I am taking a 24-day ski mountaineering course this summer in the Wrangell's St. Elias range with the International Wilderness Leadership School and I am trying to fine-tune my personal gear. I have no control over the shelter or cook system used (or climbing gear provided), so I am really looking for a good integrated clothing/sleep system. Items in bold are stuff that I have not purchased yet, everything else I already own. Weights are fairly accurate, I don't have everything weighed quite yet but I will be updating the list as I weight stuff. I have listed other items I own that might be relevant (ie I might bring/switch out for something) in italics underneath each section.
See the list at http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=p6xqDSt9ovSx0peT-RWRGcQ.
Expected Conditions are:
Daytime temperatures between 10F and 40F (it can get really hot on the glacier with reflected sunlight) with nighttime temperatures no lower than -10F. Precipitation conditions can be extremely variable- anything between cloudless sunshine to a full-on blizzard.
Activities we will probably be doing:
-Snow pit digging
-Lots of mountaineering training- so anchor building, self-arrest, crevasse rescue but with a ski-oriented focus
Course information/Suggested Gear List:
See http://www.iwls.com/courses/alaska/ski_alaska.html for a detailed course description and suggested equipment list.
Big questions I am looking for help with:
Right now I have a wild things gear Andinista that I am very happy with. However, it is somewhat heavy (>4 lbs), especially for double duty as a summit pack. I am considering getting either a CiloGear 60L or a custom McHale pack? I figure I need at least 5000ci between my own personal gear and group gear. I am not sure if we will using sleds, which could definitely change that number. Do people have experience with these packs for ski mountaineering? I would like a synthetically insulated shoulder strap for a hydration tube as well (see below).
2. Vapor Barrier vs. Traditional Layering System
I am strongly considering using a vapor barrier system but I have some concerns with it (see http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=17378 ). What do people think? Does anyone have experience with long term vapor barrier clothing use in these conditions? The vapor barrier system as I have it only saves about 1.5lbs over the traditional. Am I missing something key here?- I was hoping to be able to significantly reduce the amount of clothing I carried. With the traditional system I feel like I can get away with less headwear and handwear since both the Arctic Hoody and R1 Hoody provide head and hand coverage.
Is it possible to effectively use a well-insulated hydration bladder in these conditions (foam around tube and bladder, tube inside synthetically insulated shoulder strap, water blown-back into bladder after each use, filled with hot water each morning)? If not, what is a good way to get easy access to an insulated water bottle without having to remove my pack each time? I was planning on using a nalgene wide mouth cantene and bringing an extra lid so if the tube froze, it could be removed and the cantene used as a water bottle.
4. Synthetic Booties/Overboot System
Right now the plan is to wear dry wools socks and synthetic booties inside my ski boot shells with a modified tyvek industrial boot on top around camp and hang the boot liners and vapor barrier socks inside my DAS next to my skin to dry. The liner are Intuition foam and basically waterproof, so they should dry really fast. What do people think about this system?
Will the VB pants be too hot (I am thinking so)? Does anyone know where to find lightweight full zip microfleece pants?
6. Glove and Mitt System
I am expecting that gloves will get wet. I am concerned that it will be difficult to dry the gloves I am bringing, especially the heavier BD ones with their WP membrane. I am considering bringing instead two sets of quick-drying soft-shells gloves (one lighter, one heavier) along with a lightweight waterproof glove shell to put over them when doing snow work such a pit digging and shoveling. I am set on the N2S gloves as a base layer for the hands, and it seems prudent to bring the Alti-mitts as an emergency/camp layer- I am attached to my fingers and would like to keep them all.
7. Inflatable Pad
Should I worry about frost build-up in the valve/pad body from blowing into the pad to inflate it? Will the 1cm thick evazote + Prolite 3 Short be warm enough for sleeping on snow in these conditions?
Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.