Feb 7, 2012 at 11:46 am #1285325
@ejl10Locale: Mid Atlantic
A friend of mine is planning a June (oops… not July) ascent of Liberty Ridge this year, and he's looking for the right bag. His first inclination was a WM Antelope, which is a 5F bag weighing in at 41oz for a long (he's 6'4"). But he's a relatively warm sleeper, and he wonders if it would be wise to go instead with a 10F Versalite at 34oz. I know both bags are revered but I haven't tried either. Has anyone tried these bags on similar climbs? It would be great to get some firsthand feedback.
EmmettFeb 7, 2012 at 11:49 am #1835818
@earn_my_turnsLocale: New England
I have the WM Antelope and am a warm sleeper. I regularly take it to between 0 and -5F and have had it as low as -15F before with a heavy base layer on. I would take it to -20F with all my clothing on and sleep like a slightly chilled baby. Hope that helps.Feb 7, 2012 at 1:33 pm #1835873
@tomlikeLocale: Pacific Wonderland
My Alpinlite (20F) is more like a 10F, especially with a foam pad and an insulated pad. Better safe than sorry, but those bags seem like overkill for a summer climb, even at altitude.Feb 7, 2012 at 1:39 pm #1835877
@ejl10Locale: Mid Atlantic
Jeremy and Tommy- thanks, that's good feedback. I've never looked into climbing Rainier so I don't have any context.Feb 7, 2012 at 3:02 pm #1835928
I have an Ultralite, which is the 20F version of the Versalite. I live in the Pacific NW. Both the Versalite and Antelope would be luxurious, IMHO.
June isn't likely to see temps much below freezing, if even that low. It could be windy and stormy, but I presume he'd be in a tent.
For a three season bag in the Cascades, unless you are very cold sleeper, you don't need anything warmer than the Ultralite/Alpinlite or equiv. Cold sleepers at the higher altitudes might like the Versalite, but would prob do fine without it.
FYI, I'm a cold sleeper and do fine with my 20F Ultralite.Feb 7, 2012 at 10:22 pm #1836106
Having climbed Rainier a number of times and Liberty Ridge in particular, I would agree with the others here. You typically would not need a winter bag. A 20F bag would typically be plenty. I've slept out at 10K-11.5K on Rainier more than once that time of year with no shelter whatsoever in bags of that rating in good conditions. If you have a shelter, the need for a 20F bag is a little in question unless some unusually cold seasonal conditions occur or a storm occurs. Be very aware of long term forecast before attempting this climb as most folks take at least 3 days. Another reason to carry a lighter bag on this route is the fact that you are carrying everything up to the summit and down a different route. Folks don't come down this route, typically. Too dangerous.
Liberty Ridge is a serious undertaking. Quite a number of folks have been killed on it. 4 people died on it a week before we climbed it several years ago. We went light and fast and did it in less than 48 hours and that included the 3.5 hr drive each way, so it can be done faster than what is typical, obviously. I was sick and holding up the others a bit. There is typically a vertical bergshrund of sorts at 14K feet of 50' or so. Two tools and ice screws required. Significant exposure on much of the route, although, for us, approaching Thumb Rock (camp) late in the day, rockfall from ridge above was like running the gauntlet with 2 people moving and 2 people watching for rocks at a time. Very rewarding route. Sorry…got rambling. Good luck to your friends.Feb 8, 2012 at 12:29 am #1836125
@biointegraLocale: Puget Sound
1. What kind of pad does he plan to use?
2. What kind of shelter?
3. How many days does he plan to take to climb?
My last trip up Rainier, I used a WM Highlite with a BD Hilight tent (coincidence), and a 14.9 oz. custom DAM from Kooka Bay. It was one of the South routes, which tend a bit warmer, but it does not get very cold on Rainier. I have also climbed there with a floorless 'mid type shelter and used a warmer bag with a more wind resistant fabric (bivy is better) to block gusts more adequately.
A WM Ultralite should be beyond adequate, depending on his shelter and pad set-up. Look at Feathered Friends bags also – made in Seattle and excellent quality.Feb 8, 2012 at 11:09 am #1836297
It seems the consensus is that temps in June one the mountain don't drop very much below freezing, in which case my 30 deg bag would be more than adequate. I guess I was led astray by the recommendations of guiding services.
The plan would be two nights: one at thumb rock, the other at some point on the descent. Sleeping in a free standing essentially floor-less tent or light bivy's, sleeping pad would be a half z-lite or short inflatable thermarest with pack for the lower half. I spend most weekends climbing waterfall ice so I'm not too concerned about the ice section. My concern would be a trip on moderate but high consequence terrain, so I am considering bringing a longer "technical axe" that's better suited to arresting a fall (like the Petzl sum'tech), and only bringing one ice tool.
Anyway, back to the sleeping bag. I do still need a light bag for moderately cold new england winter nights, and I'm thinking I can get away with going around 10F colder than the rating with a WM bag and bivy bag or tent and still catch some sleep.
TomFeb 8, 2012 at 11:36 am #1836313
NPS and guiding services are always speaking to what I've come to call the 'lowest common denominator'. I don't like using a dismissive term like that, but they have no idea who they are talking to have have to give a bit of the 'worst case' scenario talk pretty much all the time. Not to say we all shouldn't pay them heed, its just taken with a grain of salt, depending on your experience and know-how.
You can still have significant storms on Rainier at any time of year. Due to this and the 'remoteness' of this route compared to the 'walk-up' routes, namely Dissapointment Cleave (DC) and Emmons Glacier route via Camp Sherman, where there is a constant flow of folks that could potentially help, I would personally want to have a fairly robust shelter if some weather came in. I had my Bibler Torre on Lib. Ridge. It was overkill for the weather we ended up happening, but if someone got hurt, sick, weather came in etc., we felt the need for a secure shelter. The 4 folks that died the week before we did it had lost their tent and succumbed because of that.
Bringing one tool and one axe ('technical axe', as you said, should have a properly designed pick so that is will work OK for a short section of hard ice–depending on conditions, however, most of the route could be ice on 40 deg + slopes) is very common and probably the right choice on this route.
I think 30 deg would be OK, if you have (which you will) insulating layers you could use in conjunction with the bag if it got colder. A 20F bag might give you just a bit more insurance, however, but 30F is mostly likely OK.Feb 9, 2012 at 11:13 am #1836893
Thanks for your insight Jon. You've painted a pretty clear picture of what conditions to expect and what to be prepared for. And I must agree–a sturdy single wall tent would be very welcome if things were to go south.
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