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What to wear on the Mountains in August 25 - Sept 6?

What to wear on the Mountains in August 25 - Sept 6?

Aug 14th, 2009, 08:10 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 45
What to wear on the Mountains in August 25 - Sept 6?

What should we take for mountain (Mt. Blanc, Jungfrau, Pilatus) wear? These San Diegans have not been in snow and ice for many years! Can we do ice caves with gym shoes? Is it very slippery?
bevfremont is offline  
Aug 14th, 2009, 09:39 AM
Join Date: May 2009
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I would take layers--a fleece jacket with a zip-on waterproof shell worked for us for Jungfrau several years ago in August. I think we also brought mittens also but not hats. The ice palace is slippery for me (although I am just not good walking on ice) so if you have even short hikers to bring that would probably be better. It is pretty chilly up there--probably in the high 30s or 40s but when we went it was very sunny so it did not feel that bad. Not sure about the other mountains since I have not been.
cjbpjb is offline  
Aug 14th, 2009, 12:06 PM
Join Date: Apr 2009
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I would prepare for anything and bring layers. We just got back from the Alps. It was nearly 90 degrees (F) when we were in Switzerland last week! We hiked from Wengen and it was warm and really, really sunny. We did not go up to Jungfrau and I'm sure it was cooler up there. I wore jeans to hike in and ended up being way too warm!

Then a few days later we went to Pilatus - it was raining and very cool up there. We actually saw NOTHING because it was so miserable at the top (even though it was just raining a little bit in Lucerne). That day I was glad for jeans and my light sweater and rain jacket.

Bring it all and see what the weather is when you set out the door!

Oh, and hiking shoes...bring them if you have them. I almost left mine at home and was so glad I ended up bringing them along!! We did an ice cave in Austria and there was no way I could have done it in my Teva sandals (my other footwear choice).

snowcraig is offline  
Aug 14th, 2009, 12:28 PM
Join Date: Apr 2009
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I forgot to add...don't forget sunscreen. If it is a clear day, the sun in the Alps is pretty powerful. I didn't even think of it and got the worse sunburn I've ever had on my chest, arms, and lips! I spend weeks on the beach and got nothing - one day in the Alps and I'm burnt to a crisp!!
snowcraig is offline  
Aug 14th, 2009, 03:02 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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The comfort level depends on three variables: the sun, the wind and the altitude. A cloudy, windy day at 8,000 feet can be uncomfortable. A calm, sunny day can be pleasant, even warm. At 12,000 feet, even a sunny day can be chilly in the shade and downright miserable in the sleet.

For years I have worn my standard mountain gear:
a cap with a bill, hiking boots, hiking trousers, and a short sleeved shirt. In my pack I always have another shirt, a Polar Fleece pullover, and a Goretex jacket with a hood, Goretex rain pants and gloves. For higher than 9,000 feet, I have also an extra sweater.

Let me give a few examples of how the conditions can affect you, at times very quickly.

Three years ago we were hiking from the Sphinx building at the Jungfraujoch along the groomed track to the Mönchjochhütte, a hikers' facility on the flank of the Mönch. As we walked along, hiking poles with snow baskets in hand, the sun was very warm and there was virtually no wind because we were on the lee side of a high ridge. I was down to my short-sleeved shirt rather quickly and then I paused to zip my convertable hiking trousers into shorts. Even so I was perspiring a bit. (And I might add that SPF 30 or higher sunscreen is mandatory unless you want the parboiled lobster look. Good sunglasses are also essential.)

When we got to the hikers' shelter I walked from behind the ridge into an opening. The wind was coming through the gap at perhaps 30-35 mph. It was a cool breeze and dressed as I was, I chilled in a flash. The Polarfleece came out of my pack in record time as I retreated to the shelter of the ridge. Then I zipped my shorts back to long pants, put on my jacket and went back for a few pictures.

In a prior experience we once went to Kandersteg, took the cable lift up to the flats of the Gemmi Pass and began the walk to the Daubensee. It was a cloudy day when we started, but little wind. Suddenly a roll of thunder signified the beginning of a sleet storm. We had our Goretex outfits on quickly. Our gloves that day were also very welcome.

We had sleet and rain all the way back but we were comfortable.

The year we went to the Klein Matterhorn at 12,000 feet.
I had the same equipment including the extra sweater.
In the sun we were comfortable; in the tunnels under the viewing area we were cold because we were out of the sun.

So the conclusion you can draw is to base your equipment on the conditions. If you start out in sunny conditions, be prepared for a quick change in the temperature.

For Pilatus, it is an exposed peak and the wind can be a major factor. I would recommend all of what I carry, particularly the extra sweater to go under heavy Polarfleece and a windproof jacket,

You just never know for sure. Therefore I recommend being prepared for extremes. You might leave the Polarfleece in your pack. I will suggest this, however, if you are suddenly in conditions that require more clothing and don't have anything warm to put on, hypothermia is not an old wives tale; it is a real threat.
bob_brown is offline  
Aug 17th, 2009, 11:17 PM
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Many, many thanks! We will take fleece jackets, + fleece vests + sweaters, earmuffs, gloves, walking shoes - and a big backpack Will let you know how it worked for us!
bevfremont is offline  
Aug 17th, 2009, 11:42 PM
Join Date: May 2005
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Make sure you have something that protects you from the wind. I have a light jacket that seemed warm until I wore it on a cold, windy day. The wind tore right through it and gave me no protection or warmth whatsoever.
kleeblatt is offline  
Aug 18th, 2009, 07:14 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 286
hot in towns sweatshirt for mountain Piz Gloria sometimes has snow in October! I was in Interlachen in Oct. sleeveless top for boat trip then froze abit in Piz Gloria-just take a lng jeans and a sweatshirt for mt
frenchwow is offline  
Aug 18th, 2009, 09:13 AM
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I would not suggest earmuffs. Your jacket should have a hood of some type, one with a draw string so you can adjust the tightness.

I wear a cap with a bill on it. In the rain, sleet, or snow, you need the cap bill to keep the hood of your jacket from obscuring your vision AND to keep the wet stuff out of your eyes.

In a sleet storm driven by the wind, you will need to tighten your hood. The tigher hood keeps the cap in place and allows the cap bill to protect your face. The hood also keeps the wet stuff from going down the back of your neck.
It also insulates your neck from the wind.

I find a hood to be very inportant in both falling wet stuff and in the wind. Some of those quickly arising winds could blow your earmuffs off!!

I think the two most miserable hikers I have seen were two teenagers who were hiking the Iceline Trail in Yoho Park in Canada. A wind-driven sleet storm was pounding us in the face. They had earmuffs but no hood and no hat or cap.
The sleet was coming right into their unprotected faces.
Believe me, it stung!!

I thought they could have at least found some article of clothing in their packs and tied it around their heads.

These conditions do not always arise. BUT when then they do, head protection is very important.

As I said, I have hiked in the snow wearing shorts and a T-shirt - until the wind began to blow.

How fast can the weather change? Well one day we boarded the Gornergrat train in Zermatt and rode to the stop called Rotenboden. The sky was clear and we got a gorgeous view of the Matterhorn and of Monte Rosa.

As we walked toward the end station from Rotenboden, the clouds came rolling in. By the time we were ready to return, the wind had picked up and snow was falling to the extent that the trails were soon obscured.

I decided to take the train all the way back!

By the way, in those ice caves nothing really helps except crampons. Unless you know how to walk in those things, they can be dangerous. Some people seem to catch on to the idea quickly. I did not and therefore I keep off the ice.
bob_brown is offline  
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