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bivchad

Expedition Sled

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Who here has experience with pulling a sled in AK or elsewhere? I am interested in knowing more details about the attachment of it to your body. I'll need to have a climbing harness on for crevasse travel so I would assume attaching it to that harness and maybe your backpack is the way to go. Also, what were your safety concerns and how did you prepare for that? I have found great info at skipulk.com but want more...

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Here's a system that some of us use on Denali:

http://alpineinstitute.blogspot.com/2008/01/expedition-sled-rigging.html

 

You can choose to clip the sled to your haul loop on the harness or onto the pack, depending on which is more comfortable. It seems that I see more folks using their pack than their harness.

 

I find that the most important part is that the two leads coming from the sled are self equalizing (key for traverses). This doesn't mean that it has to use a pulley, but there should be no knot. It's also common to tie an end of your pull cord to each side of the sled in the front and clip the bight it makes into your backpack. (basically the inverse of what's diagrammed in the link above).

 

There are some nuances about rigging the sled so that if you fall in A) the sled won't crush you and B)the sled won't flip you upside down. To keep the sled from crushing you, tie a clove hitch in the climbing rope and clip it to the rear of the sled/your duffel (note: this does nothing to protect the last person on the rope, but does prevent total loss of the sled if the pull cord breaks). unclip the sled on traverses, so you can keep the climbing rope tight.

 

Keeping the sled from flipping you over is a whole different ball game, but I don't have the resources at hand to make it easy to understand. Perhaps some googling will help?

 

[img:center]http://lh4.ggpht.com/_RUjVxScF49w/SFHkouugGCI/AAAAAAAAESE/xAsdaQUKVlk/s512/IMG_0720.JPG[/img]

 

[img:center]http://lh6.ggpht.com/_RUjVxScF49w/RrdolCzePKI/AAAAAAAAAJI/5XANl-ZX9Lw/s512/IMG_0045.JPG[/img]

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i clipped two separate leashes from the front of the sled to the stabilizer straps on my pack. (the adjustable straps that connect the body of the pack to the waistbelt). the next thing is important... give your self enough slack so that the leashes take the sleds weight, then take your rope going back to your partner and clip through caribiner on top of sled. then clove hitch rope to carabiner on the top aft of sled. this allows your partner behind you to pull sled back if it noses into a small crevasse, and also allows your partner behind to help take a little of the weight and keep the sled from going down too far on traverses.

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From DECADES of pulling loads on sleds with skis, including two successful Denali climbs plus two other Alaska Range trips, I still find myself surprised that folks don't click to rigid attachment, like Mountainsmith uses on their commercially offered freight sleds. An hour or so and maybe $20 worth of materials is sufficient for even a relative klutz to modify your basic plastic kiddy-sled into a freight-hauler that will track straight and stay behind you without the need of a tailroper. I never ski with a pack heavier than a day-pack since the 1970s. The modification uses two 8' lengths of emt electrical tubing ("handles'- I've seen bamboo and PVC pipe used as well, but I prefer the aluminum tubing) which may be attached to the bow (front end, as on a boat) of the sled by sandwiching the bow rim between two appropriate-length (likely about 12") bits of half-inch aluminum flat stock (available at your local hardware store) with either rivets or bolts/nuts (yer choice) The fasteners at each lateral end of the sandwich must be ring-eye-bolts (I used quarter-inch shaft bolts on mine, smaller might work as well)whose eyes must be sufficiently large to accept a short section of the emt aluminum conduit. A section of emt conduit 2" or so longer than the width of the bow-sandwich inserted through the eyes of the end bolts functions as an axle to which the handles can be bolted, allowing them to move vertically, and preferably not horizontally (side-to-side). To enhance straight tracking, especially traversing firm sidehills, apply one or more skegs (stabilizing runners) to the bottom surface of the sled by sandwiching the bottom of the sled between lengths of half-inch aluminum flat stock (interior surface) and half-inch aluminum angle stock (cut the front end of the angle stock at a 45' angle sloping towards the stern of the sled). To attach the sled handles to me, I just duct-taped loops of web or cord to my end of each handle, and used two plain old carabiners to clip the handles either to the bottom corners of my pack, or to the sides of my climbing harness, or even just a regular belt, when I wasn't wearing a pack. I've used this rig routinely since the 1960s (the rig is a leftover from my years as a Boy Scout growing up in Idaho, near Yellowstone)to pull loads of 100+ lbs on skis, and I don't honestly notice the load much except on steep uphills. The rigid handles prevent the sled from overtaking its tractor (you) on downhills, and the skegs keep it tracking straight. An intermediate or beyond level skier can quite literally ski down all but the most extreme slopes as if the sled wasn't there, provided the skier maintains speed and doesn't decelerate ABRUPTLY. Tools for the modification: a drill to make holes for the rivets or bolts to go through, and a wrench or pliers to tighten the nuts on the bolts. The hardware store where you buy the aluminum stock can cut it to length for you if you haven't the tools/skills to cut it yourself. If this text description is insufficient, and there is demand, I could, I suppose, generate a photographically illustrated version of the process... (but I'm far too lazy to do that without being asked...) The finished product is basically a lightweight miniature version of the toboggans used by ski-patrollers at alpine ski resorts. (which, I think, is where the Boy Scouts got the idea in the first place)

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Great information guys and thanks for the AAI link! Monty, I notice you said that you don't notice the sled much except on steeper climbs. What's it like pulling the sled after a heavy snow? We'll probably be pulling one for days or weeks on a planned traverse. What's the word on getting a sled to Alaska (airline luggage) or do you just bring the hardware and buy a sled when you get there?

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^^^Flew AK Air from NorCal and took everything with us to and fro, paying over dimension carges both ways.

 

Pulling a sled in heavy snow sucks only slightly less than carrying said same weight on your back...read, it all sucks. YMMV

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and this is why they invented the 'fast and light' style.... ;)

 

I sure would hate to drag a friggin sled all teh way to Devil's thumb... but I guess the only way around that one is to fly...

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^^^Flew AK Air from NorCal and took everything with us to and fro, paying over dimension carges both ways.

 

Pulling a sled in heavy snow sucks only slightly less than carrying said same weight on your back...read, it all sucks. YMMV

Yes, but pulling a sled over 30 miles of tundra makes pulling one in snow seem like a walk in the park... The ultimate stairmaster workout.

 

144_Dave_pulln_sled_in_rocky_tundraDENALI_JPGBACKUP.jpg

 

149_Mike_with_mud_filled_sledDENALI_JPGBACKUP.jpg

 

150_Dave_knackered_at_turtle_hillDENALI_JPGBACKUP.jpg

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to answer Bivchad's question addressed to me, I find pulling a sled is noticeably more challenging in a foot or more of fresh unconsolidated snow, just as walking (with or without a pack, is more challenging in such conditions). However, in pretty much any terrain I can readily ski (and I pro-patrolled for twelve years at Stevens Pass, Squaw Valley, & Mammoth Mountain) I can handle 100+ lbs on a pulk more easily than 50 lbs on my back. The skipulk.com stuff looks great for anyone too lazy to make their own from scratch - but I'm far to cheap to buy their system, when I can just take mine apart and reuse the hardware on a fresh kiddie sled when one disintegrates. (a fresh one will typically last a Denali expedition or a local season, maybe more if you're really careful & don't drag it over bare ground)

 

If you're flying expedition gear/food to Alaska, you'll be payin' oversize & extra freight anyway, so might as well assemble your sled at home & have that done, as it most likely won't increase your extra charges (though that may depend on which airline you fly...)

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to answer Bivchad's question addressed to me, I find pulling a sled is noticeably more challenging in a foot or more of fresh unconsolidated snow, just as walking (with or without a pack, is more challenging in such conditions). However, in pretty much any terrain I can readily ski (and I pro-patrolled for twelve years at Stevens Pass, Squaw Valley, & Mammoth Mountain) I can handle 100+ lbs on a pulk more easily than 50 lbs on my back. The skipulk.com stuff looks great for anyone too lazy to make their own from scratch - but I'm far to cheap to buy their system, when I can just take mine apart and reuse the hardware on a fresh kiddie sled when one disintegrates. (a fresh one will typically last a Denali expedition or a local season, maybe more if you're really careful & don't drag it over bare ground)

 

If you're flying expedition gear/food to Alaska, you'll be payin' oversize & extra freight anyway, so might as well assemble your sled at home & have that done, as it most likely won't increase your extra charges (though that may depend on which airline you fly...)

:tup:

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having tried pulling with rope harnesses and with rigid handle systems, I cannot emphasize enough how much easier life is with rigid handles. either way works pulling straight level or straight uphill, but on sidehills, the sled you pull with rope will want to roll down hill, while a reinforced bow with rigid handles will help you control that, and on downhills, without rigid handles, your sled WILL overtake and pass you if you don't have a tailroper to hold it back. The side bungees for tying in gear look like a great addition!

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Another way to break/slow a sled when traveling downhill is to tie a handful of overhand knots in a strand of cordelette that runs underneath the sled. I tie one strand from the front to the rear and flip it underneath when I'm headed down and all loaded up with weight. for particularly steep descents, tying the last guy's sled in front of him works pretty well. If there are two sleds, just flip one upside down and the other rightside up-- the resistance of the upside down sled cancels out non-braked sled's speed and, hence, walking downhill is usually pretty casual. YMMV.

 

I think what hasn't been stated directly is that dragging a sled is a necessary evil at times, but isn't something you'll enjoy.

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I don't know if this is a common practice (I've never heard of it) but one time when I wanted to control speed on a descent because we feared a possible crevasse fall and wanted to keep the ropes relatively stable between us I put the skins on backwards. Duct tape came in handy because the skins were not set up to install that way. We had an easy time skiing (actually walking) down a glacier, though, although it felt weird to creep down steep rolls with everything tilted the wrong way.

 

If we are talking abut controlling sleds on decent, controlling the skier is also important. This may be a useful technique.

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kurthicks makes a good point about the knotted rope under the sled for a brake. Pro ski-patrollers routinely solo first-aid sleds on black-diamond runs using a similar rig with a length of chain instead of knotted rope. with a rigid handle system and a knotted rope brake, steeper downhills can be downright fun. and contrary to his statement above, you may well enjoy dragging a sled. I know I do, now & then...

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and contrary to his statement above, you may well enjoy dragging a sled. I know I do, now & then...

 

I would too if I didn't only do it when I was working!

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I'll second montypiton's rigid preference. I played around with both and, borrowing some ideas from skipulk.com, made my own with some old ski poles - other than the carbon fiber sections shattering (only use aluminum), the pulk works great.

It might be a preference thing but I tried to eliminate as much slop in the system that I could - feels more efficient and doesn't jerk me around as much.

 

P1000863.jpg

 

 

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Those are two single poles, right?

If you used 4 poles (cutting and connecting them) could you make close picture of the connectors.

Cheers,

Zoran

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Those are two sets of poles - so 4 pieces. I used what I had which was a pair of Rossi aluminum ski poles and a pair of CF Komperdell trekking poles. Do not use carbon fiber! The CF material was the weak link in my system and shattered many times while everything else held.

The skinny end of the Komperdells fit conveniently into the fat end of the Rossi poles. The same could be done with another set of ski poles that taper in thickness.

I drilled some holes through both and connected the poles with some bolts with wingnuts so I could easily take them apart or adjust the length (I drilled two sets of holes for different pole lengths) without tools in the field.

 

P1000871.jpg

 

http://i15.photobucket.com/albums/a399/ourbuddies/pulk/P1000872.jpg

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Nice work! I may have to copy the ski pole idea.... I used two 8' long fiberglass fence poles - epoxied some copper pipe connectors with eye bolts on each end to connect to the sled and the pack. The rest of the sled is based on the ski pulk design. Pulls and skis great!

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Thank you for your reply.

I will post some pictures of my work here. I have 4 old poles and going to copy your design.

Cheers,

Zoran

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