Snow shovels and Northern lites questions
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Joshua Billings
(Joshua) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz,Ca
Snow shovels and Northern lites questions on 12/20/2007 22:02:05 MST Print View

I have a couple of questions about snow shovels. Do you think that a snow shovel is always a mandatory piece of rear in the snow or only if the snow is deep or if you expect it to snow. What do you use one for?Do you level out a place for a tent and make a wind block wall. Are they a safety tool for an avalanche? I saw some pictures of people making snow caves but I was thinking of using a tent.I think i read some people put their stoves on them when they cook.What is a good light weight yet tough shovel made of metal?
Next i have a question about the northern lites snowshoes. Do they have the sharp metal cleats underneath them? It was hard to tell from the pictures on the websight. Are these cleats important?Are there any other snow shoes to consider?
Thanks for your insight, Josh

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Snow shovels and Northern lites questions on 12/20/2007 22:50:29 MST Print View

Hi Josh,

Here are a few answers:

Snow shovels are a really good idea when snow camping, if nothing more than to prepare a site. Windblown snow is rarely flat. Secondary reasons include avalanche uses, emergency snow caves, stove platform, etc. For normal camping uses in low avalanche conditions, a SnowClaw is sufficient. I like a handle for dedicated snowcaves or high avalanche danger.

Northern Lites have cleats. You should check out the review on this site- it's dead on. These are the best snowshoes around.

Happy holidays!
Doug

Joshua Billings
(Joshua) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz,Ca
Thanks Doug on 12/21/2007 01:34:24 MST Print View

I really appreciate all the great answers. You are one cool dude.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Snow shovels and Northern lites questions on 12/21/2007 02:59:19 MST Print View

Doug, hi. Have you ever used the snowshoes that were taken on the Wilderness trekking III trip? I believe Atlas race.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Snow shovels and Northern lites on 12/21/2007 06:07:13 MST Print View

Josh, if you are just winter camping (no avy danger)then a snowclaw is great bang for the buck. I use mine to dig seats, small walls, sit pad, even a one side windscreen. When I was looking at handled shovels, the lightest one around was about 1 lb. I don't use it enough to justify that weight. I think they are in stock here and about $15?
As for the snowshoes - the NL's are great products. I have the backcountry rescues. A+

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
Atlas Race on 12/21/2007 10:21:24 MST Print View

Hi John,
On Wilderness Trekking course we had a few issues with the Atlas Race snowshoes. One pair in my group blew out completely rendering the snowshoe useless. Atlas had design flaws which I believe was the placement of the front strap. Northern Lite's that Kevin was using seemed great. Was using modified MSR Denali's and they were fine, just heavier.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: Re: Snow shovels and Northern lites questions on 12/21/2007 10:46:52 MST Print View

Thanks!

No- I've never used those. They sure are light, but are short too at just 22 inches.

As far as durability, I can say that the Lites are very strong. I'm a pretty stupid snowshoer and I often jump small cliffs and have fallen in rocks on my Backcountry Rescues. Scrapes but the frame and deck are undamaged. They are the strongest snowshoes I've ever owned (and these are my 4th pair of shoes).

Have fun in the snow!

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Snow shovels and Northern lites questions on 12/22/2007 14:30:38 MST Print View

We have both a snow Claw and a traditional shovel. Usually my husband and I take both, one on each person....and in snow travel that should be the rule. A shovel can save a life and it doesn't do you any good to have it on the person who just disappeared.
I pretty much blundered into snowshoeing years ago without a clue of what I was doing. Since then I have taken winter classes and attempted to learn more skills. Honestly I would say if you like snowshoeing learn as much as you can with snow travel. Ice ax skills, how to read avalanche predictions, where your options are for safe travel in high avy times, how to use a shovel.
I was out on the first trip for this season yesterday and was quite aware that SAR was doing a body recovery at Rainier about 1 mile away as the crow flies. I listened to them setting off avy charges in the afternoon. My usual snowshoeing partner is the winter instructor for the Kitsap Mtneers branch here in Wa. While we may disagree on skills in the summer, I do listen to him in winter. Part of yesterdays outing was working on using avy beacons. I quite understand them now, and am planning on buying them for my husband, son and I this week. They are not cheap by any means, but I love them that much. I see the point of wearing one quite clearly. This season the death toll is 6 so far in avy's here. Not a good year. And the sad thing is? 5 of them were before winter even started!

Joshua Billings
(Joshua) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz,Ca
I quite agree on 12/22/2007 15:44:01 MST Print View

I agree with you Sarah. I plan on starting out slow for sure. I am not going in very far from car to start with and plan on taking some classes too. Any good classes you can recommend.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: I quite agree on 12/22/2007 16:09:14 MST Print View

If you can find locally a "winter skills" class take it, especially if it specializes in travel on snowshoes. It should cover avy safety as well. It should be hands on with time spent in the snow as well :-)

And as they do say "there is always a safe place to go even in high avalanche times". It just won't be as scenic ;-)

When my husband first started snowshoeing out west he had moved from the Mid-Atlantic area and had no experience with things like tree wells. He fell into a tree well on his first outing (which thank god he went feet first). He didn't know that you shouldn't get close to them, and as well he wears 936's so they have a huge footprint and he just slid in. Yesterday we met two guys out for the same route as us. One had no pack, neither had shovels. The other guy had a minimal daypack on. We got talking and.... East Coast transplants and without much knowledge of snow. It was their first time to be in the backcountry. I don't mean to sound preachy, but it makes me nervous seeing that - had they got lost they had nothing to keep them warm. While they were only a couple miles from the parking lot, snow makes everything look the same. I walked with them and chatted them up. They ended up staying near us during the hike and we talked them out of going back a second way-that has avy potential.

I do though sometimes wonder how well paid up my karma was when I started. I have photos of a trip I took my son on when he was 5 and we went right up an avy hot spot. We got lucky and had perfect conditions that day. Yet those photos leave me with an uncomfortable feeling.

Btw, I forgot to mention: I wear MSR Denali Evo Ascents with 6" tails. My son wears MSR Denali Evo's.

Joshua Billings
(Joshua) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz,Ca
Thanks Sarah on 12/23/2007 18:25:26 MST Print View

Thanks for the info. I will be researching classes more in depth now.
Josh