Sometimes the mountains just call your name. Whether you’ve got a season to train for a summit bit up Mt. Rainier or just a Saturday afternoon to log some miles hiking up the local ski hill, the right gear can mean the difference between enjoying the majesty and struggling through misery (or worse). Here’s the gear we used for our recent solo free climb of Mount Olympus in Utah — but it’s perfect for any ultralight mountain mission.
Initiate Ghost Protocol
In 2010, the crew of the latest Mission: Impossible movie called Charles Cole, Five Ten’s president, with one simple question: could he design a shoe that could climb up a glass wall? Cole and his team went to work on their Stealth C4 rubber, rebuilding it stickier than ever. The result? Rubber that is viscous enough to gain purchase on glass (just watch Tom Cruise use it in Mission: Impossible), while maintaining the durability to do battle with even the sharpest rock faces. We got a look at Five Ten’s Team VXi and Freerider VXi Element ($125), two groundbreaking pieces of footwear.
No Trail? No Problem
Somewhere between short day hikes in Yellowstone and forays above the tree line to bag a couple of Colorado 14ers last year, you probably realized your trail runners or light hiking shoes just don’t cut it on off-trail, gnarly terrain. Technical approach shoes blend everything you like about your trail-running shoes — ankle support, beefy soles, light weight — with the sticky rubber and technical details of a climbing shoe or heavier boot. If you’re going to spend a few hours tackling slot canyons in red rock country or slogging long miles to your favorite local peak — or even if you just want a little extra support to stick on the mountain, these approach shoes will keep you on the trail.
Gear to get you up the Wall
No other sport relies quite as heavily on gear during life-and-death situations as climbing. Your gear is the only lifeline (and sometimes when you’re a few hundred feet up a sheer wall, no amount of gear seems to be enough) holding you to the rock. Selecting the right harness, rope, and protection, then, makes the difference between not just surviving your time on the wall, but enjoying every agonizing toe hold and finger-cramping crack jam. Here’s what we hauled up the rock on our climb up Ancient Art tower in Moab, Utah.