As christmas is coming we start wondering what presents to give. In alpinism it is somewhat easy because there is always something you can find no matter how long the person has been climbing. And equipment is the right thing to give no matter who you are giving it to, be it spouse, friend or climbing buddy.
The only question to answer is: What to give to whom?
Let’s start with the Newbie.
Fairly new to being in the mountains, there is a vast pool of things the newbie does not yet have. Now it is just a matter of how much money you want to spend. In the region of 20€ you can find the Mountain Equipment Bivy bag. It is light, it shows that you care (consider giving the 2person version, depending on the message you want to send) and not that pricy (in case the message is not being heard).
For 50€ you might want to consider trekking poles. Especially for those not used to walking in the mountains there is a lot of stress on muscles and knees. Poles can help here. They usually come in alloy or carbon version, with Camp providing a carbon version in the aforementioned price segment: Camp Backcountry Carbon.
There is a strong tendency towards Via Ferrata in the Alps. Edelrid answers the demand with the Cable Lite 2.2. Just in case you need some more advice and ideas, check out the mountix.com blog post: Wie Ihr Klettersteige richtig geht. Just in case you want to climb right after christmas, go to Garmisch and enjoy the Alpspitz Ferrata (we found the ropes to be most of the time under snow, but in the last segment):
I have to add that this might be a little bit too much for someone being new to the mountains. You’d better wait for summer.
If you want to spend up to 200€, go for a Black Diamond backpack. They are versatile, technical and still light so there is a good chance that the backpack is a friend for a long time. The Epic 35 for instance is a great choice.
For those who are a little more experienced, finding gifts becomes a little bit more tricky. They have everything they need and are able to draw from a fair amount of equipment and attire. Still, there are things the Experienced might not have. In the 20€ region you can really make someone happy by giving an Exped Drybag.
Climbers are somewhat reluctant to buying them, because they appear to be quite pricy for the look they give in the shop. This is not a fancy quickdraw set nor the absolutely necessary carabiner. It is the equipment you never pick in the shop, but you’ll always bring it once you have it. There is nothing better than the feeling of having your belongings in a dryback and you start looking forward to a dry shirt in the hut. Over are the days when your stuff was soaked from either sweat or snow!
When going for a 100€ (or slightly more), the Petzl Nao is something you should check out. Especially when the person is a gear junkie. An interface with your computer allows for adaptation to the activity and bespoke lighting solutions. Overall a great choice.
I used the lamp on Montblanc and was really happy. Especially when using the ultra-bright mode, you can easily illuminate the entire glacier (almost). When storing the lamp make sure to disconnect the battery to stop the cables from wearing out.
For the experienced my ideas are somewhat Petzl biased. But instead of the Nomic or Quark ice axe you can also buy Grivel. Or something else… Nevertheless, I love the Quark as a one-tool-fits-all-situations ice axe.
The most difficulties with christmas gifts comes from those friends who have everything already. You have to avoid this by giving something that is being used or something that is a little lighter. Like ski wax. Toko offers some waxes which can enhance the ski performance. Plus: Ski waxing is the best way to spend cold winter evenings (second best, depending on the outcome of the bivy bag thing).
In the 50€ region, there is another Petzl tool listed. The Lim’ice allows for sharpening your ice screws at home. Imagine that: You sit in front of the fireplace, listen to christmas carrols and the calming sound of ice screws being filed.
The „have everythings“ only leave one more direction to go above giving something increasing material life cycle. This would be lighter equipment. For instance the Camp Speed, a lightweight ski touring helmet.
When you want to spend 200€, a down jacket it is. They tend to be worn a lot so it is only a matter of time until you need a new one.
Until then I wish you all a great Advent season and perfect touring conditions throughout the winter. At the end this is what everybody really wants to have for christmas, be it newbie or expert: Great snow!