Poll: Backpacking and peak bagging

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What is your primary strategy for bagging peaks while backpacking?

Haul the heavy pack over the peaks
2
2%
Set up a base camp and day hike the peaks
90
84%
Something else (explain)
1
1%
I backpack, but not to bag peaks
8
7%
I don't backpack
6
6%
 
Total votes: 107
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ekalina
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Poll: Backpacking and peak bagging

Post by ekalina »

Wondering what strategy folks like to use on backpacking trips that focus on peak bagging.

When I first started backpacking in Colorado, the idea that appealed most to me was to haul my pack over the peaks, camping in a different spot each night while completing some long traverse. I soon realized this didn't work very well for me. My gear was not (and isn't) ultralight, and I quickly fatigued while trying to carry the heavy pack around while getting up and down peaks. This was especially true on terrain without a trail. It didn't help that I thought I was in much better mountain shape than I'll probably ever be :-D

I've since had more success with trips that allow me to set up a "base camp" and then launch one or more times from camp on subsequent days to grab peaks. I'll even stuff my daypack into my backpack for this purpose so that my pack is as small/light as possible on peak bagging days. I've found the overall fatigue to be much lower, and it makes scrambling feasible.

I'm curious about what others like to do. Are there situations where you've made hauling the pack work for you?
Last edited by ekalina on Wed Feb 24, 2021 9:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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d_baker
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Re: Backpacking and peak bagging

Post by d_baker »

Base camp, with a light small day pack brought along for the peaks.
Share common camp items with partners (e.g., stove, water filtration, sometimes tent, etc).
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Scott Conro
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Re: Poll: Backpacking and peak bagging

Post by Scott Conro »

The handful I did I 2020 were a multi-day mix, but often consisted of a point to point route where multiple peaks were hit over 2-3 days, so hauling all the gear to the peaks was required.
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ezabielski
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Re: Poll: Backpacking and peak bagging

Post by ezabielski »

Plenty of situations where one or the other is better. None of the standard routes/linkups on 14ers really require it. But sometimes getting up and over the summit with your gear is simply required by the backpacking route you're doing. Carrying light gear helps :)
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justiner
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Re: Poll: Backpacking and peak bagging

Post by justiner »

Having done a handful of multiday peak linkups, the basecamp method is the easiest, safest, and most enjoyable way to do it. Having followed ridges until the ridge ends I have to say it's absolutely sensational, but it's dangerous in so many ways.

If you do plan a backpacking trip that does involve a lot of summits as linkups, just factor in the time spent huffing up to those summits and consider your routes carefully: a good trail is going to be faster to travel on than a more direct off-trail route, if your load is heavy.

Also consider mixing the two ideas - dropping the big pack at a mountain pass is an easy way to grab a peak along the way without needing to set up the basecamp for the night. So for example: Hope Pass is a good place to set off for Hope Mountain, before continuing on down the line south towards Elkhead Pass, where you can then apply the same strategy for Oxford/Belford.
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Re: Poll: Backpacking and peak bagging

Post by TomPierce »

I'm a base camp/day pack guy. If you use a small day pack (18-22L) that will double as your sleeping bag stuff sack.

-Tom
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CoHi591
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Re: Poll: Backpacking and peak bagging

Post by CoHi591 »

Definitely a base camp/day pack person for shorter trips. When I did the John Muir Trail I didn't carry a small day pack along for Whitney so when I got to the spot where I could out-and-back the summit I filled my bear can with everything heavy and left it there, took my 45L back up but it was mostly empty.
The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, I have really good days.
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ekalina
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Re: Poll: Backpacking and peak bagging

Post by ekalina »

Great comments. I did not realize just how popular the base camp method is – it clearly has a lot of advantages if it makes sense for the route you're doing.

I have also thought about dropping my pack at the pass and summiting a nearby peak. I think I've done that once or twice. It always makes me a little nervous being separated from my gear like that. If an accident were to happen, I'd be in a pickle. But I think in a low-risk situation (easy terrain, good weather) it is OK. It also isn't too hard to grab a vital item or two from the pack before departing.
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Re: Poll: Backpacking and peak bagging

Post by DaveLanders »

I answered the poll as a base camp person. Then I remembered that many years ago I had done a multi night ridge run (nothing epic like some of Justiner's trips - just class 2). But I just took bivy gear instead of a full camping setup. I lucked out and had good weather for the whole trip.

The only standard route on 14ers where you might carry a full pack over the summit would be the Halo loop on Holy Cross, but that's probably more commonly done as a day trip, especially since the closure of the Notch Mtn shelter.

I wonder what people doing an unsupported Nolan's do. Maybe they just don't stop?
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Re: Poll: Backpacking and peak bagging

Post by Ptglhs »

ezabielski wrote: Wed Feb 24, 2021 11:11 pm Plenty of situations where one or the other is better. None of the standard routes/linkups on 14ers really require it. But sometimes getting up and over the summit with your gear is simply required by the backpacking route you're doing. Carrying light gear helps :)
I would argue Chicago Basin requires either backpacking or superhuman running/endurance.

I prefer to backpack since I hate getting up too early. If I'm already camped out at treeline then waking up at 530 or 6 and getting on the trail at 7 or 730 still puts me ob most summits by 10 or 11.

The only time I've dropped everything is when the 13er I'm doing is less than 500ft off the main trail and I'm not expecting to be gone more than 30 min. That happened with 2 peaks along the CDT last July. I've also been hiking from one camp to another and strapped the heavy stuff together off trail. I did Baldy Lejos and an unranked peak while hiking east to the west willow creek TH along the CDT. I got to the pass at 12.8k, strapped my bag, pad, tent, stove, and freeze dried food (in watertight sack) together and under a couple of rocks. I set off north across the tundra for a couple of hours. When I returned I out everything back on and continued on my way.
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Re: Poll: Backpacking and peak bagging

Post by justiner »

ekalina wrote: Thu Feb 25, 2021 8:20 am I have also thought about dropping my pack at the pass and summiting a nearby peak. I think I've done that once or twice. It always makes me a little nervous being separated from my gear like that. If an accident were to happen, I'd be in a pickle. But I think in a low-risk situation (easy terrain, good weather) it is OK. It also isn't too hard to grab a vital item or two from the pack before departing.
There's always a chance of bad things happening, but there just may be more of a chance that a marmot will come wandering around and chew outta your pack while you're away. Not sure the best thing to do about that, except pray to the benevolent marmot gods, perhaps. Or does marmot repellent work? Do people drag up chicken wire and surround their pack? :lol:

I think the best piece of safety gear when out is a competent partner. If one person has an issue, the other can assist.

I do remember going for Rio Grande Pyramid, which is a long hike in. Weather was already terrible, and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to summit, so I brought overnight gear + food, just in case. Left most of that at treeline, as the weather improved, then left most everything else at the final summit push. A little trail of gear in my wake!
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Re: Poll: Backpacking and peak bagging

Post by Scott P »

Ptglhs wrote: Thu Feb 25, 2021 9:41 amI would argue Chicago Basin requires either backpacking or superhuman running/endurance.
Agreed.

Coloradans who do day trip only have been spoiled by the accessibility and ease of Colorado summits. In most states in the West, a lot of the higher peaks require multi day trips. Of coruse there are also other mountains such as Canada, Alaska, Andes, Himalayas, etc, etc, which have a lot of multi day approaches.

If you never learn to backpack you will never get to do more impressive mountains that what Colorado has and even in Colorado you will still be missing a lot.

Plus, even on short trips there are still advantages of backpacking in at times. For example, for Pyramid and the Bells people are always whining and crying that there isn't a place to car camp near the trailhead. If you just pucker up and carry a pack for a short amount of time (using LNT principles of course) the problem is eliminated.
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