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Need help with Shasta Gear List
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Greg Foster
(thefost) - MLife
Need help with Shasta Gear List on 02/07/2010 14:49:56 MST Print View

I'm planning on doing shasta via avalanche gulch in late april and
could use some help developing a gear list. I've got plenty of
general Backpacking gear, but not much for mountaineering specifically. Here's what I was thinking for my basic clothing and shelter systems using mostly what I already own:

Big 4:
Osprey Exos 58 (own)
Scarp 2 (Own)
Downmat 7 Pad (own)
Marmot Helium 15 degree bag (own)

Vasque Wasatch hiking boots (own)
Knee High Gaiters (own)
Smartwool Socks (Own)
Kahtoola KTS crampons (need to buy)

Power strech glove liners (own)
Snowboarding Mitts (own)
Raven Pro Ice Axe (need to buy)

Patagoina Capilene 3 Baselayer (own)
Patagonia R1 Pants (own)
Schoeller Dynamic or Powershield Soft Shell Pants (need to buy)
Golite Reeds for backup water protection (own)

Pat Capilene 3 Shirt (Own)
Pat R1 Flash Fleece(Own)
Pat Houdini Wind Shirt (Own)
Mountain Hardwear G50 Conduit Softshell (Own)
Either a Montbell down inner jacket or mountain hardwear phantom jacket (own both)
Golite Virga as a waterproof backup (own)

Any help with what I need to change to this list would be very much appreciated. The reed pants and virga jacket seem like they might be the best choices, but I'm not sure. I'm not looking to go too ultralight, I'd rather err on the side of safety.

Thanks in advance!

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Shasta gear on 02/07/2010 16:22:09 MST Print View

I think I had 22 summits out of 26 years, so I learned a few things about clothing and gear for Shasta. You'll want to consider a snow shovel. Generally, people use either snowshoes or else X-C skis with skins. On only one or two years did hikers stay up on the snow with just boots.

Generally, going up the bottom half of Avalanche Gulch is pretty straightforward. It's just a grind. When you arrive at Helen Lake, you will likely need to dig in (shovel). Expect a lot of wind, so construct a wind wall. I've had an expedition tent ripped up, and I have seen ordinary dome tents sailing in the wind and going over the next ridge, so tent anchors are necessary. A serious stove is called for, probably white gas, and it should be positioned on a piece of Masonite to keep it from melting its way to China.

Then you will sleep overnight. Assuming that you are headed for the summit, and assuming that the avalanche risk is low enough, you'll head out at 5 a.m., so a good headlamp is needed. You're going uphill, so you can stay warm enough without parka layers that make you look like Bim The Michelin Man, but you'll be on crampons with your ice axe. Once above 12,500', the wind may blast you, so you need one extra warm layer, just in case. That ought to get you to the summit. A GPS receiver is good to have in the event of bad weather, but you have to have a waypoint in there for CAMP and one for SUMMIT.

On the way down from the summit, it gets tricky. More deaths and serious injuries happen on the descent. Walk with crampons until you get well below Red Banks. Then store them in your daypack. At this stage, you want to be wearing some good rainpants, or else some expendable rainpants. If there is a sprinkle of volcanic sand on the snow surface, it can take a beating to the rainpants. You can do a sitting glissade all the way down about 2000 feet to camp. Do Not attempt to glissade with crampons on!

Hope for good weather. People die up there in bad weather.

Been there. Done that. Read the book. Saw the movie.

Greg Foster
(thefost) - MLife
Gear List on 02/08/2010 19:44:25 MST Print View

Thank you for your comments Bob. I will of course be bringing a shovel, snowshoes, "serious stove" for the group, GPS, tent anchors, and plenty of other items.

For your "above 12,500" extra layer comment, are you suggesting one more layer on top of what I listed? I was considering using the phantom Jacket as this extra layer, but do you think I would need a more substantial parka for this? Would a Montbell Alpine Light parka be enough, or do I need something more serious?

For Glissading waterproof pants, I listed the golite reeds above. Should I get something more expendable like the not so breathable sierra designs microlight pants, or do you have another suggestion? I'm guessing the cheapo driducks with a little duct tape seam reinforcement wouldnt be good enough?

I'm mainly trying to figure out my layering situation right now so I can gear up before I start my real training.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
reply to Greg on 02/09/2010 00:45:36 MST Print View

First of all, I assume that you are wise and you are going with a group. I have soloed it once in May, in a day, and it kicked my butt severely. Sleeping overnight at Lake Helen is the way to go. I also assume that you know what you are doing with avalanche safety. That route is called Avalanche Gulch, and it is for good reason. We were standing there in camp at Lake Helen in the late afternoon, and the guys from the Mountaineers had just pulled in and set up. Right then, right before sunset, an avalanche started from Red Banks heading down, and it just kept going and going. Everybody stood there in amazement as it swept down. However, if you study the curve of Avalanche Gulch, and if you saw the intensity of the slide, you would know that it was going to turn away from camp, which it did. However, in the interim seconds, the Mountaineers were petrified, and they didn't know which way to run. Finally, the slide stopped to the right of Lake Helen. The Mountaineers immediately announced that they were not going to the summit in the morning, so they broke out a bottle and then bailed the next day.

If you head out of camp at 5 a.m. going for the summit, it tends to be pretty cold. However, if it is not too windy, you might be tempted to leave behind some layers since you will be hiking upward and generating a lot of heat. That's probably not wise. You might need it later.

One year I got up to Red Banks with normal warmth in my down parka. But then the wind was blowing awfully hard, and it sounded like a freight train. Above the top of Red Banks and heading up Misery Hill, the wind forced me to a crawl. When I got halfway up Misery Hill, it was too much, so I rested flat on my back (huge down parka on), and that was the only thing that kept me alive for the next 90 minutes. I could have bailed, but I would have been pretty cold going down. After the 90 minutes and the wind had not broken, I managed to get back up and crawl up the rest of the way up Misery Hill. Once above it, I could stagger over to the summit pinnacle, and then I made it up. A few hours later, I made it back to camp safely, and I think I was only one of maybe 2 or 3 people who summited that day. My point is that if I hadn't had that huge down parka (a so-called 7000 meter parka), either I would have had to turn around, or else I would have frozen my butt right then and there. Personally, it is extremely difficult for me to bail on a mountain when I have already climbed nearly all of it.

I don't know you or how warm you stay. I don't know all of your clothing items. So, I can't say for sure. That weather was the worst that I had ever seen near the summit in 22 summits (May only). Do you think you are lucky?

The glissade pants are interesting. If the snow is soft, then anything will work, and probably work good. If the snow is more ice, then it will carve up good pants. If the snow has a good scatter of volcanic sand and bits, then it will slice up the good pants even worse. I've seen people wearing just about everything up there (even cotton jeans!). If you are not good at glissading, then there is a safety issue from excess speed, so it wouldn't hurt to have an expendable "seat" over the outside of your good pants for slight friction. Old blue jean shorts, maybe? One guy made a "girdle" out of some old truck inner tube rubber.

I saw a terrible accident one time, just below Red Banks as I was descending. A fool was wearing crampons and attempted to glissade down. He caught a point, which flipped him, and then he was sliding out of control. After he had good falling speed going, he collided with two bystanders. The man was knocked sailing downward for a way, and his lady was knocked even worse. She sailed downward for well over 1000 vertical feet, maybe 1200 or so. She came to a rest, and a Forest Service ranger appeared out of nowhere to do first aid. She survived.

I wish you luck. Pay very close attention to the weather forecasts. Write me into your will.