- Sep 3, 2007 at 7:43 pm #1400929
Matt: What if we modify the thought experiment a little, and it is a balmy zero at the summit, then at the "Football Field" on the way down it is 20 MPH at minus 20. That's colder than your personal limit, but you're already trapped above Denali Pass. Then at the pass it is 40 MPH and minus 40. My question is, how do you know the weather won't fall below your limit AFTER you're way high on the mountain and it is too late to fall back?Sep 3, 2007 at 7:56 pm #1400931
> how do you know the weather won't fall below your limit AFTER you're way high on the mountain and it is too late to fall back?
Short answer: you can't know in advance. That's mountaineering.
Better answer: read the weather forecast in advance.
Longer answer: one can be awful determined when heading downhill in deteriorating conditions! I've seen people running DOWNHILL at 5,000 metres…
"We took risks, we knew we took risks, but things have come out against us. Therefore we have no cause to complain."
Scott, Antarctic.Sep 3, 2007 at 8:13 pm #1400933
Roger: They say that fast and light is often safer than slow and heavy, but when you can buy much warmer footwear which is only slightly if any heavier, why risk your toes with flimsy boots? When Reinhold Messner soloed Everest without bottled oxygen, he garnered huge bragging rights in the climbing community, and for those who care about that (not me) it was worth risking everything. But summiting Denali via the West Buttress garners you no bragging rights in that community, so why take huge risks? (You will take some risks unless you stay on your couch.) The Oly Mons boots only weigh about 6 pounds a pair, and they include built-in gaiters. P.S. In my arrogant opinion Robert Falcon Scott was a stupid fool and an arrogant idiot. He refused to learn from the Inuits how to travel in cold conditions, so instead of being towed by sled dogs like the successful Amundsen, he post-holed it on foot.Sep 3, 2007 at 8:40 pm #1400936
>one can be awful determined when heading downhill in deteriorating conditions! I've seen people running DOWNHILL at 5,000 metres…
I guess that is the FAST part of "Fast and Light"Sep 3, 2007 at 10:23 pm #1400944
> In my arrogant opinion Robert Falcon Scott was a stupid fool and an arrogant idiot. He refused to learn from the Inuits how to travel in cold conditions, so instead of being towed by sled dogs like the successful Amundsen, he post-holed it on foot.
This has been said before. :-) But it's a great quote.
As to boot warmth – I do wonder that people never discuss the leg insulation when discussing boots. A boot can NOT keep your foot warm; it can only slow the loss of heat. The only significant source of heat for your feet is the blood coming down your leg. So there is a huge difference between warm legs and cold legs.Sep 3, 2007 at 11:00 pm #1400945
You're right, Scott was great at talking big. He should have been a politician rather than an explorer, where he just winged it. As to leg warmth, what is your opinion of using down suits, which tap body warmth from head to torso to legs? Impractical due to having to go to the bathroom?Sep 4, 2007 at 2:51 am #1400955
> what is your opinion of using down suits, which tap body warmth from head to torso to legs? Impractical due to having to go to the bathroom?
I don't think toilet problems are that bad. Drop flap designs are well known, after all. You have to just grin and bare it … (sorry).
A problem, or rather a question, is whether it is cold enough that you don't sweat much. Sweat plus down is not good. Even in the Antarctic people often go without down suits when they are working hard. Good wind resistance is often as or more important.
On which point, it is worth noting that the wind chill factor may be over-emphasised. It applies to exposed skin. It does not apply to the outside of dry windproof clothing. There the ordinary ambient temperature applies.Sep 4, 2007 at 5:32 am #1400959
Yes, I hear that many Everest climbers have their down suits carried to high camp by Sherpas, and don't actually wear them while actively climbing until the final summit push, because it is too warm lower down. (How fun it must be to "grin and bear it" on the South Col.) As to wind chill when not naked, that's an interesting question, and not being an expert, I don't really know but I would guess there is SOME effect: the wind must strip away any micro-climate that tries to form one or two molecular distances above the surface of the boot or garment. In a dead calm, I would guess that this very thin layer of air could be warmed up somewhat, and maintained with electrical forces between the molecules of the garment and molecules of the air. (I'm jusst blowing smoke out my butt, ignore it.)Sep 4, 2007 at 5:35 am #1400960
I'm getting interference from the morals computer program.Sep 4, 2007 at 8:30 am #1400980
I think the critical thing about boots that's being missed is that your feet are one of the key culprits of heat loss as they are in constant contact with the ground. Agree the only source of heat is the blood from your legs, but that the significant source of heat loss is the ground.
Overboots are a pain, and might not be worth the extra warmth if your crampon footwork is critical, but as to why they didn't suit up with oly mons instead of tested gear they already have is most likely a budget issue athan anything else.
Matt's tactics are fair in stating that if he felt conditions were too much for his gear, he would not go. That's his call and it's a reasonable one.
And quoting Scott on risk managment is like quoting Mengele on medical ethics. It's in bad taste.Sep 4, 2007 at 8:35 am #1400981
Keep in mind that wind chill affects ANY evaporating surface, not just bare skin.Sep 4, 2007 at 9:37 am #1400992
Would there be different wind chill charts for different surfaces? For example, wet cotton would evaporate faster than skin or Gore-Tex, hence the chilling effect attributable to just the wind would be different? If so, what surface did they use to fill out the standard wind chilll charts, bare skin?Sep 4, 2007 at 10:27 am #1401001
The wikipedia link to wind chill has some information on how the values were orginally calculated as well as the math involved. The original values were based on the measured effects of wind on a plastic cyninder.Sep 4, 2007 at 10:36 am #1401003
Yes, but that is old data. Wikipedia on Wind Chill: “In 2001 the National Weather Service (NWS) implemented the new wind chill index, used by the US and Canadian weather services, which is determined by iterating a model of skin temperature under various wind speeds and temperatures… Heat transfer was calculated for a BARE FACE [my emphasis] in wind, facing the wind, while walking into it at 3 mph (1.37 m/s)… The 2001 WCET is a steady state calculation (except for the time to frostbite estimates ) There are significant time-dependent aspects to wind chill, for cooling is most rapid at the start of any exposure, when the skin is still warm… The method for calculating wind chill has been controversial because experts disagree on whether it should be based on whole body cooling either while naked or while wearing appropriate clothing, or if instead it should be based instead on local cooling of the most exposed skin, i.e. the face.” This seems to say that a climber swathed in down clothing and gloves, neoprene face masks, goggles and double mountaineering boots was not considered when making up the Weather Service wind chill charts. Their charts are based solely on the “bare face.” I didn’t see any information on charts to tell us how wind adds to the chill when we are bundled up with lots of clothing.Sep 4, 2007 at 12:05 pm #1401013
With regards to calculating effective windchill on fully clothed climbers I don't think the official charts will be of any help.
The emphasis was on developing a model to calculate perceived windchill in a way that would be practical for people in the outdoors. So in that respect it's backwards. They agreed by consesus on what would be most usuable (bare face) and then proceeded to model that scenario.
The only work that seems to focus on the more basic aspect of windchill is dr Osczvski's work. But then again, the focus is still specific to specific applications.Sep 4, 2007 at 4:44 pm #1401037
That’s the great challenge of the alpine game; there is no right or wrong answers. Only decisions. And every alpinist must solely live or die by their own decision. Everyone must know their own capabilities and limits; both physical and mental. And every team is responsible for their own exit strategy. Our trip on the West Buttress this season was about finding areas where we could go without. Overboots were actually an easy choice to cut for us. Our feet stay warm in our chosen boots in some pretty brutal conditions. It may be having a lifetime of Fairbanks winters in my blood. Agnes and I are pretty used to BC skiing, mountaineering and ice climbing in below zero conditions. My feet are usually too warm in my current boot system and I’m not looking for anything warmer for spring/summer/fall trips in the Alaska Range. I do take overboots (40 below neoprene) on winter trips. The VB liners are our extra bit of foot insurance.
Others take overboots for summit day and some wear them everyday on the route. Frostbite happens with or without them. A boot tied too tight in the morning. A bonked or dehydrated climber above 18K can start to feel cold even in a down suit. Know your body and how it performs in harsh environments. Then make your equipment/clothing decisions. First time to Denali? You probably want to pack overboots as it can be a very cold mountain. I would certainly pack overboots on my first trip to some of the other great ranges.
But c’mon people, ditching overboots wasn’t that big a deal when you consider we took a 2.5 lb tent that doesn’t have a single guy line. That was spooky!Sep 4, 2007 at 7:02 pm #1401051
Matt: You have more experience than I on Denali, and I'm not putting you down, just asking questions. Regarding that Stephenson Warmlite tent, since it has been around for decades, why is it not more popular on the big mountains. In videos of the South Col of Everest I see VE-25s and MH tents, but never a Stephenson Warmlite tent. Is it limited to places with lots of tie-out possibilites? Does it handle heavy snow loads?Jan 24, 2008 at 10:36 am #1417509
@bjamesdLocale: South Coast of BC
I've always found foot warmth to be as subjective as diet: one person's requirements can be wildly different from another's in the same conditions.
I know this because I am probably among the luckiest humans alive for foot warmth. My feet are hot in almost anything, and I have to work hard to manage heat and sweat. In the summer, I delight in the day's first tramp through an icy creek — because I know my feet will be pleasantly cooled for the rest of the day.
I once misguidedly applied what works for *me* to my girlfriend: I suggested that gore-tex shoes would repel occasional splashes of water but create and then trap torrents of sweat, leading to wet and miserable feet. As most women reading this have guessed, she wound up with permanently-chilled feet and ultimately a bladder infection. We quickly exchanged her breathable trail runners for sealed-up gore-tex light hikers, and she's been comfortable ever since.
I feel that winter and high-altitude pursuits are where it's most critical to "know thyself". You need to know when and how *you* need to be fed, when *you* are ready to really giv'er, (or when *you* are spent,) and very importantly how each part of *you* needs to be insulated or ventilated.
Another climber looks at this list and says "yikes cold feet!", whereas the author might look at that climber's list and say "I would starve eating all that starch and candy" or "how are you going to stay warm at night in that bag?"
Nosce te ipsum.Mar 13, 2009 at 9:25 pm #1485468
nanook ofthenorthBPL Member
Not sure if anyone is still reading/replying to this gearlist, but I was wondering about the decision to bring a 25oz parka and micropuff pullovers. In your experice are both nessecery?
Were starting to put together our gear for the West Butress and are trying to decide on parkas…Apr 8, 2009 at 12:00 pm #1492413
You might be able to get away with just the MontBell parka (or similar). The micropuff pullover is to be used under the spectre jacket on days climbing. Added insulation for up high and on cold, windy days. Need synthetic layer there or else just gets soaked.
Good luck and have fun up there!
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