Many gym climbers want to someday climb a mountain. But, for real mountaineering on glaciers, a gym climbing harness isn’t ideal – they are too heavy and bulky, One piece of equipment that every aspiring alpinist should invest in is a high-quality mountaineering harness. The Petzl Altitude harness is an excellent option for those looking to expand their climbing adventures from the climbing gym into the great outdoors. This review will cover the Petzl Altitude harness and why it’s our top choice for basic mountaineering and glacier travel.
Petzl Altitude Stats
The Altitude harness is a lightweight, minimalist harness designed for mountaineering and glacier travel — you would NOT want to be taking sport climbing whippers in this thing. It is made with Dyneema, a high-strength, lightweight material which you may recognize from ultralight quickdraws. The harness weighs only 150 grams (170 for the largest size), making it one of the lightest mountaineering harnesses on the market. Its minimalist design makes it easy to wear and move around in – quite literally a harness you can forget you’re wearing.
The harness features two gear loops on the sides, which provide ample space for carrying a light glacier rescue kit. The gear loops are also large enough to accommodate a carabiner with your extra gloves or mittens, making them easy to access in cold weather conditions.
One of the more unique features of this harness is the ice screw carry system, which uses silicone keepers on the leg loops to allow you to carry two ice screws for crevasse rescue. Petzl’s system of strapping screws to your leg loops is a new attempt to keep the screws from dangling off your harness and poking you or putting holes in your gear. However, since it is limited to holding only two screws, this harness would not be suitable for proper waterfall ice climbing.
One of the key features of this harness is that the leg loops are also detachable, which means you can put on or take off the harness without having to remove your crampons or skis. This enables quicker, smoother transitions.
One of the biggest benefits of the Petzl Altitude harness is its lightweight design. The harness is designed to be as light as possible, making it easy to carry on long hikes or climbs. Its minimalist design also allows for a greater range of motion, making it easier to move around in. It also packs down quite small, so it doesn’t take up much space in your pack while you aren’t using it.
Another benefit of the Petzl Altitude harness is its durability. The harness is made with high-quality materials that are designed to withstand the rigors of mountaineering and glacier travel. The Dyneema material is not only strong but also resistant to abrasions and tears – old glacier snow can be quite sharp. This means that the harness will last for a long time, even with frequent use.
The Altitude harness is designed for basic mountaineering and glacier travel, but in a pinch it can also be used for other activities like ski mountaineering. The ice clipper slots are conveniently placed on the front of the harness, which makes it easy to take an ice screw from your harness for a rescue situation or the occasional bit of ice climbing. However, if you plan on doing a lot of waterfall ice climbing, a more full-featured harness would probably be appropriate. We like the Petzl Sitta.
While the Petzl Altitude harness has many benefits, it’s not without its drawbacks. One potential issue with the harness is its price. At $90, it’s one of the more expensive beginner mountaineering harnesses on the market, which may be a concern. If you are strapped for cash, a many generic webbing harnesses can be had for about half of this price.
Another potential drawback of the Petzl Altitude harness is its minimalist design. While the lightweight design is great for mobility, it also means that the harness doesn’t have as much padding or support as other harnesses, such as the comfy one you might use for gym climbing. However, in most cases a mountaineering harness is going to be worn on top of several layers of clothing – so your clothes will provide some padding to help the harness feel more comfortable. Also, in most cases you’re not going to be falling much in a mountaineering harness, so this debate is mostly academic.
Comparable Mountaineering Harnesses
If you’re interested in exploring other options for mountaineering harnesses, there are several comparable models from other manufacturers that are worth considering. Here are a few to consider:
- Black Diamond Couloir Harness – The Black Diamond Couloir Harness is a lightweight, minimalist harness designed for mountaineering and glacier travel. It weighs only 215 grams and has a similar design to the Petzl Altitude harness. It features two gear loops and four ice clipper slots, making it a versatile option for ice climbing.
- Mammut Zephir Altitude Harness – The Mammut Zephir Altitude Harness is another lightweight, minimalist harness designed for mountaineering and glacier travel. It features a similar design to the Petzl Altitude harness, with adjustable waist and leg loops and two gear loops. However, it also has a reinforced tie-in point for added durability and a padded waist belt for extra comfort.
- Edelrid Ace Harness – The Edelrid Ace Harness is a more robust harness designed for technical mountaineering and ice climbing. It features four gear loops, four ice clipper slots, and adjustable leg loops for a customized fit. It also has a reinforced tie-in point and padded waist and leg loops for added comfort and support.
- Kailas Safety Harness – A simple, cheap, all-purpose safety harness. This harness only has one gear loop which means some may find it’s a bit limiting – but it’s more than adequate if you’re planning on being a member of a guided expedition. However, if you feel inspired to start taking and leading your own mountaineering trips, you’ll probably want a more full-featured harness.
Choosing the right mountaineering harness is essential for your safety and comfort while climbing. It’s important to consider the features, benefits, and drawbacks of each harness and choose the one that best suits your needs and preferences.
Overall, the Petzl Altitude harness is an excellent choice for beginners looking to expand their climbing adventures from the gym to the great outdoors. Its lightweight, minimalist design makes it easy to wear and move around in, while its durable construction ensures that it will last for many climbs to come. While it may be a bit pricier than some other options on the market, its versatility and ease of use make it a great investment for any aspiring mountaineer.
If you’re interested in exploring other options, be sure to consider comparable mountaineering harnesses from other manufacturers like Black Diamond, Mammut, Edelrid, and Arc’teryx. Ultimately, the right harness for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences, so be sure to do your research and choose the one that best suits your style of climbing.