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I can write my name in the snow. I can pee in a bottle. I can guarantee consistent size and extension in minus-20 degree Fahrenheit weather on Denali, and plus-20 temps on Cotopaxi in Mexico. I am a woman. I have used my pee funnel in Ecuadorian bus stations; made my Nepali cab driver look twice when I stood alongside my husband and funneled a yellow stream onto the roadside; and when a mule stepped on and broke my funnel in Bolivia, I epoxied it back together, ready to go. It’s not just any pee funnel either — it’s the Freshette, from Sani-Fem. The name alone is worth the $25 it costs to add the compact and lightweight baseball-size unit to your alpine kit, and it’s the only funnel with an extendible nozzle, thus allowing you to pee standing up. Armed with the Freshette you can confidently scale any peak, try any ice line, bivy on any wall — all while peeing freely and feeling more inclined to stay hydrated. Recently, I was out ice climbing with another woman, and when we returned to the car she announced that she had drunk only a half a liter of water that day. The reason behind this poor decision? “I didn’t wanna have to deal with my harness. It’s just better not to pee.” This was the same woman who, hours before, was befuddled by the cramping in her forearms. Go figure.
Practice, practice, practice. This should be self-evident. The first time you bring your Freshette home, try it out while standing above the toilet or in the shower. (Fully extending the tube will eliminate any chance at leakage). It will take a few sessions to get used to peeing while standing up, but you’ll soon want to do it all the time. Who says that guys get to have all the fun?
Get fly. Just like the guys, you want to have pants with a fly. I find it best to only wear one layer sans opening, e.g. my base long underwear. Everything on top of that, be it my Schoeller pants, fleece ninja bibs, or Gore-Tex, should have a zipper fly.
Hit the bottle. I have heard of, and in one case seen, women who can pee in a bottle with no outside assistance. Most women are not that fortunate. The solution? The Freshette, of course. With it, you can pee in anything from a large-mouth water bottle to a pop bottle. Just be sure to mark your pee bottle well — I cover mine in duct tape so that when I’m searching for it in the dark, I won’t mistake it for the Gatorade.
Carry and clean. The Freshette comes in its own plastic carrying case, which works great until the seams blow out and you have to reinforce them with duct tape. I’ve also attached mine to my harness with accessory cord for long wall routes. As for cleaning, rinse the Freshette periodically with water, and soak in it in a bleach/water solution after a long trip.
The Freshette — a woman’s key to freedom in the alpine.