What climbers wear on Everest summit day – Rolfe Oostra

From a spectator point of view the annual quest to reach the highest point on planet Earth is more akin to watching a boat race than the F1.

Manoeuvres are executed at an excruciatingly slow pace and every aspect of the race is dominated by the weather and conditions. Still summits are happening on the North side and everyone on the South-side is wildly chomping and poised at the starting blocks.

And a few weeks ago (during the Everest summit window) social media was lit up like a Christmas tree with the news and images of people smiling, and high-fiving, having accomplished their dream and literally standing on top of the world.

However the reason I am writing today is to address a question that we always get, what do these people wear for such a momentous occasion?

Surely having just had a look at the awful conditions the weatherman forecasted they won’t be standing there in a mini-skirt, tuxedo and high-heels. It appears on the summit photos that they are wrapped up in some proper kit. But what exactly is that kit?

To answer this I will tell you what I wore on my Everest summit day last year. I am a tall, whippet thin dude with a funny haircut and in the scheme of things a fairly close profile of the person attempting to summit right now.

Rolfe Oostra kitted up on summit day.

As I eluded to in the post about what it takes to climb Mount Everest I only use the best when it comes to climbing in some of the most hazardous conditions a human being could possibly endure. To compromise on quality is to compromise on safety. I therefore mostly wore Berghaus kit.

Rolfe Oostra posing in full Everest summit day kit – In the French Pyrenees… In June…

Feet: I wore 2 pairs of socks. 1 pair was the Expeditor socks which I rate highly for both warmth and wicking value. The second pair was a thick pair of Trek Master socks. These are expedition proof, made from Merino wool and super warm.

Then came a pair of Scarpa Phantom 8000 expedition boots but I still felt the chill at times and wished I had bought up my Yeti Extrem Pro Insulated gaiters from basecamp. I will not be leaving them in my tent the next time I am above 8000 meters.

Legs: I wore 2 pairs of Berghaus Thermal leggings and a thick pair of fleece trousers which I have had since I was a kid and when not climbing above 8000 meters use for my tree-surgery job in winter.

Torso: I wore 2 long sleeve Zip Neck Tech T-shirts, a Pravitale Fleece Hoody and best of all my favourite bit of Berghaus kit a Asgard Hybrid down jacket.

Hands: On my hands, I wore a pair of Berghaus Glove Liners, A pair of Berghaus Power Stretch Gloves and my trusty Ulvetanna Hydrodown Expedition Mitts. There was no way I wasn’t coming back with all my fingers wriggling wearing these babies!

Head: On my head I am wearing a Pravitale beanie and pulled the hoods of my Hoody and Down jacket over my head if the wind picked up and just before sun-rise when things got a bit bitter.

As the image shows I am wearing a Berghaus Down Suit over the whole lot. This incredibly warm suit has been with me on Denali and various 8000 meter expeditions (Manaslu, Mount Everest, Lhotse and Cho Oyu 2 x).

In the ample pockets, I carried my camera, satellite phone and a radio to keep them warm and the batteries charged. To put it simply I don’t leave home without it.

Rucksack: Since I was guiding a client I needed a rucksack big enough to accommodate emergency equipment should things go wrong.

For the high-altitude expeditions, there is only one rucksack that is both light and strong enough to do the job. This is the Berghaus Light 80 Expedition Rucksack.

Inside I carried a thin roll mat, a Ulvetanna Expedition Sleeping Bag (both light and ridiculously warm!), 4 packets of jelly babies, a thermos with hot tea, 20 meters of rope, a cylinder of oxygen and a picture of my wife and kids.

I am glad I had Berghaus backing my corner on this climb and will be wearing their incredible equipment on my next expeditions to 8000 meters. Cho Oyu 2018 and the Mount Everest 2019 expedition.

Rolfe Oostra