cold. Platypusses (Platypae?) / Camelbacks are fine for trekking but NOT so good for early starts on the mountain – the tubes tend to freeze even with insulators. If bringing a Platypus / Camelback then you also need a 1L wide necked water bottle for summit day. Please DO NOT bring Sigg bottles. They are a nightmare to fill with hot water, they will invariably burn you if you use them as hotties in your sleeping bag, you’ll spill water everywhere when you try and fill it from a pan of water when cooking on the mountain, they are prone to leaking if dropped or damaged and will stick to your lips when they are cold. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!
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3. This depends upon your circulation and metabolism so buy accordingly. I recommend the Solar Flare Endurance by The North Face or The Wraith SL by Mountain Hardwear. If in doubt, though, err on the side of caution. (** Also – what about having a spare bag for Base Camp anyway? That way you can have a roasty toasty bag at ABC / Camp 1 / Camp 2 and you won’t have to carry it down to Base Camp when you drop down for a rest day. That means that you will only have to carry you liner up and down the mountain. Base Camp bags are available for hire. You know it makes sense).
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4. Glasses should provide 100% UVA/UVB block. Category 3 lenses are fine for the trek in but category 4 are required on the mountain. If you want to look chic on the mountain then sunglasses are fine but they need to hug the cheeks well and mustn’t allow excessive amounts of light to be reflected from the snow and rocks around you in to your eyes. Alternatively glacier glasses with detachable side pieces may be the answer.
Go to Sunglasses gear review
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5. Plasters, blister kit, paracetamol, throat lozenges, re-hydration salts, immodium, dextrose tablets – all these items are available in Kathmandu. Please note that Diamox and antibiotics such as Amoxycillin and Ciprofloxacin are also readily available in KTM at a fraction of the cost of a prescription. There will also be a comprehensive expedition 1st aid kit but it is handy if you have a few bits and pieces to be able to deal with minor injuries and ailments yourself whilst on the mountain. For more information please read ‘Health, Hygiene and Altitude in Nepal’ which will expand on this in more detail.
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6. I need to be notified of any personal medication that people may be bringing so that I can prepare the group 1st aid kit accordingly. I will also need to know of any allergies to food or drugs that members may have. This will all be in confidence unless it is deemed important enough for other members to know about – in which case this will only be done with your consent.
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7. This is very much a personal preference. All water provided by the crew will have been boiled. Packets of flavoured drinks available in KTM if bringing Iodine.
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8. Please bear in mind that your circulation may be slightly compromised because of the rarefied atmosphere. To that end you may have slightly colder feet than you would otherwise expect. Another aspect is that you may get peripheral oedema which is a benign condition where the feet and / or hands and / or face may swell slightly. In which case a snug boot then becomes a cold boot because any pressure on the capillaries will compromise your blood flow. When selecting boots please err on the side of caution because there isn’t a problem about having feet that are slightly too warm. And remember that ½ a size too big is far better than ½ a size too small.
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9. Your crampons must be totally compatible with your boots. This is not only in terms of the rigidity of the boot and the crampon but also you need to pay attention to the curvature of the boot and crampon. If the boot has an asymmetric shape from heel to toe then the crampon will need to have an asymmetric shape or you can often buy asymmetric bars to cater for this. Also the curve of the crampon should match the curve of the sole – don’t try and force a boot with a turned up toe on to a crampon with a totally flat profile or vice versa. You will possibly need an extension bar if your boots are of a larger size. The best bet is to take your boots to a reputable outdoor shop with staff who are knowledgeable in these matters. Please DO NOT bring metal toe bail crampons unless they are a VERY good fit and there is a very deep recess for the bail at the front of your boots. Please bear in mind that if you buy metal toe bail crampons that you may be very limited to the next pair of boots that you buy as the fit has to be very precise. With crampons that have a heel clip and ‘French’ straps or thermoplastic ‘Y’ toe piece at the front you will have much more flexibility with the boot / crampon fit in the future.
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10. A 1 to 2 litre round (no corners for food to hide in) tupperware box works well for cooking and eating on the mountain. For instance, when we have couscous you can add the water, seal the lid and place it in your down sleeping bag. 7 minutes later ‘Hey presto!’ – you have a meal and you haven’t spilt a drop.
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11. Again this is very much a personal preference. A mug works really well at Base Camp for keeping drinks warm but on the mountain a 1/2 litre wide mouth Nalgene bottle will do a better job as there is less likelihood of spillage.
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12. It’s not often that I get really opinionated about kit because there is so much good stuff out there nowadays. But I am afraid that I find the Black Diamond Alpine Bod to be an unacceptable piece of gear. Yes it’s light and packs down small and is easy to put on but it has some MAJOR drawbacks. It doesn’t have a belay loop which means that you have that funny dangly bit at the front of the harness. ‘So what?’ I hear you say. Well there are 2 downsides to this. Firstly they recommend that for abseiling you clip a locking karabiner vertically in to the leg loop and waist belt, which means that it is captive, which means that you could quite easily get a 3 way load (BAD). There have been a number of instances in the past where Fig of 8s have broken locking karabiners open (VERY BAD) and people have become detached from their abseil rope (EXTREMELY BAD). I hasten to add that this has not happened with any of my clients. I would also add that I don’t know what harnesses these people were wearing at the time – but it would appear that they did have their locking karabiner in the manner described rather than in their belay loop. The second drawback of this dangly bit is that it is quite possible for you to only connect yourself to the dangly bit and to ‘miss’ the waist belt by accident. Hard as it may seem to you in the comfort of your sitting room or office when you read this, but there have been occasions where people have inadvertently clipped in to their rucksack waist belt rather than their harness waist belt. You are tired, you have big gloves on, you have a big down jacket on that obscures your vision, you clip in to the leg loop dangly bit but not the waist belt of your harness, you have a big rucksack on and before you know it you are upside down. Why take the risk? Just DO NOT come along with an Alpine Bod.
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Please check out Needlesports for their range of gear and contact them directly when placing an order. They give a discount on clothing and equipment of 15% for orders over £1,000 and up to 20% if over £2,000.
Whilst this is a comprehensive list you will know what items of clothing and equipment you regularly use and what works well for you. If you have any questions about what is required, or what can be hired, then please do not hesitate to contact me
Yours – Tim Mosedale