By: randosteve|Posted on: October 23, 2009|Posted in: Gear, South America, Trip Planning | 21 comments

T-minus 9 days until I leave for over 6 weeks on this epic adventure to ski on the Antarctic Peninsula and Aconcagua, one of the seven summits. And for sure…I’m felling the pressure.


julbo-spectron-x6-lenseI’ve had these Julbo Explorer glacier glasses for about three years, waiting for the right opportunity to bust them out. Well, it’s finally here, and with only a 5% light transition thru the Alti-Spectron X6 lenses, my eyes will love me. By blocking the UVA, UVB and UVC (the julbo-explorer-provide-good-coveragehighest energy and most dangerous) rays of the sun, the mirrored lenses protect your eyes very well without being overly dark to wear during cloudy days. The Explore frame provides great coverage and the removable side-shields add even more protection from the sun and wind. To avoid fogging because of the close fit, Julbo added a few vents in the frame to provide increased airflow and they are held tight to your head with adjustable earpieces and an optional head strap.


msr-miox-and-extra-saltWater and hydration is a huge concern, mainly for Aconcagua, and I’m sure we will be doing a combination of melting snow, as well as treating and purifying water. Here at home, I am a big fan of the MSR Hyperflow. At only 7 oz, it’s light, pumps fast and provides instantaneous fresh, drinkable water free of bacteria and protozoa. However, technically the Hyperflow is only a water filter and not a “water purifier”, and considering the fact that I’ve heard that Aconcagua is not the most sanitary mountain in the world, I think a higher level of protection against viruses is in order.

Miox electrode and salt compartment.

msr-miox-instructionsEnter the MSR Miox, a battery powered, self contained water treatment plant in the palm of your hands. The Moix is a pretty techy tool and was created in part with the US military. In a nut shell, the Miox makes a salt-solution in relative strength to the water you are treating andmsr-mioxx-battery-and-salt-indicator-lights how much water you are treating. The solution is then added to the water, wait 20 minutes, and viola…you are drinking clean water.

miox-saftey-indicator-stripsOf course since it runs on batteries, I’ll have to have some extras of those, as well as some extra salt. Luckily, the Miox has built-in lights that indicate when these things need replacing or topping off. The Miox comes with some indicator strips the help reassure you that the water you are about to drink is indeed safe, but I’ve found after some use, you start to leave these at home. The Miox takes a little time to master, but will be handy for our uses on Aconcagua.


Of course I can’t only rely on the Miox for clean water and I’ll be taking a good supply of Aqua Mira chlorine-dioxide tablets as backup, for when I’m not wanting to futz with the Miox. I prefer to treat water with chlorine-dioxide as opposed to iodine due to the side effects of iodine consumption that sometimes lead to diarrhea, fever, swelling, rashes, headaches and well as confusion. And I sure don’t need anymore of that.

black-diamond-anarchist-avalung-side-accessOne of the hardest choices for me on this trip was deciding what backpack to bring for skiing in Antarctica. Since I’ll be carrying a lot of mountaineering equipment, like a helmet, crampons, rope, harness, etc, I really wanted to a top load loader ‘cuz they are much easier to pack and stuff than a panel/clamshell design. Second, since I’ll be skiing with a large group (5 people) and in unfamiliar terrain (as well as with a bunch of other like minded, unpredictable, testosterone pumping dudes) I want to stack all the odds in my favor in the event of an avalanche. And that means…a Black Diamond AvaLung backpack.

ice-clipper-slotsMy choice for this trip is a 32L Anarchist AvaLung. It’s a top loader for easy filling, but also has a side access zipper (newer models have back panel access) if you need something quick, as well as a separate outside pocket for your avalanche tools. The waist belt of the Anarchist also has slots to accept an Ice Clipper, which is nice for holding gloves, prusiks, ice screws and other things you might need when traveling on a glacier.

It’s booty time!

There is nothing like putting on some down booties when chilling at camp. I own a pair of Sierra Design Booties that work great when conditions are cold and dry…like they will most likely be high on Aconcagua…as well as mid-winter conditions here at home. They aren’t that great in wet conditions because the sole is mostly fabric…though it is still quite durable since there is a tick pad beneath your feet….and the newer versions now look to have a waterproof sole. They are also relatively lightweight and very packable, since there is not a big thick sole that is hard to compress. I have another pair of booties with a beefier/rubberized sole that I use in the springtime, but they aren’t nearly as warm as these booties from SD.mountain-hardwear-king-tut

For nighttime, I own a Mountain Hardwear King Tut -20 degree sleeping bag…now the Wraith SL in the MH lineup. It’s pretty monstrous and has a huge amount of loft since it’s made with 800 fill-power down, and the long version has plenty of room for keeping water bottles and boot liners warm in the footbox. It also has a huge draft color which seals out the cold when it’s down right chilly!

That is one FAT draft collar!

The King Tut I have has a GORE Dry-Loft exterior membrane, which works great at keeping the down dry and protected from the outside world…read, condensation. Some fabrics may claim better breathability, in a laboratory, but will a person see much difference in the real world? Tough to say. They are also probably lighter, but I’d rather deal with a little extra weight and try to vent out the excess heat, than have a wet bag from all the frost falling from the top of the tent and soaking into the bag day after day.


Last but not least, I’m bringing three books with me, since I won’t be distracted by this electronic box that sits in front of me for a lot of the time at home. One is The Third Man Factor, By John Geiger, which talks about the phenomenon of people feeling another presence with them, guiding them, when they are forced into life and death survival situations. The second is Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortensen and David Relin. A tale about a mountaineer’s quest to build schools and improve the live of many children in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The third book is The Edge of Never, which I will try to read before watching the DVD. Good luck…right?