Part C Equipment And Maintenance

This is an overview of conventional military equipment and the latest items used by the climber.

• Movement. Before starting an operation, units must master techniques and equipment use. Movement over mountainous terrain cannot always be accomplished without special equipment. This equipment makes it possible for the military mountaineer to build installations and negotiate rock masses and ice areas quickly and safely. As a military climber, you will soon learn the value of specialized equipment, and what it means when a specific piece of equipment is not available when needed. You should maintain your equipment since your unit's mission, and possibly your life, could depend on that equipment.

• Mountain packing list. The mountain packing list includes some of the climbing equipment for basic rock climbs and glacier or winter climbs, but is not limited to the following:

BASIC ROCK CLIMBS Cam action ascender

Snaplink, locking D-shape

Snaplink, locking pear-shape Snaplink, oval Snaplink, D-shape Snaplink, modified D-shape Descender, figure eight Piton hammer

Pitons (vertical, horizontal, RURP, angles)

Chocks (hex, wire stoppers, camming, copperheads)

Chock pick

Cliff hanger

Bolts and carriers

Star drill or self-driving


Rope, kermantle, static and dynamic (7, 8, 9, and 11 mm [14, 5/16, 3/8, and 7/16 inch]) 36 1/2 to 50 meters (120 to 165 feet)

36 1/2 meters [120 feet]

First-aid kit

Axe or saw

Night vision devices

Communication equipment


Ice hammer with serrated pick and nylon sling

Ice axe, about 65 to 75 cm (26 to 30 inches) long

Cam action ascender

Snaplink, locking D-shape

Snaplink, locking pear-shape

Snaplink, oval

Snaplink, D-shape

Snaplink, modified D-shape

Descender, figure eight

Ice screws, ice pitons, flukes, pickets Pulleys

Climbing harness

Crampons (rigid and hinged)

Webbing (tubular and flat)

Rope, kermantle, static and dynamic (7, 8, 9, and 11 mm [1/4, 5/16, 3/8, and 7/16 inch]), 36 1/2 to 50 meters (120 to 165 feet)

Rope, laid nylon (11 mm [7/16 inch]; 36 1/2 meters[120 feet]

Snow anchors

First-aid kit Repair kit

Snow shovel and saw

Snowshoes/skis (with poles and bindings)

Avalanche cord and probes Avalanche transceiver/ receiver Wands


Ahkio, tents, stoves, fuel (mission dependent) Night vision devices Communication equipment

Footwear. When military boots are not practical for mountainous operations, you may consider the use of specialized climbing shoes and boots. Climbing shoes, Known AS Kletterschue (German) or Varrape (French), have rubber soles with rubber along the sides, and on the toe and heel. These shoes are more flexible and provide better adhesion on rock than military boots.

You may wear the jungle boot for climbing during hot weather; however, the use of the standard military boot with rubber soles is not practical for wet or icy rock conditions and before you use them, the soles should be roughened by using a file or sharp rock.

The following methods apply to the care of boot leather:

• The old style leather combat boot is best waterproofed with oils and waxes. This should be done routinely to reestablish water repellency. Seams and welts are the most important areas to cover.

• The new speed-lace combat boot has silicone treated leather and must be waterproofed only with a silicone material.

Siliconized leather retains its water vapor permeability and ventilation qualities while being highly waterproof. Use of oils and waxes on these boots destroys their ability to ventilate and stay waterproof, and compromises their ability to siliconize the leather itself.

The following methods apply to boot fitting:

• Boots must be fitted properly IAW their planned use. The foot lengthens, widens, and swells during a march from the load carried and the pounding that occurs. Correct fitting of boots requires extra time but the benefits are worth the effort. Both feet should be measured since they are usually different sizes and shapes. A thin inner sock and a thick outer sock should be worn during the fitting. A pack with the appropriate weight to be carried should be on the soldier's back. He stands on the shoe sizing device and leans slightly forward with some weight on the balls of his feet The length and width of each foot is measured two or three times to ensure the proper size information.

• This process allows a large enough boot to accommodate for the proper socks and the change in foot size while marching. Two different thicknesses of insoles for the boots (1.6 mm [1/16 inch] and 3.2 mm [1/8 inch]) compensates for the change in foot volume (swelling). The thicker insole is used at the start of a march. The soldier changes to dry socks and to a thinner insole midway through the march to accommodate for swollen feet, if needed.

The following procedures are necessary for cold-weather foot protection:

• March in properly fitted leather boots

• Have overshoes available if it is wet or if more insulation is needed.

• Use vapor barrier (VB) boots for short moves, sedentary tasks, or in patrol bases where marching with loads is not necessary. Heavy marching with VB boots can form blisters. The foot becomes damp and the skin soft inside the VB boot. The white VB boot is designed for use in dry cold region; the black VB boot is designed for use in wet cold environment.

• Insulate the foot from the soles of the leather boot with insoles. There must be enough volume in the toe cap to allow for thick socks and air space around the toes. The greatest heat loss from the foot occurs through the sole and toe cap. This requires a larger inside volume of the boot than what is worn daily.

Climbing boots can be either ankle or calf high with full, half, or no rigid shank. Boots with stiff soles provide better support in small holds and cracks, and when standing in slings and stirrups. They afford better wedging action in jam cracks. Boots are more versatile in hiking and climbing over changing terrain. They tend to be more windproof and waterproof along with a rougher, sturdier construction. Overboots can be worn to keep feet dry, but they do not provide the friction needed to climb.

• Clothing. During mountain operations, it is necessary to prepare and equip personnel for very cold weather. Clothing and equipment that support operations in a mountainous environment are listed in CTA 50-900, and the authorizations are based on expected seasonal temperature variations. Clothing allowance zones

(Figure 2-37) have been established based on the average temperature in the coldest and warmest months.

FlGURE 2-37 U.S. Army Clothing Allowance Zones,

FlGURE 2-37 U.S. Army Clothing Allowance Zones,

Cta 900 Clothing

Clothing allowance authorized for lower areas or zones may not provide the adequate protection necessary in higher or more rugged areas, therefore, the use of the authorized allowance plus additional items authorized for zones V, VI, and VII, and special mountaineering equipment may be authorized under special climatic conditions.

• Cold-Weather Clothing Directions. You must wear the proper clothing for protection against cold and wind The face must be protected in high winds and when exposed to aircraft propeller or rotor wash. Avoid excessive perspiration (control movement), and try to keep the clothing and body dry. Any interference with circulation of the blood reduces the amount of heat delivered to the extremities. Wear all clothing and equipment loose to avoid interference with circulation. Use adequate clothing and shelter when inactive. Exercise fingers, face, and toes to keep them warm and to detect any numb or hard areas. Warm the ears for the same reason. Brush snow off clothing before moving to prevent it from melting and making clothing wet.

Proper wear of cold-weather clothing helps prevent cold injuries. Army cold-weather gear is designed on the layer principle: loose clothing worn in layers gives maximum insulating airspace to retain body heat. Ventilation, the process of cooling off slowly, is much easier when loose, layered garments can be removed one at a time. Protect the insulating layers through the use of water and windproofed outer clothing. Each individual situation cannot be dictated because all soldiers feel the effects of cold differently. However, the guidelines are: dress light when moving to prevent sweating and overheating; change wet clothes when stopped; and add layers when stopped, as needed.

Remember C-O-L-D to keep warm in winter.

Keep clothing Clean.

Avoid Overheating.

Wear clothing Loose and in Layers.

Keep clothing Dry.

Ventilation is accomplished by the following:

• Remove headgear or reduce headgear layering for a short period.

• Open the front of clothing one layer at a time, down to and including thermal underwear.

• Zip up the outer garment part of the way to allow the body to cool.

• Regulate heat loss further by opening, closing, or removing layers of clothing to allow heat to slowly escape from the chest.

• Do not open all layers suddenly; cooling will occur too quickly. Do not leave layers of clothing open, which will allow chilling to occur. Do not allow individuals to cool so rapidly that they begin to sneeze or shiver.

• Socks. Socks provide foot protection in hot and cold weather.

Foot protection includes-

Insulating the feet from cold and heat

Protecting the feet from abrasion by the inside of the boot.

Providing cushioning against shock on the soles of the feet.

Aiding in moisture transfer from the skin to the boot surface.

Allowing for swelling and expansion of the feet during heavy marching.

A good sock-

Is dense enough to prevent abrasion of the feet at areas of high compression.

Is densely woven

Does not separate under high compression Is uniform in thickness over the entire foot

Transfers moisture from the foot to the boot

You should wear a polypropylene lightweight sock closest to the foot since the Army OD green sock, or any 100 percent wool sock may cause your foot to sweat. If polypropylene socks are not available, wear a thin cotton or silk sock (Army black dress sock). Keep the toes free enough to wiggle. If your feet sweat, change socks and liners, but do not wear polypropylene or silk socks alone. You should wear wool socks as an outer sock, one pair at a time. Wearing more can make your boot fit too tightly, may restrict circulation, and compress the sock fibers, which reduces air space and hinders insulation.

In cold weather, the best issue socks are the tan/ski mountain socks (75 percent wool and 25 percent cotton). You should wear them over a thin inner sock of nylon or polypropylene. Commercially made socks that are of densely woven, noncushion-sole wool are excellent for cold weather. Proper foot care is critical in avoiding cold-weather injuries. To prevent foot injury, you should keep your feet dry. Change socks at least once a day and after every movement. Massage, clean, and thoroughly dry the feet before replacing the boots.

Boot Inserts. When in a wet or cold-wet weather. You may choose to wear inserts of the orthotic uplift variety. They are made from "solid" plastic as opposed to other inserts that are composed of cloth and foam, which retain moisture and hence promote frostbite. Those made of nonporous plastic, promote excessive foot sweating causing you to change socks more often. If you use inserts, you should have several sets so you can change them when changing socks. You must make sure that there is enough room in the boot to allow toe motion since the inserts provide extra insulation and cushioning, which results in a snugger fit.

Underwear. Undershorts and undershirts provide the first layer of clothing. If the weather is cold or wet, long underwear should be worn. Wool, polypropylene, and pile long underwear all provide insulation. Long underwear, as a layer, can be removed if the soldier becomes too warm. You should change your underwear at least twice a week. If it is not possible to wash them, crumble, shake, and air them for at least two hours.

Trousers and Shirts. These are part of the duty uniform. They may be made of cotton, wool, or a fiber blend. Your uniform should be loose enough to allow for added layers underneath, but not too loose so that warm air next to the body is lost. Loose clothing may hinder climbing, rappelling, and using harness and equipment. If not already in the uniform, you should add reinforced knees, elbows, and buttocks. Make sure your uniform is kept dry at all times.

Outerwear. These are external pants, jackets, parkas, and rain gear. They should be windproof, waterproof, and worn as the outermost layer of clothing.

Gaiters. These are ankle or knee length leg covering that keep wind, water, and snow out of the boots.

Headgear. You should wear caps or hats made of wool, nylon, or pile. They help prevent your head and neck from losing heat in the cold weather. The balaclava protects the head, neck, and the face from wind, wet, and cold, and warms the air before it is breathed. The pile cap and hood are excellent for use in cold weather. The wool scarf gives added protection to the neck against cold. In hot weather, you may use a patrol or BDU cap to prevent ultraviolet rays from burning your head. The military helmet protects you during a fall or from falling rocks, ice, or equipment.

Gloves and Mittens. As a member of a climbing party, you should carry work gloves at all times. During cold weather, use mittens to keep the hands and fingers warmer than gloves, but dexterity is lost. The use of gloves allows you the freedom to climb, rappel, belay, and tie knots. To obtain excellent insulation, you may use liners made of wool, silk, nylon, polypropylene, and pile. A shell of leather, cloth, or a combination provides a windproof and waterproof layer as well as adding to insulation. During an emergency, socks may be worn over the hands as mittens.

Sunglasses or Goggles. These protect the eyes from wind, snow, and ultraviolet rays. They should have dark, impact-resistant lenses that stop infrared and ultraviolet rays. They should feature side shields, flexible frames, and a neckband to prevent loss.

The standard packing list for a soldier's rucksack includes items that you will need during a mission. Remember! Only needed items should be carried

Rucksack Items

Rucksack with frame and waistband Food

Boots (terrain and weather-dependent) Extra uniform

Extra socks (inner, outer, and insulated) Drawers and undershirts

Long underwear (polypropylene or wool; cold environment) Wind and rain gear (parka and pants) Headgear (balaclava, wool, rain/sun) Mittens/gloves (inner liner and outer shell) Work gloves

Down or synthetic garments (cold environment)

Gaithers (cold environment)

Sleeping bag

Poncho and liner

Waterproof bag

Sleeping pad

Shelter (tent)

Repair kit - pliers, wire, cord, needle, thread, pins, oil, rags, tape, clevis pins Stove (accessories and fuel) Weapon cleaning kit

General Equipment.

General equipment includes items used by the unit and not the individual. They assist the unit in sustaining its operational capability. General equipment includes items such as navigational aids, lights, pioneer tools, repair kits and other equipment.

Map. Before starting an operation, a thorough study should be conducted of military topographic maps, sketch maps, photographs, forest service maps, hunter's maps, and other sources. The best available maps must be studied and carried by all unit leaders.

Compass. Use of a compass is a primary means of determining azimuth, direction, and location. You must know how to use the compass before starting an operation. Some of the compasses available are, but are not limited to, lensatic, liquid-filled, and prismatic.

Protractor. You should include on the packing list the standard, small, plastic protractor, calibrated in mils and degrees since it is needed when working with maps.

Altimeter. The altimeter is a barometer with a dial marked in feet or meters (altitude) rather than pressure. It can verify a location when used with a map and compass. The altimeter can be used in both the ascent and the descent as well as finding previous routes that have been windswept. However, they should not be used as an absolute indicator for elevation since they respond to changes in atmospheric pressure based on local weather. They are usually accurate to within 10 meters of the indicated altitude. For future use, you should record the readings since they reveal barometric changes that assist in predicting weather changes. Its accuracy will depend on your experience and skill. Before using the altimeter, you should calibrate it to a known elevation and check it regularly when encountering known elevations at known locations on the map.

Flashlights and Headlamps. Lights should be carried by all personnel in the climbing party. You should not emit any light. When a light is needed in a tactical situation, you must use red or blue filters. You should carry small and compact lights. Alkaline batteries-BA 30-30, last 50 percent longer than carbon-zinc batteries.

Knife. The main tools to assist you in rope management are a small pocketknife with a main blade and marlinespike. You may carry other blades and tools to suit your needs.

Repair Improvisation. One member of the climbing party should carry a small repair kit containing items such as wire, tape, electrical tape, safety pins, needles, thread, rags, 550 parachute cord, oil, wire cutters, and pliers.

Other Equipment.

As the situation and mission dictate, you may carry other items and equipment. Some of the items to be worn or carried are listed below, but REMEMBER only needed items should be carried.

Items to be Worn or Carried Individual weapon Ammunition with magazines Boots (approach and climbing) Cap and helmet Flashlight Lip balm

Identification tags/card Earplugs

Eyeglasses (or safety glasses) Sunglasses/goggles Fatigue uniform

Underwear (long or short; thermal or cotton)

Socks (inner and outer)

Wet weather/cold weather clothing




Pen, pencil, paper


Water purification tablets

Pistol belt, suspenders, and ammunition pouches

Canteens, 1 quart (2 each) with covers and cup

First-aid case with dressing

Knife (sheath, pocket, bayonet)

Matches or lighter

Gloves (for the weather and for rappels or belays)

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  • karolin frueh
    Can wool be windproofed?
    8 years ago

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