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Sleeping bag on Denali


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just my opinion but if you do 14 to the top in a day, you might want to bring your bag with you on summit day. Don't know your strengths but there is a chance you may need to bivy somewhere. (don't expect people at 18k camp to help out) This opinion is if the weather turns on you.


But that aside, the 0 should work in june, especially if you have two tent mates. IMO

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No! No way! If you have not been up there before I recomend you bring with you at least a minus 20, and if you are going early May then a minus 40. I have now done two trips to that area, and on one trip I would have been fine with a 0 degree on the other I would have died (not just been cold, but been dead!). Also, being cold sucks. A significant number of people go home from that area early because they are simply too cold, so dont ruin your trip because you are cheap, or want to save weight on your sleeping bag.

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I'm entirely with Alasdair on this one. I went to Degnarli in late may three years ago with the NorthFace Darkstar...froze my ass off despite impecable weather, every combo of ground pad/clothing/vbl I could think of, and a long history of being a warm sleeper in COLD places. I would go with the biggest down bag you can buy.

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I think it depends to some degree on the manufacturer of the bag as well. a Feathered Friends or Western Mountaineering bag rated to -10 might be warm enough where as a lower quality bag rated to -20 or colder might not be warm enough.


My FF bag rated to -15 kept me warm enough at high camp. Jason Martin said it had been getting down to -35 at night.

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The real question is a 0 degree bag going to warm enough for mid may at 14K camp with a down jacket on. Comments based on staying at high camp and in may are not answering the question. So, how about you take your bag and go bivy someplace really cold (bring a thermometer) and then compare it to typical conditions on 14k camp in mid june. Don't sleep with your jacket for the "experiment" to allow for colder than typical conditions on denali. That might mean the summit of rainier, which is no easy matter in itself, just a idea.


BTW, I don't think I could make it from 14k to the summit. I would not have enough energy reserves left to allow for the unknown, should something happen. I don't like to travel too close to the edge like that. Plus my head would hurt too much. I suggest that you honestly evaluate your strengths and skills. If you got it, then go for it.

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14K to the top and back is the way to go. It suck staying at 17K, too cold.


Yo dude, unless you know this guy personally and have experience climbing at altitude with him then STFU. Don't jeopardize someone's safety so you can chestbeat.


gobriango, i can't second Mr. Pires about both the bag and going from 14k camp to summit and back strongly enough. The mountain will spank you harder than you may think. Taking a few days at 17k to acclamitize is a pretty good idea. Plus it's probably the most beautiful camp on the rte.


Also, you may want to do a search on this site for the same topic. It comes up allot.


Too high,too fast was this guy's problem too. They found him face down on the Football Field...Climb safe!



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Unless something changes my mind I see no reason to trudge alot of equipment up to 17k, after acclimating at 14k. My run up the W Butt is pretty much for acclimating for the W Rib a few days later. So, yes I do have the strength to go from 14k to the summit.

* Griz - I do appreciate your concern but the picture is alittle uncalled for to make your point.

* johnkelley - I'm guessing guys packed the basics for your summit attempt?

Edited by gobriango
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We had a stove, shovel blade, belay parkas/pants, and some food. I'd spend a good bit of time at 14k to make sure you are well acclimatized. I'd also take a very warm (-20*) bag to 14K. I'd also leave a decent sized cache at 14K. That way if you find out that it's to far for you to make it in one push you could reteun to 14K, rest for a few days then move to 17K if need be.

Edited by johnkelley
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Many people are recommending a -15 to -20 degree bag.

Looking at down fill weights;

WM Puma -20 has 35oz of fill (52oz total).

WM Big Horn -25 38oz of fill (55oz total).


FF Tern -10 at 25oz of fill (49oz total).

*Marmot Lithium is rated 0, has 27oz of down (40oz total).

FF Ptarmigan -25 at 35oz of fill (60oz total).


Marmot Col EQ -20 at 37oz of fill (68oz total).


Looks like the Puma is one of the lighter bags, in the down fill range, that you might be interested in.


The bags I listed were in a regular length.


I would pick more breathable shell fabrics so the down stay as dry as possible.

If you were going to go with a zero degree bag. Sleep with your parka on top of your sleeping bag (not in your bag). Maybe take a ultra lightweight pair of down booties to sleep in that can also be used as a pair of emergency mittens.

Sleep on your shells, ropes and packs to help insulate you from the snow.

Remember that having your parka as part of your sleep system means that it will aborb some moisture every night you use it so use it only when really needed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with John about the run up from 14 (given that you have the fitness, experience, and smarts to turn around quick if need be). Last summer my partner and I did that almost by accident when we continued up from an acclimatization day to 17 because we felt great and the weather was perfect (luck here is the key to any Denali climb). We were prepping for a ski of the orient which conditions ended up ruling out. John’s gear list sounds good also - we added light bivy sacks.


Many people we met seemed to get hammered by the load carry to 17, and the harsh conditions staying there.


IMO a warm comfy bag is worth the weight and expense - R&R is another key to success and you will spend a lot of time in the thing. I used a Marmot Col and loved it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

14 up and down is done frequently but in good conditions and by people who are in great shape.

At other times people die trying. Make the call very carefully. No one can help you in a bad storm. Luck be with you.

I used a 0 degree bag inside a gortex bivy sack and had a 10 oz marmot down top safety pinned on it and was cozy down to -30 (in a tent). Everyone reacts differently to altitude and you won't know until you get up there. 0degrees at 14K on Denali is a hell of a lot colder than 0degrees at 14K on Rainier which is a hell of a lot colder than 0degrees at 5k on Rainier. Altitude affects your metabolism and it is more difficult to stay warm until you are acclimated.

All that said,I have a -20 bag I could sell you.

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I would consider how much you may sweat in your clothes

and how much mosture you may put into your parka if

you must use it on the move. The only thing that you have

to dry out your clothes and keep you warm in the worst

case is your sleeping bag/tent combo.


I also froze my butt off with the darkstar, climbing in the north east, on mount washington etc. It is rated down to -40f degrees. I gave up on it and bought the best bag(expensive) I could find, to my knowledge. Stevenson's warmlite.


It is a down bag, I had a light down belay jacket on a another trip on the washington range, got the down jacket

soaking wet from body sweat. Also my clothes wet, this down

bag being way over rated for the temp enabled me to dry

my clothes out in about 30min but not my down belay jacket, it wouldn't dry out.


Opinion, I would rather have the warmest bag possible

and a good tent and not have bivy sack. The sack will

hold mosture in the bag and slowly kill warmth, if your

like me and sweat a lot this could kill you on a long

trip. If you don't sweat then your case is different. If

I used a bivy sack I wouldn't want to have to use it

for too long as my sleeping bag would get wet. Note,

if you need to dry out your clothes you need to move the

mosture out of your skin and clothes, to the bag and then out of the bag into the air inside of the tent. Breathablity is really important, and if your dehydrated, AND frozen AND all your clothes are soaking wet. Then a extra amount of down in a breathable sleeping bag system is what you need to dry yourself out and after to get warm.


Hope this helps.



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