I couldn't help remembering Ötzi as I make preparations for my traverse of our Rocky Mountains this summer. We often think of stone or bronze age people as "primitive", but he was kitted out with all the latest gear of his time. Of all the things we have learned about this mountain man, this is the most interesting revelation as far as I am concerned. Though I am hoping not to be found frozen in ice 5000 years hence, I begin to see how similar we really are...
Traveling the mountains might have been more of a necessity to him, but it probably was his passion too. He was well equipped to roam the high mountains, just as I will need to be. The "Iceman" was obviously a man of means and his equipment was top-of-the-line for its day.
|By Bullenwächter (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)|
or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
His backpack was made of hazel-wood, larch and goat skin and looks like it would have been quite useful. My super-lightweight Osprey Exos 58 is made mostly of rip-stop nylon and aluminum. It's strength and function is due mostly to how it has been engineered. It is the lightest backpack of its size that I could find.
His clothing was very advanced and functional for its day - made skillfully out of woven grasses and leather. Pants had not yet been invented. I will have pants! Most of my clothing will be made of water resistant and waterproofed lightweight polymers. He wore a hat made of brown bear fur (an animal that has been extinct in Europe for four thousand years). I am planning on taking a ball cap and a broad-brimmed hat to keep the sun off my head. His shoes were made of leather. My Keens contain some leather with various plastic materials.
He also had a birch bark container that some say was used to carry glowing embers for fire making. I will be carrying such modern high tech items as matches and a few "Bick Click" lighters - items that we take for granted, but I'm sure they would seriously impress the Iceman.
I dream of meeting Ötzi on the mountain-top of my imagination. We stop to chat and have a bite to eat. We compare our various gear and share some of our experiences, then we part ways. I descend my beloved Canadian Rocky Mountains and he wanders across his high Alps and into the mists of time. Our lives are separated by the rise and fall of many empires, yet we share a past-time that remains virtually untouched by the march of time. We are backpackers - mountain travelers, timeless and unchanged.