Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Thunderbird Ridge - perfect afterwork hike

Elevation Gain  468m (=93 calories)
Distance 6.32km
Time: 2h14m


View Thunderbird Ridge 2014-02-25 in a larger map



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Alpine Tip 8: Know your abilities

Always know how far you can go.

Exceeding own abilities is #4 Immediate Cause of all accidents in the mountains, says annual handbook "Accidents in North American Mountaineering".

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Alpine Tip 10 - Winter Sleeping Bag one size longer

In winter, have you ever found your boots solid frozen when left outside for the night?

To avoid hours of delay cursing in pain trying to get your feet inside, next night keep your boots with you in your sleeping bag.

For this reason your winter sleeping bag has to be one size longer to accommodate you and your boots, wrapped in plastic bags.

This method proven to work well below -20C.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Alpine Tip 7: Have packing list

Ever forgotten  a memory card for your camera or another, more important thing or two for a hike? Here is how to avoid embarrassment and hatred from your buddies for ruining their fun.

1. Have packing list.
2. Pre-pack - lay all things from the list on one spot.3. Final Pack - Touch Check: physically touch all things from the list.
4. After each trip update the list - remove things not needed. Add items you missed. After 10 trips or so you will become a pro packing in no-time.

Proper packing list process ensures you won't have surprise at the trailhed realizing  that you forgot your lunch, trekking poles, sun glasses, credit card / cash to pay for gas, hiking boots, helmet, crampons ( all that actually did happen to some people at some point in the past ).

Monday, February 17, 2014

Alpine Tip 5: Priming the camp stove in cold

In cold temperatures below -20C the white gas fuel refuses to ignite if it is on contact with the metal. If so, get the napkin (toilet paper), soak it with fuel from the stove and place it under the stove. Ignite it, it will be enough to warm up the metal and start priming.

Alpine Tip 4: Setting the tent

Before anything else, lay the tent on the ground and secure its corners to anchors before setting the poles.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Alpine Tip 19: Compression sack

Compression sack is a fantastic O(utdoor) R(esearch) invention.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Alpine Tip 2: Know when to turn back

Every single disaster had to cross the last point of return.

Always know when it is time to turn back. Even if the summit is only 20 meters away, go home.

Probably the most important alpine skill, it takes certain level of discipline and a strong will. Climbing history is full of sad evidences of what happens when this rule is ignored.

Alpine Tip 1: Make every trip safe, fun and successful, in that order.

Make every trip safe, fun and successful, in that order.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Alpine Tip 3: Alpine walking technique

Just learning proper alpine walking technique can and will increase your average speed by 15-20%. Walking efficiently is not the same as walking fast.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What sleeping bag for winter?

My sleeping bag is a down Marmot Couloir rated -18.8C. I comfortably slept in it with -25C outside.

How heavy is my winter pack?

My one overnight winter 2014 backpack weights 48lb. It is meant for -25C temperatures.

17lb - camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, camping stove, shovel, booties etc)
9lb - climbing gear ( crampons, helmet, short rope, carabiners, ice tool)
5lb - backpack
4lb - snowshoes

Not counting boots 4.5lb and trekking poles 1.4lb

How much camping stove fuel is needed?

323 ml of  Coleman Stove Fuel was good for two of us at the -25C overnighter at 2,000m asl to melt snow for hot drinks. About 3-4L total. We used MSR WhisperLite Stove.

Alpine Tip 18: Attaching tent to the snow - reliable snow anchor

Camping in winter on ridges or summits? Then forget about using supplied tent pegs, or your tent one day will fly away, possibly with you inside.

We use home-made snow anchors made from a trekking pole.

Those who doubted the strength of this anchor were offered to pull it out off the snow next morning. Nobody ever succeeded to extract it easily without tools and much swearing. Convincing. 

Bonus tip: to strengthen the anchor even more, pour some water on top of it, so it will freeze into a solid ball.

Alpine Weather forecasting tools

Websites that we actively use to check alpine weather  : about - mostly urban current conditions

Monday, February 3, 2014

Alpine Tip 21 - What gloves?

Ever tried to take photos in winter and soon gave up just because all the time need to take gloves off? How about tightening bootlaces or putting snowshoes on?

Here is two-parts system that has been used for years in winter alpine.

1. Wool Fingerless Glove with Pop Top Mitten.

2. Gore-Tex shell mitts that will provide necessary protection from wind and contact with snow.

Thermos is a good investment

Good thermos that holds temperatures is a good investment for overnight trips. Two people can share it. We camped at -25C and thermos had it so we had nice warm breakfast without getting out to melt snow. Coffee, jerky and protein bars. By they way, Jerky doesn't freeze at -25C either, good to bring too.