Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sierra Lessons From The Swiss 27th Mountain Infantry

Kudos to the gang over at Soldier Systems for finding the video, below, of the Swiss 27th Mountain Infantry Battalion & their gear.

It's instructional to see the real pros at work and gratifying to see them using some of the same gear and techniques as my winter mountaineering mates and I did when we went after the 12,300-ft California Matterhorn the last week in December last year. Our trip was just south of the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center

First of all, I'm a real agonizer when it comes to selecting gear, especially vital things like boots.

So ot was nice to see that the Swiss are using the same Asolo mountaineering boots that worked really well for me (Asolo Boots: Rave, Mtn Hardware Shell: Rant) as well as the same Grivel crampons -- but no surprise there. But a confirmation that I had made the right choices.

The ice climbing axes looked like Black Diamond to me, again the same as those we used to ice climb the frozen waterfall near June Lake (Ice Climbing: How To Die. How Not To.)


I know those bad Swiss boys probably use skis all the time, but it would be great to see what showshoes they use ... especially given my own experience in that category (Mountaineering Snowshoe Failure), I'd love to see what they use ... and what the bottoms look like.


Hard to tell from these videos, but it would be great to know what sorts of gloves they use. It was way below zero (F) for us even in the daytime, and in the rough slogging, Gore-Tex lined leather gloves got damp and the fingers of the gloves froze around the fingers inside. It's a real eye-opener to have to stuff those down around the family jewels to thaw things out. I think one of my testicles crawled way the hell up under my shoulder blade and refuses to rappel back down.


And, obviously, gear doesn't do it all itself ... it's just what you ante up along with conditioning that gets you a seat at the trailhea. But like a good purse at the high-stakes poker table, you're nowhere if you don't have the right gear.

But ... The technique and the training are the real gifts. Again, I would love to see more videos of these guys and try to learn from that.

Thanks Swiss 27th Mountain Infantry Battalion and thanks Soldier Systems.

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