Jul 30, 2012 at 7:09 am #1292448
DeletedJul 30, 2012 at 9:20 am #1898555
I've not attended it, but I have looked at it a couple of times because it looks like a great way to get started with winter backpacking.
The gear lists (on the Student page) look reasonable for the BPL'er and it seems that you'd get a lot of attention (they talk about a very low instructor –> student ratio).
Hopefully someone who's attended it in the past will chime in – I'm really interested as well.Jul 30, 2012 at 9:35 am #1898557
What interested me the most was how reasonabaly priced it is, I know its run on a voluntary basis by the ADK mountaineering club.
I was speaking to them today via email and they are very helpful.
I have attended 2 winter mountaineering and snow hole expeditions in Scotland but I say the amount of snow and cold temperatures will make it harsher.
It would be nice if some Bpl folk went along together,
StephenJul 30, 2012 at 10:31 am #1898581
I did notice they require double boots such as plastics and VBL socks for the course.Jul 30, 2012 at 11:15 am #1898593
It is really reasonable, and I also like that you're required to bring your own food and snacks for when you're on the trail. In addition to keeping the costs of the trip down (at least what you pay to them) it ensures that nobody can complain about not liking the food!
I noticed the boots and the VBL socks, but they also say they will allow plastic bags to be used as vapor barriers. It looks like they've refined this list over the years to allow people to bring what they want once they've set the minimum requirements.
The gear they require seems reasonable, but I'd need to get a few things like a -20 sleeping bag, snow shoes, crampons, and an ice axe. I wonder if I could get Tim Marshall at Enlightened Equipment to make me a -20 quilt…In cuben it would probably cost more than my first car (a '72 Datsun pickup) but it would be worth it.Jul 30, 2012 at 11:35 am #1898597
That's very true about the food, During my previous winter trips I made some mistakes with food which I have ironed out now.
I have a winter bag, axe, boots and crampons which I brought over from Europe, but as my crampons have Gsb Scarpa Gsb fittings I would have to buy new crampons as well the plastic boots.
I am glad I researched this now so I have plenty of time to get used to hauling very heavy loads and can spread any purchase out over many months.
I think I willbe sticking with a Mummy bag for winter as tried a quilt at 20f back in April and the draughts drive me crazy as I move about a lot in my sleep.Aug 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm #1899901
I was a student two years ago and they liked me so much the invited me to be an instructor. This winter I led one of the combo groups into the woods.
I chose the program as a prospective student due to cost, location, and interest in ADK. I had never been. Turned out to be a great decision, I really enjoyed the program and they filled in a lot of gaps in my winter skills in the short week long combo section.
Now as an instructor, I thoroughly enjoy sharing my knowledge of outdoor skills.
You can very easily do this class with a light weight mentality. As a student my weight was around 23-24 lbs. Now my technical equipment winter base is 21 lbs.
Fire away with any specific questions you have and I will try my best to answer. Or I would strongly encourage sending an email to the general address on the website, the more senior volunteers are all very friendly and helpful even when snow is not on the ground. Just keep in mind that we are all volunteer instructors not guides so response times are always dependent on family and work schedules in the off season.Aug 4, 2012 at 2:32 am #1900056
Cheers for the reply.
I have been speaking to Leonard and John about the equipment.
I am very interested to hear about you lightweight approach, could you give me a idea of what you used.
StephenAug 4, 2012 at 7:32 am #1900073
The gear list in my profile is one I used in January in Vermont. Very similar to my gear list for ADK mountaineering. The only thing missing is crampons and Ice axe and at WMS there are always 2 instructors per combo group so we took my Shangri-La 2 last winter. I am also dropping the VBL clothing I think. I am going to be making a few changes this winter, but nothing overly dramatic. The big thing to remember is that winter light is just like summer light, every item weights something bring the smallest lightest item to do the task you need. The gear list on the website is one they have been evolving for many years and have it dialed in very nicely for beginning students. After going through gear check in last year it became very evident that students base weight went up when they insisted on bringing backup clothing or extras like a large first aid kit, or lantern… The big ticket items to be conscious of are:
Pack – many expedition winter packs weight more than 7 lbs
sleeping bag – either buy or rent a high end bag, it is not only pounds in weight difference but total volume inside the pack is hugh. The bare minimum bargain bag I would take is the REI expedition down bag at a little under 4 lbs. You have to spend twice that much to get a bag about half a pound or so lighter
Extra clothing – I see so many people carrying 2-3 fleece layers. One high quality down or synthetic insulation layer will serve the same purpose at 1/3 the weight.
The cost of these three items is very high but, in my opinion, that is the difference between 20-25 lbs and 40+ lbs.
If you decide to sign up, stick to the gear list and set a budget for what you want to buy and what you want to wait until after WMS to start buying. You can easily spend hundreds on all the little things you "need" for WMS but in my opinion that money should go towards a lighter pack, sleeping bag, or quality insulation. All the little things most people already have they just don't realize it until they get home from winter school after seeing one of the instructors or another student using the exact same thing that was replaced and is sitting on your gear shelf at home.
I would wait on buying all technical gear and boots. Renting boots may suck for the first trip but you will find out quickly that unless you are climbing Denali you may not want plastic boots. I haven't worn plastic boots since I was in the 5th grade the one time I went skiing, I dread the day I have to get them for an upcoming climb. The other technical gear has alot of preference or specific fit that you want to wait until you have tried a few things. For instance ice axes come in all lengths and weights, with a grip, without a grip, different points… Rent/borrow a few different styles and lengths until you figure out what you like. Crampons are so boot specific that I recommend buying them at the same time. I made the mistake many years ago of buying my crampons on the internet, the fit on my boots is ok but I would like it to be better and they weight a ton. I can't do anything about it now until I wear out my current crampons or boots.
I am hoping to in the next few years of instructing work up a lecture for one of the nights on lightweight/making your own gear. There are several lectures on different instructors gear philosophy which is what makes WMS so interesting. There is time built in to pick the brain of any of the instructors on their specific gear choices. Without ruining some of the fun, I can only think of 2 pairs of the 15 or so instructors that have the same gear philosophies. And 2 of them are married so they share a whole lot of the same gear.Aug 5, 2012 at 4:27 am #1900318
Thanks very much Jeremy,
I have a -30 Phd sleeping bag I can use which comes in at about 3pounds, I also have an Exped down pad UL which I will team up with a Ridgerest Solite.
The largest capacity pack I have is a ULA Catalyst, do you think that would be Ok, I have carried 30-35 pounds in it a snow holing trip last year in Scotland.
From speaking with John at the School I will need to get a pair of 100gm2 synthetic trousers as my 60gm2 pair or down trousers won't make the cut.
The advice I have been given is get a spit of synthehic double boots, so you reckon I would be better of renting plastics?Aug 5, 2012 at 6:07 am #1900327
I have never seen the Catalyst in person but looking up its volume I think you would be cutting it close. I use a Golite Odyssey which has 5800 cu in. compared to the Catalyst 4600. I have fit a winter weekend in a Golite Pursuit which is 3,100 cu in. so I think it could be done. As long as everything fits in the pack, no one will tell you that it isn't allowed. Depending on your instructor you may catch a little ribbing over the phone and at gear check in. I did when I brought the golite odyssey, but they will all be impressed when you prove that it all fits with some room to spare. Keep in mind that you will have some "group gear". The way the combo sections are set up is students share tents, we try for two 3-person 3.5 or 4 season tents for the students. The students provide the tents and we as instructors chose the best suited tent from a safety standpoint. Your tent for the week could turn out to weigh 10lbs and your share of it could take up a ton of space in your pack. There are also things like cook pots, white gas stoves, the 30oz of white gas that everyone has to bring, a shovel for digging a snow kitchen (route dependent)… If all of your gear, clothing, and food will fit in or on the pack with some extra room for a piece or two of group gear then the pack will work.
Sorry you lost me on the 100gm2 vs 60gm2. What insulated pants do you own now, so I can go see them on the website. The down pants I take has apx 2.5oz of down in them. MYOG thread for my ugly santa pants:
Boots are always such a personal thing, I think the best advice I can give is when you run out of money preparing for winter school if you haven't bought boots rent them. It seems that you are already well prepared for winter school with clothing and non-technical gear (assuming you can fit it all in the catalyst). That is an expensive time consuming process to have out of the way. If you already have some experience in the snow/winter you might be better prepared to select a solid pair of winter boots and stick with them. Plastics are not required, however the majority of instructors use double plastic, and most students rent double plastics. I use my snowboard boots. The only firm requirement we have is removable liners so that you can bring them into your sleeping bag at night.Aug 5, 2012 at 6:35 am #1900329
I have a pair of Arcteryx Atom Lt trousers but was told they would not be warm enough, and down trouses which too risky in case they get damaged and leaked down. John recommded mountain Hardwear compressors.
I do have a Golite SL5 as it the only non 1 man tent I have. Thinking about it now I am not sure the Catalyst would be big enough.
Cheers,Aug 5, 2012 at 9:00 am #1900354
I've taken some AMC winter courses. The instructors were familiar with the ADK Winter School and most of them had taken it or taught in it. ALL of them thought very highly of it.
Also worth considering, the Boston Chapter of AMC has winter hiking, snowshoeing and camping courses that are almost free and also excellent. These would have less technical training (probably no ice axe training), but excellent on the basics of nutrition, keeping warm, gear, etc. Some of the other AMC chapters may have similar courses: Worcester used to have a good snowshoeing course covering some of the same material and NH may have some courses.Aug 5, 2012 at 9:59 am #1900369
The compressor pants seem to have a bit more insulation in them. Winter on the east coast is very tricky, last year was way above normal temps, the week of winter school we had rain and snow. I think the coldest it got was low teens high single digits F. Last year down took alot more care, and the Archteryx pants you have would have been fine. The year before the highs never made it out of the teens and the night lows were well below zero. In that case you would probably be cold in those pants. The accepted practice is bring a little extra insulation unless you have enough experience at below zero temps to know that you are warm in those pants. If I were you, instead of buying a new pair of insulated pants I would bring:
light-weight synthetic bottoms – 5 oz – hike in these
mid-weight synthetic bottoms – 8 oz – put these on mild nights
your arcteryx atom pants – 12.5 oz – put these on at rests or cold nights
total 25.5 oz
This system is based on my light weight and mid weight bottoms and the arcteryx website, it will take up a but more room in the pack but will be lighter and more versatile.
alternate (how I would do it):
mid-weight synthetic bottoms – 8 oz – hike in these
mountain hardware pants – 21 oz – put on at rests and at night
total 29 oz
I would bring the mid-weight over light-weight because of the pace of the larger groups at winter school is slower and if we stop for only a few minutes I wouldn't get cold in just mid-weight and my shell pants. Also if we have a really cold night -20F you will want the mid over the light.
For the down pants argument, to me it really depends on how comfortable you are with goose down. If you have used down in all sorts of temps and more humid environments then I think you could justify taking down pants instead of synthetic. If you have less experience with down you will be strongly recommended not to bring them and possibly told you can't. There are many rules about gear that we decide on a case by case basis when we talk to each student. If the experience level is higher then you will be allowed to explore the grey area, if your experience level is lower then all of the rules will be black and white.Aug 5, 2012 at 10:07 am #1900372
The AMC winter courses and ADK winter school used to be linked as one large program and taught in both the ADK and the whites. Many of the very senior instructors (20+ years) have taught the program in both ranges or taken the program in the Whites. There are several great programs in the White mountains, my bias opinion is that the ADK program offers the whole package of mountaineering skills in the one week package that you can't find anywhere else on the east coast.
The only thing missing is glacier and rope training (no glaciers and volunteer instructors could never get the insurance to teach rope work). You can get the rope training through private companies in the ADK, and AMC has licensed guides that can teach rope work in the whites.Aug 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm #1900400
John Y mentioned down trousers may rip and spill down, my ones have an event shell and fairly tough though, I did put an axe through them a few years ago and lost no down.
I have a pair of knee length primaloft shorts which I can use with the LT's also if need be.Aug 5, 2012 at 1:21 pm #1900404
Down garments ripping and spilling down is always a concern, probably most so with pants. I just made mine this winter so they only have a few days in the woods I will know about their durability in a few more seasons. I treated them very nicely on all of my trips last winter, and I would never consider using them as an active layer.
The primaloft shorts are interesting, I have heard of them but never seen them. I find that I don't need that many layers on my legs. There are two things to keep in mind, will all the layers fit over one another without compressing each other, and how do you typically handle temps in the single digits all they way down to say -20F. If you have 4 layers on that don't really fit that well together then you are losing insulation value in each layer that is compressed. How cold are your typical trips in the colder months of the year? What clothing do you normally take on those trips?Aug 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm #1900409
The shorts are Patagonia Mico puff trousers butchered in to shorts, the will fit alright under the LT's.
The coldst I have in is probably about 10-15f but have slept at well below 0f
For Winter I wear Capilene 3 tops and bottoms with unlined trousers and a wind proof, if I get chilly I add a Capilene 4 top. For camp use zi will always carry puffy layers.
Most of hiking experience in in Ireland and the Uk where it does not get that cold but is often wet.Aug 5, 2012 at 2:40 pm #1900414
Your gear list is very impressive Jeremy.Aug 6, 2012 at 5:09 am #1900558
My hiking clothing is exactly the same. I always start in the cap 4 but normally the sleeves get rolled up and if the pace is fast enough then it just comes off. Instead of a light weight wind shell I wear a 3 layer event pants and jacket.Aug 6, 2012 at 5:16 am #1900560
I wear Event a lot also, I find it keeps me relatively dry compared to Goretex.
For my upper puffy layers I was thinking of a two layer approach mixing a synthetic hoody (Arcteryx Atom SV) and a down hoody under it.Aug 6, 2012 at 5:39 am #1900564
I spend more time playing in the snow than actually hiking on top of it. Event lets me do that with no worries at all. Even in the 50F corn snow of late May.
As far as puffies go, my pullover is a customised version of the thru-hiker down jacket kit they sell. I made the zipper a half zip, added a hood, and removed all the pockets. The loft around my body is 5-6" total and arms and head are about 1.5-2" total. That has kept me warm down to -20F with no wind and not even the slightest chill. If you can swing it I would consolodate those down to one item. You will find out quickly that after a few gear swaps weight becomes much less important than total number of items and bulk. I have little interest in droping my winter base weight much further, I know where I could drop another 1-2 lbs but the cost isn't worth it. Instead I have been working to consolodate items and reduce bulk.Aug 6, 2012 at 5:46 am #1900565
That makes sense on the bulk, I am luckily enough most of kit is fairly low bulk.Aug 7, 2012 at 10:41 am #1900861
Went back and re read Allen and Mikes Back Country ski Book last night. :-)Aug 7, 2012 at 5:03 pm #1900992
If the base is deep enough this winter I will be bringing my splitboard and snow shoes.
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