Gear: Artesonraju North Ridge


Artesonraju’s North Ridge is a phenomenal snow and ice alpine “mini-expedition” in the Cordillera Blanca.  Initially the expedition is supported by donkeys, but to get up higher on the mountain climbers must go unsupported.  Bad weather, technical climbing on the ridge, and a long route, all spell for requiring some good gear.  I learned the hard way that this peak can get pretty darn cold.

Read the full story here.

Gear Rating Legend

Best in class!  This is a non-climb/expedition specific choice. Regardless of the climb/expedition at hand, this piece of gear is a favorite.

Terrific! It’s almost as if this piece of gear was made for this climb/expedition.  There is no better piece of gear than this to get the job done right here.

Good!  This piece of gear performed well, as expected.  There may be something slightly more optimal out there for this specific climb/expedition, but this still worked very well.

Okay.  This piece of gear performance was average during this climb/expedition.  It may not have been the ideal piece of gear, but it got the job done for the most part.

Less than ideal.  This piece of gear may have some great aspects, but none of those aspects particularly outweighed their negative aspects during this climb/expedition.

Terrible!  This piece of gear posed as a real challenge in itself and made the climb/expedition considerably worse and possibly introduced unnecessary dangers to the situation.

(Keep in mind that some pieces of gear may function as “Terrific!” on one climb/expedition, and “Terrible!” on another.  The more specific a piece of gear, the better it may perform during some conditions while the worse it may perform in others.  All items here are high quality and have their merits in some regards.)

Top Layers 😦

  • ⭐ Icebreaker Sphere LS Hood
  • ⭐ Ourdoor Research Deviator Hoody
  • ⭐ Mountain Hardwear Ghostwhisperer Hoody
  • ⭐ Arc’teryx Alpha SL
  • 😡 Adidas Terrex Radical Hoody (rec: Arc’teryx Alpha IS)

The good:  Although most of my layers where, what I consider, best in class, together they were not sufficient for this peak.  This could have been due to an insufficient outer layer though.

The bad:  This is a cold peak when the weather hits.  This was my first time using the Terrex Radical Hoody, and I unfortunately have to say that this will probably be the last time I use it.  If I were to climb this peak again, I would ditch the Radical and Alpha SL (it wont rain up there) in favor of bring my Arc’teryx Nuclei AR and Arc’teryx Gamma MX.

Bottom Layers

  • ⭐ Arc’teryx Beta AR Pants
  • ⭐ Under Armor UA Base 2.0

The good:  Both these layers have been my go-to for high altitude alpine climbs. Straightforward and durable set.

The bad:  Nothing really!


  • ⭐ La Sportiva G2 SM
  • 🙂 Smartwool Mountaineer Socks*

The good:  The G2 SM boots are my go to 6000m footwear, and I would be hard pressed to change.

The bad:  Nothing really!

*I now use Smartwool PhD Mountaineering Socks rather than their classical mountaineering sock. Their classic socks tend to bunch up quite a bit and can get pretty moist.  Their new technical PhD socks are far superior in my opinion.


  • 😡 Black Diamond Guide Gloves
  • ⭐ Outdoor Research Extravert Gloves
  • ⭐ Outdoor Research Baker Mitts (w/ Alti Mitts liners)

The good:  Aside from the Black Diamond Guide Gloves, this is my standard 5-6000m peak glove arsenal.

The bad:  I usually would have used my Outdoor Research Arete Gloves rather than the Black Diamond Guide Gloves for such a climb.  I decided to give the Guide Gloves a whirl though.  I ended up hating them!  They are not as warm as they are bulky, and they are not dexterous at all.  Back to the Arete Gloves.

Technical Climbing Gear

  • 🙂 Black Diamond Cobra Hammer*
  • 🙂 Cassin X-Light Adze*
  • 😀 Petzl Sarken Crampons
  • 🙂 CAMP Alp Mountain Harness
  • 🙂 Black Diamond Vector Helmet
  • ⭐ Petzl Reverso
  • ⭐ Petzl Attache Locking Carabiners
  • 🙂 Petzl Ange S Carabiners
  • 🙂 Mammut Contact Slings
  • ⭐ Petzl Laser Speed Light Ice Screws
  • 🙂 Black Diamond Ice Clippers

The good:  Everything worked great!

The bad:  I almost lost an ice tool at around 5900m, which could have spelled the end of my climb.  In the future, I am always bringing my Grivel Spring Leash.

*My new tools of choice are the Grivel North Machines.  In the past I would either carry Black Diamond Cobras and/or an Cassin X-Light.  Now I just bring the North Machines.

Personal Gear

  • ⭐ Mammut Trip Pro 50+8 Backpack
  • 🙂 Mountain Hardwear Expedition Duffel
  • ⭐ Julbo Tensing Glacier Glasses*
  • 🙂 Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Poles**
  • 😀 Marmot Never Summer***
  • ⭐ Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm

The good:  Mostly everything!  The Julbo Tensing Glacier Glasses are great cheap glacier glasses, I much prefer them to the original Explorer.  I ended up leaving behind my Never Summer bag for a local friend who lost his bag.

The bad:

*My new favorite glasses are the Explorer 2.0, but you still cannot beat the Tensing for the price.

**I now use the BD Alpine Carbon poles, which are less durable but much lighter.

***I ended up replacing this bawith a Feathered Friends bag and have never looked back.


  • 🙂 Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
  • ⭐ Garmin Fenix 5s
  • ⭐ DeLorme InReach Explorer
  • ⭐ Iridium Extreme

The good:  Mostly everything!

The bad:  Nothing really!