Equipment choices

The gear one takes makes a big difference to comfort and safety and general happiness, and striking a balance between utility and weight is tricky. Earlier walks in the Pyrenees and Corsica have been really helpful in finding out what works well and how much to bring along. I'm no gear nut, but I do like stuff that's simple, light and effective.

This won't be a wilderness walk, though the weather will be very variable, from -10 to +35C, and I'm choosing things based on my strengths and weaknesses. For example, I'm pretty good at keeping going, and quite quick, but also not very strong and rather frail. I keep warm while moving, but get cold afterwards. I'm comfortable with technology but likely to play it safe with key items.

As this is a walk in aid of a charity, and with sponsors, information has to get back to the UK regularly. Also I need to collect notes and photos for handbooks after the walk.

Winter kit

I plan to set off as soon as Winter conditions moderate, snow compacts and temperatures start to rise. This should mean I encounter few heavy snowfalls, and hopefully others will have been out blazing trails before me, which will ease route finding and breaking the trail. As the snow compacts, I'm hopeful that with lightweight snowshoes I can travel useful distances each day. After getting fit, I should set off with a total weight (body, clothes, winter pack) of around 175lbs/80kg.

I'll be taking a pair of Northern Lites snowshoes. These are quite narrow, which will make traversing more manageable than with my wider TSL snowshoes. Traction on steep slopes is not the best, but I'll work with that, as they are easily the lightest currently available. Where there is ice, and on steeper sections, I'll be using aluminium alloy crampons.

The boots I have are not warranted as crampon-compatible, but as the Camps are flexible, they should be ok. For those situations where a fall could become a slide, I'll use a Camp Ice axe to self-arrest. Other winter kit includes a pair of thicker mitts, a thin neoprene face mask and perhaps warm trousers. As the weather moderates, this gear will be sent to friends for me to collect on my way through in the Autumn.