Sep 23, 2008 at 3:56 pm #1231280
Companion forum thread to:Sep 23, 2008 at 10:09 pm #1452043
@joshuaLocale: Santa Cruz,Ca
Awesome report Roger. Love your wonderful tent. Looks like a real winner. I may have read it but what is its weight in lbs.(or kgs. if you prefer).You are a very talented gear maker.
JoshSep 24, 2008 at 1:07 am #1452047
I told you you should start selling those tents Roger!Sep 24, 2008 at 2:27 am #1452050
@mikefaedundeeLocale: Under a bush in Scotland
Great report Roger. Character building, as they say! There's something deeply satisfying about coming through a trip like that.Sep 24, 2008 at 3:01 am #1452052
Trust me – we love that tent too!
Tent plus poles: 1.77 kg (3.9 lb)
Modified tent stakes with modified heavier guy ropes: 18.3 oz (sounds heavier – yep! But they work well.)
This shows us camped last week above Bluff Tarn, in happier weather.
A (blue) sod cloth has been added around the rear end to stop the spindrift from getting in. The back door has been enhanced, and the guy ropes are *much* stronger. The titanum stakes have been modified to stop the fretting – I hope to publish the details soon.
As for the talent bit – don't forget that this is about the 10th tent I have made – trial and error (in the field) count for a lot. You can never get it right the first time!
CheersSep 24, 2008 at 3:03 am #1452053
> There's something deeply satisfying about coming through a trip like that.
Make that 'deeply satisfying about surviving' and you might be closer to the truth. But you are right, and we knew it at the time. I am sure we said to each other during the retreat that we would look back on the trip with special favour … if we got out!
CheersSep 24, 2008 at 6:16 am #1452069
I remember Mt Anton well, was there in the early 90's, in April, we had a large storm come through, all the tents were buried in 2 feet of snow. Had to bail out down to Guthega, wading though deep snow drifts with 16 students was not fun. Fortunately we all made it and spent a couple of warm nights in the Australian Ski Club in Guthega.
We were well prepared, but maybe not well enough.
A fantastic area though and one I hope to get back to.Sep 24, 2008 at 6:26 am #1452070
Great report. We just finished a week (Sept 6-12) in the Wind Rivers of Wyoming with (rather large) tarps and hammocks. We had thunder, lightning(sp?), rain to sleet/hail and finally snow, all accompanied by occasionally heavy wind. (Lows mid 20s-30sF) All went well( of course, it wasn't WINTER!), but I am always paranoid about the abilities ( or lack thereof)of tarps, in wind. Even though I once spent a month there ( 23 years ago)in a tarp, but in June, and did fine. June or not, we got snows over a foot/24 hrs once, with 24*F. None the less, now that I always try and go with tarps/hammocks, I still sometimes think back on the security of my little TNF Westwind 4 season tent that I had, which I thought of even more when looking at your tunnel tent. It was low to the ground, and heavier than your model ( old school heavier material, 4 season rated). But I sure never had any worries with the wind, especially if pitched small end into the wind. It was pretty bomb proof.Sep 24, 2008 at 7:56 am #1452073
Splendid adventure story Roger. Glad you both made it out unharmed. So when are you going to start selling that shelter? ;)Sep 24, 2008 at 10:01 am #1452085
Good article and a subject we should remind ourselves of on a regular basis. Thanks for your contribution to the need for safety in "all conditions." JohnSep 24, 2008 at 1:23 pm #1452105
Thank for sharing this article with us.
I like the way you explain all things and detail.
PatSep 24, 2008 at 1:33 pm #1452106
.Sep 24, 2008 at 2:17 pm #1452111
We tried the Kiandra to Kosi in summer years ago and we had to abandon it due to very high winds on the main range.Sep 24, 2008 at 3:06 pm #1452119
Hi Roger B
> We were well prepared, but maybe not well enough.
That's the basic question, isn't it?
My own feelings are that it doesn't matter how well you are prepared, Nature in the mountains can overwhelm you. So then it becomes a simple question of whether you are able to handle the situation and retreat safely.
Of course, it also helps (a lot) if you can recognise your limitations and be willing to retreat when things *start* to get too much – before real trouble strikes. That may be where experience comes in.
CheersSep 24, 2008 at 5:22 pm #1452134
Amazing. The avalanche ride – wow!
Sharing your thought processes that led to your decisions was quite interesting.
Glad you both returned safely and in good spirits.Sep 24, 2008 at 7:32 pm #1452147
@robertm2sLocale: Lake Tahoe
Re: “…the wind was too strong for us to stand. Sue was blown over several times, making the wind speed probably in excess of 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour).” Did your faces suffer frostbite?Sep 24, 2008 at 9:45 pm #1452161
> Did your faces suffer frostbite?
Fortunately not. Several factors worked in our favour:
1) We had our backs substantially to the wind all morning.
2) The severe wind hit us on the crest rather suddenly, and we backed off quickly down a gully.
3) It is rarely extremely cold under storm conditions here in Australia. The temperature during our retreat started at -5 C at 6 am and warmed up to -1 C around midday (Maxim Data Logger on pack).
The very light wind-shedding outer layers we had were extremely effective.
CheersSep 25, 2008 at 3:46 am #1452176
great story there Roger… and you can certainly point to experience in designing tents! Yours have certainly come along since the early ones. Good on youSep 25, 2008 at 4:20 am #1452177
@back2basicsLocale: Southeast USA
That's wild. The only times I've been in winds that high were in high temps before and during a hurricane. I can only imagine adding snow and heavier clothing to the experience. I liked your comments about what worked and didn't work, and your abilities to change with the obstacles. Details of hardware failures are always a bonus for MYOG folks to learn from the experiences of others and change design of their gear in order to have a better experience. I'm neither the MYOG type nor someone who lives in this type of climate, but I still enjoyed the interesting details of your trip. It's good to see you and your wife made it back safely. Safety and sense makes it possible to do it again.
Thanks for the article.Sep 25, 2008 at 7:04 pm #1452265
What an experience! Glad to see your tent made it through it with flying colors. A good design for sure. I used to have an old tent that I would trust in the wind but it got old.
Looks like a lot of knowledge gained on this trip. Good on ya.Sep 28, 2008 at 6:23 pm #1452570
Roger what do you think of the design of the Integral Design MK1 or Bibler I tent which BD now also uses for some of their ultralight tents. I have used my old MK1 in very high winds without any problems. These tents are very simple, set up from the inside and are very useful in the high mountains for climbing because of their small footprints.
On a different note. I was on my first trip to Australia exploring around the snowy mountains right around the time you were having your adventure. Beautiful place, I need to go back.Sep 28, 2008 at 9:47 pm #1452605
Loaded questions … we love 'em! Bear in mind that I have not slept in either of these two, so of course I obviously haven't the faintest idea of what I am talking about. However, I did build my first dome tent around 1964 – nylon and fibreglass, and my second one around 1967.
ID Mk 1 and Bibler I tents are both small pop-ups, looking very similar to boot. I will treat them as being of the same design. I am sure both companies would protest over this.
The design looks as though it could be anchored down reasonably well, but I think stability in high wind would rely strongly on the leading guy ropes holding. If the guy ropes failed I think the very long poles would collapse. (That is based on first-hand experience.) It is instructive to compare the lengths of the poles in this pop-up design with the lengths of poles in a tunnel tent: the latter are *much* shorter, and consequently stronger.
The sides of the design are very long, and this means that having the wind side-on would present really big problems. I don't like such long unsupported spans of fabric. In fact, it would be an interesting question as to which might fail first under very high side-winds: the stakes, the guy rope attachment points on the fabric, the fabric itself or the poles.
The design lacks ventilation. Yes, there is a little vent near the top, but how you get air into the tent in bad weather is not very clear. I suspect (and this is backed up by both my testing and by independent testing) that condensation could be a serious issue under cold conditions.
The entrance on these dome pop-ups is an invitation to getting bucket-loads of rain (and snow) on the groundsheet whenever someone gets in or out of the tent. Bluntly, this is not a design meant for use in rainy weather, despite any little door seals sewn into the zip. I solved this with a tunnel entrance, but it's messy.
Yes, you can add a vestibule awning to handle rain, but such add-ons are basically an admission of a design fault. The add-on vestibules are hardly very storm-worthy in themselves.
The design concept and the literature seems to imply that the groundsheet has room for two people and a little bit of gear. Now, where do you strip off all your wet rainwear in a storm? Where do you leave your wet pack and shoes and rainwear? Where do you cook in a storm? (My domes were a bit bigger, and there was room.)
These 2-man pop-ups are quite cheap and popular in Europe. I met two guys with one in the Pyrenees once in bad weather. They were struggling to manage all their gear and dinner in the (light) wind and rain. I asked them whether they thought they would be able to get their two sleeping bags and all their gear inside the tent for the night. "Oh no" they said – one of them was going to sleep outside in a hopefully waterproof bivy bag. Sue and I retired to the comfort of our tunnel tent to cook dinner in the sheltered vestibule.
Frankly, I am not convinced that the 'small footprint' is really all that useful either. I have pitched my tunnels on some very strange terrain over the years. It's not hard. Having a small footprint does not solve any of the problems I mentioned, but can make them worse.
OK, if you are trying to park on a ledge on the face of an 8,000 m peak, a small footprint might be useful. Which is about as relevant to the average walker as …
rogerSep 29, 2008 at 2:08 pm #1452684
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Great story Roger.
And good photos to give us the flavor of the environment. Like all good backpackers you corrected your equipmant problems upon your return. These upgrades and repares ARE a safety issue and folks should be aware of that.
On the suitability of dome design vs. tunnel design I'd say you are correct regarding weight-to-space ratio that tumnnel tents win out. As for wind stability, based on experience I'll go with properly designed 3 to 6 pole dome tents if I knew I was likely to face high winds.
That said the Hilleberg Nallo 2 or 3 man tunnel tents are very wind stable and I'd have no problem owning one in place of their dome tents, having once seen a Nalo GT 2 easily weather a strong, all-day full gale on an island in Georgian Bay, Canada.
EricSep 29, 2008 at 2:20 pm #1452689
@retropumpLocale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Although I agree that tunnels are more weight efficient, they have an obvious limitation when winds are gale force and unpredictable. It is the unpredicatbility that most often gets us in trouble with the Nallo. It is particularly bad if the wind swings 90 degrees to the side of the tent. Having said that, we have yet to have a tunnel tent actually fail, even in storm strength winds. Getting in good anchors is the key. Although it may not sound UL, we always carry 12-14 high strength stakes and appropriate guylines for such conditions. Tunnels are also not as good at withstanding heavy snows either. You probably won't find a tunnel tent on Mt Everest!
Roger, if you had expected conditions would be that bad, would you have chosen a different tent, or just been happy with the modifications you made to your tunnel tent (I know the real answer is that you wouldn't have gone at all if you expected such conditions, but let's be hypothetical)?
Scary story that has a happy ending.Sep 29, 2008 at 6:21 pm #1452718
Well, those winds were gale force all right, and the tunnel tent just sat there fine.
However, when the wind swings around it makes for problems with any tent. With a good winter tunnel tent with the pole guys staked out properly and short spans between poles there is little risk in my experience. Yes, good stakes are an essential.
Now, snow loading.
This is where things can get tricky. On our trip snow loading was not a problem because it was going horizontally past us at a high speed. In still conditions things can be different, when the snow just settles on the top of the tent. However, you will see that the top of my tunnel design is peaked, unlike the Olympus which is flat on top. This makes a big difference with both rain and snow. Some photos to illustrate:
This is a flat-topped Olympus tent with a little snow on it. You can see how the snow stays on top. The lower of the two photos above shows how it can depress the top enough to start making a snow bucket: see the crease under the snow.
Contrast this with a peaked pole design:
Here the snow has much more chance of sliding off in the night, especially if the end guys keep the roof tight.
Incidentally, the wind has swung around in the photo of the orange tent here: you can see it pushing the left side of the tent in. But the pole guys are holding firm.
A trick used by some people is to tie an internal guy rope across the *inside* of the tent, between the upper guy rope anchor points. This prevents the tent from being flattened by the snow loading. With these internal guys in place we had a snug night on a really exposed plateau opposite Mt Blanc in France. The wind blew around, but the poles were just not moving: they couldn't.
> would you have chosen a different tent
Yes, I do wish I had included the sod cloth around the base of the tent to keep the spindrift out.
Yes, I do wish I had modified the stakes to avoid the fretting, and upgraded the guy lines as well.
The photo I posted in this channel on the 24th shows the modified tent.
But no, I would NOT have taken a different tent. Even without these mods (which have since been done!) the tent handled the conditions. From experience I know that many other tents would not have survived. We trust this tent.
Would we have gone on the trip despite the weather? Hard to say. Optimism … :-) Would we have camped down in the Twynam bowl before Mt Anton and below most of the wind? Absolutely! That was my big mistake.
Would we have pulled out that morning if we had been camped down in the bowl? I don't think we would have tried to continue along the top of the Main Range. For the next few days you simply could not see anything up there (or stand up easily).
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