The Ice Pack: an excellent choice for multi-day alpine climbs

Max Neale, a Review Editor for Outdoor Gear Lab, shares some tip.

Rock and alpine climbs from remote base pose a dilemma for climbers. Do you bring two backpacks or one? Traditional style, large packs hump heavy loads well, but weigh a lot and climb poorly. So do you bring along a summit pack or struggle up technical terrain with a behemoth pack on your back?

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ice Pack presents a cure to this dilemma. Being able to hump loads and rip up technical terrain, the Ice Pack offers the best of both worlds. It’s 40L capacity is ideal for multi-day alpine climbs and the pack is light enough (a mere 33.8 ounces) to accompany you when the terrain gets technical and steep. Besides being able to carry two tools and crampons, the Ice Pack is distinct from the Windrider in that its waist belt and shoulder straps have extra padding. I recently took the pack up the Cilley-Barber, one of New England’s finest ice climbs, an ideal application for the Ice Pack.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ice Pack
The Ice Pack fully loaded on the hike in.

The Cilley-Barber follows one of the most natural lines up Mt. Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak and the focal point of Baxter State Park. The route was one of the boldest ascents in the country when done in 1973. Even today the route is very committing. Getting to its base involves a long drive from anywhere in the Northeast and a 12-mile ski into basecamp at Chimney Pond. From there the route ascends roughly 2500 ft. of snow and ice (IX WI 4) to Baxter Peak, elevation 5,268 ft. An old-school north-woods ethic pervades in the park: there’s no guidebook, no pins, no tat, no fixed anything. Rock and Ice Magazine calls Katahdin the Beast of the East.

Ice Climbing with Ultralight Outdoor Ice Pack
Max Neale with the Ice Pack on the Cilley-Barber

The Ice Pack totally aced the Cilley-Barber. I carried in tons of food, fuel, ice gear, rock gear, a rope, and sleeping necessities. The pack carries well even when overflowing with gear and feels as light as a hummingbird with daytrip essentials inside. The Ice Pack moves with your body better than most (I took the aluminum stays out for the route) and the roll top closure and waterproof Cuben Fiber body keep dripping water, ice, and spindrift out of the pack at belays. Multi-day trips like the Cilley-Barber represent one of many applications for the Ice Pack.

Ultralight Outdoor Ice Climber on top of snowy mountain
The Ice Pack on top of Baxter Peak, Mt. Katahdin.

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