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Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Info on gear, conditioning, and preparation for hiking/climbing. Gear Classifieds
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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby climbingaggie03 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:51 pm

SKIMP! I read the stupid light thread and article, and while I agree with it, there's no reason to not go as light as is reasonable. You'd be amazed what you don't need. In my opinion/experience, one of the best things about being outside is streamlining and simplifying life, if you're spending time fiddling with things that you don't need, or if you're burning more energy than is necessary then you're not getting to enjoy being where you are.

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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby Doug Shaw » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:55 pm

Like most things, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Ignore (or take with a grain of salt) the OCD internet headcases that spout only dogma, things like "speed is safety in the mountains." Of course there's a kernel of truth in that, but it's not a complete picture on its own. At the same time, do you really need to pack to be prepared to perform a triple bypass procedure in a raging thunderstorm 17 miles from the nearest paved road?

Pack a reasonable pack that isn't so heavy as to make it burdensome but isn't so stripped down that you're being unsafe or reckless. If you think an extra pound or two are going to seriously negatively affect your enjoyment of the experience, you need to train more to get in better shape (or think of it as the training) or resolve to just enjoy the trip even if you're not setting a land speed or optimal personal performance record.

You have to learn through experience what works for you. I've had lightweight days where I (*gasp*) didn't even carry the 10 essentials, but on the other hand multiple experiences have taught me that if I'm going to the Crestones I'm taking SAR gear even if it adds 10 pounds to my pack.

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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby MuchosPixels » Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:03 pm

ash-ish wrote:I am trying to find a balance between weight and speed. For short approach couloirs like Dragons Tail or Cristo, I am thinking of dumping my primaloft one synthetic hooded jacket and replacing it with mid weight base layer for April and later. My clothing system will include:

Wearing:
1. full length light weight base layer
2. half length synthetic tshirt
3. Mid weight polartec fleece
4. Windproof/waterproof shell
5. Serius waterproof non-insulated gloves

Carrying:
1. Mid weight base layer
2. Space blanket
3. Woolen gloves

The logic is I am moving most of the time and its not a very long day. Is it reasonable?


It all depends on conditions but for a typical early spring day (average nice day), for top layers I would just wear a baselayer long sleeve and a pretty bomber windproof hooded soft-shell or hard shell (not too heavy) and then bring a very nice Hooded Puffy jacket for stops. Thats it. For longer and colder days I might take a very light fleece also.

Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby Bean » Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:32 am

Doug Shaw wrote:Ignore (or take with a grain of salt) the OCD internet headcases that spout only dogma, things like "speed is safety in the mountains."

Speed is safety.

Image

And light is right. That doesn't mean go unprepared, it means lighten up where you can, and don't take a bunch of crap you don't need (three headlamps, four pair of gloves, seven spare midlayers, snowshoes (any), etc.).
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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby ash-ish » Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:58 am

Interesting discussion and point-of-views. I really appreciate everybody's input. As far as loosing weight, I am continuously working on it. Though I was not really overweight (was at higher end of my BMI), I have lost about 12 pounds in the last 2 months. And I am working on losing some more. The reality is I love mountains to death, but I live in Houston and I am 31. I am an experienced hiker but beginner mountaineer. Everytime I come to colorado, I have limited time and I just suck climbing above 11,000 ft. I go back failed and frustrated. I am trying to learn from my failures. I don't want to compromise on anything. I want to really scrutinize, optimize, and customize :). I want to consider all the factors while not compromising my safety: body weight + pack weight. I want to make the best of the limited time I get in the mountains.

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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby dsunwall » Wed Apr 10, 2013 7:15 am

Bean wrote:Speed is safety.

And light is right. That doesn't mean go unprepared, it means lighten up where you can, and don't take a bunch of crap you don't need (three headlamps, four pair of gloves, seven spare midlayers, snowshoes (any), etc.).


so.... what's the weight of an average pair of skis and bindings versus snowshoes?

ha, I really don't want to start a skis versus snowshoe debate, although this might do it. I fully understand the thrill of skiing, but I think skiers and peak baggers are sometimes different animals here on this forum. If your goals are summits as opposed to a good ski snowshoes can be the fastest and safest form of transportation. I have often seen skiers struggling because of bad conditions and terrain too difficult to ski end up with a long day cursing. Granted, skilled skiers are less likely to get into this situation, often by avoiding certain peaks altogether, but, if you want said peak, snowshoes can get the job done without all the hassle, extra weight, and expense of skis.

Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby Bean » Wed Apr 10, 2013 7:38 am

dsunwall wrote:so.... what's the weight of an average pair of skis and bindings versus snowshoes?


My skis + bindings are about 2kg/foot and aren't anything special. Skis are more efficient for the weight, trailbreaking or not. Boots can offer more savings - if it weren't for multiple snafus I'd have ski boots that are lighter than most leather hiking boots right now. And in my experience, skis can be used in most places snowshoes can, particularly if you leave the skins on. If conditions are unsuitable for skiing, it's simple enough to throw them on your pack and walk downhill the same as a snowshoer.

I love skis for their transportation efficiency more than for the "thrill" of a ski descent. A few years ago on a winter climb of Longs, I was at home enjoying a dinner of taco bell and PBR before the folks on foot even got back to their car.
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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby Lindahl » Sat May 11, 2013 6:52 am

globreal wrote:I have to agree with some of the other posts...I always carry an insulating layer. My thinking is, what if I have to overnight? Sure you can stay warm moving fast. But what if you broke an ankle and can't move at all? Can you make it through the night?

And, what if you broke an ankle above treelike and it gets windy as well as cold? That space blanket will be worthless in a 50mph wind.

For me, I'd rather carry a few more ounces.


Good luck making it through the night with a lightly insulated puffy. That won't do jack.

For remote locations, if I'm truly concerned about injury or an unplanned bivy, I bring a blizzard bag (~13oz for shelter and insulation that will actually get you through the night). For stuff with short approaches, and easy access to roads, that's what a Spot or cell phones are for (space blanket just to ward off the elements till they get there). The whole idea of firestarters is also silly, IMO. If you're mobile, you keep moving and get the hell out of there. If you're immobile - have you ever tried to start a fire and collect enough wood for the night without being mobile? Good luck. I suppose you could make a case for getting lost - but if you're relatively prepared, I don't get how that happens in Colorado. Nearby treeline makes it easy to spot landmarks, tons of streams and rivers - with a decent topo, compass, you'd have to try really hard to get lost. Just be prepared - know your route well and bring a map that's wide enough to 'boundary' said route with proper landmarks. I spend a lot of time in the backcountry, off-trail, and it's pretty damn easy to navigate out here.

Bring the clothes you actually intend to use on the trip. If you never really use your puffy, don't bring it.

For spring stuff, this means, for me:

super thin softshell pants
windshirt (or super thin softshell jacket if skiing)
capilene 2 baselayer top

If it's colder/stormy:
lightweight synthetic puffy (10.5oz - mountain hardwear thermostatic hoody)
capilene 2 baselayer bottom
Last edited by Lindahl on Sun May 12, 2013 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby JB99 » Sat May 11, 2013 1:34 pm

ash-ish wrote:Everytime I come to colorado, I have limited time and I just suck climbing above 11,000 ft.


Sounds like an acclimation issue.
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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby audiotom » Sun May 12, 2013 11:19 am

As another flatlander, from New Orleans, hydrate and take your time

Your pack will feel a lot lighter and your climb can go better using trekking poles and using them correctly

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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby TallGrass » Sun May 12, 2013 1:04 pm

Lindahl wrote:The whole idea of firestarters is also silly, IMO. If you're mobile, you keep moving and get the hell out of there. If you're immobile - have you ever tried to start a fire and collect enough wood for the night without being mobile? Good luck.

Only you left out:
1. if your injured: can hobble, not enough to get back before night, but enough to scrounge
2. hypothermia: whether creek fall, rain soaked, temp drop, when metabolic can't kick out enough heat...
3. sometimes s##t happens: http://www.pitch.com/kansascity/miracle-on-the-mountain/Content?oid=2188130&storyPage=3
4. stove igniter failure: secondary fire/ignition source means you can still get hot food (warmth + calories)
5. fatigue: sometimes you just have to stop and regain strength; you can burn calories faster than a body can convert its fat
6. signal: smoke and or light, and the scent can carry a long way where line of sight can not
7. gear repair: nylons can be melted to weld things closed or keep edges/ends from fraying
8. swollen creek: storm/melt-off has turned simple creek wade into "Vernal Falls" so you have to wait or re-route, either preventing return to TH before nightfall
9. flashlight shot craps: make a torch to keep hiking under new moon in fair weather
10. sterilization: ...
11. ward off wildlife: not counting the lowly Lava Pika
12. main ignition for Esbit stove and other types
...
The longer the list gets, the more naive (i.e. "silly") your opinion sounds to me, Lindahl, especially when you say "get the hell out" but then to rely on SPOT and SAR to get to you. Blizzard bag can only slow heat loss -- it can't create it.
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:

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Re: Going light weight for early spring couloir climbing

Postby Lindahl » Sun May 12, 2013 2:48 pm

Thanks for calling me out. Reading it today, I wasn't clear at all about what I meant. What I meant to say is:
"The whole idea of relying on firestarters in a survival situation is also silly, IMO."

As in, you're far more likely to be in one of these two situations:
1) immobile and unable to start a fire
2) mobile and able to get out

Prepare for those more common situations, and you're also covered in the extremely rare case, even for emergencies:
3) You're mobile enough to start a fire, but can't get out, and also need a fire to survive.

I DO care a firestarter, but I DON'T rely on it for survival in the case of an emergency, as there's a lot of cases where you won't be able to start a fire (I would argue that this covers most cases of immobility).

> rely on SPOT and SAR to get to you
If you can't get out on your own, or with your partners, someone needs to come get you, right? I'd much rather have an immediate pinpoint on my location by rescue services the split second I need true rescue (not when my partners return to the trailhead). Time is astoundingly important in true rescue situations. With SPOT, I can notify people in my circle to organize a rescue effort, if SAR is not necessary. SPOT isn't just a SAR device.

Relying on fires for survival are for those that are unprepared. Personally, I'd rather be prepared. The best thing you can do when the s**t hits the fan, is get out of there. Not dink around with making a fire and try to survive the night. If you can't get out of there because the situation is totally FUBAR, then you're likely going to have to rely on rescue services, anyway, to survive, and having an immediate call and location for rescue is EXTREMELY important in such situations.

I hope that makes a lot more sense.

Also, the blizzard bag is essentially a 40 degree (comfort limit) sleeping bag and a shelter all wrapped into one small, lightweight package. You'll survive in almost all circumstances with that pairing. You might not be comfortable, but hell, I'd rather be comfortable all day (by carrying less junk), almost all the time, at the expense of being a little more uncomfortable in an already EXTREMELY uncomfortable situation that's EXTREMELY rare (one that'll likely never occur).
Last edited by Lindahl on Sun May 12, 2013 3:20 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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