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For more information and advice about gear and its use, also see Category:Equipment and Category:How-To. Also see the sample Packing List.

Club-Owned Gear

We continue to add new gear all the time, with major recent purchases each year since 2006. In addition to many new guide books in the Library, we have the following equipment, which is all stored at the Caltech Y except where indicated. Please read the Gear Rental Policy. It explains what happens if you should lose or break the gear. All the gear is use-at-your-own risk. The club loans gear indiscriminantly, and it is up to the borrower to determine whether they can use the gear safely. To rent, go to the Caltech Y when they're open (M-F 9-12, 1-5 PM, but show up before 4:30 PM). All of our gear is free to rent. To discuss potential future gear purchases, see the Talk Page.

List of Gear

Click on images for larger views.

General Climbing Gear

Helmet.jpg Six climbing helmets, blue. Most are large or one-size-fits-all. In 2012 we added four new CAMP Rock Star Helmets, giving us 10 total helmets.

Snow/Ice Climbing Gear

Raven large.jpg Three Black Diamond Raven Ice Axes (one in 70 cm, two in 65 cm). These are good modern ice axes. I have attached light-weight leashes, which are meant to prevent the climber from dropping the axe, not to support weight. These are not designed for ice, but for everyday mountaineering use.
Quark.jpg Thanks to the Student Investment Fund, we received a grant in 2011 to purchase a pair of Cassin X-All Mountain Ice Tools. These are aggressive, modern, technical ice and mixed tools. Look out for these for the 2011-2012 ice climbing season!
RavenPro small.jpg We have one 70 cm model Black Diamond Raven Pro, a lighter weight version of the Raven.
Sumtec.jpg Petzl Sumtec hybrid ice axe / ice tool, 52 cm. This is a technical oriented ice axe that would work well for steep alpine ice, e.g. U-Notch in icy conditions. Email alpine to borrow; we may soon store this at the Caltech Y. Purchased February 2010.
Shrike.jpg One pair bent-shaft Black Diamond Shrike ice tools. These are older model ice tools, but work for steep ice and can take abuse. They are heavy! Please sharpen the pick after you climb with these! To borrow, email alpine.
ContactStrap large.jpg Black Diamond Contact Strap Crampons, three pairs. This is a lightweight, all-purpose crampon. They only have 10 points and are designed for general mountaineering (not very good at all for ice climbing). They're fine for steep snow and they are strap-on, so they fit any mountaineering boot. Do not expect these to work well with ski boots, or with flexible sole hiking boots. Note, in Fall 2012 we purchased four new CAMP Stalker Universal Crampons to add to our collection. Like the Black Diamond crampons, these are light weight strap-on crampons that are good for general mountaineering (but not good for ice climbing). We also have two pairs of step-in semi-automatic crampons' (one Grivel G12 and one Black Diamond sabertooth). All the crampons are stored at the Caltech Y, except the step-in crampons, email alpine to borrow.
Snowshoes.jpg Six MSR Denali Classic snowshoes These supplement the two MSR Denali Ascent snowshoes that the Caltech Y already has, for a total of 8 (these may have belonged to the Da Vinci club). 4 sets of snowshoes (#1, #2, #6, #7) also have extension tails. Both types of Denali snowshoes are good for mountaineering due to their heavy tread; the Denali "Ascent" model also has a heel lift to ease calf strain on steep slopes (look for a bar which you can click up and down where your heel would go to identify the Ascent models). We also have a few extra straps to repair any broken ones; contact alpine if you need to fix any straps. The Caltech Y also has a pair of Tubbs snowshoes (these are marked as #3), which lack the aggressive tread but are suitable for gentle slopes. In June 2009, Jeff and Kelle donated two MSR Denalic Classic snowshoes and two sets of extension tails to the club. In Fall 2010 we purchased two new red Denali ascent snowshoes thanks to a grant from the Student Investment Fund and the generosity of Cascade Designs.
Picket large.jpg Four MSR Coyote Snow Pickets, (3 24" length, one 36). A standard aluminum snow picket. 24" Weighs 13 oz.

Rock Climbing Gear

Cams.jpg In summer 2007, Professor G. W. "Mac" Pigman donated gear to the club's Climbing Racks, and in 2012 this was augmented to comprise 2 trad racks and a sport rack (to borrow , see Specialist Gear Reservations):

Like all the gear we loan, this come with NO WARRANTY and the gear is use-at-your-own-risk. The club makes no attempt to screen borrowers based on experience or skill: anyone may borrow gear. Email Lauren to borrow.

Let's say this again, we have one sport rack (which consists of ~15 quick draws and two belay devices) and two full trad racks, that are both free to borrow.

Bouldering pad.gif Three bouldering pads. On the medium to small side. These are stored at the Caltech Y.

Skiing and Snowboarding Gear

AT Skiing gear - We have two AT set ups.

1. Atomic alpine skis, Garmont G-ride boots (mondo 27.5, ~size 10 US), and an additional set of AT bindings. These items were generously donated by local skier Ed Stevens! The skis are stored in the Caltech Y.

2. Black Diamond Guru skis (167 cm) with Diamir Eagle bindings, and Black Diamond Method boots (mondo 28.5, ~size 10.5/11 US), and Black Diamond mohair mix skins. These were generously donated to the club by the family of Michael Ybarra. All items are stored at the Caltech Y, and come together in a gray REI ski bag.

Telemark Skis and Boots

1. K2 World Piste telemark skis (red) 180-80-100 with G2 bindings and Garmont three buckle tele boots, mondo size 27.5 (~9.5 or 10 US, 42.5 Europe), and climbing skins. These skis were also generously donated by local skier Ed Stevens! The skis are stored in the Caltech Y.

Poles.jpg Two pairs of adjustable poles. These are in good shape (don't mind the bent one in the photo, we got rid of it).
Sb1.jpg Snowboard graciously donated by Dan Bower in 2010. Length: 149 cm measured, 153 cm marked. Preston LS ride bindings. May need waxing (and edge sharpening?) at some point. There should be size 11 men's boots by company "Vision", but not sure if they are still there. See also File:Snowboard.jpg for another picture of the board.

Avalanche Gear

Saw.jpg One Black Diamond Flicklock Snow Saw BCA Snow Saw (the BD snow saw was lost, if you have it, please return it!), for digging avalanche pits (or for excavating snow caves, building snow walls or igloos, etc.). This is not stored at the Caltech Y email alpine to borrow.
Slope.jpg One BCA Slope Meter, for avalanche safety. Because this is a small item and easily lost, we're not storing it at the Caltech Y. Instead, email alpine@its if you'd like to borrow it. This item may be lost, let us know if you have it.
Shovel.jpg Three BCA "Traverse EXT" shovels, suitable for avalanche rescue and shelter-building. Metal, with extendable handle. Pretty good for its weight.
Avitech.jpg One G3 Avitech shovel, thanks to Nick Stadie, 2009.
Probe.jpg Three Life-link "Speed Light" avalanche probes, 196 cm, no cm markings. A basic, lightweight emeergency probe for avalanche rescue and snowpits. (Third one purchased used from Gear swap 2010 in November 2010, and is 272 cm)
Probe2.jpg One Black Diamond QuickDraw Super Tour avalanche probe, 265 cm.
SpeedPro.jpg One G3 240cm Speed Pro Series avalanche probe thanks to Nick Stadie, Nov 2009.
SOS probe.jpg One 280 cm "Survival on Snow" brand avalanche probe. 370 g (13 oz). Purchased used from Gear swap 2010 in November 2010
Tracker large.jpg 11 Backcountry Access Tracker DTS avalanche transceivers/beacons. These are modern (i.e. digital, 457 kHz) avalanche beacons/transceivers, made by Backcountry Access (BCA). The Backcountry Access website has a wealth of information on avalanche rescue techniques, including beacon, probe and shovel technique. These are expensive (~$300 each) so please treat them nicely. Available at the Caltech Y. Please read the instructions (Owner's Manual PDF and Quick Reference PDF) and make sure the batteries are fresh. They do not take rechargeable batteries. The club is not responsible for misuse of these devices. The 8th of these was purchased at the Gear swap 2010 in November 2010, and is a slightly older model. All of our models are the standard Tracker DTS, as opposed to the the tri-antenna "Tracker 2" introduced around 2009.


STOVE.jpg MSR XGK EX Multi-Fuel stove, purchased new in Fall 2010 thanks to a Student Investment Fund grant and the generosity of Cascade Designs. This stove works with the myriad fuels you might encounter in the Andes, Himalaya, Tian Shan, or elsewhere... but it should also do the trick for melting snow and cooking here in our very own Sierra. The stove + windscreen and fuel bottle + pump are checked in separately. We also have the service kit.
POT.jpg MSR Quick 2 Pot Set was also purchased in Fall 2010 thanks to a Student Investment Fund grant and the generosity of Cascade Designs. There is one 1.5L, teflon or similar coated pot (please don't use metal utensils with this), and another 2.5L uncoated pot. Both are aluminum, so they are lighter than steel but conduct heat better than titanium. Right now these are checked in as one unit, but if you want to split them up make a comment in the gear discussion (top of this page).


Ev2 small.jpg Mountain Hardware EV2 tent, purchased used March 2010. This is a classic tent for 4 season mountaineering. It's very low to the ground, which is good for storms but bad for comfort, so don't take this tent if you don't need it. Single wall construction, integrated vestibule (which makes it a bit uncomfortable). This tent is super expensive, so please treat it very gently. The EV2 is a two-person tent.
SD tiros1.jpg Sierra Designs Tiros I two-person mountaineering tent (4 season, weighs 6 lbs 15 oz). It's in a red stuff sack in the Y's gear room; you need to ask specifically for it, otherwise you'll get one of the Y's non-mountaineering tents (and they also charge for their rentals; our tent is free).

SD tiros1.jpg We also have one CAMP four person four season, I forget the model name and weight. You need to ask specifically for it, otherwise you'll get one of the Y's non-mountaineering tents (and they also charge for their rentals; our tent is free). |}

We also have two four-season Sierra Designs bivy sacks stored at the Caltech Y.

Navigation and Communication Gear

Delorme.jpg We have two Delorme inReach Explorers (note: Delorme now owned by Garmin) which allow you to send and receive messages while away from cell coverage. You can also use them to navigate, track, and get help anywhere in the world. They work via subscription plans and cost you between $2-$6 per day. To rent contact jbuz@caltech.
Radios large.jpg Two pairs of Midland LXT118 2-way radios. These take 3 (I think) AAA batteries which you must provide yourself.
Garmin large.jpg One Garmin eTrex Vista GPS unit, a full-featured GPS. Nice gray scale screen, altimeter, compass, standard GPS features. Like all GPS, the altimeter can be quite inaccurate. Comes with WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) for increased accuracy. Gets very poor reception in trees. You can store up to 500 waypoints. Runs on two AA batteries -- make sure the batteries are fresh before you take it on your trip. The unit, along with an instruction manual, is at the Caltech Y. It is recommended that you practice with the unit before you take it in the field. It can take a long time to lock onto a signal. Weights 5.3 oz without the batteries. From the REI site, owners manual and Garmin Guide for Beginners. As of 2008: the Caltech Y has at least 2 of their own GPS units, which are probably superior to this unit!
Topo large.jpg National Geographic TOPO! CD-ROM California product, which uses the USGS data set (REI link). Same resolution at 7.5 minute USGS series, but with extra features (shading, trip planning, 3D views, ...) as well as drawbacks (you need a good printer, preferably with large paper). This is the same dataset as that used by the REI "map machine". The CDs are with the other books in the library at the Caltech Y. Please return the CDs as soon as you are done using them, since this is a popular item.o

Note: the raw images of the USGS maps appear to be in the public domain, and you can get them from many sources online. For very high resolution tiff scans, try See also, which allows you to superimpose a topo map on top of any standard Google Map (e.g. terrain, satellite image), with varying levels of opacity. Note: These are now stored in the SFL Libary with the rest of our books on the 3rd floor.

Tomharrison.jpg In 2007, in a joint venture with the Caltech Y, we purchased a complete set of Tom Harrison topo maps (for California). These are high quality topo maps of various scales based on the USGS maps. Tom himself walks the trails and records the mileage. He gave us 50% off, so we got the full set for about $350. We have duplicate, and even triplicate, copies of the most common areas (e.g. Whitney). This is a fantastic resource, so you should use it!

Miscellaneous Gear

First aid kit.jpg First aid kit (put together ourselves; not a "package deal" like the one in the photo, nor does it come in a shiny lunchbox). We have a large first-aid kit that we bring with us on large trips. You're welcome to borrow it for private trips (or to borrow bits-and-pieces of it). This is NOT at the Caltech Y. You must email alpine ahead of time if you'd like to borrow this. See First-Aid category.
Chains.jpg Snow chains. These are not actually ours (I think) but are the Y's. There are three models, all from SCC. The models are the SZ339, SZ343 and QG1134. You can do an Amazon search on the part numbers to find out what tire sizes they fit. The QG model (Quik Grip) might require chain tighteners, which might not be included!

We also purchased a lightweight solar charger good for keeping your ipod, camera, or whatever charged on trips to the backcountry. It's stored at the Caltech Y.

Other Sources of Gear


The easiest way to get access to gear is to borrow. Try sending an email to the mailing list or try your friends. Most people are quite happy to lend most gear. Borrowing things like ice screws, cams, 'biners and rope is a delicate situation, so don't ask to borrow these from anyone who doesn't trust you.

Caltech Y

Caltech Y's rentals and location. They charge a small fee to rent their items. They are located between Chandler and the Ath. Their hours are 9-5 M-F, so rent before the weekend. They also ask that you come before 4:30 PM, since they want to leave at 5. Some of the items they have: tents (2,3,4 and 6 person), sleeping bags and pads, tarps, back packs, bear barrels, large coleman stoves, backpacking stoves, fuel bottles, cook kits, water bottles, and water filters. Some of their gear is pretty decent (i.e. backpacking stoves), and some is a bit out-dated (i.e. backpacks). They also rent out skis and snow shoes for the Da Vinci club (for free!), and they hold some of our gear (including the helmets, ice axes, crampons and bouldering pads).

UC Riverside Outdoor Excursions

From their equipment manager: "We rent a wide variety of equipment some of which is not carried by Sport Chalet or REI (crampons, ice axes, avalanche probes, snow shovels, snow saw). Our rates are good too. Our students receive the lower rate. We are able to mail some of our rental gear. Please visit our website for details:"

Riverside is not too far out of the way for some destinations East of Pasadena, so this is an option to consider. Here's a direct link to their equipment rental page. They have climbing shoes, bouldering pads, gloves, goggles, snowshoes, poles, snow saws, avalanche probes (not beacons), ice axes (not ice tools), crampons (probably non-rigid is my guess) and gaiters, as well as other camping equipment and water sports equipment.



  • Patagonia sometimes sponsors slideshows and events, and they co-sponsor events like the Banff film festival. They have a few stores in LA, and one in Pasadena: Patagonia, 47 N. Fair Oaks Ave (on corner of Fair Oaks and Union St.), Pasadena.
  • REI rents out gear, and the Arcadia store is about 10 minutes from Caltech. They rent camping stoves, tents, backpacks, sleeping bags and sleeping pads, but they do NOT rent mountaineering gear. They do rent snowshoes, even though the REI website says they don't (update 2007: this REI website correctly says the store rents snowshoes). The only REI store in the LA area that does rent mountaineering gear is the REI Santa Ana store (714) 543-4142. They rent rock climbing shoes ($12 first day, $6 per additional day), helmets ($6,$3), strap-on steel crampons ($12,$5) and ice axes ($9,$4). If you are not a member, you pay an additional $10 fee on the first day. They do not include the days you pick up and drop off in the price (assuming you rent for more than one day). The Santa Ana store also rents snowboards and snowshoes, but no skis and no mountaineering boots. Unfortunately, the store is about 39 miles south of Pasadena and not on the way to the Sierras. Here's list of the gear and rates that the Arcadia REI rents, and the prices. The Arcadia store's website; their phone number is (626) 447-1062.
  • The Sport Chalet has three stores near Pasadena: one in Arcadia, and two in La Canada. See their store finder for directions. They offer their own courses as well (for a price). Here is a general description of their courses. The phone number of their Arcadia store is (626) 446-8955, and the phone number of their La Canada stores is (818) 790-9800. Information on Sport Chalet Rentals. They rent ski and snowboard equipment, snow shoes, climbing shoes, tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, stoves, pads, etc. They also rent canoes and sea kayaks, but we are not sure if every location has all of these items. There are no cross-country ski rentals, nor mountaineering gear rentals.
  • "Dick's Sporting Goods is an OK store in town that has very basic skiing/snowboarding and camping items. They have a store in Pasadena on Rosemead.

REI, Sport Chalet, and a few other large local retailers offer discounted ski tickets to local resorts like Mountain High. Also, look for weekly ski deals in the LA Times like this Nov 2010 Mammoth deal.

Greater Los Angeles

  • REI Santa Ana - see above, and see REI rental rates
  • Adventure 16. Adventure 16 has six SoCal locations, but most are near the coast. The closest store to Pasadena is probably their West LA store at 11161 W. Pico Blvd. (near Sepulveda), (310) 473-4574. They also host some events like slideshows and classes. They do have rentals and a nice website listing what they rent and for how much: Rental Rates. It looks like they rent a small variety of back packs, sleeping bags, tents, large stoves, climbing shoes, snow shoes, bear canisters and trekking poles.
  • Real Cheap Sports. The offshoot of the Outland Mountain Shop that was near campus until 2005. They're located at 36 West Santa Clara, Ventura, CA, (805) 648-3803,
  • NEPA Climbing Store. This is Evolv's climbing store, located at 1529 W. Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles. Phone is (213)384-8848; store hours are M-F 10:30 to 7:30 and Sat, 10-5. They sell more than just Evolv shoes. UPDATE: they may have moved. Try calling first!
  • 5.10 outlet store in Redlands
  • Nomad Ventures , a climbing store in Joshua Tree (at the intersection of the highway and the main North entrance road) -- they also have locations in Idyllwild and San Diego.
  • The North Face. There is a North Face outlet in Beverly Hills: (310) 246-4120.

Owens Valley (Lone Pine, Bishop, Mammoth, etc..)

Lone Pine

  • High Sierra Outfitters, (760)876-9994. They are a small shop located on the 395 right at the turnoff to Whitney Portal Road. They are mainly a camping/hunting/fishing store, but they have a few mountaineering items, though not much, so don't rely on them for critical items. They used to rent crampons, but don't anymore due to insurance reasons.
  • Elevation, (760)876-4560. A fine store, geared for climbers, but with a limited selection due to its small size. Located on the 395 They rent some gear as well. In the past they've rented the Mad Rock Alpinist '07 boots for $35/weekend in sizes 10, 11 and 12. They rent snowshoes and crampons, and don't rent ice axes, although they sell inexpensive ice axes for $59.
  • Whitney Portal Store. They are located at the very end of the Whitney Portal Road, right at the beginning of the Mount Whitney trail. They are closed in winter, open from May through October. See website for hours. (760)876-0030. Pricey but convenient, and touristy. They also have a nice forum on their website.


  • Wilson's East Side Sports has lots of stuff and is a high quality, full service store with knowledgeable salespeople. They are located at 224 N. Main St., Bishop, CA (760)-873-7520. Their hours: 9am-9am Fri and Sat, 9am-6am Sun. They rent leather boots (1 day: $12.50 2 days: $18.50 3 days: $24.50) and crampons and ice-axes (1 day: $7.50 2 days: $10.50 3 days: $13.50).
  • Sierra Mountain Center, a guiding service. They rent gear for their clients, and might rent in general. Their website has a wealth of information and is recommended as place to get ideas of what to climb; they also offer avalanche courses. 174 West Line St., Bishop, (760)873-8526.
  • It may also be possible to rent gear from one of the other excellent guide services in Bishop (e.g. SMI, SMC, SMG).

Mammoth Lakes

  • Mammoth Mountaineering is a full-service mountaineering and ski shop. 437 Old Mammoth Rd., Mammoth Lakes, CA (760)-934-4191. Their hours: 8am-7pm every day. No boot rental. Crampons are $8/day and ice-axes are $5/day.
  • a word from the previous webmaster: "Do not go to Kitteridge Sports. They are a bunch of crooked asses who always over charge you."


  • Neptune Mountaineering specializes in mountaineering and skiing, and have an amazing staff (in 2008, they began selling goods online). They also run slide-shows and clinics, as well as rent gear and keep updated logs of area first-ascents.



  • You might try Feathered Friends. They specialize in down products, but also have a knowledgeable staff who can point you in the right direction. From Brian Eck (ex-Seattle resident): "I can't recommend Feathered Friends highly enough. Great selection, great staff, great service." It is located a block away from the main REI flagship store (this REI rents out everything you could need for a trip to the cascades, including ice axes, crampons, plastic boots, though probably not ice tools). There's a Marmot shop in Bellevue (to the East of Seattle).
  • Pro Mountain Sports, (206)522-16727.
  • One of the best used gear stores in the country is Second Ascent.

Specific Gear

Places to get your rock shoes re-soled See Rock shoes resoling.

Places to Get Double Mountaineering Boots This seems to be a constantly recurring problem. You'd like a pair of double mountaineering boots, but there's nowhere nearby to try them on, they're very expensive, and the fit is hard to get right since plastic doesn't break in. If you have some advice please put it here! Past solutions include trying to find someone else (via the Email List) with boots you might like and trying theirs, ordering and returning boots, or driving North for a long distance to a store which carries them.

Online Retailers

  • has probably the most extensive collection of quality outdoor gear on the internet. Their service is impeccable and they will accept any item for return without question. Shipping and tax are both free if your order is over $50 and coming to CA. Our club gets a substantial discount (see the list archives or contact Nick) on many brands, and those which are restricted can be purchased in one of our yearly big club orders for ~20% off. See also Backcountry Outlet (now called "Department of Goods") and Steep and Cheap if you like the thrill of impulse purchases.
  • has a lot of gear, most of which is at retail price. One nice service they offer is that if you have something shipped to the local REI store (Arcadia is the closest one) you can try something on and not have to pay return shipping if it doesn't fit. Their return policy is legendary: "no questions asked." Also, used gear sales happen a few times a year which are well worth checking out.

New as of August 2010: would like to offer Caltech students a 10% discount on camping gear! To receive your discount, enter the coupon code 121728 upon checkout. This discount can be used once a month, per email address. We hope you enjoy shopping with Overstock!