Packing for a Climbing Trip to the Eastern Sierra Desert (ft. Tony Richardson)
by Matt Gracie on May 09, 2022
Find yourself looking to nail down the perfect gear guide for a climbing road trip through the Eastern Sierras? Look no further! Today we're sitting down with Tony Richardson, a thoroughly accomplished alpinist whose feats include: climbing Mt. Waddington in Canada's Pacific Northwest, besting the fabled Cerro Torre in the Patagonia mountains, and summiting the Beluga Spire north of the Arctic Circle. Though too humble to tell you so, this man is a legend, and his athleticism can only be matched by his fervor for creating a perfectly fine-tuned outdoor gear setup.
Thanks for sitting down to chat Tony! Can you tell us a bit about this trip and the gear you took with you?
For this trip we were hoping to do some climbing higher up in the Sierras so we brought a lot of extra gear that we didn't end up using, like light mountain boots, a lightweight ice axe and crampons. In the end we pretty much just rock climbed every day: everything from multi-pitch trad to bouldering. So we brought a standard climbing setup of two 70m ropes, two racks of cams, a whole lot of quick draws, a harness, shoes, chalk bag, atc & griri, locking biners, and long slings for anchors. Because we thought we might go up in the mountain and it was only April, we ended up bringing a lot of cold weather clothes like shells and big puffy jackets. But we also knew we were going to the desert so we brought lots of t shirts and light stuff to be ready for that.
What's the most essential piece of gear you packed for this adventure?
Honestly, sunglasses. With weather in the desert, or high mountains, or driving down the highway, shades are key.
Did you forget to pack anything important?
Funny enough, shorts. I totally spaced bringing a pair of shorts. It kind of worked out because in the desert at this time of the year it can be hot in the sun and then kind of chilly in the shade, so I just wore some light pants and would pull up the legs--but there were a few days when I could have really used a pair of shorts.
Why do you use the specific gear/brands that you do? What makes them stand out?
Everything is so good nowadays its hard to say what's the "best." I have a lot of Arc'teryx clothes, my shoes are mostly La Sportivas, the climbing rack was a lot of Petzl and Black Diamond. I also have a couple pieces of vintage clothing that are awesome, like a super light button up shirt for the sun.
What's your favorite gear-organizing pro tip you can share with us?
Make your gear as accessible as possible. I find on these trips its easy for things to get chaotic in the car when you are loading and unloading it everyday. Having a system to easily keep things handy is clutch.
How has your RUX helped with your climbing trip?
This was my first big road trip like this with RUX and it was amazing. with two dudes in a pretty small vehicle, moving around every day setting up camp and putting it away, having a bunch of RUX was sweet. We each had a couple personal RUX 70L's for clothes, extra gear, and sleeping stuff, and we had a couple for common things like food and cooking. I also had a couple of the RUX Waterproof Bags that I kept my personal items handy in. Everything was totally accessible at all times; if I needed a change of clothes I knew exactly where it was. If we were racking up for climbing and needed more gear, we could just pull it out. If we were stopped for the night and needed sleeping and camping gear, we could be set up in a minute.
What makes climbing special for you?
Climbing is the best! I love it in all its forms; bouldering, sport, trad, alpine. It's all just moving over stone and being in the mountains. It's also taken me to some of the wildest places I've ever been. Combine it with a good ol' fashioned road trip and it's pretty much the best thing going in my mind. I've been climbing my whole life and going on road trips just as long. The fact that its still pretty much the best thing to me is great in my mind.
Check out Tony's full list of gear for this trip in the RUX app (HERE) and follow him and his work at @tttttttony