During my climbing trip to Chamonix earlier this summer, it quickly became apparent that a big, bulky pack just wasn’t going to cut it for alpine climbs. Turning to local company and alpine gear experts Blue Ice, I purchased one of their Warthog packs. Lightweight, simple, tough, and compact just like its animal namesake, the Warthog is the perfect pack for fast and light alpine pursuits.
One of the nice things about Chamonix is that virtually all of the climbs require a relatively short approach, with the majority of altitude gain achieved by cable car. This easy access also means crowds, so we quickly learned that the locals show up to the first cable car ready in their boots, harness, possibly some gear, rope simply slung around their neck, and a small alpine pack that can hold your ice tools. Once you exit the cable car, all you have to do is throw on your helmet and crampons, rope up, then off you go to try and be the first party at the climb you have chosen for the day.
At 26L, the Warthog is the perfect size to hold an extra layer or two, snacks and water for the day, as well your crampons and your climbing rack for the ride up and down the cable car. If you don’t want to wear your rope around your neck or the approach requires a bit of a hike, the Warthog features the usual rope strap at the top of the main compartment, beneath the lid.
Made from a combination of 500 denier and 1000 denier Cordura fabric, the Blue Ice Warthog is not afraid of either razor edge granite or sharp gear. The alpine pack is super light and compact, so does not hinder your climbing movement or get caught up on rocks during your ridge and gully climbing.
A simple system of webbing gear loops and bungee cords enable you to quickly and securely stow your ice tools. A hidden, elastic mesh panel holds your helmet firmly to the top of the lid. The large zipper pocket on the outside of the lid and the small one inside the lid, offer plenty of room for your electronics, snacks, extra pair of gloves, headlamp, and even a small climbing guidebook.
The main compartment of the alpine pack features a small hydration pouch and external hose exit if you would prefer to go the hydration reservoir route. The hipbelt is nothing more than webbing and a buckle, perfectly adequate as you won’t be carrying a ton of weight. You can even remove these straps if you feel they will just get in the way.
After returning to down to Chamonix each day, we would pick a “winner of the day”-the person we thought was walking around town wearing the most unnecessary gear. One day it was a guy in full climbing gear, complete with harness, trad rack, boots, and even helmet, doing his grocery shopping. The next day it was another guy drinking beer, fully showered and changed, with a coiled rope hanging around his neck. By the end of the trip, we were walking through town with our harnesses on, too. As they say, when in Rome….
The Blue Ice Warthog alpine pack retails for €79 and can be purchased from the company website.