Shoes: Altra’s most rugged pair of trail runners, the King MT 2.0s. The huge lugs on the Vibram sole paired with a stiff rock plate made this the perfect shoe for the loose scrambles as well as when I needed the smallest bit of shoe to grip a rock to step up.
Navigation: I mostly knew the route, but I did find the barometer in my Suunto 9 helpful paired with an elevation profile. Using those two, it was helpful to know what was a false summit and always know how much more up to go to the next peak. Although it only took 12 hours to do the west ridge loop, it’s also nice to have a watch battery life that was able to last a second round even though I was done.
Pack: I used Six Moon’s Design’s Swift X pack with the running vest inspired shoulder straps and ice axe loop. I didn’t carry that much gear, so it was nice that the whole pack Cinches down to accommodate little more than a day’s worth of food and a jacket. The first person I know to attempt the loop ended up spending a night on top of Kennebec Pass, so using the pack as a half bivy was always in the back of my mind too.
Nutrition: I filtered water with Katdyn’s “Be Free” filter and then added Tailwind’s Colorado Cola to every bottle. I also ate a few Kind bars and Snickers, a daily habit that hasn’t left since the AT in ‘15. I rounded it out with some sunflower seeds and an assortment of chocolates.
This route is certainly an adventure that took me far from my comfort zone of running trails and backpacking. It was a challenging and rewarding ridge that I am very proud to have finally completed. Cheers to the next adventure!