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Sleeping on 14ers in Winter

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Sleeping on 14ers in Winter

Postby ezabielski » Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:57 pm

I was wondering if anyone here has any experience sleeping at over 13,000' in winter on 14ers (or 13ers) and what your experience was like, from weather, temperature, wind, and other challenges.


14ers.com Disclaimer: Before flaming because you think this is stupid, realize the point of this thread is to find out information about such an idea.

Re: Sleeping on 14ers in Winter

Postby FireOnTheMountain » Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:00 am

Around 12,200 near Moon Lake on Capitol, 1/9/2012. Cold as a mother, easily below 0, but windless. Had there been the slightest breeze it would have gone from really cold to downright heinous.

For some reason I was able to keep quite warm actually...a different story can be said about my 2 partners but we managed in the end. A good stove is key! Buddies MSR (older model) failed but my Jetboil worked like a champ. A note: keeping the fuel warm like inside your coat or sleeping bag is a really good idea, it burns much better although I've heard white gas is best to use in cold weather. Get this, that trip I used my 15 degree bag with a sleeping bag liner but the catch is I had my bomber Exped 7 downmat (good thread about sleeping pads a while back where the majority of people said go with the Big Agnes Qcore I believe but I will always be loyal to Exped)

Mt Mxwell around 12,700 this past March down in the Sangres, went to bed under a pristine Van Gogh Sky woke up in an absolute malestorm.

Just be prepared for crazy weather and you won't get it right the first time, i'm still a noob!

O ya, goin to the bathroom sucks. Booties are highly suggested. Get a long sleeping bag to store your boots in overnight. Plan on starting early, blood flowing is the best way to keep warm IMO.
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Re: Sleeping on 14ers in Winter

Postby ezabielski » Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:46 am

Thanks for the reply! I've actually already got the same sleeping pad and it's great!

What type of boots did you have, or wish you had?

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Re: Sleeping on 14ers in Winter

Postby susanjoypaul » Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:16 am

After you set up the tent, stomp out a path in the snow to the "bathroom" so you and your party are all crapping in the same place. Designate a spot in the opposite direction for collecting snow to melt for water. You probably already know this, but be sure to put some water in the bottom of your cooking pot before you melt snow in it, or it will burn.

Bring a pee bottle so you don't have to leave the tent in the middle of the night. Mark it clearly so you don't confuse it with your water bottle. If you use some kind of tape then you'll be able to tell them apart in the dark. Dump it every morning, out in the crapping spot.

If you have to leave the tent, I agree with the down booties recommendation. On really cold nights I even sleep in them.

Store the fuel inside your tent, and anything with batteries (headlamp, cameras, GPS) in your sleeping bag. The only things I leave outside are hard items like poles, axes, and sleds.

Find a partner and share a tent. Nothing warms up a tent like a second body. I like to hang a candle, too, so I can eat in the tent without using my headlamp. And be sure to ventilate properly or you'll wake up to a condensation snow shower.

Expect extreme cold and solitude. The coldest temperature I've ever measured inside a tent was 30 below zero, but with an Exped, a zero bag, a decent tent and a second body in the tent, I stayed warm and slept just fine.

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Re: Sleeping on 14ers in Winter

Postby climbingaggie03 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:58 pm

I've spent a few nights around 12,000 if possible, I definitely recommend sleeping in an igloo or other snow shelter. Above treeline there may not be enough snow, but it would be much warmer than a tent. I lived in an igloo for 3 months one winter at about 9,700 feet and it was always above freezing in there, my coldest night was -25 F and it was 35 F inside. I think IglooEd is around here I use his Icebox igloo building tool and it's great.

I used a 0 degree bag in my igloo, but never zipped it, a 20 degree bag would probably be sufficient

I definitely agree on the pee bottle, I like to use gatorade bottles, they're different from my water bottles so I'm not going to accidentally drink out of them, and I don't feel bad throwing them away when I get back.

I find plastic grocery bags to be very useful things when winter camping. I like to use them to collect snow for melting, I put my boots in one if I'm going to put them in my sleeping bag.

Whitegas is the most dependable least fussy fuel I've used in the winter, canisters do work, but you need to keep it warm.

Winter camping is basically just camping, but it's best to start in a low commitment setting to learn a few tricks before you commit to a big back country expedition.

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Re: Sleeping on 14ers in Winter

Postby jdorje » Sun Dec 09, 2012 6:15 pm

FireOnTheMountain wrote:woke up in an absolute malestorm.


I know Susan suggested partner(s) in your tent, but some details are best kept to yourself.

climbingaggie03 wrote:I definitely recommend sleeping in an igloo or other snow shelter.


What happens if the igloo collapses?
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Re: Sleeping on 14ers in Winter

Postby climbingaggie03 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:11 pm

jdorje wrote:
climbingaggie03 wrote:I definitely recommend sleeping in an igloo or other snow shelter.


What happens if the igloo collapses?



I've never had one collapse, but I suppose it's not a bad idea to keep your shovel inside. Here's a link http://www.grandshelters.com/pics/guy-top-s2.html to a picture of a guy standing on top of one. I once stood on top of one of mine and hacked a hole in wall/ceiling it took alot of work.

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Re: Sleeping on 14ers in Winter

Postby cheeseburglar » Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:41 pm

Back when I was in my 20's some friends and I went to climb some 14er in the winter, can't remember which. Our plan was to hike up high and camp. Our 4 season tent got battered by the wind all night. We alternated leaning against the windward side to keep the tent from collapsing. So pick a spot to camp that is sheltered.
So in my experience, it doesn't matter how high the camp is. Wind is what can make you miserable.
Water is the other key, sleep with your bottles in your sleeping bags.
I still like my MSR white gas stove in winter. They do need maintenance at least once a year and I check mine before I go somewhere if I'll be in trouble if it doesn't work.
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Re: Sleeping on 14ers in Winter

Postby j babu » Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:22 am

I've built quinzees a few times while camping in winter and found them to be incredibly warm. It takes some time and work (enough to get sweaty) to build, but they are very warm and you don't have to carry a heavy shelter. I just bring a bivy bag. Building one for a single night's stay might not be worth the work, but they are pretty easy to build and very warm. The first time I built one was in the back yard and was a great way to test systems and technique without much risk. I've never had one collapse on me, but if they are in direct sun on a warmish day, they can sag and collapse over time, so consider a shady spot in late winter.

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Re: Sleeping on 14ers in Winter

Postby peter303 » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:38 am

Try it in stages to see if you can deal with it it. Several national parks (Rocky, Dunes) have winter camping sites. The state/forest sites are mostly closed, but you could probably poach some of them. Then you could test to see if you can sleep on snow. And the Dunes wind chill this morning was -30F. Next you can still backpack camp at tree line. Then work your way up.

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Re: Sleeping on 14ers in Winter

Postby jdorje » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:25 am

It was -23 before wind in Alamosa last night.

Even for winter that's fairly cold though...

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Re: Sleeping on 14ers in Winter

Postby SchralpTheGnar » Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:55 pm

Be prepared for the morning snowstorm inside of the tent.

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