The Best High Sierra Climbing Rack and Gear List

Tuesday July 9, 2013
Below is our choice for Ultimate High Sierra Climbing Rack. We list top choice first followed sometimes by the Best Buy (BB) choice> For example, the La Sportiva TC Pro is our top Yosemite shoe choice but costs $170. The Mad Rock Flash is our Best Buy winner at only $75 and will get the job done.

This rack has almost everything you may need for a typical High Sierra multi-pitch trad climb. Depending on the climb you are going to do and your experience you can pick and choose what you need from this Ultimate High Sierra Climbing Rack

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Eric Volz leading the first crux on pitch 4. Wide climbing at 13,000 f...
Eric Volz leading the first crux on pitch 4. Wide climbing at 13,000 feet. Really glad he was leading. I got my wide climbing fun later.
Credit: Chris McNamara
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Climbing Gear
Nuts:Wild Country Superlight Rocks
 1-2 sets Metolius Master Cams (#00-4) or Metolius Ultralight TCU if you want to go ultra light.
 1-2 sets Black Diamond Camalot C4s (#0.5-4)
Ropes: 1 60m Sterling Fusion Nano or 50m if traveling super light
Alpine Quickdraws: 16-20 CAMP Nano 23 carabiners with 8-10 Mammut Contact Dyneema slings
Locking Carabiners: 3 Petzl Attache 3D or Camp Photon Screw Gate
Harness: Camp Air Harness
Belay Device: Petzl Reverso 4
Climbing Shoes: La Sportiva TC Pro or Mad Rock Flash (BB)
Helmet: Petzl Meteor III helmet or Petzl Elios (BB)
no gear sling (use one of the shoulder-length slings)
Nut Tool: Wild Country Pro Key

Non Climbing Gear
Approach Shoes: La Sportiva Vertical K
Headlamp: Petzl Tikka XP 2 or Petzl eLite
Rain Jacket: Outdoor Research Helium 2
Light Fleece: Patagonia R1 Hoody
Down Jacket: Mountain Hardwear Hooded Ghost Whisperer
Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Ultra Distance
Climbing Pack: Black Diamond Bullet or REI Flash 18 (BB)
Hydration Bladder: Geigerrig Hydration Engine

Backpacking Camping Gear
Tent: Hilleberg Anjan 2 or REI Half Dome 2 (BB)
Down Sleeping Bag: Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20 or Kelty Cosmic Down 20 (BB)
Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite or Therm-A-Rest Z Lite Sol (BB)
Stove: Jetboil Sol

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Chris McNamara
About the Author
Climbing Magazine once computed that three percent of Chris McNamara’s life on earth has been spent on the face of El Capitan—an accomplishment that has left friends and family pondering Chris’ sanity. He’s climbed El Capitan over 70 times and holds nine big wall speed climbing records. In 1998 Chris did the first Girdle Traverse of El Capitan, an epic 75-pitch route that begs the question, “Why?”

Outside Magazine has called Chris one of “the world’s finest aid climbers.” He’s the winner of the 1999 Bates Award from the American Alpine Club and founder of the American Safe Climbing Association, a nonprofit group that has replaced over 5000 dangerous anchor bolts. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley and serves on the board of the ASCA, and Rowell Legacy Committee. He has a rarely updated Chris, maintains BASE jumping, and also runs a Lake Tahoe rental home business.


  Apr 7, 2011 - 11:42pm PT
No pink Tricam?

Mountain climber
Bay Area
  Apr 8, 2011 - 12:28am PT
I found this dispiritingly materialistic. Too much focus on gear, when the focus should be on getting outdoors, being with friends.

Here's my "High Sierra rack":

a dozen nuts -- ANY manufacturer
a handful of hexes -- ANY manufacturer
doubles of PINK and RED tri-cam


Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jun 18, 2013 - 01:17pm PT
Not the Mammut Serenity 8.9? Light being right?

Or at least lighter and shorter rope as an alternative when you're not pushing the technical ability in the bc, and just need a back up to your self reliant movement in the high country?

twin ropes? ready made full length rappels?

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Jun 18, 2013 - 02:01pm PT
we are updating the rope review right now... so expect a new floss... err rope to be recommended for this rack shortly
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Author's Reply  Jul 9, 2013 - 01:07pm PT
Just updated this on 7.9.13
The Alpine

The Sea
  Jul 9, 2013 - 02:14pm PT
This rack may be good for the moderates, but most anything over 5.10 in the Sierra will have you wishing you had a few more fingers sized pieces.
Related Guidebook
Related Climbing Routes
Mt. Whitney - East Face 5.7 - High Sierra, California USA. Click for details.
East Face, 5.7
Mt. Whitney
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The route as seen from Iceberg Lake.