What Next and Down Suit review

< Newer | Older >

Fiona and Paul at the base of the Lhotse face in our Eider down suits.  You can see the generous dimensions of the hood in this picture (I have a helmet on too).  Photo Dasona Sherpa.Fiona and I are often asked what are we going to do, now that Everest is behind us? Well, Fiona has been working hard on a new web site called WOMOW – www.womow.com.au. It's an Australian site where customers leave reviews about their experience with a business and then other people can use this information to help them make better purchasing decisions. This doesn’t just apply to big things; in fact restaurants is the most popular category. (If you are wondering what the name means, it’s an acronym for Word Of Mouth On the Web.)

 

Fiona is also writing on MyEverest (see the link from the front page) about the experiences and challenges of starting a business. So if you are interested, do follow along and also visit the WOMOW site where you can tell other people about your good and bad experiences with businesses.

  Gear review - Down suits  

I have an Eider Articheski down suit. I think it’s one of the warmest suits available – definitely warmer than Mountain Hardwear and North Face, however it is a bit bulky.  Based on my experience with it, here's what I believe is good and bad about it.

What do I like about it? 

It has a great hood that you can pull a long way forward and really shield your face from a cross wind. But it’s got a couple of nifty features. I like the lycra flap attached to the end of the sleeve; this has a big hole for your fingers and a single hole for your thumb. When you put your arm into the sleeve, you push your fingers and thumb through the right holes and it ends up looking a bit like you are wearing a fingerless mitten. This stops the suit from riding up your arms and makes it impossible for snow to blow in. Why would the suit ride up your arms? Well, every time you take your gloves off and then try to put them back on (quite regularly), this action will want to push your suit up your arms. It also has a polar fleece vest, into which braces are sewn that help hold up the rest of the suit. This is a good way of managing the braces and adding warmth at the same time. I like the big internal chest pockets, and the large external pocket on the right thigh. Lastly, it has Kevlar lining on the inside of the leg, which helps protect against a wayward crampon.

  What’s not to like?

What I don’t like is that there are no pockets at all for your hands. This doesn’t make much difference when you are climbing, but it would be nice to have when you are sitting around at camp. It’s also a little on the weighty side.

  Suit or not?

Which is better: a one piece down suit or separate parka and pants? I don’t know if it’s just me, but I think more people are starting to use separate parka and pants. As far as I can see, the only advantage for a suit is that it’s not going to let any cold in around your waist. It also might be a little lighter than pants and parka combined, given that there is no need for overlapping down around your waist. But I think that the extra versatility afforded by pants and parka outweighs this. It’s easy to get very hot on Everest and if I had the option, I would have just worn a parka all the way up to the South Col and some lightweight windproof pants on my legs. One good thing about a down suit, is that you can keep lots of things down the front of it without worrying about them falling out at the waist. If you look at any pictures of me wearing a suit, I often look like I have a big beer gut, because I usually keep a still camera and video camera, plus water bottle down there, no to mention snacks that I am trying to keep somewhat warm and edible. If you tied the waist draw string on your parka you could achieve the same effect, but not the same level of security.

 

So on balance I think I am in the separate pants and parka camp, rather than a one piece down suit. You would want to make sure that any pants you buy come up over your lower back to keep your kidneys warm.

  Who’s good

Apart from the usual suspects, I recommend checking out Feathered Friends for good product and value.

  Another good idea for boots that I forgot

I forgot to add that a good idea for boots is to bring some down booties with you up to camps 1 and 2 on Everest South. You can then put your down booties on and then slip them easily inside your outer boots. This is still warm and a lot easier to get on and off than if you use the inner boot. It also means that you have nice warm booties to wear inside your tent and sleeping bag when you go to bed at night. I bought some booties with a closed cell foam sole in Kathmandu for 900Rs, which is about US$16.

 

Up next I’ll write what I experienced with radios, as per Craig’s request.  (I carried both common types of radios and one was definitely better than the other.)

Cheers, Paul.

Messages

Visa

G'day Paul & Fi,

just asking a curious question RE: Nepal. Have booked to do everest base camp and climb island peak in october - whats the best way to get visa - ive been told several ways - either get it at airport or b4 at the embassy. whats the best option ?

regards

kade h

Visa for Nepal

Hi Kade,

It's easy to get Nepalse Visas at the airport. You can pay in a variety of currencies, including US, Canadian, Euro & Australian dollars. There are always long queues for Visas, but it beats making a trip to the embassy. Remember to bring several passport sized photos for your visa (from memory you need one for the visa and your trekking agency will often want one). If you forget to bring photos there is a place at the airport that will do them for you, but it's really expensive.

Which company are you using for your trek and climb?

Regards,
Paul

visa

Thanks Paul for the advice - clears up alot. Apreciate it.

Decided to go thru peregrine - whether thats good or bad or more expensive im not sure but i have been thru them b4 and was impressed with their service, so i decided on them. Did have a look at going thru local company in kathmandu but some people ive chatted to advised me not to.......maybe they had bad experience ?..im not sure.

regards

kade

Good choice

I am sure you can't go wrong with them. And if people have recommended them and you have already used them before and want to use them again, then that says a lot in my book.

The difficulty with choosing a local company is that there are just so many of them. This is just a guess, but there must be well over 500 trekking agencies based in Kathmandu. And many of the smaller ones are here one day and then gone the next.

I should put up a list of the bigger ones that I know of, because there are still quite a few of them, but at least these guys have been around a bit and are a reasonable size. I am pretty sure that Asian Trekking is the biggest (about 100 full time staff), followed very closely by Thamserku Trekking. These guys are also good: www.shangrilatrek.com and I am pretty sure organize the logistics for Alpine Ascents.

re: good choice

well that makes me feel better bout peregrine....haha.....yeah basically i couldnt decide locally and talking to other people who have been to nepal have said just what u said....u cant trust some of the companies and yes i agree there are alot of options out there and its hard to choose the right ones from wrong ones.

I know Island peak isnt that big and its only a "beginner" trekking mountain but i suppose it can called "myeverest" at this point. haha.

thanks for your advice and quick replies. makes it really easy fo us novices !.

cheers

kade

Gear on Kili

Hi Paul

I agree with your assessment regarding the down suit vs a down parka and windproof pants. Both have their pros and cons. I, too, like the versatility of the parka/pant. I know the summit of Kili does not compare with temps on Everest but summit night on Kili was quite cold. I wore a Polartec fitted jacket over my thermal top with a down parka and a gore-tex shell on top. I was able to keep my camera inside my down parka quite securely. For my bottom layer, I wore full zip gore-tex pants (with a thin insulation) over my mid-weight thermals.
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us(Note hand in pocket)

You had asked about my boots. I used ASLO TPS 520 GV Gore-tex leather boots (very comfortable). I had placed an adhesive toe warmer in each boot on summit night that never activated! My feet were not cold with the exception of my toes (my big toes got very numb). Other than that, I was warm on summit night. There was snow past Sella Point but it was hard packed and crampons were not necessary. I also brought a pair of down booties with me which were very handy in the various camps. I'll be posting a more detailed TR on the forum soon.

Thanks for the gear info!
MC