You seen to always have some cool opinion on the problems of fellow climbers and I wondered if you can help me. I have a big issue with goggles. Every time I wear them in Scotland they do not work. They seem to be foggy, get full of snow and mean I just end up getting my eyes battered by the weather. Do you know how to make them work or are they a waste of time.
Thanks for your help.
Goggles are a tricky but if you stick to a few simple rules they can work pretty well, but they take work. Here’s a list of random thoughts.
Buy good quality goggles that fit your face and fit under a helmet. You don’t need to spend a fortune (there are many fashion goggles), and I use Julbo Bang Next with a Zebra lens, which costs around £120, which is a good price if you’re also using them for skiing.
2. Always make sure your goggles are clean and dry at the start of the day, and keep them dry when not being used. Store them in a goggle bag so they don’t get scratched (use this or a buff to clean, nothing else), and in a dry bag if you’re going into stormy weather (a small plastic lunch style box is also a good way to protect them).
3. If the moment comes when you need to put them on then put them on and keep them on - never taking them off until they’re no longer needed. When skiing in bad weather this means putting then on just before you start skiing, and not taking them off ever - until the days end. On a climbing day this might be setting out from the car and going all the way up and down the climb, or it could be just at the end of the day.
4. Starting with dry goggles is important as putting them on and leaving them on - so no snow gets in them - but if they’re wet from your pack they’ll be dead as soon as you put them on.
5. Make sure the goggles fit around your face, and have no fabric entering them, like the edge of a hot or balaclava, as this can create a pathway to moisture.
6. Goggles are primarily designed for a skiing market, not mountaineering, and skiers tend not to move around at night - but climbers do. For this reason, it’s important to have cat 1 or even 0 lenses, so they work in low light or at night. Zerba lenses tend to work well in this regard.
7. When worn with a helmet secure the back of the goggles strap to the back side of your helmet, not under your helmet or under the rim, as this can cause the strap to slip down. Having it higher keeps it in place and can help reduce the pressure of your head.
8. Clean your goggles so they have no marks on them, and use Cat Crap or Sea Drops to reduce fogging (most goggles come with an anti-fog coating, but it soon wears off.
9. In Greenland and Antartica you become obsessed about your goggles, and will often carry two pairs so that when one becomes too fogged up or damp, you can switch them for your second pair. Each night I would dry them both by sleeping with them in my bags.
10. Remember that the goggle is designed to reduce fogging due to its design, but it can’t work miracles. The hotter you get the more you risk fogging up your glasses, especially of you keep stopping and starting. Try to dress appropriately for the effort needed so you can keep cool.
11. Wearing some form of peaked cap can help keep the storm out of your goggles, and also helps if you can’t keep wearing your goggles, as the brim can be used as a shield against the weather.
12. If your goggles do get filled with snow, the try and dry them with the lens bag, or if not needed put them close to your body to dry.
10. Although not as good as goggles, a pair of cheap safety glasses can work for stormy days.
11. When you don’t need your goggles put them away inside their bag, and always store them in such a way that they won’t break or get scratched.
No easy answers there, but a few ideas at least!
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Andrew Kirkpatrick is a British mountaineer, author, motivational speaker and monologist. He is best known as a big wall climber, having scaled Yosemite's El Capitan 30+ times, including five solo ascents, and two one day ascents, as well as climbing in Patagonia, Africa, Alaska, Antarctica and the Alps.Follow @ Instagram