Climbing and Through Hiking

How do I even begin?
Hi! My name is Cheyenne. I am a 22 year old, outdoors enthusiastic nomad.

You are an incredible inspiration to me. I started climbing only about two years ago, but instantly, it sparked an evergrowing passion in me. I instantly read up on all things climbing, and I found you. Seeing a woman able to, not just do, but excel, at climbing, a male dominant sport it seemed to me at the time, fired up my motivation. Thank you eternally for that!

I actually lived in Moab this summer working for NAVTEC as a guide in whitewater and canyoneering. My ultimate motivator for moving there was for the climbing. Sadly, however, my schedule was crazy and I only climbed there once. Moab did re-light a fire in me, though. Among climbing, through-hiking has been an endeavour of mine. I came up with the crazy idea of through-hiking South America. It will be a wild adventure, and I hope I can make it to the end!

In all this, I have a curious thought. I don’t know if you’re experienced in through-hiking at all… but how possible, would you say, would it be to combine climbing with through-hiking? Climbing gear is decently heavy, especially considering through-through-hiking over 6,000 miles for about a year and a half… but I just can’t not climb!

Anyway, even if you don’t have time to respond, I just want to say thank you. I will always be inspired by you; Even through the most difficult times in life, climbing will always be there to clear the mind and rebuild.

I send best wishes to your future experiences and endeavours!
Stay stellar,

Hi Cheyenne,
I agree, climbing gear can get heavy, and if you’re through hiking light is right. You’ll have to decide what makes sense, because it is a sacrifice either way–whether you carry some climbing gear and have lots of extra weight all the time, or you don’t bring any and then wish you could have climbed. I have a few suggestions for gear that will help with weight savings, and maybe with a few key items you could lose some weight from your main kit and then justify some minimalistic climbing gear.

I would suggest you think about carrying only personal climbing gear, since you would need a partner also if you want to climb routes. If you do connect with someone who wants to climb, hopefully they are not through hiking and they have a rope and gear, and you would just need your own things. I’d go for the lightest harness and shoes possible, and my recommendations are the Mammut Zephira Harness and Evolv Elektras or Luchadors (synthetic shoes are lighter than leather). I’d also choose the Basic chalkbag, and just use the little black string it comes with instead of a bigger chalkbag belt. If you’re doing a helmet, the Mammut Wall Rider is super light. You could even go without the harness, chalkbag and helmet, as these would be easier to borrow from someone than shoes. This would be the most minimalist possible gear list for you to be able to go bouldering on your own and connect up with someone else to climb, as long as they have a rope, gear and belay device. If you feel like you ought to have your own rap/belay device too, I’d recommend a simple 8, because it is the lightest weight option, and the lightest possible locker. I’d probably take a chance on not bringing a belay device though, again on the theory that if you are going to climb routes it will be with someone else and they will hopefully have at least an extra locker that you can use with a Munter hitch.

If you do want to prioritize some climbing gear, I would take a very hard look at the weight of your other gear too, from the pack itself to your cooking and camping gear. If you happen to be a small person, that helps because all of your clothes are smaller. With packs, there is always a tradeoff between weight and suspension (comfort). If you think you can be ultraminimalist with what you will be carrying, I’d recommend the Osprey Tempest 40. If you think you’ll need more room, or if your total weight is going to be more than 35 pounds, I’d suggest the Exos 58 (I love this pack, it’s super light and comfortable).

Another major consideration for a South America trip is your stove. My ultimate lightweight setup is the MSR Microrocket and Titan teakettle. But you may have to go with a slightly heavier stove if you’re planning to travel all the way through South America, because you might be limited with the fuel you can find. In Chile and Argentina, I’ve had to use purple gasoline out of a gas pump, and I’ve also sometimes found pure white gas and fuel cartridges. You might want to try to research fuel availability, but I suspect if you’re in more remote parts of South America you won’t be able to find the cartridges or white gas. If you want to be able to use any fuel you find, you will have to go heavier on stove with the XGK because it can burn pretty much anything, even terrible gas out of a gas pump (you will have to clean it all the time if you have to burn that stuff). If you think you’ll be able to find good white gas, then you could save some weight with the Whisperlite.

I also thoroughly recommend the Black Diamond Carbon Z-poles, they are worth their very little weight and size, especially if you’re going to add any more to your pack with some climbing gear.

Good luck with your adventure!!

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