Mammut Zephir Altitude Harness
I am not a gear head, but I do spend a lot of time with gear and when something works well, I tell all my ski partners about it. Last year, I stumbled across the Zephir Altitude. It met all my basic criteria for a ski mountaineering harness: lightweight, a belay loop, and the ability to take on and off with skis on. After using this harness over the past year and a half, I am a full convert.
Weighing 215 grams, the Zephir is lightweight, and it features a wide waist belt and leg straps so it is comfortable when skinning, skiing, and especially when rappelling. The gear loops have a thin plastic outer lining, which keeps your gear in place rather than swinging between your legs when you are climbing to reach the top of the couloir. The wide Dyneema, a durable webbing material, dries out incredibly fast—even in the Northwest–and stuffs easily in your pack because it is so low volume. The harness also has sewn loops for two ice clips to be added to the harness in case you need to carry additional gear; perfect for climbing up the North Ridge of Mount Baker, and then skiing back to your car.
The true highlights of this harness are the Mammut click buckles, which allow for ultra-fast transitions. With your skis on, you can quickly wrap the harness around your waist, slide the waist buckle into position, and once “clicked” you are immediately double-backed. The leg loops then get clipped in and you are ready to safely travel on the glacier, or rappel into your couloir. I have used this harness in a variety of harsh wintery conditions with big gloves on, and had no problems getting the harness on or off.
Other lightweight harnesses that I have used worked fine, but there was always something I wished I could change: painful rappelling, difficult to double-back with gloves on, no belay loop, or floppy gear loops. The Zephir Altitude is exactly what I want.