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Big_Sky_Ry

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About Big_Sky_Ry

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  • Homepage
    www.backpackinglight.com/
  • Occupation
    Publisher, Science Guy
  • Location
    Bozeman Montana USA
  1. Hybrid jackets?

    Rafael, that Patagonia jacket's the Ready-Mix. I've had my hands on one and am climbing in it this winter. It's a very nice shell piece, one of the few microfiber jackets that actually has a sensible cut of interest to an alpine climber - the hood actually goes over a helmet - not many microfiber jackets out there than can do that. Nice hem, long arms, room to layer but not too bulky. My size M is 14.4 oz. You aren't going to use this in sustained rain, but for winter climbing, or to buy you some time to get back to the car and bail off a wet route, this could probably do it. The fabric is very similar to Pertex Equilibrium (more info) in both construction and behavior. Dries very fast and makes Schoeller Dynamic look like a sponge. It's a thinner fabric than Dynamic as well. It has advantages over the ultralight wind shirt fabrics like Pertex Microlight (used in the 5 oz Montane Lightspeed) in that it is way more durable (I've chimneyed around in mine on both granite and limestone), doesn't wet out as fast, and breathes a little better. The jacket has a very soft hand - almost like cotton - it's a neat weave that sheds snow really well, is quiet, and very comfortable. Read a Preview of the Ready-Mix Jacket Here From Summer OR. And stay tuned for a review from a winter alpine climbing perspective and context coming in the next few weeks at BackpackingLight.com. RJ
  2. snow pickets

    Yates expeditions are 10 oz. The tubes used over in Europe (more than here) run 8 to 9 and don't work at all in anything but pretty hard snow - something about that aerodynamic surface area that makes a cylinder a poor anchor. The Yates pickets are excellent. I've been really happy with them. I took a leader fall above a belay anchor that consisted of a tubular picket in hard snow, an MSR Blizzard stake in hard snow (don't ask), and a screw in ice. The anchor was equalized among all three and the picket was the one that pulled. RJ
  3. TITAN Titanium Ice Screws

    For water ice they're crap unless you're into torquing your screws with a pick. For soft alpine ice they are marginal, even in white ice it takes some effort to get them in. I used these on a climb of the Middle Teton Glacier Couloir in white ice-black ice-water ice conditions and ended up (thankfully) leaving two of them on the mountain as rap anchors when we forced to rap in a storm. In comparison, the Ushba Ti screws are quite a bit nicer, although I haven't really thought about or figured out why. I have no problems using Ushba screws in white or blue ice, but they are still inferior relative to steel in black or water ice.
  4. Winter boots

    I climb in Dynafit MLT4s with Intuition liners - when I need to ski the approach. If the approach is a walk and the route is hard, then I use Scarpa Freneys (leathers) even on multi-day routes in winter - but I pair them with a really thin (2mm) pair of custom neoprene overboots from 40 below. These overboots weigh 14 oz. Caveat: you have to wear crampons or snowshoes with them, the overboots have no tread. This way, you can keep the overboots on for the slog to the route and keep your singles dry, and then pack em up when it's time to climb vert. This is a great approach for me - on steeper climbs in the N Rockies - because you have to slog thru deep snow on snowshoes to reach the real remote mixed stuff on the high peaks, which I'd just rather climb in singles rather than plastics. Temp goes subzero, then fit your singles with a pair of smartwool liner socks under RBH Designs Fleece Vapr-Thrm boot liners and the thin overboots and you have a very warm and flexible system that's still pretty light. Don't get your singles wet if doing multi-day stuff, tho, and that's where doubles are nice. I've worn the vaprthrm boot liner/scarpa freney/overboot combo on Rainier in winter with conditions down to about 5 below and it was fine, and climbs french on the steep glacier ice a lot better than plastic.
  5. Randonnee binding for Mountaineering boots?

    I ski a dynafit setup and climb in now defunct MLT4's w/Thermos. My 'approach' skis are D410s (the shorties) with the simple TT bindings on them. How does skiing in climbing boots rate? It sucks. This is an approach/trail setup. Like in this photo where I was thinking that MLT4s on 130cm was not the wisest choice for this headwall. http://ftp.backpackinglight.com/galleries/Beartooths04/imagepages/image36.html With long skis, you don't have any boot power to muscle the ski on the steeps, and with short skis, you can't track very well, especially when wearing a pack. Bottom line is, tho, you'll get used to it and figure out how to compensate. Just don't have your expectations up too high.
  6. hanging stoves

    Photo: Yeah, there's one here: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/xdpy/forum_thread/00058/index.html Also: re: Giga, the SP's work OK with these kind of hanging setups, but I prefer the security of having the S-hook hold (and pinched shut) in a drilled hole of a sheet tine (like the MSR PR) rather than slipped through an open bar tine.
  7. Best Ice Climbing Gloves?

    I've used Icefloe gloves since they came out - they offer great fit, and are very warm for their weight (5 oz) - when DRY. And that's where the problems start in - they really are only suitable for day trips. On a multi day climb in wet conditions, it's no big deal having wet gloves during the day, but you gotta be able to dry them at night, and the Icefloes just don't dry well. They absorb so much moisture that they'll still be damp in the morning after being in your sleeping bag. And, as cracked said, they're not wind proof, and on a cold and blustery climb you're hands will get chilled - especially if the gloves are wet! I wish they'd ditch the sponge like schoeller fabric and do these in Powershield instead. The nice thing about the fleece liner (non removable) in the Icefloes is that you hardly feel the annoying finger seams that plague most "dry tooling" gloves, and they are a really comfortable fit. RJ
  8. recomendation on tents and boots?

    I've used the MH Evo. Unless you are planning to camp in temperatures below 10 degrees, I'd look at something else. bDubyaH says "the walls will weep big time" - that's an understatement! Below 10 at least the walls only grow frost which is a lot more manageable than moisture. The reason I say "10" vs. say "30" is that it gets pretty warm in there, so an ambient outside temp of 10 may mean that you have in inside temp of 20 when occupied, and that's about the kicker temp for good frost formation. The Bibler Eldo is OK but search other posts here for pole cap quirks, and then have a look at Integral Designs eVENT tents. The MK3 is lighter and bigger, and the eVENT smokes the Toddtex/Tegraltex fabrics, especially when it's really cold because it will be a lot easier to pack a frozen event tent - the Toddtex/Tegraltex tents absorb a lot of moisture/ice into that inner fuzzy lining and the packability can be a problem in the AM. RJ
  9. hanging stoves

    Rigs for hanging stoves in tents a la bibler msr markill etc are too heavy and not necessary. You need a windscreen in a tent because...? And the heat exchange benefits of a windscreen in a tent to improve efficiency don't really pan out when you're cranking btu's to try and melt snow. OK, so pick a canister stove with die cut legs (MSR Pocket Rocket, Coleman F1, etc.) and drill 1/8" holes in the points of the legs (the MSR PR already has holes, just bend down/break off the little mountains in them). What goes in these holes? Tiny brass S-hooks. What goes on the S-hooks? Utility springs from the hardware store. What goes on the other end of the springs? another set of s-hooks. Now pick a pot. If using an MSR PR, cut/file three equalidistanted notches in the pot rim (four if you are using a four-leg stove) about 1/4" deep and 1/8" wide - this is where the other s-hooks end up. You can notch out the pot lid too if needed so it doesn't interfere with the s's and sits on the pot good. Now hook up the rig and see if the springs are tight - they gotta be tight - the stove shouldn't sag even the slightest with a 450g fuel can. You need a wire pot handle, so drill 2 holes in the pot for a coat hanger or other wire. Or use a Trangia Kettle - they work great out of the box (still need to file S hook notches) but small opening is no good for melting snow. Very important: make sure the handle is balanced, and that it has an angle at the peak (not rounded). Best if the handle goes straight up, then angles upward to the peak so the lid can be removed while hanging without swinging the whole rig all over. Now take a shoulder sling (dual use item) with 2 biners (dual use). one biner hooks up to the tent peak, the other to the angle on the pot. Hang. Add water. Light stove. Add snow. Add lid. Heat. Repeat. This setup adds less than 4 oz to your normal cook kit and with a small can stove and 2L pot (check out the Antigravity Gear 2L pot for a lighter pot than the MSR Ti, replace stock lid with aluminum flashing with a crimped edge and use the trangia pot lifter or a homemade one out of slightly thicker bar stock) you can have a hanging stove setup that is lighter and way simpler than the MSR Ti Ascent. RJ
  10. Frozen Hydration Pack Tube

    I'm in the Northern Rockies (Bozeman) and use an MSR Hydromedary. After filling the bladder (with boiling water), I add some chic-drink (eg Gu2O, Cytomax, etc) - the increased salt concentration also delays freezing in addition to the other hydration benefits. The sack gets shoved down into the pack's pad pocket and buried in gobs of insulation in your pack, the drinking tube comes up through your hydration tube hole (I use a McHale w/guide harness so I hacked a hole above the shoulder strap and reinforced it with a rubber gasket). The tube goes down the strap as normal (you may need to buy a longer Tygon tube if your bladder sits low in a bigger pack, stock tubes are usually too short for this). Tube is insulated with REFLECTIX (not neoprene, reflectix is way lighter), which is that bubble wrap insulating stuff you buy at Home D. One layer of Reflectix, then some thin duct tape strips to keep it in place. Then you home sew a TUBE SOCK shelled with silnylon and lined with fleece, with an inside diameter large enough to slide over the reflectix-insulated tube. Both ends are open. You slide the fleecy tube sock over the tube, tuck in one open end into the rubber hydration hole gasket (it stays in place fine). Make sure it's long enough to go past the bite valve by at least 3 or 4 inches. You know the eskimos that wear the huge parka hoods with 8" front face tunnels fringed in fur? that's the effect you're working on here. You could even fringe the end of your tube (Google Fur Trim but don't come crying to me if your porn flags get overloaded ). And use one of those camelbak winter bite valve caps as well. It helps. So then, when you need to drink (you can do this 1-handed), slide the fleecy tube sock up the tube, pop the bite valve insulating cap off, suck away, blow back into the bladder, pop the cap back on, and pull the tube sock back down. This rig works remarkably well down to well below zero, assuming you are actually drinking your water and not letting it fester in your bladder all day. it should keep water for you for 6 hours, by which time you should have probably burned thru 2 or 3L of water anyway assuming you're moving up on a climb etc. And, in good lightweight style, consider the dual use nature of your new fleecy tube (hopefully with fur trim) . RJ
  11. Your favorite carry-over pack

    Mentions of McHale packs for "carrying" weight like the Alpineer or SARC and something us for lightpacking motivates this post. I have two McHale packs. One is a 55 liter (same as the Icesac) Zero Sarc, sort of in the "Sub Pop" design. See this page: http://www.mchalepacks.com/ultralight/detail/sub_pop.htm and scroll down. The red pack is mine (the actual pack). With the packbag, two 7075 stays, 12mm bivy pad, top pocket, wide padded belt (exchangeable with a web belt if you prefer), and wand pockets, it weighs 51 ounces and carries weight infinitely better than my Ice Sac ever did. I recently took this pack on a Rainier climb and carried 53 pounds on the approach without a problem, then stripped it down to a 36 ounce rucksack (still with frame and belt) for the climb. Don't negate the usefulness of a frame even for so-called "light" (20+ lb) loads. The problem with impotent frameless rucksacks is that you get a bit of load shifting (even when you pack it right and rigid) which requires energy, which adds up over the long haul, and they really suck when climbing because it's impossible to properly stabilize a sub-capacity load, the shoulders bear the weight, and your overhead tool swinging goes to pot. I also have a McHale Summit Pack. See http://www.mchalepacks.com/ultralight/detail/summit_pack.htm But that is not my pack. Mine is a bit different. I had it customized from their standard summit pack with lightly padded shoulder straps and spec'd a volume of 45L. It has two really thin 7075 aluminum stays, 12mm bivy pad, top pocket, and 2" web belt, it weighs 36 ounces. It carries 30-35 pounds remarkably well, and again, makes the Ice Sac and its Viagra-starved frameless cousins pale in comparison. Both packs have 420/840d heavy nylon bottoms with 210d spectra ripstop bodies. I've done the frameless pack thing and I'm over it. In the past 10 years, I've climbed with the Lowe Alpine Attack 50, Wild Things Ice Sac, Andinista, Khamsin 38, GoLite Gust, and the CCW Chernobyl. But then you fork out the bucks and get a customized McHale and realize that the cash you've been dropping on crappy packs through the years could've paid for a trip to Alaska and a case of Mt Rainier Paradise Inn Cabernet-Merlot. Above all, the McHale sarc-style packs (like these) climb superbly well. They have a narrow profile and are short (great headroom). I've climbed steep ice (double-tooling & swinging overhead) in mine with a full load and couldn't have been happier. My two cents. But save yourself two hundred more dollars and read it again.
  12. Laminate vrs. Microfiber...???

    quote: Originally posted by JayB: Anyone out there have any experience with the Cloudveil Enclosure deal with the primaloft insulation? ... Looks like a pretty sweet coat and it's received favorable reviews elsewhere. I have the Enclosure Parka (hooded version). Weight is 34 oz size M, NOT the 23 oz stated in their online catalog. In comparison to the 34-oz GoLite Parka, which I've also used, the GoLite has more loft and more coverage (covers the butt, the Cloudveil doesn't). The Cloudveil is a better fit (slightly trimmer) all-around, with enough headroom for a helmet. The GoLite Parka skimps on hood room. The Cloudveil's trimmer fit makes it a very efficient insulator, and with a parka, fit probably means more than loft - you have to try to stop convection currents within the garment or it won't work as well as you want it to. This of course is the biggest benefit of down parkas, IMO. Cloudveil has some unnecessary stitching in the construction, especially in the sleeves, which makes it somewhat cumbersome. My buddy has a Patagonia DAS Parka. It has more loft than the Cloudveil and about the same as the GoLite, and weighs only 28 oz size M. But it has an even larger fit. If you normally wear a medium, you may want to go to a S etc. Don't skip looking at the Integral Designs Dolomitti Jacket. It's probably the best of the lot in terms of warmth:weight ratio. Its weight is 24 oz with hood. For the most part, there is meaningless differences between Polarguard 3D and Primaloft in terms of their ability to "insulate when wet". You really have to soak the stuff through and then wring it out to notice any differences. You never get this wet on a climb, even if you wear the parka in wet sloppy snow for hours. Down of course, is another story, and there is benefit to Dryloft et al to protect it...
  13. Kong GiGi vs New Alp Plaquette vs Reverso?

    quote: Originally posted by Lambone: Hey Ryan, Just Curious, can't you walk off the middle? Did you have to leave 18 rap anchors? Lambone: Well, yeah, you can walk off the Middle Teton. If you can climb the sucker FIRST!! OK, so we climbed the Middle Teton Glacier route that took us to the 12,400 foot col below the summit block where the glacier route falls off one side (ice couloir) and the (relatively dry) Ellingwood couloir falls off the other side. It was 4:30 pm when we reached the col. We tried to climb the (normally easy) 5th class slabs up the summit block, but they were covered in melt-freeze water ice from a recent storm, so ascending them was, well, problematic. Needless to say, when it began snowing and getting dark, we resorted ourselves to descending by some route OTHER than the 'walk off' down the south side couloir. So, 3 raps later (on a single 7.6mm x 60m rope) we were back at the 12,400 col by dark. We were considering rapping down the ice couloir but not having any long screws for V-threads and recognizing that most of the route was unprotectable on the way up, we figured we'd be better off rapping down the Ellingwood side, which is climb-rated as 5.1. Piece of cake, we thought, it'll be a breeze. 1200 feet to the valley. Well, in reality, the Ellingwood is rotten as all get out and required some of the more creative rap stations I've ever hopped off. It took us 15 rappels to descend the couloir - in the dark - with a stead updraft of 20-30 mph all night long. We were very fortunate to have 6 pitons (4 KBs & 2 Ushba's, all of them used for rap stations), the ability to sling some decent flakes with our slings (all of them were left). That left two rap stations with no gear to rap off. On one of them we dug a bollard in a 6' x 10' patch of neve and for the last we found a huge hex nut that some other idiots must have left trying to do the same thing we were. Out of gear and with no flakes, we used the hex on our very last rappel by wedging it in between two large boulders sitting on a rotten slope. Exciting. And stupid. But by then it was 4:30 am and we were starting to hallucinate and shiver uncontrollably so everything was pretty darn fine. So, yeah, you can walk off the Middle Teton...but you gotta get up to the top first...!
  14. Emmons TR 10/14/02

    Three parties left White R. to attempt the Emmons on Friday 10/12. A group of 3 from Missoula MT, a group of 3 from Vancouver BC (incl. salbrecher here @ CC) and our group of 2 from Bozeman MT. We stopped at Camp Curtis for the night while the other two parties continued on to Schurman, arriving there after dark. We continued to Schurman the next morning. The route up the Inter Glacier is pretty straightforward. Stay to the right as you pass 8,000 feet. There are steep water ice bulges to the left and center on the lower half of the Inter Glacier if you want to add some excitement. After 8k, you can pretty much stay right of center through the crevasse fall on good bridges and an end run or two. Once above this series of crevasses, you can head left to the ridge and Camp Curtis. The Emmons is broken up right now but most of the routefinding difficulties are only at the very bottom or the very top. The Missoula group spent 4.5 hrs on Saturday morning trying to find a way into the Corridor with no success and they aborted their climb (something about having to be back at school, what's up with that?). They went far right to the Winthrop, and far left to the Emmons, and were stopped by icefalls after pursuing several variations. Two members of the BC group were able to scout a route into Emmons Flats via the icefall directly above (and slightly climber's right) of camp. This route is not obvious or visible from Schurman. But we climbed to the summit of Steamboat Prow that morning and were able to see this line. I highly recommend that you make the climb to the Prow before descending down to the Emmons from Curtis en route to Schurman. The perspective of the Emmons Glacier from this vantage point was vital to allow us to navigate a lot of the route in the dark through the Corridor, and to see possible routes on the upper mountain. We spent the afternoon Saturday ice climbing in the crevasses and practicing crevasse rescue. Four of us left camp for the summit at about 4:30 - 5:00 am the next morning - two from the BC group, and the two of us from the Bozeman group. We punched out 2500 feet by dawn and once past the initial icefall, routefinding into the corridor and on up was pretty obvious. We went up the Corridor on its climber's left and descended on its climber's right. The left variation was a lot easier with less icefall to navigate through. Once out of the corridor, we went climber's right to avoid the steep water ice traverse through the "bowl" above the corridor. We climbed past a series of seracs (to climber's left) on easy slopes to the bergschrunds in the summit cap, and then made a loooong sweeping traverse at 12,600 - 13,700 climber's left until we joined the boot track of the DC/Ingraham route at around 13,700. On this traverse we encountered one steep water ice slope that we protected with a running belay. This was above and climber's left of the bowl at around 13,500. The route to the summit was the uneventful DC boot track. We summitted at 12:30 pm and trickled back into camp under headlamp between 7:30 and 8:30 pm. We did not wand the route (pretty tough to stick bamboo into ice) so used a GPS to "wand" it instead. Return routefinding was more difficult than on the way up, as always seems the case. Summit winds were forecasted for the day to be 25 mph but were blowing hard enough at Columbia Crest to fully hold up 175 pounds of climber and pack leaning into the wind. We literally spent about 30 seconds on top and then gained refuge in the crater for lunch. Winds blew steady all day long 20 mph+ with some very serious gusts. The glacier included a lot of water ice with some steeper steps and traverses near the top (below the 'schrunds) so the winds made for some pretty exciting climbing. All in all, the route was in outstanding condition (we only had to cross one precarious soft snow bridge) but do not expect the same grade of climbing you find in the summer. The route is mostly hard ice and probably not for the faint of heart this time of year. But if you're ready to French for hours on end... We descended back down to the car on Monday. The entire 4 days was during an unbelievable ridge of high pressure, the likes of which I don't think I've ever seen on Rainier in the fall. In four days, we saw only wispy little cirrus clouds on our summit day. Other than that, it was bluebird the entire time. Temps at Schurman were 22*F (low)to 40*F (high). Summit crater temps at 12:30 pm were in the high teens. The biggest challenges we faced: circuitous routefinding, high winds during most of the summit day, and hard ice conditions. Some tips: Screws over pickets. GPS over wands. Shovel? Ha ha. Consider going unroped or use running belays on some of the steeper steps. No boot track up the Emmons - it was too icy to matter for the most part and blowing spindrift covered most of our tracks as we passed them on the descent. Also: there are no blue bags available outside the Schurman hut; camping at Curtis & Schurman was entirely on rock/dirt; there is lots of WATER at Schurman on warm days via drips down the crevasse wall just above and climber's left of camp. Do it now...winter's coming...
  15. Kong GiGi vs New Alp Plaquette vs Reverso?

    Check out the B52 from Trango. 2.2 oz. I used mine on a recent Middle Teton ice climb to belay the follower on a single 7.6mm rope (Sterling) for about 8 pitches. Haven't used it yet with 2 ropes but it worked flawlessly with plenty of friction for 1. We encountered a late afternoon storm on the summit block and rapped off the mountain (18 raps total) down the Ellingwood couloir, which has plenty of vert and overhanging cliffs. With the skinny rope, the overhangs are a bit trying but you can play with the B52 and a carabiner to increase friction some, and I found it to work fine. It's easier to rig and less obtrusive than a reverso, which I've used a lot as well. Looking forward to more time with the B52. Ryan
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