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What clothing does Steve House wear for light and fast climbing?

Patagonia ambassador Steve House is one of the most respected young alpinists in the world today. He combines rock and ice climbing skills with his vast mountaineering experience (he is one of about 20 Americans to be an internationally certified UIAGM Mountain Guide) to move extremely fast on alpine and ice routes. Steve and the rest of Patagonia's ambassadors are not your typical sponsored athletes. They help us develop products, act as spokespeople, host clinics and send us photos and essays from their worldwide adventures. Each ambassador brings something different to the table much like a family. And like a family, we are connected by a common element, to be at the leading edge with respect to the environment.

P: What do you look for in your clothing systems Steve?
SH: When it comes right down to it, I want to wear as little as possible while climbing. The best equipment disappears in the hand of the user and becomes an extension of the body.

P: You have climbed a lot in the Karakoram Range. Can you tell us about your recent ascent of K7?
SH: The Karakoram Range is home to the most inspiring mountains I have ever witnessed. On July 27 of 2004 I stood on top of 8,500 feet of a new route on K7. I summited after 26 hours of nonstop climbing. It was the mountain's second ascent. The first ascent, 20 years earlier, required a large expedition that fixed 9,000 feet of rope and drilled 450 bolts. I climbed solo with a seven-pound backpack.

P: That's not much equipment.
SH: I view alpinism as an art form. Risk is part of the aesthetic of any art. I've committed my life to knowing this one art and, at my level, to attempt a route that I know I can succeed on doesn't have much meaning. Furthermore, to climb in a style that guarantees success (as the first-ascent team did in 1984) teaches me little. I pay close attention to the lessons I learn in the classroom of minimalism.

P: So it seems that an ethic of minimalism drives your climbing. How does that affect what you wear?
SH: On top of K7 I had all my clothing on. I wasn't wearing much: Mix Master Pants, a Capilene T-shirt, an R1 pullover, high-loft R2, a Houdini shell and a DAS Parka. Simple, light, warm, breathable clothing helped me to have the feeling of having left the physical world behind and be focused on the experience.

More recently, I was climbing in Scotland. At dawn in the parking lot for Ben Nevis, it was raining lightly and I could see the snowline 1,500 feet higher. Out came the Grade VI hard shell. At the base of the route the hard shell went to the bottom of the pack and my sweat-soaked layers began to dry under my synthetically insulated DAS Parka. Before starting the first pitch, I slid into a Figure Four Jacket that shed the snow and ice, but breathed enough to keep me from re-wetting my layers from the inside.

In some ways it was a climber's wardrobe nightmare but it proved to be a perfect day for the synthesis of hard-shell and soft-shell technologies. The Mix Master Pants breathed and kept my pumping legs dry. The lightweight Grade VI Jacket kept the drizzle out. The inevitable sweat-wetness from the hard uphill hike dried out with the help of my DAS. And the rest of the day was spent in unrestricted reaching up and pulling down thanks to the CSS construction on the Figure Four.

P: Many of these pieces you had a hand in conceiving and developing. Is there any thing you're still missing?
SH: When you have a system this good, this light, this compressible, this warm, it can be a challenge to imagine the next level. I think we see it coming through innovations like CSS construction, continuously evolving fabrics and the Holy Grail: performance garments made from 100 percent recycled materials that are themselves recyclable.

P: How do you prepare for the big climbs?
SH: A year of dreaming and training and organizing brought me to the summit of K7. Twelve months of momentum. That, and a lifetime dedicated to honing the craft of alpinism.

But that is just the obvious, because I also stood high upon the shoulders of those who went before me. The pioneers of American alpinism, visionaries such as Yvon
Chouinard, who I now have the pleasure of calling "boss" (he hates that). And lessons I've learned, directly or otherwise, from fellow Patagonia ambassadors such as Barry Blanchard and Mark Wilford.

P: What lessons have you taken from Yvon, Mark and Barry?
SH: It is the living of their ethics that sets Yvon, Barry, Mark and Patagonia apart. Ethics are founded in morality and morality is founded in truths that we claim are self-evident. We see it as a truth that we must get our house in order on this planet if we expect to continue to live here. We see it as a truth that this happens best through local action. I think it is no coincidence that we see it as a truth that our immediate environment, whether it be alpine or ocean, is the source of our inspiration and therefore the sense of direction in our lives. Myself and the other ambassadors live it, Patagonia-the company breathes it and our customers inspire it. Together, we do make a difference.

Note: This article was published in the Patagonia Fall 2005 catalog before Steve and Vince Anderson in September 2005, climbed Nanga Parbat's infamous Rupal Face, a vertical 13,500' challenge of snow, rock and ice, widely considered the greatest alpine wall in the world!  This article covers one of the questions we always want to ask!
-- Webmeister Speik


Wednesday, February 7, 2007, Patagonia by Pandoras Backpack Winter Sale in Bend Oregon!

A unique privately owned Patagonia Clothing specialty store in Oregon, this nifty store is fully stocked in the latest Patagonia clothing and gear, sole by very knowledgeable guys and girls who know their outdoor layers. This 25% off sale lasts until about February 20th! See the store! Click here for the official Patagonia by Pandora's Backpack.

Friday, February 23, 2007, 7PM, Steve House Slide Show on his alpine climb of the Rupal Face!
World renowned Alpinist Steve House of Bend Oregon shares his recent iconic climb of the Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat at Bend High School Auditorium. Tickets available at Therapeutic Associates offices and at Pine Mountain Sports. Read more about Steve House. Print the poster for the Slide Show.

Saturday and Sunday, February 24 and 25, 2007, Alpine Mountaineering Training Camp with Steve House and Mike Powers at Therapeutic Associates
World renowned Alpinist Steve House, Senior Alpine Guide Mike Powers, IFMGA, and uber-athlete Kevin Grove, Sports Science Director at Therapeutic Associates, all of Bend Oregon, will present this Regional Training Camp at a cost of $349 per person. Registration, Kevin Grove 388-7738 or kgrove@taiweb.comPrint the flyer.




Read more . . .
Midge Cross and Scott Johnston on light and fast alpine climbing
What is light and fast alpine mountaineering?
Steve House on clothing for light and fast alpine climbing

Steve House
Beth Rodden and Tommy Caldwell
Dan Osman 
Reinhold Messner
Tomaz Humar

  The Sport of Alpine Mountaineering
  Climbing Together
  Following the Leader
  The Mountaineers' Rope
  Basic Responsibilities       Cuatro Responsabiliades Basicas de Quienes Salen al Campo
  The Ten Essentials        
Los Diez Sistemas Esenciales

How did you become interested in traditional mountaineering techniques? 
What is light and fast climbing?
Who is Reinhold Messner?
What is traditional slacklining or highlining?
What are some of the comments you have received?
Who was Peter Starr?
Who are the Mazamas?
What is an avalanche cord?
Who were the notorious Vulgarians?
How was top rope climbing practiced in the 1970s?
What is a Whillans sit harness?
What is a dulfersitz rappel?
How do I self-belay a rappel?

What is the best traditional alpine mountaineering summit pack?
What is the best belay | rappel | autoblock device for traditional alpine mountaineering?
What gear do you normally rack on your traditional alpine mountaineering harness?     Photos?    
What is the best traditional alpine mountaineering seat harness?    Photos?   
Can I use a Sharpie Pen for Marking the Middle of the Climbing Rope?
What are the highest peaks in Oregon?   Alphabetically?

Is running the Western States 100 part of "traditional mountaineering"?
What's wrong with GORP?    Answers to the quiz!
Why do I need to count carbohydrate calories?
What should I know about having a big freeze-dried dinner?
What about carbo-ration and fluid replacement during traditional alpine climbing?   4 pages in pdf  
What should I eat before a day of alpine climbing?

Winter mountaineering hazards - streams and lakes
Is long distance backpacking part of "traditional mountaineering"?
How long is the traditional alpine mountaineering ice axe?
What about climbing Mt. Hood?
What is a good personal description of the south side route on Mount Hood?
What should I know about travel over hard snow and ice?
How can I learn to self belay and ice axe arrest?   6 pdf pages  
What should I know about snow caves?
What should I know about climbing Aconcagua?

Young Bend man dies in back county avalanche
What is an avalanche cord?
Avalanche training courses - understanding avalanche risk
How is avalanche risk described and rated by the professionals?    pdf table 
How can I avoid dying in an avalanche?
Known avalanche slopes near Bend, OR?
What is a PLB?
Can I avoid avalanche risk with good gear and seminars?   pdf file

Why do you like GAB crampons for traditional mountaineering?
What should I know about the new snowshoe trails
What are technical snowshoes?
Which crampons are the best?
What about Boots and Shoes?    

What are the new Ten Essential Systems?
What does experience tell us about Light and Fast climbing?
What is the best traditional alpine mountaineering summit pack?
What is Light and Fast alpine climbing?
What do you carry in your day pack?      Photos?    
What do you carry in your winter day pack?       Photos?    
What should I know about "space blankets"?
Where can I get a personal and a group first aid kit?      Photos?

Which light backpack do you use for winter and summer?    Analysis   pdf  
What would you carry in your backpack to climb Shasta or Adams?   
What is the best traditional alpine mountaineering summit pack?
Photos of lite gear packed for a multi day approach to spring and summer summits
Backpack lite gear list for spring and summer alpine mountaineering    4 pdf pages

What clothing do you wear for Light and Fast winter mountaineering?
What do you carry in your winter day pack?       Photos?   
Which digital camera do you use in the mountains?
What about Boots and Shoes?    

How accurate is the inexpensive hand-held GPS today?
What are some good Central Oregon Geocaches?
What is the Public Land Survey Grid?   pdf
What is the UTM Grid?   six pdf pages
Which GPS do you like?    
Which Compass do you like?   
How do you use your map, compass and GPS together, in a nut shell?
How can I learn to use my map, compass and GPS?
Do you have map, compass and GPS seminar notes?   six pdf pages