I love the hard shell. It is perfect all by itself for ice climbing in the teens. Other than the weight, I can't find any other major negatives. How much less does it really breathe compared to a softshell? Not to mention the material is burly and has already taken a lot of abuse this season with no signs of wear.
I'd lose the hardshell too. Those are a total waste of weight unless you are climbing in the rain. Get something that insulates and sheds snow and a little water, like a down/synthetic jacket or softshell.
You can use the other clothes that you brought to climb in the teens, you don't need a dedicated item to make that happen. It doesn't really count as all by itself if the rest of your real clothes is still carried in your backpack.
I agree that having certain articles of clothing that rarely come out of the pack are counter productive to an efficient pack weight and the overall success / enjoyment of a backpacking mountaineering weekend.
I'd like to zero in on top layers for a moment.
long sleeve polypro Patagonia R1 Hoody Patagonia Nano Puff Patagonia Super Alpine Hard Shell MH Nilas Down Jacket (the down is treated with waterproofing)
The Nilas jacket is for unexpected bivies or long breaks. The pat hard shell is for crappy weather and rain. The long sleeve shirt is a little baggy and is easy to roll up sleeves to regulate heat while moving.
I also have: MH sythetic buff to keep sun off neck or MH balaclava for colder conditions to aid the layers listed above.
In the Sierra a thunderstorm is not uncommon so a shell of some sort is needed. I have an MEC rain jacket with pit zips that is lighter than the patagonia hard shell but it doesn't breathe well at all.
So, anyone care to list their 5 piece layering system for general backpacking mountaineering weekends where the weather generally won't dip below 20°F at 11,000 ft basecamps and ascents will be made around 14,000 ft?
My system sounds a lot like what you're already doing.
- Thin synthetic base layer (short sleeve running shirt for summer, long sleeve Cap 2 for winter) - R1 Hoody (Can't get enough of how awesome this piece is) - Arc'Teryx Beta SL jacket (Pretty light, waterproof, windproof, breaths fairly well) - Big Puffy Down Coat (Stays in the pack most of the time. Sleeping with it allows me to bring a lighter sleeping bag. Also makes hanging out at camp, cooking, belaying, etc. more enjoyable.)
FWIW, I have the Super Alpine jacket as well, and while I love it, I pretty much only use it when I go ice climbing due to its weight and size.