Month: May 2012

Goal Zero Portable Solar Power Open House

Goal Zero Solar had an open house at their new facility South of Salt Lake City in Bluffdale Utah, and I attended with my family. Good friends Ryan and Jennifer Hamilton were there as well with their daughters. The kids had a ton of fun on the little climbing wall and slide in the entry, and Jennifer and I met with Matt Larsen to discuss some business matters (we’re both Elite Team Athletes for Goal Zero) and Matt spent a few minutes showing me the most exciting thing there – the new Sherpa 50. Very small, very powerful, and very useful.

I really look forward to taking one with me to Aconcagua in December, since I will be there for a couple weeks, and will most likely be needing a lot of power while there. I’ve been using the Guide 10 Adventure Kit quite a bit the past several months and have become rather fond of it and dependent upon it. I think the Sherpa 50 will be just as useful, if not more so, on my quest for the Seven Summits.

Stuffing a Backpack – Solo Overnight on Snow

I was going on an overnight on Mount Timpanogos and had originally planned on following snow to the top (read the story at the link on this blog). I think hiking and camping solo is an excellent way to work out kinks in your gear and camping skills.

You can learn a lot about how to pack your bag on an expedition by packing your pack a lot, and watching others with some experience do it. Here’s how I packed for my Timp overnight. I laid out all the things I thought I’d need. I’m going light and want to cover a lot of ground quickly. I checked the weather, and estimated I’d be camping at about 9,000′ where the forecast was for an overnight low of about 20 degrees F.

My Gear List:

I opted for a 30 degree ultralight down bag by Stoic. It has a half-zipper for weight saving, and it works okay for me. I also have an ultralight Montbell thin inflatable half-size pad. I’ll be using my backpack under my legs for insulation. I’ve also wrapped my lower legs in my puffy if it got colder, like on Liberty Ridge on Rainier, where I took a 15 degree bag and this same pad.

I have a Thermarest Sitpad (small inflatable seat) which I use for my knees and butt while cooking or building my tent, and for under my head as a pillow at night. Because I plan on hiking in Spring snow, I might get a bit wetter than the backpack will protect from, I am taking a silicone-nylon stuff sack for my sleeping bag, which is down and while it has a Pertex shell, it shouldn’t get wet if I can help it.

I have a Montbell hooded puffy jacket (really like it), a Patagonia fleece, and Mountain Hardwear Super Hero zip hoodie that I wear as a medium baselayer. My tent is a one person single wall three season Sierra Designs Baku. They don’t make it anymore, but it’s a decent tent for the weight and easy to set up. It will stand without staking, but it’s almost always better to, if you can. I have a couple different pair of gloves (to allow for wetness and coldness), headlamp, ice tools, GoalZero Guide10 and Luna, freeze dried food, a disposable microwave container with a couple packs of oatmeal and hot chocolate, my Jetboil, cameras, and Kitty (long story).

KPICASA_GALLERY(PackingForSoloOvernight)

Packing the Backpack:

First of all, start with an empty backpack. Since my sleeping pad folds up so small, I put it into the hydration sleeve, against my back, which also protects it from puncturing somewhat. Then stick the tent poles and stakes in the bottom corners near your back. In general, try to keep the more dense items near your back, working up to the heavier items up top. I kept them in their little silicone nylon stuff bags, since they’re almost weightless, and keep sharp items from poking things they shouldn’t.

Stick the silicone nylon stuff sack in, open, and feed the sleeping bag into it. I had folded the sleeping bag into itself like like those collapsible kitchen measuring cups, just to make it feed in faster. Some people prefer pushing it in hand over hand until it’s all in the sack. Then I folded the sack down and pressed till it was wadded up in the bottom.

Next put the Jetboil in sideways against the back panel, and wad the tent in filling any empty spaces till level. Put the freezedried meal in pointing into an empty space, and wedge it in. The idea is to fill any empty space up. Put your water bottles in now, in the center, facing up. Some people prefer them on the outside edges, but I think if you have to do any vertical work at all, it can swing and put you off balance. Since I did have to ascend about 20′ of Class 4 cliff, I was happy not to have my pack flailing about.

I put my windbreaker in along the side, filling up around the water bottles, then my container of oatmeal in facing the outside. I wiggled it all round to fill up space and make it ride more stable. I anticipated needing my base and fleece layers before my puffy, so I put my puffy jacket in next wadding it up around the water bottles and pushing it down to fill space. Then the fleece and base layers. Before I push everything in tight, I put my ice axe and ice tool on the outside of the pack in the sleeves provided.

Snacks, Electronics and Crampons:

Finally, I put my snacks in a gallon ziplock bag and put that on top, and cinched the strap closed. I put my gloves, hats and electronics (including the SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Handheld UV Water Purifier) in the top pocket, and closed it. All done and ready to go. In my pants pockets I kept a hammer gel packet, a shot block packet, and my camera. In the waist belt pocket I put my cellphone and music player. I wasn’t sure if I’d have reception (I did when I stood in one spot near the tent), so I keep it off while hiking to save battery from hunting for a tower, and turn it on when I want to check.

I had a GoalZero battery pack for charging my electronics, which in this case was my Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS Receiver With Heart Rate Monitor. I like to use it to see how long and how fast and how far I’ve been hiking, as well as my altitude, since I had goals for each of those. The battery is good for about 10 hours, and if I had gone for the summit on day two, I would have needed to have it full that morning, so I did set it to charge overnight.

Anyway, just my take on packing for a solo overnight when you will climb and camp on snow. The only thing missing from this is the clothes I wore, and my crampons, which I stuck on top under the top flap just before loading into the car. Pays not to have pointy things on top too long imho.

Overnight on Timpooneke Trail – Mount Timpanogos

I had done a quick reconnaissance of the Timpooneke Trail, the Northern hiking trail that leads to the 11,749′ summit of Mount Timpanogos, prominent above Orem, Utah in the Wasatch Mountain Range. I wanted to go back and summit in spite of the deep snow covering the trail. Last time I was wearing running shoes (Salomon Men’s Spikecross 3 CS Trail Running Shoe) and even with my Grivel Air Tech Light Crampons it was tough going. I had worn these crampons on Mount Rainier in Washington State, and Elbrus in Russia, but with the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 GTX Trail Running Shoe which provided a LOT MORE SUPPORT! My ankles were rolling all over with the Spikecross/Crampon combo.

Goal Zero Guide 10 Adventure Kit
Pre-Charging my Goal Zero Guide 10

I went up after the kids got home from school with my trusty old Scarpa Charmoz and my Black Diamond Contact crampons, a combination I’ve used on a lot of other climbs (Cristo Couloir and Timpanogos Everest Ridge). I made pretty fast time up to the Timpooneke Trailhead (actually about the same as with the Spikecross – they’re rather annoying and slippery/noisy on pavement – though they were awesome when I did Quandary in them. While the snow was pretty soft, it wasn’t too hard going up to the area of Scout Falls, where I got a little lost, so I just headed up straight through the trees and had to climb a little Class 4 (hands and feet for progress, fall could be disastrous, no real skill needed for finding hand and foot holds) cliff. No crampons needed so far.

I managed to work my way up through the snow, sometimes sinking in past my knees in the warmer/thinner areas, but if I was careful I could find a good solid line. There were footsteps here and there, and I followed them a little bit. The trail was fairly buried, and at a few spots I just climbed straight up the steep snow, and walked along narrow ledges above cliffs and water rivulets over the edges. Fun times, actually. It was really slow going, and I was pretty soaked, including my socks. I’d gotten soaked in similar terrain on Everest Ridge (wet deep snow) and had thought it was snow going down into my boots, but this time I figured it to be the old seams and stitches leaking through the GoreTex.

I got up to the flats at about 8800′ and could hear the water running down a nearby cliff, so decided to stay there for the night. I stomped out a platform and set the tent out with the stakes buried in T-Slots and stomped in. I was using my old Sierra Designs Baku tent (discontinued single-wall single person tent), a Montbell ultra-light short inflatable pad, my backpack under my feet, and my Stoic 30 degree ultra-light down sleeping bag.

After I set up camp I quickly boiled my remaining water for some freeze dried beef stew, then took off for the waterfall to replace all my water (all one liter of it – going light and fast for this one). I had to go about 30′ up a narrow ravine and slip between the rocks and ice for the water spray running down the rocks. Better than boiling snow, for sure. I used my Steripen to treat it, and stowed all my gear safely in case of wind. I set up my Goal Zero Guide 10 battery pack to recharge my Garmin 305 watch, since it had a pretty limited 10 hour maximum use, and I would need every bit if I were to summit tomorrow.

It was a miserable wet night, as I’d been basically crawling through waist-deep wet snow in places, and I didn’t have any dry clothes. My feet especially were pretty wet. I ended up sticking my feet in my fleece jacket sleeves, and laying my wet socks and liners around my torso to dry some, with my boot insoles under my legs. It got down to about 10 degrees F, much colder than my sleeping bag was meant for.

In the morning I surveyed the route ahead through several large recent avalanche paths, and a few older runouts, and calculated the time required to ascend to the saddle, and decided with the wet socks and boots not to do it. I packed up and had a fruit rollup for breakfast and descended pretty much the way I came. On the way I ran into Dennis, who apparently had come up a couple times and whose tracks I was following. He had snowshoes for the deeper parts, which made a nice stable platform for me to descend.

He had mentioned falling at the edge of a large dropoff, and sure enough when I got there I recognized the slide marks and as I stepped past I found myself suddenly upside down whipping over the edge. I reached out and grabbed a scrub oak branch hanging over the lip, and pulled myself hand over hand up it, and managed to mantle the little shelf and stand carefully. Wowsers. It was only about an 80′ slide on 60 degree snow, but still, the rocks and trees at the bottom would really hurt.

I got back to the Trailhead, then to the car, and home in plenty of time to pack and prepare for my overnight with my 11 year old son.

If I were to do anything different, it would be to take double boots, or maybe my single ice climbing boots rather than these three season Scarpa Charmoz. I would also take the extra weight of a second one liter bottle and a 15 degree F sleeping bag. Overall rather fun. I highly recommend anyone attempting the Seven Summits go out and camp alone in the snow miles from a trailhead at altitude – awesome training and preparation.

KPICASA_GALLERY(TimpCampOvernight)

Striking Camp – packing up to go home

Did a training overnighter on Timpanogos (a Utah County mountain 11,749′ tall near Provo, UT). Slept on a flat area below an series of avalanche runouts from the cliffs below Pika Cirque. For kicks I did this timelapse video as I took the tent down. Enjoy …

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKxRd0pe7Dk

I took down the Sierra Designs Baku single-wall one-person tent. I had a short inflatable pad, with an inflatable sitpad for my head, and my backpack for my feet. I had buried the tent stakes in a t-slot fashion, and stomped them in. I had to use my ice axe to dig them out, but no big deal really, just be careful not to cut anything.

It’s fun to see the process in only 4 seconds – pretty amazing, really. It’s good training for any climbing, including the Seven Summits, to go out on your own and camp in the snow, relying on your own skills. Builds confidence so you know if everything goes to heck on your expedition, you at least know how to do it on your own.