Aug 28, 2007 at 8:34 pm #1224808
Benjamin SmithBPL Member
@bugbombLocale: South Texas
Companion forum thread to:Aug 29, 2007 at 1:50 am #1400313
I don't mean to be overly critical, but I would expect a website with membership dues to have better editing. Especially in the first paragraph.Aug 29, 2007 at 4:45 am #1400321
Benjamin SmithBPL Member
@bugbombLocale: South Texas
Thanks for pointing out the repeated phrase – it's been fixed.Aug 29, 2007 at 8:03 am #1400330
First off, THANK YOU
But I would like to point out that's it's CRITICAL that it be clearly outlined that this gear was for a late May/ early June attempt. Someone using this list as a reference for an April/early May attempt should not assume their gear will be warm enough.
Edited following Matt's commentsAug 29, 2007 at 11:42 am #1400374
Ben: Thanks for getting this up on the web site. Hopefully my pack raft will be spared of any further death threats.
Just a couple quick clarifications. Our excursion was during the last two weeks of May. I've been high on the mountain in early May (brutally cold) and late February (beyond cold). My experience in the Alaska Range (10 years) is that you usually have a high chance of stable weather during the last two weeks of May and first two weeks of June. We tested our clothing system during a week-long winter traverse trip where the day time temps hovered in the 30-40 below range.
Regarding our choice of ltwt ice axes. We needed to be prepared to self arrest on a snow slope and the Camp axes are perfect for that. Secondly, they would also work in a crevasse fall situation where the victim needed to claw their way out of a slot. There is little to no need for hard ice work on the route.
Matt HageAug 29, 2007 at 12:09 pm #1400383
I am curious about your choice in crampons. Why not some of the light aluminum type? Durability? Points dull quickly?
BTW great job on getting the weight of the gear down. Looks like you got it down to the essentials.Aug 29, 2007 at 1:35 pm #1400400
@robertm2sLocale: Lake Tahoe
Please arrange your next Denali climb so that you get to enjoy a 10-day blizzard at the 17,200 high camp, so I can really feel confidant in your gear set-up.Aug 29, 2007 at 7:54 pm #1400459
Ordinarily I would only bring a balaclava. Many of them can be pulled down around the neck. Did you find you needed-needed the neck gaiter as well?
Edit: whoa I see the REI sub-kilos as +15 or +20, not -20 bags. But they are about 1lb 13oz, not 50 or 60 oz?? Where'd you find the heavy ones?
http://www.rei.com/search?vcat=REI_SEARCH&query=subkilo&x=0&y=0Aug 29, 2007 at 9:12 pm #1400470
Well the other hat is hidden in the clothing worn, so if its not enough for full balaclava, you can put just the neck gaiter and hat on. Personally I think they could drop one. I am very interested in whether neck gaiter + hat is a good idea, because its not really that much of a difference between a neck gaiter hat vs a balaclava (full coverage OR versions aside)
Its a typo i think. There IS an REI bag called the Kilo expedition or something like that, that goes to -20. Also in the same vein as my other question, it seems as if (and having never lived in an area that has gone below about -5), has anyone been in weather that has been too cold for a -20 but not for a -40? smart answers aside. Because I do have my doubts of cold penetrating 8 inches of 800 fill down.Aug 29, 2007 at 10:06 pm #1400476
I see, yeah that is pretty decent of a price too: REI Kilo Expedition -20 Sleeping Bag – Regular $359
I would definitely think the balaclava is needed up there. High winds so you need a face mask and they stay on your head when you sleep.Aug 29, 2007 at 10:33 pm #1400480
Everitt GordonBPL Member
@everittLocale: North of San Francisco
Actually it depends on how tired you are not how thick your bag is. Also the thin air of high altitude depletes your ability to create metabolic warmth. vapor bariers can help keep your precious heat from ozing away but ultimatly becoming exausted to the point you can't sleep warm can be real danger at high altitude.Aug 30, 2007 at 7:40 am #1400509
The bag rating is secondary to your physical condition. I've overnighted in the open after a snow cave collapse. I spent the night in a -7C down bag out of the wind and a partner spent it outside in a -28c (-20f) bag. Ambient temp was about -18C with a 20mph winds.
I was f'ing cold all night but made it till morning unhurt with no loss in my "combat effectiveness". We had to pull my partner out of his -20 bag because his hands couldn't operate his zipper. We had to warm his extremeites against our bare skin before we has functional enough to dress and feed himself.Aug 30, 2007 at 8:14 am #1400510
High altitude adds complication to the equation of keeping warm when it is cold. If you are not generating internal heat it is impossible to stay warm regardless of all the clothing you may have. After a few really bad experiences carrying everything but the kitchen sink "just in case" I finally realized that fast and light was the way to go for me. Since that Ah Ha momemt I have really enjoyed many adventures at alititude without freezing my butt off.
I am attacking my ice climbing gear rack this winter to shave off some weight. Unfortunatley physics rules and things can only get so light and still function. I liked Matts approach – knowing there were fixed lines only take the gear absolutely necessary. Wait – I could free solo everything! There's 30 lbs lost right there.Aug 30, 2007 at 9:44 am #1400516
@mad777Locale: South Florida
I think the previous postings are pointing out a very important aspect of winter camping. That is, “Sleeping bags and thick clothing do not MAKE heat, they PRESERVE heat.” Only your body can MAKE heat.
It does this by minor flexing of the muscles or, in the case of the shivers, major flexing of the muscles. Anything that involves the use of muscles is work and work requires energy. Where does energy come from for the body? …. Food. So, it is critically important to take enough of (and the right kind of) food to provide the needed energy. I for one would love to read more articles at BPL about nutrition/energy foods for cold trips.
The second part of the equation is “energy used.” In the summer, we can hike until we are panting like a dog and then sleep like a baby all night. However, if we don’t plan our winter trips considering the amount of exertion required, there may not be enough energy left over for heat production at night!
So, it seems to me that gear list planning for winter excursions needs to consider the choice of food just as importantly as the choice of a sleeping bag and, trip planning needs to strive to keep enough energy reserves for a good night’s sleep.Aug 30, 2007 at 3:32 pm #1400560
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> I think the previous postings are pointing out a very important aspect of winter camping. That is, “Sleeping bags and thick clothing do not MAKE heat, they PRESERVE heat.” Only your body can MAKE heat.
> gear list planning for winter excursions needs to consider the choice of food just as importantly as the choice of a sleeping bag and, trip planning needs to strive to keep enough energy reserves for a good night’s sleep.
ABSOLUTELY, for BOTH.
You read about climbers getting into their tent so tired they can't melt water or eat any food. Then they get high altitude sickness, collapse and wonder why.
More articles on nutrition – hum, a good thought. The problem is that people prefer/eat such a huge range of foods, and what suits one person does not suit another. I've seen menus featuring turkey stuffing, gravy and mashed potato – frankly I couldn't!Aug 30, 2007 at 5:42 pm #1400576
I have a question regarding all the base layers that you brought. Do you intend to use them as a change of clothes for a 2 week expedition, or as in the Light and Fast with Gary Scott article, as multiple layers instead of just one?Aug 30, 2007 at 10:21 pm #1400596
I heard the fixed lines were too thick for the tiblocs to act like jumars which only handle up to 10mm rope. Is this true? Don't you need a full size ascender then? Thanks.Aug 31, 2007 at 11:02 am #1400630
Petzl shows on the side of a tibloc the diameter range they are designed for is 8,5mm to 11mm. They are reported not to work well on frozen ropes (no eprsonal experience). An iced up 11mm would have the problem of maybe getting too big to squeeze into the tibloc, and also ice plugging the gripper teeth. Full size ascenders are much easier to deal with when wearing gloves.Sep 2, 2007 at 4:35 pm #1400820
Crampons: Ltwt aluminum spikes could be a fine choice for the West Buttress, but since we made the choice to go very light on the ice axe, we wanted to make sure that we had excellent footing when presented with blue ice. There was a very exposed section of blue ice above Lunch Rocks this season. A one-foot wide trail of packed snow switched-backed up the slope, but we did crunch up a lot of bullet proof ice on that section. Four times actually with our carry of supplies to Windy Corner. On that type of ice, which is common on this route, a full strength ice axe is not going to help after you get sliding, but full strength crampons will bite perfectly as long as you don’t hedge or catch a gaiter.Sep 2, 2007 at 4:41 pm #1400822
Packing a balaclava, hat and neck gaiter may seem redundant, but this system covers three levels of cold on Denali’s West Buttress. You can wear just the hat on most days or combine with a cozy neck gaiter on colder/windier days. And then you wear the balaclava under the hat and neck gaiter before tucking back into your parka hood on those stretches of brutal cold/high winds. It’s layering for your head/neck.Sep 2, 2007 at 4:54 pm #1400823
Robert stated earlier that this is obviously not a winter gear list, so what else would you need for that? Vapor Barriers? huge down jacket? I recently pulled up two old articles that a related to such cold weather hiking and climbing. 6 years ago there was an interview with an adventure racer named Bill Merchant, who said he wore a down jacket and a 400 weight fleece all the way down to -50! Granted he also was OK with leaving out a pad for his lightest outdoor trips, but it suggests that leg insulation really isn't nearly as important as the upper body. Also the fleece is much better against conductive heat from sitting down at breaks. Another article, the arc alpinist review had a section in which the designer Don Johnston took this 20* quilt to 0 degrees in a freezer, with little leg insulation, and only his feet were cold. Obviously thermal conductivity operates differently at -50 or -40 than at 0 degrees, but would booties help stretch a "lighter" expedition bag with 30 oz or less fill? Another place to look at is Andrew Skurka's Icebox trip, where for 16 days he endured low temperatures, and put much more emphasis on vapor barrier clothing than the Denali expedition, helping preserve the little down he had and keep himself warmer in the long term.
So with these thoughts, would you really need that much for a colder expedition? I obviously have no experiance with any of these environments, but I hope some people who do could debate that.Sep 2, 2007 at 5:02 pm #1400824
I don’t think there is a need for a full size ascender on the West Buttress head wall. Petzl’s Accession weighs in at 6 oz compared to just over 1 oz for a Tibloc. The fixed lines are fat and they can be icy. But the angle is far from vertical (50 degrees) and you should just be using the fixed lines in place of a running belay. We were able to use the Tiblocs with no problems this season, though the lines did fill ‘em up. But the next option is to not use an ascender at all. Just attach two opposed carabiners to your daisy chain for an improvised via ferrata. Clip the fixed line and climb the up the section using your axe and crampons. Get to the next picket, sink your axe self belay style and clip around the picket. If you or your partner are to loose their footing, the ensemble of fixed ropes is very dynamic.Sep 2, 2007 at 6:10 pm #1400826
Tjaard BreeuwerBPL Member
@tjaardLocale: Minnesota, USA
How did you use the windstopper (I assume they were jackets)? And wich ones were they?
I had kind off come to the conclusion that WS is not breathable enough for high energy moments and to heavy/warmth for low activity moments.
How did this work out for you?Sep 3, 2007 at 3:56 pm #1400900
@robertm2sLocale: Lake Tahoe
I am no expert, but if we do a little thought-experiment, let’s say a person who has no overboots is climbing up Denali, and at Denali Pass it is calm, sunny and a mild 0 degrees F. Then, at the “Football Field,” the wind has picked up to 20 MPH, and it is minus 20. On the summit, the wind is 30 MPH, the temp is minus 30. Back down to the “Football Field” and it is cloudy, with winds at 40 MPH and the temp at minus 40. The climber only has Koflach Degre boots, with no overboots or even super-gaiters. They say a much warmer boot is the Koflach Arctis Expe, and even warmer is the La Sportiva Olympus Mons. At Denali Pass there are several lenticular clouds above the summit, like a stack of pancakes, and it is minus 60 with winds at 60 MPH, and from a non-expert’s point of view it looks like frostbite with amputation of some of the toes for anyone wearing Koflach Degre boots with no overboots.Sep 3, 2007 at 6:24 pm #1400919
What you have described is deteriorating weather conditions during a summit bid. This happens often high on Denali and has turned me around on two occasions. Twenty mph winds at 20-below put the wind chill temp into the danger zone (-48). Thirty mph winds at -30 are just brutal at -67. You will also begin to suffer from low visibility when winds on the upper mountain approach 30 mph. Forty mph brings a full lenticular on top. My personal cut off is around 15 mph at 15-below (-39).
Overboots are the norm for the West Buttress and I’ve carried them on every other trip. For our Denali Light excursion we used Intuition Denali liners, which offered a greater ‘R’ value than the stock Koflach booties. We also packed vapor barrier liners for our feet that could add about 10 degrees to our insulation. Our decision going to the mountain was that if the conditions are too cold for this set-up, then we don’t go. My partner and I don’t have any biz jacking around above 18,000 ft in conditions colder than 40-below. The human machine doesn’t produce heat as efficiently at these altitudes and the risk of frost bite is too high. We actually had a guy in Anchorage show off his frost bitten toes from this season. Not only did he have his overboots, but also 75-pounds of the lightest mountaineering gear known to man. Sometimes I wonder if overboots give a false sense of security to Denali climbers.
Our safety depended on being able to move fast in response to changing conditions. In my opinion, overboots create a hazard for the dog-tired climber descending from Denali Pass. This is a high accident area with many fatal falls. We also wanted to keep pack weight down so not to bring ourselves to exhaustion. Once the decision is made to descend, Agnes and I want to be able to move quickly and safely to a lower elevation.
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